Calling all productivity gurus- enter our new contest and win a full copy of MindManager 6!

59 Comments

Mobile tech and productivity go hand in hand since I firmly believe that the right technology can provide untold boosts to personal productivity.  The best way for someone to improve their habits and boost their personal productivity is to follow tips and suggestions from others who have implemented certain practices with positive results.  So here’s the deal for our jkOnTheRun Productivity Boosting contest.  Add a comment to this thread detailing what you feel is your best tip or practice that has made a big difference in how productive you are on a daily basis.  As an example, here’s my own tip (no, I’m not eligible to win):

One of the worst time wasters that I see most people fall victim to is the “chasing the email” syndrome.  You know the type (maybe you are one) that has their email client (Outlook for instance) that polls for new email on a ridiculously short cycle.  The default I believe is 5 minutes but I know some people have their program check for new mail every minute!  So every minute or two Outlook grabs the new email, plays that oh too familiar ding sound, and the person stops whatever they are doing and looks to see what it is and who it’s from.  This is what I call chasing your email.  If you get a lot of email each day there is nothing more distracting than to do this.  Here’s my tip– I turn off automatic polling for email in Outlook.  That way, I only grab the email when I have time to deal with it and more importantly, it is not distracting me every few minutes.  Just turning off that distinctive “you have new mail” sound is not good enough if you leave Outlook up on the display, because you’ll keep glancing at it as you go through withdrawal of hearing that ding sound all day.  I guarantee you that your work will flow much more cleanly as you will devote your attention and energy to whatever task you are working on because you won’t get distracted in the middle.

That’s the kind of tip we are looking for as entries to the contest, and no, you can’t just submit this one ,reworded or no.    I believe that after we run this contest for a week we should generate so many good tips that everyone will benefit and that’s the purpose of the contest.  At the end of a week (June 15th in the US) Kevin and I will pick the best entries we feel are most useful and the six best will win a prize worth several hundred dollars.

Mindjet_MindManager_6_win MindManager_6_Mac_box

In celebration of releasing a Mac version of the outstanding program MindManager 6, the good folks at Mindjet are putting up 6 full licenses to MindManager Pro.  There will be 3 winners of a Windows version of the program and 3 winners of the Mac version so tell all your Mac friends too.  These licenses are worth a bunch of money so the prizes are worth making a good entry to the contest.  Get cracking on those entries and spread the word through other web sites and let’s get a lot of tips to share!  Be sure and tell us if you use a Windows or a Mac in your entry so we know what you are playing for.

59 Comments

Mesapilot

Here are two more tips for the contest. I got the first idea from my wife. She has “Quiet Time” during the day where the kids can do a quiet activity, like draw, color, or watch a movie so that my wife can have some peaceful time during the day to catch up on tasks or enjoy a good book. Just like her, my days are so busy and whenever I have second of downtime I am reading an ebook, listening to the jkOnTheRun Podcasts, or catching up on the news, etc. I never just sit down and relax. I also noticed that some of my best ideas came at night as I winded down from the day right before going to bed. So the first productivity tip is to schedule in “Quiet Time”. This can be early in the morning before the family wakes up, or at night after the kids are in bed, whatever works best for you. Give your mind time to relax and freely think. It is amazing how many great thoughts, ideas, and solutions you can come up with when you are not bombarding yourself with outside stimuli.
The second tip is to keep a pad of paper, a pda, or tablet next to the bed within reach so that when a great idea comes to your right before sleep or during the middle of the night you can quickly jot it down for reference the next morning. These two tips have definitely helped me and I hope that they will help someone else.

