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?

5 productivity habits that will save you a lifetime of stress and anxiety

5 Productivity habits

5 productivity habits to elevate your performance

Making things happen, innovating, working less, having all the time to do things you really want to do – all this is not really difficult to have. What’s difficult is to mould our own behaviors and work patterns to have those great things in life.

Here are 5 simple behaviors that can make a lasting difference in your productivity and  quality of life:

  1. Write, make a to-do list: Always keep a journal where you can write down ideas, set-backs(yes!), accomplishments, to-do list, goals and even unspoken feelings. More writing = more clarity.
  2. Overcome Internal resistance: Is there something important you are putting off for a long time? You want to file your taxes, start a hobby or initiate a new business. Make it happen. When you start something that you resisted for a long time, a tonne of energy gets released.
  3. Create a great work environment: Good space will inspire you to do great work. There are times when your energy level is low. You can use this time as an opportunity to clean-up and create your workspace.
  4. Take actions with Conscious Awareness: Before doing a task, ask yourself – Is there anything better I can do right now? What’s the single most important thing I need to take care that will free up my energy? Can someone else do the task I am going to do? Once you bring priorities and options to your conscious awareness and think about the work before working on it, you will pick the right things to do.
  5. Make ‘No’ your default answer to a new commitment:  A majority of us are in default ‘yes’ mode when it comes to making commitments to ourselves and others. Your friend invites you to a party, and default answer is ‘yes’. Your colleague invites you to a business event, default answer comes up – almost automatically. The moment your first internal conversation to a new external or internal commitment is ‘No’, you will think more responsibly before saying ‘Yes’ to it. And  when you say ‘Yes’, it will be real with less broken promises and more fulfilled commitments.

The list above can be longer but Instead of “knowing” 10 good things, it makes sense to DO just one great thing right away.

What did you pick?

Productivity is All About Focus & Flow

Developing natural focus and creativity

Deeply immersing into something brings up natural focus

Just a while ago, I was watching my 6 years old kid deeply immersed into scribbling pictures in a small diary (see the picture). He was scribbling page after page drawing interesting shapes and figures. When I asked him what it was, he described each shape in vivid detail. It was a sheer joy watching him so deeply involved.

There is something to learn from this experience.

Each one of us has something which we can deeply immerse ourselves in.

What is it that you love the most? What can have you immerse yourself hours into something without realizing the time fly by?

During my childhood days, summer vacations were the most exciting times when the time used to fly by. We would spend entire days creating gizmos often getting lost in our own ‘scientific world’ – make trolleys and robots. On certain occasions, we would start with sunrise, go up on our apartment roof and begin. Before we could finish our ‘invention’, the sun would start setting in – to our realization that we skipped the lunch!

Do you remember any such occasion when you were totally lost in doing that one thing? I am sure each one of has such experiences.

That’s productivity in all it’s splendor!

When we see the originality of 37Signals, quality of Apple products, or the writings of Seth Godin, deep focus and flow is in action. There are numerous such examples but the core principle remains the same – Focus & Flow.

How do you get into your Focus and Flow? Is it a new hobby or a passion you have been suppressing for a long time or is it something that you need to give up or complete?

The easiest way to get your Focus and Flow back is to find something adventurous, fun and interesting!

What has been your experience with Focus and Flow?

3 Immutable Laws of Personal Productivity

3 laws of personal productivity

Three immutable laws of personal productivity

It’s the Diwali Holiday’s and I was completely relaxed, taking a nap this afternoon. There was nothing specific in my mind, yet I was partly awake and partly sleeping. And suddenly, the thought of “three laws of personal productivity” popped up – out of nowhere. The idea became crystal clear in a few moments and I could not stop myself writing this blog.

Why Three Laws of Personal Productivity?

Behind any  phenomenon in the universe, there are underlying principles. For instance, we sitting on the chair right now or taking a walk down the street – is possible due to the Law of Gravity. Similarly, behind peak personal productivity and performance, there are some underlying principles. With only 1/6th of Earth’s gravity, we can’t walk on the moon, in a similar way, it is not possible to reach peak productivity levels without practicing these fundamental laws of productivity.

