Episode 19 – Tommy Barav
Tommy Barav is the founder of Supertools: a community and blog that helps people become the most optimized version of themselves through technology. He is also a Forbes 30 under 30, a writer for some of the biggest tech magazines in Israel, and the host of his own podcast. Previously, he held a variety of positions in Israel’s startup ecosystem— most recently as Director of Marketing at MassChallenge. Let’s hear more from him on this episode of the podcast.
- To-do lists can be overwhelming. Writing everything on your to-do list can be very overwhelming and not help you with productivity at all. To-do lists are very great for capturing but not really structured for managing your time.
- You always want to do the easy, urgent tasks first. You do all these small things and forget about the big picture. You always move the tasks that are important for your growth, for your business to the next day, next week, next month. You get more stressed because of lack of prioritization.
- We need to stop thinking about productivity and start talking about efficiency. It’s all about creating more impact with less energy and optimizing energy.
- Use the Eisenhower Matrix. Separate the tasks that are urgent from the tasks that are important. Don’t forget about your big dream while writing all these emails.
- Use Google Keep to not forget the big picture. Create your life dashboard on Google Keep. Create five cards: morning routine, today’s 5, weekly review, monthly review, and yearly review.
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Juan: [01:18] Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Tommy Barav: [01:20] Thank you for inviting me.
Juan: [01:21] Tommy, you certainly know something about productivity and time management that most of us don’t. Can you tell me a little bit at a high level how you think about time?
Tommy Barav: [01:30] Yeah, sure. So if you’re thinking about time, I always think about my to-do list because I always manage my time with my to-do list because you know, my calendar was structured to manage meetings and manage my doctor meetings in my day-to-day. But as for productivity and for work, I use my to-do list and really thought about and after a while, I thought that everything is, is overwhelmed and I’m overwhelmed with so many tasks and it’s not very productive.
To-do lists are very great for capturing but not really structured for managing your time.
And I had to invent a different system and after working with a to-do list for a while, it became actually most stressed I became more stressed because you lack of prioritization and you don’t really know, uh, the big picture.
Tommy Barav: [02:35] Um, so this system really doesn’t work. And In productivity you want to get rid of, you know, of all these spending tasks as soon as possible. Um, so what do you do? You select the first thing that you want to get rid of, you know, many, many tasks. You just pick the easiest task in your to-do list. Okay? And then you have more complex tasks, you know, like the things that are impactful for your growth impactful for your life. You really, um, um, snooze them for, for the future, for the next day and the next day, the next week. And you always pick the easiest task. Um, so you know, you feel satisfied in the one end because you just completed like 20 different tasks. So you feel satisfied. But when you get to the end of the month, you ask yourself, what did I do this month that, you know, helped me grow my career, helped me grow my business, you know, what did I do?
Tommy Barav: [03:42] And I think that I asked myself this question all the time and I found out when I use a to-do list I always I’m more focused on the easy task, you know, emailing, calling other people’s, always busy with other with someone else’s priority and not my priority. So I had to find a different system. Um, so, um, so
We need to stop thinking about productivity and start talking about efficiency.
And what is really essential to our life because I don’t think is a, like when you talk about productivity or thinking about doing more in less time. Okay. It’s always like we need to do, you know, we need to do like 10 different meetings and 20 different tasks and we need to get more and more productive and more, you know. And I don’t think like that. I think that it’s all about creating more impact with less energy and when I think about less energy, I think about efficiency and actually optimizing energy.
Tommy Barav: [04:45] Okay. So you can save energy to your family, you can save your energy to spend some time with your kids to spend some time with side hustling. You can save your energy to do other stuff. And and the first thing that came to my mind when I, when I explained my, my method is a, is based actually on, on Eisenhower Matrix. So, which in my opinion is one of the best concepts. I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but let me explain it in one sentence. So we should separate tasks that are important from those that are urgent. Okay. So we have all these important tasks and all these urgent tasks. We always, we always focus on the urgent tasks because, you know, probably they are easy, easy to, to complete. There are not complex, but it’s something that is very urgent and we need to complete it now.
