Productive Magazine #3
Third issue of the Productive Magazine, featuring interview with Michael Bungay Stanier where we talk about finding our great work. Also great articles by leading productivity bloggers and some GTD (Getting Things Done) related humor.
� Michael Bungay Stanier � Alex Fayle � Laura Stack � James Mallinson � � Thomas Groehl � Art Carden � Alex Shalman � Mike Vardy � Michael Sliwinski � www.ProductiveMagazine.com #3 (August 2009) magazine Exclusive Interview Bungay Stanier on Finding Your GREAT Work Michael 4 Review of Making It All Work 4 How to increase productivity 4 Productive! Show and... Humor Sponsored by magazine From the Editor Summer, Twitter... and Great Work By Michael Sliwinski, Editor A lthough it's summertime in the Northern hemisphere and most of the busy professionals are out enjoying their vacation, We are on our way to make it a bimonthly magazine this year � with next issues to be published in October and December... and in the next year? We'll see:-) Monthly anyone? We've noticed many of you still like the printed version and for that, switching from Lulu to Magcloud was a good decision. Just for the record � we are offering the printed edition of the magazine only for your convenience � the PDF version will always be free and you can also print it yourself. On the personal note, I started Twittering a lot more since the last issue of the magazine, you can follow me @MichaelNozbe to see what recently has grabbed my attention and how my projects are developing. In this issue of the magazine I'm happy to introduce you to Michael Bungay Stanier � Canada's coach of the year As I've received great feedback on my 2-minute productivity show from the magazine readers, I've decided to compile the videos to a sister site called ,,Productive! Show" � now we have two sites with the new ,,Productive!" brand. The video shows are now being published every week for you to enjoy. Make sure to subscribe to them. we've decided to prepare a summer issue of the Productive Magazine � feel free to print it out and take it with you and hopefully you'll have a great read when lying on the beach and sipping a pi�a colada. After two very successful issues of the magazine we're working on setting new standards for your favorite productivity read. We've got a great team of editors with Lori Anderson, Delfina Gerbert and Dustin Wax who are actively helping me out with the magazine and I wouldn't have finished it without them. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine 2006, a person who might not be very well known in the social media but who's one of the most respected coaches on personal productivity and life planning. His new book ,,Find your Great Work" is a great read and has helped me define my own personal ,,Great Work". I was eager to do the interview with Michael after I listened to a series of ,,Creative Questioning" podcasts published by David Allen on his web site. Apart from the interview we've got great articles for you to enjoy and as it's summer, we've got plenty of humor for you as well. From ,,The 30 Types of Vacations" by Mike Vardy to a very funny cartoon about falling into the GTD trap by Whakate � be sure to check it out � we'll try to have a Productive! Humor section at the end of each magazine. Productivity should also be fun! On the last note (but a very important one for me) � our magazine sponsor � Nozbe.com � online time and project manager developed by yours truly will be launched in just a few days (August 11th) with a completely new graphics design, full code rewrite for maximum speed and power, new features for project collaboration and more. And Nozbe has a new logo! You can follow the Nozbe 2.0 development on the Nozbe blog and make sure to be there on August 11th to see the brand new standard of the productivity application. As always, if you liked the magazine, make sure to forward it via Email to your friends, Tweet about it on Twitter and help us bring great productivity tips and tricks to everyone you know. Thanks again for your support! Michael Sliwinski (@MichaelNozbe) Founder, Nozbe � Simply Get It Done! #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Table of contents Productive!Magazine www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsor: www.Nozbe.com 05 08 10 12 14 16 Michael Sliwinski ,,Great Work" Interview with Michael Bungay Stanier Alex Fayle The number one spot is for losers Art Carden Productive! Review: Making it All Work Your Online tool for Getting Things Done � available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone. Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski firstname.lastname@example.org Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich email@example.com www.blog.mediafun.pl Editorial Team: Lori Anderson Delfina Gerbert Dustin Wax Laura Stack I spend waaaaaay too much time on... James Mallinson The 5 Big Reasons Why You Fall Off The Productivity Wagon Alex Shalman 11 Practical Ways To Jump Out Of A Lazy Rut 18 19 Mike Vardy The Vacationary Tribute: Marc Orchant (1957-2007) The Productive!Magazine is dedicated to the memory of a productivity guru, great blogger and a very close friend, Marc Orchant who passed away on 9th December 2007. All articles are copyright � by their respective authors. Productive!Magazine is copyright � by Michael Sliwinski. Getting Things Done� and GTD� are the registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. WHAKATE 10 Signs you are in the GTD� Trap #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Productive! Magazine interview with Michael Bungay Stanier Great Work "This is what we want more of. This is the work that is meaningful to you, that has an impact and makes a difference. It inspires, stretches, and provokes. Great Work is the work that matters." by Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski: You're saying that all the work we do can be divided into three categories: bad work, good work and great work? Sadly, organizations have a gift at Michael Bungay Stanier: Correct. Here's a snap-shot definition of each type of work: Bad Work � A waste of time, energy, and life. Doing it once is one time too many. continuing to generate Bad Work. It shows up as bureaucracy, interminable meetings, outdated processes that waste everyone's time, and other ways of doing things that squelch you rather than help you grow. You always need Good Work in your life. At an organizational level, Good Work is This is not something to be polite about. It's not something to be resigned to. This is the work that is pointless. Good Work � The familiar, useful, productive work you do and do well. Good Work is how you spend most of your time, and there's nothing wrong with it. This work blossoms from your training, your education, the path you've travelled so far � all in all, it's a source of comfort, nourishment and success. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine vital. It is a company's bread and butter, the efficient, focused, profitable work that delivers next quarter's returns. Great Work � This is what we want more of. This is the work that is meaningful to you, that has an impact and makes a difference. It inspires, stretches, and provokes. Great Work is the work that matters. It is a source of both deep comfort and engagement, the "flow zone" where time stands still and you feel you're working at your best and effortlessly. The comfort comes from its connection � its "sight line" � to what is most meaningful to you, your values, beliefs, and aspirations. But Great Work is also a place of uncertainty and discomfort. The discomfort arises because the work is new and challenging and as a result, there's an element of risk and possible failure. Because this is work that matters, work that you care about, you don't want it to fail. And because it's new and challenging, there's a chance that it might. For organizations, Great Work drives strategic difference, innovation, and longevity. Often it's the kind of innovative work that pushes business forward � that leads to new products, more efficient systems, and increased profits. What's Great Work for me? It's been interesting to see how that's evolved over time. For instance, when I started being a full time coach about a decade ago, that was my Great Work. I'd wait by the phone with sweaty hands and a fastbeating heart, waiting for the client to call. Now, I'd consider that Good Work � still love doing it, but it's no longer an edge for me. My Great Work now is focused on writing my next book � based around my short movie, The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun and also supporting my leaders for our Coaching for Great Work program. There are 16 based around the world, so building a community within this group is exciting and definitely Great Work. Saying No to yourself is difficult because Good Work is a comfortable place to hang out and be. Even though Great Work is where the more meaningful, more engaging work lives � we're constantly pulled back to the familiarity and certainty of doing Good Work. It is an act of courage to decide what Good Work you want to say No to, so you can free up more time, space and energy to do Great Work. MBS: It's one of the deep truths about doing more Great Work. You need to decide on what to say Yes to... and what to say No to. There are two challenges with that � saying No to yourself and saying No to others. MS: I really liked your creative question "is this true?". Every now and then I get feedback on my Nozbe.com application from a user who says � "your app doesn't have X and Y feature, nobody would ever use this without it." And I know I have tens of thousands of users who are happily using my app! Same applies to this magazine. I really need to ask myself this powerful question quite often. And in your life? When recently you did have to ask yourself this question, what have you learned from that? slow things down a little � and the best way to do this is to get curious and ask questions about what's being asked of you � then you'll end up not committing yourself to so much. MS: In your book you're saying that to do great work, we should decline good work. How to do that? How should I make myself ditch good work and start great work? Can you give examples from your life how you've declined good work to do great work? It is also difficult to say No to most people, especially colleagues in the work place. Here's my best tip for this. Think of your goal not as saying No � but as ,,saying Yes more slowly." Part of what trips us up is how our default is set to saying Yes and saying Yes quickly. If you can just For companies Great Work drives strategic difference, innovation and longevity. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine MBS: Part of the secret to doing more Great Work is to get more mindful about what work you're doing, clearer about the "why". Quite often � just like in your example � we get thrown into a situation where others and ourself starting making judgments about what's going on that spark us into action. Slowing it down by asking "is that true?" helps you stop and make the best possible choice on where you spend your time. MS: We very often we tend to think about I use this question a lot to manage myself from overreacting to feedback I get. For instance, today I just received a collation of feedback from a keynote I gave at a conference. It was mostly very positive, and it also had some less than positive comments � not terrible just not "two thumbs up" � which got me going down the path of "I wasn't very good, I'm never any good at this, I should just stop speaking, etc." By pulling back and asking myself "are their comments true, is my inner dialogue true?" I can calm myself down and collect myself. The first is to ask, after you've defined MS: When I started my Nozbe app, I was a one-man shop. Now I have a team to support me with my business. I started the Productive Magazine with a friend who actually designed the magazine into what it is today. Now