Productive Magazine #5
Fifth issue of Productive Magazine featuring sculptor, sportsman and businessman Luis "Miguel Guia" Urrea - and great productivity articles about gathering good habits, organizing faster, preparing more efficient meetings... and the iPad as a productivity tool. Enjoy!
� Luis Miguel Urrea Guia � Michael Hyatt � Leo Babauta � Jocelyn Glei � � Stephen Smith � Howard Flomberg � James Mallinson � Andrew Filev � Michael Sliwinski � www.ProductiveMagazine.com #5 (August 2010) magazine 4 Cultivating Good Habits 4 Getting Focused Easier 4 Making Meetings Work urrea guia Sponsored by Luis MigueL Exclusive Interview 4 Productivity on the iPad magazine From the Editor Our Magazine joins Productive Firm to receive regular updates By Michael Sliwinski, Editor I am very happy to offer you this newest, fifth issue of your Productive! Magazine. This is a breakthrough issue as I believe we have nailed the additional in-depth articles and books. This is why we are launching a new productivity membership site called Productive! Firm and both this magazine and my Productive! Show will now be a part of this site. I'm sure you'll love it. Members of Productive Firm will also Allen and Guy Kawasaki... and I should be interviewing people who are highly productive... but are regular people like you and me. So I chose one of my closest friends and one of the most famous Spanish sculptors � Miguel Guia. Luis Miguel Urrea Guia (that's his complete name) is a sculptor, an artist who also runs a series of successful companies in Madrid, Spain. We used to work closely together on some projects and I was always amazed how he got stuff done. He I got many emails from people saying I focus too much on celebrities like David quickly became my productivity guru and actually he inspired me to build the first receive inside scoop before the magazine gets published, will be able to read the entire, uncut interview with each issue's guest and more. Speaking about our guests, this time we decided to try something different and you probably don't know the person on the cover of the magazine. But believe me, you want to get to know him. way this magazine will be published in the future and it's going to be an exciting time for you and for our small team. We have some really fantastic authors publishing regularly for us and we decided to give you a new issue of the magazine every two months until the end of this year. In December, based on your feedback, readership and the experience gathered publishing this magazine, we'll decide how often to publish issues in 2011. We want to give you more productivityrelated content, not only with this magazine but also through short videos, #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine version of Nozbe � my GTD productivity app. In the interview Miguel Guia explains his way of approaching productivity and cultivating good habits that help him get more done. Continuing the theme of successful entrepreneurs and productivity in small companies, we've got great articles by our regular contributors like Leo Babauta (who was our featured guest in the last issue of the magazine), Michael Hyatt and others... Hope you like the new changes to the magazine and how it is coming together. I'm sure you'll love this issue of your favorite productivity magazine and now, without further ado I encourage you to prepare a beverage of your choice, sit in a comfortable armchair, and grab the iPad to read this new issue of the Productive! Magazine. Enjoy! Yours productively, 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 13 16 18 Michael Sliwinski Ditch the bad habits and cultivate the good ones Interview with Luis Miguel Urrea Guia Michael Hyatt Scheduling Time in the ,,Alone Zone" Leo Babauta Frictionless Work: How to Clear Your Life of Non-Essential Tasks Howard Flomberg Quick&Dirty Guide to: Meetings � how to make them work Your Online tool for Getting Things Done � available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone. Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski email@example.com Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich firstname.lastname@example.org www.blog.mediafun.pl Editorial Team: Lori Anderson Delfina Gerbert Dustin Wax James Mallison Getting Things Done... FASTER 20 22 Andrew Filev Focusing on Getting Things Done with Project Management 2.0 Michael Sliwinski 7 ways the new Apple iPad will increase your productivity 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. Stephen Smith Kanban Changes the Perspective 24 Jocelyn Glei 10 Laws of Productivity #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Productive! Magazine Interview with Luis Miguel Urrea Guia Ditch the bad habits and cultivate the good ones by Michael Sliwinski Q: Who are you and what do you do for living? I'm Luis Miguel Urrea Guia and I'm a sculptor and painter known under a nickname "Miguel Guia" and I'm also an owner of several businesses and a senior semi-professional athlete � I'm the residing champion of Spain in "hammer throw" my senior age category. Q: Please tell me more about what inspires you as an artist? My passion is to make art accessible to everyone with sense of beauty, as a sculptor and painter I'm completely in love with art and as a second generation of an artisan family, throughout the last ten years, I have intended to bring back more dignity of art pieces to homes in all over the world. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Q: What is the rhythm of your day? How do you work? I have intense days, although for a while I have been organizing my time well. I get up early and spend my day on advancing all the necessary matters. My work order is to prepare ideas early, analyze what steps need to get done to achieve my daily goals, and concentrate totally on these since the very start. Q: Spain is famous for "siesta" � a midday 2-3 hour nap. I heard you didn't believe in them? Well, it is not really a matter of belief, it's a Spanish custom and I respect it. I know As a sculptor and painter I'm completely in love with art. there are people who can't live without it. I just personally prefer to sleep well during nights and use every minute of the day constructively (and simply enjoy the whole day). Q: What is your system of productivity like? How do you use it on daily basis? So, to start with I have a notebook always on my table and I write down all the things I want to do on a given day. I do my best to see them all through and if I can't, I postpone them for the following day. As I have said before, I write down the topic and the main points of each action, if I have to call I add the phone number, some commentary about the person and the main purpose of the call. Now, at the time of the phone call I have all this information right here in my notebook. The most important part of my "system" is a blue or green marker � once a task is done, I cross it with the marker. This is very rewarding as it relaxes me as the day progresses to see the page fill in with green. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine You have to schedule your day to have enough time for work, trainings and enjoying life. Q: I know you are an early riser. Why is getting up early so important to you? For many years now I have preferred to enjoy the light, peacefulness and good vibration after good rest. No one bothering me with daily things. I'm the first person in the office and I'm getting a lot done before anyone shows up. This way I'm progressing very well throughout the day. I have an expression that perfectly describes this: "if you don't get up early, you'll keep on running the whole day with your tongue out of your mouth" trying to catch up with everything. Q: How did practicing sports influence your way of working and selforganization? Since early childhood I have been practicing sports that required a strong discipline and compromise with the trainer and colleagues from team. With years, this routine translated into a certain way of living. You have to schedule your day to have enough time for work, trainings and enjoying life. This kind of physical and psychological fitness is required in sports like athletics or american football. They help you develop your will to make the extra effort and to pursue your goals. Q: What differences are there between being a boss of a company, sculptor and sportsman? In this life it is all about habits, good As a boss and an artist I'm a bit of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, although none of them wins. My artistic vision does ones.. or the bad ones. You just really need to get rid of all those bad habits and pick up new ones that will help you in