• Luis Miguel Urrea Guia • Michael Hyatt • Leo Babauta • Jocelyn Glei • • Stephen Smith • Howard Flomberg • James Mallinson • Andrew Filev • Michael Sliwinski •
#5 (August 2010)
4 Cultivating Good Habits 4 Getting Focused Easier 4 Making Meetings Work
4 Productivity on the iPad
From the Editor
Our Magazine joins Productive Firm to receive regular updates By Michael Sliwinski, Editor
am very happy to offer you this
additional in-depth articles and books.
newest, fifth issue of your Productive!
This is why we are launching a new
Magazine. This is a breakthrough
productivity membership site called
issue as I believe we have nailed the
Productive! Firm and both this magazine
way this magazine will be published in the
and my Productive! Show will now be
future and it’s going to be an exciting time
a part of this site. I’m sure you’ll love it.
for you and for our small team.
be interviewing people who are highly Members of Productive Firm will also
We have some really fantastic authors
productive... but are regular people like
receive inside scoop before the magazine
you and me. So I chose one of my closest
publishing regularly for us and we decided
gets published, will be able to read
friends and one of the most famous
to give you a new issue of the magazine
the entire, uncut interview with each
Spanish sculptors – Miguel Guia.
every two months until the end of this year.
issue’s guest and more. Speaking about
In December, based on your feedback,
our guests, this time we decided to try
readership and the experience gathered
something different and you probably
complete name) is a sculptor, an artist who
publishing this magazine, we’ll decide how
don’t know the person on the cover of
also runs a series of successful companies
often to publish issues in 2011.
the magazine. But believe me, you want
in Madrid, Spain. We used to work closely
to get to know him.
together on some projects and I was
We want to give you more productivityrelated content, not only with this magazine but also through short videos,
Allen and Guy Kawasaki... and I should
Luis Miguel Urrea Guia (that’s his
always amazed how he got stuff done. He I got many emails from people saying I focus too much on celebrities like David
quickly became my productivity guru and actually he inspired me to build the first
magazine version of Nozbe – my GTD productivity app. In the interview Miguel Guia explains his way of approaching productivity and cultivating good habits that help him get more done. Continuing the theme of successful entrepreneurs and productivity in small companies, we’ve got great articles by our regular contributors like Leo Babauta (who was our featured guest in the last issue of the magazine), Michael Hyatt and others... Hope you like the new changes to the magazine and how it is coming together. I’m sure you’ll love this issue of your favorite productivity magazine and now, without further ado I encourage you to prepare a beverage of your choice, sit in a comfortable armchair, and grab the iPad to read this new issue of the Productive! Magazine. Enjoy! Yours productively,
Michael Sliwinski (@MichaelNozbe) Founder, Nozbe – Simply Get It Done!
Table of contents
05 08 10
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Michael Sliwinski Ditch the bad habits and cultivate the good ones Interview with Luis Miguel Urrea Guia
Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski email@example.com Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich firstname.lastname@example.org www.blog.mediafun.pl
Michael Hyatt Scheduling Time in the „Alone Zone”
Editorial Team: Lori Anderson
Leo Babauta Frictionless Work: How to Clear Your Life of Non-Essential Tasks
Howard Flomberg Quick&Dirty Guide to: Meetings – how to make them work
James Mallison Getting Things Done… FASTER
Andrew Filev Focusing on Getting Things Done with Project Management 2.0
Stephen Smith Kanban Changes the Perspective
Michael Sliwinski 7 ways the new Apple iPad will increase your productivity
Tribute: Marc Orchant (1957-2007) The Productive!Magazine is dedicated to the memory of a productivity guru, great blogger and a very close friend, Marc Orchant who passed away on 9th December 2007. All articles are copyright © by their respective authors. Productive!Magazine is copyright © by Michael Sliwinski. Getting Things Done® and GTD® are the registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.
Jocelyn Glei 10 Laws of Productivity
Productive! Magazine Interview with Luis Miguel Urrea Guia
Ditch the bad habits and cultivate the good ones by Michael Sliwinski
Q: Who are you and what do you do for living? I’m Luis Miguel Urrea Guia and I’m a sculptor and painter
Q: Please tell me more about what inspires you as an artist? My passion is to make art accessible to everyone with sense of
known under a nickname “Miguel Guia” and I’m also an owner of
beauty, as a sculptor and painter I’m completely in love with art
several businesses and a senior semi-professional athlete – I’m
and as a second generation of an artisan family, throughout the last
the residing champion of Spain in “hammer throw” my senior age
ten years, I have intended to bring back more dignity of art pieces
to homes in all over the world.
Q: What is the rhythm of your day? How do you work? I have intense days, although for a while
As a sculptor and painter I’m completely in love with art.
I have been organizing my time well. I get up early and spend my day on advancing
there are people who can’t live without it. I just
all the necessary matters. My work order is
personally prefer to sleep well during nights
topic and the main points of each action,
to prepare ideas early, analyze what steps
and use every minute of the day constructively
if I have to call I add the phone number,
need to get done to achieve my daily goals,
(and simply enjoy the whole day).
some commentary about the person and
and concentrate totally on these since the very start.
As I have said before, I write down the
the main purpose of the call. Now, at Q: What is your system of productivity
the time of the phone call I have all this
like? How do you use it on daily basis?
information right here in my notebook.
Q: Spain is famous for “siesta” – a midday 2-3 hour nap. I heard you didn’t believe in them? Well, it is not really a matter of belief, it’s a Spanish custom and I respect it. I know
So, to start with I have a notebook
The most important part of my “system”
always on my table and I write down all the
is a blue or green marker – once a task
things I want to do on a given day. I do my
is done, I cross it with the marker. This is
best to see them all through and if I can’t,
very rewarding as it relaxes me as the day
I postpone them for the following day.
progresses to see the page fill in with green.
You have to schedule your day to have enough time for work, trainings and enjoying life. Q: I know you are an early riser. Why is getting up early so important to you? For many years now I have preferred to enjoy the light, peacefulness and good vibration after good rest. No one bothering me with daily things. I’m the first person in the office and I’m getting a lot done before anyone shows up. This way I’m progressing very well throughout the day. I have an expression that perfectly describes this: “if you don’t get up early, you’ll keep on running the whole day with your tongue out of your mouth” trying to catch up with everything. Q: How did practicing sports influence
not allow the company part to destroy
to an organized life. Getting up early, sports
your way of working and self-
the artistic essence of our projects, and
and strength of will are always a good
the business part does not allow the
start. It’s about a conscious decision how
business topics influence the former. As
you want your life to be and how you want
a sportsman, as I have said before, all the
to live it.
Since early childhood I have been practicing sports that required a strong
effort and dedication that is used in this
discipline and compromise with the
field helps me to work better with my team
trainer and colleagues from team.
at work, too.