Mesapilot

After reading the tip above, I am very impressed by the Groupbar software, however, a virtual desktop manager is invaluable to me. So I thought that I would include it here as a tip. Since my time can be divided between several companies and clients in a single day, I find it very productive to use virtual desktops. Depending on the situation, I will have a desktop for communication, research, and creation or maybe I will setup a desktop for each client or project that I will be working on for the day. This allows me to focus on the task at hand without distraction. If I am researching a new product, I do not have email popups every few minutes. When I am in a creative mode or organizational mode, I can switch desktops and start working again with out distraction from instant messenger or email. I have also noticed that there seems to be a psychological switch at the same time. By switching desktops, I am mentally switching my focus to the task that I have assigned to the desktop and have made a conscious choice to set aside any and all distractions. At first, I did not see the benefit of virtual desktops, however now they are invaluable to me.

scharne

I have often 20 to 40 different windows in Windows XP opened at the same time. This is supporting my multi-threaded work style in the best possible way. I have searched for a long time to find a method of how to group the applications and documents together that belong to one work item. Virtual desktop managers can be used somehow for this grouping but for me all not visible desktops (and the applications and documents on them) are too easily “forgotten”. Since some weeks I am using a new solution for windows grouping that I enjoy a lot during my workday. It is “Groupbar” from Microsoft Research ( http://research.microsoft.com/vibe/groupbar.aspx ). Basically I use Groupbar as an additional Windows taskbar that is allowing me to group windows in Groupbar with simple drag + drop together; these grouped windows are represented then as visual groups (see details on the Groupbar website). I see this as one of the greatest productivity enhancements to Windows since the introduction of Windows XP. PS: It works best when you have a wide screen display available.

Robert Burdock

Hi Guys,
Well here are three main productivity tips that have helped me immensely:

Firstly – a tip adapted from David Allen – Keep your email inbox EMPTY. When you get emails deal with them there and then and when you have dealt with them then delete them (move emails that need to be kept for reference to a reference folder in your mail program). I can’t begin to tell you how much time I save through not having to wade through hundreds of pages of ‘stored’ emails every time I open up my mail program.

Secondly – adopt a Zero Tolerance attitude towards anything you own that doesn’t function correctly, fucntions too slowly or is in some way broken resulting in its reduced effectiveness taking up more time than it was designed to. This could be anything from an automatic kettle that doesn’t switch off automatically causing you to stand over it until it boils, to owning a computer that is so old it takes an inordinate amount of time to do anything productively on it. Perhaps you own a printer that continually jams or you use a 2-slice toaster every morning when you have a family of 8 to feed. With a zero tolerance attitude you ruthlessly go around your house/workplace identifying anything that’s broken, temporarily repaired, unreliable, too slow, too fiddly etc. and replace them.

Thirdly – This tip evolves from Michael Gelb in his extraordinary book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci (this book is a self-help bible to me and when I get around to it I’m going to convince you all what an incredible book it is). Anyway the tip itself involves adopting an ethos of ‘childlike curiosity’ (Curiosita) when embarking on learning something new, or as I have found, doing something you don’t really want to (it’s a great procrastination buster). By getting overly curious about what your involved in (and curiosity can be evoked through questioning i.e. asking what if? a lot and showing an overly intense level of interest in what your doing) instantly improves your productivity and usually your learning potential also improves ten-fold as your brain, in contrast to rebelling against what your forcing it to do, instead enjoys the experience and works towards finding better and more efficient solutions to the task in hand.

That’s my three. I hope they are useful to someone. Good luck with the competition.

Philip Ferris

My productivity tip is in 3 parts, tip and two uses of it.

Firstly and most importantly, Learn Mindmapping. The technique is so versatile and effective, whether presenting information, gathering research, brainstorming (bluesky thinking), recording minutes, etc, etc.

Secondly, GTD has been mentioned already, my tip involves implenting it in an extremely efficient way using mindmapping.

GTD requires one to record in some medium, eg on paper or perhaps computer all the things you have on your mind that you need to do something about, then record the very next thing you need to do to move the item along. Using mindmaps enables a huge amount of information to be recorded and viewed at once; you can have your tasks all laid out with the very next thing you need to do next to it.

