The Unquestionable Technique to Succeed in your Goals

People often ask me about why do they keep failing in their Goals.  I had no real answer for them – UNTIL I found the following technique which works unquestionably well in setting and achieving Goals.

Why Goals?

  1. Goals remove uncertainty and ambiguity
  2. Goals make your activities and actions aligned
  3. Goals bring a sense of direction
  4. Goals help convert your dream into reality

Why most Goal setting fails?

  1. The Goal is over-ambitious and unrealistic
  2. Actions are not aligned to Goal
  3. Goal is unclear
  4. Goal is without a specific date

The first thing to learn is setting Goals. Let’s get started.

5 rules of Goal setting

Rule # 1. Goal is an outcome. It should create a picture for you. Associate the Goal with your emotions, thoughts and feelings. How you will feel after achieving the goal is really important to visualize. If you don’t have the picture and emotions attached to your Goal, your brain is going to give up soon.

Rule # 2. Goal should be as specific as possible. For example, if you are writing a book, then your Goal can be “Finishing 5 chapters by 31st April”.

Rule #3. Goal has a target date. Having a date gives you the necessary discipline and momentum to keep going in face of adversity.

Rule #4. It should be realistic. If your rational brain doesn’t believe in the Goal you have created, it is not going to do anything about it. The goal has to be believable and realistic. The easiest way to verify this is by asking someone closer to you (such as your friend or spouse) about the Goal you have created. They can instantly bust your “mythical” Goal and bring it to reality.

Rule #5. Goal should be slightly beyond your comfort zone. If the goal is too easy to achieve, no need to create it. It’s like fooling yourself. Create a goal which is difficult to achieve and yet believable to act upon.

Here is an example: “Generate income of $8000/- per month by April 31st 2014 “

Now lets evaluate this goal. 

  • Is it specific? Yes
  • Does it have a target date? Yes
  • Is it realistic? – It depends
  • Is it slightly beyond comfort zone? – It depends

Here is the explanation of this Goal: This goal would be realistic if someone is earning $6000 per month right now. But if someone is making $1000 a month, that goal would be unrealistic. For someone who is making $6000, it is slightly beyond the comfort zone, which means it’s a good Goal to have.

Human brain can pursue 3 goals very effectively. Try not to have more than 3 goals. Start with only ONE goal with this method and than add more goals once you feel comfortable.

Now that your Goals are set, here are the next steps.

Map your goals into smaller, byte sized goals

I always like to map bigger goals into smaller goals, thats where they meet reality. If you are looking to earn an extra $2000 in next 3 months, how much extra can you make next week. Setting up daily, weekly or monthly goals makes goals more realistic and easy to achieve.

Align key behaviors and their frequency

Identify key behaviors (repetitive actions) necessary to achieve your Goal and do them regularly in a particular frequency. For example, if you are clear that generating an additional $2000 means contacting at 30 prospects and converting at least 2 prospects each week. Then your key behavior could be  – “Client prospecting and generating leads – 30 minutes every day”

Here are some important points to consider while designing your behavior:

  1. It should be one or more specific physical action (e.g. calling clients, prospecting on internet etc.)
  2. Try to map 2-3 key behaviors with each Goal
  3. Do them in a specific frequency or interval (e.g. every wednesday, thursday and friday)

Keep Track

Goals setting is almost useless without regular tracking and review. Keep a track of your goal on a weekly basis. More specifically, keep track of your key behaviors.

Tracking your key behaviors and progress in your goal will provide you a sense certainty and boost your motivation. It will tell you how you are moving or not moving towards your goal. As you become aware of your performance,  you can adjust your goals and/or key behaviors to match with reality.

Here is the summary of what you have learnt so far about setting and achieving goals:

  1. Create specific and achievable goal – neither too ambitious, nor too small
  2. Write down Goal in detail. Most importantly write “Why” you want do to this Goal.  Write emotions, feelings associated with your Goal, and how it will look like when the Goal is achieved
  3. Map out larger Goal into smaller bite sized Goals (weekly or monthly)
  4. Identify and map 2 to 3 key behaviors necessary to achieve your Goal
  5. Track weekly

At the end of the day,  journey is more important than destination. The trail you leave behind while pursuing your Goal is valuable and worth your life. Enjoy the journey without being too much attached to outcomes. You will do wonders.

