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How I followed the advice read on Forbes « 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently ». Here are two things that helped me a lot on a daily basis. I hope they will do the same for you!
by: Anna Katina
photo: Silicon Luxembourg

Over the years as an independent photographer and content creator, I have developed my own habits. I don’t have any experience as an employee and I never took masterclasses on self-employment. In the beginning, all I had was my Master’s degree, passion, other creative friends around me and a supportive family. I’ve built my business all alone and somehow, I managed to grow, establish an audience and get a good flow. Of course, like everyone else, I struggled sometimes (and still do) with organization and productivity but I did not really know how to change my habits. Until one day, I came upon this article in Forbes that completely knocked my socks off. The things I read sounded so logical! Since then, my life changed. No, just kidding. My life did not change, but my habits changed in terms of organization and productivity. There is an entire list of “secrets” (15 in total), but I want to highlight two of them, those that have had the biggest impact on me.

“Mailing all day long created a mess for my organization and productivity.”

Mailing. Stop it.

Many of us are used to checking every notification sent to the devices we own. This habit can affect our productivity because it distracts us from our current activity. I don’t know about you, but I used to read and answer my e-mails all day long. And I planned to answer others later, which I forgot to do because I did not mark them as unread or important, so I often scrolled up and down my inbox to find these mails and lost so much time. Also, I did not always take the time to answer mails correctly because I was on the go. In other words, mailing all day long created a mess for my organization and productivity.

So, I opted for a new strategy.

SECRET #7 says: “Productive people process emails only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don’t check emails throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox.” It’s about scheduling mailing time, just like any other activity. That’s what I do now. I check my mailbox two times a day: in the morning at 10am and the evening at 5pm. During these moments I really take the time to answer each mail, not to postpone my answer to another time. My mailbox is organized, updated and I do not waste time conquering lost mails in the cloud.

“No to-do lists, straight to calendar.”

To-do lists. Stop it.

Another secret that helped me A LOT is the following: No to-do lists, straight to calendar. I always had this habit of recording all that I had to do on to-do lists on my iPhone and in my notebook. There are so many to-do list apps on the market so I thought, this must be the key to productivity. But reality showed me the opposite. These to-do lists often took me weeks to complete. I pushed back the boring (but still important) tasks. I felt bad, but I would still not do it. As read in the article: “all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia”. Indeed, I felt stressed because of these unfulfilled tasks.

And then everything changed.

SECRET #3: “Productive people don’t use to-do lists.” At first, I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without them by my side…

So, the idea is to write down the things you have to do directly in your calendar. Now I understand my mistake!! Since following this advice, I am so well organized and much more productive, plus, I feel happier because the feeling of guilt doesn’t hang on my shoulders. In the morning, I look at my calendar and know what I have to do. The endless to-do list has finally found a safe place, the calendar. I do not differentiate between the meetings and the invoices to send: everything is at an equal level of importance and urgency.

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