Jun 062017

To Be More Productive, Learn To Say No Way

One of the biggest keys to being more productive is learning to say “no way”.

There are so many distractions in today’s world that it’s not enough to just say no, you must add a little emphasis for the sake of clarity – make it “no way”.

I say that somewhat jokingly, but if you take a moment to think about your typical day, how long is the list of things you (should) say “no way” to, if you want to be productive?

For me, the list is very long and it includes:

  • Unproductive phone calls (some phone calls are necessary and ok)
  • Unproductive meetings (many meetings are a complete waste of time!)
  • Too much time on social media
  • Too much television
  • Waking up too late
  • Doing busy work that is not related to my goals
  • The list goes on and on.

I would assume you have a similar list of things that you should be saying “no way” to that really hinder your productivity.

So, the question is, how do you put an end to these distractions, so you can be more productive each and every day?

In my opinion, the best approach is to try to limit unproductive tasks to a maximum of an hour a day and try to schedule them for right after lunch. The reality is that our productivity typically takes a hit right after lunch, in any case, as our body struggles to digest the food we’ve just eaten. Why not use that down time to indulge yourself in a couple of activities that you cannot allow to be time wasters when you are at the top of your game?

To the extent possible, given the colleagues and work environment you’re dealing with, try to be as direct as possible about scheduling certain activities right after lunch. Obviously, you’re not looking to offend anyone, but it also shouldn’t really reflect too negatively on you that you’re trying to use a simple strategy to make yourself more productive.

Beyond saying “no way” to activities that you know bring down your productivity, another good strategy is to actually schedule your thinking and creative time during periods of the day when you know you are at the top of your game. For me, that time is usually early in the morning, before the phone calls, emails, texts, etc. start rolling in. That time of the day, I can usually get some excellent uninterrupted time that allows me to keep the focus going once I get on a roll with a particular idea or project. It may be a different time of the day that works for you, but once you find it, protect it like you would a safe filled with gold, as it’s during that time when you are likely to do your best work and make the most significant positive impact on your business and your life.

Finally, make sure that in your effort to find ways and a schedule to make yourself more productive, you don’t become “all work and no play”. If you don’t allow yourself some time for rest, relaxation, and regeneration, you will likely find your overall productivity heading in the wrong direction, which would completely defeat the purpose of being more proactive and intentional about becoming more productive! Find time for the activities that you enjoy, particularly those that have to do with nature and with exercise, and you will become even more productive than you would by just saying “no way” to most of the distracting activities that come your way each day.


Paul Morin




Dec 192012

maintain momentum during the holidays

5 Tips To Maintain Momentum During Holidays

This is a challenge that comes up several times a year:  how to maintain momentum during holidays and keep your sanity.  Like most people who work on a variety of projects, I struggle with this issue quite a bit.  It used to frustrate me that many people take a lot of time off around holidays.  Then I had an epiphany:  maybe they’re not crazy; maybe I should be changing my habits.  It’s not their fault if they want to enjoy some down time with their families.  In fact, maybe if I had any sense, I’d do the same.

That being said, I’m the stereotypical achiever who cannot relax completely.  I can (and want to) devote more time to doing family activities during the holidays, but I have to get some constructive stuff done for my business and other projects each day, or I get frustrated.  I love the extra time with my family, but in my opinion, it’s not mutually exclusive with getting some other things done as well.  I know, I know; “you should unplug completely sometimes”.  Right now, that’s not in the cards for me.  I simply don’t feel like unplugging completely.

So, here are five tips regarding approaches and mindset I’ve found helpful to balance spending a lot more quality time with my family around holidays and still satisfying my need to be productive in other matters as well.

1.)    Realize Not Everyone Is Working During The Holidays

This used to frustrate me, but now my reaction is “good for them”.  I don’t get frustrated about this anymore.  I acknowledge that people have a right to take time off around the holidays and if I need to get something done that involves someone on vacation, I get as much done as I can without their input, then schedule the rest for when they’re back from vacation.

2.)    Focus On Tasks You Can Accomplish Without Input From Others

Related to the point above, I assume that most people will be on vacation during holidays, so during that period, I try to focus on activities that don’t involve other people.  Those activities may include paperwork that’s piled up, or other miscellaneous “to do’s” that never seem to get done.  I also find that holidays are a great time to work on creative tasks, for which it’s often hard to find quality time during non-holiday periods.