Your Assignment: Write down your ONE most important Goal in the next 3 months and 3 key behaviors associated with the Goal in the comment below.

Looking forward to seeing you succeed with your Goals.

How Technology is Preventing Our Mind from Doing Useful Stuff

Watch this humorous and informative video to discover how Technology is consuming our mind and preventing our brain from useful thinking and working:

Read the full article by Gregory Ciotti here

How to Implement GTD Using Evernote: The Simpler Way

Most of the GTD implementations using Evernote get complicated given the flexibility of Evernote. But having a complex system of Notebooks and Tags becomes a big task to maintain in the long run.

Here is a simpler way to implement GTD using Evernote. You can use this system without getting overwhelmed: 

Evernote Overview



Evernote is easily world’s best note taking app. Once you start using it, you will realize it’s much more than note-taking. It’s a versatile tool to collect and organize every type of information, right from screenshots, images, to entire web pages and To-Do lists. Evernote’s search is breathtakingly intelligent and help you find stuff in seconds. Another notable feature of Evernote is its instant syncing capabilities across all devices such as iPad, Android Phone, iPhone and Computer.

Getting Started with Evernote

Evernote is free and you can download it from here.

Once you download and install Evernote, you can register for a free account using their default desktop screen as shown below:

register for evernote

Evernote register

It is also recommended to download the Evernote App on your Android/iPhone/Tablets so that you can start using it everywhere.

Implementing GTD using Evernote

When you login to Evernote for the first time, it has already created “First Notebook” by default. You can re-name it as you like but that isn’t necessary.

Now, let’s create some Notes in your “First Notebook” by clicking on the “New Note” link in the File menu shown below:

new note

create new note

Create following Notes (in bold) by writing the name of the note in the Note Title section (it usually says “Untitled Note” before you write down anything):

1. Professional Projects – This Note stores list of all your Professional Projects. Maintaining a separate list of Professional Projects helps you get focused on your professional or business goals.

2. Personal Projects – This Note stores list of all your Personal Projects. Usually you do these projects if time permits or based on the need of the situation.

3. Delegated Projects – This is an optional Note. Sometimes, you don’t work on projects yourself but delegate them to others. If you are managing a team and responsible to oversee multiple delegated projects without directly working on them, you may need this list. But if you are a solo-worker like me, you probably don’t need this list.

4. @Computer – This note will store a list of all your “Next Actions” you will do while working on your Computer. If you have multiple computers and you do different types of work on each computer, it’s better to create a separate context for each computer such as – @Mac or @OfficeComputer

5. @Home – This note will store a list of all your physical actions you can do while at Home.

6. @Office – This note will store all your physical actions you need to take care when at Office.

7. @Call – This note will store all your “Next Actions” related to calling people using your phone (it is optional). I tend to forget calling people often and I use this list frequently. But many people I have seen don’t need it much. Take your own judgement.

8. @People – This note will store Agenda items you want to talk about with people when you meet them (personally, on phone or chat)

9. @Errands – This note stores all items you need to take care when you go out for Errands e.g. grocery shopping, bank visit, laundry etc.

10. @WaitingFor – This note stores all actionable items you have delegated to others.

11. Someday/Maybe – This note stores all your Incubating projects that you do not see in the next one month horizon. As soon as some of these projects mature, they will be a part of your personal or professional projects.

Once you create these Notes, drag each one of them inside the shortcut section of your side bar. At a later stage, these shortcuts will be highly accessible when you have plenty of Notes.

That’s about it. After creating all notes and adding them to shortcuts, Your Evernote should screen should look like the one below:

evernote final

final set-up of evernote

Using Evernote Everyday

You might have noticed, we did not create “Collection” Note in Evernote. I strongly recommend to use physical pen and paper as a collection bucket instead of Evernote. The other collection buckets are – E-mail Inbox, Phone and Physical In-basket. The reason why I do not recommend using Evernote as another collection bucket is because you could easily get overwhelmed with large number of notes and processing them will be time consuming. Anything into Evernote goes after “processing” your stuff, not before.