About „Miguel Guia”
With years, this routine translated into a certain way of living. You have
Q: What tips would you give to people
to schedule your day to have enough
who do not know how to organize
time for work, trainings and enjoying life.
themselves and do not know where
Urrea Guia is a
This kind of physical and psychological
fitness is required in sports like athletics or american football. They help you
and painter, I have been giving little hints all though
develop your will to make the extra effort
this interview. To organize work well, it is
athlete and a
and to pursue your goals.
essential to prepare all the topics in the
businessman. He lives and works in
morning and work through them before all
Madrid, Spain in Europe. His mission
Q: What differences are there between
the interruptions and daily office life makes
is to bring world-class art to every
being a boss of a company, sculptor and
you resolve them improperly.
home (under nickname: „Miguel Guia”) and he’s committed to getting it done.
sportsman? In this life it is all about habits, good As a boss and an artist I’m a bit of
He takes inspiration from masters like
ones.. or the bad ones. You just really need
Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, although
to get rid of all those bad habits and pick
none of them wins. My artistic vision does
up new ones that will help you in your path
Picasso, Dali or Chillida among others. His web site: MiguelGuia.com
Scheduling Time in the „Alone Zone” You schedule time for large meetings, small meetings, conference calls, and phone appointments. If you are like many leaders, you often feel that your life consists of nothing BUT meetings. As a result, there is no time to complete the work you volunteer for, agree to, or are assigned in those same meetings. What can you do? Simple: Schedule time for you. by Michael Hyatt
ou need time for what Jason
2. Weekly appointments. I literally block
Specifically, I try to work on projects
Fried and David Heinemeier
out time on my calendar with the clever
that require extended creativity. I plan
Hansson, authors of Rework,
title of “Office Work.” I generally do this
in advance which projects I am going to
call “the Alone Zone”:
on Sunday night as I prepare for the next
week’s meetings. When I am really on the
Long stretches of alone time are when
ball, I do this a month in advance. The
I am sometimes asked, “How do you
you are the most productive. When you
beautiful thing is that when someone asks
get it all done?” Part of the secret is by
don’t have to mind-shift between various
for that time slot, I can legitimately say, “I’m
scheduling time to get it done. What about
tasks, you get a boatload done. (Ever
sorry, but I already have a commitment
notice how much work you get done on
then.” It’s a commitment to myself.
a plane since you’re offline and there are zero outside distractions” (p. 105).
3. Quarterly reviews. I schedule a day and a half by myself each quarter. I have
But this kind of alone time doesn’t
About Michael Hyatt
written about it on this blog before, so
happen by accident. Like everything else
I won’t repeat myself here. However,
in the leader’s life, you must be intentional,
this is a time when I can reflect back
is the President
if you want to be effective.
over the previous quarter and then look
forward to the coming quarter. It’s an
opportunity to poke my head above the
clouds and see where I am going with
my business—and my life.
I personally schedule four kinds of alone time:
company in the world and the seventh
Long stretches of alone time are when you are the most productive.
largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. Michael has written four books, one of which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Hyatt serves as Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
1. Morning time. I typically get up at 5:00
4. Travel time. I am never more productive
(ECPA). He has been married to his
a.m. I do my most important tasks right
than when I am in an airplane. However,
wife, Gail, for twenty- eight years. They
away, including exercise and reading.
I have to be very intentional. I upgrade
have five daughters and two grand
I also try to get done my single most
when I can. If that’s not possible, I get
daughters and live outside of Nashville,
important to-do item before I leave
an exit row seat. (It’s difficult to be
for the office. Why? Because I know a
productive when the person in front
thousand interruptions and distractions
if you has their seat reclined, and
Michael’s blog: MichaelHyatt.com
await me once I arrive.
their head is practically in your lap!)
Michael on Twitter: @MichaelHyatt
Time and Project Management for Busy Professionals and their Teams
Nozbe web app syncs with native iPad and iPhone apps... and Evernote!
Frictionless Work: How to Clear Your Life of Non-Essential Tasks “It’s not the work which kills people, it’s the worry. It’s not the revolution that destroys machinery it’s the friction.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher by Leo Babauta
ow much of your day is spent doing administrative tasks, and not creating or doing other important work?
Imagine this for a moment: you have no administrative tasks, only the core work that you love doing.
How much time do you spend responding to emails and IMs and social networks,
Is this a pipe dream? Perhaps for some,
making payments, doing paperwork, filing,
who have little control over their work. But
sitting in meetings, driving, doing errands,
if you have a larger degree of control, let’s
and so on? How much of that could be
explore the idea of “frictionless work” or
cleared up for more important work?
even “frictionless living”. If you have little control, consider a
Imagine this for a moment: you have no
purpose. Today, I have a few successful blogs and a handful of successful books. Only a year ago, that required a lot of administrative work — so much so that I hired an admin assistant to help out, and outsourced other work.
administrative tasks, only the core work that
you love doing. Your day has been cleared
My Frictionless Business
for creating, building, doing high-impact
I know I don’t have a typical job, but that
and outsourcing are not hassle-free … each
projects. Isn’t it lovely?
didn’t happen overnight and I did this on
comes with work of its own: email or phone
But assistants, employees, delegating,
By radically rethinking your work, you might be able to eliminate a lot of admin tasks. a tiny minority of readers used, eliminated
What Are Your Admin Tasks?
my need for that admin work or for hiring a
Take inventory of your work: what admin
tasks take up your time? Add to this list over the course of the next couple of days,
- I stopped doing work that required me
because you’re probably forgetting some.
to do paperwork or admin work. That meant losing some income from consulting and
Now ask yourself: which of these can be
other business, but it also meant a lot more
eliminated? Many of you will probably answer,
free time for what I love doing.
“Very few”, because you’re used to the way things are done. “This is how things are done.”
- When a guest writer submits a guest
But that’s an artificial limitation — instead, ask
post, I no longer format the post but require
yourself how it can be changed. How might it
the writer to format it and submit for my
be possible? Think radically different.
review. Mostly now I just need to read over the post and hit publish.
To eliminate tasks, you might have to make major changes over time, but the
- I got out of a bunch of ad networks that were always asking me to do admin
beauty is that you’ll also be freeing up time. Consider some examples:
work. That was a loss of income, but it also simplified my website. Now I sell one ad a
require forms to be filled out digitally,
almost no work — the advertiser presses a
perhaps online? This will eliminate a lot of
Paypal button to reserve the ad, and emails
work, and if the database is set up right,
me the ad image and link code.
- I eliminated email, for the most part, © Paulus Rusyanto - Fotolia.com
If you spend a lot of time on calls or
except for collaborative projects (which are
email, can you provide other ways for
few and far between). My email time went
people to get info or get things done?
from half my day to a few minutes a day.
Perhaps put up an FAQ online, so common
calls, following up, checking the quality of work, doing contracts, reviewing terms,
If you do a lot of paperwork, can you
month (which I’m also eliminating), and do
questions are answered (like Google does - I sell ebooks automatically through
for its product support), or provide web
clarifying, firing, searching for a better
e-junkie, and affiliate payments are also
pages where people can automatically
employee/contract company, paying, filling
download products or get other things
out tax info, and on and on.
done without you as the bottleneck? Or - I now have almost no admin work to
The better solution is to simplify. Eliminate non-essential tasks. And so I did, slowly:
run my blogs: I write, and publish. Once a
month I log into my Paypal account, send out affiliate payments, and transfer money
- I eliminated comments from Zen Habits,
can you route those requests to someone
Also unsubscribe from newsletters and
to my bank account (and from there, my
notifications and so forth, so you don’t
cutting back on a huge amount of work
bills are automatically paid and money is
have to spend time processing them in your
for me. Comments turn a major blog into a
automatically transferred to savings).
inbox. Consider each email that comes
forum, where the blogger is the moderator. It takes hours to moderate a major blog, and
in and ask yourself: “How could this be This is not to brag. I know I have it easy
while I outsourced that for months, it was
compared to most, but this has all been
always a major headache that required a lot
done gradually and on purpose. I created
of work. Eliminating comments, which only
this frictionless work.
eliminated?” Can you eliminate meetings, or at least get out of them? How can you get the info
magazine without meetings? How can projects get done without the meetings? If you worked at home, you wouldn’t
I now have almost no admin work to run my blogs: I write, and publish.
have to commute, or do a lot of other tasks associated with working in an office. It’s not always possible, but often you can work
commitments as possible. You’d be free to
towards that goal.
… well, do what you love most.
However, there will likely be a temptation to fill up your freed time with more email, social networking, blog reading, and so
Can you drop clients or parts of your
I can’t claim to have done this
on. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this,
business, losing a little income but
completely, but I have made huge progress
but before you do, consider how you really
eliminating all the admin work that goes
towards a frictionless life. Of course, I still
want to spend your time. Do you want to
with it? The free time could be spent
have chores to do (washing dishes, laundry,
remove the friction just to fritter it away with
creating something that would more than
etc.), but I’ve eliminated a lot of personal
make up for the loss of income.
tasks: I’m a big fan of doing nothing, of
Can you eliminate features that aren’t
I don’t pay bills anymore. I either
solitude and relaxing and playing. So if
completely essential, so you don’t have to
pay them in advance if I get a big lump
that’s how you use your free time, I’m
do all the work to support those features
payment, or I set up automatic payments
jumping with joy. You might, however,
(similar to how I eliminated comments)?
each month. In fact, because all my
spend this time creating, and that’s one of
transactions are electronic, I never go to the
the true wonders of creating frictionless
work and a frictionless life. Spend your
Can you stop worrying so much about growth, customers, competitors, statistics, and so forth — and focus instead on what
time doing what you love, living your I don’t file personal paperwork anymore.
you love doing? A great quote by web
I’ve gone paperless, so all documents
designer and developer Sam Brown: “I
that I needed to keep are scanned, and
used to stress a lot about my business, my
everything else is already digital. Even
clients, the amount of work I was doing and
contracts are done digitally.
beautiful. You’ll be glad you did. “The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” ~ Frances E. Willard
my competitors – but the minute I stopped worrying about all of that and focussed on
passion, making something new and
Housework is minimal. Admittedly, my
just doing great work that I was happy with
wife does the laundry, but we share in
it really made a big difference, to me and
cooking and cleaning duties, and most
of it is painless as we have a pretty sparse
About Leo Babauta
home. It’s fairly clean all the time. If you think a task is necessary under the current conditions, consider changing the current conditions. These are just a few ideas and
Leo Babauta Errands are minimal too. Mostly it’s
(soon moving to
and we moved last year so those are within
walking distance. So we often walk to
and is married
questions to get you started, but you can
those errands, getting a nice workout and
with six kids.
see that by radically rethinking your work,
enjoying the outdoors in the process.
He’s a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves writing Zen
you might be able to eliminate a lot of admin tasks.
There isn’t much else we have to do,
And free up time for what truly matters.
Habits - his blog that in a couple of
except things with our kids and each other.
years became one of the top blogs
The fun stuff. Much of the friction of living
on the Internet with 100K+ readers
has been eliminated.
subscribed and counting. He’s a
lives in Guam
going to the grocery store or post office,
published author of a bestselling book
This concept of eliminating admin work
can apply to your personal life as well.
It’s not always easy to change your work
Imagine your personal time with as
and your life to get rid of the friction of admin
Leo’s blog is „Zen Habits”
few chores, errands, paperwork, and
tasks, but once you do, it’s simply lovely.
Leo on Twitter: @Zen_Habits
„Power of Less”
© Kelly Young - Fotolia.com
Quick&Dirty Guide to: Meetings – how to make them work ”Terri, there’s a product meeting at 3 o’clock” “3 o’clock on a Friday? What lamebrain set it up?” “Check the Email, Terri” “Oh.”
o Terri, Ernie, Terri’s boss, Greta and four or five of their closest
by Howard Flomberg Sound familiar?
- Terri adds insult to injury by asking Greta to take notes.
It is said that a camel is a horse designed
friends go into the meeting.
- Marv wonders where the coffee is
by a committee (*1). This saying sums
Heck it’s only been scheduled
- Ernie wants to talk about the monthly
up the popular opinion of committees
for one hour. What can possibly go wrong?
and meetings. The general consensus
- Terri’s boss follows Ernie down that path. Shall I list problems that come up?
is that a committee can do nothing successfully. Let me rephrase that: an
After the prerequisite hour, Terri tries to
unorganized committee can do nothing
- Terri’s boss takes over the meeting
call the meeting over, her boss, however
successfully. You can easily substitute the
- Bill and Brett want to know why this
has decided that since everyone is here –
word “meeting” for the word “committee”
let’s talk about the Christmas party.
they are essentially interchangeable as
meeting was called.
An unorganized committee can do nothing successfully. You can easily substitute the word “meeting” for the word “committee”.
6. Don’t schedule meetings on Fridays please! Especially during the spring and fall. 10:00 in the morning is always a good meeting time – it’s long enough before lunch so that they can still sneak out for an early lunch. 1:00 is deadly.
far as accomplishments. Most qualitative
Here’s how you do it:
People will straggle in. they will be
methodologies and decisions involve
1. Prepare an Agenda. Without an agenda
sleepy and non-participatory. If you
(evolve in?) meetings. In many, if not most,
you are wasting everybody’s time.
schedule a meeting for 3:00 (especially
cases meetings become massive time
The agenda should spell out, in some
Friday at 3:00) you will get what you
wasters. In an uncontrolled environment,
real level of detail, the reason for the
deserve. If I am an invitee – I’ll totally
meetings can and frequently do become
meeting as well as the topic to be
confrontational. People tend to go off in
discussed. See the example above.
tangents and the reason for the meeting rapidly becomes lost. So, how does one
7. The memo must go out at least one 2. The names in the agenda
full business day before the meeting.
control a meeting? Or can a meeting be
memorandum are in alphabetic order.
