This is a guest post by productivity guru and good friend, Daniel Gold.
Achieving a “mind like water” and “balance” as time management guru, David Allen suggests in his book, “Getting Things Done”, is sometimes a whole lot easier said than done. To truly achieve productivity bliss, it requires something much more than “the right app” – it requires dedication and unbridled tenacity to achieve your goals.
In the past, I wondered why Mr. Allen didn’t recommend or suggest a specific app in which to apply his ground breaking time management methodology. However, after having written three books on getting things done myself and receiving countless emails, comments on my blog and social networks from followers, I realized why: because in order to achieve what is really focus and clarity in your objectives and outcomes, you must better learn how you work and what allows you to work at an optimum level.
Ultimately, the challenge with getting things done is never really the app, but rather our attention span which we have for a single (or two) apps to help us achieve our ground level tasks all the way to our 50,000 foot life goals. When we read a book like “Getting Things Done” that tells us we must have a “trusted system”, but lacks the insight as to what that system should be, we find ourselves floating in a sea of apps for our computer, phones & tablets.
I’ve talked about focusing in on the process here, here, and even did a webinar on it here where I have encouraged folks to search less for the “magic app” and focus more on doing a self-examination into our own work habits. Once we do that, understanding what app we should use will likely surface itself to us.
Here’s three things you can do to achieve that optimum performance and productivity bliss.
Step 1: Asking yourself the tough questions
There may not be a magic pill, but I can tell you this – which is what I tell all of my productivity clients as well – if we all take a giant step backwards and ask ourselves these 3 questions, we’ll be a whole lot closer to understanding how we work and therefore which app to use:
- “What few things must absolutely go right in order for us to be more productive and successful?”
- Follow that question up with “What challenges have we had in the past?” and finally,
- “What has gone right before?”
Step 2: Making new routines lasting habits
About a year and a half ago, my best friend from childhood surprised me on my birthday by buying a plane ticket and traveling down to spend the weekend with me. He said he just began running as a form of exercise, which I thought was ridiculous because in the 25 years I’ve known him, neither one of us have ever been “sporty”. Nonetheless, when he said let’s go for a short 2 mile run, I begrudgingly said yes. Well, after about a half mile, I thought I might have a cardiac arrest! I turned around and walked back to the house. The next day, I opted to stay inside when he went for a run. After he left though, I realized that if he can do it, well so can I! After running 3 days a week for four weeks, I realized that I accomplished a monumental milestone: I made a new routine a habit and just 9 weeks after I started, I ran my very first 5K!
Why do I tell this story? Because I am a huge believer that it takes 30 days to take any new routine and turn it into a habit. I created a journal where I made sure that I was doing all the right things to achieve this goal. You can do the same for yourself! Whether it’s a big project at work, the house, or you want to run your first marathon, you need to take your goals and break them down by measurable objectives, key milestones so that you can create better outcomes.
Step 3: Free yourself from distractions
We have distractions pinging, ringing, and buzzing everywhere we go. Smartphones, tablets, and web apps are awesome – until they start killing our productivity. If you’re working on a big task, do yourself a favor and turn off email notifications on your computer, silence your phones, and let your phone go to voicemail. This will undoubtedly help you get out of your inbox! Inasmuch as you think you might be a great “multitasker” – the theory is a farce. Anytime you dedicate your mind to achieving a task and get interrupted – whether it’s an email to a client, a presentation you’re working on, or a report you’re preparing – you’ve lost your flow and it is exceedingly difficult to get back to where you were before you let yourself get distracted. Learning how to measure your productivity, will help you become more productive!
The challenge to achieving “a mind like water” and “balance” to create better outcomes for your personal productivity is layered with complexities and unending distractions. Minimizing those distractions requires true focus and real clarity. Implementing some of these suggestions above will certainly help get you closer to that goal.