Together with his wife, he had always dreamed of living abroad. More than six years ago, they decided to go for it. They left their home in the Netherlands, and set off for the next chapter in their lives: a Swiss adventure. And it has worked out exceptionally well. Meet Rutger Quak, Impact Hub member and personal productivity coach. In this article, Rutger shares some useful time management and productivity tips and tricks with us.
You define yourself as a productivity coach. Where does this “crazy” obsession for productivity comes from?
It’s in my nature. I like to be in control of the things that I am doing, and have my stuff organised. I want to do those things that I enjoy most, while having the time to focus on things that help me achieve my goals. For me this feels like a second nature but when I discovered there was a need for it, I also decided to do something with it.
Why do you think that people benefit from a productivity coach?
There are many reasons to consult with a productivity coach, but the most important is that most people could use some help to escape from being too busy. In my experience, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Everyone is unique, and different productivity tools, techniques, and strategies help in different circumstances. I work with an individual approach that produces a sustainable and long-term difference. The key thing that people must first realise is that being busy is not the same as being productive.
“I work with an individual approach that produces a sustainable and long-term difference.”
We are all busy people at the Hub. Do you have any tips and tricks for our readers regarding time management?
First, time management doesn’t exist! Time is given and there is nothing to manage about it. Second, it’s not about doing more. It’s about doing more of the right things. What you must manage is yourself! With this aim, I consider Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as a very important manual for me. A must-read if you want to accomplish your goals. As a taster for people discovering Stephen Covey for the first time, I recently wrote a blog titled ‘The #1 truth about personal productivity and time management’. What I always teach my clients is to figure out where they want to go and what they want to achieve. When you do this, you’ll find it easier to focus. Instead of running around, and being busy working on tasks that ultimately don’t bring you closer to your goals, you’ll become more productive and target oriented. In the words of Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.”
Working in a shared space as an entrepreneur can be fun but sometimes a bit distractive. Do you have any tips for our fellow entrepreneurs to not let them get distracted?
I would suggest three simple things: Determine your priorities, plan your day ahead, and say no to people who disturb you. There are a few tricks for this:
- Schedule time for your highly important tasks. If you don’t know how to set up a to do list for these tasks, read my post about “How to set up your task list.”
- Make sure there is time in your schedule for interruptions or unexpected events.
- Tell others they can come back later when you have finished your important tasks. It is ok to help people, but only on your terms and when you are ready for them.
- Don’t multitask: do only one task at the time, and fully focus on it. And don’t let your inbox rule your day! If this is the case, I would suggest you read “How to manage your inbox effectively.”
- Work in sprints. Give each task total focus for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, and then take a break before resuming or moving on to the next task.
With all those tasks in your mind, you can easily start to panic. Are there any tips on how to avoid mental exhaustion?
Of course, there are a few useful things you can do to recharge your batteries:
- Plan daily activities that give you energy for each day. I call them recharging activities. They vary from reading a book, to participating in your favourite sport, spending time with the people you like or just going for a walk. These types of activity really help you to reenergise.
- Sleep well and long enough! You must recharge your batteries often!
- TAKE BREAKS during your workday! Our cognitive capacity is limited, so you should take regular breaks during the day. This concept is so crucial to your productivity that I recently wrote a blog about how taking breaks helps you achieve more.
A lot of great tips! But what’s next for you Rutger?
I’m working on taking my business to the next level. I plan to broaden my client network, and generate more exposure for my business. Parallel to this, I am also interested in the kind of problems people run into when it comes to their productivity.
If you’re reading this and would like to help me in this quest, please send me an email telling me what is your biggest struggle when it comes to personal or professional productivity. Be as extensive as possible. I promise everyone who helps me out, will receive some personalised tips and suggestions on how to improve their productivity.