This week, we discuss on ProductivityCast the importance of productivity habits and/or routines. What are your best productivity habits/routines? And, we ask that of each of the ProductivityCast teammates. Spend some time thinking this week about how you can level up your productive habits and/or routines. And, let us know about them in the comments!
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In this Cast | Productivity Habits/Routines
Show Notes | Productivity Habits/Routines
Resources we mention, including links to them will be provided here. Please listen to the episode for context.
Tiny Habits program (BJ Fogg, PhD)
Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise
Raw Text Transcript | Productivity Habits/Routines
Raw, unedited and machine-produced text transcript so there may be substantial errors, but you can search for specific points in the episode to jump to, or to reference back to at a later date and time, by keywords or key phrases. The time coding is h:mm:ss.ms to h:mm:ss.ms (e.g., 0:00:00.000,0:00:04.000 starts at 0.00 seconds and ends at 4 seconds in the cast’s audio).
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Voiceover Artist 0:00
Are you ready to manage your work and personal world better to live a fulfilling, productive life, then you’ve come to the right place productivity cast, the weekly show about all things productivity, here are your hosts, Ray Sidney-Smith and Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:17
Welcome back everybody to productivity cast, the weekly show about all things personal productivity, I’m Ray Sidney-Smith and I’m joined here today as always with Augusto Pinaud and I have with me Art Gelwicks and Francis Wade. Today we’re going to be discussing one of my favorite topics to discuss, which is habits and routines and why you should have a habit or routine and what some of the criteria are for a good productivity habit, and a routine. And then what I thought would be really fun is for us all to go round robin and choose our what we believe is our best productivity habit or routine and, and then we can kind of each discuss with one another why we’ve chosen that as our best habit or routine. So let’s start off with what any of us believe are maybe a criterion or criteria for having a productivity habit, and or routine. And I’ll just get started with this particular in my particular flavor of how habits are developed. I really believe that habits are developed through the stringing of existing habits. So I really do believe that productive routines are the way in which you establish new habits, let me make this or sensical for everybody. So if you think about starting a habit, everybody talks about how habit development is very difficult, it’s true. And you have people like Stephen guys, and BJ Fogg, who have talked at length about how to reduce the habit size to really help you get started. I think those are really great techniques, tactics. But as a strategy on the whole, I really do believe that the routine the stringing of habits to one another that are already existing is the way that you really develop stronger habits. So all of these tactics involved on top of the strategy of using an existing routine, I think, is really, really powerful. So that’s my big thing is like, if you want to, you know, drink more water, well, choose points in your day, when you naturally are going to already be walking by the water cooler, and or say, Okay, before I leave for lunch, I’m drinking a glass of water. Or when I get back from lunch, I drink a glass of water, now you have something that’s natural anchoring your day, it’s already happening. So that’s the trigger for you to be able to do that next thing. And then you can make it a tiny habit, or a mini habit, or whatever you want to, in terms of encouraging yourself to make that part of your routine. But I think it’s the I think it’s the routine. It’s the well worn path and your existence that makes it easier for everybody to be able to sort of continue with the role.
Augusto Pinaud 3:05
I’m a big proponent of habits. And, and I agree with you, it is important to identify transition point as places where you can help with the habits and where you can do things. If you do not, don’t walk necessarily true to that water cooler talking about water. Well, what are the transition points that you normally do that can help you. So for example, well, you know what, I tend to walk out of the office at noon perfect then before that. And if you take lunch pretty much at the same time, you know, in a semi regular way, then make sure before you walk half a glass of water, or fill up the water when you came back in. I’ve been saying, for example, for years, for the weekly review,
I recommend people to go outside of their place. So in my particular case, I go to a coffee shop, okay, and get a coffee that I normally drink, espresso, no milk. And when I get to the coffee shop for weekly review, I get a latte, okay. And the reason is, is something completely different than my traditional routine, but at the same time acts as a trigger, that’s something different needs to happen. And those kinds of things. As soon as I do that, over time, my brain has clicked to say, Oh, we are going to do thinking right now we’re going to dip think we’re going to review what we have been doing. And all those little things really help to make those things more powerful.
Francis Wade 4:50
Well, what makes for a great habit in my sort of day to day practice is that it’s a an activity that doesn’t get triggered or doesn’t, doesn’t get started out by an external event. It’s something that happens from inside of me, like, for example, getting feeling hungry, and then having lunch. So a good habit for me that doesn’t require outside and outside remainder. It’s something that’s in my experience in my control, either in my psyche or in my physiology, but it’s something related to my internal state. And that triggers the activity, then once the activity gets going, it sort of has this effortless feel to it, that once once I once a trigger don’t start, it’s easy to execute. It feels familiar, it doesn’t require a lot of attention. It’s as if my mind could almost go to sleep. And they’re my body or my brain, or my my tongue, or whatever it is that’s engaged in the habit just keeps going and going and going without any any input of extra energy.
