LearnBytes episode #2 – Nick Ginsburg: Why efficiency and productivity are about self-care

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In this Episode:

Samantha is joined by Nick Ginsburg, Executive Assistant, speaker & coach.

In his race against the clock, Nick shares why he sees efficiency and productivity as self care tools. We also hear about what Nick’s biggest efficiency challenge has been, and how addressed it with an ‘hour of power’.

You can learn more about Nick on his website, follow him on Instagram and check out his list of upcoming workshops.

Links from the episode:
Nick recommends these podcasts for EAs (and says there are a lot more amazing ones out there!)

The Leader Assistant Podcast with Jeremy Burrows

Assistants Together with Henrietta Barker

His recommended book is anything by Brene Brown

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Watch it now


Samantha 0:04
Hello there and welcome to LearnBytes, the show that delivers byte-sized pieces of wisdom so you can learn how to increase your efficiency and productivity, embrace your natural creativity and lead with impact. I’m Samantha Garrett from Using Technology Better and joining me today to share their wisdom on the show is Nick Ginsburg. Hi, Nick. Thanks for joining us.

Nick 0:27
Hi Samantha. Thanks for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

Samantha 0:30
I’m very excited to have you. So Nick is an executive assistant, speaker and coach. And he’s decided today to talk on the topic of efficiency and productivity, which I was super excited about because we’ve known each other for a couple of years and I must say you are probably the are the only other person I’ve ever met that get’s so excited about this stuff as I do. So when you were like I want that topic, I was like yes!

Nick 0:54
We just totally geek out on efficiency and productivity. I get it. I love it.

Samantha 1:01
And that’s why the topics on the show.

So, now we’re gonna jump into the questions in a minute Nick. But before we do, I thought I’d just get you to share a little bit about yourself and what you’re passionate about.

Nick 1:12
Sure. So, I have been an executive assistant for officially for about five years, I worked at Monash University, which is where we met, I got Samantha to come in and do some training for the EA network that I run there, which is amazing.

But over that five years, I mean, as an EA, you kind of hone right in on these areas of efficiency and productivity, and I just love them so much, but I don’t love them probably for the reason that people think. So a lot of people love productivity and efficiency because it well, from a company point of view, it means more work and you can churn more out. I don’t see it as that. So for me, I look at productivity and efficiency really as a self care tool essentially, so it’s allowing you to have more time to focus on the things that you love.

So I’ve thought like that for a very long time I honed it in over the time sort of being an EA, but the last probably 18 months, I really sort of branched out and created a separate sort of brand for myself outside of Monash. So I do a lot of stuff within the EA community worldwide on productivity and efficiency and also the human aspect of the role. So looking at emotional intelligence and self care and making sure that we’re being our best selves. And so I do a lot of that so I speak on that. I’m a coach. So yeah, so I kind of wear a couple of different hats, but this is definitely a big passion of mine. Love it.

Samantha 2:52
I love that the topic is your passion which makes it awesome, its a perfect fit, so good. I just had so many thoughts when you were saying that little intro, but I’m going to save them till the end, and then we’ll push back on some of them. So. So Nick, as you know, the show is all about bite sized pieces of wisdom, which is probably just as well, because otherwise we could talk on this topic forever and ever. So that’s why we’re going to put a four minute timer on eight questions, we’ve got eight questions to get through in four minutes. Now, if we get through all of them, I’m doubtful, but we may, at the end, then you can jump in and ask me a question. So there we go. All right. Are you ready? If I pop this timer on?

Nick 3:34
I’m ready. I feel like this is the beep test in high school. I’m like a little bit nervous that I’m going to like run out of oxygen at the second beat.So

Samantha 3:44
Hopefully not I’m not as mean is that like the PE teachers, I could, you know, I have a little bit of flexibility. If I if you’re saying something really interesting. I’m going to let you keep going. All right. So I’m going to click start and we will be away.

First phone and current phone?

Nick 4:05
Okay, first mobile phone was my Nokia 5110.

And yeah, and my current phone is an iPhone 11 plus, no iPhone 11 Pro Max, the big one. Yeah.

Samantha 4:18
What does it, what is working efficiently and productively mean to you?