The idea of “Real Time” processing

Most of the times, we can actually determine what a “Stuff” is – whether actionable or non-actionable. If you are instantly clear about a “Stuff” and Evernote is in front of you, directly process it, don’t collect it. However, sometimes it may happen that some things are not clear. Write those things down in your spiral notebook and process the results in Evernote later. This will save a tonne of time instead of collecting everything in Evernote.

On a Daily Basis

Now that your Evernote GTD set-up is done, here is what you need to do on a daily basis:

  1. Review your Calendar and “@___” list and take actions. Ideal time to review your To-Do lists is once before you check e-mail in the morning and once before finishing your day.
  2. Copy/paste actions from Project List and add any new actions you identify on-the-go.
  3. Define MITs for the day – This step is very critical. Everyday morning or previous night before you go to bed, determine 3 to 5 most important tasks you will complete on a given day. Defining MITs will keep you happy and satisfied with what you are doing or not doing.
  4. Process all your collected stuff at the end of each day and organize it into Projects, Next Actions or Reference material. Do not pile up your collection buckets, otherwise, get prepared to spend more time in processing your stuff during the weekly review.

At the end of Every Week

Perform a weekly review preferably on Friday or Saturday and clean-up your Physical Notes and EverNotes. Review all your Projects. Define new projects, close existing projects and cross out action steps which are done during the week. Clean-up your action lists and ensure that they are clean, clear, current and complete.

Storing Reminders

Evernote does a decent job of storing reminders. But I still prefer to use iCal (configured with Google Calendar) for all my appointments and reminders. Some people I have coached still like to use Evernote for keeping reminders, it’s good either ways. The rational behind my choice of iCal is that, Calendar provides a decent view of time/day slots and it’s easy to send calendar invites to others, as most people use it.

Up next, I will be explaining some advanced usage of Evernote in context to your daily productivity. If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, feel free write a comment below.

I would love to know your insights and collectively develop a better productivity system. Do write me a line or two below!

How to Stop Failing and Start Achieving Your Goals with Certainty

Last year, I failed to achieve some of my business Goals. This set me thinking and looking for optimal ways to improve my ability to set and achieve Goals. The result has been encouraging. I started getting my Goals moving in the right direction and I am already ahead in my game. If you are someone like  me, having failed to achieve Goals or pursuing ambitious Goals, following ideas can come handy, probably, just at the right time:

1. Clarify your purpose: What kind of things you really want to see happening without exception. What things can you trade-off for things you want “badly” enough. When I work with people to determine their Goals, I often ask these questions – How badly do you want this Goal and what can you trade-off (or give up) to achieve it? Usually after some mental and emotional struggle, their faces lit-up because by giving up on a “nice to have” Goal, they just brought more certainty around their “badly” needed Goal.

2. Create smaller, short-term Goals: Most of us cannot foresee our lives in next 6 months or 12 months – at least the visibility gets hazy with the span of time. But it’s easier to see what we could achieve in next 1 to 3 months. It’s even easier to translate a small Goal into a big Goal. Look at your larger Goals and identify short-term Goals which you can put in next 3 months horizon.

3. Edit your Goals: The probability of getting successful with a Goal reduces with the number of Goals you have. Recent research in neuroscience suggest that human beings can effectively pursue three goals at once – daily, quarterly or yearly. Set a three Goals rule, be it your day or quarter. You will be much more effective at achieving them.

4. Get Realistic with Time: Your energy is a limited resource and it can be exchanged to achieve things you want in life. In project management, we estimate the effort required to complete certain task. This is technique can be quite useful to become realistic with your Goals. Break down your Goals into set of orchestrated or repetitive actions and guesstimate time required in each step. This can provide a first hand understanding of the energy needed to accomplish your Goal and organize your life better to achieve it.

5. Delegate: Most of us think we are indispensable. Many years ago when I was running a software company, I was bitten by the bug to “do it all by myself”. Upon introspection, I saw that I was trying to make everyone feel my importance in the business. A terrible mistake. Begin delegating parts of your Goal or whole chunk of Goal to someone you can trust. People around you are smarter than you think. They need challenges to prove themselves. Delegate and keep a track of progress.

Setting and achieving Goals is a delicate art. If you get it right, optimum actions will flow from it.