Art Gelwicks 5:57
Well, for me, habits, probably one of the hardest things to create, because I have a tendency to break them very quickly, they develop on their own. So for example, I have a morning habit of doing a specific sequence of steps each morning, once I arrive at the client site. And if I don’t do those are, if I don’t have the opportunity to do those, everything feels off kilter. It it’s a level set, for all intents and purposes for me to to know that, okay, this is the, the jumping off point into the day. And if, if I could equate it to something, if you’ve ever watched like a swimming race, it’s that series of steps. And they, they step up onto the platform, they stretched it, they all basically, they do the same thing, and then they hit the water, and then they swim. So for me, that’s, that’s what this has to be, I just find that I can’t force myself to develop one, they, it just kind of develops on its own. If it’s working. If it’s not working, it falls apart and goes away.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 6:59
great. Those all great criteria for building productivity habits and routines. And so I’d like to now go around and for us to each choose kind of our favorite are what we consider our best productivity habit or routine and, and why you while you use that, why that routine works for you, you know, and maybe why you believe that routine has helped you be more productive. And so I’m going to pick on you first to gusto Okay, so what’s your favorite, what’s the best habit or routine you’ve invested into your or implemented into your productivity system, and, and how is it benefited you,
Augusto Pinaud 7:41
you know, for for many years I’ve been I’ve been talking about this the best habit I have implement, or one of the best if not, is the use of two browsers. And why I have four year says that one should work on a browser on play on a different one. So for example, if you do work, do the work on Chrome, and then you go and do personal research or play in or whatever you do on the web on safari, or Firefox. What that had allow me is to Kip when I’m working, you know, completely focus on work, people don’t notice how quick they open another tab, and then they start, you know, fooling around on the web 45 minutes happened, and you were will what I just did on the last hour, well, do you really work 15 minutes and full around the other 15, the other 45 when you separate the browser and you only do work corner browser and then do only the rest of the things you’re doing the web on another one, what allows you to do is to keep yourself a lot more focus. And you tend to be a lot more efficient than when you do everything of the same browser.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 8:59
So good. So how did you how did you get yourself a tuned to using the two different browsers because it is so easy to just open a new tab I for one, and I’m interested in doing this, myself having these two browsers for management of this. And because I do this actually, currently with email. So my personal email is run in a different application than my work email. And I have access to my personal email within my work, email, you know, system, I just keep it deactivated because I don’t want to see it, you know, while I’m at work, or while I’m working. So. So how do you how do you how do you do this with the with browsing? Because I find it really easy, you know, it’s really tempting to just be able to open up a new tab and do that. So for our listeners, how did you how did you kind of get yourself you know, that mindset of I’m going to separate work and personal slash play,
Augusto Pinaud 9:58
you know, I work in the same way as to email in the beginning day, take a little bit of practice, you know, and when you cook, cut yourself, you know, browsing personal browsing on on your work prowess, or don’t put yourself down to say, hey, let’s copy the link open the other browser paste, I’m continue browsing. Okay, the beginning was really challenging, because exactly what you said, you do option T, and then it opened the next tab. But if you get yourself what you can immediately stop. That’s one of the reasons I use Chrome and Safari is because they look completely different.
So that way, when I open the top, the, the idea is not all I will never again, do personal, surfing Luna. That’s not the idea. The idea is make the difference. Because what happened now is when you need to open the other browser, now, you are making a conscious decision that you are going to do a personal processing. And by the the way, that could be the most important thing to do. Okay, I I was working last night, okay. And spring break is approaching faster than what we want to recognize it and we were discussing about what we were going to do, and finally made a decision. And I was working when my wife approach and say, Fine, we can do it on the way you want it to do it. And I went and opened the personal browser to do but it was a conscious decision, I’m going to stop working on what I was working. And now I’m going to get these plants out of the way. That is exactly what you want to do. Because what happened when you can just open the other tab where you were working and now get distracted is you don’t have
a grasp of how much time you are using for work versus how much time you’re using to play on your brain. Nice. Oh, you’re just on the browser. When you make that distinction. Now, your brain can set Oh, when you open Safari, for example, your brain will come and tell you, dude, it’s 11am, you have open Safari 27 times this morning, when are you going to work? Question mark, okay. And you can go and tell them, You know what, I’m not going to work today, that is fine. Or you can cut yourself and say, You’re right, let me put whatever it is that I was going to research now into the inbox into my system. So I can come back to it, it takes a little bit of practice. But as soon as you
started doing it, you will catch yourself often that will help you to be significantly more
a lot more productive. And even I will tell you, I recommend that you do that. Not only in the computers, but on your tablets on your iPhone or your Android phone doesn’t matter get both browsers. So you train yourself only to work in one and only to play in one. And the results are quite interesting.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 13:07
I’m gonna I’m gonna have to try that. I think that’s really a great practice. And I’ve heard you talk about this several times over the past many years that I’ve known you. And I think it’s time I think, I think that separating those two pieces for me is natural. Because I already do that with email. And I see the, I see the benefit of being able to park personal slash play items in another browser to come back and process and deal with later. And, and I feel I feel I would feel comfortable with that separation. So thank you for sharing that.
