This process of becoming better is an on-going one with the potential to frustrate. For every short step forward, there are times when it feels like this is followed by two rapid steps back. This applies to all aspects of life. I am constantly on the look out for processes, systems, habits, etc that will help me become more efficient with my time to ensure that I can maximise experience. I have used notebooks, diaries, Tasks in MS Outlook, digital/mobile calendars, text messages to myself, and, when the app ecosystem was born, I went ballistic, downloading multiple productivity and time management apps like Remember The Milk, aTimeLogger (Time Tracker), Evernote, etc. I would generally try them out for a bit and then discard them – except for Evernote.

Timothy Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Work Week introduced me to the concept of ‘lifestyle design’ while Merlin Mann’s writing around Inbox Zero showed me a possible system. I’m still working on getting to a four hour work week – or, at least a four hour work day – and I did get my inbox down to zero twice. And back up to over 500 in a couple of days. Recently I came across Omnifocus, a great productivity and time management tool, and I was fortunate enough to have an associate who used it regularly, show me how it fits into his life. It is iOS and Mac based, which is a challenge for me, because I tend to dance between operating systems like a slalom skier.

It may have been late but the epiphany that hit after looking at Omnifocus is that I need a system/process as opposed to an app, device or app. The problem lies not in that I haven’t been able to find an effective tool but that I have lacked the necessary skills in using the tools available. I’m busy working through David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which, although written in 2002, provides a great foundation for developing a system. (There’s nice podcast of a discussion between Merlin Mann and David Allen HERE)

At the heart of this concept is “capturing all things that need to get done – now, later, someday, big, little or in between – into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind” and “disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the ‘inputs’ you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for ‘next actions’ that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment”.

Trying to remember all the things you have to do takes energy; GTD is about ensuring you don’t waste energy on remembering. I’ve been taking the lessons and developing a modified system for myself using Evernote. I have also been implementing an exercise that John DeMartini had me go through when I had a session with him: namely breaking down what I do with my time to the minute and then adding a value/cost to it. So, for example, I broke down my monthly salary to what I get paid per minute – I then costed everything I do from showering to driving and answering emails. I looked at what I do to actual earn income

I’m learning that it is absolutely necessary to be engaged. To put the attention long enough for it to become habit, once one has created the system. You have to be able to have “a mind like water”, which David Allen describes as follows:

In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is: Totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.

I used to be a sprinter a couple of lifetimes back. You are your fastest when you are relaxed, when you aren’t trying to be fast. That’s the place I am working to get to with my productivity. A system that is fluid yet efficient that allows me the head space to do and be best.

I love this quote from Bruce Lee:

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

Check out Nashua’s new “Saving You Time” campaign which I am involved in.


Read more HERE


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