Category Archives: competence

How to Time Block (Without the Apps)

Do you get overwhelmed by digital task management tools?  

Are you seeking a good mix of structure and flexibility in your day?

Is there an easy, stress-free way to block time for important projects?

When you hear the term Time Blocking, you might picture color-coded calendars filled up with specific activities for the week. Digital apps to block time might also come to mind.

But you really don’t need an app or even a planner to time block. 

In episode 47 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) More busyness does not lead to higher quality or better results. To align your intentions with your actions, you need to have structure in your day. You also want to have buffers for emergencies and margin for the unexpected.

2) Time blocking is an essential tool to protect time for important projects and tasks. You assign a time block – with a start time and an end time – to focus on a specific activity or a batch of similar activities.  

3) The subtle and important difference between time blocking and time boxing.

4) 3 main tips for time blocking

Tip 1: schedule time blocks in 30-minute or 1-hour increments (not in 5-minute increments like Elon Musk)

Tip 2: time block just the day (not the whole week)

Tip 3: incorporate theming and batching in your time blocks (not time blocks for whatever, whenever)

4) You do not need digital apps or even a planner to time block.

5) How I time block the easy, stress-free way on a whiteboard.  

To listen to episode 47, How to Time Block (Without the Apps), click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video on our new YouTube channelThe Incrementalist – A Productivity Show! It includes a demo on how to time block the easy, stress-free way on a whiteboard.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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When to Quit and When to Persist

How do you know when to give up?

And when to push on with everything you’ve got?  

Must you abandon ship or stay the course?  

Patience and persistence are essential for success. If you give up whenever you face a challenge or an obstacle, you’re bound to fail. But you also need to know when to quit and cut your losses. 

In episode 46 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) The Sunk Cost Fallacy means we prefer to continue the action if we already put time, effort, and money into it, even if the current costs outweigh the benefits. 

2) Commitment bias is to stand by past decisions despite new evidence showing this isn’t the best action. 

3) The Endowment Effect is to ascribe a higher value to things we already own. The disutility of a loss is greater than the utility of a comparable gain. The displeasure in losing something is greater than the pleasure in gaining the same thing.   

4) The story behind Instagram

  • How this microbusiness with 13 employees sold to Facebook for $1 billion
  • Why co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quit working on the check-in app, Burbn, and pivoted to the photo-sharing app, Instagram
  • The significance of focusing on a unique solution for a specific problem

5) The three curves to watch out for in any major endeavor or project, according to Seth Godin:

  • The Dip
  • The Cul-de-sac
  • The Cliff

6) The three questions to ask when deciding whether to quit or stick with it:

  • Am I in a cul-de-sac, on a cliff, or in the dip?
  • Am I willing to slog through the dip?
  • Why am I doing this thing? (Is it to be the best or for some other reason?)

7) Why you need to practice strategic quitting and set your quitting criteria before you start.

8) The Incrementalist approach is to prioritize what matters, make time for it, and create margin.

9) Sometimes you do need to quit even good things to make space for one great thing.

To listen to episode 46, When to Quit and When to Persist, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video on our new YouTube channelThe Incrementalist – A Productivity Show!

Sources cited:

  • Seth Godin, The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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How to Kickstart Your Year with 12 Key Questions

The start of the new year is an ideal time to take stock and reflect. January 1, the 1st of every month, or the start of a new season are temporal landmarks. This is when many of us set goals or recommit to goals.  

A review of the year gives you insights on how to move forward in the next. It’s better to do it in the first week of the year, but no later than before you start planning for the upcoming months.   

In episode 45 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1. How much time to invest in the Yearly Review. 

2. You get to decide where to review your year, such as at the dining table, at your work desk, on your couch, or outdoors if the local weather is ideal.

3. The Peak End Rule is a cognitive bias that affects our memories and shapes our behavior. We remember fragments of an event or experience. The fragments are the peaks, the pits, and the beginning and ending. 

4. Don’t rely on just your memory when you do your review. Go through your personal records, like journals, planners, calendars, notebooks, videos and photos. 

5. The 12 key questions to kickstart your year: 

Question #1: What made you feel the most joy? 

Question #2: What made you feel the most discontent?

Question #3: What was your biggest win? How did you celebrate it?

Question #4: What was your biggest setback? How did you recover from it?  