Want to learn the deeper nuances of productivity and achieving Goals? Subscribe to my exclusive productivity newsletter to learn and implement the best strategies to achieve Goals faster with certainty.

What is GTD and is it Worth?

I have been asked a number of times about GTD and if it is worth following the system. Here is a slide-show that explains basic principles of GTD in a Nutshell.

Is it worth it?  Simple answer is Yes, but it depends on how you use it!

GTD by all means is one of the best books on personal productivity. However, due to it’s inherent flexibility, GTD leaves a lot of questions to be answered and often confuse us. Majority of people end up facing quite a few challenges while using the system.

To address these issues, I am coming up with a refined and crisp system, evolved from GTD – very soon.

Subscribe to my Newsletter. I’ll let you know as soon as I am ready to share it with you!

9 Reasons Why GTD Implementation Fail and What to do About it

Having used GTD since a few months, I had  my ups and downs with it. Since the system is so much flexible, it can pose quite a few challenges, almost encouraging you to give it up. However the benefits of using the system far surpass the challenges associated with it. With a fair deal of struggle on my part, I learned many practical aspects of GTD which cannot be found in the book itself. Here are 9 reasons why you might struggle with GTD and ways to deal with it:

Reason#1: You are a Tool Freak

GTD has over 400 supported apps, which means we are spoiled by choices. At some point, I became a tool freak and wasted too much time setting up the “right” tools. Gradually, I realized that tools are least important and gave up all fancy apps in favor of Notational Velocity.  I am completely in love with it’s simplicity and minimalism. With no checkboxes, buttons and clicks, it feel almost natural to use everyday.
Key take away: Use simplest possible tool to suite your natural working style and mindset

Reason#2: Spending time creating the perfect To-Do list

During the initial stage, out of sheer enthusiasm, I wanted my To-Do list to be as complete and as comprehensive as possible, like a prized possession. It’s like those times when the “perfectionist” inside me became out of control and I started treating To-Do list as real work. The reality is, no matter how good a To-Do list is, getting things done is what really matters. I paused creating extensive To-Do lists and kept them practical and realistic. I no longer churn out every single action step inside a project in detail and don’t write a To-Do for things I do on a regular basis such as- blog writing and course work. My habits take care of them.
Key take away: Keep your To-Do list lean and smart. Remove things from your To-Do list which you know you are going to do regularly. Only put those things in To-Do’s which you want to come back and review later because they might just slip away. You can even consider consolidating “less important” items into a single list so that it does not take away your attention.

Reason#3: Lack of Reviewing

Except the Someday/Maybe list, most of the lists can get irrelevant pretty quickly. If you fail to constantly review and update your lists, you will end up trusting it less. Does it mean a lot of work? Not really. It takes only 15 to 20 minutes each day for me to keep the To-Do lists updated. Reviewing To-Do list became much more simple and fast after I started using the bookmarking feature in Notational Velocity.  Again, the simpler the tool, the better off you are at using the ‘System’ instead of the ‘Tool’.  
Key take away: Reviewing and processing often will save you a bunch of time and keep your work current.

Reason#4: Lost in too many projects

Since GTD encourages you to create as many projects as possible so that you hold a stake in the ground until it’s done, I ended up creating many projects. As a result, I got totally bogged down by the long list of projects, making it challenging to choose my Next Actions. To solve this puzzle, I first created a set of key Goals, each representing the most important projects I need to work on. Then I grouped rest of the projects into one single list of ‘Personal Projects’. This not only reduced the number of projects I need to look at, it automatically brought greater focus on the projects which are really important.
Key take away: Identify key projects based on your career or financial goals and create a project for each one of them. Group the rest under a single list of “personal projects”.

Reason#5: Too May Collection Buckets

If you have too many places to record and store your “Stuff”, you will end up wasting a lot of time collecting, let alone processing it.
Key take away: Try to minimize or consolidate your collection buckets so that you can get to the task of processing efficiently.

