Bimonthly Productivity Top 5: Sunrise and The Rise of Superman

In the Bimonthly Productivity Top 5, I look back at the most important productivity hacks I’ve implemented in the past two months. This one covers January and February of 2015.

1. Sunrise

As in, the calendar app recently bought by Microsoft. Why would you need another calendar?

To be honest, maybe you don’t. In my case, I got hooked on Sunrise for the following reasons:

  • Seamless merging of iCloud and Google calendars, without VPN (this is especially useful if you live in Beijing, like me).
  • Brings together all my different, time-driven tasks and reminders into one overview (calendars, Asana, Evernote, Reminders, etc.).
  • I can now change Evernote note reminders, simply by dragging and dropping them in Sunrise.

No major game changers, but enough small gains to further smooth out my day.

2. Scheduling of tasks

Using my calendar to schedule my tasks in the morning, has made me much more productive. I’m also more focused and feel better by the end of my day (who doesn’t want that?).

The secret to doing it successfully is not just using your calendar to schedule some, but all of your tasks.

Catch up on the details of this approach in my recent article titled “Simply Use Your Calendar and Turbocharge Your Day”.

3. The Rise of Superman (book)

As a productivity professional, any book with this passage in its first chapters, will surely capture your attention:

A ten year study done by McKinsey found top executives reported being up to five times more productive when in flow.”

Luckily for everyone else, The Rise of Superman is not a book about productivity and management consultants. It describes in great detail, the lives of great sportsmen and their accomplishments in the so-called “extreme sports” over the past decades.

Skateboarders, snowboarders, BASE-jumpers, rock climbers and combinations thereof. They all share amazing stories about overcoming fear and hardship. You learn about the workings of flow along the way.

4. Hide the clock

I came across this seemingly absurd tip in 2014, so technically it shouldn’t be on this list. But I’ve only come to appreciate it in full-effect these past months, so I’ve added it anyway.

The premise is simple: by constantly having a clock in our face (i.e. on our computer desktop), we’re too aware of time to get in a state of flow and emerge in our tasks. This has happened gradually, without anyone giving it too much thought. Since our computers have always had a clock visible at all times and we’ve slowly started spending more and more of our waking hours in front of them, you’ve ended up with a clock permanently stuck in your face.

The funny thing is: you can turn off your clock (see below screenshot: can you find my clock?) and it does make a difference! Read more about it in “No Studying After 5pm: Using Parkinson’s Law to Kick Procrastination’s Ass” under the section “Cover the clocks”.

5. iDoneThis

Typing in everything you accomplish in a separate app, even if you’re already entering in, tracking and checking your tasks on a digital todo list?

It sounds at least as strange as covering your clock, I’ll admit. But after giving iDoneThis a try, I noticed there’s something inherently satisfying about keeping track of your accomplishments.

With a todo list, tasks vanish as soon as you tick them off. This is of course the purpose, but it sometimes leaves you wondering by the end of the day: “I was super-busy, but what exactly did I manage to get done today?”

This is where iDoneThis comes in. It’s being a bit more mindful about all the things you do get done in a day. Instead of just crossing things off, you consciously put them into a kind of journal. Not sure if the habit will last, but for now I’m enjoying it a lot.

Your highlights for January and February?

That’s it from my side. How about yourself? What were the most important changes and things you learned in January and February? Feel free to share in the comments below!

4 Comments Bimonthly Productivity Top 5: Sunrise and The Rise of Superman

  1. John Winckel

    I tried iDone This for a few days but can’t seem to keep it up! Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect it to your to do list / IOS Reminders? Then, whenever you mark a task as finished it would be uploaded to your iDone This account – idea for a request?
    regards, John

    Reply
    1. Tim Metz

      It’s indeed not easy to pick up, but for me it has really become a habit.

      I think you can connect your todo list with iDoneThis through a service like Zapier.com. But personally I actually really like typing them in, as the manual work really makes me aware on what I’ve accomplished (but it’s indeed a bit silly extra effort 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sam

    Hi,

    How did you get Sunrise Calendar working without a VPN? I’m also situated in China, but cannot seem to add my google accounts without a vpn. When I do, I have to relogin every time I open sunrise.

    Reply
    1. Tim Metz

      Hi Sam!

      Hmmm, that’s strange. My best guess would be that I registered using my email address, not Facebook or Google when signing up for Sunrise (the first time you open it it asks you to create a user account). Can you try and see if that makes a difference?

      Tim

      Reply

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