self discipline

My Productivity Secret: Sticking to It

self discipline

Guest blogger Ethan Austin is the co-founder of GiveForward, an online fundraising network that makes it possible to raise money for loved ones with medical expenses. Follow Ethan on Twitter @ethanaustin.

Ninety-nine percent of the time the hard part isn’t knowing the right course of action. It’s having the discipline to stick to it. There are a million and one brilliant blog posts floating around the Interwebz that will tell you what you should be doing to be a more productive human being. This is not going to be one of them. And the reason why is simple: I totally suck at personal productivity so I’d be a total fraud if I gave you advice on how to be a more productive person. So instead of telling you what you should be doing, I’m going to let you in on a secret.

You can read all the blog posts in the world with ingenius plans on how to be a more productive human being, but if you can’t stick to the plan, they don’t mean a whole lot.

Seth Godin wrote a terrific post a few weeks ago called “Hooked on Hacking Life” that hit on this exact point. He wrote, “Maybe you can quote the GTD literature chapter and verse, understand lean and MVP and the modern meeting standard. Maybe you now delete your emails with a swipe. It’s possible you’ve read not just this blog but fifty others … But the question remains ‘what have you shipped?’”

This is the fundamental question that we all have to answer. Why is it that some of us ship and some of us don’t? We’re all reading from the same playbook. We all have the same information at our disposal. So why do some people outperform others?

It’s discipline. It’s putting in your 10,000 hours. It’s waking up at 6 am every morning to hone your craft. It’s figuring out whatever productivity plan works best for you and then sticking to it. Well that, and using Taskrabbit of course.

To be fair, discipline is something I struggle with myself. But it’s something I’m constantly working on getting better at. I can’t claim to have figured it all out yet, but I can promise you if you can figure out how to be a more disciplined person, the personal productivity plan should take care of itself.

Epic Goals

Have Epic Goals? Here’s How to Stay Motivated

Epic Goals

In “How to Maintain Motivation When Your Goals Are Epic,” Fast Company‘s Grace Nasri asked several entrepreneurs with pretty huge missions about how they stay motivated. Folks like Arianna Huffington, NASA’s Bobak Ferdowsi, and our very own Leah Busque doled out some lessons from the front lines. From keeping things in perspective to keeping passion at the center of all you do, these tips are at once inspirational and actionable. We hope you take a few moments to read this article today.

Call us partial, but we particularly loved Leah’s approach to staying motivated:

“I wake up every morning with a singular goal —to push my company as far as I can that day. My company is dedicated to solving a pretty huge problem, and it can be overwhelming to think of the magnitude of this vision. My approach is to choose specific and actionable items to complete each day to move us closer to these goals, and to encourage everyone on my team to do the same. This keeps us on track for accomplishing the big picture … Which brings me to my biggest productivity secret: I love what I do. Knowing TaskRabbit is poised to revolutionize work as we know it is like rocket fuel to me.” Read the full article.

DogVacay

My Productivity Secret: Let the Dogs In

DogVacay

Guest blogger Aaron Hirschhorn, along with co-founder Karine Hirschhorn, converted his love for dogs into DogVacay, a community for dog owners who want an alternative to kennels and the hosts who are willing to bring them into their homes. Follow Aaron and DogVacay on Facebook and on Twitter @DogVacay.

My life has gone to the dogs … literally. As CEO of DogVacay, the largest peer-to-peer community for pet services, my day is consistently full. And most of those activities are the same things that you see from CEOs on a regular basis: [pullshow]

  • I meet with my top lieutenants for brief daily meeting so that we can be 100% aligned on our goals as a company.
  • We re-evaluate our top priorities on a regular basis to avoid duplicating work and ensure that we’re focused on the highest value items.
  • I regularly simplify the processes we use daily. This has helped me tackle the pile instead of doing the same things all of the time.
  • I am religious about reading emails and listening to messages and physically flagging those that require follow-up so that no communication falls through the cracks.
  • Keep the mundane, day-to-day stuff off my plate by using great services like TaskRabbit for the things I just don’t have time to — but absolutely must — get done.

[pullthis]All of those things keep me on the path and moving both the company and myself forward. But the REAL secret to my productivity lies in what I do for a living. I always remember that the very nature of what we are doing with DogVacay is fun.[/pullthis] Every day I bring my dog — a golden retriever mix named Rocky — to work with me. I walk her at least twice during the course of the day, so I can get outside and clear my head. It is my grown-up timeout. I encourage my staff to bring their dogs, so on a daily basis there are seven or eight dogs running around our offices. Puppy love keeps stress low and morale high.

Of course it is serious business, but we are in the world of dogs and if you can’t have fun going to work every day with that, then you are in trouble.

Brain Efficiency

My Productivity Secret: Train Your Brain for Efficiency

Brain Efficiency

Guest Blogger Matt Faustman is the co-founder and CEO of UpCounsel, a legal marketplace for SMBs that uses a virtual workforce of talented lawyers to reinvent the traditional legal model for businesses. Matt is an outspoken cheerleader for SMBs, B2B technology, and supporting local business communities. Follow him at @matthewfaustman.

