Finding Your 30-Second Anchoring Technique & more: This Week in Productivity, Jan 22, 2016

Welcome to This Week in Productivity, our weekly round-up where we share the best productivity insights from around the web. This week, we’ve discovered  anchoring techniques to improve your focus, how to follow through on your resolutions, and ways to avoid the “Akrasia Effect” (not doing what we should be doing). We’ve also learned about handling stressful transitions, reducing impromptu meetings, and choosing the right productivity tools.

Finding Your 30-Second Anchoring Technique
by Achim Nowak (@AchimNowak)

Key Takeaway: Life can get overwhelmingly busy and distracting. Effective anchoring techniques can quickly help you to focus.

Tips and Tricks:
Experiment with anchoring techniques to find what works best for you.

  1. Recite an affirmation to yourself, using words that resonate with you.
  2. Visualize a serene and calm place.
  3. Listen to a piece of music that fits the mood you want to be in.
  4. Breathe in and out and adjust your posture.
  5. Say a prayer or a mantra.

Most Resolutions Fail Because They’re Not Important Enough
by Stewart D. Friedman (@StewFriedman)

Key Takeaway: Time markers like the new year, a new job or a birthday create a strong motivation to refresh ourselves. However, despite our best intentions, resolutions made at these times rarely result in actual change. Goals that are specific, simple, and important are most likely to result in action.

Tips and Tricks:
There are four practical steps you can take toward achieving your goals.

  1. Identify which skill matters the most to you and focus on developing this skill.
  2. Articulate why important people in your life will benefit when you improve this skill. This raises the emotional stakes and forces you to think like a leader.
  3. Devise an action plan for improving this skill.
  4. Involve friends and colleagues for support and to help build your accountability.

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do (And What to Do About It)
by James Clear (@james_clear)

Key Takeaway:  Our brain tends to prefers instant rewards over long-term payoffs. This is why we experience Akrasia, the state of acting against our better judgment. The Akrasia Effect makes you do something in the short term even though you know you should really be doing something else for the long term. This hinders you from achieving your goals. Beating the Akrasia Effect means making procrastination harder and work easier.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Use a “commitment device” to make it harder to engage in bad behaviors or easier to do good ones. For example, remove potential distractions from your work station.
  2. Get in the habit of starting the task, rather than procrastinating. It’s often not the task itself that is the main obstacle, it’s the thought of starting it.
  3. State your intention to do the action at a specific date, time, and place. That’s where having a personal calendar works.
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Handling Transitions Without Losing Your Productivity (Or Your Sanity)
by Annie Mueller

Key Takeaway: Planning for change is based on theoretical challenges and rewards, so it’s usually a lot more fun than actually tackling the associated real-world challenges. Transitioning from change planning to action is often a source of stress and anxiety unless you’re aware of this phase and know how to navigate through it. 

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Talk about your anxieties with a friend or write them down to release some of your negative emotions and worries.
  2. Regain control during the change transition phase by sticking to your routines, even if in a reduced or tweaked way. Doing your daily run, going on your regular coffee run, or working on your hobby help remind you that you’re still in control.
  3. Don’t worry about being 100% productive during the transition. Focus on what you can do during this phase, not on what you can’t, adjusting your goals if necessary. Even small wins will help you gain some measurable progress each day. 

Impromptu Meetings: Cutting Down on Drop-Ins and Got-a-Minutes
by Laura Stack (@laurastack)

Key Takeaway: While social interaction is good for team-building, too many impromptu meetings can be time-suckers and tricky to handle. Having some rules for meetings will help unproductive drop-ins from “stealing” your time. 

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Make it easy for people to know when you aren’t available for chatting. Post a sign, put on your earphones, or close your door if you have to.
  2. Post office hours to tell everyone when you’re available or “reverse office hours” to show when you’re not.
  3. When someone drops in on you unexpectedly, make sure to tell them that you can only spare them a few minutes. If they need more time, tell them to schedule a meeting.
  4. Do standing or even walking meetings if possible to cut down on time and  focus the conversation on the task.
  5. If someone overstays their welcome, try standing up to cut the conversation short, or let them know you have a looming deadline or meeting to get to (even if it’s just an “escape” visit to the bathroom).

5 Reasons You Aren’t Using Your Productivity Tools and Gadgets
by Craig Jarrow (@TMNinja)

Key Takeaway: Why do productivity tools seem to eat up more time than they save? One reason is most of them don’t fit the way you work. 

Tips and Tricks:
Why aren’t you using your productivity tools and what can you do about it?

  1. They’re too complex. Always go for the simplest tool that gets things done.
  2. You have too many of them. Choose a tool that does multiple tasks. (For example, ScribblePost can serve as your note-taking tool, your to-do list, or both.)
  3. They aren’t handy. Use a productivity tool that’s sure to be with you when you travel or within reach at all times, whether it’s a planner or a smartphone.
  4. You don’t know how to use them. Take the time to learn how to effectively use your tools. You only get to maximize your productivity from tools once you learn their secrets.
  5. They don’t fit you. The first step to using something is liking it. Go for tools that you enjoy using. If a smartphone app doesn’t fit you, go for paper-based tools.
  • Will Reeves

    Great post with lots of useful take away actions!
    I believe most people fail to improve their productivity because they fail to change their behaviour or habits. Changing behaviour and habits are for most people very hard, if they are done alone or not shared, sometimes need the support of others will ensure you keep your focus!

    • Hi Will – I agree! It’s good to share your goals for improving the way you work with the people around you. Most people will be supportive and often others will see logic in what you’re doing and join in… Paul.