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• Michael Hyatt • Pat Brans • Chris Edgar • Leo Babauta • Howard Flomberg • Mike Vardy • Michael Sliwinski •


Exclusive Interview

Michael Hyatt

on Responsiveness, Leadership and Social Media...

4 How to Deal with Procrastination 4 Which Laws and Policies Help Achieve Goals 4 How Breathing and Being Present Impacts Productivity Sponsored by

#7 (January/Feburary 2011)


From the Editor

Leadership and Laws of Productivity By Michael Sliwinski, Editor


his is issue #7 of your trusty productivity magazine. This is the January/Feburary issue and we’re aiming to bring you a fresh new issue of Productive! Magazine every two months this year and we’ll see how it goes. Here’s to great 2011!

Meet Michael Hyatt I’ve been following Michael for more than 5 years, back in the day when we were both using Toshiba M200 TabletPCs and he was already a recognized blogger with his “Working Smart” blog. Reading his blogs and accepting his guidance

and advice, he became my role model – a successful business person (CEO of one of the biggest publishing companies in the world), a leader and blogger (just check out his blog), a family man and a father (with 5 daughters and loving wife), a productivity guru and technology geek (now you tell me we don’t have a lot in common) and a practicing Christian (being Catholic I’m a follower of Christ myself). You might know Michael for his contributions to this magazine in the past. This time around he is contributing directly as the interviewee for this issue of

the magazine. Last November on my business trip to the USA we finally met in person over lunch and we had a great time getting to know each other. I asked him to do an interview later on and he agreed. It’s a great read as you’ll learn from Mike a lot about leadership, productivity, work–life balance and how it all relates to personal health, too.

Laws and rules of Productivity This issue’s theme is around certain laws of productivity that we need to obey to be more productive. Pat Brans teaches us the law of being present, Chris Ed-

! Links: Michael on Twitter | Productive! Firm web site | Michael Sliwinski’s Blog: “Internet Business Productivity”


gar explains the 3 rules of breathing in order to keep the body productive, Leo Babauta breaks down for us the law of procrastination and what to do about it, Howard Flomberg analyzes Murphy’s Law and other rules that impact our productivity, Mike Vardy convinces us in his humorous style that being a “Yes Man” is a great choice if you don’t want to get anything done and finally I show you my way of looking at New Year’s Resolutions. The site – home of the Productive! Magazine and Productive! Show is growing and in this issue I share with you my recent short video show episodes so that you can enjoy some additional trips and tricks that work for me. I encourage you to share this magazine with as many people as you can – everyone needs some inspirational pieces of advice for 2011 and beyond in order to be able to make great things happen. Yours productively, Michael Sliwinski

Editor in Chief Productive! Magazine


Table of contents 05

Michael Sliwinski Being a Responsive Social Leader Interview with Michael Hyatt

10 12

14 16 18 20


Pat Brans Being Present

Productive!Magazine Sponsor:

Chris Edgar Three Ways Your Breathing Can Help Your Productivity Leo Babauta The Little Book of Procrastination Remedies Michael Sliwinski A New Policy for 2011 is better than a Resolution Howard Flomberg Laws and other Observations Michael Sliwinski Productive! Show Videos Clutter–free Home Office, Smartphones and Skiing Mike Vardy Affirmative Inaction

Your Online tool for Getting Things Done – available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone. Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski

Technical Editor: Piotr Wozniak

Technical Advisor: Maciej Budzich

Editorial Team: Lori Anderson

Delfina Gerbert

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.


Michael Sliwinski: You are a busy, busy CEO of a big publishing company – Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the States. How do you find time for blogging and tweeting and everything? Michael Hyatt: Well, I think social media really represents the future. And one of my primary jobs as CEO is to network with other people that can help my company and that can help us get visibility for our products and some for our mission. I’ve also found out that social networking (in particular blogging) is a fantastic way to do that. Plus it helps me to sort through my own thinking and make sure’ that I understand what it is that I believe about various topics and my point of view.

MS: And people in your company? What do they think about you being so open?

Interview with Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson.

Being a Responsive Social Leader On Leadership, Getting Things Done, Work–life balance, Health and Social Media.

MH: I think they like it. I have been doing it for several years now. I’ve been blogging for about a decade and in earnest since I’ve became the president and a CEO back in 2003. So I really have been doing it for a while and really been encouraging people in my company to do it. I showed it on twitter about two and a half years ago and I really tried to encourage my people, my employees, to engage there as well as on Facebook. And I think they like it – they get direct access to me.

MS: This magazine is about productivity so please tell me how do you make time for all this? MH: I don’t really think it takes that much time. If you just take the Twitter, and I’ve run numbers on it, in fact at my blog I’ve got an article called “how long does the twittering actually take?”. And basically I spend 20 or 30 minutes a day. Usually in the morning or later on in the afternoon, as I’m reading through RSS


When you’re responsive, people think of you: “Man, he must be really smart, really sharp and really on top of his business and must really be organized”. feeds or other articles and I find something that I think will be helpful I tweet it out, or I schedule it to be twittered out later on during the day. Blogging is a little bit more time intensive, but I usually do that in the evenings or more particularly on the weekends. But again I don’t think you can find the time for it if you see it as additional task. But if you see it as inter–goal to what you are supposed to be doing in your job, like for me as a CEO getting visibility for my company and networking, then it is easy to make time for it.

MS: Mike, it took you years to get the to the position where you are right now (career– wise). Can you name at least 3 key factors that helped you achieve your success as a blogger and CEO of a big company? MH: I would say a couple of things. One is, I think, just being humble and trying to learn from other people. I’ve experienced in addition to some early success some stupendous failures which kept me humble along the way. I tell people I have basically failed my way forward, but I think the willingness to continue to learn helped me succeed. I think also responsiveness is something that can really separate you from everybody else in today’s culture. So many people are overwhelmed with email and with other inbox chores that it takes them forever to respond. And just by responding quickly, and I really believe in David Allen’s “2 minute rule”, if you can respond quickly it can differentiate you and make you stand out from the crowd. Other then that, just the usual things and trying to be diligent, work hard, surround yourself with smart people, the usual things that you hear.

MS: I was counting on you to mention: “responsiveness”. This is the advice you wrote back in the day of your old “working smart” blog. You said that it was your key. It got stuck in my mind, so whenever I have a backlog of emails I just schedule 2–3 hours to get back to 0. MH: Yeah, it is really hugely important to do that. I get people all the time that get back to me and write “i can’t believe you got back to me so quickly”. And then I have a few people, that frankly are friends of mine, that are still way better than me. One of them is a board member and he responds almost instantly and it’s always impressive to me. I know I can always count on him and it makes me imputing him other qualities like “man you must be really smart, really sharp and really on top of his business and must really be organized”. This kind of summarizes someone being so responsive.

MS: Tell me about Getting Things Done. You have written about Getting Things Done, you are using GTD apps. So tell me what are the key characteristics or key features of GTD, apart from the 2–minute rule, that you use everyday? And that you think are always there? MH: I think, and I have written about this before, it’s really important to use a to– do list manager as your command center. So to begin and end the day with what it is you are setting out to accomplish. One of the things that I love about Nozbe is that it is so seamless in my work flow now. And, as I have told you, I’ve converted from another Mac program primarily because it wasn’t in a cloud. The thing I like about Nozbe is that wherever I am, if I have any kind of

a device with me... whether it is an iPhone or an iPad or my Macbook Air, I’ve got my to–do list. And this is how I really have to work. I cannot be away from my desktop and leave my to–do list behind. So I think that’s is the big secret. People have to find the right software and something that is going to follow them around everywhere, and that is what is so great about the software you’ve created, is that it does just that.

MS: Publishing. You are a big publisher and you have published books about security in the past. Now you have a new book in the pipeline. How is it coming along? MH: Yes. I’m actually working on a book about leadership right now, which has really become the focus of my blog over time. I do lead a team here at Thomas Nelson of about 500 people, and I have the opportunity everyday to make mistakes and to have a few occasional successes along the way. So I try to share what I’m learning with people, but I’m doing a book on leadership. It’s tentatively titled “Shift”, because I think essentially that is what the leader’s job is – to shift people, people’s ideas, people’s perceptions, it’s all about change management. And so that’s a project I’m working on, but I probably have about 10% of the book left to write. It’s always the last 10% that is the hardest though.

MS: We’ll keep our fingers crossed then! Now, changing the subject to your personal life – How do you combine your personal life with your busy, busy business life? You have 5 daughters, you have a wife and I know from your blog that they are very important to you. So how do you make these things connect?


MH: Well they are important. I think it is very difficult for people to create some kind of work–life balance, but it is entirely necessary, because if you give all of your time to your work your family eventually blows up and it has negative impact on your work. If on the other hand, you give all your time to your family you don’t work. That’s not so good for your carrier either and eventually impacts your family life. So somehow we have to maintain these things in balance. And I try to give a lot of latitude to my employees but I try to give hard boundaries to myself. I didn’t often do this well, but for years now I’ve made a rule where I finish my work day at 6 o’clock in the evening and I leave. I leave cause I want to have a dinner with my family, and I want to spend the evening with my family. Now I may get back on the computer later on

in the evening but I always make that time for them, and then on the weekends as well. You just have to have a sustainable lifestyle. And it is not sustainable to be working 120 hours a week, every week and not give time to your own personal health, which is very important. I think your own personal intellectual state, you know, feeding yourself intellectually and spiritually and emotionally and then giving yourself to your family; I think all of this is necessary in order to have sustainability in all these different aspects of our lives.

MS: And health. You have mentioned health. You are a runner and you love running, so how important was running and fitness to this as well? MH: Well it hasn’t always been important to me. I think that when I was young

I tell people I have basically failed my way forward, but I think the willingness to continue to learn helped me succeed. I was under the mistaken notion that I would live forever. You kind of feel immortal. And then I started experiencing some chest pains in my late forties. As it turned out it was an indigestion issue and I got some medication for it. But it scared me to death and I said “I’ve got to start taking care of myself – I can’t take my health for granted” and in fact, I came to a realization, Michael, that the

! Links: Michael’s e-Books: Writing a Winning Book Proposal (Fiction and Non-Fiction)


You can’t take health for granted – the decisions you’re making today are gonna impact your quality of life later... tomorrow... maybe years from now. decisions I was making today were going to impact my quality of life later... tomorrow... maybe years from now. So I started running. Actually, I started walking. And as I began to walk I thought, “maybe I could start jogging a little bit” and I started reading some books on running, which really motivated me... and then I got this crazy notion that I was going to run a half–marathon and I made the mistake (which actually turned out to be a good thing) of announcing on my blog that I was going to run the half–marathon and invited people to run with me. Then I was pinned into a corner, so to speak; I couldn’t back out. So I had to run it. I have now done it for years and currently close to 160 of my employees run with me, because we have made being healthy a focus throughout our whole company.

MS: Wow, that’s impressive! MH: You know I think there is a direct correlation between health and productivity. People that are healthy are more productive, because they have more mental focus, they have more energy, they have more stamina, they just get things done more quickly and more productively. So I do think there is a correlation between these two. The secret to running, like so many other things, is to take that first step. My oldest daughter says to me “I don’t really try to focus on running. I just really want to get my running shoes on. If I do that everything else takes care of itself”. So just a little baby–step “get my shoes on, everything else takes care of itself”.

with Nike+ system on my iPod and the whole package is so appealing to me that I just need to run. MH: I’m the same way. It’s sad really, but it’s true :-)

MS: OK, Mike. Thank you very much for this great interview. It was great having you. I’m sure our readers will be happy to stop by your blog and follow you on Twitter. Thanks Mike! a

! Michael Hyatt Michael Hyatt is the President and CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian pub-

MS: I think the gadgets help. I’ve bought myself new Nike sneakers, a new outfit and I run

lishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. Michael has written four books, one of

When I announced on my blog that I was going to run the half–marathon and invited people to run with me – I was pinned into a corner, so to speak, I couldn’t back out.

which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Hyatt serves as Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). He has been married to his wife, Gail, for twenty eight years. They have five daughters and two grand daughters and live outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

! Links: Michael on Twitter | Michael’s Blog: “Intentional Leadership”

Productive! Magazine – like Wired Magazine now also available as a native iPad app!

...just like your favorite Productivity Application

Nozbe web app syncs with native iPad and iPhone apps... and Evernote!

Being Present “There is a very important point in life that we ought to maximize – it is this moment. This moment is now gone”. That’s what Frank Stewart told me when I asked him for advice on time management. He should know a few things about maximizing the moment. After all he grew his company, Stewart Enterprises, from a family business with fifteen people in the suburbs of New Orleans to a publicly traded business with more than six thousand employees, and subsidiaries as far away as New Zealand.