Question #5: What do you wish to do or experience more? What would happen if this came true? How can you make it come true?    

Question #6: What do you wish to do or experience less? What would happen if this came true? How can you make it come true? 

Question #7: Which habit or activity renews your energy the most?

Question #8: Which habit or activity drains your energy the most?  

Question #9 What did you do to make life for your [spouse, partner, child, sibling, parent, friend, colleague] more easeful?        

Question #10: What did you do to make life for your [spouse, partner, child, sibling, parent, friend, colleague] more difficult?  

Question #11: What did you receive from each person that made you most grateful? 

Question #12: What was the biggest lesson you learned and are afraid to apply?  

6. If these questions do not resonate with you, be sure to come up with your own to reflect on the past and plan for the future. 

7. Remember the 80/20 Rule: 20% of what you do creates 80% of the results – either 80% of your joy or 80% of you discontent. 

8. The huge benefits of reflecting on the past before you plan for the future. 

9. Asking the right questions will lead to more informed answers. Sometimes we avoid questions because they are inconvenient and they hold us accountable or responsible. But if we don’t bring them to the surface, they will linger and keep us from growing and making good decisions.    

To listen to episode 45, How to Kickstart Your Year with 12 Key Questions, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video on our new YouTube channelThe Incrementalist – A Productivity Show!

Sources cited: 

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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New: The Incrementalist YouTube Channel

The Incrementalist started as an ebook in May 2020 and became a podcast in January 2021. It’s now also a YouTube channel, which you can find HERE

The latest episode, #44, is the first video on YouTube. Past episodes 1 to 11 are also posted on the channel as of December 22, 2021. More past episodes will be posted later.

If you enjoy the video for episode 44 or want to support the new channel, hit the Like and Share buttons on YouTube. Positive or constructive comments are also appreciated.

And be sure to Subscribe and hit the Notification bell. When you Subscribe, you will receive notification when a new video is uploaded on the channel. The channel will also appear in the Subscriptions area on your YouTube home page.

In addition, you will help the channel reach at least 100 subscribers to get a Custom URL. This is great for growing the show on YouTube. 

A Custom URL is an easy-to-remember channel URL instead of the one we have now, which has autogenerated nonsense letters and numbers after the word “channel”: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm7VGAnFl3tDLy-fh69NPQw

You may unsubscribe at any time. It’s not an irreversible choice that you’re locked into and can’t change! 

If you’re a visual learner or you’re not into podcast apps, The Incrementalist YouTube channel is for you.  Most YouTube episodes will be audio only, but we do plan to post videos like episode 44 in the future. 

As with the blog and podcast, it will share productivity tools and techniques to make big changes in small steps, focus on your top priorities, and design a purposeful and well-lived life!

May you continue to create big results in incremental, doable steps! 
Dyan

P.S. The ebook, The Incrementalist, is now on sale for a minimum price of $4.99 at https://leanpub.com/incrementalist. After January 31, the price will go back up to $9.99. Check it out to get a head start on 2022!

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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Small Steps: The Surest Way to Success

What is your big, worthy goal for the next month, quarter or year?

Do you know what the next step is to reach your goal?

How can you divide it into smaller, doable actions you can take?

At the end of the year and the start of a new one, we tend to reflect on accomplishments and think about aspirations.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping the status quo if it works for you. Constantly striving for the next big thing is no better than leading a simple, satisfying life.

But like all human beings, you probably have a wish or a dream that has yet to come true. A wish or a dream is not a goal until you have a plan of action. And a plan of action is not made until you define the next steps.  And the next steps are not done until you actually complete them.

In episode 44 of The Incrementalist, you will learn: 

1. When you have a high, hard goal that you want to reach in the next year, 5 years, or 10 years, lack of motivation is not the biggest issue. Usually, what holds you back is lack of clarity on what you need to do or lack of ability to take the necessary action.

2. With the Incrementalist approach, you can achieve big things with little resistance and less friction. 

3. The first principle is to get clear on your priority or priorities. 

4. The second principle is to break down the big goal into actionable, manageable steps. 

5. The third principle is to set a time block to do the important thing. 

6. The fourth principle is to synch with your natural rhythm. 

7. The fifth principle is to rest and recharge.

To listen to episode 44, Small Steps: The Surest Way to Success, click here. If you prefer to read the transcript, go here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video on episode 44 on the new YouTube channel

Sources cited:

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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