Tommy Barav: [05:40] So we are forgetting about the important and, and, and non-urgent tasks. You know, all these complex tasks that are associated with our growth and with our career growth and with the impact that we can bring into our life, you know, and shifting perspectives is finding the next thing I’m prepared to, I don’t know if your dream is to do a Ted talk, so you are always going to postpone it, because you are going to focus on all these urgent and small and annoying and stupid tasks. So we need clarity and the way that I, I actually, the tool that I use to get clarity to see the big picture is actually Google Keep, and I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Google Keep, but this is, it’s a very popular tool.
Tommy Barav: [06:31] If like the Google ecosystem, you will love Google Keep. And I’m sure that many, many users are using this tool included in our listeners. But you know, you might use it for taking notes. You might use it for reminders and other things.
I took it to a whole new level and created my life’s dashboard on Google Keep.
This is the way I frame it and so you can really get clarity. So what you can you do, either you can wait a year for the New Year’s resolution, okay. To get some clarity, you know, a day in your year that you can really think about your life and then you can reflect the previous year and you can think, okay, I did so many emails, but I have this project that I want to do.
Tommy Barav: [07:36] I want to lose weight, I want to find another career. I wanted to do so many things. But, but you know, so, so you do this new year’s resolution and this big list of things that you want to do. But after a few weeks you, you look back and, and you go back to your old habits and you’d go back to your new a to-do list, which is probably filled out with many urgent tasks and not with the important task. So what we really need to do is to optimize the system to work for us so we can really choose the right system. So with Google Keep, I’ve decided that I’m going to create a canvas of five cards, five different cards. So imagine that you have one screen on your, uh, on your laptop and you can see five different cards. And for each card, I have a different panel.
I’m using these panels to first get a reflection of my life, of my goals, and also the to define my today’s five, the most important tasks of the day.
Tommy Barav: [08:42] So the way I do it. So imagine that I have a card and I’m sure that a, we’re going to upload a picture somewhere so people can actually see it. And maybe take this concept. So imagine that you have a screen and you can see the first card. My first card is actually my morning routine, so you have like a checklist of everything that I want to do in the mornings, something that, you know, tasks that boost my energy in the morning. And so this is the first one, the next one is my, today’s five. So today’s five a. The way I actually pick this task is by asking myself several questions is, you know, what is first of all, what will bring the most impact into my life, the most impact into my a company’s growth and what kind of tasks I, I’m the only person who can do them what kind of tasks you cannot delegate to anyone else and what kind of tasks are urgent for tomorrow.
Tommy Barav: [09:47] But I’m trying to keep all the urgent tasks important as well.
So if ever a task is urgent but not important, I’m trying to delegate it or to use outsourcing to complete it.
Um, some really focusing. I’m laser-focused on tasks that are important but not that are important and urgent and are important and are not urgent as well and I’m trying to be the biggest advocate of tasks that are important but not urgent because I think that these tasks are more that are more like projects that you really want to promote, but you always postpone it because they are not urgent so you can really, you cannot complete them because there are more like a sequence of tasks rather than one task that you can do. Um, so today’s five – I am asking all these questions, I’m always limiting it to five tasks and not more than that.
And I’m just, I’m trying to think about tasks that will keep my eyes closed during the night, you know like the will not bring me some thoughts so I can sleep better at night.
So I’m trying to complete like I’m trying to really think about the tasks that if I will do it, my life will be better. I will be a better husband, I will be a better worker, I will be a better entrepreneur, I will be a better boss. So this is the task that I’m always, always selecting, but what helped me select the tasks, my today’s five actually based on the free cards that I have on the right of this screen, which is my monthly goals and my yearly goals as well. And also have another card that I’m using. I’m sharing with my wife, uh, so you can share it with your spouse and this is like a something that you want to do together, some goals, mutual goals that you have to improve your family’s life and to improve, uh, your, your personal life.
Tommy Barav: [11:47] So I have like a mutual card with my wife as well.
And so with this framework with this canvas, you can really see the big picture because you can see your yearly goals and also limiting my yearly goals to five different goals.
And I’m trying to think big. I’m trying to think about what things that I really want to do. I’m trying to organize it in a way it will not be only for my work, it will be also for my personal life or my health or my fitness for my mind. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a holistic development process that I’m doing with myself, so I have it always listed, always can always see it and I can like always a look back and see what I have for my yearly goals. And then I can see based on my yearly goal, I can, I can, uh, create my monthly, my monthly goals based on my yearly goals.
