Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

How To Accidentally Waste 12 Months of Potential + a must read

06/19/2011

So I’m going through my Dreamline…

A Dreamline is your list of goals, all the things you’d love to have, be and do (see the Four Hour Workweek page 54). Think of it as a 12 month bucket list (see 5 Things You Must Have on Your Bucket List).

Download your own 4HWW Dreamline here for free!

… and I noticed something rather interesting. Since writing my dreamline 12 months ago:

  1. I had completed over 85% of the items on the list! This is a known phenomenon to success, that by merely writing down your dreams and goals you are a major step closer to achieving them! Which brought me to realization number…
  2. My goals were too small! Some goals were as small as “purchase 2TB hard drive” “join a gym”. Now although I went way past these 2 incredibly simple tasks…
  3. I forgot to follow through on my goals. You see, in every aspect of life, from golf to martial arts to design to friendship, it’s all about staying with your intensity as far as it will carry. This is why…
  4. I had never heard of Action Method. Action Method is a productivity app based on the book Making Ideas Happen. You can find the iPhone/iPad app in the iTunes store ($3) or at the website ActionMethod.com (basic is free; premium version $13 a month). Action Method had has a profound impact on my productivity. Where once there was a To-Do list, there is now a series of projects (prioritized by energy levels), tasks (specified by urgency), and focus items (up to 5 per day).

All in all, I can only imagine how much I could have accomplished if I would have caught my mistakes 12 months ago.

Using a Priority Inbox system. Every single email that arrives in your inbox should be either:

  • Actionable – placed into Action Method as an actionable/delegated task).
  • Backburner – things to catch up on at a later time. (I create new folders like “To Read” “To Do” for emails I’d like to come back to) and
  • Reference – information which requires neither action or follow-up. Evernote (another amazing app you can download for free here) works great for this storing 10,000’s of notes stored on cloud that you can access anywhere at anytime.
Get used to sending yourself emails containing action tasks or information to direct into either Actionable, Backburner or Reference. Both Action Method and Evernote offer you email addresses so you can process things directly.

The Importance of Organization

Everyone can juggle things in their heads. Some go even further and think of new and creative ways to keep an unbelievable amount of conscious information in their minds at once.

However, when you are focusing on actionable tasks there must be both fluidity and renewal. Items must be completed, delegated, altered or discarded. Then, if the project is expected to move forward, a new action task must fill its place.

Getting Motivated Inspired!

People don’t need motivation, they need inspiration. And its often the case that we are fully capable of inspiring ourselves. A dream, a goal, a passion, a need — anything that engages and penetrates our emotional essence is a great source of inspiration. Some people make collages of all the things they can buy with a million dollars (you’d be surprised!). Some drive after every hard day’s work and pay a visit to the house they intend to buy some day. Some people photoshop their bodies to what they expect to look like after they hit the gym every day for the next 12 months.

The 3 Keys to Getting Things Done

Here are 3 activities that have enabled me to be my most productive and get the most productive work done in incredibly brief spurts of time:

  1. Focus! It’s not enough to just create powerful goals. There must also be an unwavering commitment to achieving them. If your goals get boring, there’s a good chance that they aren’t powerful or meaningful enough. If you must accomplish one menial task in order to reach a more meaningful one, focus on the passion of the end-result. This will often make the prerequisite task much easier.
  2. Ritualize! What do you do first thing when you wake up? How about after that? How about after work? Before you go to sleep? Everything in your life has a place and for that you need a ritual. Anyone who follows a ritual will immediately begin to see more purpose and productivity to their day.
  3. JFDI! This stands for “Just Do It” with an added acronym. This is the only poster on my wall, and its done wonders. There is no more powerful trait than the ability to make swift and intelligent decisions. If you are going to do it anyway, why not do it right now? Moreover, there’s usually some sort of pain or discomfort with doing it later. So… Just Freakin’ Do It!

