In a recent episode of Focused, my co-host David Spark & I interviewed Laura McClellan (a.k.a. The Productive Woman). It was a fun conversation, and one of the things we hit on was the topic of mastermind groups. I’m a big fan of mastermind groups, and a member of one myself. But for someone new to the idea I can see how the idea would be pretty intimidating, so I wanted to share some thoughts on how you can get your own mastermind group started.Read More
In a recent Focused episode, David and I talked about a lot about calendaring and I mentioned I’d share a picture of my current NeuYear calendar. Here it is:
A couple of weeks ago, David & I talked about “moving the needle” in one of my favorite episodes of Focused to date. David shared his system for making sure the things he was getting done were in fact the right things, and it got me thinking about what happens after you identify what moves the needle for you.Read More
Purposeful productivity is not a destination, it’s a journey. You’ll never fully arrive at it, but it is indeed a worthwhile pursuit. That is why I created Faith-Based Productivity to help people who are on their own purposeful productivity journey connect to their calling, discover their destiny, and live the life they were created for.Read More
Faith-Based Productivity is intentionally not like most other online courses. Depending on your perspective, that is either a strength or a weakness.
The course doesn’t give you a 5-step formula for reaching your full potential. It can’t straight-out tell you what your unique purpose and abilities are (no one can). But the course will help point you in the right direction and get you asking the right questions, helping you to uncover your unique talents and abilities.
By understanding your own passions and skills, you can connect to your “why” and live the life God meant for you to live. This course will help you discover the will of God for your life and leverage whatever resources you possess to push past an average existence and do something awesome – no matter where you are or what you have when you start. But it’s still up to you to do the work.Read More
I know, I know – you’ve seen this before. Except not really. The development of Faith-Based Productivity has taken some unexpected turns the last couple of months. Today I want to share with you the short story of what exactly it is and how we got here.Read More
I’m a big advocate of productivity. But I’m not a big fan of how most people approach the topic.
Productivity is not cranking more widgets. Productivity is not doing all the things. True productivity is saying “no” to the things that don’t matter so you can say “YES!” to the things that do.
But that’s not what most people think of when they hear the word “productivity.” They conjure up a mental image of heartless efficiency – getting their tasks done faster so they can squeeze in a few more from the never-ending in their task manager.Read More
There’s a fascinating discussion about the most recent Michael Hyatt episode of Mac Power Users over in the MPU forum where a couple fo listeners started responding to what Michael Hyatt calls his Freedom Compass. Michael talks about it in his new book, Free to Focus, but the TL;DR from the podcast episode is this:
Everything you do can be broken down into one of four quadrants:
- The Desire Zone – Things that you are passionate about and proficient in
- The Distraction Zone – Things that you are passionate about but not proficient in
- The Disinterest Zone – Thing that you are proficient in but not passionate about
- The Drudgery Zone – Things that you are neither passionate about or proficient in
It’s an interesting mental model, and I mostly agree with Michael’s argument that if you are able to align the things you care deeply about with the things that you are good at, that is where the magic happens. The one thing I would nitpick here is the use of the word passion.Read More
I just released my first free “course” over on my Teachable site. It’s not really a course like my other paid courses because it’s much shorter. Instead, it’s a single video on my adapted email workflow and an accompanying PDF guide (for people who want a visual reference).
Basically I was frustrated with my own email workflow and went looking for ways to improve it. Along the way, I had the idea to document my changes so that others could benefit from me spending way too much time trying to solve this minor but annoying problem for myself. I’ve heard people on the internet say, “I don’t have a single unpublished thought.” Well, in this case I’m hoping my published thoughts on email can help people like me who want to crank through it as quickly as possible so they can move on to other things.
A couple of highlights:
- I have new criteria for deciding whether to do something with an email or send it to my task manager
- The Reference File is no more (GASP!)
- I’ve discovered Feedbin as a great solution for combining RSS & Read-It-Later
I recently listened to an episode of Beyond the To-Do List where host Erik Fisher and guest Merlin Mann (creator of Inbox Zero) talk about inboxes and managing them appropriately. One of the things Merlin talked about was a subconscious fear we have of our inboxes because of the unknown – we’re afraid of what might be lurking in there. The reason we’re afraid of what might be in there is that we’re afraid that there might be something urgent that we need to deal with, and we don’t think we can right now.
When it comes to handling your inboxes though, ignorance is not bliss. The thing that may be in there is either urgent or important regardless of whether you are aware of it and deal with it or not. The fact that it’s there isn’t a big deal, but the fact that you aren’t in a place to respond appropriately is what makes it a big deal. The trick is to identify and classify it so you can take appropriate action on it.
David Allen, the author of the Getting Things Done methodology, talks a lot about what he calls “emergency scan modality” – a constant state of putting out fires. A lot of people live this, and this is the default behavior for the person with 1000+ messages in their inbox.
Pro tip: If that’s you, accept that there’s no way you’ll get through all those messages – you’re better off nuking your inbox and starting over. It can be scary to get rid of all those messages, but let’s be real – you don’t know what’s in there, and you never will. If you wait until you process all that stuff to start chasing “Inbox Zero”, you’ll never get there. Just hit “delete” and work with a blank slate, and commit to doing better from this moment on. Go on – you can thank me later.
The person with 1000+ messages in their inbox is many times the person who is always pulling out their phone and checking their inbox 100 times a day. They know their inbox is a jumbled mess, and they’re worried that if they don’t check their email 100 times a day something important might get lost in that giant sea of unread text. Their subconscious belief is that if something is really important it will cause me to stop whatever I’m doing and I’ll deal with it, but how much of our time and attention is being robbed from the people and things that are most important to us?
My friends, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s a few tips for dealing with your inboxes so you can stop worrying and start executing:
- Turn off the notifications – you don’t need to know the second you receive spam or be interupted when a fake Twitter bot follows you. Try only checking your email 2 or 3 times a day. It sounds blasphemous, I know, but try it – you’ll see that things aren’t as urgent as they seem.
- Simplify – take stock of how many inboxes you have (and how many you actually need). How many unknown inboxes are keeping you up at night? Consolidate. Get everything into a couple inboxes that you check and process regularly.
- Have a system – when you check your inboxes, do something with them! Don’t just check your email and then leave every message in your inbox – file them appropriately. Tag them, put them in nested folders, I don’t care – just do something!
- Just do it – stop procrastinating. Just like any kind of housework, it isn’t fun but needs to get done. Just get it over with and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore and it doesn’t have to steal your attention when you’re doing something actually important.
- Be Consistent – you need to empty your inboxes at least once a week. Some inboxes (like email) need to be emptied more regularly, but the concept is the same – consistency is key.
Emptying your inboxes should become part of your weekly review. The weekly review is extremely important and helps keep your priorities straight. If during your weekly review you realize that you have a ton of unprocessed items in an inbox or you realize that you’ve achieved Inbox Zero but it took way too much work, it’s time to take a look at your processes and re-evalutate how you’re doing things.