By Pat Brans


rank went on to explain. “The business I’m in is quite unusual. I’m in the death care profession, where we sell products and services for funerals, burials, and memorials. This means I’m in a business in which there is no way you can ignore the fact that time does run out. I see it all around me. Every one of us will die one day. This is without question”. “There are so many things I want to do”, he said. “I easily fill the day. There just isn’t enough time to do it all. It’s because I have so much to do – and


Always focus on the task at hand. If you’re with somebody on the phone, do only that. because of my profession – that I am acutely aware of the limited nature of time. I think about time management constantly”. “A key element of time management is being present”, Frank says. “Always focus on the task at hand. If you’re with somebody on the phone, do only that. Be there in the conversation. If you’re in a meeting, be present. If you’re doing a task by yourself, focus on that. If you’re going to sleep, sleep soundly. Don’t think about all the things you did during the day, or about what you are going to do tomorrow. Don’t try to solve problems. Sleep”. “It takes some discipline and self confidence to focus just on the task at hand”, Frank told me. “You have to reach a point where you know you can face challenges as they come, so you don’t have to think about them all at once”. When you’re dealing with other people, being present is even more important. Not only is there an exchange of information with people that requires your attention to catch all the important

details, but there is also the emotional or relationship–building element of all human exchanges. If people don’t feel you’re listening to them, you may lose their interest and thereby miss out on a potentially valuable relationship. Frank said, “When you’re dealing with people, you can’t think of time management in the same way. Give them your full attention and don’t look at your watch”. What prevents us from being present? Most people have dozens of goals at any given time. Sometimes we think we have to keep those in mind or we’ll forget them. One way to overcome this is to make it a habit to write down your goals and consult your list at regular intervals. While it’s important to keep your goal in mind, if you start thinking more about the end state and less about what you need to do to get there, you’re sure to spin your wheels. Frank advises, “don’t celebrate success too early. The same goes for lamenting failure: don’t sit around imagining you’ll fail in the end. You should keep your eye on the goal, but spend most of your time thinking about what you need to do now in order to get to where you want to be”. Another thing that prevents us from focusing on the task at hand is we sometimes waste mental energy agonizing over something we didn’t do. This could be something we didn’t finish in the way we wanted or it could be something we chose not to do. By learning to make clean stopping points on a given activity and learning to detach your-

self emotionally after turning things down, you can free your mind of some of this clutter. Finally, it’s hard to be present when you are constantly interrupted. Sometimes this is beyond your control, but often it’s not. Make it a habit to block off time for focused effort. If you can get used to thinking about just one thing for an hour or so ever day, you’ll develop your ability to concentrate, and this new capacity will serve you at other times. a

It’s hard to be present when you are constantly interrupted. Sometimes this is beyond your control, but often it’s not. ! Pat Brans Pat Brans is founder of Master The Moment, a new approach to time management and personal effectiveness. Most of Brans’ corporate experience focused on applying technology to enhance workforce effectiveness. Now he takes productivity to another level by unveiling

If people don’t feel you’re listening to them, you may lose their interest and thereby miss out on a potentially valuable relationship.

the secrets of high achievers. Brans is author of two books, visiting professor at the Grenoble Graduate School of Business and he consults and provides enterprise training on time management and productivity.

! Links: Pat Brans Web site: “Master the Moment” | Pat’s Books: “Master the Moment: Fifty CEO’s Teach You the Secrets of Time Management”




Three Ways Your Breathing Can Help Your Productivity While we’re working, we often get so absorbed in our projects that we forget about our breathing. When this happens, particularly when we’re under stress, we can lapse into restricted breathing – inhaling in short gasps, or shallowly into the upper chest.



By Chris Edgar


hat we don’t often realize is that how we breathe can deeply affect our efficiency and enjoyment in what we do. In this post, I’ll offer three breathing techniques to help you stay focused and peaceful as you work.

1. Breathe Through The Urge Productivity writers often tell us to resist the urge to put off our work, but they usually don’t offer much practical advice on how to do that. In my experience working with people on productivity issues, we often procrastinate when an uncomfortable thought or sensation – anxiety or anger, for instance – comes up as we’re working, and we’d rather not experience it. We need, I think, some way to stay centered, even when faced with those intense thoughts and feelings.

Hold your attention on what you’re doing, and take full breaths until the difficult sensation passes away. I’ve found that the best approach in these moments is to breathe deeply. Instead of turning away from your task to play FreeCell or instant message with friends, hold your attention on what you’re doing, and take full breaths until the difficult sensation passes away. If you start feeling anxious as you’re

working, for instance, breathe slowly and deeply until the anxiety dissipates. When we keep breathing in the face of discomfort, often the difficult sensations we’re feeling seem more manageable and less threatening. As Dr. Miriam Adahan puts it in Living With Difficult People, Including Yourself, “when you keep breathing calmly or moving purposefully, your muscles will teach your brain that there is no real danger”.

