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…]

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:


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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: