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Productivity Tips

Have you tried all the usual productivity tips only to find yourself still procrastinating?

Or no matter how awesome your day goes, your to-do list still seems never-ending?

We know that road, too.

So we decided to see how the best marketers in the world stay productive. What do they really do that makes a difference?

Here’s what we found. We hope you’re as surprised and inspired by these unique tips as we were.

1. Ask the Naive Question

Jay Cross“If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?”

The beauty of this question is that it forces you to ignore everything other than results. If you discover a better way to do something (earn more money, land a dream job, graduate college) then “but we’ve always done X” should not stop you. The Naive Question establishes a Darwinian selection process where only the best ideas survive.

Jay Cross, The psychology of putting effectiveness before ego.

Jay Cross is the creator of the Do-It-Yourself Degree. Follow Jay on Twitter here.

2. Have a “Be the Best” Daily List

Natalie SissonCall it what you want, I’m talking about a short list of actions you undertake every day (or at least attempt to achieve 80% of the time) that will make all the difference to your client work and effectiveness.

This list should contain key tasks that move you closer to your goal of making more money, getting more clients or being happier and successful.

Natalie Sisson, How to Squeeze the Most out of Every Day.

Natalie Sisson is the founder of The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Follow Natalie on Twitter here.

3. Create a “Click!-Whirr” Ritual

James ChartrandOur brains have built-in, automatic responses to fixed-action patterns activated by trigger features. That means if something triggers our pattern, we run through a sequence of behaviours as predictable as snow in the Arctic.

Here’s an example: Every day, I follow the same, fixed routine. I wake up. I grab a cup of coffee. I sit at the kitchen island and read my email. I wake up my daughter and get her ready for school – iCarly, cereal, clothes, prepare her lunch, brush her hair, walk her to the bus stop. I walk back, breathing deep, feeling grateful and thinking only about the writing task I’ve chosen to work on when I arrive home.

I refill my coffee, sit down and – “click!-whirr” – hit the keyboard.

James Chartrand, How to Write Massive Quantities on Demand.

James Chartrand is a copywriter, blogger, and founder of Men with Pens. Follow James on Twitter here.

4. Have a Master Purpose

Jay Abraham

But this can all be accomplished just by changing strategy.

Strategy is the master purpose your business is all about. It’s different than your business model. Strategy is the explanation of the entire operating approach your business is following and why and how every element of it integrates, advances, and contributes to the big-picture outcome that you’re after.

Jay Abraham, The Easiest and Fastest Way to Transform Your Business.

Jay Abraham is a direct response marketer and founder of the Abraham Group. Follow Jay on Twitter here.

5. Decide and Do

Seth GodinDecide what you’re going to do next, and then do it. Make good decisions about what’s next and you thrive.

Seth Godin, Redefining Productivity.

Seth Godin is an author, marketer, and entrepreneur. Follow Seth on Twitter here.

6. Timer + Goof Time

Sonia SimoneThe most important tool on my desk isn’t my laptop, my complicated GTD-based next action list, my phone (on which I spend more time than I like), or even my fancy fountain pen collection.

It’s my timer.

I work in 50-minute chunks, followed by 10 minutes of goof time.

The goof time is really important when you’re doing creative, difficult work.

Your brain needs time to play and rest and have a good time, or it won’t work for you when you need it. Sometimes I knit, sometimes I hang out with the cat, sometimes I just walk in circles. Under no circumstances do I do anything productive.

Sonia Simone, How to Get Any Work Done (When Connecting Is Your Job).

Sonia Simone is chief content officer at Copyblogger Media. Follow Sonia on Twitter here.

7. Don’t Panic If You’re Not a Superhero

Tim FerrissMost “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

Tim Ferriss, “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me).

Tim Ferriss is author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Follow Tim on Twitter here.

8. Set Aside Sacred Time

Michael HyattI don’t take early morning appointments. Ever. I rarely take breakfast appointments. My hours from 4:45 to 8:00 are sacred. I don’t allow them to get interrupted by anything other than the occasional flight—which I loathe. Fortunately, they only happen once or twice a year.

Michael Hyatt, How to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Day.

Michael Hyatt is author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Follow Michael on Twitter here.

9. Keep Your To-Do List Short

Matthew KimberleyYour to-do list will end up demolishing your productivity if it’s not handled carefully. Every small thing that needs to be dealt with gets listed on your small list. Your small list becomes a big list and you realize you’ll never make a meaningful dent in it.

Ensure that you have no more han three important things on your to-do list every day. It doesn’t mean that business as usual comes to an end: you’ve still got to pay your bills, answer your emails and buy your groceries, but you don’t need to put them on a list of things to make you feel sick every time you look at it.

Matthew Kimberley, How To Be Really F***ing Productive.

