1. Laying the Groundwork for Productivity
1. What is an essential element in your quest to become more productive and master time management?
Use the latest time management software.
Find a manager who is open to micromanaging.
Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
Keep a strong motivation in mind.
2. Is it difficult for Focus Masters to effectively teach others to be more organized?
It’s not difficult. They just need to tell others to “Do it my way.”
Yes, they typically have a hard time explaining how to be organized.
No, they just don’t want to take the time to explain it.
It would be very difficult to teach since it’s such a complex topic.
2. The Great Obstacle to Productivity
1. One of your coworkers is making obvious mistakes. This is odd because you’ve always thought of her as very intelligent and capable. What is a likely reason for this behavior?
She is switchtasking.
She is incompetent.
She is working overtime.
2. What is the most likely result if you talk on the phone while also handling email?
You’ll be more concise in your communication.
Your stress will increase, you’re likely to make obvious errors, and you’ll be less productive
You’ll get both tasks done in a shorter amount of time than doing them individually.
You’ll have time to write additional emails during your day.
3. What will help you regain large amounts of time?
Add more gathering points.
Have fewer gathering points
Have fewer hobbies.
Get more sleep.
4. The best way to learn from this course would be to _____.
pause the video and try out the methods directly
take written notes on a notepad
take a mental note
teach it to someone else
5. How can you tell the difference between switch tasking and background-tasking?
While switch tasking, your attention literally switches from one task to the next. Background-tasking doesn’t require this switching
All multitasking is the same.
Exercising while listening to music is an excellent example of switchtasking, whereas reading a report during a video conference is an example of background-tasking.
You will be more productive with switchtasking, but not with background-tasking.
3. Productivity Principle 1: Space
1. You’ve learned about the six recommended gathering points. What should you do next?
Make sure you have both a physical and a portable inbox. The rest can wait.
Make certain that you understand how to use each gathering point.
Calendar a future date to decide on your personal gathering points.
Stop now and decide on gathering points for your unique situation.
2. How do you keep from being distracted by unresolved issues you’ve written in your paper notepad?
Use of a digital notepad is better so you don’t get distracted by previous notes.
Put a big check mark by all the items you’ve finished.
Write your general notes and your action items on separate pages.
Rip out all your daily notes and put them in your inbox
3. What is a best practice for using a notepad to improve your time management?
You should never put general notes in your notepad. It should only be used for action items.
You should think of your notepad as another portable inbox.
You should select a notepad with letter-sized paper so you have more room to write.
You can use a notepad as a flexible gathering point for both ideas and action items
4. You’ve narrowed your approved gathering points to eight. You just can’t seem to reduce it any further. What happens now?
Just keep going with the course. A couple of extra gathering points isn’t a deal-breaker
You must have six or less gathering points by the end of this section. You should start the course over.
You’ve failed this section of the course.
Keep going over and over the inventory until you fix it.
5. All of the following are ways to consolidate multiple voicemail accounts, EXCEPT:
Eliminate the need for voicemail by having it forward as an audio attachment in an email.
Delegate the responsibility of checking all voicemail to an assistant.
Check your office voicemail when you are at home
Set your work phone to forward to your cell phone if the call isn’t answered.
6. You’ve completed the gathering point inventory, and you have six checkmarks. How will you use this information?
You should have numbers, not checkmarks. You will need to go back and count the number for each type gathering point
It doesn’t really matter how many gathering points you have.
Six checkmarks are a good sign.
You can skip this section of the course because your number is so low.
7. How large should your physical inbox be?
a legal-sized tray
a letter-sized tray
large enough so that it never overflows
as small as possible
8. What is a wildcard gathering point?
a gathering point that doesn’t play by the rules of processing
any kind of gathering point that you need for your unique situation
an outdoor gathering point
a floating gathering point – one day it could be your pockets, the next it could be your car
9. What’s the best way to communicate an emergency?
Tell your team to knock on your door.
