Issuu on Google+

• Michael Bungay Stanier • Alex Fayle • Laura Stack • James Mallinson • • Thomas Groehl • Art Carden • Alex Shalman • Mike Vardy • Michael Sliwinski •

www.ProductiveMagazine.com

magazine Exclusive Interview

Michael

Bungay Stanier on Finding Your GREAT Work

4 Review of Making It All Work 4 How to increase productivity 4 Productive! Show and... Humor

Sponsored by

#3 (August 2009)


magazine

From the Editor

Summer, Twitter... and Great Work By Michael Sliwinski, Editor

A

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

In this issue of the magazine I’m happy


magazine

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

your support!

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!

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by




magazine

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 editor@productivemagazine.com Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich tech@productivemagazine.com 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

Delfina Gerbert

Dustin Wax



12

Laura Stack I spend waaaaaay too much time on...

14

James Mallinson The 5 Big Reasons Why You Fall Off The Productivity Wagon

16

Alex Shalman 11 Practical Ways To Jump Out Of A Lazy Rut

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

18

Mike Vardy The Vacationary

19

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.


magazine

Productive! Magazine interview with Michael Bungay Stanier

Great Work “This is what we want more of. This is the work that is meaningful to you, that has an impact and makes a difference. It inspires, stretches, and provokes. Great Work is the work that matters.”

by Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski: You’re saying that all

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

great work?

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,

work:

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by




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.

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by


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

action...

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

unfolding.

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

Stanier, born

do Great Work by yourself. If you’re

an interesting range of possibilities. And

in Australia,

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

emotional support.

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?

www.FindYourGreatWork.com

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

www.CoachingForGreatWork.com

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by




magazine

The number ONE spot is for losers Stop trying to be number one. Relax and enjoy being simply great. Alex Fayle © pressmaster - Fotolia.com

– “I’m the best.”

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

Alex Fayle

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

of Information

the number one spot away from you.

good reason.

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

SomedaySyndrome.com

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by


Next Tuesday, August 11, 2009 a new Era of Productivity Applications will start with the launch of New Nozbe 2.0

featuring

Use Coupon code PRODUCTIVE to save 10% and start getting things done with www.Nozbe.com


magazine

Productive! Review

Making It All Work by David Allen David Allen’s Making it All Work, the highly-anticipated followup to his blockbuster Getting Things Done, offers a practical and philosophical approach to the problem of defining and processing our stuff.

Art Carden

H

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.”

defined.

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).

tandem.”

Of particular interest is his treatment of the false distinction between work and

Allen is fond of referring to „the Allen encourages his readers

10

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

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by


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

sympathize.

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

resistance.

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

Art Carden

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:

Art Carden

Commander” quadrant of high perspective

capturing, clarifying, organizing, reflecting,

is Assistant

and high control, the „Micromanager/

(for control) and projects, areas of focus,

Professor of

Implementer” quadrant of high control and

goals, vision, and purpose/principles (for

Economics and

low perspective, the „Crazy Maker/Visionary”

perspective). “Engaging/Actions” intersects

Business at

quadrant of high perspective and little

both categories.

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”

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

11


magazine

I spend waaaaaay too much time on... © Lai Leng Yiap - Fotolia.com

I recently asked my readers to fill in the blank to „I spend waaaaaay too much time on...” There were tons of interesting answers, but it didn’t take long to start seeing some patterns. Here are seven most common responses (and what you can do about them) Laura Stack 1. E-mail.

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

email waiting.

week.

CAN take to start getting a handle on it

2. Watching television.

right away:

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

wasted.

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.

12

If you have TiVo or a DVR, that’s even

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

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).


magazine

If I can complete the action in less than two minutes, I just go ahead and do it. Why wait? If meandering around the web is

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.

family time.

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

boring tasks.

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

move on.

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

appointments.

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

chunks.

organization.

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

a meeting:

Forget waiting for a “block of time.”

Laura Stack

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?

Laura Stack

Make sure you aren’t inviting anyone

is a personal

that doesn’t need to have a seat at the

productivity

table.

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

work day.

save time and shorten the attendee list.

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

13


magazine

The 5 Big Reasons Why You Fall Off The Productivity Wagon Although a lot of my readers argue that falling off the productivity wagon is a positive thing, I would also argue that there is a lot to be learned from evaluating how to not fall off so often. Thus I’ve identified the 5 big reasons why people actually do fall off the wagon. James Mallinson Lack of energy

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

wagon.

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

James Mallinson

know it, you get hit by the fuzzy-head

onto the dirt below.

comes from the

syndrome. And in your unclear state, you

14

James Mallinson

UK and is an

hit a bump in the road and go flying off

You’re trying to function at 100%

aspiring author.

the wagon again.

You are not a robot, you are not a machine

He started

(unless you’re some secret Government AI

Organize IT

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

experience.

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.

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by


magazine

Productive! Show launches Our Productive! Family is growing with the launch of Productive! Show - www.ProductiveShow.com - where yours truly is posting weekly shows with productivity tips and tricks. Michael Sliwinski

E

very once in a while I’ve been

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.

more productive.

Inboxes for different purposes Recently I decided to gather these videos together and launch them under our „Productive!” brand... and most of all, post more often – now regularly on

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.

Michael Sliwinski

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

Michael Sliwinski

Francisco.

is your chief editor of the Productive!

Passion – the ultimate productivity

Magazine and

driver

now a host of the

Where I’m sharing my ultimate

new Productive!

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.

doing.

Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

15


magazine

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.

Alex Shalman

I

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

“habit-happy” life.

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

16

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,

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

If you’ve slipped in the clean-as-you go process, you can use the 15 minute


magazine

If you follow the action consistently for 30 days, you will build a habit. Once you’re in the “habit of making habits” you’ll be able to build new ones. rule to get out of your rut. Pick a room,

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

a week.

next day to do some more writing, or else

at the opportunity to tackle what’s

the lazy bug will slip up on me.

important.

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.

reasonable.

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.

Jewish student,

6. Get Back On Track With Writing.

Have you noticed that with laziness comes

son, boyfriend,

In the creation of my site I have made

bad food choices that are high in fats,

classmate, writer

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

relationships.

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

material.

unless it’s a piece of fruit. Using fruits and

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

17


magazine

The Vacationary © Dmitry Ersler - Fotolia.com

I feel that is my duty as your Eventual Productivity Expert to get you “in the know” when it comes to terms that describe that all-important thing you need to take at least twelve times per year: the vacation. Mike Vardy

W

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

Charles).

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.

Mike Vardy

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:

productivity

I just returned from a placation with my

ideology:

wife.)

Eventualism. His blog... eventually: EffingTheDog.com

12. Sheacation – A trip to New York to watch their other baseball team.

18

#03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com

Sponsored by

24. Fakation – A trip you told people you took, but never actually did.

Mike on Twitter: @mikevardy


magazine

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

Sponsored by

19


Find Your Great Work Napkin-size solutions to stop the busy work and start the work that matters

Newest Book by Michael Bungay Stanier www.FindYourGreatWork.com

Buy the Book Now „If I had to pick a person to have dinner with, when I need to be prodded and challenged and inspired to think about the things I really am committed to think about for myself and what I’m doing, I’d pick Michael Bungay Stanier. He has an ability to shake our tree and make us more conscious and responsible about what we know but aren’t willing to admit we know yet. And the best part – he makes it easy and fun. Great work, Michael!” David Allen, author of Getting Things Done


Productive Magazine #3