Thirdly, when taking minutes in a meeting use a mindmap. If the topics jump about, despite the agenda, or addendums crop up later that relate to earlier items you can easily add it in to the appropriate place; if you create the map on computer live, ie during the meeting, you don’t need to retype it afterwards. When throwing ideas about in a meeting, as well as documenting it in a mindmap, project the map during the meeting; everyone can see the progress, items can be moved around when new relationships are discovered, items that turn out to be particularly complex can be swiftly moved to a new branch of their own. You do not need to retype the document and so save extra time and this method often gets even the most reserved of people to contribute.

Craig Walters

I think the key to higher productivity is separating the important from the urgent. Daily quiet time for thought and meditation reflecting on what really important tasks I have focuses my days and weeks on what matters most.

Eric Hubbard

I could not live without my GTD Outlook Add-in (http://www.davidco.com/store/other.php). It allows me to crank through emails and get to zero twice a day! I can delegate tasks by clicking a button on the email and set up reminders to track the assignments. It helps me to organize my tasks by context so that when I am in the mood to draft, I can easily pull up all of the reports that I need to draft and choose the one that sparks my muse. This product will move you from being a brown belt in productivity to a black belt in no time. Check out the Davidco.com site for more information.

Andre

I’d like to suggest a simple yet powerful tip that I’ve seen many people recommend.

Most productivity problems have to do procrastination. At least mine did. Sometimes the main reason for this is that you find the task too complex and/or don’t identify all bits that must be done, so you don’t start it at all.

So my tip is: start writing, start with a small bit of it. The rest will usually follow, and when you take a glance at what you have done so far, most of the times you’ll find you have accomplished a good deal of the task.

I find that when you associate this with the previous identification of each bit of the task, à la GTD, it solves most productivity issues. That’s tip #2.

Furthermore, I would heartily recommend reading “Getting things done” (David Allen) and M. Linenberger’s “Total workday control”, for a different approach. That’s tip #3 and #4.

Brian Baker

Remember that (at least in most organization), you are in control of your own workday! If you need time to complete certain tasks but you are constantly getting invited to meetings, add some “block” appointments to your calendar. These will just be some placeholders where others in your company will see you are busy and adjust their meeting invitations accordingly. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to decline a meeting invitation or suggest an alternative meeting time. Rather than becoming upset, most co-workers will appreicate you wanting to attend at a time when you can focus on the topics at hand.

dave t

Before I add a few tips may I confirm that this will be open to your allies over the Pond or is it just a US centric thingie?

Charlene Barina

I come from a technical background, but I’m currently in Public Health, and I mostly work with women (and am myself female). These strategies tend to work for the groups and situations I’m in. Also, as I am a grad student, I don’t have much money, so many of my tips are using low-cost or no-cost software as well as plain people skills (which we all should use more!)

Group (low/medium tech)
First off, talk about everyone’s expectations for the group, how the group will work, what model of decision-making you’ll use in case of really intractable (or not so intractable) disagreement (consensus, voting, flipping a coin), and timeline. Ask people to bring up both good and bad past experiences and what they like and don’t like – many people are scarred by previous group experiences. This helps people understand where everyone comes from and how they’d prefer to work. Ideally, also set up a regular meeting time as well as expectations/enforcement. For example, one group of mine believed in minimal meeting time – we just came together to coordinate and discuss stuff we had researched. If you weren’t ready for the meeting (which includes reading up, delivering, etc.), that was it – the meeting ended. This can backfire, of course, but it helped in making sure there was some sort of penalty or enforcement, which can be very nebulous in volunteer-type work or class group work.

Also, once everyone has a background idea of what you’re trying to do, mindmapping for the subsequent brainstorm can be invaluable. Have one person (preferably not in the group) be the notetaker for this; we’ve used MindManager, but also Freemind, as I don’t own any commercial mindmapping software. Once you capture all the ideas bouncing around, you can start evaluating them and moving them around. We’ve used projectors with laptops on this front; in general, one computer, if any, with a lcd projector can be really useful in keeping everyone on the same page and interested in what’s being developed.