your path His web site: MiguelGuia.com I have been giving little hints all though this interview. To organize work well, it is essential to prepare all the topics in the morning and work through them before all the interruptions and daily office life makes you resolve them improperly. Q: What tips would you give to people who do not know how to organize themselves and do not know where to start? Luis Miguel Urrea Guia is a famous sculptor and painter, a national athlete and a businessman. He lives and works in Madrid, Spain in Europe. His mission is to bring world-class art to every home (under nickname: ,,Miguel Guia") and he's committed to getting it done. He takes inspiration from masters like Picasso, Dali or Chillida among others. not allow the company part to destroy the artistic essence of our projects, and the business part does not allow the business topics influence the former. As a sportsman, as I have said before, all the effort and dedication that is used in this field helps me to work better with my team at work, too. to an organized life. Getting up early, sports and strength of will are always a good start. It's about a conscious decision how you want your life to be and how you want to live it. About ,,Miguel Guia" #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Scheduling Time in the ,,Alone Zone" You schedule time for large meetings, small meetings, conference calls, and phone appointments. If you are like many leaders, you often feel that your life consists of nothing BUT meetings. As a result, there is no time to complete the work you volunteer for, agree to, or are assigned in those same meetings. What can you do? Simple: Schedule time for you. Y by Michael Hyatt 2. Weekly appointments. I literally block out time on my calendar with the clever title of "Office Work." I generally do this on Sunday night as I prepare for the next week's meetings. When I am really on the ball, I do this a month in advance. The beautiful thing is that when someone asks for that time slot, I can legitimately say, "I'm sorry, but I already have a commitment then." It's a commitment to myself. 3. Quarterly reviews. I schedule a day and a half by myself each quarter. I have written about it on this blog before, so I won't repeat myself here. However, this is a time when I can reflect back over the previous quarter and then look forward to the coming quarter. It's an opportunity to poke my head above the clouds and see where I am going with my business--and my life. Michael Hyatt is the President and CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. Michael has written four books, one of which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Hyatt serves as Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association I am sometimes asked, "How do you get it all done?" Part of the secret is by scheduling time to get it done. What about you? Specifically, I try to work on projects that require extended creativity. I plan in advance which projects I am going to tackle. ou need time for what Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, authors of Rework, call "the Alone Zone": Long stretches of alone time are when you are the most productive. When you don't have to mind-shift between various tasks, you get a boatload done. (Ever notice how much work you get done on a plane since you're offline and there are zero outside distractions" (p. 105). But this kind of alone time doesn't happen by accident. Like everything else in the leader's life, you must be intentional, if you want to be effective. I personally schedule four kinds of alone time: About Michael Hyatt Long stretches of alone time are when you are the most productive. 1. Morning time. I typically get up at 5:00 a.m. I do my most important tasks right away, including exercise and reading. I also try to get done my single most important to-do item before I leave for the office. Why? Because I know a thousand interruptions and distractions await me once I arrive. 4. Travel time. I am never more productive than when I am in an airplane. However, I have to be very intentional. I upgrade when I can. If that's not possible, I get an exit row seat. (It's difficult to be productive when the person in front if you has their seat reclined, and their head is practically in your lap!) (ECPA). He has been married to his wife, Gail, for twenty- eight years. They have five daughters and two grand daughters and live outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Michael's blog: MichaelHyatt.com Michael on Twitter: @MichaelHyatt #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by Time and Project Management for Busy Professionals and their Teams Nozbe web app syncs with native iPad and iPhone apps... and Evernote! magazine Frictionless Work: How to Clear Your Life of Non-Essential Tasks "It's not the work which kills people, it's the worry. It's not the revolution that destroys machinery it's the friction." ~ Henry Ward Beecher by Leo Babauta H ow much of your day is spent doing administrative tasks, and not creating or doing other important work? Imagine this for a moment: you have no administrative tasks, only the core work that you love doing. Is this a pipe dream? Perhaps for some, who have little control over their work. But if you have a larger degree of control, let's explore the idea of "frictionless work" or even "frictionless living". If you have little control, consider a change. Only a year ago, that required a lot of administrative work -- so much so that I hired an admin assistant to help out, and outsourced other work. But assistants, employees, delegating, and outsourcing are not hassle-free ... each comes with work of its own: email or phone purpose. Today, I have a few successful blogs and a handful of successful books. How much time do you spend responding to emails and IMs and social networks, making payments, doing paperwork, filing, sitting in meetings, driving, doing errands, and so on? How much of that could be cleared up for more important work? Imagine this for a moment: you have no administrative tasks, only the core work that you love doing. Your day has been cleared for creating, building, doing high-impact projects. Isn't it lovely? My Frictionless Business I know I don't have a typical job, but that didn't happen overnight and I did this on 10 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine By radically rethinking your work, you might be able to eliminate a lot of admin tasks. a tiny minority of readers used, eliminated my need for that admin work or for hiring a moderator. - I stopped doing work that required me to do paperwork or admin work. That meant losing some income from consulting and other business, but it also meant a lot more free time for what I love doing. - When a guest writer submits a guest post, I no longer format the post but require the writer to format it and submit for my review. Mostly now I just need to read over the post and hit publish. - I got out of a bunch of ad networks that were always asking me to do admin work. That was a loss of income, but it also simplified my website. Now I sell one ad a month (which I'm also eliminating), and do almost no work -- the advertiser presses a Paypal button to reserve the ad, and emails me the ad image and link code. - I eliminated email, for the most part, � Paulus Rusyanto - Fotolia.com What Are Your Admin Tasks? Take inventory of your work: what admin tasks take up your time? Add to this list over the course of the next couple of days, because you're probably forgetting some. Now ask yourself: which of these can be eliminated? Many of you will probably answer, "Very few", because you're used to the way things are done. "This is how things are done." But that's an artificial limitation -- instead, ask yourself how it can be changed. How might it be possible? Think radically different. To eliminate tasks, you might have to make major changes over time, but the beauty is that you'll also be freeing up time. Consider some examples: If you do a lot of paperwork, can you require forms to be filled out digitally, perhaps online? This will eliminate a lot of work, and if the database is set up right, eliminate filing. If you spend a lot of time on calls or email, can you provide other ways for people to get info or get things done? Perhaps put up an FAQ online, so common questions are answered (like Google does for its product support), or provide web pages where people can automatically download products or get other things done without you as the bottleneck? Or can you route those requests to someone else? Also unsubscribe from newsletters and notifications and so forth, so you don't have to