Posts Tagged productivity

Minimalism And Single Tasking: Why It’s Important and How to Start

One of the most common questions I get in job interviews is that one about multitasking. In our productivity-driven society, multitasking is king. After some research, I’ve found that multitasking is actually one of the worst ways to be productive. Minimalism helped me learn about single tasking – and why it’s important to adopt a more single-task outlook.

Minimalism and Single Minded Focus

Single Tasking is More Efficient

The human brain can only focus on one task at a time. Your focus is kind of like a pie chart – you can focus on one major thing at a time, and the rest of that chart is filled with automatic activities like walking or chewing gum. When you multitask, you are actually never fully getting in the zone of the project you are working on.

Multitasking is actually just continually switching between projects. When you are constantly switching gears, you are actually wasting time and energy on the transition between these projects. By working on one thing at a time (and in batches, like paying all of your bills at once), you’ll actually be more productive and efficient.

Single Tasking Creates Less Mistakes

When you focus on one task at a time, you’re less likely to make mistakes. Focusing on one task at a time, which is the brain’s preferred method, you will be less distracted and therefore less likely to make mistakes.

By constantly switching between tasks, you can create up to 40% loss in productivity. When I learned this, I was immediately drawn to single tasking. Now, I work much more intentionally. Not only am I happier this way, I’m more productive and I’m getting my work done so much faster.

Minimalism and Single Tasking

Single Tasking Is Less Stressful

When I’m focusing on multiple projects at once, I tend to get a bit stressed and I notice my heart rate start to pick up. Turns out I’m not alone, as it’s been shown that multitasking can cause an increase in heart rate and stress.

Switching between many projects at once can cause me to feel overwhelmed and unequipped. When I started single tasking, I was able to tackle more work in a shorter period of time. This helped decrease the amount of time I spend working (as a digital nomad, I make an income per project, not per hour), which gave me more time to do things I like to do – hiking, photography, and spending time with loved ones.

Adopting single tasking into my life helped so much. I’ve been more productive, happier, and had more free time than ever after adopting single tasking into my life. Single tasking is just one of the many ways that minimalism has improved my life.

Your Turn!

  • Has minimalism drawn you to a more single minded focus?
  • How many tabs do you have open on your browser right now?

2 Second Lean – Eliminating Waste And Making Life Easier

I recently came across this book (which is free) and was blown away.  Lean is a philosophy of eliminating waste in our daily lives, at work or at home, to improve how we get things done.  There was a lot of overlap with a lot of what we hold dear as tiny housers.  It’s primarily oriented to manufacturing, but has a lot of practical applications in any workplace and even in our homes.

get rid of waste in life

What struck me was that 2 second lean was approachable. I’ve read a lot on Six Sigma, Agile, Scrum, and other systems, but this just clicked better.  The method had a lot of very simple lessons and application was super easy.  A lot of the techniques employed are things that we already do as tiny housers, but some new ones as well.  There some practices that really stuck out for me.

Here are a few key terms before we get into it all, most are from the Japanese who developed a lot of this stuff:

Kaizen: is a Japanese term continuous improvement.  Though slow and steady improvements we attain a better way of life.  Example: when we notice something bothers us constantly, we fix it.

Poka Yoke: this term is designing things so we can’t make mistakes or minimize them drastically.  It also is design that when a mistake is made, it jumps out at us so we can identify it.  Example: a front load washer will not start until the door is fully closed, preventing spills.

Kanban: is a technique we provide cues to remind us to refill something, buy another of an item etc so we don’t run out.  Example: I take a bright colored piece of paper, cut it to the size of a toilet paper roll and place it on top of my last one.  When I use the TP, I suddenly see the bright paper, I know I need to order more.

Visual Controls: This is employing marking and other visual cues to help people understand what’s going on at a glance.  The ideal situation is to be so clear a person could walk in and find anything or understand the flow without external direction.  Example: label bins so people know what is in them without having to look inside.

Lean is all about seeing and eliminating waste.  In our own lives we want to remove waste to make our lives easier, to give us more time to do things we’d rather do, to improve the work we do, and enjoy things more when we are relaxing.