We are all busy. Whether you are an entrepreneur, store manager, or Lyft driver (possibly all the above), each and every one of us feels busy. How do some people manage Matt Faustman UpCounselto move mountains in a single day while others struggle to complete a basic task list? More impressive are those who have the ability to adopt these efficiency mindsets within their own organizations.

Being a student of these individuals and organizations, I have observed four common disciplines, which when put to practice, allow you and a team to accomplish more and seemingly create more hours in your day. Like any good habit, these all take practice and consistency, but are so basic that you could start today.

Schedule “Do Not Disturb” Time

There are a million things to keep track of in a single day that have absolutely nothing to do with you actually completely anything. Sound familiar? As a founder, it is critical to keep a daily pulse on your company and everyone on the team. From the second I walk into the office, to the moment I leave, there is always something to talk about or hash out with another team member.

I like being available to everyone, and we encourage a great deal of collaboration, but sometimes you just need to get stuff done. [pullthis]On most days, shortly after getting into the office, I go into our conference room, shut the door, and answer every email in my inbox, take important calls and even write blog posts (like this one). This is my “Do Not Disturb” time.[/pullthis] Likewise, others on our team have large blocks of the day that they have designated for themselves and use headphones or other signals so everyone knows it. It is important to have a lively and vocal work environment, but sometimes these moments of solitude are vital to productivity.

Own Your Living To Do List

Cliche yes, but also effective, a well curated To-Do list can be the difference between getting sh$t done and not. A good To-Do list starts with your overall goals, breaks down into weekly objectives, and finally into daily tasks to accomplish those objectives. See a recent post by Arjun Dev Arora on Clarity, Awareness, and Focus which goes into more depth on the topic. [pullshow]

Creating your lists is only half the work, you have to make sure to curate it on a daily basis. The same goes for your team. At the beginning of each day and week, revisit your tasks so you know what is coming up and adjust as your week changes. Each day you go to work you should know exactly what needs to get accomplished that day and what objective it goes toward accomplishing.

Become a Follow-Up Machine

We are not big on meetings — they just take too much time — but they’re necessary inside an organization. We try to maximize their impact by making use of follow-up emails. We find that without follow-up emails most of the meeting is lost. Have you ever been in a meeting and realized you are covering the same exact things discussed in the last meeting?

After every meeting, we have each person put together a brief follow-up email and any tasks they are responsible for as a result of the meeting. In the next meeting, you know exactly what was previously talked about and what needed to be accomplished in between. It is amazing how much more efficient your meetings will be when you have these two things nailed down.

Create More Hours for Yourself Through Delegation

I am always on the hunt for ways to move faster, tackle my tasks smarter, and create additional hours in the day for myself. Delegation is key, but is probably one of the harder things for founders and general A-type personalities to undertake. The first step is identifying those items which can be delegated.

There are certain mundane tasks each day that do not require my full attention — but nonetheless need to get done. When you add them all up in a week, it can equal a lot of time. Try it! With the low costs created through collaborative consumption startups like TaskRabbit, getting these kind of tasks done is cost-effective enough that it makes sense to delegate them to people outside our team. Weekly tasks like groceries for the office, deliveries from local stores, and general office admin tasks get done with little effort.

Lisa Revel

My Productivity Secret: Think Like a Hacker

Lisa Revel

Guest Blogger Lisa Falzone is founder & CEO of Revel Systems, the “cash register for the 21st century” that offers a fully functional Point of Sale system through mobile technology. Lisa was recently featured as one of the 30 Under 30 Technology Pioneers in Forbes. You can follow her on Twitter at @LisaFalzone

When you are starting a new tech company, particularly one with the lofty goal of upending and overturning an entrenched industry like the Point of Sale market, the number of people telling you “This won’t work, or “There are too many hurdles,” is truly staggering. And, looking back now, a lot of what they said ended up being true, at least partially: there are often a lot of seemingly insurmountable hurdles, and sometimes what we did didn’t actually work. But, here’s the kicker: We’re still here aren’t we?

I’m sure this is the part where everyone expects me to say that Revel persevered by sheer determination and hard work, that we simply had the smartest team and the most elegant solutions to problems. While all of that is true (and it is!), the real secret to Revel’s productivity (and believe me, we have some crazy-productive months both behind and ahead of us) is that we’re a company of hackers. I’m not saying we steal bank accounts, or that Julian Assange is on our board or anything (travel visas didn’t really work out unfortunately), but we definitely tackle problems with a similar point of view and gusto. I guess the more correct phrase would be, “We think like hackers.” [pullshow]

When we started Revel, my co-founder and I knew exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to overturn the decades old, slow moving industry of Point of Sale systems. We saw the end point, but it was hard to see how we would get there. “There’s no way to connect a card reader to an iPad.” We built one. “You can’t run an entire grocery store from an iPad!” We made it work. We try to look at issues and problems and find out how to break through all of the red tape of how the industry has heretofore been defined, and build our own means to that goal.