spend time processing them in your inbox. Consider each email that comes in and ask yourself: "How could this be eliminated?" Can you eliminate meetings, or at least get out of them? How can you get the info except for collaborative projects (which are few and far between). My email time went from half my day to a few minutes a day. calls, following up, checking the quality of work, doing contracts, reviewing terms, clarifying, firing, searching for a better employee/contract company, paying, filling out tax info, and on and on. - I now have almost no admin work to The better solution is to simplify. Eliminate non-essential tasks. And so I did, slowly: - I eliminated comments from Zen Habits, cutting back on a huge amount of work for me. Comments turn a major blog into a forum, where the blogger is the moderator. It takes hours to moderate a major blog, and while I outsourced that for months, it was always a major headache that required a lot of work. Eliminating comments, which only This is not to brag. I know I have it easy compared to most, but this has all been done gradually and on purpose. I created this frictionless work. run my blogs: I write, and publish. Once a month I log into my Paypal account, send out affiliate payments, and transfer money to my bank account (and from there, my bills are automatically paid and money is automatically transferred to savings). - I sell ebooks automatically through e-junkie, and affiliate payments are also computed automatically. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 11 magazine without meetings? How can projects get done without the meetings? If you worked at home, you wouldn't have to commute, or do a lot of other tasks associated with working in an office. It's not always possible, but often you can work towards that goal. Can you drop clients or parts of your business, losing a little income but eliminating all the admin work that goes with it? The free time could be spent creating something that would more than make up for the loss of income. Can you eliminate features that aren't completely essential, so you don't have to do all the work to support those features (similar to how I eliminated comments)? Can you stop worrying so much about growth, customers, competitors, statistics, and so forth -- and focus instead on what you love doing? A great quote by web designer and developer Sam Brown: "I used to stress a lot about my business, my clients, the amount of work I was doing and my competitors � but the minute I stopped worrying about all of that and focussed on just doing great work that I was happy with it really made a big difference, to me and my business." If you think a task is necessary under the current conditions, consider changing the current conditions. These are just a few ideas and questions to get you started, but you can see that by radically rethinking your work, you might be able to eliminate a lot of admin tasks. And free up time for what truly matters. There isn't much else we have to do, except things with our kids and each other. The fun stuff. Much of the friction of living has been eliminated. Errands are minimal too. Mostly it's going to the grocery store or post office, and we moved last year so those are within walking distance. So we often walk to those errands, getting a nice workout and enjoying the outdoors in the process. Housework is minimal. Admittedly, my wife does the laundry, but we share in cooking and cleaning duties, and most of it is painless as we have a pretty sparse home. It's fairly clean all the time. Leo Babauta lives in Guam (soon moving to San Francisco) and is married with six kids. He's a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves writing Zen Habits - his blog that in a couple of years became one of the top blogs on the Internet with 100K+ readers subscribed and counting. He's a published author of a bestselling book ,,Power of Less" Leo's blog is ,,Zen Habits" Leo on Twitter: @Zen_Habits I don't file personal paperwork anymore. I've gone paperless, so all documents that I needed to keep are scanned, and everything else is already digital. Even contracts are done digitally. "The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum." ~ Frances E. Willard commitments as possible. You'd be free to ... well, do what you love most. I can't claim to have done this completely, but I have made huge progress towards a frictionless life. Of course, I still have chores to do (washing dishes, laundry, etc.), but I've eliminated a lot of personal tasks: I'm a big fan of doing nothing, of I don't pay bills anymore. I either pay them in advance if I get a big lump payment, or I set up automatic payments each month. In fact, because all my transactions are electronic, I never go to the bank. solitude and relaxing and playing. So if that's how you use your free time, I'm jumping with joy. You might, however, spend this time creating, and that's one of the true wonders of creating frictionless work and a frictionless life. Spend your time doing what you love, living your passion, making something new and beautiful. You'll be glad you did. However, there will likely be a temptation to fill up your freed time with more email, social networking, blog reading, and so on. I'm not saying you shouldn't do this, but before you do, consider how you really want to spend your time. Do you want to remove the friction just to fritter it away with distractions? I now have almost no admin work to run my blogs: I write, and publish. About Leo Babauta Frictionless Life This concept of eliminating admin work can apply to your personal life as well. Imagine your personal time with as few chores, errands, paperwork, and A Warning It's not always easy to change your work and your life to get rid of the friction of admin tasks, but once you do, it's simply lovely. 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Quick&Dirty Guide to: Meetings � how to make them work "Terri, there's a product meeting at 3 o'clock" "3 o'clock on a Friday? What lamebrain set it up?" "Check the Email, Terri" "Oh." � Kelly Young - Fotolia.com by Howard Flomberg Sound familiar? It is said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee (*1). This saying sums up the popular opinion of committees and meetings. The general consensus is that a committee can do nothing successfully. Let me rephrase that: an unorganized committee can do nothing successfully. You can easily substitute the word "meeting" for the word "committee" they are essentially interchangeable as S o Terri, Ernie, Terri's boss, Greta and four or five of their closest friends go into the meeting. Heck it's only been scheduled - Terri adds insult to injury by asking Greta to take notes. - Marv wonders where the coffee is - Ernie wants to talk about the monthly status report - Terri's boss follows Ernie down that path. for one hour. What can possibly go wrong? Shall I list problems that come up? After the prerequisite hour, Terri tries to - Terri's boss takes over the meeting - Bill and Brett want to know why this meeting was called. call the meeting over, her boss, however has decided that since everyone is here � let's talk about the Christmas party. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine An unorganized committee can do nothing successfully. You can easily substitute the word "meeting" for the word "committee". far as accomplishments. Most qualitative methodologies and decisions involve (evolve in?) meetings. In many, if not most, cases meetings become massive time wasters. In an uncontrolled environment, meetings can and frequently do become confrontational. People tend to go off in tangents and the reason for the meeting rapidly becomes lost. So, how does one control a meeting? Or can a meeting be controlled? Memorandum To: H. Aardvark, C. Jones, L. Lopez, M Miles, P. J. Peterson, S. Sutra and Z. Zaplitney From: H. Lee Date: 07/04/76 Re: Corporate strategy, 07/05/1776 Meeting Room A. at 10:00 a.m. We will be meeting next Thursday to discuss the orientation of our new product, the American Revolution. The Specific Topics to be discussed are: Tactics � will we fight in an open plain or shall we be hiding behind trees? Uniforms � Mr. Washington has requested Buff and Blue, however Mr. Rogers-Clark insists that forest green would give us a decided advantage Living quarters � shall we have the men supply their own tents or can we standardize? If we standardize, we need to appoint a subcommittee to recommend a supplier and pricing. Rank Structure � Mr. Washington insists on traditional military ranks; however our Boston contingent feels that the men should elect their own leaders. How shall we decide these issues? Please email your acceptance to the meeting. If you cannot make this meeting, please tell me who will be representing you. - "Lighthorse" Harry Lee 5. When you send the agenda out, ask for an RSVP. If you are emailing � generate a return receipt. You want to head off the "I didn't know about the meeting." If they approve a return receipt, they'll show up. If your company uses a scheduling program like Outlook� use it. 4. Each topic has a brief description. 