Reason#6: Obsessive about GTD

I often come across people obsessed with GTD giving it a cult like status. In reality, GTD is a means not the end. Use GTD to your advantage by making it suit to your working style and your professional demands. Don’t try to get consumed by trying to follow every piece of GTD advice on the planet.  Most importantly, don’t try to limit yourself by using GTD oriented tools. If you try to be a cult follower of GTD, instead of liberating, you might find it limiting and eventually give it up (and all benefits associated with it).
Key take away: Use and adjust the system based on your personal and professional patterns instead of getting consumed by so called “best practices” by so called “experts”.

Reason#7: Clear distinction between actionable and non-actionable items

The real benefit of GTD comes alive from the “Next Action” thinking. The system literally drives you to be focused on taking most effective physical actions that will allow you to make progress on your situation. If you fail to have a clear distinction between actionable and non-actionable stuff, you will end up having an ineffective “Next Action” list.
Key take away: Take extra care in ensuring that “Next Action” only have actual physical actions and not projects or SomeDay/MayBe items which might easily slip in as “Next Action”.

Reason#8: Confusion with Contexts

Many people get confused with Contexts in GTD. This means, they are missing out on a very useful aspect of the system. Let me clarify contexts right now. Contexts are various categories in which you organize a To-Do item with respect to how you DO the work most effectively. What you DO when you are in Office, what you DO when you are in front of computer, what you DO when you are traveling. Office, Home, Computer and Travel are the “Contexts” for your “Next Actions”. Associating Context with a To-Do item is liberating and very powerful.
Key take away: Use Contexts to organize your To-Do items. Evolve your Contexts based on your lifestyle.

Reason#9: You are overcommitted

The most common yet most overlooked reason why you may fail to implement GTD is simply because you are overcommitted. No productivity system in the world can help you become efficient if you have taken up things far greater than your realistic capacity to deal with them.
Key take away: Reduce your drive to do everything and be everywhere. Clarify your purpose, why you exist and narrow down your goals to the most important ones, the ones which are consistent with your values. The ones you want to truly want to live with.

The final piece of advice

GTD is advanced common sense. In fact the use of terminology “GTD” itself has created lot of confusion and misleading perceptions around it. In reality, we are actually doing a lot of it naturally.

What GTD does – It provides a structure and consistent standards to think about your work, get organized and get things done. So that your mind is available for creative and constructive purposes instead of simply doing the job of remembering and reminding.

GTD can be adapted to your own styles and tools. It is as practical as you want to make it. Try to implement GTD using physical pen and paper first and then use a notepad file or similar program to keep a track of your lists.  

Keep yourself rooted in the basics of GTD, which is – keeping the job of remembering and reminding out of your mind. And to follow such a simple principle, you don’t need a sophisticated software. All you need is your work and a willingness to keep yourself organized.

Time to start Getting Things Done!

Top 20 Most Useful Websites to Boost Personal Productivity

Want to be a productivity rockstar? Here is a list of top 20 websites to boost your personal productivity. These apps can help you organize, improve your focus, make you relaxed and unclutter your life. Go ahead and check them out, every single one of them is useful and unique.

1. Calm
Want to experience the power of meditation while working? is the answer. Unlike many similar websites, is a fully guided meditation you can do anytime – online. After completing the 2 minutes meditation, I found a remarkable shift in my way of being. This website deserves a place in your bookmarks.

2. Unroll
Unrollme is a true bliss and life changing. It detects all your e-mail subscriptions by scanning your inbox and lets you decide on which e-mails you want to unsubscribe. When I did, it was a pleasant shock to discover that I was subscribed to over 100 e-mail subscriptions. Thankfully, I unsubscribed from most of them, and now, I get a daily digest of all my subscriptions, in just one e-mail. What a relief!

3. Away Find
Finally, no need to go and check your e-mail inbox for “that” important e-mail. Using this app you can receive timely alerts of important e-mails in a variety of ways such as SMS, voice mail alert, iPhone/Android alerts or even desktop notifications. When you add a specific contact to your alert list, it notifies you  as soon as you get e-mail from that entity.

4. Nature sounds for me
This beautiful app has some amazing sounds of birds, animals and nature to instantly enlighten your spirit. Choose from a wide range of sounds, customize them as per your needs and start playing. I especially love the sounds of chirping birds, it’s a wonderful productivity booster.