We have a lot of ways in which we set up the company to maintain this hackers’ mentality. [pullthis]We keep a very open office space, with everyone sharing common desks, ensuring the highest level of cooperation amongst teams. We promote creativity and sharing of ideas, no matter how ridiculous. Some of our biggest ideas have come from people whose job descriptions deal little to nothing with product at all![/pullthis] We set aggressive goals and objectives across teams with strict deadlines and incentives, motivating our team to figure out all the murky stuff and simply get the job done. We openly recognize what we can and cannot do, and work to improve the former and eliminate the latter through unconventional means. Even the fact that we order and eat food together, contributing to our strong sense of camaraderie and cohesiveness, could be seen as a hack on traditional business (outside of the startup world at least…). In short, we get sh*t done.

Much like a hacker might team up with another respected code monkey, often somewhere worlds away, thinking like a hacker often requires us to build and utilize strong relationships with companies we respect. LevelUp is an awesome company that gives all our clients the ability to accept mobile payments at 0% interchange. Zuppler is a fast growing company in the online ordering sector. Outside of product related things, we use stocking services to deliver all our snacks and drinks for our break room. TaskRabbit often fills a lot of the voids in between, from getting all of the bar necessities for Friday Happy Hour, to delivering gifts to partners and clients during the holidays. At Revel Systems, productivity, that hacker mentality, whatever you want to call it, means using what you have and what you know to accomplish what you never thought you could. And its been an awesome ride!

woody guthrie new year's resolutions

Forming Habits, Mastering Skills, and Surviving the Supermarket Checkout Line

woody guthrie new year's resolutions

Still haven’t gotten around to making your New Year’s resolutions? Brain Pickings compiled famous resolution lists from Jonathan Swift, Marilyn Monroe, Woodie Guthrie, and Susan Sontag. Our favorite came from Guthrie, “Keep hoping machine running.” With resolutions like this, how could we not be inspired? We decided to make our own resolution here at the TaskRabbit Blog. Each week, we’ll round up our favorite items on productivity, entrepreneurship, and the collaborative economy to share with you here. Let’s get started:

Forbes unleashed a little advise on developing new time management habits — from Benjamin Franklin. According to the article, “Twelve Time Management Habits to Master in 2013,” modern psychologists recognize three key elements in Franklin’s approach: he commits to a habit, works on only one at at time, and uses visual reminders.

Ever found yourself stuck in the express checkout lane at the grocery store, wondering why all the regular lanes were moving more quickly? Math teacher Dan Meyer decided to drop some science on this common occurrence, and found that express lanes just aren’t worth the wait. To save time, head to lane 13 (or hire a TaskRabbit to handle your groceries).

Our friends over at Etsy posted this very cool New Year’s exercise, “Reflect on 2012 to Create an Awesome 2013,” for their sellers. If you run an Etsy shop (or any other kind of small business), it’s definitely worth a read.

Productivity guru, best-selling author, and TaskRabbit superfan Tim Ferriss chatted with Behind the Brand host Bryan Elliott about how to master any skill. Whether you want to learn how to shoot a three-pointer or how to cook the perfect steak, we suggest watching this conversation first.

TechCrunch announced the nominees for the 2012 Crunchies, and there’s a new category in town. We’re nominated, along with some other incredible companies in the sharing space, for Best Collaborative Consumption Service.

Post Holiday Chores

Post-Holiday Chores? We Can Help.

Post Holiday Chores

Finally. No more cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, hams to glaze… it’s over! But before you can rejoice and ring in the new year, there are a few loose ends to tie up. Like, for instance, that stack of gifts you need to return and exchange. Or those lights lining your house that need to be unstrung and packed away. Or that tree. The one that’s shedding dry needles all over your floor. Relax — TaskRabbits can help with just about all your post-holiday chores.

Gift Returns & Exchanges
When even thinking about braving the mall agains sends shivers up your spine and you have a pile of gifts to deal with, just turn to a trusty TaskRabbit. Whether you need it returned, exchanged, altered, or donated, TaskRabbits can handle it.

Taking Down Decorations
Ready to take down the lights, pack up the stockings, and de-ornament the tree? TaskRabbits can help disassemble all your decor and neatly pack and organize it for next year. No need for you to get tangled up in lights.

Getting Rid of That Tree
Let’s face it: Getting rid of the tree is not nearly as fun as getting it. TaskRabbits can pack away the decorations, empty the stand, vacuum the needles from the carpet, and haul that tree right out of your life. So much better than watching it rot on the curb for a month!

Cleaning and Organizing
Whether you need to restore your home to normalcy after your holiday house guests or you just want a good end-of-the-year scrub, TaskRabbits can help. Wouldn’t it be great to start 2013 with a clean, organized house?