2. Focus On Your Breathing Zen meditators often concentrate on their breathing to stay alert, and keep their minds from drifting into memories or concerns about the future. What I’ve found is that this technique isn’t just useful for meditation – it also works great whenever we find ourselves getting distracted at work. We can focus on our breathing to bring our attention back to this moment, and to what we’re doing. Many meditation teachers explain why this technique works by observing that, whenever we focus our attention on what’s happening in our bodies, our awareness naturally settles into the present. If I ask you to pay attention to your breathing, you probably won’t start daydreaming about the way you used to breathe five years ago – you’ll focus on the act and experience of breathing right now. When your attention returns to the present, the memories and worries that may have been bothering you fade into the background.

We can focus on our breathing to bring our attention back to this moment, and to what we’re doing. notice how you’re breathing. Are you breathing shallowly and rapidly, into your throat or chest? Are you making breathing difficult by clenching any muscles? Some people I know check in with their bodies periodically as they’re working, and discover they’re hardly breathing at all. When we aren’t allowing ourselves enough air, it’s no surprise that working feels painful and worrisome. If you notice that you’re breathing in a shallow or restricted way, see if you can slow and deepen your breaths, and let go of any tension that’s cutting off the natural flow of your respiration. Working becomes easier and more fulfilling, I think you’ll find, when you breathe fully as you do it. a

! Christopher Edgar Chris Edgar helps people find focus, motivation and peace in their work through his writing, speaking and workshops. He is the author of “Inner Productivity: a Mindful Path to Efficiency and Enjoyment in Your Work”, which “Getting Things Done” author David Allen calls

3. Notice How You Restrict Your Breathing

“a great read and a useful guidebook for turn-

If you’re feeling tense or uncomfortable as you’re working, take a moment and

interesting and engaging”.

ing the daily grind into something much more

! Links: Christopher on Twitter | Christopher’s Web Site

“Inner Productivity: a Mindful Path to Efficiency and Enjoyment in Your Work”



The Little Book of Procrastination Remedies Procrastination is one of those topics that, it seems, I can’t write enough about. There isn’t a person among us who doesn’t procrastinate, and that’s a fact of life. It’s deep within us. We think we’re going to do something later, or read that classic novel later, or learn French later. But we always overestimate how much we can do later, and we overestimate the ability of our later selves to beat procrastination. By Leo Babauta


f our current self can’t beat procrastination, why will our future self do it? I thought I should cover some of the best procrastination–beating strategies, in light of my recent book, ‘focus’ People seem to want ways to beat procrastination, so they can actually get down to focusing. Here’s a quick guide.

Why We Procrastinate Let’s take a quick look at what makes us procrastinate. There are several reasons, which are related in various ways: 1. We want instant gratification. Resting on the couch is thought of as nicer, right now, than going on a run. Reading blogs is easier, right now, than reading a classic novel. Checking email or Facebook is easier, now, than doing that project you’ve been putting off. Eating chocolate cake is tastier, right now, than eating veggies. 2. We fear/dread something. We might not write that chapter in our book because there are problems with the writing that we haven’t figured out (often because we haven’t thought it through). Or we might be afraid we’re going to fail, or look ignorant or stupid. We’re most of-


ten afraid of the unknown, which has more power because we don’t examine this fear – it just lurks in the back of our minds. Dreading or fearing something makes us want to put it off, to postpone even thinking about it, and to do something easy and safe instead. 3. It’s easy – no negative consequences right now. When we were in school and had a teacher looking over our shoulders and scolding us if we didn’t do our work, we tended to do the work (until some of us learned that we could tune out the scolding, that is). But when we got home, sometimes no one would be looking over our shoulders… so there wasn’t any immediate negative consequence to watching TV or playing games instead. Sure, we’d get a bad grade tomorrow, but that’s not right now. The same is true of using the Internet or doing other kinds of procrastination tasks – we’ll pay for it later, but right now, no one is getting mad at us. 4. We overestimate our future self. We often have a long list of things we plan to do, because we think we can do a lot in the future. The reality is usually a little

worse than we expected, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking the future will be different yet again. For the same reason, we think it’s OK to procrastinate, because we’re going to do it later, for sure. Our future self will be incredibly productive and focused! Except, our future self is also lazy, and doesn’t do it either. Damn future self.