5. Mind bloom
Looking at this app will bring smile on your face instantly. It has an amazing feel and you may want to keep it open to listen to the sound of birds. The app gives you an interactive and engaging experience to think about what matters to you in life and actions you can take to accomplish your goals. It’s worth spending some dedicated time over the weekend!

6. Pocket
Pocket offer much more breadth and sophistication in how you save content over the web. By far, it’s the best tool to capture information, links, images and content from the web, store it and search it when needed. With a handy browser plugin and over 300 supported apps, it’s a must have item in your productivity toolbox.

7. Cold Turkey
As the name suggests, this app will make you look like a cold Turkey when your urges to surf online kicks-in. It’s an app to help you control accessing unproductive websites during certain periods of time that you define. All you have to do is to download the app, add websites to block list and set the time when you should not access them. Cold turkey will do it’s job to keep you self-disciplined. For mac users, there is Self control app your can download on your desktop.

8. Simple Note + Notational Velocity (Or Roseph Notes for Windows)
Simple Note is a cool to-do app, perhaps the best thing after paper. If you are totally obsessed with simplicity and elegance, you will love these two apps. The reason I have combined them together is because Notational Velcity is the desktop app (for mac) and it syncs up with Simple Note in real-time. Notational Velocity has almost cult like following in mac community. For windows users, Roseph notes is the desktop tool which is (trying to) match up with Notational Velocity, but not close enough.

9. Rescue Time
Rescue time is actually an all-in-one package that automatically tracks time you spend on your computer and tells you how productive you are based on the statistics captured. It also lets you punch-in any activities you specifically want to track and allows you to blocks sites to keep you away from online distractions. A great overall package for time sensitive work.

10. Rainy Mood
Want to experience rain without water? Visit rain mood, you will love it! As soon as you open this website, you will get into an entirely different zone of creativity. I use it often while writing articles or doing creative work. The spirit of rain kicks in and as they say “Rain makes everything better”, it actually improves productivity instantly.

11. Do Nothing for Two Minutes
Want to relax after a hard meeting or a stressful call? Bookmark this app because I know you will get addicted to this one. You can almost reach a zen like state in just two minutes.

12. Focus App
This is the app where music meets neuroscience. Based on scientific research, the website not just allows you to be productive with the help of music, it also helps you get a good sleep! Totally awesome and it can become an important part of your productive lifestyle.

13. Sanebox
Sanebox is another good approach to improve e-mail productivity. It automatically prioritizes  important e-mails. For less important e-mails it creates a summary which can come handy to quickly run over anything interesting you might not want to miss.

14. Focus Booster
Focus Booster is  based on the famous pomodoro technique. It allows you to focus on one single task for 25 minutes and then take a break of 5 minutes. Pomodoro technique has been very popular among productivity circles because of its simple yet effective approach towards productivity. If you really want to use and get advantage of pomodoro technique, focus booster is the answer.

15. Live Happy
Happier people are more productivity. Who knows better than Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology and author of the book The How of Happiness. Live happy is a happiness boosting program for iPhone. I haven’t tried it but looking at the app reviews, it easily deserves a place on your smartphone.

16. Instapaper
Internet is filled with interesting, amusing and unique information we come across everyday (mostly when we are not looking for it). Driven by our curiosity and quite unknowingly, we spend a lot of our “work time” in reading. If you are facing this problem, Instapaper is what you need. You can click on read later on any article you come across over the internet and Instapaper will promptly save it for you to read later. It also offers good reading recommendations based on your topic of interest.

17. Writeroom
Unlike practically everything else in our digital lives, WriteRoom’s minimalist interface gives you a truly flattering proposition – It’s You, not the software, that matters. For windows user, we have Zen Writer which has a free trial for a limited period. Windows user can also check Write Monkey which has got rave reviews from it’s users. Write Monkey also has some amazing plugins and it’s totally free.

18. Evernote
Evernote is a all-time-classic app in productivity circles. You will love it for the sheer simplicity and sophistication of this app. With a powerful search that can search text inside an image, Evernote captures everything right from pdf, images and docs to web pages and visiting cards. A must have feature of this app is the Evernote Webclipper. It’s a nifty browser plugin that captures information over the internet in many different ways. Backed by a large global community and a variety of powerful third party extensions, it’s a must have tool for the knowledge worker.

