Happy New Year! May 2022 bring you all the joy and success you most want to have with your books, business, and in all aspects of your life!
The New Year always gets me thinking about how time is being spent. There are several natural times during the year when most of us have the urge to get things organized and under control; the New Year is definitely one of them.
With a fresh new year upon us, and because there are many challenges and distractions on the road to getting organized, figuring out how to find and stay the course is wildly important.
Today I thought I would share some of my favorite tools and resources for planning and organization. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some have worked magic for me and maybe if you’re looking for some new ideas, they will work for you, too. If you feel so moved, give them a try and see what works for you. Also, please share some of your best tips and resources with me in the weeks ahead so that we can all benefit from one another’s brilliance. Let’s jump in and begin.
The Planning Process
Even the planning process itself takes time and it is best if it is uninterrupted time. This consists of not only containing interruptions from other people in your environment, but the many distractions that come from our own minds, such as…
“Ooo, this is hard. Maybe I’ll check social media first.” Or, “What’s the weather going to be like for the rest of the week? Let me check.” “I’m hungry.” “I need a walk.” The list is really endless.
Here are some ways to stop those distractions and help you to create a stronger state of mind that stays focused on what you want to do and create, beginning with….
The Pomodoro Method: Or The Egg Timer Method. At least that’s what I called it when I started doing it some years ago. Imagine my surprise that it has a real name and is an official tool that is called the Pomodoro Method. This video explains the technique. The video is aimed at med students, but it’s for anyone who is busy.
Here are the basics of the Pomodoro Method taken from a published review:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, and start your task.
- If a distraction pops into your head, write it down on a piece of paper and return to your task.
- When the buzzer rings, put a checkmark on your paper.
- Take a five minute break.
- After four Pomodoros, take a thirty-minute break.
The Flow Method: The Flow Method is similar to the Pomodoro Method with some differences. It is another favorite of mine, which I’ve written about before here. The basic ten steps are as follows:
- Consider the important message in your book and how others will benefit from it.
- Remember a time when you were already in flow state. A time when you were doing something that was so fun and absorbing that time stood still. Focus on that and bring up those wonderful feelings again.
- Choose a task for your book publicity and marketing efforts that you want to focus on.
- Think of that activity and continue to feel the feelings when you imagined yourself in flow state. Merge them together.
- Make a decision that this is what you’re going to do for the next period of time and focus.
- Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard.
- Clear away distractions including any distracting thoughts.
- Learn to focus on that task and enjoy yourself!
- Keep practicing.
- Create some kind of anchor or ritual that tells your mind, body, and spirit that it’s time to go into flow state.
Too woo woo? That’s OK. It works.
In addition, we all know how much music can help us in our efforts. The right kind of music during a challenging workout or as we’re winding down to go to sleep is powerful. There are those who say it can help with creative efforts and to get into the flow state as well.
This is nothing new. Since the Bronze Age, ceremonial chambers acoustically tuned to specific brainwave frequencies have been found, while the ancient Greeks used flickering sunlight shining through a spinning wheel to induce altered states. Others say none of that works. I say if it works for you and it helps you to be more productive and creative, then use it!
Brain.fm is a resource I use for focus and concentration but there are many others. You can simply search YouTube using “focus music” and/or “binaural beats” and many options will come up.
Another important piece to planning is being able to easily track what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you want to do in the future–similar to a tickler file.
Trello: The makers of Trello promote their service as a way of collaborating with others on your team. If you don’t have a team yet, you can be very productive using it just for yourself. Here is the link to the Trello blog which gives good explanations to beginners.
Monday.com: I am sure you have seen some of the ads for Monday.com, particularly on social media. I bought a subscription with them 3 or 4 years ago and used it for about two. It was fun in a number of ways, particularly using it with others, but I finally decided to give it up because there wasn’t a template that really worked for what I needed it to do. Keep in mind that if you try it and decide later to close your account, all of your work is on someone else’s platform. That produces issues in and of itself, so be aware if you should decide to go that route.
Google. There is always a Google product. Google docs and sheets are another way to share with others on your team and can save a lot of time as changes are made and saved at once. No longer do you have to email documents and later hope you have the most current version when you’re working on them.
Productivity Planners: There are a million planners out there, or so it seems, and to find one that really works for you, you have to experiment and try a bunch of them. I feel like my search for the perfect planner is never ending. Some have a few features that I love, as well as a lot of information and features that are never going to be used. Maybe you’ve found a planner that you love (Let me know what it is, and why you love it!). Twice I found a great planning system that worked for me but they eventually both went out of business. 🙁 I still like David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, although I confess I haven’t used it much over the last several years.
Todoist: I know a number of people who swear by Todoist and that is their system of choice. I tried this one for about a year back in 2012, but felt like I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. Too often I had to move an action to the next day, and sometimes the next. If you love creating lists, this one may be perfect for you.
Mind Maps: Of all the productivity tools out there, Mind Maps have proven to be the best by far for me. This system is able to incorporate the big picture and then drill down to the everyday tactics. Plus, you can look at it all at the same time. Lists can’t do this, which is why they can be frustrating. Articulating the immense value of the Mind Maps system is hard to do. The secret to its success is that the system actually maps out the way your brain works. Here is a short video by Tony Buzan, the inventor of the Mind Map, in which he easily explains how they work and how simple they are to create.
Bottom Line: There are a million different productivity tools out there and if you’re anything like me, you want to find the best tools that work for you. It is good to keep in mind that whatever you pick will always have some kind of learning curve attached. Ideally, finding something intuitive that makes us productive beyond our wildest dreams is what we’re looking for. I’m still looking.
That said, please share your best productivity tools and I will include them in an upcoming post. Whatever you use to get your message out there, good luck. May 2022 be a fabulous year for us all. We deserve it.
To your success!
P.S. This is gonna be the best day of your life! Crank it up!
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