I love being productive. I really enjoy analyzing and noticing my patterns and rhythms and systems in life and I’m always trying to be more efficient. Maybe I’m even a little OCD about it.
I used to race my dad at the gym to see who could get dressed quickest. At the beginning he was standing out in the hall three or four minutes ahead of me waiting. It made me crazy. I started noticing all his little efficiencies in merely getting dressed. Economy of movement. Did you know you can be untying your tie and unbuttoning your shirt while simultaneously removing your shoes? I will race anyone in getting totally ready at the gym start to finish.
There are dozens of productivity apps, systems and methodologies out there. And from interviewing many people about the topic, everyone seems to settle in on their own specific, personalized system. For some people the central feature is email and an inbox zero approach (Mailbox). Others tend to primarily take notes and then jot down a few to do’s (see Evernote). I’ve even met people who still swear by the tactile approach of a Moleskine or composition notebook. For myself, I do use most of these systems also but tend to have the productivity app (Todo) as the catchall.
Everyone knows this stuff and to some degree has a system that is hopefully working for them. But I’ve been thinking about the less than common skills:
My dad taught me speed reading when I was in high school and I quickly went from the normal 300-500 words per minute to several thousand. And believe it or not, comprehension does go up- it has to when you’re focusing that hard. It is not a relaxing way to read. But, it saved my bacon not only in high school but especially college where I could read and understand books and assignments in a quarter of the time that was typical. And the skill continues to help me. Every. Single. Day. Need to crank through 50 emails and only have five minutes? Need to read a contract or proposal and find the meat quickly? Need to stay up-to-date and relevant by reading dozens of blogs and articles a day or week? Speed reading baby. And it’s never too late to learn this.
In business especially, we spend a lot of time in front of screens and keyboards. Being able to type really fast speeds up everything you do. I learned it young but it’s worth staying sharp on throughout life. Taking a few minutes to time and test yourself to build your speed can make a huge difference for years. And if you’re the hunt and peck type, I sincerely hope you’ve got the the next one dialed in.
As good as typing is, it can’t touch dictation. And typing is eventually going away. The speed of dictation (as I am doing on this article) is almost double the speed of any typist. And as good as Siri is, the recognition is nearly 100% acupuncture 😉 . Granted, I have spent years working on speed and tone to get going that fast but these new phones and computers can dictate accurately as fast as you can speak.
Saving calls and emails for the drive
With not so much as a headset button push, I can crank out a bunch of emails on drives during the day or while going home. Or I can dictate a blog post. The time used in my office to do this would be not nearly as efficient with multiple interruptions as 10 minutes of drive time and dictating. Getting all those words out is focused and fast, thanks to dictation and isolation in the car.
There are many more secret weapons than this but these are the top four that I use almost daily to increase my productivity and get a lot more done each day. What are your own secret weapons?
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