How to Avoid Stagnation and Find your Zone of Creativity

We live in an age of preoccupation. You might have noticed this. Everyday is almost similar. You keep working harder and more things pile up for the next day, next week and next month. We all know that preoccupation is a never ending phenomenon. Yet, we fool ourselves. [Read more…]

8 Powerful Habits to Skyrocket Your Productivity

In past two years, I’ve read dozens of books and blogs on improve personal productivity. I tried everything from Fancy to-do apps, GTD and Pomodoro technique to inbox zero, Zen habits and automation. Out of these, a few habits really made a winning difference in increasing my productivity manifold. In this article, I am going to share with you how I started these habits, why they have stayed with me and how can you get started to skyrocket your productivity. [Read more…]

My 17 Months Journey with Meditation and Lessons Learned

It began somewhere in the middle of August 2013. Inspired by so many benefits of Meditation, I decided to give it a try. It’s been almost 17 months and I thought it’s a good time to reflect and share what I learned from my experience with meditation. [Read more…]

How to save 2 hours everyday

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you have to work only 6 hours each day and achieve amazing productivity in the workplace? You can then spend rest of your day doing stuff you love. That seems like a distant dream. But you will soon discover how to turn that dream into reality.

This kind of workday has become so much a part of my life that I call it “the 6-hours workday“.

The 6 hours workday methodology has two stages:
[Read more…]

How to Captivate your Client and Make Yourself Irressistable

irresistable-offer

how to create irresistible proposals

Recently, a freelancer (let’s call him ‘John’) shared his experience – “Client loved the plan I sent them, but he is looking for someone who implemented similar projects in past. I am not sure if I will be hired.”

He was on the brink of losing a fantastic client, who could be easily worth a few thousand dollars.

A majority of freelancers/business owners face a common problem while offering something new to their prospects. There aren’t any testimonials, no solid proof and lack of “real work” to show. Result, prospects don’t trust them, and opportunities are lost, almost like a racing car zooming past in front of their eyes.

On the contrary, when Apple launches a brand new product, thousands of people line up in queue. They eagerly wait for hours to buy a product which is neither scarce nor a basic necessity?

Of course you might exclaim “Apple always create great products” Or, “They do a great job at marketing”. But those arguments do not convey the real picture. There is something else that goes behind the scene.

In this article we will look deeper into this phenomenon and determine the fundamental principle that Apple puts to work. And more importantly, how can you apply the same principle to make your product/service irresistible in front of your prospects.

What’s missing in John’s case? It’s quite clear that Client does like his offer but they are reluctant to hire him. On surface it seems that they don’t trust him. But there is something else going on inside Client’s head that John isn’t able to grasp.

I am sure you might have faced similar situation. How do you create trust when there is no history of past success? And how does John’s example relates to Apple story?

Of course, there is a link.

In both situations, there is one thing in common – “The Power to Captivate the Audience”. Apple is able to Captivate its audience, but John hasn’t done that. In fact, he has even lost the hope of closing that deal.

Let me clarify. Captivating isn’t about testimonials, social proof or some pushy tactics… and yes, it’s also not about Trust.

So what’s the key to Captivate your audience. How do you build such deep level of relatedness that prospects find you irresistible?

In two words it’s called “Information glues”

An “Information glue” isn’t just any information. It’s the right information, at the right time, at the right place.  In a world full of information, you cannot simply rely on ordinary information to captivate your audience. That’s why I call it “information glue”. That’s what Apple does.

Apple creates plenty of ‘information glues’ to captivate their audience

While explaining a product, Apple goes into the minutest details about how it helps users accomplish their tasks. They will talk about why the extra height would assist in viewing videos or how they actually constructed the whole thing into several layers to help protect it. They go into the minutest details to showcase their product and relate each detail to buyer’s need. Every information piece is intelligently tied to a usage scenario. On the top of it, there are elements of surprise and little ‘Aha’ moments inside this detailing. At the end of the day, ‘product information’ is already sold before the actual product.

Result? you want to have that experience

You are eager to hold that phone in your hand and feel the magic of the new display. You are captivated. That’s the power of “information glues”. It captivates your audience and they want more. They want to experience your service and they are willing (even eager) to pay for it.

When you add those “information glues” in your proposal and offers, you stand miles ahead of others. The minute detailing in your offer can captivate your client, motivating them to experience your service. At this point, it’s future that matters, it’s the possibility that intrigues them so much. If you haven’t done anything like that in past, it’s hardly an issue. Because those minute details, tell your prospect the entire story.

More importantly, it’s not about the quantity of information…it’s about the quality of information and ‘how’ you present it. Once you learn the art of creating “information glues”, your client stick to you, just like the honey bee attracted to a flower full of nectar.

