Categories
productivity Solopreneurs Systems Thinking

Systems can set you free 🤓

I’m struggling to get my tax return done. It’s been in the diary for ages, but I’ve let (more interesting) things take priority this week.

I want it done so I can take a break in August. I’m normally on it as soon as the new tax year starts — like to do it early, so I know how much I have to pay.

I realise I need to do it before school’s out on July 21st. I’m not as focused with a teenager in the house. The energy is different, and my attention is split between work and domestics.

Also, the heat is making me restless. I want to be outside. Long walks. Runs. Hanging out. Living in Hastings is like being on permanent holiday 🤩 🌊

Time to revisit my systems and processes. Look at what I do every day — personally and professionally, and work out how I can maximise my output with minimal effort.

I want to work on my business and myself in August — reading, travelling, studying, and the bigger picture. Set some goals for September — the new year.

Designing better systems will give me more headspace and freedom to be present in the moment — whether I’m writing an email, talking to a friend or shopping with Julieta. It will also help me see what I can outsource.

It’s a mix of digital and physical:

• Notebook and pen (handwriting activates the brain and boosts creativity)

• Trello boards (to plan, move things around, inspirational backgrounds — a visual reminder of where I want to go next)

• Templates for newsletters, emails, and reports I do regularly

• Calendly — set times for calls with an automated Zoom link

• Batching tasks, e.g., Marketing Monday, Fridays for creative writing and personal projects, checking emails at set times

• Hootsuite for social media scheduling (5 x daily posts on the free version)

Groove app for 50-minute focus sprints — just 4 of us; I love how intimate this feels. One task at a time. Writing an email, making dinner, sorting the garage — it’s all work

• GrowthDay — the first all-in-one personal development app. Underpins it all. Brendon’s energy is infectious! ( here’s my link)

Here’s Mark McGuinness | Creative Coach on how to create systems that serve you.

Listen to an audio version of the article on this episode of The 21st Century Creative podcast, starting at 7’’18.

Learn to Thrive as a Creative Proget the FREE 26-week course. It will help you look at your creative career’s bigger picture. Do something new every week to develop your skills.

Happy holidays! See you in September 😎

As always, get in touch if you have something to share, a link suggestion, or just want to say hi 👋

Originally published at https://nikatalbot.substack.com on July 31, 2022.

Categories
future of work personal development productivity

Why you get more done when you work less 🤓

Thousands of UK workers started a 4-day week on Monday with no loss of pay, in the world’s biggest trial of the new working style.

The pilot is running for 6 months and is being organised by 4 Day Week Global.

It’s based on the 100:80:100 model – 100% pay for 80% of the time, with a commitment to 100% productivity.

I can’t wait to see the results. It’s exciting to see the variety of companies on board – local chippies, software firms, recruitment agencies, tax specialists, Charity Bank.

Researchers will be measuring the impact on business and productivity, stress and burnout, life satisfaction, gender equality, and the environment.

As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life.

Joe O’Connor, 4 Day Week Global

As with output-focused working, this will give companies a competitive edge.

Wacky office perks don’t cut it. Life is for living, and we want our time back. As you get older, you don’t want to waste your time on things or people that don’t make you feel good.


👀Juliet Schor | Ted: The Case For a 4-Day Workweek.

📚The Practical Magic of the 5-hour Workday, by Trevor G. Blake. Read the free pdf and pass it on. Trev has built and sold three startups for $600 million in a decade. All while never working more than 5 hours daily from a casita at home.

He shares his personal work schedule for enhanced creativity and revenue generation, and the history and science behind the rationale for never working more than 5 hours a day (via Do Lectures).

The Medieval workday was no more than 6 hours, nature-driven, and in the hamlet. We now have the tools and tech to get back to that with remote working and less commuting, but we’ve gone too far the other way, working even longer hours.

We have a steady stream of information. Drip, drip, drip. It’s hard to switch off when your phone is an extension of your hand.

If you run a company of one and work remotely, you already have a competitive edge. You’re agile, committed to your cause, and you run your own schedule.

Getting more done in less time is down to discipline, deep work, mono-tasking – and delegating what you can!

📚 Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. How active rest and deep play – walking, hobbies, sports, good conversation – are the keys to happiness and success. That’s when we come up with those crazy, creative ideas.

Alex points out that a four-day week creates an entire year of extra free time every five years 👀

What would you do with that extra year? Imagine the problems we could fix!

Bikini on and soak up the summer 🏖 😎 🙏 We had Ziggy Marley on Hastings Pier tonight – doing a live tribute to his papa!

Written by Nika Talbot, founder of award-winning Firebird Studio. Content designer and UX writer. Based near Brighton, heart in Italy 🇮🇹

Something to share, or just want to say hello? Send me a note: nika@nikatalbot.io.