Tommy Barav: [12:45] And then once I created my monthly goals, I can prepare my, today’s five, uh sorry, my weekly goals and then my two days five. So today’s five, weekly goals, monthly goals, and then yearly goals. And then you can really see the big picture in the process.
It’s like a funnel. You create a funnel of your life and when you create, let’s say, for example, I’m creating my monthly card with my monthly review card, my monthly goal.So when I’m thinking about my monthly goals, I’m basing that on my yearly goals. Okay, so in order that will not make any mistakes because if I have different tasks that are not connected to my yearly goal, I will not put it on the list.
Tommy Barav: [13:38] So this is a very simple concept, but I cannot even tell you how impactful this concept is. It’s the ultimate task lists for me because I know, you know, at first you reduce friction with a complex management, you know, to-do lists tool because it’s very simple, it’s very easy to update. You can put reminders, you can sync it with your calendar, it really boosts my efficiency. So you get always lays on the calendar, for example, like a small trick that I did. When you put a reminder on your monthly card, the monthly review card, um, it’s automatically integrated inside of your calendar. So each Friday I actually see this card. I’m sorry, my weekly review each Friday I can see my weekly goals card and then I can just click on my calendar and immediately this card opens up and I can update it in seconds again the same way to my monthly goals card – so once I click on my monthly card, each, each month when I click on my monthly goals card which appears on my calendar, I can immediately update it.
So I really try to live and to optimize the Google ecosystem for me and to keep it simple, to keep it clear and to really see the big picture.
Juan: [15:08] Tommy, that’s awesome. Makes perfect sense. Do you find that you’re actually editing your cards throughout the week or throughout the month or you only find one specific day that you make the edits and then you commit for that whole period of time before you edit it again, update it for the next cycle?
Tommy Barav: [15:21] Yeah, that’s a great question because I always see this as the dashboards. So when I’m, I need more clarity always go back to this dashboard, but uh, for me updating actually was, was a day like I’m creating my daily five and in the evening, each evening I’m sitting on like opening up a Google Keep updating today’s five and then forget about it. In the morning I have it always open, there’s a pink tab on Chrome, so I ever taught was open so I can see this dashboard all the time and if you’re using like an ultralight screen, like a big screen, you can put it all the time as well when you’re doing other tasks.
It will be like a great reminder, a great lighthouse for all your tasks.
So, and also each, each week I update it on Friday I have like a reminder on my calendar and also each month and of course by the end of the year, this is my new year’s resolution. I’m updating my yearly goals as well.
Juan: [16:37] Love that. Okay. There you have it. Productivity masterminds. Tommy has cracked Google keep to work for something that it’s not meant to do. Most of us use it for reminders, most of us use it for to-dos but what Tommy found is that most of us are operating on just to-do lists and we’re taking care of things that are only urgent but not important. So how do we fix this? We need to stop thinking about productivity and start thinking about efficiency and making sure that we’re doing the right thing. Tommy tackles this by using Google Keep, not for taking notes again or tracking reminders like most of us, but by actually creating a live dashboard on Google Keep and we will be sharing a picture of this in the show notes. This system helps Tommy focus on important tasks and not just on urgent tasks and it’s very easy.
Juan: [17:19] It’s just five cards left to right and you can replicate this at home or you can fire this up on your own Google Keep. On the lefthand side we have our morning routine followed by today’s five, which is the most impact, you know, you were answering things like what’s gonna have the most impact into my life what’s going to impact my company’s growth. What can’t I delegate? What is urgent and important, not just urgent for tomorrow. That’s the second card, right? Today’s five. Then the third card is your monthly goals followed by your yearly goals and then finally a mutual goals card to improve your family and personal life, which is actually shared with Tommy’s partner, with his wife. Tommy, thank you for sharing this with us. As you continue to grow and take your career forward, where’s the best place for people to stay in touch with you and learn more about what you’re doing?
Tommy Barav: [18:04] Yeah. Basically, I have my own blog. Currently, it’s in Hebrew, but I’m going to translate it very soon to English. I live on emails, so like you can contact me all the time via email. I make sure to share my email with you and you know, and I have also, I just created a podcast which you can different podcasts where I am speaking about technology and make sure to share the link as well.
Juan: [18:36] Perfect. Okay. Tell me. Thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us.
Tommy Barav: [18:40] Thank you so much. It was Great.