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