Enjoy reading this? Why not buy me a glass of Prosecco? 🥂

Categories
future of work mental health productivity remote working

Productive morning routines 🌅

Welcome to the Sunday Shift: a weekly-ish newsletter rethinking how we live, work and play.
★ This week: Productive morning routines; The great American road trip, CEO style from an Airstream; Europe’s largest remote work conference; Sync vs Async communication; wrkfrce’s Playbook Project; The Great Resignation; 5G: A short course.

As the saying goes, if you “win the morning, you win the day”.

Tim Ferris has talked to many successful people about their morning rituals and shared the five things he does to set himself up for a day of positive momentum and minimum distraction – including making his bed and journaling.

I love the reference in this episode to “the bookends of the day” – pay attention to the small stuff like making your bed, and the big stuff will sort itself out.

Last August, Chris Reeves set up the group #WTMWTD after hearing the phrase on a podcast about getting out of your comfort zone to help with the stress and mental health decline amidst COVID-19. They meet first thing in the morning for a walk or swim, coffee and a chat, and it’s been transformational for many. A movement with global groups springing up and a Facebook group with 3K followers.

It’s less about productivity and the to-do list and more about putting yourself first, so you’ve achieved something no matter how the rest of the day goes. He says it works because:

It’s free, I’m not selling anything, and it’s a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone. I don’t like the sea. I don’t like cold water. But the reason I do this is that it sets me outside my comfort zone.

All good as long as you’ve had enough sleep!

And a big shoutout to Chase Warrington for this chat with the founder and CEO of wrkfrce, Jesse Chambers, about morning routines, mental health, and the future of work. Jesse and his wife left San Francisco to hit the road in a vintage Airstream while founding a company and managing a global remote team. Wrkfrce is an excellent one-stop shop for remote work, and great to see it has a dedicated Wellness section.

Chase has also written this piece on having a more productive morning routine by “paying yourself first”. Some personal finance advice on putting your “non-negotiables” before work obligations.

How you work is just as important as the work you’re doing.

Follow the plan, not the mood 😁

– Nicci


🛠🖐5 Things

★ Repeople Conference 2021 – Europe’s largest remote work conference onsite + virtual. Debating the top five topics around the future of work, managing distributed teams, digital marketing, live VR work experience. Nomad City has rebranded as ‘Repeople’ (repopulate) to reflect the growing number of remote workers. Contributing to the remote work ecosystem in the Canaries.

– Repeople Conference 2021

★ Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication: How to find the right balance for your team. Top organisations like Doist, Gitlab and Buffer have become more productive by cutting back on meetings and learning how to embrace async comms.The pros and cons of both forms, when to use them, and how to make the most of them.

– Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication.

★ wrkfrce’s Playbook Project – the global rise of reactive remote work in 2020 spawned a proliferation of playbooks by many leading remote-first companies, which open-sourced the knowledge they’ve gained to help other businesses. Trouble is, they’re loooooong. Here’s wrkfrce’s condensed CliffsNotes versions with the most useful, actionable insights to help make working remotely rock for you.

– wrkfrce’s Playbook Project

★ Do we have to work? RSA replay. What does work mean in the 21st century? It allows us to pay the bills – but it’s become about more than that – finding purpose, identity, and meaningful work for many people. Digging into The Great Resignation, production vs consumption, and what needs to change in the new era of work: UBI, zero or low-cost economy, and the growth of self-employment and portfolio working.

★ 5G: A short course from Axios. 5G is cast as a technology that will revolutionise cities, transportation, education and more, but it faces hurdles. A five-part video intro into how it might apply to your life and work and the debates surrounding it. “What we’re facing is the possibility of a global surveillance machine.”

– Get smart by Axios: 5G


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Categories
newsletters productivity writing

The Shift: Build your writing habit🧠

‘Bye honey, have a great day. Love you.’ 

Then I sit down and write for two hours. Half an hour of free writing to get me going, then on to Google Docs. I’ve made it a ritual – Moka pot, scented candle, flight mode, and trained my brain to associate the time and place with writing. It’s a daily habit that requires no thinking, and it’s helped me publish 12 books and a newsletter every week for the last year.

I try to approach it as a time for me to learn and reflect rather than stressing about it. And focus on what I can control: my daily habits and routines. 

Fascinating article on Barack Obama’s habits and how the daily routines saved him from going mad when he was president. It’s all about removing day to day problems. ‘You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down my decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’ The act of making decisions degrades your ability to make further decisions. ‘You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.’ 