I have a team of editors (Lori, Dustin) who help me out. Tell me Michael, what support do you have and what support do you need? MBS: I truly believe that you can't do Great Work by yourself. If you're smart, you build up a team � people who can provide technical, intellectual and emotional support. MS: I really liked your question about So I have a coach who I use as a sounding board and strategic thinker and who I've worked with for three years. I have a ,,brain trust", a mastermind group where I can show up and be confused and despairing and also people who know my blind spots and kick me in the back when required. I have a full MBS: You're referring to one of the "maps" from the book, where you imagine different stories for whatever your Great Work project might be. It's a great exercise building stories. So what's your story? How did you create a scenario planning for your book? Then ask these three questions: � What's the easiest thing to do? � What could I do that would have the most impact? � What do I want to do? Those three questions will help generate an interesting range of possibilities. And then you just need to ask yourself: What WILL you do? your challenge and the ideas you already have, ,,and what else?" until you run out of ideas. That's always a good start and you have more ideas than you thought. One of my stories is about Find Your Great Work becoming a mainstream success � and that narrative is still unfolding. do you have? How much risk are you willing to take? MBS: Let me suggest my five favorite questions for generating possibilities. an idea and just go into action, but you're asking this question: "what is possible?" to make us think of coming up with different possibilities before we go into action... And then, you have a choice. Having imagined what's possible, what do you want to strive for? How much courage time office manager, and two or three fantastic operations people who help manage the various systems that make the business run. We've got some great technical experts � a designer, a web person, a flash movie maker. And I'm just creating another team to lead a project that will culminate in January. Bottom line: I have a ton of support, and I'm deeply grateful for it. � What wouldn't I do to make this a success? This is powerful because once you've clarified what you wouldn't do � you have a lot of stuff left over that you WOULD do. This opens up possibilities. for bringing to life your ambition and to test the extent of your risk. I use two questions as part of this process: � What would extraordinary look like? This starts stretching what's possible and allows me to imagine brave thoughts � working on the principle that "once a mind has been stretched, it can never shrink back to its original size." I truly believe that you can't do Great Work by yourself. If you're smart, you build up a team. Michael Bungay Stanier Michael Bungay Stanier, born in Australia, lives in Canada where he's been awarded "Coach of the Year 2006". To find out more about his book, visit the Find Your Great Work web site: www.FindYourGreatWork.com Learn Michael's practical "next day usable" coaching skills: www.CoachingForGreatWork.com Michael on Twitter: @boxofcrayons #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine The number ONE spot is for losers Stop trying to be number one. Relax and enjoy being simply great. Alex Fayle � pressmaster - Fotolia.com � "I'm the best." � "Be the best in your niche." � "Your goal should be to reach number one." Blah blah blah... Know what? I don't care about being the best. I'm quite happy being great. There's so much more company when you're great. The best is a lonely place, always looking over your shoulder to make sure that no one's coming up from behind ready to take the number one spot away from you. There's so much pressure on being NUMBER ONE. Think of the Olympics, a perfect example of this. While thousands train for an event, dozens will make it to the final moment and only one person will be the best. You watch the news and the way they handle everyone else, asking second and third place athletes how it feels to lose the top spot. How totally icky. I've learned since moving to Spain that most Spaniards don't care about being the best. They find constant competition and work-work-work very English. Whenever I start getting all "gotta be the best, gotta be the best" Raul asks me why. And I say "because..." and stop. I don't know why actually. Peer pressure perhaps? I can understand why I'd want to be great. After all who'd want to listen to someone who isn't striving to be great? But the best? Nope, can't think of a single good reason. There's only one type of best that I care about and that's doing my best. I'm not a slacker. I give whatever I'm doing my best, but that's an internal thing. It's competing with myself and going one step farther than I thought possible. But being the best? That's completely external and I've had enough trouble in my life learning not to care what others think. Why should I allow others to measure my success against my competitors? No thanks, I'll stick with being simply great and share the winner's circle with all the other great people in my field. Alex Fayle Alex Fayle, Master of Information Studies from the University of Toronto who now lives in northern Spain where he found his soul. He's back out on the Someday Sea to help others cross it. Find out more about Alex on his blog: SomedaySyndrome.com Alex on Twitter: @alexfayle #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by Next Tuesday, August 11, 2009 a new Era of Productivity Applications will start with the launch of New Nozbe 2.0 featuring Use Coupon code PRODUCTIVE to save 10% and start getting things done with www.Nozbe.com magazine Productive! Review Making It All Work by David Allen David Allen's Making it All Work, the highly-anticipated followup to his blockbuster Getting Things Done, offers a practical and philosophical approach to the problem of defining and