Here are the three laws of personal productivity:

  1. Putting Things Off From Head
  2. Developing Clarity
  3. Staying Relaxed and Focused

Let’s look into each of these laws and try to get a grip on them:

1. Putting Things Off From your Head

Writing all Stuff down into an external system you trust – be it an idea, a to-do item, a project or something to refer later on, is absolutely fundamental to personal productivity. Your mind is a focusing tool and it can be better used for creative purposes instead of storing an infinitely long list of things going on in your life. The key to store everything in a referencing system is – 1) It should be one single system – either a diary or a computer program or anything you will use often 2) You should review it regularly.

2. Developing Clarity

Most often, our biggest worries and stress comes from lack of clarity. “I missed my flight today, then what do I do next?” Until I have determined what exactly I am going to do about the situation next, that missed flight is not going to get off from my head. This is an extreme example but in our day-today lives, we have numerous small and big things we want to ‘have’ but we have not yet determined what exactly are we going to “Do” about them.

What’s the next precise physical action you are going to do to make progress or close on an open item. This boils down to developing clarity. Until clear next action is defined and written down, your mind is not going to stop bothering about it – taking away your valuable attention unnecessarily. Once you are clear about the next action on something and put that as a reminder, your mind stops thinking about it. You immediately feel relaxed and focused, free to live the moment.

3. Staying Relaxed and Focused

No worthwhile work is possible without a relaxed and focused mind. If we look around, there is more mediocre work than remarkable creation happening in our world. Is it because people are lesser talented? No, the fundamental reason why this is happening is because a majority of us constantly remain under stress and the infinite store of creativity within remains untapped and unused. Working even at a mild level of stress can deprive you of taking right decisions, let alone the the creative genius sitting inside you.

Staying relaxed and focused let’s you respond to situations appropriately, neither under-react, nor over-react. It let’s you produce real results with lesser efforts.

Now that you know the 3 laws of personal productivity – are you ready to start putting them into practice?

Try practicing them and see the remarkable difference it makes in your life…

If you are already practicing them, do share your experience!

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How to Develop a Focused and Relaxed State of Mind

developing relax and focused state of mind

how to develop relaxed and focused state of mind

I am a big fan of Bruce Lee and grew up watching his movies. It was fascinating to see his power packed punches and near perfect round-house kicks. While learning martial arts, I used to imitate him, dreaming to become like him – “some day”. That day never came. But, there is a profound learning from what he did and showed to the world about the power of Relaxation and Focus.

Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax

The more focused and relaxed we are, the better is our experience of life. An ideal state of focused and relaxed mind much resembles still water  – often referred as “mind like water” in GTD system.

What happens when you throw a pebble in a pond of still water? It responds in the exact proportion to the force and mass of the object thrown in it. Neither more, nor less.

In a “mind like water” state, you respond appropriately to the situation in front of you, neither overreact, nor under-react.

You can also learn to be focused and relaxed like a martial artist by following these three practices:

1. Take everything out of your mind

Your mind is a focusing tool, not a storage device to hold the large number of agreements you have made to yourself and others. Such commitments (often referred as “open loops”), take up unnecessary mental energy and attention – no matter how small they are. Unless these “open loops” are handled appropriately, your mind isn’t going to give up bothering you about them .

Here are the steps to handle your “open loops” – 1) Take them out of your head on a piece of paper  2) Determine what it is and the next action to be taken 3) Store them physically in an external system where you can come back to refer. Once you start doing this regularly, your mind will stop bothering you about those open loops. You will immediately experience a relaxed state of mind. More on this here.

2. Organize 

Life is full of uncertainties and staying disorganized adds one more layer to it. To me, being organized means keeping everything going around you in perspective and being fully aware of all the moving parts in your world. An organizing system comprises of – 1. Your projects and associated to-do’s 2. Reference material and inventory of ideas 3. Time specific commitments (calendar) 4. Action items to be done by you 5. Tasks you have delegated to others. Having a clear picture of all these five aspects will allow you to experience relaxation and a sense of control in your life.

3. Meditate

Meditating is like slowing down and cleaning up your mind so that it works optimally. In today’s demanding world, meditation is not optional, it is an important need. Here is a simple method to meditate (There are hundreds of ways to meditate and the one described below is probably the simplest method you can start with):

  1. Choose a quite place where there is minimum noise and zero distraction
  2. Sit down in a relaxed position either on a chair or on the floor
  3. Keep your posture straight and relaxed
  4. Close your eyes
  5. Focus on your breath

As soon as you close your eyes, your mind will start wandering aimlessly . Don’t try to force yourself to focus on breathing. Gradually your internal noise will start settling down and you will become calmer and calmer. Once you make a habit of meditating daily, you will begin to experience a greater sense of relaxation and focus. Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase to 10-15 or 30 minutes. You can learn more on mediation in this excellent book.