Four Powerful Solutions Now that we know the problems, the solutions aren’t that hard to figure out. Just don’t put them off, OK? 1. Stop and think. When we allow the above thoughts to go on without really being conscious of them, we procrastinate. When we actually pause and think about those thoughts, we can rationally see that they’re wrong. Instant gratification in the form of goofing off or eating junk food can lead to problems later. Fears are overblown and shouldn’t stand in our way. Not having negative consequences now doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences later. Our future self isn’t as bad–ass as we like to think. So think about what you’re doing, and start

We’re most often afraid of the unknown, which has more power because we don’t examine this fear.



to do the more rational thing. Use the strategies below as well, but thinking is the start. 2. Enjoy the process. When we dread something, we put it off – but instead, if we can learn to enjoy it, it won’t be as hard or dreadful. Put yourself in the moment, and enjoy every action. For example, if you want to go out to run, don’t think about the hard run ahead, but about putting on your shoes – enjoy the simplicity of that action. Then focus on getting out the door – that’s not hard. Then focus on warming up with a fast walk or light jog – that can be nice and enjoyable. Then feel your legs warm up as you start running a little faster, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. This process can be done with anything, from washing dishes to reading to writing. Enjoy yourself in the moment, without thinking of future things you dread, and the activity can be very pleasant and even fun. And if it is, you won’t put it off. 3. Set up accountability. If no one is looking over our shoulder, we tend to let ourselves slack off. So set up a procrastination–proof environment – find people to hold you accountable. I joined an online fitness challenge this month, for example, so that I’d report my workouts to the forum. I’ve done the same thing for

Not having negative consequences now doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences later. running, quitting smoking, writing a novel. You can even just use your friends and family on Facebook or email. 4. Block your future self. Your future self is just as likely to put things off. So block that sucker. Use a program like Freedom to block your Internet access for a predetermined amount of time, so your future self has to actually focus instead of reading blogs. Turn off your cable TV, get rid of the junk food in your house, cut up your credit cards... do whatever it takes to make it really hard for your future self to procrastinate or give in to temptation, or at least force your future self to pause and think before he does anything dumb.

why it excites you, rather than the dreaded aspects of the activity. I do this and my procrastination is lower than ever. 2. Productively procrastinate. If you’re going to procrastinate, do other productive things instead. So if you don’t want to do your project, at least get some smaller tasks done. Read more. 3. Sometimes, procrastination is OK. I’m not anti–procrastination, at all. This guide is for those who want to beat it, but in my book, lazing around can be a beautiful thing. Reading stuff on the Internet that I’m interested in isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes, give in to procrastination. But other times, you might want to get off that lazy butt and actually accomplish something. a

! Leo Babauta Leo Babauta lives in San Francisco and is married with six kids. He’s a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves

A Different Mindset

writing Zen Habits – his blog that, in a couple

Three other things that must be said about procrastination: 1. Do what excites you. If you do what you’re excited about most of the time, you’ll be less likely to put it off. Focus on

of years, became one of the top blogs on the Internet with 100K+ readers subscribed and counting. He’s a published author of a bestselling book „Power of Less”.

! Links: Leo on Twitter | Leo’s Blog: “Zen Habits” | Leo’s Blog: “Minimalist”

“The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life”



A New Policy for 2011 is better than a Resolution

What are policies? Habits defined and agreed upon Big corporations have these policies on dealing with this and that... so we decided to copy that and to make sure we don’t gain too many unnecessary “materialistic fat” this year we decided to introduce some new policies in our home to ensure both my wife and I know how to deal with certain things. Just a few short examples of our “box and packaging policy”: ! We don’t keep CD, DVD or BluRay disc packages ! When we buy a DVD or BluRay disc, we put the disc in the 100–disc box near our TV set and throw away the packaging. Always.


I don’t like corporate talk and corporate world. I prefer small–business world. But I do like mocking the way corporations work in my daily life. In our struggle to a “Zen” and “Minimalist” life my wife and I decided to introduce to our family life something normally practiced in the big corporations: policies.

By Michael Sliwinski



! When we buy a CD we immediately

rip it using iTunes to put the music to our iPhones and iPods, throw away the packaging and put the CD in the big 100–disc box. ! New policy for 2011: We don’t buy DVDs. BluRay players got cheaper and we got a player for our bedroom and have Playstation 3 in the living room. No need for DVDs anymore. The HD quality is a lot better. ! New policy for 2011: We only buy BluRays we want to watch more than once. Otherwise we rent movies. We’ve had too many one–time movies in our collection. Waste of money. We don’t keep the original packaging of stuff we buy past 7 days: ! When we buy stuff (and we try to buy less of it this year) we keep the original packaging only a week. This policy makes us use the stuff we buy and try it out and make sure it works. If it doesn’t we return it to store in original packaging. If it does work, we keep it and throw away the packaging.