Personal (medium tech)
For myself, I use GoBinder. I haven’t bought an ADF scanner yet (poor), but I mostly find my resources in electronic format and import them into gobinder. It, more than a folder file system or saved emails, keeps me all in one piece. Also, I really like using Connotea as a tagging bookmarking service for research. For those of you who use peer-reviewed journals and especially PubMed, it bookmarks the cite and everything; combined with an OpenURL server link from your university library, you can get just about one-click access to all the journal cites (if your library owns them). I’m still waiting for a nice citation style export feature, but again, it’s free.

Dennis Rice

I have so many roles in my life that getting things done in each is a constant competition. My tip is a simple one.

STOP. Take time to organize your thoughts, then organize you work. My method (you can have you own) is to open up my copy of MindManger, start a new topic and write out all the things floating through my head first. Then I sort through the physical things on my desk, scan what is in my inbox, an put down a summary of what needs to get done. I then use the power of Mind Manager to sort those things into time slots and categories (like one for NOT going to do this, which lets me mentally check it out of my thoughts).

The method is not the important tip here. The tip is to STOP, and get organized. I ALWAYS find that what seems so overwhelming is less so when I see it as a whole.

No software needed here also!

Nick Wilde

You have to make productivity a process or you just end up with a bunch of tools that get randomly used or even abandoned. It’s like buying a puzzle without the picture on the boxtop and then keep buying more pieces to try to complete the puzzle.
So first, choose a process. You can invent your own but why work that hard? There are some great ones out there. (GTD is popular but not the only one) Start to use it. Don’t get discouraged when you fall off the wagon, just keep bringing yourself back to it. Even in the beginning when you’re just learning you’ll get some benefit and this will increase with time as the process becomes more and more just “how you do things”. If some part doesn’t work for you don’t abandon the whole process and go back to chaos, change it. There is no absolute right or wrong.
Continuous incremental improvement through R&D (rob and duplicate). Use other peoples smarts/experience to continuously improve your process. The great thing for me about GTD is that so many people use it and have struggled to change their behaviour that there are great resources on the web. It helps to know others struggled too and to read about their payoff to keep motivated.
Technology; Use it where its sensible and use it to support your process. It’s a means to an end not an end in itself so don’t get obsessed. Keep what works for you, drop what doesn’t. Move on.
For me it’s GTD (though not in a form that it’s inventor might recognise), Tablet PC, MSOffice plus X1 desktop search and NEO email organiser. For you it will be different.

Steve Borsch

Here’s what has been remarkably productive for me, energizing and focusing (important for a lifelong ADD boy):

a) I’m not a big list guy (one reason why paper-based-to-date mind mapping is so powerful) but I mentally organize and create my day so that I’m working toward that day’s goals and, in turn, my overall vision

b) Invest one hour (I’m at my desk early though) in feeding my brain. I read my local paper and the Wall Street Journal; aggregate and scan many blogs, news sites, and other feeds; and enjoy my refreshing morning coffee. It’s a remarkably enjoyable start to the day…though some mornings is a challenge if I’m feeling a sense of urgency

c) I have off or down time when I listen to the podcasts I to which I subscribe. Some are fluff but most are focused on my area of interest (internet, software, technology).


Steve

Matías

I posted this TIP in studenttabletpc contest, so I will go again becouse it help me a lot.
Setup several users for your computer, select them by role, context, room or wathever you think it suits.

Let me explain.
Set a user for:
work
research
entertainment
communicate
personal projects
and on, and on.

Then set the software you need to do that thing you will do in that circunstances, if you need word and excel for work, then only alow that in that user.
If you need wikipedia, google and some library, for research, then put there.
Alow certain folders to share bethwen related users, as example dont alow your entertainment folder to get used by work user.
Even you can use some kind of parental control to alow only certain websites in each context.
You can set differents messengers users for each context if you need keep comunication. And get differents styles to each user so your innmersive experience is complete.

