9 Productivity Hacks from Craig Jarrow, Mark Shead & Mike Williams @ Quickbase webinar

What do you get when you have 3 of the world’s leading experts on productivity together for a webinar?

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Photo courtesy – The Fast Track Blog, Intuit Quickbase

Lots of tips that can save you hours a week!

In a tête-à-tête with personal branding expert Dan Schawbel, productivity experts Craig Jarrow (author of Time Management Ninja), Productivity501‘s Mark Shead and Mike Williams (CEO at David Allen Company) shared valuable tips which YOU need to start implementing immediately. View the on demand webinar here

Craig Jarrow 

1. Command your technology, don’t let it control you.

Are you in command of your productivity tools or do you let them control you?

Do you find yourself in your inbox all day or answering your phone no matter where you are?

For technology to be useful, you need to be in command. You need to decide whether the phone ringer should be on mute. Maybe the email notification system should be turned off so that you check emails only twice or thrice a day at a designated time.

Unless you are a customer service rep, do you really need to be available all day long?

Your bosses, colleagues and clients might expect you to be available all the time.

Set some limits to these expectations.

Don’t forget – tech is supposed to help you get work done…real work!

2. How about a closed door policy?

You are working on something on your own.

You are totally immersed in your work and it’s going great so far.

And then knock knock!

Before you know it, you have spent 10 minutes in a conversation. When you get back to your work, it takes some time for your concentration to return.

If you are like most people, you don’t enjoy interruptions.

Do something about those interruptions.

When you are working on something creative or analytical, something that requires isolation…

  • Close your door
  • Communicate that you don’t want to be disturbed for a while
  • If you don’t have your own office, put on headphones to show that you don’t want to be disturbed.
  • Go somewhere quiet – find a quiet meeting room where you won’t be interrupted.

Then just see how much faster you get your work done!

3. Deal with procrastination

You really don’t want to clean that garage do you? (who does!)

What else have you been putting off?

Here’s a few tips Craig offers to beat procrastination…

  • What’s the smallest task on that project? Just do that. That will help you get started and build a momentum.
  • Dedicate small windows of time – say 15 minutes – on a daily basis to that project. It will slowly get done.
  • A lot of tasks getting pushed back because there is no deadline. Set a deadline
  • Have an accountability buddy. For instance, if you keep putting off going to the gym having a friend/partner waiting at the gym at a particular time will compel you to reach there.


Mark Shead

1. Don’t mistake busyness for work

You are busy!

You have done a lot and you are feeling really good about yourself!

You must be really productive, right?

Not necessarily!

What value is your work adding to your key goals?

Remember the 80/20 rule?

But how do you distinguish between the kind of work that adds real value vs. something that just ‘feels good’?

Ask a simple question…

“What would happen if I didn’t do this?” 

You will be surprised at what you find out!

Arijit’s note: This actually reminds me of Eric Ries’ actionable metrics vs vanity metrics (The Lean Startup)!

2. Take regular breaks

You love your work!

You are really charged up to get things done.

The last thing you want to do is take a break.

Or should you? 

Mark feels like having lunch at his desk sometimes, but he has clearly noticed that it doesn’t help!

Managing your work-rest ratios and recovering energy is one of the most important aspects of becoming genuinely productive.

It’s not about how many hours you work, it’s about what you achieve at the end of the day, everyday, on a sustainable basis.

(By the way, guess why this blog is called FreeMind PitStop?)

3. Delegate and Outsource

How big is your task list?

How many tasks keep getting pushed back?

Should you even be having a task list that big?

Mark says that the most productive people are the ones who are doing a few things, not the ones who have a big to-do list. 

That way you can concentrate on the more important things on your plate and stop fretting about the undone tasks.

You could delegate it to another person who is more capable of handling it.

Automate as much as you can, things like your monthly phone bills.

You could hire people to do work at home that you have been putting off.

You will make the best use of your time if you focus on those tasks which are really important, and those tasks where you personally add genuine value.

If the task doesn’t fit the above, think of automation, delegation or outsourcing.


Mike Williams

1. Define ‘What does success looks like for (blank)?

Do you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve?

Do your colleagues share that exact same picture?

If they don’t, what you might get is confusion, misunderstanding and a lot of wasted time.

So ask yourself, “What does success look like…”

Make sure that people understand your picture.

You just made things a lot simpler!

 2. Always define your next ‘Physical Visible’ action

Are you stuck on a goal?

Try this…

  • Form a clearer picture of your goal – what’s your intention and desired action?
  • Jot down the ‘physical visible’ actions associated with goals.
  • Start on the first action.

If your goal is to buy a dog, then your to-do list might read: ‘purchase of dog’.

However, you will need to define the physical visible next action: which could be calling a dog expert for advice.

It is accumulation of these ‘next actions’ which will eventually get your goal done in the future.

3. Give time to your family

Is productivity all about doing better at work?

It’s also about being there for your family. 

Mike has something called ‘Before I walk through the door’ list. 

The list reminds him whenever his wife or kids have something important coming up.

After he parks his car at home and before he walks in through the door, he makes sure that he knows what support needs to be given to his family.

Craig and Mark also make sure that they have lots of time for their families!

In my book, productivity is about achieving balance in all areas of life. 

After all, isn’t that what makes us human?


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