Create a thread in all your apps for emergencies.
Use one messaging app for true emergencies and set clear expectations on what qualifies
Check your apps in between scheduled times just for emergencies.
4. Productivity Principle 2: Mind
1. To keep your mind uncluttered with to-dos, what should you do?
Only work to remember to-dos that affect your work.
Hire someone else to accomplish your list of to-dos.
Have a mind-clearing system ready at a moment’s notice
Work on the to-do the minute you are tasked with it.
2. What should you do with an unresolved task in your mind?
Determine whether it’s important.
Gather it into an approved gathering point
Put it on a 3×5 card.
Immediately process it.
3. How often should you schedule time to use the mental triggers list to clear out all the unresolved to-do items and tasks that have accumulated in your head?
once a day
once an hour
about once a quarter
just once (no need to repeat)
4. A new idea pops into your head. When should you put it in an approved gathering point?
at the scheduled time
whenever you have a free minute
during your processing time
5. Productivity Principle 3: Time
1. You’ve always used a paper calendar. Based on this course, what should you do now?
You can use both a digital planner and a paper planner at the same time.
While there are some disadvantages to using a paper calendar, you can still make it work if that’s your preference
Use a digital calendar app that automatically syncs with your paper calendar.
You’ll need to toss your paper planner and get the most popular digital one immediately.
2. What is an example of effective calendar scheduling?
Book back-to-back appointments to be efficient.
Make a mental note and then schedule when you get to your office
Double-book yourself in case one appointment falls through.
Schedule buffer time for travel and unexpected interruptions
3. How do you use a “Perhaps List?”
Put things on a “Perhaps List” so you can essentially forget about them.
Use your “Perhaps List” as a laundry list of everything you’ve ever considered doing.
Your “Perhaps List” is a place for unrealistic ideas to go and die.
Use a “Perhaps List” to record ideas that you’re not yet fully committed to so you can consider them later
4. What is a best practice to protect your schedule if someone makes a request for your time?
Ask for the request through email
Always say yes. You can reallocate your time accordingly later.
Ask for the request by phone.
Always decline at first. If you determine later that you have time, then alert your coworker.
6. Preparing to Take Action
1. You pick up a note to yourself that is unprocessed. Which questions should you ask about this?
All of these answers
What will I do with it?
When should I do it?
Where is its home?
7. Gathering to the Inbox
1. What does “processed” mean?
You’ve stored it in a gathering point.
You know what to do with the item, when to do it, and where it belongs afterwards
You’ve filed it away in its home.
You’ve thought about what to do with an idea.
2. What is the best principle for organizing items in your workspace?
Out of sight, out of mind.
Homes are temporary. Migrate things later.
Process it or put it in the trash.
Everything has a home, no visitors allowed
3. If you still need to gather items from outside your office, what should you do?
Put all the large items that you find into one large box, and small things in a smaller box.
Schedule an appropriate amount of time in your calendar to gather items from other locations
Put each thing you find in its own area, and deal with them over the course of the next few weeks.
Get to it when things slow down and you have more time.
8. Understanding Processing
1. You’re processing a digital note page from a team meeting. It contains both notes about what was discussed, and an action item for yourself. What should you do?
Process the action item. File the meeting notes
Email your notes to someone else so they can deal with it.
Leave it in the notepad
File it away for future reference.
2. You’re concerned that processing is going to take too much of your time. What should you do?
Commit to the recurring processing schedule. By processing this way, you will be more focused and actually save time overall
If it takes too long, you can just skip it one week.
You can do the rest of the techniques in the course, and skip processing.
Don’t worry. Once you get your gathering points to zero, you won’t have to do this anymore.
3. A project needs some research, and you’ve delegated it to someone else. You’re not sure what the next project action item will be until the research is done. What should you do?
Put the project file on the bottom of your inbox.