Nick 4:22
exactly what I was saying before, but it’s being able to get your work done and work in your life as well done in the amount of time that allows you to spend more time on the stuff that you love and be able to take care of yourself and your family and your, your relationships is really important.

Samantha 4:40
When and where do you work best?

Nick 4:41
Okay, where it doesn’t matter. Right? I can kind of work anywhere and this whole pandemic has proven that I think. But when? I’m a very big morning person, so it’s like 7am to like lunchtime, I’m running at full turbo speed, but after that I kind of dropped back down a little bit. So definitely the morning.

Samantha 5:08
Interesting and maximum Nick in the morning and then slightly reduced Nick in the afternoon.

Favourite app for helping your efficiency or productivity?

Nick 5:19
Okay, um, Trello is probably the biggest one for me at the minute. And just from a point of view of being able to track workflow and be able to sort of set reminders and all of that I’m really loving Trello at the minute, but there’s so many out there that do very similar things. So.

Samantha 5:40
Biggest efficiency or productivity challenge?

Nick 5:50
I think the challenge lies in being able to be disciplined enough to be able to map out your time So I think that, I think that’s it, which I want to talk about later. Once we get through these.

Samantha 6:06
The number one thing you’ve done that’s had the biggest impact on your efficiency or productivity?

Nick 6:11
Can you guess it? Mapping out my time. So, so for me, it really has been so I take regardless, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Monday to Friday or Saturday or Sunday, the next day, I have a look at the following day and I go, okay, right, what do I need to do? I always schedule kind of an hour of power for me to kind of charge through in the morning, and then I’m good to go. So that that’s the biggest thing.

Samantha 6:37
I’ve been really quiet because I want to get through these. Book video podcast that you would recommend to others?

Nick 6:43
Okay, so, in terms of executive assistance, there’s some great EA podcasts out there. So, the Leader Assistant from Jeremy Burrows, there’s also Assistants Together from Henrietta Barker in the UK. But there’s so many things are so many amazing EA podcasts.

In terms of productivity, there’s nothing that jumps out in mind for me, but my number one kind of book series that I tend to go to is anything Brene Brown. So I am a huge fan. Anything that gets you looking inwards, I’m all about, so I love her.

Samantha 7:25
If you could save an hour each day and spend that time doing something you’re passionate about, what would you choose to do, Nick?

Nick 7:31
Okay, so I’m a bit of a nerd. So, and that is absolutely a good thing. So I don’t say nerd in a bad way. I’m yeah, I wear these glasses with pride. So yeah, so I would probably spend that time, I do spend that time usually thinking ahead. So for me, it’s about mapping out where I want to go. So I’m quite driven. So I know when my, my career as path is going and I know what I want to do there.

But this other side, there’s so many ideas. So I use that time to kind of focus on those ideas and write them out and sort of plan for them and do branding for that. And I love that stuff. And then I walk my dog and spend time with my husband and all that stuff.

Samantha 8:23
On the side, yeah.

The time, the timer has stopped, we’re about 10 seconds over, so. Oh my gosh there were so many things you said, do you know how hard that was for me, I was thinking dont’ say anything, don’t respond, just ask the next question. I love that. Um, where am I going to start because we’ve got to keep this bite sized, but um, do you want to add anything? And then I’ve got a couple follow up questions.

Nick 8:47
Okay. The only thing I wanted to elaborate more on was around planning your day. So, so many people, you get to the end of the day and you go, I just want to get home. If you just take 15 minutes, look at the next day, map it out so that you can find the period of that day where you can schedule yourself an hour of power to knuckle down and get your work done. It changes everything. So whilst it can be a little annoying to do that the afternoon before because you just want to get home, you want to relax your brains been going all day. Future you will thank you so much. Like, I do it now so much that I don’t even realise I’m doing it. So you get into this rhythm that all of a sudden, you’re like, oh, I’ve already done it.

Samantha 9:40
Yeah, it’s a habit. So you’re just doing it without thinking and then it’s done. Yeah.

Nick 9:44
That’s what I wanted to elaborate a bit more on because because I think that is such, in terms of this topic, it is such a critical part of it. So you can have all the tools in the world. You can have all the shortcuts and AI and all of that. But if you’re not planning your day, you’re done.