Two or three days would be much
Yes there are people who look at these
better. More than three days would
things as an indication of political
invite people to conveniently forget.
power. Head that one off. As a matter
When you see the person in the
To: H. Aardvark, C. Jones, L. Lopez,
of fact, alphabetize the names in all
hallway, you might remind him(*2)
memos that you write.
once. Any more than that and you will
M Miles, P. J. Peterson, S. Sutra and Z. Zaplitney
see him avoid you like the proverbial
From: H. Lee
3. Topic, time, date and location are
plague. One of my favorite ways to
prominently placed at the top. Insure
remind someone is to joke – Don’t
Re: Corporate strategy, 07/05/1776
that everybody knows the location of
forget Terri, you’re bringing the booze
the meeting. A fast email the day before
to the meeting.
Meeting Room A. at 10:00 a.m.
the meeting containing this information We will be meeting next Thursday to discuss the orientation of our new product,
is not a bad idea. Sending out more
8. At the beginning of the meeting review
than one email IS a bad idea.
the agenda. If someone wants to add
the American Revolution. The Specific Topics to be discussed are:
something relevant to the agenda – ask 4. Each topic has a brief description.
if everyone agrees. If it’s not relevant,
Tactics – will we fight in an open plain or shall we be hiding behind trees? Uniforms – Mr. Washington has requested Buff and Blue, however Mr. Rogers-Clark insists that forest green would give us a decided advantage Living quarters – shall we have the
Without an agenda you are wasting everybody’s time. If there is to be a decision, indicate
see the discussion below on the
the choices. Any more detail is not
men supply their own tents or can we
needed. This is your guide for the
standardize? If we standardize, we need to
meeting. Stick to these issues. Putting
appoint a subcommittee to recommend a
too much information just invites more
than one and a half hours. Schedule
supplier and pricing.
another session if there is a need.
Rank Structure – Mr. Washington insists
Here’s why – you have six (?) people 5. When you send the agenda out, ask
in a small room. In today’s offices’ you
Boston contingent feels that the men
for an RSVP. If you are emailing –
need a wrecking ball to open a window.
should elect their own leaders.
generate a return receipt. You want
Of course you close the door. Now you
How shall we decide these issues?
to head off the “I didn’t know about
have a bunch of Homosapiens all busy
Please email your acceptance to the
the meeting.” If they approve a return
converting oxygen to carbon dioxide in
meeting. If you cannot make this meeting,
receipt, they’ll show up. If your
a room with poor ventilation. And you
please tell me who will be representing you.
company uses a scheduling program
wonder why you get sleepy? It’s oxygen
like Outlook© use it.
on traditional military ranks; however our
- “Lighthorse” Harry Lee
9. Do not allow the meeting to go for more
magazine 10. The Parking Lot. So Terri brings up
13. If you notice each item in the agenda
this memo out immediately, even if you
her favorite complaint – the striping
is phrased as an “Action Item” For
have to stay late to do it. List each action
in the parking lot. She is concerned
example: Living quarters – shall we
item, who it is assigned to and how will
that someone might trash her ’71
have the men supply their own tents or
it be reviewed. Don’t forget the use a
Gremlin. Set up a “Parking Lot.” Have
can we standardize? If we standardize,
return receipt. If you ask: “Please let me
a place to record topics that need
we need to appoint a subcommittee
know if you disagree” you probably will
resolution outside of the meeting. It
to recommend a supplier and pricing.
not get any response until it’s too late,
should be either a black/white board
Discuss each item. If it is too large or
and someone has been ticked off. More
or a large sheet of paper in plain view
important to settle at the meeting have
successful is the language: “I assume
to everyone. So you now say: Terri,
someone follow up on it or schedule
that if no one responds by the end of
we really do need to discuss that,
another meeting. If you ask, ”Who
the week then there are no corrections”.
let’s put it in the Meeting Parking Lot.
wants to follow up on this?” in most
Always take an active position.
This is your secret weapon! You can
cases you will be greeted by a wall of
get poster sized “yellow stickies (*4)”
silence. Ask someone with an interest
from your office supplies vendor. Stash
in the topic to follow up. “Terri, can
thing! One learns by screwing up. We
them somewhere. Once someone finds
you follow up on this?” Everyone is
all do. When I was interviewing for a
out that you have the stickies, they
relieved that you didn’t ask him or her
consulting spot, one of my favorite lines
will disappear. Take one sheet and
and is staring at Terri. You now have
was “I’ve been doing this for many years
put it on the wall. Label it “Parking
peer pressure working for you. At the
and I’ve made a gazillion mistakes. You
Lot”. The parking lot is where you put
end of the meeting, review the action
get them all for free” Hopefully I’ve saved
those items that will take you down
items. Note who has taken the action, if
you from some of them.
17. One last point – Spell check the damn
the wrong path. But by posting them you have assuaged Terri’s ego. Her idea has been recognized and not ignored. You’ll find that in a relaxed environment, after a while when someone brings up an item that is not
Set up a “Parking Lot.” Have a place to record topics that need resolution outside of the meeting.
appropriate, you’ll hear a chorus of “parking lot” and laughter. 11. Danger Will Robinson! If at all possible, do not invite your manager (or your
an action has not been resolved either
*1. I really love camels :-)
schedule a meeting to discuss it, or
*2. Is my use of “him” offensive to
appoint a volunteer.
anyone? If so please accept my apology.
manager’s manager for that matter). If you do, the meeting becomes his
*3. I am NOT a doctor or a chemist. This 14. Ensure that every issue is either
is a totally non- -scientific guess – but it’s
meeting. If you must invite him –
resolved or assigned to a person at
based on years of experience
establish privately the procedure that
the meeting for resolution. After the
*4.I call all Post-its “Yellow Stickies” no
you are going to follow and get his
meeting, review each Parking Lot
matter what color they are. That should
support. If he refuses to follow your
item. Have someone assigned to it. A
be my worst habit..
wishes – get your resume in shape. This
sneaky way to control these items is to
one can be a career ender if handled
ask: Terri, you brought up ‘Parking Lot
poorly. Try and make that discussion
Striping” can you follow up on it? Terri
with your boss light. Review the agenda,
will never do that again.
ask for his opinion, let him know you’ll give him a full report, before he says he’ll be there. 12. Again, if a topic is brought up that
15. Another real important item – If you
Howard is a
must ask someone to take notes –
NEVER ask a woman. She will hate you
for the rest of your life.
is not on the agenda – steer the conversation back to the agenda –
About Howard Flomberg
Author. He lives in 16. After the meeting send out a memo
reschedule a meeting to discuss that
promptly reviewing the decisions and
point or put it on the “parking lot.”
any topics assigned to someone. Send
Denver, Colorado. Howard on Twitter: @hflomberg
Getting Things Done… FASTER © Vivid Pixels - Fotolia.com
When it comes to maximizing how productive you can be there is a lot of talk about adopting frameworks like GTD or Covey’s Seven Habits, cutting down your projects list to the essentials, finding the right tools, avoiding procrastination etc. However in this article I want to discuss another point to increasing your productivity that tends to get overlooked – speeding up your work so that that you will be getting things done faster (for the purposes of this post lets call it GTDF).