Mathew Kimberley is author of How to Get a Grip. Follow Matthew on Twitter here.

10. Use Your Head

Brian ClarkI can keep a whole lot in my head until it’s ready to come out. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it’s always worked for me.

Brian Clark, Here’s How Brian Clark Writes.

Brian Clark is the founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Follow Brian on Twitter here.

Over to You

Which of these tips did you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments. Also, why not head over to Twitter and say thank you to the person who gave the tip? You’ll brighten his or her day and build a new connection.

Blogging Scam

You want your blog to succeed, right? How badly do you want it?

Do you want your blog to make you famous? Do you want to be somebody? Perhaps you want to be the next Brian Clark or Marie Forleo?

None of us like the thought that we’re just a drop in the ocean. We want to be more than that, right?

Scammers use what we most want to take advantage of us. That’s why they’re so effective.

So you’d better watch out.

To that end, I thought I’d best warn you about this guy.

There’s a swindler in town, and he’s out to wreck your blog. This con artist will do anything he can to derail your content marketing and destroy everything you’ve done online.

Trouble is, he’s an experienced operator. He’ll do anything he can to keep himself invisible.

And this being the worldwide web, he can operate anywhere he chooses. In fact, most of what pass for “blogs” are in his control. And they wonder why they don’t have any readers.

He pretends he’s working in your best interests. But of course, that’s a lie. He’s probably working his game on you right now. And you don’t even know it. Until I call him out. Then his game’s up.

Let’s get this guy flubbing.

What’s in it for him? If I could, I’d tell you. But it’s a mystery to me, too.

You see, he’s someone close to you. Someone you’d think would be on your side. He should be rooting for you. Instead, he’s on the take.

Are you onto him yet?

Let me tell you this guy’s name. Maybe you’ll recognize him. You’ve no doubt been introduced before. He’s called Mr. Ego.

Say, “How do you do?” politely. Mr. Ego will like that. He likes things to run his own way. And he likes to be the center of attention.

When you sit down to write your blog, he’ll have all kinds of wonderful ideas you could write about. And they’ll all be about him. Because he’s just fabulous. He wants all your readers to find out all about him.

But he’s missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Mr. Ego is several sandwiches short of a picnic.

Truth is, none of your readers give a damn about Mr. Ego. They’re not at all interested in him, his antics, or what he has to say.

Write your blog about yourself, and you’ll scare your readers away. That’s what Mr. Ego wants you to do. He’s very persuasive. Don’t listen to him!

Instead, make your blog about your readers and what they need. That way, you’ll draw a crowd. And your blog will thrive.

So go on, join me in giving that barracuda the boot. From today, make your blog about your readers. You – and they – will be delighted you did.

MS Word Hate

Imagine trying to chop down a mighty oak tree with a pocketknife. You’d feel pretty stupid, right? Plus, it would take you a long, long time. What you really need is an axe or a chainsaw.

Whatever your role in life, you need the right tools for the job. Otherwise you’re inefficient.

The trouble is, bloggers often use the wrong tools. So writing blog posts is a lot harder than it needs to be.

One of the worst tools for writing blog posts is Microsoft Word. That’s for a few reasons.

  • It’s expensive, costing $200+. There are much better-value tools available. Most of them are free or just a few dollars.
  • It’s distracting. There are way too many formatting options and other tools in MS Word, none of which a blogger needs.
  • It’s ugly. Wouldn’t you rather write in a beautiful, inspiring virtual environment?
  • It messes up formatting. So when you copy and paste your blog post into your blogging platform, you have to re-format everything. Which is a huge waste of time.

So what are the alternatives? There are plenty out there. Here’s a small selection of some of the best choices.

Ommwriter. Ommwriter creates a beautiful, full-screen, distraction-free writing environment. It also features relaxing music to help calm and channel your mood. Available for Mac, PC, and iPad, and you pay what you want (minimum suggested price is $4.11).

HMTL Code. You can learn basic html in just a couple of hours. Not only will it help you create correctly formatted blog posts, but it’s also a valuable skill in its own right that you can build upon. A quick Google search for basic html will get you started.

Markdown. Another coding language that’s even easier to learn than html. You can pick it up in just a few minutes. Immediately you’ll be writing perfectly formatted blog posts. To get started, install a Markdown editor such as Mou or MarkdownPad. Then learn how it works here.

Write or Die. Is getting started with your writing a problem? Then check out Write or Die. It turns writing into a game. If you stop typing, you lose (losing means what you’ve already written gets deleted). You can play online or download it to your iPad.

Evernote. Wish you could keep all your research notes in once place? Evernote is the answer to your dreams! You can create as many notebooks as you want to organize your notes. Plus with Evernote Web Clipper you can turn any webpage into a note, saved for your reference. Evernote is free for a basic account.