Some Tips for Productivity:

  • Get up early! And finish something important before the world awakens! I trained myself to wake up at 7 am every morning and working on getting that closer to 5 am! It also helps to familiarize yourself with the concept of sleep cycles.
  • Set daily ass-kicking! Ask yourself “If I could only accomplish one thing today, what would it be”.
  • Check email only twice a day. And see if the world will still rotate as before. Although this is not possible in all professions, you don’t need to be like a dog on a leash either.
  • Wire-in! You know what this is if you write code or watched “The Social Network”. It’s when you zero in completely at the task at hand, and nothing else matters. In sports this is imperative. Kobe fans will remember this.
  • Batch. The mind takes time from move from one type task to another. Batching similar tasks — such as making phone calls, answering emails, doing interviews, and running errands — can suddenly open up huge windows of time you never knew you had.
  • Automate similar tasks as much as possible. Can it be delegated (to someone competent enough)? Can it be taken care of later (like an old video rental)? Does it have to be done at all?
  • Let small bad things happen. This one fascinates me. We all have just a short window of opportunity each day consisting of approximately 16 hours. Yet some of us do great things, while others waste it all on petty tasks. The key then is to allow small bad things to go wrong, while we focus on larger, more important and meaningful tasks.
  • Eat elephants one bite at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but one day at a time. Divide larger tasks into short smaller actionable ones and you’ll be astounded at your gradual yet forward progress.
  • keep everything stupidly simple
  • Create a NOT to do list. Think of your bottlenecks, things that slow you down or circular jobs you keep doing that end in a downward spiral of unproductive time-wasting. Add them to your NOT TO DO list.
  • Remember the 3 C’s: conceive, comprehend, connect.
  • Clear inbox + clear desk = clear conscience. 
  • Take a day off once a week. No work, no phone, no TV. Just be.
  • Now get back to work! 🙂

Check out Action Method today! (trust me)

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A MUST Read:

I want to just add a sub-note regarding something I came across while I was backpacking through Vietnam a month ago. It’s a book called The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. Some have labeled it sexist (although all the women I have suggested it to have approved of its almost utopian ideal), and the author himself states the thoughts therein may seem controversial (often with those content with mediocrity and the status quo). Yet, there is little doubt in my mind that many of the problems we face today with regard to personal fulfillment, sense of purpose, a better life – physically emotionally and spiritually – stem from a lack of understanding of the gems hidden in “The Way of the Superior Man”.

The book will teach you about the true dynamics between man and women, libido, creativity, purposeful living and it might just change your life!

Brainstorm #2 – No More Prisons

12/29/2010
  • Last Week’s Brainstorm – Being More Productive
  • Interesting Fact – Prisons Today.
  • This week’s brainstorm – No More Prisons Tomorrow.

Just in case you missed it, we featured our first weekly brainstorm on our Facebook Page last week. Our Spade Question was:

What can I do to get more important work done in less time and with less effort?

Here are some of the answers we came up with. (Note how the general ideas begin radical and are then tempered to produce practical, reasonable solutions).

  1. Get excited! Make work something to look forward to. Make it fun and reward yourself.
  2. Slow down time! Get the pre-liminary stuff done during off-hours, then execute powerfully in your most energetic time slots.
  3. Beat bureaucracy! Get people to respond quickly to rapidly developing projects (phone and meetings, over text and email.
  4. Let the work do itself! Make repetitive tasks turn-key by using frameworks and templates. Delegate what you can.
  5. Batch! Pool similar tasks with each other and execute in 50 minute spurts of complete focus and attention.

Prison

This week we based our Spade Question on an interesting fact I came across this week:

The United States puts 0.7 % of its population in Prison – a vastly higher percentage than any other nation. This means that at any given moment there are over 2 million people incarcerated. One can imagine that this does very little to fix an ever growing problem. Is the United States truly safer than ANY other country? Is there no better way to spend the $22,000 – the cost, per inmate, per year?


Think about this one: An individual sentenced to five years for a $300 theft costs the public more than $100,000. Only in America.

Most prisoners come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most have not completed high school. Many can barely read. Roughly one-third were been unemployed before imprisonment. Another third had annual incomes of less than $5,000. How can months or even years in prison correct this?

It’s no wonder that 52% – half – of prisoners who are released from prison are convicted and sent back within 3 years.

This all begs to question: Are all these “correctional facilities” really correctional?