Schedule a task reminder for yourself that you’re waiting on some research
Give the entire project file to the other person, so it’s not cluttering up your desk.
File the project away.
4. When processing your inbox, you find the assembly manual for a bookshelf you just put together. You also have a digital file of this manual on your computer. What’s the ideal way to handle this situation?
Keep the physical manual but delete the digital file because it’s redundant.
Get rid of them both.
Keep them both. You never know when you’ll need them in the future.
You can toss the paper copy but keep the digital copy
5. What is the most common outcome of processing properly?
You’ll feel like you have nothing to do.
You’ll have a long list of task reminders.
You’ll have a full calendar
Most of your tasks will either be done now or scheduled on the calendar sometime in the future
6. What are the three fundamental questions to ask yourself when processing an item?
Can someone help me? Why do I have so much to do? What is this thing?
What is the next step? When will it be done? Where is the item’s home?
Should I do it now? Should I do it later? When should I do it?
Should I file this away? Should I throw this away? Should I stuff this in a drawer?
7. How should you file financial documents?
Create a yearly set of twelve files, one for each month, and file documents into the corresponding month
Put everything in a shoebox to reduce time spent filing.
In a locked filing cabinet.
Alphabetically by company name.
8. You find a note in your inbox reminding you to send a brief email to a customer in about three to four weeks. Which of these is the best way to process it?
Put the note back in your to-do pile and look at it again in three weeks.
Email the customer as soon as possible and throw away the note after you’ve sent the email.
Schedule a future calendar appointment that lasts thirty minutes. File the note away.
Add a task reminder for the likely best date and time that you will complete the task. Then, throw away the note
9. What would you tell someone who thinks processing is difficult and time-consuming?
Tell them that it’s not for everyone.
Remind them that processing is about making decisions, and they were already doing that before this course started
Tell them that you can start and stop processing in several short sessions throughout the day so that it’s not overwhelming.
Tell them you can go faster if you handle two or three items at once.
9. Processing Email
1. What question should you ask when checking your email?
How much detail should I provide in my response?
Can this wait until my scheduled processing time?
Am I going to worry about this all day?
Why am I receiving this email?
2. You have several emails you need to respond to in your inbox. What is the recommended way to process them?
Open one at a time. Process it just as you would a physical inbox by asking what, when, and where. Then, open the next email and repeat
Mark the emails as “unread” so you remember to respond to them.
If emails get to be too old, just delete them. If it’s important, the other person will email you again.
Respond to all emails immediately.
3. Why is it unnecessary to subcategorize emails?
Most emails should be deleted. The remainder can live in your inbox.
Email categorization can be buggy.
It IS necessary. Without categorization, you’ll lose important emails and waste time.
Email clients usually have powerful search engines to help you find archived messages
4. You have a conflict with a client’s proposed meeting time. After you respond to the email suggesting a new time, what should you do?
Begin preparing for the meeting with your client.
Create a scheduled reminder to check to see if the client has responded to your email
Give it some time. They’ll likely get back to you soon.
Schedule the meeting in your calendar with the time you proposed.
10. Your Time Budgeter
1. What is the purpose of establishing a “finish time” in your day?
You are less productive.
You are forced to make smarter decisions about how you’re using your time
You increase your stress levels.
Your success and efficiency at work will likely suffer.
2. How do you achieve maximum results during the limited amount of time you have at work each week?
Work fewer hours.
Just do your job, since all your activities are valuable and expected of you.
Focus most of your time on your most valuable activities (MVAs)
Work more hours.
3. How much time should you budget for your top two most valuable activities (MVAs)?
Just spend as much time as you can on your MVAs. No need to create a budget for them.
All of it. If you don’t spend 100% of your time in MVAs, you’re falling short.
It’s up to you but try for at least 40% of your time to start
Create a budget that splits your total time evenly between your two top MVAs.
4. What should you use your time budget calendar for?
scheduling project work
planning your ideal day and week