Samantha 10:00
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more and so interesting because as you were saying that too, I’ve been a couple other people’s work I’ve been getting into recently. One is Laura Vanderkam cam and it was someone else I watched a episode on recently. But they were talking about planning your time and using your time with intention. And to use it with intention requires you to plan it and even what you were saying, like, I’m glad I’m not the only nerdy one because I will plan my time on weekends and all that because then I feel like it is within intent and I plan in rest time and time for things I love and I can do everything without guilt because it’s planned with intent. So I think planning is so, so important.

Nick 10:37
Yeah, hundred percent. And I really do think that if you are, if you are in that sort of using your time with intent is so important. And I think if you really are mapping that out, and it’s not about being so sort of militant with your time you’re not you’re not putting it out on a spreadsheet. For me. I don’t write any of down, I look at the diary and go, Okay, well, I know tomorrow between eight and nine is the best time for me to tackle my day. Yeah. In terms of, and that’s for me emails. So, Sam, you know that I operate on inbox zero. So that that hour in the morning is how I do that. Yes. And it means that when my day gets rolling, and as executive assistants know, there are curveballs coming at you left, right and center all the time. If you had planned your day, and you were using that Hour of Power, you’re already ahead. So you’re ahead of the way so when those curveballs come, you’re like, Yeah, great. Flick it back. Whereas if you’re behind and you’re stressed, thoes, they just pile on. It’s just one after another, and you can end up in a downward spiral, which isn’t good for anyone.

Samantha 11:50
That’s such good advice, Nick. And it really links back to what you were saying about efficiency and productivity is a form of self care, which I am so supportive because I was thinking about it. That’s why I do it as well. It’s not about I want to pump out maximum volume work and meet all these like super goals and like, it is, it’s just about I want to live the best life. Let’s live the best life possible and take care of all the elements in my life and that’s how I do it. So yeah.

Nick 12:17
I think productivity, and you and I think I’ve had this discussion face to face at one of the training sessions, I think productivity gets a really bad rap. So I think there are how the word gets a bad rap because I think there are people that think that it’s used as a weapon of the company. So companies use it as a, I need you to be more productive so we can get more out of you. So you did eight hours of work in four hours, great we’re going to put another four hours of work on you. That’s not what I see it as. And I don’t think that’s what a lot of people see it as. Sure there’s always going to be people that will try and use that to their benefit and that’s whatever that’s on them. Not on us. But I think it’s really important to remember that this is all about you. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else. I mean, other people benefit from you being productive. But it’s for you. Yeah. Yeah.

Samantha 13:12
You benefit the most. Exactly. Yeah.

Awesome, Nick. Well, we better move on. I know, we can keep talking. I’m like Oh Gosh, which I think we’ve covered some awesome stuff. So thank you. And I want to just give you an opportunity before we wrap up to share about where people can find your work that you do and connect with you and all your great ideas.

Nick 13:33
Oh, my God. Yes, please. So I’m probably most on Instagram. So I share a post every day. A lot of it is factored around this stuff. I also do weekly videos that get shared on my YouTube and LinkedIn and Instagram, which are fun. I do lots of Instagram Lives. So Instagram is probably the main point to get me so you can find me I’m very easy to find. It’s @nickginsburg. And I would check out my website, because it’s got all of my links to all my socials. I’m running some great workshops at the moment. So I’ve just done one this week on effective communication, which was a blast, lot of fun. The one in a week and a half is on personal brand. And then the one after that is productivity tech tips. So yeah, so I’ve got all of those on my website as well. So and that’s easy, nickginsburg.com.

Samantha 14:31
Very easy. And we’ll put the links below the video too or inthe podcast notes so it’s super easy to find. So thank you so much, Nick. I really enjoyed this conversation and you sharing your wisdom with us.

Nick 14:41
Thanks for having me. So very excited to be here. I love it.

Samantha 14:46
Cool. So thanks, everyone for joining us. And if you’ve enjoyed the conversation today, then we would love you to subscribe to the Using Technology Better YouTube channel. Or if you’re listening to the podcast, you can follow the show so you get notified about all the latest episodes. We also have a little friendly fortnightly newsletter which is all about efficiency and productivity and organization, my favorite topics. So if that sounds like your kind of thing you can use the link below to subscribe to that too. So that’s it for the show today but I will see you again soon for another byte-sized piece of the letting adventure that is life. See you then.

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