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Beach Reads and Productivity Fun!


Happy Friday y'all! I can hardly believe it is the last Friday in August - summer where on Earth have you gone!?

I was reflecting earlier this week on my beautiful but short summer, and the time I spent relaxing on the beautiful Prince Edward Island beaches. I noticed that even when I am on vacation, I seem to still be nerding out on Productivity, always looking for that next tip or trick that will help me get things done more efficiently and effectively.

Chris Bailey was a keynote at a conference my husband attended and he brought home one of his books. This summer I read "The Productivity Project" one and then picked up his second book at the library "Hyper Focus" and later moved to his "Becoming Better" podcast.

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My mind is full of tons of tools and techniques that I want to try out and put into practice. One tip I tried this summer (when I wasn't on vacation) was a tool the author recommended called Focusmate. What a gamechanger that was for me, I completed 50 sessions this summer, one or two a day adds up quickly. Think pomodoro technique but even better.

You are matched up with an accountability partner somewhere across the globe for virtual co-working, at the start of the session you tell your partner what you are going to be working on for the 50 minute session, and they do the same. Then you get to work. At the end of the 50 minutes you report back in a few words what you got accomplished. All you need is a computer with a camera and microphone and an internet connection. Focusmate enabled me to get laser focused and helped me tackle some really tough tasks, as well as some items I had been procrastinating on. Highly recommend trying it and the best part is, it's free :) My Master List Trello board has never been so clean!

So what's your go-to productivity tip or trick that you swear by, or a new productivity discovery (eg. like Focusmate that I mentioned above)? 


If productivity is not something you consider "fun" like I do, what was a vacation or beach read that you highly recommend? Not into books? Share an article or magazine. Something for everyone :)


PS. If this post is not fun enough for you, pop over to my "Fun with Personality Types and Preferences" - double the fun in honour of the last Friday in August.



I try not to work when I'm tired. I'd rather get some sleep and get up early to handle crunch times. 

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That's a great tip @Matt Doar__ LinkedIn - doing this avoids mistakes our mind makes when we are tired and we are more apt to get the work done twice as efficiently when  well rested. Thanks for sharing.

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Sep 03, 2019

I'm tired all the time ;) But I agree I usually try to get the most important things done first thing in the morning.

I agree, "Eat your frogs in the morning" - I love that book.

Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 30, 2019

Working more towards following the GTD model. Especially with a lot of disparate streams of work happening simultaneously, I have a hard time being distracted by keeping track of jobs. Or trying to punch out the smaller ones for the sole purpose of not having to think about them. Adding the iOS version of my preferred productivity app to my phone made it so that I can add tasks as I think of them while not at my computer. And then I can stop thinking about them! It's helped me to shut down at night a little better.

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I agree. That was the best bit of advice I took from the GTD book. Then I can tell myself that I'm being inefficient revisiting something at night that I've already recorded in some system where I'll see it in the morning

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Thanks @Daniel Eads Yes to the GTD model! I love having my favourite app (Trello) on my phone for on the fly productivity as well. Spending the time up front to get organized, doing that brain dump and then prioritizing saves so much time in the long run. Glad to hear this helps you unplug at night, makes such a difference.

Like Daniel Eads likes this
Andy Heinzer Atlassian Team Aug 30, 2019

My go to productivity tip, at least for when I'm stuck on a difficult problem:

"Go for a walk"

It sounds counter-productive on paper, but I will swear by it.  Rather than trying to stay at my desk and try to work through something that has me stuck (which can work), it's way better for your brain, and your body to get up and walk around.   Letting my brain do something completely different for 20-30 minutes, like walking outside and navigating a trail does wonders for my ability to come back at a difficult problem with a renewed and refreshed perspective. 

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I love this tip @Andy Heinzer - I need to do this more often. Sitting is the new smoking, and I agree it's good to change up our environment and also get some endorphins flowing from a bit of exercise, and give our brain a break from the problem at hand and our computer screens.

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Sep 03, 2019

I couldn't agree more! When a couple of us get stuck on a problem at work we take a walk outside and in the middle of talking about something else someone will have a thought we hadn't considered!

Like Jodi LeBlanc likes this

Nice to hear you also find the walk outside useful for creative thinking and problem solving.

Beach reads for me tend to not be remotely related to work. I use the time to disconnect and recharge.

RE-reads (those books one goes back to again and again) tend to be from Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Terry Pratchett, and the late, great Douglas Adams. While the books are available on my phone, I have a waterproof Kindle that is my go-to device for reading at the beach (or similar).