The cool thing about policies is that they are more than guidelines – they are the law. ! Although manufacturers claim they

won’t respect warranty without original packaging, it’s against the law and it’s really not true. So why keep the boxes?

Instead of thinking about resolutions, introduce some good policies for 2011 and make sure they align with your goals. tempted to keep a BluRay box of a movie I like, my wife asks me: “Michael, what’s our policy on the boxes?” and the box goes away. The same applies to the boxes of the IT–gear I buy. The geek in me wants to keep these new shiny packages of the latest Apple gear but my wife firmly reminds me of our policy on the boxes... and of the fact that I was the one to actually suggest it in the first place.

Policies could be a cool way of introducing habits The problem with habits is that it takes a lot of time to set a habit in motion. It takes days, weeks or even months. When you set up a policy and it’s your governing law, you don’t need that time. The policy is there and it keeps you from going sideways... and if you set it up with your loved one, they help you keep them in power and refrain you from going “against the law” :-)

Policies help you set up automatic rules for stuff that doesn’t matter Thanks to our new policies I’m not thinking about a lot of stuff I’d normally be tempted to think and analyze. I know what the policy is so I act accordingly. I build a habit with a policy and focus on the larger goal I have in front of me. The policy thinks for me. It is the law after all :-)

to yourself and hope for the best. So instead of thinking about resolutions, introduce some good policies for 2011 and make sure they align with your goals. The policies will help you not to think about small stuff and focus on your goals this year and maybe you’ll even get a little more done than last year. Who knows? Bonus – some other useful policies for 2011 I just introduced at my home–office: ! No checking of email or social networks before 11 am – to make sure I don’t start the day in “reaction mode” replying to email from other folks... but I get something useful done before I’m open to communication. ! Twitter client for Mac or Facebook page only open when I intend to use it. After being used, quit. ! 6 pm ends my work day. At the latest. Then I spend time with my family no matter what.

What are your policies for 2011?

! Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive! Magazine and a host of the new Productive! Show. Ev-

Policies are better than New Year’s resolutions

ery day he’s trying to

Policies are non–negotiable The cool thing about policies is that they are more than guidelines – they are the law. At least in our house. So if I’m

Resolutions are... wishful thinking with a new name. You don’t measure them, you don’t track them, you just say them

cation Nozbe – now also available as a native

help people get more done with his web appliiPhone or iPad app.

! Links: Michael on Twitter | Productive! Magazine | Productive! Show

Nozbe – Simply Get It Done! | Michael Sliwinski’s Blog: “Internet Business Productivity”



Laws and other Observations

Over the years people have noticed situations happening repeatedly. These observations have become “Laws”. Some of these laws are tongue in cheek; some of them are quite serious. Here are three: Murphy’s Law, Occam’s Razor and Newton’s law. By Howard Flomberg

Murphy’s Law


This is the one we all know. If anything can go wrong, it will. One of the most popular corollaries is “and at the worst possible time”. Murphy reportedly was Air Force Captain Edward A. Murphy. Murphy was an engineer and he deduced the law while working on a project. There are, obviously, many other versions of the law’s origin. My favorite is a legend on Captain Murphy’s demise: One dark evening (in the U.S.), Murphy’s car ran out of gas. As he hitchhiked to a gas station, while facing traffic and wearing white, he was struck from behind by a British tourist who was driving on the wrong side of the road. Here you have Murphy’s Law in a nutshell. When I was a technician in the Air Force, it was universally agreed that Murphy was an optimist.



Occam’s Razor I first came across Occam’s razor while watching the TV show CSI. Simply stated: “the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one” a more accurate, and needlessly complex, definition might be: select the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions when the hypotheses be equal in other respects. Occam was William of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1348) was an English Franciscan friar and philosopher. It is believed that he was born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the center of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth century. Occam’s razor is frequently used to “shave away” superstitious explanations for events.

