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Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

ultradian-rhythmsI found this article in my inbox this morning:

5 Unusual Ways to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder, Backed by Science

Since launching off on the next phase of my life and business, I’ve had to change a lot of my old ways of working. In the past 9 months I’ve started using all five of the techniques mentioned in the article and I can tell you that they definitely work (at least for me).

Here are the specific tools and techniques I use:

Riding the Wave

I always try to achieve a flow state when I work, so it’s easy to lose track of time.

To keep me from going on longer than I should, I have an app on my computer that kicks me out after 90 minutes. I use Vitamin-R, but a Google search will turn up plenty of other options for any operating system or set of functions.

The Meditation Nap

I’ve been meditating since I was a teenager, so I don’t take a traditional nap. I have a bank of 20- and 30-minute meditation programs on my iPod (many from Brain Sync) and a pair of very comfy SleepPhones. This gives you the benefits of both meditating and taking a nap.

Park Your Butt… in the Park

We’re fortunate to live in “lakes community” that also has a beautiful park. Because we live in Arizona, I’ve got about 9 months of sub-100-degree weather that I can get outside. Again, I make double-duty out of it: I ride my bike through the neighborhood every afternoon (exercise), ending up at the park (nature). Sometimes I watch the ducks; other times I watch the clouds. Every now and then I get really motivated and take my meditation nap there!

A Home-based Campus

While I do have several cafes that I frequent, I’ve also turned my home into a mini business complex.  I have four specific areas that I utilize on almost a daily basis:

  • The Office. That’s where my computer lives and where I do most of what we’d normally consider “work.”
  • The Writing Desk. I have a separate desk in our kitchen nook just for writing. It’s surrounded by windows and has no technology in site. It’s just me and my journal.
  • The Patio. Shortly after moving in, we cut down the basketball goal, built a pergola and planted lots of vines. After 15 years, the vines have taken over and provided me with this lovely “green” cave. Depending on my mood, I can lay in the hammock (a good place for that meditation nap) or sit at one of the tables to write or read.
  • The Laboratory. Technically, I have two of these. One of the bedrooms is full of all my tech and electronics gear and magic stuff. I also converted one of our garage bays into a shop (complete with a 3,500lb toolroom lathe). These are my places to just play and be inspired.

The Email Dilemma

I have struggled with this one for years. I’ve been back and forth between dealing with it first-thing and waiting until later in the morning, sometimes even pushing it to noon.

I’ve found that a hybrid model works best for me:

  1. Create some sort of priority tagging or categorization methodology for your email. As Mark Allen says: build a system that you can trust so that you can avoid thinking about them.
  2. First-thing, I set my Vitamin-R to 10 minutes and blow through email. The goal is to tag everything that needs to be dealt with and delete all the rest. If I can’t do it in 10 minutes, I stop any way.  Hint: sort the email in reverse chronological order so you start with the oldest email first.
  3. Then I don’t look at it again until noon. Period. End of story. When I do get to it, I start in order of my priority tags. I do not look at any new email until I’m done dealing with the top-priority items from the morning. Again, I set a specific time for this activity and do not go over! If I can’t get it all done, it gets put off to the last time I check email each day: 5pm.

If you’ve got other suggestions or techniques, please Comment and let us know…