If you were a business owner or an investor, and someone told you that if you invest $100 into something you’d get $400 back, would you do it?
In all likelihood, yes you would. The payoff is almost a no-brainer.
We think this way about money, but too often we don’t think about this with time. We spend our time on things that don’t give us any return, which can be a financial return or a time return (spend 30 minutes doing X to win back Y hours a day going forward).
I bring this up because in 2018, we wrote 63 blog posts and published 52 episodes of The Productivity Show, our productivity podcast with over 5 million downloads.
We have a rule at AE: everything we do has to be actionable and something you can implement right away. We also have a rule that everything we teach is something we use ourselves.
In that spirit, we want to point you to a few of the articles and podcast episodes we’ve released in 2018 that will help you make (and profit from time-wise) that investment. Investing a bit of time implementing these strategies will get you hours a day back — you’ll be able to use that time to make meaningful progress towards your goals.
Start With The TEA Framework
We spent a lot of time this year thinking about what productivity actually is, and where people get stuck.
What we realized after a particularly long brainstorming session in a Wisconsin conference room is that most of the obstacles people have fall into one of three simple categories:
If you think about it, chances are your productivity challenges fall into one of those buckets. We call it the TEA Framework, and we wrote about it in this article:
We also break it down in this podcast episode:
Since we have started talking about the TEA Framework and applying it to members of the AE community, we’ve had a flood of great feedback.
We further broke the TEA Framework into its Time, Energy, and Attention components:
- Article: Making Time For What’s Important — TEA Framework, Pillar 1 – Asian Efficiency
- Podcast: TEA Framework, Level 1: Making the Most of Your Limited Time (TPS219)
- Article: Increase Your Energy For a Productivity Breakthrough – TEA Framework, Pillar 2 – Asian Efficiency
- Podcast: TEA Framework, Level 2: Maximizing Your Energy (TPS220)
- Article: Stop Others From Hijacking Your Attention and You Will Achieve Your Goals – TEA Framework, Pillar 3 – Asian Efficiency
- Podcast: TEA Framework, Level 3: Maximizing Your Attention & Focus (TPS221)
Feel like you struggle with either your time, energy, or attention? (Who doesn’t?). Check out the introductory TEA Framework article or podcast above, and then after you do that, dive into your specific area(s) of concern and start taking action.
The Best AE Articles of 2018
We apply the same concepts to the articles we’ve written on the Blog. In 2018, we’ve made a conscious effort to go back to some of our most popular and core articles that we’ve written over the year and update them.
The concepts are still solid, but the examples and advice have been updated for 2018. Here are some of our best and most popular articles that were written or updated in 2018:
The Most Effective Way of Organizing Your Files and Folders — It’s amazing how much more productive you are when the electronic document or other files you need is accessible right where and when you need it. This is one of our most popular articles of all time and has a sample organizational structure you can start with and adapt for your own use.
The Top 10 Productivity Apps for the Mac (2018 Edition) — Which Mac apps do members of the AE team swear by? They’re all here, categorized and updated for 2018. There are great suggestions from the AE community in the comments, too.
The Simple Guide To Managing Your Email More Effectively — Dealing with email is one of the biggest productivity drains there is. However, if you follow this framework you will be able to stay on top of your inbox and be sure that all action items are captured. On top of that, you’ll free up lots of hours a week.
Eat That Frog – Do Your Most Important Tasks In The Morning — Want to make sure you have momentum on your most important goals? Work on the most important things first. It sounds simple, but it is not always easy. This guide will take you through how to do it.
The Ultimate Guide to The Pomodoro Technique — This is a go-to strategy for staying focused on your tasks throughout the day. See which tools we like best for implementing the Pomodoro Technique®.
How to Prioritize Your Todo List With A Sheet of Paper — You have a million things to do. How do you prioritize them? And why do you need to make sure you are working on non-urgent tasks? It’s all here.
Why You Need to Color-Code Your Calendar — You need to make sure you are creating the space to work on the things that are really important. Here are some ways we master our calendars to do just that.
The Best Podcasts of 2018
Every Monday (or “Productive Monday” as we call it), we release a new episode of The Productivity Show. The podcast does what it says on the tin: it gives actionable productivity tips and strategies every week, and it’s extremely popular: at the time of writing we’re just about to pass 5.6 million downloads.
We like to think all 52 episodes a year are great, and we recommend subscribing in iTunes or your podcast player of choice. However, here are eight episodes that are our favorite or have really resonated with The Productivity Show audience:
Focus Tips From the Most Productive Man You’d Ever Hope To Meet w/ Chris Bailey (TPS213) — It’s hard to argue with a title like that. This episode covers the concept of “hyperfocus”, and how sometimes “scatterfocus” can be beneficial too.
2 Ways to Create the Motivation You Need to Accomplish Any Goal (TPS203) — Managing motivation can help achieve any goal — willpower alone won’t do it. This podcast has 2 different approaches you can use to maintain motivation, and 5 practical tips for increasing your motivation.
The Right Tool For The Job: 5 Things You Need For Your Personal Productivity System (TPS180) — We talk about 5 things you absolutely MUST have for an effective personal productivity system, and give you some implementation tips to help you make sure the system you decide to use works for you so that you stick with it long enough to start realizing the benefit.
The Simple 6-Step Process to Start Your Productive Day the Night Before w/ Dave Caolo (TPS196) — What are the things you can do the night before to make sure tomorrow is as productive as possible? Once tomorrow comes, how do you get your day started the right way, and how do you get out of the dreaded mid-day slump? Dave Caolo from Unclutterer joins to discuss these and other topics.
The 7 Keys to Setting Up Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity (TPS202) — Working from home can be challenging productivity-wise. Here are tips and some of our favorite tools for setting up your home office environment to be as productive as possible.
Avoiding the 6 Deadly Sins of Productivity: Why Just Doing More Isn’t the Answer (TPS179) — There’s a dark side to productivity. Sometimes in the quest for “doing more”, we end up less effective than before. Avoid these six productivity pitfalls and you’ll be solid.
Intentional Attention: How Small Decisions Can Bring You to Your Ideal Future (TPS184) — What do you do when you’re being pulled in too many directions? A simple mindset shift allows you to regain control of your attention, and can provide stability and direction for all areas of your life.
3 Simple Steps To Delegating Work The Right Way So You Don’t Have to Worry About It (TPS182) — Have you ever said: “it would take too much time/hassle to delegate this – it’s faster to just do it myself”? Here’s how to avoid the 5 common delegation mistakes, and we show you the 3 critical components you absolutely must have if you want your delegated work to get done correctly and on time.
Remember — you’re only productive if you take action
Reading our articles and listening to our podcasts will help you be productive but won’t make you productive.
In his great book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about motion (planning, strategizing, learning) vs. action (actually producing an outcome).
Sometimes motion is useful, but it will never produce an outcome by itself. It doesn’t matter how many times you go talk to the personal trainer, that motion will never get you in shape. Only the action of working out will get the result you’re looking to achieve.
As you’re going through our best articles and podcasts from 2018, you will come across a bunch of action items. When you do, capture them and make time for them on your calendar. Commit, even if it is only to yourself, to take that first action step towards your new goal.
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