Pick a set time on a clock or stopwatch and then see how much you can get done before the time runs out.
by James Mallison magine a manufacturing plant. The
Of course there is a catch to all
quicker products can be brought
this. We also don’t always have to
through the construction line to
work quickly through our work, though
completion, the more productive the
with our jobs becoming stressful and
plant is considered to be. Why can the
demanding it is becoming increasingly
same approach not be applied to your
important to achieve more in less time.
own work? You may not be a machine
Also, some projects don’t suit well to
who works 24/7, but the benefits are still
being done faster, especially those
clear – get your work done more quickly
that require lots of brain power and/
and it will leave you with more free time to
or creative thought. However there are
those projects that you can work at more
magazine quickly with negligible loss of quality, or as David Allen would call them, the widget cranking projects.
Get enough sleep. Eat healthy and take exercise.
With all this in mind, let’s look at how we can work faster…
to work where you won’t be interrupted,
out-dated it slows down the entire
disconnect the phone and turn the TV off.
production. Likewise you need to have
Set time limits
While it is difficult to keep focused for
systems in place that help you achieve
One of the most basic but effective ways
any length of time, for those periods we
your goals with minimal complications.
to speed up your work is to set time limits.
are able to shut the rest of the world out,
GTD is very reliant on speed, with David
There are two fundamental approaches to
it’s important to take advantage of it.
Allen stating that if you can’t add a next action to your system within a few
using time to your advantage:
Maintain energy levels
seconds you simply won’t do it. The same
Well maintained machines don’t get tired or
applies whether you are trying to clean
how quickly it takes you to do the task or
have off-days, and though we as humans
dishes with poor quality washing liquid,
project, log the time, and then regularly
cannot maintain 100% energy levels all the
or trying to save files over a poor quality
challenge yourself to beat that time. It’s a
time, there are measures we can take to
network. Find and develop the right tools
simple but effective way of keeping your
stay as alert and energized as possible and
for all the jobs in your workflow and if
motivation high using your competitive
not try to work at an high pace when our
something doesn’t work quickly enough
drive, while allowing you to gradually
energy levels are low (you wouldn’t try and
for you, replace it!
improve your overall speed and efficiency
drive a car on an almost empty fuel tank
would you?). Discussing ways of keeping
Lay the groundwork
energized and alert is a topic worthy of
Imagine again, the setup of a
it’s own post so I won’t discuss it in detail
manufacturing plant with its mass
here, however in brief:
production setup. It is a finely tuned and
The more traditional approach is to see
Pick a set time on a clock or stopwatch and then see how much you can get done
intricate system which is able to create
before the time runs out. This is useful if you have limited time and want to become
Get enough sleep. The average person
a set number of products quickly and
more disciplined with how you use it. For
needs around eight hours to gain the full
effectively. You can mirror this by having
example, recently I decided to clean out
benefits, though this can vary from person
habits, approaches and best-practices
the storage cupboard. However I had to
to person. Note, that getting too much
in place in your life that encourage fast,
fit it in with my other work, so when I had
sleep can be nearly as bad as not getting
efficient functioning. Knowing what works
some spare time I gave myself a thirty
for you and continually optimizing that approach is key to getting things done
minute time limit and set a challenge to see how much I could clear out before the alarm went off.
Each person naturally feels more alert at
faster. That way you don’t let your bad
different times of the day, which is where
habits, like procrastination, and lack of
the night owl and early bird terms come
knowledge, like not having had any training
from. For instance, if you do your best
to use a particular software, slow you
Manufacturing plants are active most
work in the morning, you can also do your
of the time, if not 24 hours a day and
though you obviously can’t be expected to be that active, it is important you stay
Eat healthy and take exercise. This
focused as long as possible on what you
doesn’t really need much explanation but
are doing so as to build up momentum
if you are physically healthy you’re also
and in turn speed up your work. For
mentally healthy and this really helps with
James Mallinson comes from the UK
instance, if you have the TV on in the
your energy and focus levels.
and is an aspiring author. He started
background as you do your work (as I
Organize IT nearly two years ago after
am doing while writing this) it’s difficult
Use the right tools
he began dabbling in productivity,
to keep focused long enough to get
Manufacturing plants have huge, often
and wanted to share his tips and
any momentum (hence this is taking
complex systems in place specifically
longer to type than it usually would). As
designed to do their job quickly and
Blog: Organize IT
much as possible find a chunk of time
productively. If one machine is old and
James on Twitter: @JMallinson
Kanban Changes the Perspective From Wikipedia: Kanban is a concept related to lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. The Japanese word kanban is a common term meaning “signboard” or “billboard“. According to Taiichi Ohno, the man credited with developing JIT, kanban is a means through which JIT is achieved. by Stephen Smith
anban is a signaling system
or implement the Kanban process.
Morning Pages entries, or when I am reading.
to trigger action. As its name
I personally like to use index cards but
Cards are also generated by tasks that are
suggests, Kanban historically uses
you can use slips of paper, sticky notes, or
assigned to me, or to someone on my team,
cards to signal the need for an item.
even digital applications – online or for your
via an input mechanism such as telephone or
e-mail. Each new card then simply goes into
However, other devices such as plastic markers (Kanban squares) or balls (often golf balls) or
For the purposes of this article, let’s think
the Queue and each morning I can assess the
an empty part-transport trolley or floor location
about our Tasks and Projects as index cards,
situation, choose the tasks that I feel are most
can also be used to trigger the movement,
then you can translate the concept to your
important (or urgent), and move them into the
production, or supply of a unit in a factory.
own version of this system. First, imagine
Work In Progress (WIP) zone.
It was out of a need to maintain the level of
that each card contains a single Task or Next
improvements that the Kanban system was
Action to be completed. Everything on your
caveat here – the Kanban board is not
devised by Toyota. Kanban became an effective
list can be written on a card which will then
a replacement for your calendar when it
tool to support the running of the production
be put on the Kanban board in one of two
comes to the time-specific information
system as a whole. In addition, it proved to be
zones: The Queue or Work in Progress (WIP).
that you need to manage. Remember
an excellent way for promoting improvements
In the image of the bulletin board, above,
that according to the principles of Getting
because reducing the number of Kanban in
you can see that it is divided into three
Things Done only three things are to be
circulation highlighted problem areas.
Zones: the left-hand side is for storing
entered into your calendar:
cards that are yet to be acted upon;
1. Time-specific actions
a good one, showing how the Kanban
the center area is for cards that you are
2. Day-specific actions
system can be used to manage enormous
working on, or have prioritized to be part
3. Day-specific information
projects and collections of tasks, such as
of your list of “things to do”; the right-hand
an automobile factory. Most of us don’t run
zone is for collecting and organizing the
that you use to tell you where you need to be
car factories, but we can still benefit from
Tasks and Next Actions that have been
and when you need to be there, or when
the basic principles of Kanban – which are
completed, these things are Done.
something is scheduled to happen. Your
The wikipedia article on Kanban is
so simple that they will amaze you.
