At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, bestselling authors, editors, journalists, developers, illustrators, designers, academic researchers, explorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and efficient go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?
Meet Andrea Giuliodori.
Andrea is an Italian engineer who worked for one of the Big Four consulting firms for seven years before deciding to work full-time on his personal growth and productivity blog, EffectiveMente.
Andrea first fell in love with personal development and productivity after reading Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Since then, Giuliodori has spent over 15 years reading, studying, and experimenting with personal development and productivity techniques, tips, and strategies and documenting his findings on his blog, EffectiveMente. Andrea covers a variety of topics ranging from learning, motivation, and fighting procrastination to self-esteem, good habits, happiness, and success. But above all Andrea strives to provide articles and practical guides that you can apply and experiment with in your daily life so that you can study, work, and live better.
With all of that experience and knowledge under his belt, we figured we’d step aside and let him tell you how he finds focus for the things that matter most.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer and blogger and what were your first steps in making this your career?
Well… I didn’t! I’m an engineer and right after my master degree I started working in a renowned consulting firm in Milan. Self-development and writing were just my hobbies, so one day, coming back from work (quite late as usual) I was wondering about the name of my future blog. I was playing with the idea of starting a blog for a while. That same evening I bought the domain and just started writing my first blog post. Since then I’ve never stopped and I’ve published at least 1 new article per week for 10 years straight.
At what point did you realize that tech/apps/sites were taking a toll on your productivity/time/relationships?
I was lucky. I’ve started EfficaceMente.com in 2008. At that time Facebook wasn’t really known in Italy and the iPhone had not been released in Europe yet. But it didn’t last! I’m a tech lover and I bought my first smartphone as soon as they were available in our market and subscribed to the main social networks in the same period. At the beginning I didn’t realized how addictive this tools and apps could become, but a few years later I’ve started noticing that my attention and my productivity weren’t the same. When I was working as a consultant (a very challenging job) I could find the time for my blog and other passions. But when I decided to work full time on my online business (in 2014), it was like time was never enough. That’s when I realized that something was wrong and my use of technology was the key problem.
How do you prioritize what gets your time and attention each day?
Since 2014, when I became self-employed, I’ve worked a lot on my personal productivity. A concept that has been very useful for me is the 12-week year. Having quarterly goals, instead of yearly goals, helps you prioritize what’s really important. Weekly reviews have been quite helpful too. Every Sunday morning I plan my week, blocking all the important activities I want to get done on my calendar, as they were appointments with my doctor!
How do you stay focused and motivated on a daily basis? Do you have a routine, ritual, or process that helps to get into a productive flow?
Yes, I’m a great fan of rituals and routines: they help me stay focused and on track. The morning routine is probably the most important one for me. When I get up early and follow my morning ritual everything is easier and I’m able to do 4-5 solid hours of great work before lunch.
I generally don’t share my morning routine: I think everyone should design their best ritual by trial and error. However, I believe there are 4 elements that can’t be ignored in an effective morning routine:
- An early alarm. Evening hours and morning hours aren’t the same and people who consider themselves night owls, most of the time have just bad sleeping habits. Shifting hours from our evenings to our mornings is a great investment.
- Some kind of physical movement. Everyone has a different fit level, but everyone can do at least something to activate his muscles in the morning.
- 10-20 minutes of learning (podcast, books, audiobooks, etc.). Starting the day investing in your personal development just feels so good.
- Time to reflect / meditate. Sometimes I’m worried that meditation has become a fad, nevertheless having a few minutes of silence and deep reflection before our workday starts is key to remain in control of our time and our priorities.
How do you optimize your environment for productivity and focus? How do you incorporate Freedom into your schedule?
Same thing for my evenings: if I keep spending (wasting) time on the “usual suspects”, I can’t really relax and sometimes even my sleep gets disrupted.
That’s why I have just one recurring Freedom session that starts at 9:30 pm and ends at 10:00 am or 4:30 pm (it depends on the period: some weeks I need more focus, others I need to invest more on my social presence ;-)).
What is the most difficult/challenging aspect about your work or working process? Do you have any strategies that you use to help overcome these challenges?
I have a distributed team that helps me manage my online business. We’re all working remotely and we live on Slack and Skype. Getting interrupted by my teammates can be a problem for my focus. That’s why I generally snooze Slack notifications and try to schedule all my Skype calls at the same time everyday (@ 3 pm).
What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your working process?
Well, Freedom doesn’t need to be mentioned! It’s a life saver! Other tools I use for my productivity are:
- Toggl to track how many hours of deep work I’ve managed to do every day.
- Todoist for my day-to-day activity.
- The app Persistence (just for iPhone) to track my 12 week goals / habits.
What projects are you currently most excited about?
The future projects we’re going to launch in the next few months are still top secret, but I’m very happy about my first published book “Riconquista il tuo tempo” (Get your time back). It has sold sold tens of thousands of copies and had received and hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon: considering that it has been released just on the Italian market, and only one year ago, I’m very proud of it.
What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay healthy and productive?
Whenever I can, I just love to go back to my country house in Italy: it is located just halfway between the sea and the mountains, and getting lost among the country lanes is one of my favorite pastimes.
When I’m back in the City, transcendental meditation and the gym are key for my health and well-being.
Where are you currently based?
Right now I’m based in London, I love the city and I hope it will remain one of the great international world centers, even after Brexit will be in place.
To learn more about Andrea or his work, you can visit his site at EfficaceMente.