3. Topic, time, date and location are prominently placed at the top. Insure that everybody knows the location of the meeting. A fast email the day before the meeting containing this information is not a bad idea. Sending out more than one email IS a bad idea. 2. The names in the agenda memorandum are in alphabetic order. Yes there are people who look at these things as an indication of political power. Head that one off. As a matter of fact, alphabetize the names in all memos that you write. 6. Don't schedule meetings on Fridays please! Especially during the spring and fall. 10:00 in the morning is always a good meeting time � it's long enough before lunch so that they can still sneak out for an early lunch. 1:00 is deadly. People will straggle in. they will be sleepy and non-participatory. If you schedule a meeting for 3:00 (especially Friday at 3:00) you will get what you deserve. If I am an invitee � I'll totally forget it. 7. The memo must go out at least one full business day before the meeting. Two or three days would be much better. More than three days would invite people to conveniently forget. When you see the person in the hallway, you might remind him(*2) once. Any more than that and you will see him avoid you like the proverbial plague. One of my favorite ways to remind someone is to joke � Don't forget Terri, you're bringing the booze to the meeting. 8. At the beginning of the meeting review the agenda. If someone wants to add something relevant to the agenda � ask if everyone agrees. If it's not relevant, Here's how you do it: 1. Prepare an Agenda. Without an agenda you are wasting everybody's time. The agenda should spell out, in some real level of detail, the reason for the meeting as well as the topic to be discussed. See the example above. Without an agenda you are wasting everybody's time. If there is to be a decision, indicate the choices. Any more detail is not needed. This is your guide for the meeting. Stick to these issues. Putting too much information just invites more discussion. 9. Do not allow the meeting to go for more than one and a half hours. Schedule another session if there is a need. Here's why � you have six (?) people in a small room. In today's offices' you need a wrecking ball to open a window. Of course you close the door. Now you have a bunch of Homosapiens all busy converting oxygen to carbon dioxide in a room with poor ventilation. And you wonder why you get sleepy? It's oxygen deprivation(*3) see the discussion below on the "parking lot" 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine 10. The Parking Lot. So Terri brings up her favorite complaint � the striping in the parking lot. She is concerned that someone might trash her '71 Gremlin. Set up a "Parking Lot." Have a place to record topics that need resolution outside of the meeting. It should be either a black/white board or a large sheet of paper in plain view to everyone. So you now say: Terri, we really do need to discuss that, let's put it in the Meeting Parking Lot. This is your secret weapon! You can get poster sized "yellow stickies (*4)" from your office supplies vendor. Stash them somewhere. Once someone finds out that you have the stickies, they will disappear. Take one sheet and put it on the wall. Label it "Parking Lot". The parking lot is where you put those items that will take you down the wrong path. But by posting them you have assuaged Terri's ego. Her idea has been recognized and not ignored. You'll find that in a relaxed environment, after a while when someone brings up an item that is not appropriate, you'll hear a chorus of "parking lot" and laughter. an action has not been resolved either 11. Danger Will Robinson! If at all possible, do not invite your manager (or your manager's manager for that matter). If you do, the meeting becomes his meeting. If you must invite him � establish privately the procedure that you are going to follow and get his support. If he refuses to follow your wishes � get your resume in shape. This one can be a career ender if handled poorly. Try and make that discussion with your boss light. Review the agenda, ask for his opinion, let him know you'll give him a full report, before he says he'll be there. 12. Again, if a topic is brought up that is not on the agenda � steer the conversation back to the agenda � reschedule a meeting to discuss that point or put it on the "parking lot." 16. After the meeting send out a memo promptly reviewing the decisions and any topics assigned to someone. Send Howard on Twitter: @hflomberg 15. Another real important item � If you must ask someone to take notes � NEVER ask a woman. She will hate you for the rest of your life. 14. Ensure that every issue is either resolved or assigned to a person at the meeting for resolution. After the meeting, review each Parking Lot item. Have someone assigned to it. A sneaky way to control these items is to ask: Terri, you brought up `Parking Lot Striping" can you follow up on it? Terri will never do that again. schedule a meeting to discuss it, or appoint a volunteer. *1. I really love camels :-) *2. Is my use of "him" offensive to anyone? If so please accept my apology. *3. I am NOT a doctor or a chemist. This is a totally non- -scientific guess � but it's based on years of experience *4.I call all Post-its "Yellow Stickies" no matter what color they are. That should be my worst habit.. 13. If you notice each item in the agenda is phrased as an "Action Item" For example: Living quarters � shall we have the men supply their own tents or can we standardize? If we standardize, we need to appoint a subcommittee to recommend a supplier and pricing. Discuss each item. If it is too large or important to settle at the meeting have someone follow up on it or schedule another meeting. If you ask, "Who wants to follow up on this?" in most cases you will be greeted by a wall of silence. Ask someone with an interest in the topic to follow up. "Terri, can you follow up on this?" Everyone is relieved that you didn't ask him or her and is staring at Terri. You now have peer pressure working for you. At the end of the meeting, review the action items. Note who has taken the action, if 17. One last point � Spell check the damn thing! One learns by screwing up. We all do. When I was interviewing for a consulting spot, one of my favorite lines was "I've been doing this for many years and I've made a gazillion mistakes. You get them all for free" Hopefully I've saved you from some of them. this memo out immediately, even if you have to stay late to do it. List each action item, who it is assigned to and how will it be reviewed. Don't forget the use a return receipt. If you ask: "Please let me know if you disagree" you probably will not get any response until it's too late, and someone has been ticked off. More successful is the language: "I assume that if no one responds by the end of the week then there are no corrections". Always take an active position. Set up a "Parking Lot." Have a place to record topics that need resolution outside of the meeting. About Howard Flomberg Howard is a Retired Systems Analyst, Adjunct Professor and Author. He lives in Denver, Colorado. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine Getting Things Done... FASTER � Vivid Pixels - Fotolia.com When it comes to maximizing how productive you can be there is a lot of talk about adopting frameworks like GTD or Covey's Seven Habits, cutting down your projects list to the essentials, finding the right tools, avoiding procrastination etc. However in this article I want to discuss another point to increasing your productivity that tends to get overlooked � speeding up your work so that that you will be getting things done faster (for the purposes of this post lets call it GTDF). Pick a set time on a clock or stopwatch and then see how much you can get done before the time runs out. I by James Mallison magine a manufacturing plant. The quicker products can be brought through the construction line to completion, the more productive the Of course there is a catch to all this. We also don't always have to work quickly through our work, though with our jobs becoming stressful and demanding it is becoming increasingly important to achieve more in less time. Also, some projects don't suit well to being done faster, especially those that require lots of brain power and/ or creative thought. However there are those projects that you can work at more plant is considered to be. Why can the same approach not be applied to your own work? You may not be a machine who works 24/7, but the benefits are still clear � get your work done more quickly and it will leave you with more free time to play with. 