There are 7 types of waste

At Work
At Home

  • Defects: we make a mistakes
  • Overproduction: we do extra work to fix know problems over and over again
  • Waiting: When we sit around waiting for someone to do something
  • Missed Potential: We don’t use the best person for the job
  • Excess Inventory: We have to much stuff, which leads to clutter and stress
  • Wasted Motion: we don’t have what we need close by or at hand
  • Defects: Time consuming mistakes
  • Overproduction: We don’t fix something that bothers us
  • Waiting: Wasting time on things
  • Missed potential: We don’t empower others to help
  • Excess inventory: We have clutter
  • Wasted Motion: We are constantly walking to get something

 

 

Kaizen at home:

how to declutter

When you are decluttering an areas have three boxes handy: one for trash, one box for things you want to keep, and a third box for things to donate.  When you declutter an area pull everything out.  While you’re in your downsizing process, consider having a set of general boxes so when you find something that needs to be dealt with it has a place to go right away.

Poka Yoke at home:


Think about how you can make sure things get back to where they’re supposed to be, to make sure people have the tools at hand to do the job and error proof things as much as you can.

Kanban at home:

kanban boxes in life and at home

These are bins that are mostly blue, but one end is red, an adjustable divider lets you set your threshold.  Let’s say you have 6 cans of soup, you’d put four in the blue half and then two in the red half.  Start with the blue side out, but when you run out of soup in the blue half, you’ll be forced to flip the bin to the red side.  You’ll have two more soups to go, but your bin now signals that you need to get more soup because you look for the red.

Visual controls at home:

Organizing things with visual controls will let you know exactly what goes where and identify quickly what is missing or out of place.

Taping spots for things will show people where things go.

Kanban Board in real life:

kanban board to do list

So for those of you who want to check the book out, it’s called 2 Second Lean and it’s free in a pdf and audio.  You can check it out here:  read 2 second lean here

 

Your Turn!

  • How do you eliminate waste in your life?
  • How do you make small improvements in your life?

A New Take On Time Management

I was reading this article and it spoke to me while it described following your passions, but in a productive way.  It is an interesting take on how to organize your day and boost productivity, check it out.

Reprinted from ecosalon.com, written by Danielle Laporte

 

I’m done putting my life into categories. Quadrants. Day types. Feck.
Here’s how it happened: Last year I turned my life upside down. Took a break from marriage. Moved. Shelved numerous obligations to meet a writing deadline. Avoided said writing deadline for a long time. Slammed that writing deadline. Put my health significantly further up on the priority list. Chose yoga over blog posts. Hung with friends instead of wooing clients. Launched stuff at light speed. Killed projects. Stopped cooking dinner mid-boil to capture an idea. Talked on the phone with friends…in the middle of the day…for hours.

I lived more, because it was time for some things to die.  I had to arrive at thrive or I would get stuck in survival mode. In this dimension, nothing is predictable, and unbridled is the only way to go. It was not the time to “manage” my time.

Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get “given” time for obeying the system.

I’d rather be fulfilled than obedient. And it turns out that when I’m fulfilled, I’m…fulfilled – whether I’m productive or not. And that gives me plenty of energy to be more focused on what matters most, which makes me truly productive. It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s how I got there:

HOW TO PUT TIME MANAGEMENT IN ITS PLACE. 
(BUT ONLY IF YOU WANT TO.)
1. Stop keeping a detailed to-do list. If it’s truly important, you’ll remember to do it. A few post it notes and texts to yourself should be all you need.

2. Say no, thank you to four things a day. My coach gave me this assignment. It changed my life.

3. Relentlessly focus on the one or two vocational desires that turn you on so much that envisioning doing JUST those things seems so fantastical that it borders on erotic pleasure (yep, I think it’s your birthright to feel that hot about your work in the world). Everything else that is not about fulfilling your most intense vocational desires is getting in the way of making your fantasy life a reality.

4. Work with talented and excellent human beings. Amateurs, posers and mediocrity-makers are time squatters. Move ’em out.

5. Delegate the stuff that doesn’t light you up.


6. Have (only) 3 important things to accomplish every week. Make those three things happen and you’re closer to making your fantasy life a reality. Accomplish more than that and you’ll feel like a super hero (good esteem fuels fulfillment AND productivity.)

7. Batch n’ chunk. Pay all of your bills at the same time. Create a day just for errands. Make all of your calls before noon. This “while you’re at it” kind of momentum is incredibly efficient.

8. Ask yourself every morning what you really feel like doing. Not what’s most important. Not what’s expected of you. But what you’re most excited to do. Enthusiasm is the DNA of making things happen. Start there.

Flying without a to-do list made me worry. It was scary to let go of revenue streams and planned projects. Going to yoga when I had obligations actually took some moxie. Doing what I was truly stoked to do each day was unnerving, guilt-inducing and exhilarating all at once. And it didn’t take long for this free forming time style to reveal my most lucrative, artistically satisfying, relationship-enhancing year ever.

Easy does it.