19. Wunderlist
Wunderlist is one of the fasted growing To-Do apps globally. Thanks to it’s clean interface and collaborative features, it has a winning edge over most of the To-Do apps out there. Check it out!

20. Things 

Things app is one of those well-thought softwares that balances between minimalism and features. They get GTD just right without being too complex or feature rich. One of the best aspects of Things App is the zero learning curve involved. It doesn’t overburden you with buttons, fields and too may options. I have written a detailed review of this app in a separate article.


It’s not the app itself but how you use it and benefit from it is what really matters!

This post is going to be my last article in 2013. Wishing you a happy new year and hope that you will make the most out of your life in the new year with these productivity websites.

[UPDATE: January 2015] SpringPad which as in this list has been removed because it has been shut down. Instead, I am putting up Things App. There we some app recommendations in the comments but since this article is focused on personal productivity, I couldn’t incorporate them here.

How to Achieve Remarkable Results Using the Power of Outcome Visioning

visualizing outcomes

visualizing outcomes

Outcome visioning is a powerful technique to produce remarkable results in your work and life. Unfortunately this idea is not grasped fully by most of us and benefits not reaped. In this article I will explain you what outcome focusing is and how you reap benefits by making use of it.

What happens when you decide to host a party at home? 

First you determine what kind of party it is. Is it a birthday party, or a family get together. This is your intention, the purpose.

Your purpose automatically triggers the natural planning process. You begin to think about what kind of food you will prepare, what kind of ambience you will create, convenient time when everyone can come, types of people you will invite etc. You probably did not think about these things consciously, but these are your principles.

Once you decide to fulfill your purpose, you might just begin to see a picture of how the party will be, the smell of the food, the people involved, the noise and laughter. You might even experience how it will sound, how it will look and the way it feels to be in the party, much earlier than the actual party. This is your outcome visioning

Outcome visioning is the art of building razor sharp clarity around your purpose and visualizing the end result by associating it with positive experiences.

Outcome focusing has three main elements:

  1. A purpose – The purpose is your intention, something you want to accomplish.
  2. The principles – Principles determine the boundaries and standards to fulfill your purpose. They are like guideposts to help you gain clarity around your purpose.
  3. The experience – What will it look like when your purpose is fulfilled? What picture does it create in your mind? What kind you experiences (seeing, hearing, feeling) can you associate when your purpose is fulfilled?

 Using Outcome focussing at Work

Let us assume you receive a request from a client to deliver a proposal. Your intention is to deliver the proposal. This is your purpose.

The principles around your purpose could be the timeline to deliver, level of detailing needed, topics covered, target audience (who will ultimately read it and take decision) and budgetary constraints. Each of these factors determines how your proposal will look like when it is ready.

Did you notice something? As soon as you determine the principles clearly, you could easily picture what it’s going to look like when it is finished. You could visualize how nicely the proposal structured and the satisfaction you will get after completing it. You could visualize how it would be appreciated by client and even see the positive emotions on their face.

In the above example, we associated the following experiences with your purpose of creating proposal:

  1. Satisfaction you will get
  2. The Appreciation may receive from client
  3. Positive emotions on client’s face

Now the magic begins here. As you begin working on the proposal, the quality of your actions will be substantially high, consistent to the outcome you have envisioned.

That’s outcome visioning in action! Does it raise standard of your work? Does it induce higher predictability around quality of your deliverable? To answer this question, imagine for a moment that you did not think of these things consciously and just began writing the proposal. What outcome could you see? Better or worst?

Once you get used to outcome visioning, you can produce remarkable results in your work and life. Begin with a smaller/easier project and keep practicing until it becomes your second nature.

Once you do, let me know about your experiences!