3.)    Realize That You’ll Probably Have To Work Early Or Late Hours

If you’re truly going to try to spend more time with family during the holidays, you’ll need to acknowledge that most of those activities will occur during the day.  Given that, you’ll need to plan on doing your work early in the morning, or late at night.  For some of you, that may not differ much from your typical schedule; for others, it will be a big adjustment, as you’re probably used to “being productive” during work hours.

4.)    Be Sure To Get Plenty Of Exercise

While getting plenty of exercise is hardly ever a bad idea, I find that if I want to be productive during the holidays, exercise is absolutely essential.  Since all members of my family are into sports and exercise, I try to “kill two birds with one stone” and do very physical activities with my family during the extra time we’re spending together.  This helps me to keep a clear head and a reasonable waistline when I’m trying to be productive in the off hours.  Given all the culinary temptations of the holidays, that’s a worthwhile and challenging goal.

5.  Realize That If You Don’t Get It All Done, It Doesn’t Matter

The bottom line is that if you are even remotely productive during the holiday downtime period and, most importantly, you get to spend a bunch of quality time with your family, you’re way ahead of the game.  Whatever work stuff you wanted to get done that you don’t will still be there when the holidays are over.  Make sure that you recharge your batteries with your family and you’ll be that much more productive when you get back to work after the holidays.

Please notice that I did not suggest that you multi-task during the holidays.  Don’t be distracted when you’re hanging out with your family; give them your undivided attention.  Be a serial focuser, not someone who succumbs to shiny object syndrome.  Come on; put your big boy (girl) pants on.  You can do it.  Your family and sanity are worth it.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin



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Nov 262011

Increase Your Productivity

A Simple Tip To Increase Your Productivity

Would you like to increase your productivity?  It can be done pretty easily if you are able to say no and to politely ask people to go away and not disturb you.  The idea is simple:  in order to be more productive, you must have uninterrupted periods of time to work.  That’s it.

Ok, so the idea is simple, but the execution may not be so simple, particularly if you work in an office.  The idea for this post comes from a TED video I recently watched.  It was a talk given by Jason Fried of 37 Signals, entitled “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work”.  He made some great points about the inherent evils of meetings and of bosses who interrupt you at inopportune moments, to make sure you are being productive.  It’s ironic, isn’t it?

One point that Jason made that really resonated with me is that work is like sleep, in that there are phases, and that once you are “awoken” from a particular phase, you have to start all over again.  Regardless of the scientific accuracy of this analogy (who cares), it really resonated with me.  All of us have been woken up from a deep, high quality, restful sleep, only to not be able to get back to sleep afterwards.  We then wake up miserable the next day, feeling unrested and cursing the noise or whatever else may have woken us up.

Isn’t work the same way?  We go through phases of productivity in our work, particularly if we’re doing work that requires significant thought and focus.  We start out slowly, getting in the right frame of mind, getting all the facts straight, creating a space in our mind that has the right context for productive thought, then we start making some progress.  What happens if the phone rings at that moment, or someone walks in and interrupts us?  Can we simply start up where we left off?  Not usually!

So what does this imply about how we should manage our workspace and our work time?  In my case, I try to get all work that requires deeper thought done early in the morning, when I’m fresh and no one else is even awake to disrupt my train of thought.  For others, they are better able to focus late at night.  You probably know which is best for you.

Another implication of this “work phases” line of thinking is that even during the work day, when there are lots of potential distractions, we should be diligent, some would even say ruthless, about keeping those distractions to a minimum.  This is particularly true if we can’t push all “deep thought” work to when others are sleeping.  We don’t want to be rude, of course, but depending on the demands of your business at particular times, you may need to be a bit tough about protecting your time.  The alternative is to allow your productivity to be undermined by unnecessary interruptions.

Finally, I’d encourage you to test what works best for you.  I have spent my whole adult life working on this issue, so I’ve found some ways that really work for me.  I encourage you to do the same.  A couple of suggestions:  music, particularly classical music that doesn’t require you to listen to the words, and earplugs.  Also, turn off the phone, Facebook, texting, email, Twitter and various other potential distractions during those times when you want to be at peak mental productivity.  Those activities are fine during downtime and other times when you don’t have to have your brain focused and operating at peak productivity, but they are a detriment otherwise.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.  I’d love to hear any other tips you may have to increase your productivity.

Paul Morin



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