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine quickly with negligible loss of quality, or as David Allen would call them, the widget cranking projects. With all this in mind, let's look at how we can work faster... to work where you won't be interrupted, disconnect the phone and turn the TV off. While it is difficult to keep focused for any length of time, for those periods we are able to shut the rest of the world out, it's important to take advantage of it. out-dated it slows down the entire production. Likewise you need to have systems in place that help you achieve your goals with minimal complications. GTD is very reliant on speed, with David Allen stating that if you can't add a next action to your system within a few seconds you simply won't do it. The same applies whether you are trying to clean dishes with poor quality washing liquid, or trying to save files over a poor quality network. Find and develop the right tools for all the jobs in your workflow and if something doesn't work quickly enough for you, replace it! Get enough sleep. Eat healthy and take exercise. Set time limits One of the most basic but effective ways to speed up your work is to set time limits. There are two fundamental approaches to using time to your advantage: Maintain energy levels The more traditional approach is to see how quickly it takes you to do the task or project, log the time, and then regularly challenge yourself to beat that time. It's a simple but effective way of keeping your motivation high using your competitive drive, while allowing you to gradually improve your overall speed and efficiency over time. Pick a set time on a clock or stopwatch and then see how much you can get done before the time runs out. This is useful if you have limited time and want to become more disciplined with how you use it. For example, recently I decided to clean out the storage cupboard. However I had to fit it in with my other work, so when I had some spare time I gave myself a thirty minute time limit and set a challenge to see how much I could clear out before the alarm went off. Each person naturally feels more alert at different times of the day, which is where the night owl and early bird terms come from. For instance, if you do your best work in the morning, you can also do your quickest work. Eat healthy and take exercise. This doesn't really need much explanation but if you are physically healthy you're also mentally healthy and this really helps with your energy and focus levels. Get enough sleep. The average person needs around eight hours to gain the full benefits, though this can vary from person to person. Note, that getting too much sleep can be nearly as bad as not getting enough. Well maintained machines don't get tired or have off-days, and though we as humans cannot maintain 100% energy levels all the time, there are measures we can take to stay as alert and energized as possible and not try to work at an high pace when our energy levels are low (you wouldn't try and drive a car on an almost empty fuel tank would you?). Discussing ways of keeping energized and alert is a topic worthy of it's own post so I won't discuss it in detail here, however in brief: Lay the groundwork Imagine again, the setup of a manufacturing plant with its mass production setup. It is a finely tuned and intricate system which is able to create a set number of products quickly and effectively. You can mirror this by having habits, approaches and best-practices in place in your life that encourage fast, efficient functioning. Knowing what works for you and continually optimizing that approach is key to getting things done faster. That way you don't let your bad habits, like procrastination, and lack of knowledge, like not having had any training to use a particular software, slow you down. Keep focused Manufacturing plants are active most of the time, if not 24 hours a day and though you obviously can't be expected to be that active, it is important you stay focused as long as possible on what you are doing so as to build up momentum and in turn speed up your work. For instance, if you have the TV on in the background as you do your work (as I am doing while writing this) it's difficult to keep focused long enough to get any momentum (hence this is taking longer to type than it usually would). As much as possible find a chunk of time 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. Blog: Organize IT James on Twitter: @JMallinson Use the right tools Manufacturing plants have huge, often complex systems in place specifically designed to do their job quickly and productively. If one machine is old and #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine Kanban Changes the Perspective From Wikipedia: Kanban is a concept related to lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. The Japanese word kanban is a common term meaning "signboard" or "billboard". According to Taiichi Ohno, the man credited with developing JIT, kanban is a means through which JIT is achieved. by Stephen Smith K anban is a signaling system to trigger action. As its name suggests, Kanban historically uses cards to signal the need for an item. or implement the Kanban process. I personally like to use index cards but you can use slips of paper, sticky notes, or even digital applications � online or for your mobile device. For the purposes of this article, let's think about our Tasks and Projects as index cards, then you can translate the concept to your own version of this system. First, imagine that each card contains a single Task or Next Action to be completed. Everything on your list can be written on a card which will then be put on the Kanban board in one of two zones: The Queue or Work in Progress (WIP). In the image of the bulletin board, above, you can see that it is divided into three Zones: the left-hand side is for storing cards that are yet to be acted upon; the center area is for cards that you are working on, or have prioritized to be part of your list of "things to do"; the right-hand zone is for collecting and organizing the Tasks and Next Actions that have been completed, these things are Done. Morning Pages entries, or when I am reading. Cards are also generated by tasks that are assigned to me, or to someone on my team, via an input mechanism such as telephone or e-mail. Each new card then simply goes into the Queue and each morning I can assess the situation, choose the tasks that I feel are most important (or urgent), and move them into the Work In Progress (WIP) zone. I would like to mention an important caveat here � the Kanban board is not a replacement for your calendar when it comes to the time-specific information that you need to manage. Remember that according to the principles of Getting Things Done only three things are to be entered into your calendar: 1. Time-specific actions 2. Day-specific actions 3. Day-specific information That's it. Because your calendar is a tool that you use to tell you where you need to be and when you need to be there, or when something is scheduled to happen. Your Kanban board is where you manage Tasks. Use these two tools together for planning your activities. For example, during your Periodic Review you may decide that there are some Most Important Tasks that you would like However, other devices such as plastic markers (Kanban squares) or balls (often golf balls) or an empty part-transport trolley or floor location can also be used to trigger the movement, production, or supply of a unit in a factory. It was out of a need to maintain the level of improvements that the Kanban system was devised by Toyota. Kanban became an effective tool to support the running of the production system as a whole. In addition, it proved to be an excellent way for promoting improvements because reducing the number of Kanban in circulation highlighted problem areas. The wikipedia article on Kanban is a good one, showing how the Kanban system can be used to manage enormous projects and collections of tasks, such as an automobile factory. Most of us don't run car factories, but we can still benefit from the basic principles of Kanban � which are so simple that they will amaze you. How Tasks Enter