A Culture of Productivity

Our world is getting more and more complex, and there is no looking back. In these turbulent times, a new demand has risen. A culture that people want but are they are unaware of. A culture of productivity.  Here are ten essential elements of the culture of productivity:

  1. Defining work is also work – The master key to getting productive in 21st century is defining what the work is. Your personal effectiveness is directly proportional to the level of clarity and definition around your work.
  2. Keeping nothing in head  – Mind is like a container. If you keep it empty – often, it will instantly start creating. The secret to great work is a clear mind.
  3. Speaking wisely – If two words are sufficient, the third one is not needed. The more you use your words diligently, the more power they will carry.
  4. Focussing – Gone are the days of hard work and smart work. It’s time to get into focused work. Dedicate a fixed time focussing on one thing. Turn-off all external distractions, shut the internet, cellphone and get yourself engaged deeply.
  5. Single tasking – Stop doing two things at once. Acknowledge that you have too many things and take high quality single action choices instead of ineffective multiple choices.
  6. Editing your commitments – Make difficult choices to live easier life. It may also mean giving up things dear to you because there are other things dearer.
  7. Becoming mindful about making commitments – Think twice, thrice,…before adding a new commitment to your psyche. Are you prepared for the long haul? While it takes a few seconds to make a commitment, it may take countless hours to fulfill one and even a large amount of your attention to re-negotiate it.
  8. Consuming technology diligently – Technology can make you super efficient and save a lot of time. At the same time, technology can be damaging to your mental, physical, emotional and social world. Learn when not to use technology. Find when you can remain without it and practice it often. You will love being with yourself and with your loved ones, without technology in between.
  9. Reflecting upon experiences – Self development can come from Self. Anything you read or listen can impact you if it turns into a Self-belief. Consciously reflecting upon your behaviors, patterns and urges allows you to shape-up your self-beliefs and help you improvise.
  10. Living purposefully – What’s your purpose? What can you stand for? What’s the purpose of your day? What’s the purpose of your week? Goals follow purpose and actions fulfills them. Have purpose beyond your survival instinct. Can you take the road less travelled?

These are simple principles yet not so common. Can you embrace them? Why not get started and give it a try?

Top 10 Productivity Killers

Are you struggling to get things done everyday and still remain busy? Surprisingly, the reason for this busyness is not just about the work itself. It’s also about a large number of internal and external factors that kill our productivity.

Here are top ten productivity killers to watch out for:

  1. Surfing endlessly: The seductive nature of internet allowing people to click from one hyperlink to another is the biggest consumer of time and attention. The quest to find useful information on internet often lands up feeding our curiosity. Here is a handy solution for it.
  2. Checking e-mails often: Checking e-mails multiple times a day can suck away a lot of attention and productivity. Unless you are in a customer support type role, habit of checking e-mail frequently might easily turn into an obsessive compulsive behavior. Here is a solution to this problem.
  3. Meetings: Having too many meetings or long meetings can be very toxic and detrimental to getting anything worthwhile done. Try to keep meetings to minimum, shorten meeting times and do a lot of background work before meetings to save time and energy.
  4. Frequent distractions: Constantly ringing cellphones, messages in im’s and frequent interruptions from co-workers are most common types of distractions. These distractions can be avoided by getting a pair of headphone and putting them on (even if you are not listening to music), taking your instant messenger to invisible mode and turning off all alerts on you cellphone.
  5. Social networking sites: Apart from ‘shares’ and ‘likes’, games played on social networks have added a new dimension to amount of productive time lost. When you are spending time on social networks or playing games, someone else is making money at the cost of your time and energy.
  6. Disorganization: For many people, frequent source of procrastination comes from not being organized. An immediate impact of disorganization can be seen in the mental horsepower being lost in dealing with the uncertainties, surprises and urgencies.
  7. Lack of clarity and definition: In knowledge work, a big part of work is to define the work itself. If you don’t think and develop enough clarity on what needs to be done, it usually consumes much more time and effort than needed. A big productivity killer.
  8. Unrealistic expectations: This is an extension of previous point but deserves it’s own place. Since there is a lack of clarity about the tasks and activities at hand, we tend to make unrealistic commitments to ourselves and others. When the expectations are not met, they turn into failures resulting in unproductive behaviors.
  9. Multi-tasking: When you try to do everything, you end up accomplishing nothing. Multi-tasking is the surest recipe to not getting anything worthwhile done.
  10. Too many things on mind: Many people overly utilize their mind to remember and process everything at the same time. Usually there is a inverse relationship between how much is on your mind and how much it gets done.

Unless you do something about each of these productivity killers, they can become a way of life and pave the way towards chronic stress and never ending busyness.

Want to get rid of these productivity killers? Find out more .



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