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01/01/2016
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By Paul Armstrong, Contributor

Will Your Technology Choices Make 2016 Your Most Productive Year Ever?

Will Your Technology Choices Make 2016 Your Most Productive Year Ever?
01/01/2016
By Paul Armstrong, Contributor

Will Your Technology Choices Make 2016 Your Most Productive Year Ever?

I run my own business (HERE/FORTH) but it hasn’t always been that way.   Over the last year, I’ve been taking time to identify the people who have made a difference in my career (and life) and have been thanking them with coffee’s, personal notes or in other ways.  One thing became apparent when I look back over this list – every person was a master of their time either at home, at work or in rare cases both.  I analysed the behaviours of these people and looked for commonalities, a list began to form.  Here are ten recommendations for making 2016 the best year you’ve ever had based on the list (along with some of my own thoughts).  Some recommendations are work specific, others are just general things I recommend doing if you are just looking for more room to breathe.

2016 is going to be an interesting year – make sure it is interesting for the right reasons.

1) Use Twitter like a pro

I have said for many years that Twitter is best when used like a surgeon but many people use it like a GP.  Make 2016 the year you get Twi-literate and avoid endless waterfall scrolling, use advanced Twitter search, understand the Twitter ad ecosystem,  create a Twitter list for the most important sources and get involved in conversations that are going on – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

2) Make yourself immune to secondhand stress
We take on stressful situations around us, whether by choice or unconsciously.  One trait that over 50% of people I analysed were very good at identifying, defusing or avoiding situations of stress.  While this isn’t always possible, learning to spot stressed people is a useful skill in order to help them and help yourself avoid getting sucked down.  If you want to get a handle on stress try using the Headspace app [iOS/Android - free].

3) Work early to work less
Easier said than done but making time to work less is a key differentiator between working a 60-hour week or a 40-hour for some people.  I noticed a lot of people I spoke with in the group put their own success down to a few similar activities; using a clock of specific time increments, creating a daily schedule first thing before opening up email and rejecting at least one meeting a day where their presence was not imperative.  For a great regular jolt of working smarter read Tim Ferris’s blog and try joining the 5am club like Tim Cook.

4) Cut the (cr)apps
Doing this test every quarter will help you keep your phone working smoothly, increase the free space on your device and limit your notifications.  Firstly, turn your phone off.  Now take a piece of paper and write down the apps you used over the last week.  Now turn your phone on and look at the difference.  Nine out of ten people will have roughly a third of the apps on the paper than on the phone.  Make a decision if you have used the app in the last three months (or however long you want) and if it has not been used – delete it.  Most apps don’t charge to redownload so your money is safe.  Be bold.  Cull, cull and cull again.

5) Make sure notifications work for you
Firstly, check exactly which notifications are actually on (iOS, Android) and turn off any that you don’t need.  Go notification cold turkey – you’ll be amazed how much you don’t touch your phone now.  Secondly, use one notification screen whether this is the Apple one or another that you can customise – make a choice and stick with it – habits take between 21 and 67 days to take hold – using notifications well is difficult, keep the clutter to a minimum.  You may simply need to change the type of notification you get – noises are more stressful than pop-ups but do get answered quicker – choose the right tool for the right job.

6) Get a side hustle
This is a personal recommendation.  Whether it’s a passion project, a passive income stream or something to help your career (or perhaps a new one), a side hustle is a great way to destress, refocus and earn money while doing it.  Perhaps it’s something small like getting on Airbnb or something larger like setting up your own company – whatever it is, focus on it – understand why it exists and what place it has in your future.  Need inspiration?  Read Dan Norris’s ’7 Day Startup’.

7) Pay it forward
Every single person who I thanked had one thing in common, they were overly generous with their time, knowledge and advice.  Not only did they spend the time with me to focus me or give me constructive feedback but they made sure that I knew what was expected of me afterwards.  This is a skill I am still attempting to master – everyone is busy – but I now regularly schedule time to help others and hope more people will in 2016.

8) Pay the right attention to LinkedIn
Make 2016 the year you use LinkedIn beyond a simple cv/resume and ‘check when I get an email’ platform.  Consistently making money and updating or launching new apps has meant LinkedIn has become a much more useful platform that offers a lot of value – even if you don’t add anything to it.  Make sure you understand and are using InMail, posting content that is relevant to your industry and realise that if you’re serious about changing jobs – you probably need to pay for a subscription.

9) Use the right list app
Lists can be useful or they can be a chore.  I use Clear [iOS only] which is a graphical and behaviour changing app that uses swipe and colour gradation to help categorise tasks.  There are lots out there but I find Clear‘s functionality and design – including Cloud integration makes staying up-to-date and on top of tasks a doodle.  On Android?  Not a problem – try Evernote (also on iOS).

10) Be low-key, not unavailable
I am terrible at this – I say ‘yes’ to too much and spread myself too thin.  Instead of doing this in 2016 I’m going to see people when I see them and not attempt to keep up all the connections.  Apart from being exhausting and it is also emotionally unhealthy for both parties.  Technology is the great connector but quality can suffer – make the decision and conscious effort to bolster the right ties and focus on what matters.  It is ok to let go and protect yourself and your time - everyone benefits from a better you.  Choose to text less and call more – even if you leave a voicemail.  Organise more coffees, flake less – perhaps it’ll mean skipping the gym but catching up with right two people might just do more than the treadmill ever will.


This article was written by Paul Armstrong from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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