You can bring the ‘honey bee effect’ in your offers and proposals

But unfortunately, most people miss on this by a wide margin. Let’s get it, your prospects are tired of boring proposals that just talk about facts. They are looking for more.

That’s why I have in store for you a brand new course called “The Art of Proposal Writing”. This one of it’s kind course teaches you the nitty gritty of writing great proposals. It shows you a system, a framework to craft impressive proposals. It helps you apply the the power of “information glues” to captivate your prospect.

Imagine what it would be like if your proposal acceptance rate doubles. What will happen to your business if you could leave a solid impression in front of each one of your prospects, through your proposal? How will you leverage a proposal to initiate great client relationship?

The course is coming up soon and you can enter the free waiting list by clicking here.

P.S. Those who enter waiting list will receive interesting freebies in the mean time. Those freebies alone are worth your time and attention. Morever, it isn’t necessary to join the course if you enter the waiting list. You have that option open. Of course you will get top priority when it opens.

Join the proposal writing course waiting list

Evernote GTD Alternative: Things App

thingsAlmost everyone who begins GTD journey bumps across Evernote and start using it to store To-Do’s. I did the same too. After a brief stint with Evernote GTD, I realized that it was not meant for GTD. Though, some people (productivity experts) make it work, but I did not had the time or inclination to become an Evernote pro. Mainly because Evernote tends to get too cluttered and out of control if you do not spend time organizing it.

evernoteIn fact, I ended up wasting a lot of time setting up filters, notes and notebooks, almost trying to hack my way to GTD. Eventually I gave up. Like most (ordinary) people, I dumped Evernote but ended up using it for another reason (more on this later).

Since then, my quest to find a good To-Do app began. I tried Wunderlist, Omnifocus, Notational Velocity, Doit.im, Simple Note and many other apps (over two dozen apps in total).  At one point I got so frustrated that I wanted to go back to the good old paper.

 Until one day, I found -“Things for Mac“. I did not like it at the first glance (because it isn’t fancy at all) but after using it, I realized Things App was a bliss in the crowded world of GTD apps.

In just three days, with negligible cognitive effort – I went from beginner to a pro in using ‘Things’. After using it some more, I saw that devil was in details. And in those minute details Things App shines. Here are  some great aspects of Things App that makes it a poster boy from all productivity apps I have tried so far:

1. Lightweight interface

inboxA fundamental criteria I look for in a To-Do app is – light, easy and fast. ‘Things’ scores high on all of these parameters. It’s easy on users and machine alike. It’s an extremely lightweight native app, with low memory and cpu footprints.

2. Easy To-Do’s

Things app is purposefully built “less techy” with a little raw feel. And I totally love it. It has a very mild character , making you feel in control of the app, instead of app controlling you.  Pressing ‘Ctrl+Space’ gives you a new To-Do instantly no matter what software you are using. Dumping everything out of my mind can’t get easier. Moreover, I could drag and drop a To-Do item to an Area of responsibility, Project or a Person – no more typing of information in the ‘fields’. Things deliberately tries not  make productivity a ‘Task’ in itself.

3. Intuitive decision-making

The biggest reason why we need a prointuitiveductivity app is because it can show us a clear picture of what we need to do and allows us to take informed decisions. Things provides a quick visibility over all my projects and corresponding actions – in one single view. You can press CMD+T to  prioritize a To-Do for ‘Today’. If you press CMD+T again, the same To-Do shifts back to ‘Next’. Pressing on CMD+Y shifts a To-Do to ‘Someday’. All these things happens very swiftly. The App does not dominate you at all.

4. Day-specific alerts without behaving like a calendar

reminder

Most productivity apps try to become everything – right from calendar to storage. Things has marked a great boundary between what it is and what it isn’t. Even though it stores day specific events, recurring events and also shows reminders, it does not try to become a calendar. Guys at Things are smart and know that there are really good tools for storage and calendar. Moreover, color coding of day specific To-Do’s is extremely thoughtful and intelligent. Yellow for tasks due today and red for overdue tasks. No clutter with colors.

5. It’s on cloud, iPhone and iPad

cloudThings comes with free cloud connectivity so that your tasks are synced up on all devices. iPhone and iPad apps are equally intuitive. Just what you would need to organize your actions on the go, no fluff.

Having shared so many good qualities of Things, it does have its own limitations. For instance, when I recommended Things app to a client and they wanted Tasks to be shared across the team and Things fell short. Here are a few areas where Things leaves something to be desired:

1. Lack of task collaboration

In today’s collaborative world, assigning a To-Do to someone is unquestionable. Things does not allow To-Do’s to be shared right on its interface. You need to send them via email and there is no track of it on your To-Do list.

2. Cost

Things is pricey than most productivity apps in its category. Majority of To-Do apps have free a basic version, while Things comes with free trial and a decent price tag. It’s not a freemium product. However, the price is justified once you start using it.