the Kanban System Create a System That You Enjoy Using As the above article excerpt mentions, there are many ways to "do" Kanban, My process for generating Next Action and Project cards is quite basic, they usually come to me while I am making my daily Journal/ 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine to assign as time-specific (or set a deadline for completion). Enter these in your calendar, or create a Next Action Card with a due date on it. Put that card in the Queue zone. When the assigned time arrives, and your calendar reminds you of the Task, move that card from Queue to WIP. This method will work whether you use a paper planner or a digital calendar/PDA. own energy level, and the external circumstances then choosing those Next Action Cards that fit the situation. I am finding that this system of managing our activities is very helpful to actual productivity. A daily assessment of Next Actions to be completed keeps priorities in perspective, avoiding the mindless churn that so often happens when we get caught up in the day-to-day routine of handling the "fires" and interruptions. It is very important to be able to prioritize our activities, because the tasks and projects shown on this board are things that we do to support the main objective of our jobs � to ensure that our guests have a superior dining experience. This happens out on the restaurant floor, not in the office or at a computer. Write the date of generation on any card that you put into the Kanban system. This will aid you in deciding if an item has gone stale, is not not as important as you once thought, or perhaps its urgency has increased. Write the date that a card was moved from the Queue zone into the WIP zone, for the same reasons listed above. Write the date that the Next Action was completed, in order to make periodic reviews more effective, especially in tracking your accomplishments. Make cards for Next Actions that have been delegated to others, and keep them in the WIP zone, with the date that the task was assigned and the date that it is due. Use a spatial reference for prioritizing Next Actions, more important tasks should be placed in the top left of the appropriate zone, as this is where your eye is trained to look first when scanning a "page" of information. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the usefulness of the Kanban system for your productivity practice. Searching Twitter and Flickr can give you plenty of inspiration for enhancing your own system. Please consider sharing your thoughts and experiences with Kanban, I'll be happy to publish a summary or follow-up article. Simple space limitations will remind you that one can only work on so many things at one time. When you are Done One of the best features of this system, for me, is in the moving of Next Action Cards into the Done zone. This gives me a simple and easy way of reviewing exactly what was accomplished in the previous period (day, week, month, whatever scale you operate on). The real beauty of this system is that it replaces messy handwritten lists and gives an instant overview of what is happening right now. This is especially helpful in recognizing when there are simply too many things happening at once. The concept of the overview provides a tool for managing your current workload and the backlog of Tasks in the Queue and creates a "Pull" mechanism for adding new tasks to the WIP zone. The "Pull" occurs when a task is completed and a space is created when the card is moved to the Done zone. As the cards move from left to right across the board I am able to see and measure the flow of work that is being completed. This visual sense of accomplishment is very gratifying! Moving from Lists to Next Action Cards Changing your personal productivity tools can be a cause of stress and anxiety, so I recommend starting slowly, perhaps with a few sticky notes on the wall used in conjunction with your current system. Learn to capture inputs onto these sticky notes, or perhaps in a similar fashion on your digital device or smartphone. Then take some time to practice and learn the technique of assessing the Tasks and Next Actions that are in progress, or are simply waiting to be started. A list with tens or hundreds of items it unwieldy and in drastic need of perspective. Simple space limitations will remind you that one can only work on so many things at one time. Filling in the Queue and WIP zones can force you to prioritize your Next Actions, assess their validity, and perhaps push them back into the Queue for a more appropriate time. Or simply decide that a particular item on a list is not worth doing after all. Kanban and Delegation I use a Kanban board both in my home office, and in my office at work (I manage a restaurant in a small resort hotel). As you can imagine this system comes in very handy for delegating tasks to my team. Each of my supervisors takes a look at the Kanban board at the beginning of their shift, in order to see which tasks or Next Actions have been assigned to them for the current work period, and they can also see what is planned for them in the future (in the Queue). For example, projects can be completed by multiple people as they can assess each upcoming Next Action by evaluating the time required to complete it, their About Stephen Smith Stephen Smith is currently a restaurant manager who uses basic productivity principles to enhance the guest experience. His Blog: StephenPSmith.com/blog Stephen on Twitter: @hdbbstephen Tips for Maintaining Perspective and Next Action Value Here are a few tips for making your transition more painless and beneficial: #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 19 magazine Focusing on Getting Things Done with Project Management 2.0 Let's have a look at a typical project manager's day. In the morning, he comes to his office and checks his e-mail for messages with project updates. He then spends hours calling his team members, e-mailing them or meeting them in person to collect all the information he needs and to make sure that everything is well and on track... by Andrew Filev ... and after that, the manager has to merge these updates into the project plan. The updates also need to be communicated to the upper management. So the project manager has to make reports and hand them in to the company's executives to keep them aware of the project's progress. The manager also has to follow up on clients' feedback or partners' actions. During the course of the day, he constantly has to resolve issues through another endless series of e-mails, phone calls and meetings. Looks familiar, doesn't it? E-mail is still the most popular project communication tool. An employee on an average project gets between 30 and 100 e-mails per day. The majority of these e-mails contain tasks, change requests and discussions, so it's hard to overestimate the knowledge buried in e-mail inboxes every day. This knowledge often bypasses project management tools like Microsoft Project. Have you ever missed an important email? Or forgot to send a reply to an urgent request? Was it ever easy for you to find an indispensable piece of information buried in the thousands of messages that you have in your inbox? What if you weren't CC'd on that e-mail? It gets even worse when you need to quickly share information that's lost in your inbox with a newcomer. This knowledge, buried in e-mails, causes project managers in too many organizations today to waste hours on transferring information from e-mails into their project management systems and back. As a result, their productivity and efficiency are damaged by this unnecessary routine. Instead of being a project leader, a project manager turns into a project secretary. Traditional project management systems often are not integrated with e-mail. Systems like Microsoft Project are designed with the top-down project management approach in mind and aren't suited well to leverage collective knowledge in an easy way. It means they create dozens of needless, routine jobs for the project manager. Therefore, instead of helping project managers, these systems make the manager's workload even bigger. What if managers could bring this "project secretary" job to a minimum and concentrate on the leadership part of the management job? How much more efficient and productive would the whole team become as a result? Experts say this is possible. The change comes with the growing popularity of Enterprise 2.0 principles applied to project management. Project Management 2.0 relies on the same concepts as Enterprise 2.0. The power of many, also known as collective intelligence, helps to build, maintain and evolve an upto-date