Talking Lists With Peter Shankman

Anyone who’s a follower of productivity and organizational tools knows that the productivity world has it’s own celebrities, like Marie Kondo and Julie Morgenstern (who wrote the foreword for my book Listful Thinking btw). The entrepreneurial world is not that different, there are the big hitters like Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. There are a select few that are known in both worlds and overlap! One of whom is Peter Shankman.

I’ve written about Peter before on the blog  on how to be productive when you have ADHD, which is a personal issue that he has overcome. I quickly discovered that many of the tools he suggest are similar to some of my classic productivity tips. They’re just extra effective for people with ADHD.

As a a public relations and marketing expert Peter has also been an inspiration to me as an entrepreneur.  It’s why I joined his online mastermind group Shankminds, which has been especially helpful since I left my day job as a TV producer to branch out on my own.

He recently wrote a book called “Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain,” and I’m quoted in it! Yay!

Check out this on-camera interview Peter and I did together talking about lists and his new book!

In the video I discuss:

  • How to use lists to stay organized
  • Finding what works for you so you can stay productive

5 Ways to Make Working With Others Easier

It’s always an exciting time when you start a new project, especially if that project is a collaboration. It often begins with many huddled meetings in coffee shops, where all the possibilities seem endless. When my friend Terri Trespicio and I set up our business Lights Camera Expert we knew we were onto a winner because our skills complement each other so well. She loves looking at the big picture and I’m into the details as you may have guessed.

We do a lot of speaking and present workshops to experts, authors and entrepreneurs who want to get media attention. We’ve been told time and again that we have great chemistry and play off each other very well. Someone even asked if we’d teach a class on how to collaborate better.  

Sadly not all collaborations work out so well. I’ve been part of a few duds in my time. Part of the issue is being really in tuned to the other person’s work style because there are signs your collaboration might not work out if you know what to look for. Read more

Why You Should Never Schedule Anything at the Top of the Hour

As you probably know, a top productivity tip and regular habit of mine, is to write my to do list the night before. I consider it a roadmap for the following day. I don’t have to stick to that schedule exactly, but it gives me a path to follow.

Many of the highly-productive people I know do the same thing. However I’ve noticed they make one key mistake – they schedule tasks for the top of the hour. For example your to-do list might look something like:

  • 10am catch up on email
  • 11am call Donna

What’s wrong with that?

The problem is two fold.

First of all, as a total procrastinator I know all the tricks your mind will play on you in order to put things off. Scheduling things at the top of the hour is a classic one. Why? Because the second that clock ticks 10:01 and you haven’t checked your email, you start to think to yourself, “well now I’ve missed my opportunity! I’ll get to it in a minute”.  But then you never actually get back to that original task because your attention pulls you away.

The second issue is that when you schedule something for say 11am, people don’t actually start to get ready until 11am. I find that if I’ve scheduled a call with someone, if I make the call on time they often won’t answer, as they’re still going back to their desk or checking over their notes. The same is true of meetings. How many 2pm meetings actually start on time?

So what’s my solution?

I like to schedule appointments and tasks for 15 mins past the hour. This gives you 15 minute to prepare or get yourself set up for the time ahead. So if it’s a Skype call you’ve got time to login and check your audio is working at the top of the hour. If you’re scheduling a meeting these extra 15 minutes give people time to grab a cup of coffee or tea and get settled.

Go through your diary today and shake up your schedule! Be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Turns out Magic Assistance Aren’t So Magical

When I first got into productivity I wasn’t that into the idea of outsourcing. I didn’t like the idea of giving up control over my work. However, once I gave in and tried it, I fell in love with outsourcing. So much so that I have written several posts about it, it’s one of my top productivity tips.

That being said, I recently had an experience that left me questioning my outsourcing beliefs. I have used several websites that outsource your to-do list like Fancy Hands, TaskRabbit, Zirtual & many more. My experience has always been generally positive. So when I heard of a new, similar company called Magic I thought I would give them a try.

The idea behind Magic is that you can use a virtual assistant to organize any task or issue you might have. All you pay is 53 cents per minute the assistant spends on the job. Seems simple enough, right?

As I’ve written about in my previous post I hosted my own Lights Camera Expert Live workshop recently and I decided to use Magic to help me organize the catering. Being the producer that I am, I had pretty much sorted everything myself already, I had downloaded the menus and decided what I wanted, at what time and for how many people. All they needed to do was put in the orders.

Magic assistants keep you up to date on their progress with your tasks, which is good. But in this case that didn’t really help very much. There seemed to be a bit of back and forth with one of the restaurants as the assistant had difficulty getting in touch with the person in charge. It happens, I get it. But what I didn’t understand was how they had managed to spend so much time on this job. Magic is not supposed to charge you for the time they spend waiting for someone to call them back, only the time they spend on the call.

So I was pretty shocked to find that they had racked up over 2 hours on this task, without any sort of conclusion in sight. When I asked for the time breakdown I discovered they had spent 40 minutes researching the websites of the restaurants I had picked. But why? I had already chosen from the menus and provided them with contact numbers so I still can’t figure out what exactly they were looking for on the websites.

Not wanting to be too pushy I decided to let this slide, hoping they would manage to sort it all soon. By the next day they had managed to rack up 4 and a half hours worth of time on this task, when they still hadn’t even booked anything. Completely fed up, I requested they end the job and decided to sort it myself. They did issue me a full refund after I complained but I still had the task to complete.

In the end I got someone else to  book the catering and it took her all of about half an hour, which is about the amount of time I would’ve spent on it too. It left me wondering whether I really needed to outsource the task at all. But I just didn’t want to do it! I still can’t figure out why it would have taken the Magic assistant four hours though.

Either way it taught me a valuable lesson, sometimes it is just better (and quicker) to do it yourself!

Have you had any outsourcing mishaps?

How to Organize a Successful Workshop

I’m super pumped this week, because my friend and partner in crime Terri Trespicio and I recently hosted our first live event! It wasn’t hosted by an organization or a conference – it was hosted by us – it was our baby!

Many of you know I created an online course called Lights Camera Expert after being asked “How do I get on TV?” so many times by experts who were sick of seeing everyone else in their field snatch up the airtime.

So we took them behind the scenes of what it’s like to work at a TV show or magazine, how to get a producer or editor’s attention and continue to get asked back.  And we pushed the video course out into the world about a year ago.

What happened next is not something we expected. Read more