Tag Archives: Work From Home

Automate FTW

It’s been a little while since I’ve written a true productivity post and today feels like just the right time to make that happen.

One of the most effective ways to get ahead in anything that you do is to learn how to automate as much as possible. In the world of technology there are a million ways to automate things but there are also opportunities to automate smaller pieces of our daily lives.

When you automate things you allow yourself to get more things done in the same amount of time. This is the real trick and the secret win to automating. Think about a situation where you do a task. Let’s say you log on to your computer every morning and you open up a series of applications, your email, your chat client, maybe an application you need to do your work, some music, a website or two to check the weather, etc, etc…. and in total, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for everything to load up and be ready.

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And let’s say you do this every day, Monday through Friday for the entire year, that’s roughly 252 days. If all of this takes roughly 10 minutes to do each day, that’s 252 days x 10 minutes which comes to… 2,520 minutes or better said, 42 hours.

Now think about the time you save if you take those 42 hours and instead of doing the same task everyday you use those 42 hours to automate the task and take a 10 minute task down to a couple of seconds. The return on investment here is astronomical! I mean you’ve reduced the effort of this task by 99.99%. You’ve basically eliminated this work from your life and now have gained that time back to invest elsewhere.

photo cred: Carlos Aranda

So you should be thinking bigger now. What about a task that you do multiple times a day? Something that you do maybe 3 to 10 times a day? Maybe it takes a minute each time, maybe it takes 5. What about a task that takes 30 minutes every other day?

One area that I’ve cut a ton of time and work out of my own life is in managing my finances. I would constantly have to sit down and pull up an excel spreadsheet and breakdown and workout how my budget looked. What was I spending, what was I saving, where it was all going. It took a couple of hours every month and then a few minutes every week to keep it updated.

After a while I got tired of the constant manual labor and started looking for a better solution. Then I found https://www.mint.com/ and I’ve never looked back. Mint automated so much of the manual labor I was doing and not only gave me back a few hours each month it actually made my budget more accurate and less prone to human errors.

And if you continue to identify these types of tasks, these little things that you repeat on a daily or weekly basis and then you find ways to automate some parts or all of them you will find that you’re able to get even more done with the same amount of time.

This is the big trick to getting ahead. You’ve taken what’s fixed, the number of hours in a day, and you’ve managed to get more done within that fixed number of hours. If you keep compounding this effort over-and-over your levels of productivity will climb higher and higher than before.

Automate, automate, automate for the win!

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Avoiding Distractions and Getting in the Zone

Your phone beeps… the kids ask for a snack… someone rings the door bell… the next work email comes in… someone messages you on Teams or Slack… the dog starts barking…

Working from home was supposed to be quiet and peaceful. Wtf happened?

Well for starters, we had unrealistic expectations. Let’s be honest, things were never all that quiet to begin with. We’ve just added in a ton more distractions and made it a lot more convenient for them to distract us. Right now… as I’m writing this… I can see the little light on my phone blinking because I have a message…

It’s already distracting me from writing this and all it is… all it is, is a little light that is flashing every 3 FREAKING SECONDS!!@#$!

So how do you actually get any real work done throughout the week? How do you make forward progress on things you want to accomplish without being pulled in every other direction? Read on!

There are literally millions of distractors in our life and they all play on different senses. For example, we have visual distractors like if we see someone walk past our window in the middle of the day, or an email notification popup on our computer, (or that little fucking light that keeps blinking on my phone… OMG!).

We have audible distractors, like when we hear the kids or if the dog starts barking. We have distractors that relate to our sense of touch or comfortableness. Is it too cold? Too hot?

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All of these different distractors are ways to throw you off your game and keep you from getting nothing done and feeling even more stressed than ever before. but… the best way to fight these off is to start building tricks that defeat each MAJOR distractor.

I say MAJOR because you’ll waste all day trying to remove every distraction ever. Don’t be a perfectionist. Focus on the ones that give you the biggest ROI. Here’s a list of my distractors and how I fight them off and get INTO THE ZONE.

  1. My Kids – love them to death, can’t work with them at home.
    • The trick – promise them if they are good, I will #maketime to play with them that night.
  2. My Phone – beeps and buzzes all day long.
    • The trick – Silent mode and flip it upside down so I can’t see it. (finally the blinking is gone…)
  3. Emails/Messages – emails are endless…
    • The trick – Set my status to DND, turn off Outlook, and flat out ignore people. Sorry bout ya!
  4. Uncomfortableness – sometimes it’s too cold or too hot.
    • The trick – A cheap 20 dollar floor heater and mini-fan. I use them as needed.
  5. Little Noises in the House – the kids playing, cars driving by, my wife coming home on lunch.
    • The trick – Headphones and music loud enough it’s all I can hear.
  6. Other tasks or things on my mind – Often times there’s just other thoughts and ideas that can creep into our heads
    • The trick – Set a timer and focus on staying in the zone until the timer goes off. Then once it goes off, indulge for a bit. Bonus trick – write things down and then put that list somewhere you can’t see it until after you’re timer goes off.

These are all examples of distractors in my life that I’ve had to come up with little tricks for to block them out. Working from home didn’t actually make anything less distracting but I have found ways to get a ton of work done just by simply getting into my zone.

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I aim to reach this zone where I’m at my peak performance a few times a day. I try to setup some blocks of time and know what I want to get done in that block. Then I go through and pull out all of my tricks. Headphones in, coffee filled up, heater on, DND set for my messages, email closed, phone upside down, each and every trick I’ve got, I put to use.

Then I get in my zone and go to work.

I would love to hear other people’s tricks on how they get into the zone! What kind of distractions do you face on a daily basis and what tricks work to help you get in the zone?