Reading that has made me feel more relaxed about eating granola for breakfast every day and my ‘work wardrobe’ (is it lazy to wear loungewear 24/7? I rotate cardigans for Zooms). No. I’m embracing minimalism, and it’s strategic – I’m habit stacking! Training me to get OUT at lunchtime and there’s less friction. All I need to do is pull my trainers on, and off I go. I’m shopping online at Tesco, buying clothes from Whistles and hair products from Kerastase (fuck it, they work). Making things routine frees up mental energy for the important stuff. 

In 1887 William James wrote a short book on the psychology and philosophy of habit (Internet Archive). He argued that the ‘great thing’ in education is to ‘make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.’ 

He shares his three maxims to successfully form new habits – the first one: launching a solid initiative and making a public pledge. Simple, powerful ideas that live on in bestselling business books like Richard Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. And the #Ship30for30 Atomic Essays (build a writing habit in 30 days) have taken Twitter by storm.

Research shows habits can help your productivity. Dr Robert Boice studied productive vs non-productive faculty writers and found productive ones had shared habits, which ‘included working patiently and regularly; writing with stable and calm emotions; feeling less uncertainty and pain, a greater sense of fun and discovery, and welcoming criticism. Successful writers were more likely to write regularly for short periods than “bingeing” with long, infrequent sessions.

He emphasises the importance of lack of self-consciousness and that you should write without feeling ready. ‘Keep a nonjudgmental attitude about your writing, and approach writing not as a painful necessity but as a time to relax, reflect, and be calm.’ And form or join a peer writing group. 

So I’ve signed up for the next #Ship30for30 cohort in August. Let’s see if it helps with the things I’m struggling with: over-research and over-editing. I’ll be setting sail on 9 August if you want to join me (my code here). Massimo Curatella has written some brilliant essays on what he’s learned – One Year Writing: 30 lessons in 30 days.

I’m challenging myself to write one Quora answer daily for a year. Taking whatever I’ve learned that day at work as inspiration. It’s not about being an ‘expert’ in a niche but sharing stories and life lessons that are relatable, universal and entertaining – as so many Quora answers are. I get a lot from it, so it’s good to give back.

What’s your writing process? Any helpful habits, tools or resources? 

No newsletter next week as I’m full time on the app project, but I’ll be on Twitter. If you’ve published something, send me the link, and I’ll share it.

I’m going to write something on community polyamory as I’m struggling with that. I’m in so many incredible communities and not enough time in the day so I need to choose three to focus my energies on. I’d love to know how you manage and make the most of your online networks.


More rituals… I have my lucky shirt on for tonight to go with Gareth’s lucky spotted tie. Doesn’t he look sharp in those summer knits (Percival – young English company, made in Tottenham). Great management style – checking in on every player before a match, and seeking advice outside of the field.

‘It’s God, family and calcio’ – here’s to all the Italian mothers who have sacrificed so much to allow their sons to pursue their careers🥂 ⚽️


5 things🖐

✍️Anne-Laure has published 300 articles on Ness Labs. Enjoyed this one on how to build a better writing habit. Great advice on seeing it as a conversation starter rather than something that needs to be polished and perfect. Approaching writing as a startup: write, publish, iterate, feedback. Content, courses, coaching, community to help you put your mind to work – it’s well worth the small fee to join (increasing soon).

🧘🏻‍♀️Buster Benson, the founder of 750words.com, on the benefits of meditation and why he thinks free writing is better. The value of shutting down your neocortex and its relationship to creativity and flow, and how to do it. 750words is an online journaling tool and community. If you’re frustrated with meditation and haven’t tried free writing in this way, give it a go. Get to know yourself better.

💻Finally, an upgrade to Google Workspace. Pageless view, emojis, and dynamic documents. You can create polls, assign tasks via @mentions, and present docs directly to a meeting. I used it this week with a client and it saved us time. The big pop-up box on my screen requesting a call made me jump. I’m using Google Keep for notes, Scholar for research, Writing Habit + SEO Assistant. The all-in-one workspace.

📚Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers. Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) periodically updates this reading list of famous writing advice, featuring words of wisdom from masters of the craft such as Kurt Vonnegut, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller, Stephen King, F Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Joan Didion, and more. Enjoy!

📝Paul Graham on How To Work Hard. I love how people drop everything to read his essays. ‘There are three ingredients in great work: Natural ability, practice, and effort.’ Learn not to lie to yourself, procrastinate, get distracted, or give up when things go wrong. ‘I can’t be sure I’m getting anywhere when I’m working hard, but I can be sure I’m getting nowhere when I’m not, and it feels awful.’ Printing it out for Julieta to read. Love the basic HTML. At its heart, web design should be all about words.


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work + play. Weeklyish curated tools for thought and ideas to share✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
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To offset the carbon emissions of this newsletter and my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. I encourage you to do the same in your country – here’s a list of climate action groups. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste🌍