When I was a technician in the Air Force, it was universally agreed that Murphy was an optimist. In ‘A Brief History of Time’, Stephen Hawkins wrote: “We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it. However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals. It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam’s razor and cut out all the features of the theory that cannot be observed”.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, to which I add: and an additional reaction that is totally unexpected. I found an elegant example of Occam’s razor on the web: A real life example of Occam’s Razor in practice goes as follows: Crop circles began to be reported in the 1970s. Two interpretations were made of the circles of matted grass. One was that flying saucers made the imprints. The other was that someone (human) had used some sort of instruments to push down the grass. Occam’s Razor would say that given the lack of evidence for flying saucers and the complexity involved in getting UFOs from distant galaxies to arrive on earth (unseen and traveling faster than the speed of light I suppose) the second interpretation is simplest. The second explanation could be wrong, but until further facts present themselves it remains the preferable theory. As it turns out, Occam’s Razor was right as two people admitted to making the original crop figures in the 1990s (and the rest have apparently been created by copy– cats). Despite this fact, some people still ignore Occam’s Razor and instead continue to believe that crop circles are being created by flying saucers. In practice, this might be called the familiar KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid. This law hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. It is so obvious and elegant, yet it had never occurred to me. It’s sort of an extension of one of Newton’s laws: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, to which I add: and an additional reaction that is totally unexpected. One

might say that this is an addendum to Occam’s razor, or perhaps the punishment for ignoring Occam? Prohibition is an excellent example of this law. In 1917 the eighteenth amendment was added to the Constitution. This amendment outlawed the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcoholic products in the United States. It was generally accepted that this law was effective. There were many indications that society had weaned itself off of “demon rum”. However, as anyone who has heard the name Elliot Ness can tell you, there was an unanticipated consequence. Many people still wanted an occasional drink. As nature abhors a vacuum, an enterprising subset of society sprang into action to satisfy this craving. Of course there was an untended consequence to this action – the people who came to the rescue of the thirsty were some of the most dangerous criminals that we had ever seen.

Might I say that these three laws are totally interrelated?

! Howard Flomberg Howard is a Retired Systems Analyst, Adjunct Professor and Author. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

! Links: Howard on Twitter



Productive! Show Videos

Clutter–free Home Office, Smartphones and Skiing As in every issue of the magazine there’s some short video time for you to enjoy. Here are the recent three Productive! Show videos (each of around 2 minutes). I hope the tips and tricks I’m sharing will serve as an inspiration to you and will make you more productive too.

By Michael Sliwinski

My Clutter–free Home Office Optimized for Getting Things Done (Episode #30) I recently built my new home office from scratch (we moved again) and I’ve tried to optimize it for productivity. I hope it inspires you to optimize your workplace too.

Smartphone vs Laptop on Weekend Trips (Episode #28) I’m always taking my laptop with me on every trip I go... even short weekend trips... after all it’s a light laptop and “you never know” when you need it. After my recent weekend trip to London (England) I realized I have all the necessary tools in my iPhone... and it’s a lot smaller to carry.

Reading Audiobooks while Skiing (Episode #21) You can be productive and “read” stuff even when you’re doing sports! Here’s my way of “reading” books while skiing.

! Links: Hope you enjoyed these short productivity videos. Click here to browse all episode archive.




Affirmative Inaction I’m a Yes Man. Not like the ones who fix the world or the kind that played alongside the eventually famous Rhys Darby in the feature film ‘The Yes Man’. I’m not beholden to anyone to say yes. I just like to. By Mike Vardy


f you’re going to enhance your Eventualism skills in the year ahead, you need to say yes a lot more as well.

Saying yes is always a positive answer With a new year in front of you, there’s a lot of encouragement to have a positive outlook. This one word will give you that outlook right away. The word can be positive in terms of providing a favourable response – at first. Eventually the

word will be attached to so many things that it will become positively negative. And that’s a positive thing for you and your quest to improve as an Eventualist. You see, you’ll say yes to so much that you can’t possibly please everyone.

Eventually, all of your agreements will mean little, which means you won’t be required to make as many – if any.

You’ll have to pick and choose. You’ll have so much on your plate that it will be impossible to fulfill everything. Eventually, all of your agreements will mean little, which means you won’t be required to make as many – if any. That means less responsibility. That means less work. Less is more… more or less. By taking affirmative action at first on an ongoing basis, you will soon find yourself being able to have affirmative inaction. The eventual results of that can only be positive. I’m positive about that, yes. Yes, I sure am. a

! Mike Vardy Eventually self–professed productivity expert, founder of the new productivity ideology: Eventualism.

! Links: Mike on Twitter | Mike’s Blog: “Eventualism”


Want to write a book? Learn Michael Hyatt’s insider secrets of writing a book proposal that works:

Productive Magazine #7