Interview with Julia Roy

Julia RoyWhat projects are you involved in?

My time is split between my work with Citrix and my productivity consultancy WorkHacks. At Citrix, I have the opportunity to be involved in the marketing of awesome products like GoToMeeting, Podio and Talkboard. I am also a personal trainer for productivity. Being a child of the internet, I am obsessed with technology and how we use it (and misuse it) in our daily lives to collaborate, get things done and ship amazing work. I’ve turned that passion into a business with WorkHacks where I work with individuals, teams and organizations to find and eliminate their biggest productivity pitfalls.

How did you get interested in productivity?

Since 2007 my professional career has been managing social media strategy and execution for large brands. When the majority of your day consists of working (and thinking about) how to use social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for personal branding and business, you realize that the nature of work is rapidly changing. With the increasing demand of emails, meetings and project management, it’s becoming harder and harder to do your job while staying on top of the latest and greatest ways to optimize your workday. This is where I geek out and share all the latest and greatest resources, tools and techniques with my clients to help them do amazing work and be their best selves without being a slave to our constantly connected networks and devices.

How many meetings do you normally have each week?

Since I am a freelance consultant and work for myself, I am lucky in that I don’t have as many meetings as the typical business owner or manager that is responsible for a large team. In truth, I only have a few critical meetings on my calendar on any given day. But I realize I am very lucky in this regard (and very grateful).

What are some of your favorite productivity tips/apps?

Oh boy, where do I begin?

I will first start with a general productivity tip as it relates to meetings. No meeting should be scheduled without an agenda. If someone sends me a meeting invite without an agenda (or does not update the meeting prior to our meeting with an agenda) I will decline it. In an ideal world, every meeting you attend has outlined the goal of the meeting as well as the role of each participant in the meeting. If a meeting doesn’t have an explicit agenda then it should never happen. I would recommend Al Pittampalli’s book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting to get a real sense of how the way most of us schedule and execute meetings is hurting our work culture and productivity.

In terms of apps I have to recommend Concentrate and 1Password.

Concentrate is basically a forced-focus application where you can set up workflows where only certain applications and websites can be accessed. If I am trying to hunker down and write this post for example, I will activate Concentrate which for the next 45 minutes only allows me access to my preferred text editor (in my case that is Byword) and does not allow me to open or log into any other site or application.

1Password is amazing. It stores your passwords securely on your desktop and within your desktop and web browsers so that you never have to remember another username or password again. I could go on and on about 1password but you should learn more about it here and purchase it immediately.

What’s the most recent adjustment that you’ve made to your personal productivity routine?

I use the surf shelf to walk on the treadmill for a few hours a day while I read my email and do other digital housekeeping tasks. I love it. When your body moves your brain grooves (special thanks to Jim Kwik for teaching me that). Some of my best ideas and “ah ha” moments come to me while working on the treadmill.

Do you measure your productivity? If so, how do you do it, and what is your metric?

I use OmniFocus to capture my ideas, organize my projects and keep track of all the associated tasks and their due dates. If I am able to complete my project tasks for the day, I know I am on track. This is of course as long as I am capturing, organizing and assigning due dates to all of the various tasks involved within my larger projects. This, I have to admit, I could get better at.

The way I track my general computer productivity habits and workflow is with RescueTime. When you install RescueTime on your computer is a bit of a kick in the face. What it does is track the time you spend in different applications and websites and provides you with a chart at the end of the day and/or end of the week. It shows you how much time you actually spent on email, on Twitter, in Powerpoint, etc. Sometimes I am too afraid to look at the daily and weekly summary because it is a reality check in terms of what I want to get done yet how much time I am spending doing other things (like browse my Facebook friend feed).

What do you think the next productivity trend will be?

The internet of things as it relates to the quantified self. For example, I just bought myself a LUMOback sensor which I wear around my waist to improve my posture. The sensor vibrates every time I slouch when I am standing up or sitting at my desk. If I stay in good posture it doesn’t bother me, but as soon as I am slouching it lets me know. The crazy thing is that I don’t wear it all day every day but my posture has improved significantly, and so has my confidence.

There are also other great quantified self gadgets like the FitBit (fitness tracker) and emWave (stress tracker).

You can learn more about Julia Roy through her website, and be sure to follow her on Twitter, too.

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