Dear diary, this productivity hack can double your work efficiency in a week

Do you remember the teen magazines that used to be in the newsstands twenty years ago?

(Apologies in advance if you were not born twenty years ago, you just made me instantaneously feel ten centuries older)

If, like me, you were lucky to be alike in such age of printing glory, you’d remember teen magazines filled with pops tart gossips, eyebrow raising advice about your intimate health and loads of quizzes and tests.

Will you marry your BFF? If you were a Spice Girl, which one would you be?

That was, by far, the favourite section of any given magazine.

Tell me something more about me

I seemed to desperately cry. Unsurprisingly, as a Virgo and a roaring type A, I was not surprise to find myself totally hooked with the idea of learning more about myself.

Fast-forwarding to twenty years later, and personality tests are used by employers to recruit new employees. In a way, personality tests are one of the favourite ways for Millennials to learn more about themselves.

We could even argue we perceive as if they give us a clearer idea of our strengths and weaknesses, something that empowers us more in the choices we can make and the way that we can better ourselves as humans.

Now, I am a type A, ENFJ-T Millennial myself, and I was quite a precocious child too, so I was all over any quiz and test I could get my hands on.

Most tests have seemed to point out to the same trait, again and again.

Over-achiever. My blessing and my curse, I suppose.

As our cohort is now over, I have gone back to some of my favourite practices to work smarter, and my favourite (by far) involves 2 simple folders.

In summary

  • Helping your brain recognise what truly is a priority can be what completely shifts your perception towards your daily workload.
  • Start coding your emails for better ease when approaching your inbox.
  • Overall, “Today” and “This Week” are nothing more than labels. Yet, when it comes to psychology, they can help us greatly work with our brain.

From my Notion Dashboard

You can create yours here!

The two magic folders

All right, you got me, I am creating loads of pathos around these two, but for good reason.

They work like a charm. Our two new BFFs are called “Today” and “This week”.

If you want to be even more of a type A then yours truly, you can go ahead and create a “This month” folder. I won’t judge. Much.

“Today” and “This week” are two folders you are going to apply to your biggest time wasters.

To me, those two are represented by my inbox and my to-do list.

This folder method combines two techniques: the batching technique, and the time-blocking technique (something I mention when talking about my prime time).

The two folders technique is something that has been used by different productivity coaches and authors alike, and for good reason.

The way I give it my spin is by creating a dynamic approach to it and adapting it to different areas of my work.

I think it was Nir Eyal who suggested to only look at one email twice - the first time, to label it, and the second to respond and archive it.

I could not agree more.

The two-folder email method

I first applied the two-folder approach to my emails, and created the two majestic labels in my inbox.

Whenever I open my emails in the morning (usually after my two hours of uninterrupted work), I start coding my emails (as well as responding to anything urgent pronto).

  1. My only rule is to respond to anything that requires less than 5 minutes to write / check / implement. If it requires more than that, then it falls into the “Today” folder.
  2. If, instead, I feel like it’s something that could wait until the Friday of the week, I push it to “This week”.
  3. I then batch time to check my emails twice per day (this is still something I am working on, as it’s the hardest part).
  4. At the end of the day, I also make sure I check my “Today” and “This week” folders to adjust any outstanding email.

Bye bye, inbox mess. Hello, Nirvana

Applying this approach to my to-do list

Okay, to be completely honest, my Asana account is not really a two-folder sort of system. Yet, in my to-do you’ll still see a “This week” folder.

My “Today” folder is replaced by a handful of tasks I set for myself for the current day.

I still have some tasks set for a specific deadline, however, instead of furiously adding a deadline to everything, I add anything that needs to be done at some point in the week to a label called (spoiler alert) “This Week”.

I tried creating a section for it, or a board specific from my to-dos for the week.

However, having a label allows me to have different to-dos coordinated with our team, whilst still have a section just for my writing, workshops and speaking gigs.

  • Each morning, I check my planner to see what is the big focus of the day. I spend my first two hours doing that (whether it’s working on an upcoming course, workshop or writing).
  • After that, I prioritise the 2/3 today tasks lying in my todo.
  • I also have a daily “batch admin” task with loads of small admin bits, which I do in another focused period of time, just like I’d do my inbox management.
  • At the end of the day, I head back to my Asana to check what else was planned for the week, and prepare my “Today" list for the following day.

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Appreciation corner

Jeremy is absolutely a top guy on Twitter. His positive energy is unmatched, and he is overall such a nice and positive guy.

I honestly LOVE seeing his updates popping up on my feed! Make sure you go and give Jeremy a good ol' follow!

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January 12th 2021

Fab-ulous weekly highlights

  1. This past week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Matthias on the Reluctant Marketer podcast about how to talk about systems in your marketing - and if I say so myself, I spilled the beans and shared heaps of wisdom (humble much?) Go and check out the full episode here!
  2. Our early birds for the 4-day early bird intensive experience in May are ending on Friday, so if you were waiting for a sign from the universe to hop on board and create your brand bible this is it - find out more here

Yup, here's a countdown for good measure.

If you have any questions about the 4-day cohort, check our full breakdown or drop me a line directly to ask!

A recent study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed that, while tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.

The pair observed that people underperform on a task when they are unable to finish a warm-up activity that would usually precede it. However, when participants were allowed to make and note down concrete plans to finish the warm-up activity, performance on the next task substantially improved.

As Bechman notes:

“Simply writing the tasks down will make you more effective.”

Making the time to explore a simple system can have a ripple effect in your overall strategy.

P.S. if you are looking for more support, these are 3 ways I can help…

  1. Learn how to market with purpose and access weekly tactics here.
  2. Book a power hour session and get unstuck here.
  3. Reclaim time to focus your energy where it matters here.

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Alt Marketing School is a newsletter and podcast teaching marketers how to market to hearts, not brains. Using psychology, impact and the latest frameworks to help you make a bigger impact online.

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