processing our stuff. H defined. Art Carden they are able to understand exactly what it is that they are doing, what it is that is required, and what the next action necessarily has to be. This is explicit on page 17: ,,Because what I teach is actually not a system but a systematic approach, it can be adapted to take advantage of many of the features of software applications that have seldom been used before." defined productivity system means that ,,work takes on a lighter quality, and life itself becomes a successful enterprise" and further down the page when he writes that the game of work and the business of life are really the same thing, when it comes down to the principles and behaviors and techniques that eliminate distractions and foster beneficial focus." e defines ,,stuff " expansively � it's basically anything intruding on your cognitive architecture that isn't properly Allen's 2002 book Getting Things Done created an entire subculture and a set of organizing principles that have encouraged some off-the-wall innovations (Merlin Mann's Hipster PDA, for example). Making It All Work is a complement to, rather than a substitute for, GTD, and it incorporates the insights Allen has picked up from years of coaching executives and other groups in his methods. Allen says: ,,what I teach is actually not a system but a systematic approach" As an economist I was especially Allen's goal is clarified on page 57: ,,the challenge that we are dealing with in all this is getting to the state in which we can trust that what we're doing at any point in time is what we think we should be doing." Of particular interest is his treatment of the false distinction between work and Allen is fond of referring to ,,the life. Following his earlier work, Allen offers the broadest possible definition of ,,work" as ,,anything you want to get done that's not done yet" (p. 56) and refers to the business of life" and ,,the game of work," and this makes its first appearance on page 2 when he points out that a wellimpressed with the way he led off the first chapter with a quote from Thomas Sowell, who, albeit in a different context, points out that ,,much of what sophisticates loftily to as the `complexity' of the real world is in fact the inconsistency in their own minds" (p. 1). Allen states this explicitly on page 5: ,,While Getting Things Done offered a primer and a simple manual, Making It All Work is intended to provide you with a road map � one that will enhance your abilities to process life and work in tandem." Allen encourages his readers to be as outcome-focused as possible and to develop hard-edged systems whereby 10 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Allen offers the broadest possible definition of ,,work" as ,,anything you want to get done that's not done yet" concept of work/life balance as a ,,hoax" (p. 58). This flies in the face of how a lot of people think. Many organizational thinkers and leaders see ,,work" as ,,what is done in exchange for money at a place of business" while anything else is ,,life." As Allen argues, this is a false distinction. In our superproductive world, a lot of us have the opportunity to find fulfillment through our work, which is an opportunity that many of our ancestors never had. Thus, Allen's very broad definition is appropriate. The ideal in his system is the Captain Allen introduces some new terminology � ,,control" and ,,perspective" � to describe some of his new thinking on Getting Things Done, and these are the focal points of the new book. The core of his new contribution really begins in earnest at the start of chapter 4, when he argues that ,,control" and ,,perspective" are ,,the two key ingredients for making it all work" (p. 60). Much like in his earlier book, Allen relies on a number of heuristic hooks, like ,,the matrix of self-management," which define different levels of perspective and control. There is the ,,Captain and Commander" quadrant of high perspective and high control, the ,,Micromanager/ Implementer" quadrant of high control and low perspective, the ,,Crazy Maker/Visionary" quadrant of high perspective and little control, and finally the ,,Victim/Responder" quadrant of low perspective and low control. Obviously, the ,,victim/responder" quadrant is the worst place to be � it is perpetually ,,operating in a crisis mode" (p. 62). Micromanagement is a type of One of the keys that permeates Allen's work is to define ,,stuff " so that it can be dealt with. It's important for the visionary part of your mind to be disciplined to define what you want to do. In a passage that has hit close to home, In chapters five and beyond Allen reorients GTD along the control/perspective axes and considers the following tasks: capturing, clarifying, organizing, reflecting, (for control) and projects, areas of focus, goals, vision, and purpose/principles (for perspective). "Engaging/Actions" intersects both categories. and Commander. This is the person who is in his or her zone; it is someone who has ,,learned to walk the thin line between function and form, vision and implementation, stretch and structure" (p. 69). The key to being a ,,captain and commander" is to implement processes that allow you to successfully deal with what is coming at you. In other words, it is to pay attention to what has our attention (pp. 72-73). bureaucratic management where ,,form... will overtake function" (p. 65); This is a fundamentally bureaucratic style that emphasizes filling out the right forms at the expense of actually creating value. In yet another quadrant is the Crazy Maker/Visionary, who ,,take(s) on too many commitments vis-a-vis available resources" (p. 67). It is a quadrant with which most academics can likely sympathize. Allen points out that ,,when you're in this mode you can read a single issue of a magazine and generate at least a dozen things to do � restaurants to try out, cool new travel accessories to buy, six ideas that might improve the next staff meeting" (p. 108). I'm glancing around my