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Nice, I love that you do re-reads, thanks for sharing your favourites. I also that you have a waterproof kindle, I must get one of these as I do a tonne of beach reading in the summer.

DPKJ Community Leader Aug 31, 2019

I am a programmer, so when I am tired I watch other people code, mostly things that I'm not working on.

Like, I work mostly in application programming but watching people write Games is fun.

Sometimes you learn by watching other people.

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That's interesting @DPKJ - a good way to get inspiration from others and to learn by watching :)

How did I miss this on Friday? Love reading (even if there's no real beach available here @Bavarian Alps) 

I always have like two books with me - one for the nerd fun (at the moment I re-read a book series about two nerds from the 80ies) and one for productivity (I'm totally into agile teamwork & new work at the moment - last book was Complexitools)

But what I also like are printed magazines - I know, you can read everything online, but I love cut out interesting articles and put them in my scratchbook for inspiration. There are one or two really interesting journals that come in quarters I still suscribed in printed form.

Like Jodi LeBlanc likes this

That's awesome @Fabienne Gerhard I love that you have both "nerd fun" and "productivity" on hand at all times. Also, love that you have a scratchbook for inspiration. 

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Sep 03, 2019

I don't actually have anything to share... but I'm learning a lot from others here!  When it comes to being at the beach I don't usually read.  I end up building sand castles.

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Nice! Sandcastles are great in so many ways: creativity and fun!

When I'm on vacation, I try to shut down a bit the office work initiatives and make space for new ideas to come while drinking my coffee and watching the views. 

I have a few side projects, and when I take time off, I'm bringing my attention to them - how to fix a particular problem, how to enhance the idea/or product, and usually searching for some literature about that.

I always take two types of books with me, like @Fabienne Gerhard  - one for the "productive" topic, and one for fun (I love reading Stephen King's types of novels, my mind is responding very creatively after just a few pages). 

This summer, I had a book about personal finances and the Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment." Always prepared hehe. You never know what would be the mood the next morning :)  

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That's awesome @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ I was challenged by Max on another Friday-Fun post to read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (I know I am one of the few in this universe who never read the trilogy). I am doing a lot of travel over the next two months so going to try to fit some "fun" reading into my downtime with a goal of finishing the four books by January 2020 (or sooner) :)

Hah, so familiar, I am the only one that really doesn't like these books :)

(Too brave to share this here, but I hope that the Community Gods will have mercy on me)

Like Jodi LeBlanc likes this

Lol yes your bravery is amazing :) Curious as to what you didn't like about these books? No judgement as I am still on the first book, perhaps I won't like them either :)

A previous CEO that I had had a saying that I find has been totally true for me. "The biggest reason things don't get done is because they don't get started." Often times it's easy to get bogged down into figuring out all the details before starting any work. But sometimes you need to just get started. Have a plan, but don't try to be too detailed. Do something and let the other details works themselves out as you go. Also, don't start too many things at once. We as humans don't actually work well that way.

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Thanks for sharing @Davin Studer - that is really great advice! Yes starting something is half the battle, and breaking it down into bite size chunks so we don't get overwhelmed.

My go-to productivity tip or trick for writing is to turn off my internet access! I will even start early drafts or mind maps with actual paper and pen. I've found it helps me to focus and avoid distractions, especially since I can so easily get lost down research rabbit-holes. 

Great tips @Sharon Helms - yes I read that when we get a notification and check it, it takes about 20 minutes to get back on track. Love mind maps too!

edwin vasquez Community Leader Dec 05, 2019

Isla Mujeres is an island just off Cancun, Mexico. One of the best spots I've ever been to.

Like Jodi LeBlanc likes this

Nice, Sounds lovely @edwin vasquez ! I will need to check it out next time I am in Mexico. My favourite beach so far in Mexico has been Tulum.

edwin vasquez Community Leader Dec 05, 2019

Tulum is about 150km south of Isla Mujeres. Very beautiful in that region!

Nice, not too far away at all!

Zak Laughton Atlassian Team Feb 07, 2020

Productivity trick: Have an inbox for ALL your ideas and tasks. Each day, you'll receive several ideas and todos that you're bound to forget. Have someplace to record them all! Personally, I use an app called todoist. I regularly prune this list once a week to see if there are any actions I need to take.

Interesting, thanks for sharing @Zak Laughton - I use Trello to do what you described and it has changed my life. #TrelloforLife

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