How can we eliminate Prisons and Incarceration within 10 years?

Here are some ideas we came up with:

  1. Death Penalty! How could we use the death penalty for petty crimes while still being civil? We can fine them “to death” by charging exorbitant fees for crimes – just like we now do for speeding. Everyone hates tickets, why? Because they work!
  2. Tell on them! What if we told everyone who they know what they’ve done. We know that embarrassment isoften the greatest restructuring of a con. A great change occurs when unsympathetic arrestees gain a deeper understanding as to the effects of their crime. This requires education, not imprisonment.
  3. Nuke the lower class. What if we “nuked” the lower class with education that helped them understand the severity of their crimes or that explained how their talents could be put to better, less risky, more profitable use. What if we explained in simple English (or any other language) that selling TV’s can make more money than stealing them (and then selling them).
  4. “ConStraints”. A new device that would act as an “ankle weight” with properties that a) alert law enforcement of the constant whereabouts and up-to-date information on the “prisoner” b) is able to shock the con (similar to taser) – in the event they compromise the safety of their environment. Different features could be added for various levels of the crime committed.

A case for lesser stringency for second convictions: State prisoners with the highest re-arrest rates were those jailed for stealing cars (70%), possessing stolen property (77%), larceny (75%), burglary (74%), robbery (70%), or those possessing illegal weapons (70%). Within 3 years, only 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide. These are the lowest rates of re-arrest for the same category of crime.


Sources:

http://www.heartsandminds.org/prisons/facts.htm

http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=14835

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rpr94.htm

“The Causes of Recidivism in the Criminal Justice System and Why It Is Worth the Cost to Address Them.” Nashville Bar Journal. Dec 06/Jan 07. (April 21, 2009).

The Best Business Advice

10/12/2009

Just finished a phenomenal article “101 Small Business Mistakes and what you can learn from them“. It’s got to be one of the best article I’ve read in months. The following are some of my notes and personal insights.

Startup Tips:

  1. Become a leader as soon as possible.
  2. Focus entirely on the business, no 2nd jobs.
  3. Just do it and don’t look back.
  4. Spend nothing, let people know you’re only making “investments”.
  5. Bootstrapping goes beyond just startup. Ensure that all expenses are conscious.
  6. Entrepreneurs are unemployed until there are profits.
  7. Talk more about what you’re doing, not what you will be doing.
  8. Nothing will ever be perfect! Work around that.
  9. Always apply the 80/20 Rule and set short deadlines.
  10. Don’t have a master plan, have a vision.
  11. Prepare an exit strategy.
  12. Keep development short and generate a prototype quickly.
  13. Focus on Web development and e-mail marketing sooner rather than later.
  14. Hire talent not family. It’s hard to fire family.
  15. Don’t raise too much money. You’ll start looking for ways to spend
  16. Better to own a small piece of a large pie than a big piece of nothing.
  17. Never give up ultimate authority of your business.
  18. Debt is not cash.
  19. Pick the right type of incorporation. Speak to an Attorney.
  20. Know industry regulations and legal codes.
  21. Figure the most opportune time to launch, then accept capital only on the best terms.
  22. Investors will throw money at any great idea, allocate it right.

Product Tips:

  1. Research your market!
  2. Build your infrastructure before major client pulls.
  3. Keep your personality and be playful. Make your workplace fun.
  4. Never lose sight of how you differentiate from the competition.
  5. Don’t base prices on how much you think you’re worth but how much it would be worth to the customers you service.
  6. Price higher than the industry norm and do just enough ads to get noticed by the competition.
  7. Never undersell, even to lock someone in.
  8. No one ever said “We priced too high”. There are always unknown expenses and you can always make a sale.
  9. Negotiate everything. Don’t just pay based on what you value.
  10. When client applications and customer service are on the line, outsourcing isn’t an option.
  11. The costs of building a data center are quickly recouped through more efficient customer service and recurring revenue.
  12. Don’t trying to be all things to all people.
  13. Have a list of competitors that offer what you don’t. This builds your rapport.
  14. Always require an upfront percentage fee for services.
  15. Always sign a contract/terms for major deals/purchases.
  16. Don’t let referrals lead you way from your target market.