That’s it. Because your calendar is a tool
Kanban board is where you manage Tasks.
How Tasks Enter the Kanban System
I would like to mention an important
Use these two tools together for planning
Create a System That You Enjoy Using
My process for generating Next Action and
your activities. For example, during your
As the above article excerpt mentions,
Project cards is quite basic, they usually come
Periodic Review you may decide that there are
there are many ways to “do” Kanban,
to me while I am making my daily Journal/
some Most Important Tasks that you would like
magazine to assign as time-specific (or set a deadline for completion). Enter these in your calendar, or create a Next Action Card with a due date on it.
Simple space limitations will remind you that one can only work on so many things at one time.
Put that card in the Queue zone. When the assigned time arrives, and
own energy level, and the external
your calendar reminds you of the Task,
circumstances then choosing those Next
move that card from Queue to WIP. This
Action Cards that fit the situation.
method will work whether you use a paper planner or a digital calendar/PDA.
Write the date of generation on any card that you put into the Kanban system.
I am finding that this system of managing
This will aid you in deciding if an item has
our activities is very helpful to actual
gone stale, is not not as important as you
productivity. A daily assessment of Next
once thought, or perhaps its urgency has
When you are Done
Actions to be completed keeps priorities in
One of the best features of this system, for
perspective, avoiding the mindless churn
me, is in the moving of Next Action Cards
that so often happens when we get caught
from the Queue zone into the WIP zone, for
into the Done zone. This gives me a simple
up in the day-to-day routine of handling the
the same reasons listed above.
and easy way of reviewing exactly what was
“fires” and interruptions. It is very important
accomplished in the previous period (day,
to be able to prioritize our activities, because
was completed, in order to make periodic
week, month, whatever scale you operate
the tasks and projects shown on this board
reviews more effective, especially in
on). The real beauty of this system is that it
are things that we do to support the main
tracking your accomplishments.
replaces messy handwritten lists and gives
objective of our jobs – to ensure that our
an instant overview of what is happening
guests have a superior dining experience.
been delegated to others, and keep them
right now. This is especially helpful in
This happens out on the restaurant floor, not
in the WIP zone, with the date that the task
recognizing when there are simply too many
in the office or at a computer.
was assigned and the date that it is due.
Write the date that a card was moved
Write the date that the Next Action
Make cards for Next Actions that have
Use a spatial reference for prioritizing
things happening at once. The concept of the overview provides a tool for managing your
Moving from Lists to Next Action Cards
Next Actions, more important tasks should
current workload and the backlog of Tasks in
Changing your personal productivity tools
be placed in the top left of the appropriate
the Queue and creates a “Pull” mechanism
can be a cause of stress and anxiety, so
zone, as this is where your eye is trained
for adding new tasks to the WIP zone.
I recommend starting slowly, perhaps
to look first when scanning a “page” of
with a few sticky notes on the wall used in
The “Pull” occurs when a task is
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it
completed and a space is created when
conjunction with your current system. Learn
the card is moved to the Done zone. As
to capture inputs onto these sticky notes, or
comes to the usefulness of the Kanban system
the cards move from left to right across the
perhaps in a similar fashion on your digital
for your productivity practice. Searching
board I am able to see and measure the flow
device or smartphone. Then take some
Twitter and Flickr can give you plenty of
of work that is being completed. This visual
time to practice and learn the technique of
inspiration for enhancing your own system.
sense of accomplishment is very gratifying!
assessing the Tasks and Next Actions that are
Please consider sharing your thoughts and
in progress, or are simply waiting to be started.
experiences with Kanban, I’ll be happy
Kanban and Delegation
to publish a summary or follow-up article.
A list with tens or hundreds of items
I use a Kanban board both in my home
it unwieldy and in drastic need of
office, and in my office at work (I manage
perspective. Simple space limitations
a restaurant in a small resort hotel). As you
will remind you that one can only work
can imagine this system comes in very
on so many things at one time. Filling in
handy for delegating tasks to my team.
the Queue and WIP zones can force you
Each of my supervisors takes a look at the
to prioritize your Next Actions, assess their
Kanban board at the beginning of their shift,
validity, and perhaps push them back into
in order to see which tasks or Next Actions
the Queue for a more appropriate time. Or
have been assigned to them for the current
simply decide that a particular item on a list
work period, and they can also see what is
is not worth doing after all.
planned for them in the future (in the Queue). For example, projects can be completed
About Stephen Smith
Tips for Maintaining Perspective and Next
enhance the guest experience.
by multiple people as they can assess
each upcoming Next Action by evaluating
Here are a few tips for making your
His Blog: StephenPSmith.com/blog
the time required to complete it, their
transition more painless and beneficial:
Stephen on Twitter: @hdbbstephen
Focusing on Getting Things Done with Project Management 2.0 Let’s have a look at a typical project manager’s day. In the morning, he comes to his office and checks his e-mail for messages with project updates. He then spends hours calling his team members, e-mailing them or meeting them in person to collect all the information he needs and to make sure that everything is well and on track...
by Andrew Filev
... and after that, the manager has to
indispensable piece of information buried in the thousands of messages that you have
“project secretary” job to a minimum and
The updates also need to be communicated
in your inbox? What if you weren’t CC’d on
concentrate on the leadership part of the
to the upper management. So the project
that e-mail? It gets even worse when you
management job? How much more efficient
manager has to make reports and hand
need to quickly share information that’s lost
and productive would the whole team
them in to the company’s executives to
in your inbox with a newcomer.
become as a result? Experts say this is
keep them aware of the project’s progress.
The manager also has to follow up on
This knowledge, buried in e-mails, causes
clients’ feedback or partners’ actions.
project managers in too many organizations
During the course of the day, he constantly
today to waste hours on transferring
popularity of Enterprise 2.0 principles
has to resolve issues through another
information from e-mails into their project
applied to project management. Project
endless series of e-mails, phone calls and
management systems and back. As a
Management 2.0 relies on the same
result, their productivity and efficiency are
concepts as Enterprise 2.0. The power of
damaged by this unnecessary routine.
many, also known as collective intelligence,
Instead of being a project leader, a project
helps to build, maintain and evolve an up-
manager turns into a project secretary.
to-date picture of operations. Flexible
Looks familiar, doesn’t it? E-mail is still the most popular project communication tool. An employee on an average project gets between 30 and 100 e-mails per day.