Augusto Pinaud 13:40
And it is like the email it is it is a habit you need to form Okay, at the beginning here, you’re going to cut yourself, you know, doing personal on the work browser. And when that happened, that’s fine. Just remember the rules, the rules is not that you don’t go ever again and do personal browsing the role is Julian do PR. So browsing where you come and work, that’s a simple, it’s, that’s a rule. So when that happened to just Hey, copy the link, open the other browser and continue with what you were doing over time. And it’s simpler to get the habit than what people think what is going to happen is now you’re going to get a more realistic idea of when you were working on when you are not, you know, when
most of our life happened. Now, in a browser, it’s the amount of work we do in a browser is incredible. I’d what happened is, for most people, we don’t know what we’re really working versus when we are looking at technology, because we are do it in the same place. So don’t know consciously, necessarily, how much time you really spend work did you just say, Oh, I lost two hours I’ve been working. But if you could see the detail, sometimes you discover, well, you know, not really, I apparently work for 45 minutes. And then when I’m into our technology, rabbit hole for the hour, hour and a half to follow that. So yeah, and
Raymond Sidney-Smith 15:08
I can see, I can see a way in which you could use browser tracking software, you know, like a rescue time or something like that, to identify how much time you spend in each of those browsers. And I would like the separation of being able to see the work time, for example, I have to use Facebook for work. And so I want to know, the time I’m spending on Facebook for work versus personal. And by using two browsers, I could do that I could separate and say, I only in this browser do I want to track the work time. And only in this browser, do I want to track the personal time so I can, I can see some really some really key benefits of being able to do that. So thank you.
Augusto Pinaud 15:49
I’m actually actually that’s how this came many, many years ago, I installed rescue time on my machine to see what I was doing. Because I was frustrated, you’re not feeling productive. And what I discovered was, Oh, yeah, I am I spending so much time on the browser, because that’s where my work happened. But at the same time, I have all these other top open, that has nothing to do with work. And that’s how this idea came up.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 16:14
Great. Alright, art, you’re up next. And so what’s your productive habit and a routine and why for my primary one
Art Gelwicks 16:24
is I have a morning drill of going through my task tracking tool, which is to do list literally, I have a task reminder set in there. So that at 730 in the morning, I sit down and I go through a series of recurring tasks. Now, these are like mission critical tasks. These are the tasks that have determined to be problematic if I forget to do them each day, little things like checking multiple email accounts, and making sure that I’ve checked my calendar, making sure that I’ve checked the site analytics for my website, those types of things, that information I need every day, but isn’t necessarily top of mind. What that does, though, is it gives me a little block of time to go through knock those pieces out, which are usually very quick and have an immediate success in the morning of multiple things that are already done. And off the list. I also know that information is going to be useful to me during the course of the day. And it’s said and done. Now, this is not something I’ve intentionally said, 730 is the best time to do it. This is something that has organically slid itself to that particular position, it will probably move over time, there are days that I will actually go through and do that piece at 630 or six. When I’m sitting there in the morning. It’s not really as critical when it occurs, it’s more critical that it occurs because as I mentioned earlier, if it doesn’t occur, everything feels a little off kilter, I have nagging in the back of my mind will wait, I don’t know that information right now, I don’t feel that I’ve got a hold on that particular thing that I always need to have a hold on. So having that recurring set of events to be able to go in, knock them out, know that I’ve level set at that point, and then be able to position and align for the rest of the day is really critical to me, I’ve I’ve found that that makes all the difference. I’ve tried doing it in the evenings, I’ve tried doing it over lunch, none of those other times seem to work. It’s that initial out of the starting blocks. For me, that makes all the difference. So that’s really the habit I’ve had, I’ve tried various tools to. And this seems to be the one tool that fits the way I think and the way I work best.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 18:45
And you’re what you’re really talking about is persistent. Starting this this mechanism for for restarting something that you want to be working on. And you’re doing that really with this routine in the morning and for for our listeners I think is really important to remember that when you when you approach a habit and or routine and you you fall it’s really good to get back up and just continue to try again. Right. And and that’s what persistent starting is. It’s like okay, I’m supposed to be doing. I’m supposed to be working on this, you know, writing this blog post or whatever it is, okay, well, you get distracted, right? You go off and start doing some web browsing you you play that off his research and you’re not writing well, then you go Okay, you recognize that you’ve gone off course. And then you correct course by coming back to and say no, I’m supposed to be blog post writing. And you go back to blog post writing. And it seems like you’re doing that naturally art with regard to this routine. It’s it’s you recognizing that there’s a there’s some something off course by not doing this, and then you correct course and come back to the path. You’re right.