The thing is, if you work in a computer free enviroment, is dificult to multitask. If you need research you must go to liabrary, if you need to work you do it in the desk, if you read the papers you do it in the kitchen wile you having breakfast, If you want to see a movie you go to the living room, if you wanth tho check mail, you must go to the mailbox outside your house.
This kind of phisical separation helps to focus.
Set some kind of phisical separation in your digital enviroment. Something is dificult to change but not as hard. As if you must stand and go to another room in your house to do the other thing. If you can have different computers to do each task, IS BETTER.
This is a general vision, you must define what works better for you.
But remember, the phisical contex, we are very, very related to that, and is dificult to change millions of years to do things in analog enviroment.

Marc

I’m going to quote our illustrious President for my piece of productivity advice. To stay productive I’ve found that I need to be “The Decider.” When something hits my desk or email I decide right then and there what will happen to it. Will I approve that project the person is asking about? Will I answer the email that appeared in my box? Mailboxes and sorters labeled “Maybe”, “Future”, and “Under Consideration” are evil time-sucks. What is worse, they hover about in the background creating a constant and demoralizing distraction. You are better off taking a little more time right then and there to make a solid decision than shuffling it off into the votex that is the “I’ll look at it later” pile.

So decide…yes or no. It’s that easy. Looking back, I believe it was Yoda who said it best.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Sharon

I’ve got 7 that I wrote in a post here: http://www.joiningdots.net/blog/2005/11/seven-productivity-tips.html

The simplest one? Learn how to type – if you’re hitting the keyboard with two fingers, you’re probably wasting time. If you struggle to control your mobile with your thumbs, get a teenager to show you how…

The best productivity gains for me personally have been using a 2nd monitor when in the office, having access to my diary and email on my mobile phone when travelling, and disconnecting from the net when I need to get stuff done.

(I use a Windows PC)

Al

Hi

Do you know if MindManager will have a version that works on the Nokia 770 internet tablet, that would be really cool.

I currently use NovaMind on the Mac which is pretty good and supports OPML export which is also handy.

For meeting I use an outliner (Omni Outliner Pro) which is a great way of abbreviating and organising all at once. Also OOPro also allows recording as part of the annotation process (using the powerbook’s mic) rigth inside the outline itself.

Like Scoble carrying a phone camera enables capturing of White Boards and people’s faces, again this can be dumped directly into the outline.

I also have an XSL template that converst the Outliner file into a web page which can be shared. More could be done to automate this of course.

regards
al

Doug Peters

I don’t expect to win the contest with my reply, but my best productivity booster for you all would be, “remember that old saying,” If You Want The Job Done Right, Do It Yourself!

lsbeller

Most of us approach technology as a means to improve our productivity and consequently our lives. Yet, all too often, the pursuit of the next great gadget derails us from the very time savings we hope to gain. So, it is frequently the little things in our use of our technology that seem to have the greatest impact.

For me, three of the little things that move me the farthest in my daily pursuit of getting things done are

1. synch all of my devices directly to my exchange server instead of to each other:

I have four devices that I run Outlook or pocket Outlook on to manage my PIM data. In the past I attempted to synch all of these devices with each other either via ActiveSync or some .ost/.pst synchronizing application. It not only was time consuming to manage but disaterous if done in the wrong sequence or with the wrong settings. Now, I can be on any of the devices, add an outlook item or act on an email and that action is replicated to all of my devices seamlessly without me thinking about it or suffering the consequences if done incorrectly. It is liberating and empowering.

2. Use two monitors:

I happen to use my tablet PC as a second monitor but just having one screen to run a full window of Outlook for calendaring or email and another to to run a full screen of the application I am working in like MS Word or Internet Explorer improved my productivity by at least 20% every day. The savings comes from not having to conduct the physical acts of finding the program I want to switch to, switching to it, switching back and ultimately recovering from the distraction of it all to get back to the level of productivity I was at in the first place.

3. Use one keyboard and mouse for two computers:

Since I use my tablet as my second monitor, one of the greatest time savers for me was installing the software application “Synergy” that enabled me to use both computers from one setup – wirelessly. For me that meant I could arrive at my desk, leave my tablet in slate mode, have Synergy automatically reconnect and me instantly begin moving my curser from one screen to the next and back again with my desktop mouse and keyboard. And, if that wasn’t enough, the program also lets you copy and paste between the two computers. I love being able to copy a long, confusing url from one browser and pasting it into the other browser on the other machine in a split second.