The change comes with the growing
Project Management 2.0 tools merge this Traditional project management systems
picture from various pieces, giving a perfect
The majority of these e-mails contain tasks,
often are not integrated with e-mail.
example of what enterprise social software
change requests and discussions, so it’s
Systems like Microsoft Project are designed
researchers call „emergent structures.” The
hard to overestimate the knowledge buried
with the top-down project management
software supporting these two concepts,
in e-mail inboxes every day. This knowledge
approach in mind and aren’t suited well
collective intelligence and emergent
often bypasses project management tools
to leverage collective knowledge in an
structures, open new opportunities for
like Microsoft Project.
easy way. It means they create dozens
boosting your own efficiency and your
of needless, routine jobs for the project
team’s efficiency by cutting the daily routine
manager. Therefore, instead of helping
and leaving more room for creativity and
mail? Or forgot to send a reply to an urgent
project managers, these systems make the
leadership. They make a project manager’s
request? Was it ever easy for you to find an
manager’s workload even bigger.
life easier by bringing three major benefits:
Have you ever missed an important e-
What if managers could bring this
merge these updates into the project plan.
magazine Reducing routine work Project Management 2.0 practices and supportive tools eliminate the need for extra meetings, phone calls and e-mails,
Naturally, software will not do the whole job alone, but it empowers people and multiplies their efforts.
thus saving you time and letting you focus on getting things done. The best tools in
generation technologies enable managers
this area are integrated with e-mail. They
and other members of the project team
organization more productive lays in
The key to the making the whole
don’t break the habitual workflow, allowing
to view projects differently. Project
gaining efficiency for the project manager
project participants to communicate via
participants can pick any reasonable sub-
and his team. Project Management 2.0
e-mail messages. At the same time, they
set of tasks, create a view with these tasks
tools and practices become a catalyst to
automatically absorb information from e-
and share the view with someone who
important innovations on the organizational
mails, which usually bypasses project
needs it. It means that more people can
level. They let everybody from team
management systems and is traditionally
collaborate and contribute to the project
members to project managers and
buried in the team’s inboxes.
corporate executives focus on getting things done and spend less time on
With project management 2.0 tools,
Each of these views can be changed
routine tasks. Naturally, software will not
this knowledge is shared and available to
by team members as the organization
do the whole job alone, but it empowers
everybody on the team at any given moment
and its environment changes. The whole
people and multiplies their efforts. Project
in time. Just imagine: there’s no need to call
structure evolves with time. Managers, who
Management 2.0 democratizes project
and ask your peer to find the important e-
have access to more perspectives and to
management, bringing it outside of
mail from a customer who wanted to make
broader views, can align multiple projects,
enterprise project management offices to
changes in a project schedule. Tasks, clients’
avoid scheduling conflicts and set the right
other departments, as well as to small and
requirements, status updates, ideas and
priorities. Flexible, many-to-many structures
midsize businesses. It makes companies
project discussions are all captured by a
that allow creating, sharing and easy
more agile, projects more controllable and
single system, are shared among the project
merging of views are an important part of
people more productive.
participants and are available at any given
the Project Management 2.0 approach. This
moment in time. So even if you need the
approach enables collective intelligence
information when nobody is in the office,
and leads to collaborative planning. In turn,
you can still get it immediately. No need to
collaborative planning makes organizations
call your employee on Saturday evening
more productive and transparent.
About Andrew Filev Andrew Filev
when you suddenly need to know where the project stands. Besides, there’s no need for
Giving the complete picture of all projects
the manager to manually adjust project plans
Upper-level managers can access the
and individual team members’ schedules.
global organizational view, which gives
them a clear picture of where the business
stands. Project Management 2.0 tools
with the help
avoid micromanagement by allowing team
merge individual employees’ to-do lists
of new-generation collaboration
members to mark updates of their part of
into one picture that is always up-to-
and management applications.
the project work in the shared collaborative
date. It means that corporate executives
His best practices are based on
environment. This gives the project manager
are constantly in the loop with what’s
implementation of Enterprise 2.0
the up-to-date picture of where his team
going on in the project. The information
software in project management.
and the project stand. The top-down
is always at their fingertips. As a result,
Now Andrew is an expert in project
control comes in when the project manager
the organization’s leaders can adjust
management, a successful software
aligns and guides those activities. Project
strategic plans to changes in the business
entrepreneur and the CEO at Wrike.
Management 2.0 practices and tools let
environment much faster. It becomes easier
com. Andrew’s ideas about improving
you gain harmony between top-down and
for them to rapidly and cost-efficiently
traditional project management
bottom-up management styles.
recognize changes and adapt to them. The
are reflected in his popular Project
whole organization becomes more agile
Management 2.0 blog.
Project Management 2.0 lets you to
Providing multiple project views
and therefore more competitive, thanks
Besides giving an up-to-date picture
to very simple tools and the powerful
Visit Andrew’s Project Management Blog
of internal project operations, the new-
practices of Project Management 2.0.
Andrew on Twitter: @andrewsthoughts
7 ways the new Apple iPad will increase your productivity With the iPad many believe the era of traditional computing is over. The PCs and Macs are not going to be mainstream. The iPad-like devices are. They are great for mass content consumption and... productivity. Here’s how. by Michael Sliwinski
he Apple’s iPad is still causing
2. Pinch and zoom photos, tap articles
more messages at the time just because
lots of controversy all over the
to make them bigger and better for
of the cool interface of the new email
Internet and since it’s just been
app - the „paper-like” feel to the email
shipped, one can already find
Again, nothing new for the iPhone
messages and ease of use will encourage
a number of ways the iPad will improve
users, but on this kind of device it’s
you to get email done. Of course, the only
unprecedented - just pinch and zoom or
thing problematic here is the performance
simply tap to read an article better, to see
of the on-screen keyboard, especially
1. There’s no „right” way to hold it, it
more details, to make sure your eyes are
for people like me who are touch-typing.
rotates automatically to adjust to you
not working too hard. This will make it a
But you can get a bluetooth keyboard for
iPhone users know this already, but
perfect computing device for people with
some serious writing.
for many folks this can be a new
4. Single-tasking will improve your focus,
thing - you can just grab the iPad and
it rotates to adjust to the way you
3. Process email inbox to zero beautifully
it’s a feature, not a bug!
grabbed it. It doesn’t force you to think
The beautiful all new interface to email
People complain about the fact that you
„how to hold it” - just grab it and start
will make processing messages to zero
can be in one app at a time on the iPhone
playing with it.
fun and cool. You’ll be inclined to process
and will do the same on the iPad... but
The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. this actually helps boost your focus and
7. Books will encourage readership -
decrease distractions. You’ll get more
you’ll read David Allen’s book again!
done, one app at a time.
The iPad is to serve as an eBook reader. You can get all of the issues of this
5. One email message at a time in vertical
magazine on the iPad’s iBooks software
and read it on the go. It is the most elegant
Similar to the point above, iPad has
eBook we’ve seen so far. It’ll help you
another focus-boosting feature in its email
read more and learn more... also about
client - when you rotate the screen you see
the email message in a beautiful vertical view and you see only this message, no
Elegance helps getting things done
inboxes, no folders, no clutter, just the
I’ve highlighted many times in this post
message that you can give full attention
the iPad’s aesthetics and the fact that the
to. Similarly other iPad apps work this
apps coming with it also look gorgeous
way, making the iPad the ultimate „focus”
and I’m telling you - interacting with
pretty tools makes you want to use them more. I should know, I’m using the
About Michael Sliwinski
Interacting with pretty tools makes you want to use them more.
Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive!