These three practices are simple, yet very profound in their impact. It takes only a few minutes everyday to practice them. Once you do, it will open up a new world of productivity  – the one where you are relaxed and focused, every moment.

What are your ideas to develop a relaxed and focused state of mind?

The Art of Elimination: Reduce your workload by 60% and make progress where it really matters

Elimination helps reduce your workload

Elimination helps filter stuff from your list

Most of us juggle everyday with too many things to do on our list. Some activities come by default as a part of our role, some activities are thrown by our boss, spouse or colleague, while some are added simply because we find them interesting.

Result – missed commitments, lousy output, delayed projects and stressful days.

I call it ‘too-much-to-do syndrome’.

Just because a certain to-do item is on your plate, it is not required to be done by yourself or done right away. What’s important is to distinguish and identify things you can defer or delegate to others before doing by yourself. Once you start putting the habit of filtering items from your To-Do list, you will enter into a new zone of productivity.

Elimination frees up your mental space

Imagine days when you have only 3-5 really important things to do versus 20 random things? How do you see yourself doing those few things? You will give your best in doing them. You will accomplish more, minus the stress.

Let’s look at how can you Eliminate things from your list and yet remain totally happy about it.

The Art of Eliminating

Removing stuff from your list is not about cutting corners or taking shortcuts, it’s about making intelligent choices so that you produce optimal results in areas that really matter. Elimination is done by asking yourself three simple questions to every single Project or To-Do Item that you come across. Here are these questions:

  1. Is it worth doing? – Saying Yes or No to a projects or To Do item depends on your goals, available resources and priorities.
  2. Is it worth doing now? – If a Project or To Do item is worth doing, does it have the necessary clarity?
  3. Can someone else do it? – If a Project or To Do item has necessary clarity, can someone else do it?

Let us look into each of these question in some more detail.

1. Is it worth doing?

Every-time you come across a new project or an interesting task, you need to ask yourself these critical questions – Is this project aligned to my goals? Do I have the necessary time and resources to take this activity? Is it realistic to do this task given my existing commitments? Once you answer these questions, you will be able to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to a new task with conviction. Saying No requires courage and real thinking.

2. Is it worth doing now?

If your answer to a certain Project or To Do item is ‘Yes’, you need to ask yourself these questions – Do I have enough clarity on the task? Can I visualize the outcome clearly? If your answer is No, then you can take the necessary steps to develop clarity around it and come back to it later. Postponing things for later helps remove fog and develop clarity.

3. Can someone else do it?

It becomes easy to delegate once you know your key strength and identify activities you can do yourself. To identify your core activities, you need to ask yourself these questions – What are the skills am I really good at? What activities which I know can bring the most revenue to my business or line of work? What activities done by me can bring greatest value?

In my case, I could see that my core activities are – Writing and Connecting. These are the two core areas which I can do the best because of the domain knowledge and expertise I have accumulated. There are lots of other activities such as marketing, design, maintaining blog, book keeping and administration which are non-core and can be done by someone else. Delegating these non-core activities allows me to focus on writing good stuff and solving peoples productivity challenges.

Once you identify your core activity, you could make informed choices about doing things yourself versus delegating them to others.

Here are the golden rules of delegation:

  1. Delegate everything that do not fall into your core activity
  2. Delegate sensibly to the right resource with appropriate follow-up mechanism
  3. Delegate often

Finally…

Eliminating things from your list is a delicate art which you can master gradually by practicing the three questions each time you come across a new task. If you implement the three steps of Elimination really well, you can reduce up to 60% of your work-load. Now you are left with giving your best to the most important things to do – things you really care about accomplishing and making a difference.

Top 16 tips for stress-free productivity and remarkable living

Top 16 tips you can practice one a day

16 tips for productivity and stress free living

I am back from a  long and thrilling 40 days vacation. Living life in tents without luxuries such as bathroom, computers and living room now seems like a rare accomplishment.