picture of operations. Flexible Project Management 2.0 tools merge this picture from various pieces, giving a perfect example of what enterprise social software researchers call ,,emergent structures." The software supporting these two concepts, collective intelligence and emergent structures, open new opportunities for boosting your own efficiency and your team's efficiency by cutting the daily routine and leaving more room for creativity and leadership. They make a project manager's life easier by bringing three major benefits: 0 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Reducing routine work Project Management 2.0 practices and supportive tools eliminate the need for extra meetings, phone calls and e-mails, thus saving you time and letting you focus on getting things done. The best tools in this area are integrated with e-mail. They don't break the habitual workflow, allowing project participants to communicate via e-mail messages. At the same time, they automatically absorb information from emails, which usually bypasses project management systems and is traditionally buried in the team's inboxes. With project management 2.0 tools, this knowledge is shared and available to everybody on the team at any given moment in time. Just imagine: there's no need to call and ask your peer to find the important email from a customer who wanted to make changes in a project schedule. Tasks, clients' requirements, status updates, ideas and project discussions are all captured by a single system, are shared among the project participants and are available at any given moment in time. So even if you need the information when nobody is in the office, you can still get it immediately. No need to call your employee on Saturday evening when you suddenly need to know where the project stands. Besides, there's no need for the manager to manually adjust project plans and individual team members' schedules. Project Management 2.0 lets you to avoid micromanagement by allowing team members to mark updates of their part of the project work in the shared collaborative environment. This gives the project manager the up-to-date picture of where his team and the project stand. The top-down control comes in when the project manager aligns and guides those activities. Project Management 2.0 practices and tools let you gain harmony between top-down and bottom-up management styles. generation technologies enable managers and other members of the project team to view projects differently. Project participants can pick any reasonable subset of tasks, create a view with these tasks and share the view with someone who needs it. It means that more people can collaborate and contribute to the project work productively. Each of these views can be changed by team members as the organization and its environment changes. The whole structure evolves with time. Managers, who have access to more perspectives and to broader views, can align multiple projects, avoid scheduling conflicts and set the right priorities. Flexible, many-to-many structures that allow creating, sharing and easy merging of views are an important part of the Project Management 2.0 approach. This approach enables collective intelligence and leads to collaborative planning. In turn, collaborative planning makes organizations more productive and transparent. Andrew Filev The key to the making the whole organization more productive lays in gaining efficiency for the project manager and his team. Project Management 2.0 tools and practices become a catalyst to important innovations on the organizational level. They let everybody from team members to project managers and corporate executives focus on getting things done and spend less time on routine tasks. Naturally, software will not do the whole job alone, but it empowers people and multiplies their efforts. Project Management 2.0 democratizes project management, bringing it outside of enterprise project management offices to other departments, as well as to small and midsize businesses. It makes companies more agile, projects more controllable and people more productive. Naturally, software will not do the whole job alone, but it empowers people and multiplies their efforts. About Andrew Filev has been managing software teams since 2001 with the help of new-generation collaboration and management applications. His best practices are based on implementation of Enterprise 2.0 software in project management. Now Andrew is an expert in project management, a successful software entrepreneur and the CEO at Wrike. com. Andrew's ideas about improving traditional project management are reflected in his popular Project Management 2.0 blog. Visit Andrew's Project Management Blog Andrew on Twitter: @andrewsthoughts Giving the complete picture of all projects Upper-level managers can access the global organizational view, which gives them a clear picture of where the business stands. Project Management 2.0 tools merge individual employees' to-do lists into one picture that is always up-todate. It means that corporate executives are constantly in the loop with what's going on in the project. The information is always at their fingertips. As a result, the organization's leaders can adjust strategic plans to changes in the business environment much faster. It becomes easier for them to rapidly and cost-efficiently recognize changes and adapt to them. The whole organization becomes more agile and therefore more competitive, thanks to very simple tools and the powerful practices of Project Management 2.0. Providing multiple project views Besides giving an up-to-date picture of internal project operations, the new- #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine 7 ways the new Apple iPad will increase your productivity With the iPad many believe the era of traditional computing is over. The PCs and Macs are not going to be mainstream. The iPad-like devices are. They are great for mass content consumption and... productivity. Here's how. by Michael Sliwinski T he Apple's iPad is still causing lots of controversy all over the Internet and since it's just been shipped, one can already find 2. Pinch and zoom photos, tap articles to make them bigger and better for reading Again, nothing new for the iPhone users, but on this kind of device it's unprecedented - just pinch and zoom or simply tap to read an article better, to see more details, to make sure your eyes are not working too hard. This will make it a perfect computing device for people with sight problems. more messages at the time just because of the cool interface of the new email app - the ,,paper-like" feel to the email messages and ease of use will encourage you to get email done. Of course, the only thing problematic here is the performance of the on-screen keyboard, especially for people like me who are touch-typing. But you can get a bluetooth keyboard for some serious writing. a number of ways the iPad will improve your productivity: 1. There's no ,,right" way to hold it, it rotates automatically to adjust to you iPhone users know this already, but for many folks this can be a new thing - you can just grab the iPad and it rotates to adjust to the way you grabbed it. It doesn't force you to think ,,how to hold it" - just grab it and start playing with it. 4. Single-tasking will improve your focus, 3. Process email inbox to zero beautifully The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. You'll be inclined to process it's a feature, not a bug! People complain about the fact that you can be in one app at a time on the iPhone and will do the same on the iPad... but #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. this actually helps boost your focus and decrease distractions. You'll get more done, one app at a time. 7. Books will encourage readership you'll read David Allen's book again! The iPad is to serve as an eBook reader. You can get all of the issues of this magazine on the iPad's iBooks software and read it on the go. It is the most elegant eBook we've seen so far. It'll help you read more and learn more... also about productivity! 