Art Gelwicks 19:55
It is one of those things that it has to be self correcting. I found it requires. And again, this is me. But I think a lot of people fall into this as well. If you if the tool or the process you’re using as part of this habit requires conscious effort to directionally correct itself, it’s not going to work because that’s just one more thing you’ve added to your list is to readjust this thing, if I parallel to something, it’s it’s kind of like the driving assist. Now in new cars, where it’s not really driving for you. It’s not doing everything for you. But what it’s doing is it’s keeping you between the lines there. There’s also a break in case something stops in front of you. But just that much allows you to concentrate on driving. But if something should get you off target, you may drift a little bit and it’s going to push you back into that control those kinds of habit markers, if you put them into your processes, you’ll find that they literally can act like the bumpers to keep you moving on that path that you’ve laid out. It does require a little bit of thinking, I I mentioned that this stuff grows organically. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t go back and look at it and say, Okay, why am I doing this habit? Where Where did this habit come from? Is it a good habit or not, I’ve had habits like this that I go back and look at, and I go, this is horrible. This is a terrible thing I’m doing all the time. It feels good. I’m it’s great that I feels like I’m doing something accomplished something. But when I look at the overall scheme of what I’m trying to do, I’ve developed a habit that just it’s not cutting it, I had one habit for quite a while, where the first thing I was doing was sitting down and going through my feed reader. I’m like, well, this is okay, I have to do this at some point during the day. But this is not the optimal time to be doing this particular habit. So I’ve moved that around. So we have to be self aware and do a little bit of navel gazing on this. But establishing habits that don’t feel draconian, they feel more like assistive is really, I think, where this becomes successful on a day to day basis. Well, you you give a natural kind of segue for my productive habits. So I’m just going to really quickly talk
Raymond Sidney-Smith 22:13
about it. And it’s a part of my morning routine. And so I think that my morning routine is very complex and not really useful to most people. So I’m not gonna not going to really delve into this but I find it to be highly productive. And this particular productivity habit is actually going through my feed reader in the morning. And so I have navigated around and this is this is a great in classic example of how one person’s productivity routine or habit is not right for everybody right so so for you are reading going into fiddly first thing in the morning. Not good for you. For me, it’s actually really ideal because many times I have that that sort of quiet space to be able to create pair of myself for the morning. And for me, I actually use that material in you know, if I’m doing a seminar or workshop if I’m doing a talk in any way shape or form I’m using the material that I read in feed Lee for my talk, you know, it gives me a natural hook for many of the opening presentations that I’m going to be giving and and so I really like it I love just going through and quickly perusing those items and I have various scripts read written and athletes in if IFTTT and I can then go ahead and just you know check off you know star or bookmark those items and they got automatically added to Evernote for me to read later if I want to really read you know an article that’s too long for for later consumption so I really do like consuming that stuff first thing in the morning and and very very sparsely judiciously choosing the items that go into Evernote for for reading later. I don’t like the idea idea of, you know, saving a lot of things to my read later because then, you know, I just, it piles up right and and, and that means I have to purge a lot in my weekly review at the end of the week. And I want to be able to read the articles that I actually want to read later. So I have to be pretty draconian. With regard to the selection I want to touch on your feed reader thing a little bit because it’s it’s funny how different the approaches you and I have are to this
Art Gelwicks 24:27
because I live in my feed reader. I love it. I constantly and consuming things in it. But to me, that’s my coffee break. That’s my escape. I will pop into my feed reader look through the articles that are there because I use feed Lee I’ll tag ones for read later. And I’ve got IFTTT scripts, which will then take that read later and put it into Insta paper, which I then can pull up on my phone. And it strips out a lot of the stuff once I find things in Insta paper that I’ve read. And I like a folder them. And when I put them in a particular folder, depending on the folder, they go into. They populate out to buffer to go out to Twitter, and things like that. But to me, that’s, that’s kind of my break habit.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 25:10
When I get deep into something, and I need to clear my head, I’ll jump into that. So it’s funny how different we have in approaches. But we’re still accomplishing the same goal. I think people need to take that to heart, there is no right way to do this. Absolutely. Yeah, the, the feed reader for me is a is like a once a day, you know, just a blip on my calendar. And, and, and or radar. Not on my calendar. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s just an opportunity for me to check in with what’s going on in my professional and industry world. And then I check out, you know, because I’m on with the rest of my day. So it’s really Yes, absolutely fascinating how different people use the same tools in in highly productive ways. And in different ways, though.