workspace right now and seeing magazines, journals, and books I'm avoiding right now because I'm not really clear on what I'll do with the information once I collect it. Rearranging the piles might create short-term satisfaction, but it won't produce long-run results (p. 111). I would summarize Allen's key point as follows: dross creates drag. In economics, we talk about opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is whatever we give up in order to do something, and the opportunity cost of holding onto a pile of commitments in your mind is the ideas you could be having and implementing. As he has said in various places, ,,your mind is for having ideas, not holding them." Trying to use the mind to hold ideas rather than to have them reduces clarity and increases resistance. For leaders, clarifying tasks and parameters is of paramount importance. Making It All Work provides a philosophy and a toolkit that helps us figure this out. Art Carden Art Carden is Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and an Adjunct Fellow with the Oakland, CAbased Independent Institute. He is a regular contributor to Lifehack.org and Division of Labour. Art's SSRN Author Page #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 11 magazine I spend waaaaaay too much time on... � Lai Leng Yiap - Fotolia.com I recently asked my readers to fill in the blank to ,,I spend waaaaaay too much time on..." There were tons of interesting answers, but it didn't take long to start seeing some patterns. Here are seven most common responses (and what you can do about them) Laura Stack 1. E-mail. Let's face it. E-mail can be a phenomenal productivity tool, but it will eat your day alive if you let it. Lots of people complain that their overflowing inbox is beyond their control, but here are three steps you CAN take to start getting a handle on it right away: Do you keep one eye on your inbox all day long? What does that do to your productivity? If you drop everything and attend to every e-mail that comes in throughout the day, you are derailing your productivity, over and over again. Not only do you waste whatever time it takes for you to read, ignore, or act on a given e-mail message, but it also takes time to refocus your attention on whatever you were doing prior to the interruption. Take a quick inventory of the last few TV shows you watched. Think about how Try to close Outlook completely while you work on other tasks, if you simply can't resist looking. Also turn off your alerts, so the envelope in the system tray doesn't constantly remind you there's email waiting. many you thought about in advance and then sat down to enjoy. Now think about how many you ended up watching just because they were on. Pick a few shows that you really enjoy and watch them each week. If you have TiVo or a DVR, that's even better. Watch on your own time and skip the commercials. Then shut the TV off and go about your business! 2. Watching television. Why is it that we can spend all day scrounging for extra minutes and then head home only to flush countless hours down the drain watching television? Television (even bad television) can be extremely habit forming and one show can very easily lead to another, turning your half-hour escape into an entire evening wasted. 3. Searching the Internet. The Internet is a bottomless pit of information... some useful and some notso-useful. It's much too easy to sit down to do one thing (pay a bill, look up an address) and end up wasting time on something else entirely (reading news stories, checking your social networking profiles). 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine If I can complete the action in less than two minutes, I just go ahead and do it. Why wait? If meandering around the web is relaxing for you � that's fine � just make sure you do it at an appropriate time and place that doesn't interfere with work or family time. Otherwise, treat the Internet like any other tool: use it when you need it and put it away when you're done. Once you've got what you came for, close the window and move on. Life happens. And it isn't always convenient. Some things can only be arranged during the week from 9:00 to 5:00. Fortunately, companies are starting to realize that it's in their best interest to assist employees attempting to manage their lives during the day rather than standing in the way. That can mean anything from allowing workers to access the Internet for incidental personal use to offering flexible schedules to accommodate personal appointments. Talk to your boss, your peers, and your staff about finding opportunities for flexibility within the workday. If employees don't feel like they have to accomplish a million things during five lunch hours a week, they'll be more productive during the rest of the day. Do whatever you can to promote a strong, reasonable work-life balance at your organization. By choosing a single designee from each work area, you can make sure everyone is represented without having everyone in the room. Do we need to meet at all? Any meeting that doesn't have a clear objective (if not a formal agenda) should be on the chopping block. 7. Working on fun things instead of boring tasks. I love that this one made the list because it shows how honest my readers are! The best thing you can do is realize that you'll focus much better on the work that is important to you if you don't have a bunch of small, less interesting tasks hanging over your head. One thing to keep in mind? About 99 percent of the time, those nit-picky tasks are DRAMATICALLY easier and less painful than you think they're going to be. Getting started is the hardest part. If you're really having trouble, schedule a five-minute appointment with yourself to begin the chore. When the designated time arrives, start working on the task. If you feel like stopping at the end of five minutes, you can stop. The only rule is you must schedule an additional five minutes for tomorrow. When you begin to see some progress, five minutes soon becomes 10, 15, 20... 