3. No Goals

This is a nice to have feature and not a real  limitation. Having Projects/To-Do’s assigned to goals can make Things much more complete. Just the way Things has ‘Projects’, it would be nice if it can allow users to add goals. This is because I always like to know how I am progressing in my key goals.

4. No Windows/android/browser support

The biggest limitation of Things is its lack of cross-platform support. It’s only built for Apple. I find this very strange because not everyone is on Apple.

Conclusion

Apart from the above limitations, Things has nothing much to be concerned about. It is easily the best GTD app I have used so far. I am glad to be on a mac.

Crisis Vs. Creativity

Our work swings between crisis and creativity.

The thing about crisis is, if dealt frequently, it becomes a thought pattern and begins to hurt.  I call this pattern – ‘Crisis Mindset’. Those having crisis mindset breed crisis mentality and infect others with it. The types of conversations in crisis mindset are –

How do we do it fast? What do we do to fix this now? Why are people not performing?  

If you notice, there is always something urgent or immediate to deal with. The crisis mindset does not realize that it’s inside, not outside. In the past few years, I had the opportunity to work with many entrepreneurs. Some have surprisingly relaxed and productive life, while some keep struggling to get things in control.

I noticed that high performance entrepreneurs exhibit creative mindset. They don’t look for short term fixes.  Instead, they work like artisans. They shape every aspect of work and life using their ingenuity. When Steve Jobs started out to launch the legendary iPhone or 37signals created a wildly successful web app, creative mindset was in action. And it isn’t about the numbers or the fame, it’s about the work attitude that constantly focuses on creativity and bringing change that leaves a trail.

The conversations in a creative mindset are about making an impact, creating value, getting into the details and contributing to success of others. It’s still work, but of a different shade.

Creative mindset lives richer, meaningful existence. Crisis mindset leads to more crisis and fire fighting!

Which category do you belong to?

It’s easy to tell. Just ask yourself right now and the answer will come out. If you are somewhere in the middle, then you are not playing a bigger game.

Crisis mindset isn’t bad, it’s just unproductive. It is easy to deal with it if you are willing to climb up the ladder. Here is how you can transition from crisis to creativity.

The transition from Crisis to Creativity

Here are a few actions for you to get a head start:

  1. Crisply define your work before doing it
  2. Keep your mind clear, do not use your brain for remembering and reminding
  3. Think ahead about your work/life and chart out well-defined goals
  4. Align your day-today activities with your larger goals
  5. Develop the habit of deep practice and uninterrupted work

It takes conscious effort and practice to develop a creative mindset. In my upcoming course, I take this to a much deeper level. Once you practice it enough, crisis will start to fade from your life. The more you get into the creative mindset, the less and less you will see crisis happening. A new cycle of productivity and performance will begin.

How much percentage of creative mindset is involved in your work? Who are your favorite creative entrepreneurs?
Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Join my free newsletter and get started on your way towards becoming a creative entrepreneur.

The Mindset for Long-term Success

power of mindsetDr. Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading psychologists at Stanford University. From her 20 years of research, she explains how our mindset has a huge impact on the quality of life and determine our success. Dr. Dweck’s studies posit that there are two basic mindsets that control how most people see themselves.

Those with a “fixed mindset” assume intelligence, character, and creative potential are unchangeable attributes written in stone since birth — that they cannot be modified in any meaningful way. They further assume that success is simply a result of this inherent talent, and as a result, they often avoid failure in order to maintain an aura of infallibility.

Those with a “growth mindset” have a much more malleable view on success. They do not view failure as a reflection of their ability, but rather as a starting point for experimentation and testing of ideas. Their main advantage is in treating unsuccessful attempts simply as another data point — “This didn’t work out, but I eliminated one option and will now pursue the next.”

This is a profound finding. It also answers my long-term quest about finding why some people refuse to learn even though it can be life-changing. The main reason is – “fixed mindset”.

Dr. Dwick put up an interesting test to determine your mind-set. Watch her remarkable video on Youtube.

If you are willing to create the right mindset for long-term success, join my free productivity boot-camp and chart out a new future.

The Four Biggest Fallbacks of GTD and What to Do About it

 

getting things done drawback

gtd

GTD became one of the epic time management/productivity books of all times. I became a GTD fanboy as soon as I read the book and implemented it in my life. Inspite of it’s popularity and a huge cult like status, it has several drawbacks which can get you into the productivity black hole. Here are four major fallbacks of GTD and why a new approach to productivity is the need of the hour.

1. Too many To-Do’s can be a waste of time

One of the most pressing things about GTD is organizing To-Do’s under respective projects and contexts, small or big. After doing this for almost two years, I felt, I was spending more time WRITING those physical actions instead of DOING them. Big drawback. Instead of detailing every project and corresponding physical actions, it makes a lot more sense to have one simple list and start taking actions.  Many people have fallen into the extra work involved in organizing projects and actions. Time to get rid of it.