Francis Wade 25:56
So my, my, my favorite habit is actually one that I’ve been struggling with recently. But it’s one that I’ve been trying to implement for probably almost 20 years. And it’s the to have a schedule that has all of my tasks in it. In other words, to schedule 24 hours up to schedule myself for 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. And it’s gone through different iterations. So I started a long time ago when I was I guess, back in the 90s. And that took a program that encouraged me to do it using what was there, my Palm Pilot and, and Microsoft Outlook. And then I started doing triathlons. And then I really needed it, because anyone who signs up for one of these sort of extreme sports, and at the same time has a regular job and a regular family. And everything has a problem because they have to fit in the training with their regular
Darby in and taking care of their family. And it’s tough. So the problem, of course, is it we’re out of time. So we have to schedule every single minute, including, especially sleep them because there’s no way to do something like an ad man, which I eventually did without having great sleep management and a great sleep schedule. But anyway, so I’ve tried over the years to schedule all of my time became easier when I discovered digital calendars for the first time, and a Palm Pilot made it easier. And the game I’m playing know is how do I scheduled all of my time and stick to it, basically, how do I follow my schedule, what I make sure that what’s in my calendar is what’s happening in reality. And over the years, other side is, it’s been it’s been a bit of a challenge it was I made us a big jump when I moved to scan pile. But recently, the biggest jump, the best one I’ve made was to create a game around it. And I’m trying to develop a new habits around gamification as well. So that when I have a challenge, that’s a new behavior I’m trying to put in place or a new habit is to try and game if I the habit and turn it into something that is fun,
has some element of points and progress, and all the elements that go into gamification. And I started about the
middle of last year with a group of about 10 other people. We were trying trying to do it together, I wrote it up, wrote up the results in three blog posts that I’ll share in the show notes. But it it sort of transition I’m struggling I struggled with, with how to go from having an external remainder have it be having it be an intrinsic activity that gets triggered by my own internal state, or my own internal sort of reminder. And no, I’m way better than I was when I started off the game last year. But the habit I’m trying to get into is to
stay on stay on calendar, what I call on calendar, and the little game setup is to have a little app that pings me about four or five times each day randomly at random times. And to try and make sure that when I get pinged by the app, I’m actually on calendar. And it allows a little bit of scoring where you can press the equivalent of yes or no. So if I keep honest than my scoring somewhere around 70, 80%,
and I can also see my progress, I’ve gotten better. I
Raymond Sidney-Smith 29:45
think it’s really important for us all to take heart to the fact that this is not some set in stone Edict of the way in which you have to do something. And then once you do that thing, all of a sudden, you’re going to be productive, you know, there’s no, there’s no recipes here. This is a this is a complex recipe, your life, your productive life, and it does require you to tweak things over time. So I definitely take that to heart. Thank you, gentlemen, all for this episode of productivity cast. This has been a lot of fun and very interesting to hear everyone’s different perspectives on productivity habits and development. So thanks to gusto, Francis, and art for joining me here on this cast. Do you have a question or comment about this episode is something we discussed in this cast or otherwise about personal productivity? Go ahead and visit productivity cast dot net forward slash contact, let us know we’ll be happy to converse with you or we’ll talk about it here on an on a future episode. You can find this episodes show notes and how to subscribe to productivity cast at productivity cast dot net forward slash 034, which is this episode number zero 34. And if you could please add a rating or review in iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you consume productivity cast to help us grow our personal productivity community of listeners. And thank you. That brings us to the close of this productivity cast the weekly show about all things personal productivity, take care. And that’s
Voiceover Artist 31:13
it for this productivity. Cast. The weekly show about all things productivity with your host race, any Smith and a goose open out with Francis Wade and art Gail licks.