6. Beautiful calendar will encourage
Macbook Air and enjoy working on it
planning your Weekly Review
now a host of the new Productive! Show site. Every
The calendar app on the iPad is incredibly similar to the good old-school paper calendars
How will the iPad improve our
day he’s trying to help people get
we used to carry around with us. I’m sure this
productivity? Will the apps really deliver on
more done with his web application
app will encourage more order and better
the iPad? Time will tell, but since it’s just
Nozbe.com - now also available as a
planning... and who knows, maybe we’ll finally
a bigger iPhone/iPod Touch, I’m sure this
native iPhone or iPad app.
be able to schedule your GTD Weekly Review
device can be a real productivity booster
Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe
more often than once a month? Let’s hope so!
for everyone. It already is for me!
Michael’s Blog: MichaelNozbe.com
10 Laws of Productivity
You might think that creatives as diverse as Internet entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, industrial design firm Studio 7.5, and bestselling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami would have little in common. In fact, the tenets that guide how they – and exceptionally productive creatives across the board – make ideas happen are incredibly similar.
by Jocelyn Glei ere are 10 laws of productivity
of an iPhone app by sketching on paper?
we’ve consistently observed
Once you’ve road-tested your idea on a
among serial idea executors:
small scale, you’ll have loads more insight on how to take it to the next level.
1. Break the seal of hesitation. A bias toward action is the most common trait we’ve found across the hundreds of creative professionals and entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed. While preparing
Break each project into smaller chunks that only take a few weeks or a month to complete.
properly as you start a new project is certainly valuable, it’s also easy to lose
3. Protoype, prototype, prototype.
insidious habit can make it impossible to
yourself in planning (and dreaming)
Trial and error is an essential part of any
ever really complete anything. The best
indefinitely. We must challenge ourselves
creative’s life. As Ze Frank says, usually when
way to avoid it is to write down a simple
to take action sooner rather than later. The
we execute an idea for the first time, it kinda
statement summarizing your objective
minute that you start acting (e.g. building
sucks. The important thing is to synthesize the
at the start of each project. (If you have
a physical prototype, sharing a nascent
knowledge gained during the process to refine
collaborators, make sure there is agreement
concept with your community), you start
the idea, and create a new-and-improved
about the objective.) And then – this is the
getting valuable feedback that will help
version. Serial idea-makers like Jack Dorsey,
part we overlook! – revisit it regularly. When
refine your original idea – and move
Ben Kaufman, and Studio 7.5 all attest:
scope creep starts to happen, you’ll notice.
forward with a more informed perspective.
Prototyping and iteration is key to transforming a so-so idea into a game-changing product.
5. Work on your project a little bit each day.
2. Start small.
Rather than being discouraged by your
With projects that require a serious infusion of
When our ideas are still in our head, we
“failures,” listen closely and learn from them.
creative juice – developing a new business plan,
tend to think big, blue sky concepts. The
Then build a new prototype. Then do it again.
writing a novel, or just learning a new skill – it’s
downside is that such thinking makes the
Sooner or later, you’ll hit gold.
incredibly important to maintain momentum.
barrier to entry – and action – quite high. To
Just as when you run everyday, the exercise
avoid “blue sky paralysis,” pare your idea
4. Create simple objectives for projects,
gets easier and easier, the same thing happens
down to a small, immediately executable
and revisit them regularly.
with your brain. Stimulate it regularly each day,
concept. Can you trial the idea of a multi-
When working on in-depth projects, we
and those juices start to flow more freely. As
day festival with a smaller performance
generate lots of new ideas along the way.
Jack Cheng argues in a great blog post, “Thirty
series? Take an idea for a skyscraper and
This can lead to a gradual expansion of
Minutes A Day”: “the important thing isn’t how
model it in miniature? Work out the flow
the project’s goals, or “scope creep.” This
much you do; it’s how often you do it.”
The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. or a month to complete. The dual benefit
on the research and writing that yield
of this approach is: (1) making the project
those bestselling books. When you’re
feel more manageable, and (2) providing
in execution mode, keep in mind that
incremental rewards throughout the
“unexpected opportunities” also mean
project. It’s crucial to pause periodically to
distraction from the work at hand. Saying
take stock of what has been accomplished
no is an essential part of the productivity
– even if there’s a long way to go.
With projects that require a serious infusion of creative juice, it’s incredibly
10. Remember that rules – even
important to maintain momentum.
productivity rules – are made to be broken.
© Illustration by Oscar Orozco
8. Prune away superfluous meetings
Did we say develop a routine? This and
(and their attendees).
other tips here should only be followed as
Few activities are more of a productivity
long as they are working. If forward motion
drain than meetings. If you must meet
has become impossible with your current
(and this should be a big “if”), make
routine, try something else. Whether
sure everyone knows what needs to
it’s taking a long distance trip, popping
be accomplished from the outset. If
into the art museum, walking around the
people are present who don’t help out
block, or talking to a perfect stranger,
6. Develop a routine.
with achieving that objective, let them
make sure you occasionally shake up your
Part of being able to work on your project
leave. Qwest COO Teresa Taylor, recently
normal routine. Breaking habits offers new
a little bit each day is carving out the
interviewed in the NYT’s Corner Office,
perspective and helps recharge us to head
time to do so. Routines can seem boring
starts her meetings with the question,
back into the fray.
and uninspiring, but – on the contrary
„Do we all know why we’re here?” and
– they create a foundation for sparking
then follows with, „Does everyone need to
true insight. In his recent memoir, What
be here?” To trim the runtime of internal
I Talk About When I Talk About Running,
meetings, you can also try the standing
famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami
writes about how a rigorous routine –
About Jocelyn Glei J.K. Glei is
rising at 5am and going to bed at 10pm
9. Practice saying “No.”
every day – is crucial to his impressive
Creative energy is not finite. Seasoned
of the 99%,
creative output. (In a side note: Alex Iskold
idea-makers know that they must guard
derives a series of lessons for start-up
their energy – and their focus – closely.
entrepreneurs from Murakami here.)
Take author Jim Collins for example. His
focuses on what
books Built to Last and Good to Great
happens after inspiration, researching
7. Break big, long-term projects into
have sold millions of copies. His business
the forces that push ideas forward.
smaller chunks or “phases.”
acumen and insights are in demand.
She also regularly consults with a wide
Yet, “even though Collins demands over
range of creative clients to assemble
motivated for year-long or even multi-
$60,000 per speech, he gives fewer than
strategic plans — addressing concept,
year endeavors, break each project into
18 per year.” More than that and Collins
design, execution, workflow and
smaller chunks that only take a few weeks
wouldn’t have enough time to focus
staffing — to facilitate the launch and/
To help manage expectations and stay
or growth of content-driven ventures
To avoid “blue sky paralysis,” pare your idea down to a small, immediately executable concept.
both online and in print. Web site: The 99% 99% on Twitter: @the99percent
Sculptures by Miguel Guia Perfect Gifts for the Ones You Love
Sculptures by Miguel Guia Perfect Gifts for the Ones You Love