How I do it now?

I have a simple list of projects where I write key milestones and still review them regularly. All my physical actions are simplified in just ONE To-Do list.

2. Limiting Ideas by constantly writing them

GTD wants you to dump everything out of your  mind so that it’s as clean as brand new. Actually, I found that some of these idea if kept in mind for hatching can bring deeper insight. Further, we are “thinking” creatures and we constantly churn out new thoughts and ideas. If we start capturing all of them, it’s going to be impossible to actually do anything worthwhile except organizing things in ToDo’s . For mundane tasks and regular work, dumping is still applicable but it’s not required. Instead of worrying about how many things you need to dump out of your mind, it would be fruitful to focus on the right things and just DO THEM.

How I do it now?

I do not write every idea or task that comes to my mind. If something comes back again and again, I write it down in one master list of ideas. I review the list of ideas every few days and try to expand those ideas that still look promising. I remove those which become obsolete or irrelevant. Small items such as ‘go to laundry’ never get into my To-Do list.

3. Physical filing is just a small part of the whole story

GTD lays a lot of emphasis on organizing physical files using an automatic labeler and keeping great mechanics.  The truth is, we hardly use it. Most of material these days is digital. Physical filing system has become a very small subset for me. Individuals have shifted to dealing with huge inflow of digital information, which is nowhere mentioned in GTD. Physical filing may be still applicable to organizations and governments, but we are none of them.

How I do it now?

Use Evernote and Dropbox to organize digital content. I use very few physical files and often combine couple of items together. Any physical papers gets scanned and sent to my accountant. No more back and forth of physical files.

4. Mind like water by dumping everything outside your mind is a myth

According to GTD, you can achieve a mind like water state by keep everything outside your mind. That’s far from reality. You cannot expect to have a mind like water when you dump 500 hundred “stuff” outside your mind. Most people get numb as soon they see even 20 To Do’s in their list. It overwhelms them so much that they find it hard to take any action.

How I do it now?

I have four habits to nourish a mind like water state.

  1. Wake up by 5:00 a.m.
  2. Clear mind meditation to develop mental muscles of clarity and focus
  3. Conscious effort to identify and eliminate “unnecessary”, saying NO multiple times a day
  4. Personal reflection time to see where I am heading every Friday

Conclusion

Many people ask me, is there an alternative to GTD. The conclusion I came up with is – Instead of blindly following other’s system, create your own. Join my free productivity boot-camp where I unlock the secret to productivity using personal and business automation.

Join my Free Productivity Bootcamp by entering your email address below:


Double Your Productivity Using this Simple Technique

I recently encountered an interesting question from a programmer – “I have 50 books to read on programming, how do I read them all

My instant reply to that question was – Choose what you don’t want to read and eliminate. Then choose what you want to read.

But that’s not such a useful piece of advice anyways because making choice is the hardest part of all. We have so many options these days that making choosing itself can be a skill to master.

Choice is a classic problem faced by everyone, from programmers to president Obama. The good news is – choosing can be simplified by using a simple technique –  Identifying guiding principles

Here is an example from President Barack Obama: 

President Obama simplified his choice of outfits by choosing a pre-defined set of colors for his suit. Everyday, he do not have make a choice of what suit to wear, because each suit color and style is pre-defined based on his guiding principles. 

Now back to the programming guy. You are naturally faced with the choice of 50+ programming languages which can be possibly learnt. The challenge is to choose that ONE programming language to focus on. Here is where your guiding principles come into play.  You define guiding principles by asking some key questions to yourself. Here are those questions:

  1. What programming language I am least interested in or rather skip to learn? (20 languages eliminated)
  2. Which three programming languages I am most interested in? (3 languages identified)
  3. Which is the most popular programming language in demand these days? (1 identified)

If you closely look at those questions, first step was elimination, second question was narrowing down based on your interest, and in the third question choice was zeroed in based on specific needs. By answering these three simple questions, you created some guiding principles around which you can easily make a decision on the language you want to master. These questions can be changed and more can be added but the core principles behind these questions remains the same:

  1. Eliminate what you are not interested in
  2. Narrow down based on what you are interested in
  3. Zero in based on external needs

The single biggest reason why each one of us struggle to make choices is because we have not determined the guiding principles.  Once you have the guiding principles right – your choice can’t go wrong. And guess what, when you make powerful choices, it’s so easy to focus on it and start getting things done. Productivity doubles up when you eliminate the unnecessary.

Now I want you to get started and implement this principle right away (there is no point in learning something and not implementing it). I want you to do the following and post in the comment below:

  1. Identify the area where you are faced with making difficult choices
  2. Frame your questions around the core guiding principles and answer them
  3. Write your final choice

Once you post your choice in the comment below, I will coach you to help you arrive at the right choice.

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