I decided to start off writing my first blog post after the long break by putting together a list of my favorite tips on productivity and stress-free living.

Here you go:

  1. Have a purpose – higher than yourself
  2. Create Goals
  3. Make To-Do list
  4. Set your priorities
  5. Do one thing at a time
  6. Treat the first 3 hours of your day like gold
  7. Review your lists at least once a week
  8. Energize yourself
  9. Take a break
  10. Turn off e-mail and phone at least 2 hours a day
  11. Have open dialogue
  12. Express unspoken feelings
  13. Reflect often
  14. Stay calm
  15. Take a deep breath
  16. Celebrate accomplishments

I invite you to break from the norm and do one practice each day – starting from today.

Which practice did you choose today?

How to consume a low information diet and remain super productive

Productivity has a direct relationship with the quantity and quality of information we consume on a daily basis. Knowingly or unknowingly, we spend time in consuming ‘nice to have’ information. Such information is usually very interesting but mostly useless and contributes to the biggest killer of time.

The reason why we keep consuming such information is because we are unmindful about it. If we start distinguishing and skipping the ‘nice to have but useless’ information, we could save a lot of time and mental energy to do really productive stuff. Let us try to distinguish the type of information we consume everyday. The type of information we consume usually falls in one of the three categories below:

  1. Time sensitive information – Project delivery deadline, new customer lead, bills, tax intimation, travel information and many such information pieces are quite critical and requires immediate action. If we do not take prompt action, it could pose a serious threat to our work-ability.
  2. Should have information – Information we use in our projects and main stream work falls into this category. It could be analytics, subject matter books, blogs and useful knowledge that has direct impact on quality of our line of work.
  3. Nice to have information – Breaking news,  friend’s dog giving birth to a puppy, get rich quick schemes, social media gossips, lifestyle magazines –  the list is endless. Such information is usually spicy and interesting but not entirely useful.

The ‘nice to have’ information pose the biggest threat to productivity. Such information if consumed in high degree can cause stress, anxiety, loss of creativity, lack of original thinking, loos of inner peace and feeling of incompetency. Recent studies have shown that facebook can make you unhappy.

The key to being productive is to identify the type of information before consuming it and then take a decision to not consume if it is ‘nice to have’ information.   You can do this by making a conscious effort. The easiest way to do this is by asking three simple questions to yourself:

  1. Is this information relevant to my line of work?
  2. What will I loose if I don’t consume this information right now?
  3. Can I live without this information?

If you start practicing these three questions and really honor your answer, your mind will get a lot of open space to create something remarkable. By consuming a low information diet, you may experience a lot of inner peace, freedom and being at ease with yourself.

What do you want to be? Information-hoalic or a creative superstar?

Do you strike a perfect productivity chord?

guitarMany people I have met try to improve productivity by making radical changes in their lifestyle and work patterns. Though, it is an ideal way to transform personal productivity, it doesn’t always seem to work.  If you are failing to improve your productivity inspite of all your radical efforts, it’s time to look at this totally simple yet very effective idea – Identifying your perfect productivity chord.

Think of productivity akin to tuning a musical instrument. Being an ardent fan of Indian classical music, I have seen that musician matches the right frequency and pitch of her instrument before playing it. Similarly. there is a way for us to identify our own mental frequency and pitch which can produce optimal output – I call it the ‘perfect productivity chord’.

Your perfect productive mood is when you can be 200% focused on your task and really put up solid stuff in a short amount of time.  You are ‘in-the-zone’.

So how do you find out your prefect productive chord?

The key to find out your prefect productivity chord is to discover what triggers it and then leverage it. Here are some pointers you can use to identify and strike your perfect productivity chord:

  1. Some Event – Something as simple as calling your best friend, victory of your favorite soccer team or even reading an article of your favorite author
  2. Some Topic – A subject in which you get elevated to talk about. Could be your favorite movie star or a great new gear you are looking to buy
  3. Some Time – Periods of time when you simply get excited to do the real work. For me it’s early mornings, for some it’s late night or very early mornings
  4. Some Place – I get instantly inspired when I am in open surrounded by natural beauty. I am writing this blog while sitting out in the open.

The list could go even longer. I hope you got the idea to get started in finding your perfect productivity chord.

I am keen to hear back about your prefect productivity chord. What did you discover?

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