4. Procrastinating on starting a difficult task or project. Occasionally, things don't get done because we just can't seem to get the ball rolling. Sometimes the task or project giving us a hard time is completely within our control, but we just don't make it happen. Whether the task is intimidating, time-consuming, or simply unpleasant, the solution is often the same: break it down into manageable chunks. Forget waiting for a "block of time." That no longer exists. Instead of viewing the task as one huge project, break it down into manageable chunks you can schedule over a period of a week or two. A twentyhour project can be seen as ten two-hour tasks. Getting it down on paper can help you see how to best approach the project. The key is to do something to move toward completion. If you need to focus without interruption, it's best to not work in your office. If you can take one large task and break it into many smaller ones, it'll be much easier to get things going. Rather than feeling like you have to tackle some monumental project all at once, you can just look at your bite-sized first step and get started right away. 6. Scheduling meetings. Do you find that it's close to impossible to get five or more attendees that are available at the same time and the same date? When key players are overbooked, it can take hours just to schedule a single a meeting. Here are three questions you should ask yourself whenever you schedule a meeting: Do we really need all these people? Make sure you aren't inviting anyone that doesn't need to have a seat at the table. Can we keep people in the loop without inviting them to every meeting? Some meetings are full of wallflowers that need to know what's going on but don't necessarily need to contribute. Publishing meeting minutes or distributing essential information electronically can save time and shorten the attendee list. Laura Stack Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier� with Maximum Results in Minimum TimeTM. She's the president of The Productivity Pro�, Inc. Laura's Firm: ProductivityPro.com Laura on Twitter: @laurastack 5. Handling family concerns during my work day. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine The 5 Big Reasons Why You Fall Off The Productivity Wagon Although a lot of my readers argue that falling off the productivity wagon is a positive thing, I would also argue that there is a lot to be learned from evaluating how to not fall off so often. Thus I've identified the 5 big reasons why people actually do fall off the wagon. James Mallinson Lack of energy If you have no energy, it's hard to find the motivation to do a weekly review, to organize your projects, to actually do anything in general. And all it takes is a late evening sucking up to the boss, a bad night's sleep, skipping breakfast or having a very hectic day running around like a headless chicken. In that groggy mood it's all to easy to fall off the wagon. much done as possible, all it takes is one delayed meeting or one task that's a little more complicated than you imagined, and you'll take a a head-cracking fall off that wagon. So what does this mean? If you don't want to fall off the wagon so often, find a system that works for you, make sure you get plenty of rest and stay energized, giving yourself a break when things aren't going so smoothly and make sure you have a clear picture of what you're actually doing on a very regular basis. Doesn't sound too hard... Your system doesn't work Yes, yes. It's about what you do (or don't do), not about what you use, but you do need to get organized and get a plan, and you can't do that in your head, you need a system that works for you. The problem comes when you obsess over the latest app or tool rather than actually putting it to good use. That isn't going to help you get productive, and if it doesn't suit your needs, it will let you down at some point, predictably shoving you off the wagon onto the dirt below. Lack of clarity This is probably the most common reason why people fall off the productivity wagon. You skip a weekly review or two, you forget to define your next actions, you let thoughts and ideas build up in your head... before you know it, you get hit by the fuzzy-head syndrome. And in your unclear state, you hit a bump in the road and go flying off the wagon again. James Mallinson James Mallinson comes from the UK and is an aspiring author. He started Organize IT nearly two years ago after he began dabbling in productivity, and wanted to share his tips and experience. Visit Organize IT: Organize-it.co.uk James on Twitter: @jmallinson You're trying to function at 100% You are not a robot, you are not a machine (unless you're some secret Government AI project that's reading this, in which case I apologize) so don't try and function at 100% all the time. You're just asking for a fall. Just remember, every up has it's down... a down that will invariably leave you a mangled mess under the wheels of the productivity wagon. You're doing too much Half the reason people obsess over getting productive is because they have so much to do, they need to gain some control to stand any chance of doing it all. But that's like walking a tightrope. When your entire day is about getting as 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Productive! Show launches Our Productive! Family is growing with the launch of Productive! Show - www.ProductiveShow.com - where yours truly is posting weekly shows with productivity tips and tricks. Michael Sliwinski E very once in a while I've been posting a 2-minute video show for my Nozbe users to share my tips and tricks that help me be Where I'm talking about my favorite capture tools � David Allen's notetaker wallet and the iPhone with Nozbe and Evernote on it. more productive. Inboxes for different purposes Recently I decided to gather these videos together and launch them under our ,,Productive!" brand... and most of all, post more often � now regularly on a weekly basis. I'll be posting about my personal tips and tricks, but mostly from a perspective of a small startup owner � how to set up and run a ,,productive" startup. Where I'm talking about setting up Here are some recent videos I've posted: a special inbox before a trip � I've used this trick on my way to the GTD Summit in San Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive! Magazine and now a host of the new Productive! Show site. Every day he's trying to help people get more done with his web (and iPhone) application Nozbe.com. Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe Francisco. Hope you'll enjoy the new sister site and subscribe to it � I'll try to keep my weekly posting consistent and I'm counting on you sharing your tips and tricks with me in the comments below the videos. Michael Sliwinski Capture tools help get stuff done Passion � the ultimate productivity driver Where I'm sharing my ultimate productivity driver � this one thing that keeps me going and reminds me what's important and why I'm doing what I'm doing. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine 11 Practical Ways To Jump Out Of A Lazy Rut For one reason or another, we've all been stuck in a lazy rut. From productivity guru to Average Joe, we've all faced our share of down time. � Spauln - Fotolia.com I Alex Shalman able to build new ones. Maintaining takes much less energy than starting, so you can keep on adding on new habits to your "habit-happy" life. heart pumping, and my body rejuvenated by the time the one hour is up. At an hour per day it more than fulfills my weekly walking requirement as well as enhances my personal growth. have no quick fix � I'm not THAT good � so you'll have to settle for some practical techniques to dig yourself out of your own lazy ruts. It will take some work on your part, but I'm sure that whatever works for me can work for you too. 2. Self-actualize, Be Conscious. This happens to be the most important point in the article. Think. By questioning your source, reasons, and intentions, you are able to transcend whatever obstacle you find in your way. 4. Engage In House Cleaning. We all get to the point where we let our house go a bit past � okay, way past � the point of being perfectly clean. This makes me feel a bit guilty because I know that one of the keys to a clear mind is a clean home and workplace. It gets to the point where the cleaning job will either demand a lot of time, or force you to move out. If you've slipped in the clean-as-you go process, you can use the 15 minute 1. Start Somewhere, Anywhere. We can think of the discipline muscle as a strong pillar. Metaphorically speaking, if this muscle is big and tall it will serve as a Pantheon of productivity. Pick any one of the ideas below, or any one of your own ideas, and get started! If you follow the action consistently for 30 days, you will build a habit. Once you're in the "habit of making habits" you'll be 3. Improve Exercise Antics. Sometimes I find myself laying in bed, just listening to audio books on my iPhone. Big mistake. The simple hack is to take that one hour, go outside with my iPhone and just walk around the neighborhood. A brisk walk will get my blood flowing, 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine If you follow the action consistently for 30 days, you will build a habit. Once you're in the "habit of making habits" you'll be able to build new ones. rule to get out of your rut. Pick a room, and designate just 15 minutes to clean something up (i.e. just the desk, just the closet, just the floors). Use up all 15 minutes and continue the next day. In the mean time, clean as you go and you'll find a clean room within about a week. The technique that works best for me is scheduling a writing time the night before. When I set aside 2 hours in a day, I'm able to write anywhere between 1-4 articles. If it's more than 1, I can give it away, or set it for a future date. However, I need to make sure I'm in the habit of getting back the next day to do some more writing, or else the lazy bug will slip up on me. vegetables as the only snacks between meals. Having vegetables be the entree of my meals, not the side dish. Eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day to avoid lethargy. Healthy food gives you more energy, which is one sure-fire way to get out of the lazy hole. 10. Simplify Your Life. Think about it, extensive filing systems like GTD require months to learn, just so you can figure out what to do today. Your mission � simplify. When you take away as many unnecessary layers and distractions, your mind will be clutter free and excited at the opportunity to tackle what's important. 5. Cultivate Reading Habits. It's a sad fact that most Americans don't read. One of the reasons I started my site was to cater to such people. My sentiments were that reading a full book, and compressing the gems into a 10 minute read, can be convenient for even the most modest of readers. Incidentally, after running my site for this long, I've come to realize that you guys are in the upper echelons of intelligence and do spend a nice chunk of time reading. I feel like you can relate when I say that falling off the reading wagon is a commonly occurring disaster. First, when you hear the morning alarm, The best thing to do with a dropped habit is to get back into it slowly. All you need is to dedicate 15 minutes, as soon as you wake up, each and every morning. This is when you'll be most alert to read, which you can do by waking up 15 minutes early. Commit to just 30 days of 15 minute mornings, and eventually expand the hours if you like the new habit. and before you lay there and question yourself, jump right out of bed! Walk over to the sink, wash your face with cold water and immediately bring yourself to your schedule or to-do list. Need an afternoon nap? Set your alarm for 20 minutes and do not allow yourself to sleep more than this optimal time under any circumstances. Alex Shalman is a 24 year old Jewish student, son, boyfriend, classmate, writer and friend that lives in New Jersey, USA. His interests include personal development, fitness, nutrition, productivity, psychology and One of the things that helps me break the cycle is placing some rules on the table. No eating 4 hours before bed, unless it's a piece of fruit. Using fruits and relationships. His blog: AlexShalman.com Alex on Twitter: @alexshalman 7. Hydrate For Productivity. One of the things that I've found to be continuously daunting is the reappearance of dehydration. Drinking 2 liters of water a day gets every atom of my body resonating and jumping with energy. 