5. One email message at a time in vertical view Similar to the point above, iPad has another focus-boosting feature in its email client - when you rotate the screen you see the email message in a beautiful vertical view and you see only this message, no inboxes, no folders, no clutter, just the message that you can give full attention to. Similarly other iPad apps work this way, making the iPad the ultimate ,,focus" machine. Elegance helps getting things done I've highlighted many times in this post the iPad's aesthetics and the fact that the apps coming with it also look gorgeous and I'm telling you - interacting with pretty tools makes you want to use them more. I should know, I'm using the Interacting with pretty tools makes you want to use them more. 6. Beautiful calendar will encourage planning your Weekly Review The calendar app on the iPad is incredibly similar to the good old-school paper calendars we used to carry around with us. I'm sure this app will encourage more order and better planning... and who knows, maybe we'll finally be able to schedule your GTD Weekly Review more often than once a month? Let's hope so! How will the iPad improve our productivity? Will the apps really deliver on the iPad? Time will tell, but since it's just a bigger iPhone/iPod Touch, I'm sure this device can be a real productivity booster for everyone. It already is for me! Macbook Air and enjoy working on it every day. About Michael Sliwinski 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 application Nozbe.com - now also available as a native iPhone or iPad app. Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe Michael's Blog: MichaelNozbe.com #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine 10 Laws of Productivity You might think that creatives as diverse as Internet entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, industrial design firm Studio 7.5, and bestselling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami would have little in common. In fact, the tenets that guide how they � and exceptionally productive creatives across the board � make ideas happen are incredibly similar. H by Jocelyn Glei ere are 10 laws of productivity we've consistently observed among serial idea executors: of an iPhone app by sketching on paper? Once you've road-tested your idea on a small scale, you'll have loads more insight on how to take it to the next level. 1. Break the seal of hesitation. A bias toward action is the most common trait we've found across the hundreds of creative professionals and entrepreneurs we've interviewed. While preparing properly as you start a new project is certainly valuable, it's also easy to lose yourself in planning (and dreaming) indefinitely. We must challenge ourselves to take action sooner rather than later. The minute that you start acting (e.g. building a physical prototype, sharing a nascent concept with your community), you start getting valuable feedback that will help refine your original idea � and move forward with a more informed perspective. Break each project into smaller chunks that only take a few weeks or a month to complete. 3. Protoype, prototype, prototype. Trial and error is an essential part of any creative's life. As Ze Frank says, usually when we execute an idea for the first time, it kinda sucks. The important thing is to synthesize the knowledge gained during the process to refine the idea, and create a new-and-improved version. Serial idea-makers like Jack Dorsey, Ben Kaufman, and Studio 7.5 all attest: Prototyping and iteration is key to transforming a so-so idea into a game-changing product. insidious habit can make it impossible to ever really complete anything. The best way to avoid it is to write down a simple statement summarizing your objective at the start of each project. (If you have collaborators, make sure there is agreement about the objective.) And then � this is the part we overlook! � revisit it regularly. When scope creep starts to happen, you'll notice. 5. Work on your project a little bit each day. With projects that require a serious infusion of creative juice � developing a new business plan, writing a novel, or just learning a new skill � it's incredibly important to maintain momentum. Just as when you run everyday, the exercise gets easier and easier, the same thing happens with your brain. Stimulate it regularly each day, and those juices start to flow more freely. As Jack Cheng argues in a great blog post, "Thirty Minutes A Day": "the important thing isn't how much you do; it's how often you do it." 2. Start small. When our ideas are still in our head, we tend to think big, blue sky concepts. The downside is that such thinking makes the barrier to entry � and action � quite high. To avoid "blue sky paralysis," pare your idea down to a small, immediately executable concept. Can you trial the idea of a multiday festival with a smaller performance series? Take an idea for a skyscraper and model it in miniature? Work out the flow Rather than being discouraged by your "failures," listen closely and learn from them. Then build a new prototype. Then do it again. Sooner or later, you'll hit gold. 4. Create simple objectives for projects, and revisit them regularly. When working on in-depth projects, we generate lots of new ideas along the way. This can lead to a gradual expansion of the project's goals, or "scope creep." This #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. or a month to complete. The dual benefit of this approach is: (1) making the project feel more manageable, and (2) providing incremental rewards throughout the project. It's crucial to pause periodically to take stock of what has been accomplished � even if there's a long way to go. With projects that require a serious infusion of creative juice, it's incredibly important to maintain momentum. on the research and writing that yield those bestselling books. When you're in execution mode, keep in mind that "unexpected opportunities" also mean distraction from the work at hand. Saying no is an essential part of the productivity equation. 10. Remember that rules � even productivity rules � are made to be broken. Did we say develop a routine? This and other tips here should only be followed as long as they are working. If forward motion has become impossible with your current routine, try something else. Whether it's taking a long distance trip, popping into the art museum, walking around the block, or talking to a perfect stranger, make sure you occasionally shake up your normal routine. Breaking habits offers new perspective and helps recharge us to head back into the fray. 8. Prune away superfluous meetings (and their attendees). Few activities are more of a productivity drain than meetings. If you must meet (and this should be a big "if"), make sure everyone knows what needs to � Illustration by Oscar Orozco be accomplished from the outset. If people are present who don't help out with achieving that objective, let them leave. Qwest COO Teresa Taylor, recently interviewed in the NYT's Corner Office, starts her meetings with the question, ,,Do we all know why we're here?" and then follows with, ,,Does everyone need to be here?" To trim the runtime of internal meetings, you can also try the standing meeting. 6. Develop a routine. Part of being able to work on your project a little bit each day is carving out the time to do so. Routines can seem boring and uninspiring, but � on the contrary � they create a foundation for sparking true insight. In his recent memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about how a rigorous routine � rising at 5am and going to bed at 10pm every day � is crucial to his impressive creative output. (In a side note: Alex Iskold derives a series of lessons for start-up entrepreneurs from Murakami here.) About Jocelyn Glei J.K. Glei is the Director of the 99%, Behance's think tank, which focuses on what happens after inspiration, researching the forces that push ideas forward. She also regularly consults with a wide range of creative clients to assemble strategic plans -- addressing concept, design, execution, workflow and staffing -- to facilitate the launch and/ or growth of content-driven ventures both online and in print. Web site: The 99% 99% on Twitter: @the99percent 9. Practice saying "No." Creative energy is not finite. Seasoned idea-makers know that they must guard their energy � and their focus � closely. Take author Jim Collins for example. His books Built to Last and Good to Great have sold millions of copies. His business acumen and insights are in demand. Yet, "even though Collins demands over $60,000 per speech, he gives fewer than 18 per year." More than that and Collins wouldn't have enough time to focus 7. Break big, long-term projects into smaller chunks or "phases." To help manage expectations and stay motivated for year-long or even multiyear endeavors, break each project into smaller chunks that only take a few weeks To avoid "blue sky paralysis," pare your idea down to a small, immediately executable concept. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by Sculptures by Miguel Guia Perfect Gifts for the Ones You Love Sculptures by Miguel Guia Perfect Gifts for the Ones You Love www.MiguelGuia.com www.MiguelGuia.com