July 27, 2021

How To Make Better Use Of Your Time: 5 Books & Courses To Boost Your Productivity Levels

How can we make sure we’re focusing our time and energy on the things that really matter? In today's digital age, it’s harder than ever to reach peak productivity levels: we’re up against a tide of social media platforms vying for our attention, as well as the siren call of phone notifications disrupting our workflow.

It’s never been harder for us to get into that state of ‘deep flow’. As these books and courses reveal, the secret to achieving long-term productivity and success isn’t about aimlessly checking off checklists, or increasing your caffeine intake: it’s about doing less tasks per day, not more of them. 

From self-care suggestions to practical tips and tricks for tackling your daily tasks head-on, these books and courses have some important lessons to share on procrastination, cutting down our social media usage, and making the most of your time.

Productivity for Creatives: Turning Ideas into Action – Tanner Christensen

On Uptime

Have you ever seen a new product advertised on TV, a new bestselling book announced by publishers, or a new trend taking off on social media, and thought, “hey, that was my idea?”

Inspiration is everywhere - our brains are amazing at churning out new ideas on a daily basis, and some of them aren’t half bad, either. Unfortunately though, for most of us, these ideas don’t amount to much. Our trouble isn’t with coming up with new ideas, but with taking the initiative to act on these sparks of inspiration and turn them into something tangible.  

quotation marksEveryone has ideas, but what people don’t tend to do is produce something with those ideas. Productivity means you're actually producing something.

Creative strategist Tanner Christensen’s course, Productivity for Creatives, teaches how to plot your own roadmap for success by identifying and tapping into two of our most important assets: our motivation, and our drive. 

There are three key take-aways from this course: 

  • Why we should better value our ideas. The more important they are to us, the more likely we are to act on them and bring them to light. This requires a shift in mindset. 
  • Why we should pay more attention to our habits. A habit can either make or break our productivity, so we want to cultivate healthy habits above all else. 
  • Why we should start investing in our environment. We often associate the environment or space we’re in with our daily activities - for example, our bedroom for sleep. So if we want to maximize our productivity, we need to choose an environment that will stimulate our minds.

Christensen also provides planning a roadmap for our success. Whether we’re aspiring entrepreneurs, entry-level candidates, or even masters of our trade, we can all gain effective strategies on how to get stuff done.

The Productivity Project – Chris Bailey

On Uptime

What does peak productivity really look like, anyway? Writer and ‘productivity consultant’ Chris Bailey was so intrigued by the concept that he turned down multiple lucrative job offers to further investigate it, spending a year in a deep dive experiment in order to get to the bottom of this elusive concept. 

The end-result was The Productivity Project, a treasure chest of insights about how we can make better use of our time, our attention, and our energy, and better learn how to concentrate.

He also provides over 25 techniques on how to identify and battle procrastination triggers, poor sleeping habits, caffeine addiction, and internet distractions. 

quotation marksEvery lesson I learned fell into better management of one of three categories: my time, my attention, and my energy.

Some of the lessons we can learn are:  

  • How picking the right environment to work in can enhance our levels of productivity
  • Why overworking ourselves in the short-term never amounts to achieving long-term success
  • The importance of The Rule of 3. This rule involves setting 3 goals or 3 activities we wish to complete, for example, what 3 things do we want to achieve in one day, what 3 milestones do we want to reach in the week, or what 3 goals do we want to have accomplished in the year?

Productivity Habits that Stick: Using Time Theming – Mike Vardy

On Uptime

Most of us try to tackle our heftiest workloads by stretching ourselves to try and cover as much ground as we can. Most entrepreneurs, however, can attest to the fact that trying to do too many things at once will only result in chaos, and only makes it harder for us to reach our goals. 

That is where Mike Vardy’s concept of time theming comes in. Time theming is a simple but effective way to work, and involves giving certain hours of the day a focus point or theme. 

For example, if you were to create content for a living, Monday could be your content creation day, Tuesday your social media day, while reserving Wednesday for planning.

In his easy-to-follow course, Product Habits That Stick: Using Time Theming, Vardy shows us how we can design a simple but durable productivity system that you can incorporate into every aspect of your life, and transform the way you work. 

quotation marksWe spend a lot of time doing busy work and just checking off as many boxes as possible. My goal is to help people check off the right boxes.

Overcoming Procrastination – Brenda Bailey-Hughes

On Uptime

Procrastination is a term we are all too familiar with: leaving work to the last minute, finding excuses to do other things, and easily getting distracted. How do we get over such a hindering habit, though? 

Instead, we need to learn how to work smart. Instructor and Kelley School of Business senior lecturer Brenda Bailey-Hughes’ course on Overcoming Procrastination teaches us ways we can identify our delaying habits, and addresses the common reasons why we put them off in the first place, from not enough inspiration, too many distractions - or, importantly, a lack of confidence in ourselves.

quotation marksProcrastination is a habit, not a personality flaw.

Some of her key tips for fighting procrastination include:

  • The importance of implementing a reward system. If you’re the type to easily get distracted by phones and social media, schedule phone time: 2 hours of work rewarded by 30-minutes of phone time. 
  • Tips for work according to urgency, such as creating a to-do list with all the urgent assignments and deadlines at the top, and all the less urgent tasks can follow.
  • Why we need a quiet working environment that’s free from noise and distraction, whether or not you’re now working from home

Singletasking – Devora Zack

On Uptime

How many times have you seen a job post with ‘ability to multitask’ listed as one of the requirements? It’s commonly believed that multitasking is seen as a positive quality useful for getting work done faster (thus, increasing productivity). 

Devora Zack is here to debunk that myth. The efficiency of multitasking has been proven false - instead, Zack is an advocate for singletasking: she argues that desperately trying to juggle our tasks only makes us more stressed and less focused. Not only does it overwhelm our minds, it also takes a toll on our physical health as well.

Instead, fully devoting your attention and focus on one task at a time is the best way to get the job done. No more sending emails while sitting in on virtual meetings: throughout Zack’s book, we find some handy tips on how to complete tasks in a less stressful way, and un-learning how to multitask.

quotation marksSingletasking is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

The key insights we find in this book include:

  • Why multitasking can be detrimental - and even seriously harmful - to our lives
  • Simple life hacks to help us start singletasking, such as the Cluster Tasking technique
  • Why singletasking can also help us improve our personal relationships
Use this arsenal of strategies to personalize your productivity and free up your energy, so that you can spend more time on the things that matter.
Christopher Parker summed it up best: "Procrastination is like a credit card- it’s a lot of fun, until you get the bill."
To start upleveling your own time management and seizing knowledge from the experts, take a deep dive into our productivity Hacks on Uptime.

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