In high school, my art teacher called me lazy in front of the class. If an art teacher calls you lazy, you know it must be true.
I may be lazy, but I’m productive. I get a lot of stuff done in a short time. That works out quite well for me. I get stuff done quickly so that I can go back to being lazy.
I also have two children and a family and I go to the gym. I don’t have a lot of time to spare. So I have to be as efficient as possible.
Here is what I learned.
1. Want To Increase Your Productivity? Have Kids.
Time limitations increase productivity.
My work window is from 08.30, after I have dropped my kids to kindergarden and day care, to 4pm, when I go to the gym.
With that limited time, I follow these rules:
- I stopped looking at my news feeds until the evening. I read quite a few feeds and I used to do it around lunch – but it’s so unimportant really that I moved it to the late evening.
- Same for news. I don’t need news during the day.
- I noticed I get pissed off when people show me the usual bullshit videos, funny pictures, and other nonsense. I started to just ignore these.
- I use Facebook mostly for business and browse my feed in the evenings.
- Same for Twitter.
- I stopped using all IM except Skype and Facebook Messenger.
- I rarely take phone calls. I never take sales calls. I never answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize. I have no voice mail.
- Most “social” business meetings (networking, status updates, etc) can be moved to a lunch meeting.
- I know I’m old, but my primary method of communication is email. I love email because it’s asynchronous. I have no problem with getting too many emails. The trick is to have effective filters, moving all mailing lists and semi-interesting newsletter to a separate folder. In my replies, I rarely write more than a few sentences.
- I try to educate people working with me to be specific in questions. Instead of “it doesn’t work”, I expect a specific explanation what doesn’t work, how to reproduce it and maybe a screenshot.
- I work with a four monitor setup, having Skype on the left, my main workspace in the middle, and Thunderbird on the right monitor.
2. Let Others Do the Work
I have to get a lot better at delegating stuff because I micromanage too much and can be obsessive about details. But I’m really good at outsourcing repetitive and time intensive stuff.
- I have sysadmins who take care of servers.
- Swiftly is an excellent platform to get quick design tasks done. I use it religiously because as soon as I open Photoshop, I know I’ll spend a day there obsessing about a wrong pixel. You can get a free task there by following this link (I get a free one too then).
- I have excellent project managers to deal with freelancers. I truly believe your first hire when you run a website should be a project manager to deal with authors, developers, and all of that.
3. Prioritize Yourself
Being lazy means you have to chose what to do carefully. You don’t want to spend your energy on things you don’t value or enjoy. For example, if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, you won’t be at your best to take care of your child.
Five Productivity Tools I Can’t Live Without
- LastPass. Rule number one for any Internet user is not to use an easy to guess password. Rule number two is not to use the same password for more than one service. So you need something to manage your passwords and store them securely. I used to use KeePass, but LastPass is so much better with its tight Firefox and Chrome integrations and an iPhone application.
- Evernote. If I am to use todo lists and shared task management, it has to be extremely easy and efficient. Evernote is. Plus it comes for PC and iOS.
- DisplayFusion. DisplayFusion is an utility to expand the Windows taskbar and wallapers to multiple monitors.
- SugarSync (or Dropbox). I barely remember life before SugarSync, but what a hassle it must have been! I actually used to email myself important documents so that I could access them from another PC. SugarSync keeps my “My Life” folder that stores all documents and pictures synchronized between all computers that I use. Plus, it has an iPhone version, version control (“access the document version from two days ago”) and file sharing.
- AirForShare. Share text and files instantly between devices on the same network (for example between iPhone and PC).
Bonus tip. My coffee machine is right next to my desk. Saves minutes of walking time every day!