Sales and Marketing Tips:

  1. You must sell! Build your own skills, or find someone else.
  2. Your marketing ‘hook’ is critical, to grab the client’s attention long enough for the sales process to begin.
  3. Have multiple hooks for different psycho-graphics.
  4. Market locally. It’s easier and cheaper.
  5. Never underestimate the power of promotion. Plan for best/worst case scenarios.
  6. Use share-shift marketing, converting a client-base from your competition.
  7. You can’t buy instant recognition, but you can find key influences.
  8. Cross reference your events with various calendars.
  9. Inform! (clients, employees, partners).
  10. Always get testimonials when they say how happy they are. Even better, get them to recommend you.
  11. Have 4-5 on-going contracts, plus breathing room, so that the loss of one deal doesn’t set you back too far.
  12. Develop relationships with the most influential people possible in a company. (Founders preferably).
  13. Just because a contract is signed doesn’t mean the deal’s going to go through.

Operations and Big Picture Tips:

  1. If you do one thing right, hire the right people!
  2. Hire assistance ASAP for all work that doesn’t have to be done by you.
  3. Explain to people the job of leader – to build consensus and organization.
  4. Define functions and results, not personalities and process.
  5. Hire talented people who fit your culture!
  6. Recognize bad decisions and deal with them quickly.
  7. Sometimes it’s the little errors in judgment, compounded every day, that kill you.
  8. Learn when to say NO! and when to say YES!
  9. Inspect what you expect people to respect.
  10. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  11. Pay as you go. Partners should earn trust and their equity.
  12. Lead with authority and passion. Consensus leads to mediocrity.
  13. Listen to opinions and be open-minded but then make a decision.
  14. Employees have an expectation and a desire for leadership. Without it, everything falls apart.
  15. If there’s a will there’s a way. Go and find it!
  16. No one who provides capital lets your keep full control. So keep the cash!
  17. Always consult a cultural expert about small details before traveling to other countries.
  18. Get used to saying the words “Look. I saw things differently, but I could be wrong and I often am. I’d like for things to be right. Let’s examine the facts.”

Seth Godin’s on his biggest mistakes: “Not believing, not risking, not deciding. Holding back feels safe. When someone asks you your big mistakes, it’s tempting to talk about the stuff you did that didn’t work out. But what about the stuff you DIDN’T do? Those are the really big mistakes. Not starting Yahoo! or Google, those were big mistakes.”

Now get out there and make things happen!

9 Ways to Be More Productive

09/03/2009
Based on the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

1. Only answer calls you know. You can surprise, just don’t be surprised. Use “Google Voice” for call monitoring.

2. No email before 10 am (or before you complete critical tasks of the day). This is so that you don’t get caught up with unnecessary internet time before moving on. Check if you need to, respond to everything after you do what you need to do right now.

3. Arrange all meetings with agenda and time frame. Send out a memo of all the issues to resolve before the meeting. Meetings should solve problems, not create more. No meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes. (This includes brainstorming sessions).

4. Get to the point. Sound busy so you don’t have to be. There is nothing obtuse about saying “I’m in the middle of getting something out, but I have a minute. Whats up?”).

5. Batch. This is something that has proven very valuable. Combine similar task into the same set time frames. It takes 45 minutes for the brain to switch focus from one thing to another.

6. Don’t over communicate. Use to the 80/20 rule (that 80% of your results/profits come from 20% of your customers) to automate low-profit high-maintenance customers. (Cite new policies and procedures).

7. Prioritize. Define the most critically important aspects of your business and life. Let everything else play second fiddle.

8. Let go of your cell or “Crackberry” once in a while. (I have a friend that wakes up with his Blackberry in his hand. Not good). Choose one day a week to leave your precious little life-line friend at home.

9. Get critical, get done, get out, have fun! The point of all work is to get done with it and enjoy that which it buys (otherwise why work?). Think of it in terms of mini-retirements: You work a month, pay all your necessary expenses, put away some for your old age (no, Social Security won’t help you), get out there and fulfill your dreams!