Rob Bushway

btw – i don’t want a license – I already have plenty. If you want to award me one, I’ll give it to a reader on GBM.

Rob Bushway

Turn off auto notification of email. When you check your email, answer the ones that need it, flag the other ones for followup by using Outlook 2007’s next week, tomorrow, etc. Move all email into a Processed folder.

Work with the emails needing followup by working in your task list which includes all email needing followup.

– don’t spread you task syncing out to far. If possible, keep it to just one application.

Travis Carnahan

I get tons of email in my inbox at work. Some of it I have to take care of immediately and some of it is for later. At the end of each day, I forward the pending items to my tablet email address (which no one else in my organization has) and I schedule and prioritize for those items. This gives me a good idea of how my week is looking and allows me much better scheduling. I also use EO and GTD on my tablet to keep things straight (anyone heard anything about GTD support for office 12?)

Steve French

Hi guys,

Pretty simple for me, self-deprecating but simple:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Your Time, 3rd Edition, by Jeff Davidson.

Great book – the best one that I’ve read on time management!

Here’s what has really revolutionized my life:

* very well written in a non-assuming, conversational style
* definite focus on work-life balance – it knows that to be successful at work, you have to be happy at home as well
* it’s realistic and recognizes that not everything is going to stick
* there are no real “ah-hahs” but just a number of real, common-sense discussions that can help you get your life under control

I’ve read this book maybe 5 times, the last four times in a chapter-a-week book club format with my teams and it has seen me go from:
* staff role
* manager
* director
* VP
* CIO
* to now owning my own business

Can’t recommend it highly enough – I think I’ve given away 15 copies so far this year!

One quick bite which has been the most powerful for me is a concept called the Dynamic Bargain. All too many of us have 1,000 item to-do lists and when we knock off 8 at the end of the day, we beat ourselves up for having 992 left!

Instead, you ask yourself a simple question:

“What would it take for me to feel good about ending work on time today?”

A number of things happen when you start a process like that:
* you’re prioritizing the most important items in your to-do list
* you’re prepared when people come and barge in and drop new things on your desk to either deal with them today, delegate them or revisit at a future time – it’s called a Dynamic Bargain for a reason
* you revisit your list first thing every morning, late morning, early afternoon and before you leave to prepare for tomorrow
* you can also apply it to the week as well
* you’re not procrastinating – you’re focused on leaving work, on time, and happy to boot!

Anyway, I’ll step down from my soapbox now but I really would encourage you to pick up a copy – best $15 you’ll ever spend at Amazon!

Cheers and happy time management!

Steve

Mesapilot

As a consultant and business owner with several partners and several machines, my tip is application related. As many know, with the Beta of OneNote 2007, you can automatically sync notebooks between machines and even different users. This is invaluable to me. I have all of my notes and research synced between my two computers. At the same time, I have different business notebooks synced with my several business partners. Due to the fact that each of my partners are owners in several different businesses and are located at different offices, we are able to meet in our “Virtual Office” in our shared notebook to collaborate on business decisions. We also use the Shared notebook as a task manager where tasks are assigned to partners that htey can check off once they are completed. I know that this does not apply to everyone, however, if your time is as divided as mine with several ventures and partners, this is one of the best ways to collaborate when everyone is in different locations and online at different times.

scoobie

Marc Orchant’s meeting tips made me remember meeting tech productivity tips I use.
First, if you’re new to a job or a project it can be difficult to follow fast paced meetings and get up to speed with the project if its complex or there’s lots of jargon. When I started my current job I joined after most other people so I had to get up to speed quick. So I used a small, discrete minidisc player to record the first few meetings, so I could play them back to myself later to recap the difficult points.

Second – I always take a small digital camera with me so I can capture and quickly distribute drawings on whiteboards and flipchart notes. It saves you time writing up actions, its quicker to distribute and easier to file and retrieve!