11. Embrace Your Laziness. Consider for a moment that you're rundown. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually you're experiencing a leak in your battery that's leaving you sluggish throughout the day. That's both understandable and reasonable. 8. End Over-Sleeping. The more you sleep, the lazier you are. The lazier you are, the more you sleep. By applying a couple of standardized rules in the form of habits we're able to break out of this sloth-like cycle. Put up the white flag, go to sleep, get hydrated, eat some healthy food, go for a sweaty run and refer to number 2 � think. Perhaps you know what the problem is, but something tells me that if you stand in front of the mirror and look yourself in the eyes for 10 minutes, a little voice will come out and tell you exactly what's wrong � fix it. Alex Shalman 9. Don't Eat Lazy Food. 6. Get Back On Track With Writing. In the creation of my site I have made a 180 turn in my thoughts about writing. It used to be a painful chore, but that was before I realized that I'm passionate about writing. Now I love writing for my site, and the other sites where I freelance. After all, I only delivered 1 article last week, and it wasn't due to lack of time or lack of material. Have you noticed that with laziness comes bad food choices that are high in fats, sugars, and processed carbs? No? Is it just me? Maybe with bad food choices comes laziness, which is also very feasible. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine The Vacationary � Dmitry Ersler - Fotolia.com I feel that is my duty as your Eventual Productivity Expert to get you "in the know" when it comes to terms that describe that all-important thing you need to take at least twelve times per year: the vacation. W Mike Vardy 13. Slaycation � A hunting trip. 14. Sleighcation � 1. A trip to the North Pole. 2. A trip to the mall so your kids can have their picture taken with Santa Claus. 15. Straycation � A vacation where things don't go exactly as planned. 27. Raycation � A great trip where you have no idea where you're going (after Ray Charles). 28. Fay Wraycation � A trip with 16. Yaycation � A really fun trip. a primate. (Used in a sentence: Clint Eastwood went on a Fay Wraycation in Any Which Way But Loose.) 29. Neighcation � A trip to your neighbor's. 30. Bidetcation � A trip to the bathroom. 17. Treycation � A trip to basketball camp. 18. Dr�cation � A trip involving a rap concert. 19. Vraication � A Franch-themed vacation taken to search for the truth. 25. Filetcation � A fishing excursion. 26. Oy-Vaycation � A Jewish vacation. hat follows are 30 of the more popular types of vacations one can take. 1. Baycation � 1. A holiday comprising of watching the films of acclaimed director Michael Bay. 2. A trip to San Francisco. 2. Claycation � A tennis holiday. 3. Fraycation � A vacation that involves fighting of some sort (watch people fight?). 4. Gaycation � 1. A really dumb holiday. 2. A really joyous one. 3. A trip to San Francisco. 5. Haycation � A trip to a farm. 6. Weighcation � A trip to the fat farm. 20. Ol�cation � A trip to Mexico. 7. Laycation � A trip to one of those Hedonism places. 8. Maycation � A trip that could happen. 9. Paycation � A business trip. 23. Placation � A trip one takes just 10. Playcation � A trip to an amusement park. 11. Praycation � Any sort of religious trip. 12. Sheacation � A trip to New York to watch their other baseball team. to appease another. (Used in a sentence: I just returned from a placation with my wife.) 24. Fakation � A trip you told people you took, but never actually did. 21. Ch�cation � A trip to Cuba. Mike Vardy Eventually self-professed productivity expert, founder of the new productivity ideology: Eventualism. His blog... eventually: EffingTheDog.com Mike on Twitter: @mikevardy 22. Okaytion � A trip that was just average. 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine 10 Signs you are in � the GTD Trap WHAKATE Sign 1. You keep your underwear in 43 folders. Sign 4. You karate-chop your friend because he questioned Getting Things Done (GTD�) Sign 7. You switch your task management application on a weekly basis. Sign 8. You always drink your beer in two minutes. Sign 2. You go to bed and think: "What's the next action?" Sign 9. You maintain a list of your lists. Sign 5. You remove your spam blocker because your e-mail inbox is empty. Sign 3. You participate in a blog discussion on whether it is more efficient to be effective or more effective to be efficient. Sign 6. You keep a time log when playing with your child. Sign 10. You contact Apple for a do-ityourself iPhone kit. Learn more about the Whakate Way and get the Introspection Workbook to get out of the GTD Trap. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 19 Find Your Great Work Napkin-size solutions to stop the busy work and start the work that matters Newest Book by Michael Bungay Stanier www.FindYourGreatWork.com Buy the Book Now ,,If I had to pick a person to have dinner with, when I need to be prodded and challenged and inspired to think about the things I really am committed to think about for myself and what I'm doing, I'd pick Michael Bungay Stanier. He has an ability to shake our tree and make us more conscious and responsible about what we know but aren't willing to admit we know yet. And the best part � he makes it easy and fun. Great work, Michael!" David Allen, author of Getting Things Done