Why this is a must-read productivity guide
by Peter Watts
It’s a pleasure to review a book that has changed not only how I achieve results, but most importantly has affected the results that I choose to achieve.
This is a book that you can immediately gain from.
Training to give presentations that make a powerful impact on audiences is akin to training as an athlete. It takes dedication, practice, the ability to execute on that practice, and above all it requires the drive to push beyond your comfort levels. It’s an iterative process of strengthening skills and reaching for the next stage. If every presentation is just 1% better than the last, then you know you are improving as a speaker.
This is the approach that Jason Womack takes in his personal productivity guide “Your Best Just Got Better”. I’ve read many such books, and this is the first one that has made a permanent change to the way that I work.
The story starts with what Jason calls “MITs”. MITs are your Most Important Things. Across the course of “Your Best Just Got Better” he urges you to consider these areas in close-up. What are they? Why are they important? To what outcomes are they leading you?
He then sets out a number of ways to keep you on track (or in my case: get yourself back on track) towards hitting those goals.
Here are just a few of the things that I do differently, every day, as a result of reading “You’re Best Just Got Better”.
15 minutes: Set a timer
I now set a timer for work activities. I decide upfront how long I’m going to spend on a task, set the timer on my phone, and then concentrate completely for that allotted period. There’s a timer running right now for example. 30 minutes to complete the first draft of this blog.
Jason encourages you to work in 15 minutes blocks, so this is a two-block activity.
The running timer enables you to establish what your daily productive base-line looks like. From that point of awareness you can then find ways day-by-day to increase the number of 15-minute blocks that are truly productive for you. Each day you get to see how your best just became that little bit better.
Another idea from the book is to be highly aware of the people in your network that you rely on in order to do your job effectively, and to help you move to the next stages in your career. Those networks are wider and richer than we might initially realize. I now consciously schedule “Team Peter” time to make sure I’m identifying and building those relationships. This one exercise alone has already made my life as a travelling presenter into an easier and more emotionally rewarding experience
ABR – Always Be Ready
A great deal can be achieved with those little 15 minute Lego-blocks of time, so long as you can utilize them when unexpected delays such as late flights or late meetings disrupt your schedule. One simple idea in the book is to carry in your bag a small number of ready to mail Thank You cards. Having those cards at the ready, means that when delays hit, you can use the time to send a hand-written thank you to somebody in your network. Foot-tapping time becomes team-building time.
Know Your Tools
This was another one that has really helped me. I’m notorious for buying software and learning just enough functionality to get me out on the road. At that point my learning stops, and I limp along with the product as best I can.
I now use another of those 15-minute blocks, just once per week, to learn something new about my software tools. Gradually. Iteratively. Week-by-week. Take Scrivener for example, the professional writing software that I treated myself to last year. Just one 15-minute block per week to learn new Scrivener skills has made a huge difference to my productivity.
Finally we have the author himself. Jason Womack gets very involved with his readers. He has a formidably active blog, twitter presence, and a weekly podcast. There is a lot of information out there to support you as you read the book, and if you fire Jason a question, he’ll send you back an answer.
My timer tells me that I’ve now been writing for 29 minutes and 15 seconds. Time to sign-off, other than to say:
Presenting is a rewarding and challenging skill, and it takes a focus that “Your Best Just Got Better” can prime you to achieve.