Finally, a good principle to follow is meetings should be decision-focused and you should always write up and distribute actions afterwards. How many meetings do you go to that people don’t do this and later you’re thinking, “hey, didn’t we agree to do something?”

scoobie

I’d like to advocate the application Sciral Consistency. For me it’s a unique and perfect solution for keeping track of your reoccurring tasks. It fills a niche between the calendar (for things that have set times) and the to-do list (things you need to do once) and gives great graphical feedback.
The types of tasks you’d want to use it for are those you’d want to perform on a regular basis over a period of time. Eg I use it for:
– Tracking exercise to take(daily)
– Healthy food I want to remind myself to eat on a regular basis (eg fish, twice weekly)
– Medicine I need to take
– Keeping in touch with family and friends (at least once a week)
– Watering my plants and other household chores I’ll otherwise forget to do
Sciral has a matrix similar to a spreadsheet where each row is a task you want to do consistently, and each column is a calendar day. At the intersection of each row and column is a cell that is color coded depending on whether:
-Amber/Yellow – You should complete the task that day
-Red – The task was done late or still is overdue
-Green – Done on the right day
ie Lots of Reds means you are falling behind on that task. Over time you’ll find you can get a sense of how consistently you’re doing your tasks according to the target ranges you set just by observing the color patterns – its such a simple idea.
It’s inexpensive, pleasant to use and available for both Mac and Windows. Check it out.
http://www.sciral.com/consistency/

I use Windows XP and Tablet. I have no connection to this program. This whole Productivity idea is a great idea by the way!

osteocruncher

Hi,

I have a couple of productivity tips for your contest. Although my second tip is pretty harsh in one sense or another. Having recently completed my MBA studies and drastic measures had to be taken to ensure there were no distractions when completing assignments etc. So 1st tip: Workspace tidyness/order is often overlooked when setting out to cover your daily tasks or routines in order to get the jobs done. This means being prepared to think about what you are going to need near to you in order to complete your tasks. Whether it will entail electronic or good old fashioned paper data, if it is not needed there and then get it off your workspace. Cluttered desk equals cluttered mind. My 2nd tip, which sounds completely wacky to say the least is something I found worked perfectly for me. Basically when you need to get things done, reduce the distractions. For me it was tempting to look at the web every so often when trying to get assignments completed. Firstly, I know it is impossible to get all the info initially for your tasks as your roadmap for an assignment might change but I did my best to have the core info to start with. So I hooked up a timer switch to my wireless router to be turned off for 53 minutes in the hour(s) I was working. So having 7 minutes each hour to browse for materials and check emails. I am telling you it gets you focused!! If i did not get the necessary info in the alloted time then I moved to the next part that I had info for. This was great for going back and forth through my work and keeping me focused. I don’t know if anyone will find this useful but hey it worked for me. Good luck. PS: JK & KCT: I am using a windows tablet pc.

Marc Orchant

Despite the fact that I’m neither eligible (I think doing a podcast wirh JK disqualifies me, non?) nor in need of a MindManager license (got mine already), I’ll get the ball rolling wih the following tip.

Next time you schedule a meeting, attach an agenda that includes the following items:

1. Sequence of events and time blocks
2. Any prep work or reading required to participate
3. Assign these roles: Leader, Timekeeper, Scribe

The first item allows people to understand what you hope to accomplish and sets time constraints that help keep the discussion focused and on task.

The second item allows attendees time to read and think about any background material that will be discussed or referenced in the meeting (attach the documents or provide links).

The third item defines three critical roles. Someone has to “own” the meeting and take responsibility for achievin gthe agenda. Someone has to watch the clock and make sure the meeting doesn’t get off track. Someone needs to focus on capturing what is discussed and agreed to so everyone else can concentrate on the discussion.

Your meetings will be more productive and people might actually look forward to them if you follow these “advanced common sense” suggestions. Oh and by the way, a MindManager map is a great way to accomplish all of the above in a single document you can send to all attendees and stakeholders in the meeting.

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