Is this you?
• You don’t mind working hard, but you hate discovering that your time was wasted.
• You are proud of having high expectations for yourself, but you notice that unrealistic expectations sometimes undercut your enjoyment of success.
• You try to focus on priorities, but you may still get bogged down in the minutiae of life.
You’re in the right place if you want to own your time so you can spend it on what matters most.
There is a dirty secret in all of those productivity systems you’ve tried out. They don’t work unless you adapt them to your particular situation. A new kind of “to do” list may be great advice—for someone with a different job description. A planning strategy might be useful—if you could clear an hour a week to implement it. A tracking system might make all the difference—if you didn’t find it overwhelming to maintain.
You probably know that setting unrealistic goals leads to predictable struggle. But it’s a lot easier to see that someone else’s goal is unrealistic than to set your own direction. It’s a lot easier to sit in an armchair and speculate on someone else’s mistakes than it is to untangle your own feelings. It’s a lot easier to blame failure on external factors than to see what changes you need to make to get a different result.
Other people’s productivity systems won’t work for you unless you understand how to apply their general ideas to your specific situation.
That takes thinking–thinking that no one can do in your place. Decision-making. Goal-setting. Problem-solving. All of these are needed to make your productivity system work for you.
To help make sense out of the conflicting time management advice, I’ve developed a simple model for developing productivity:
- When you take the right kind of action, Focused Action, you are assured of some success.
- With the right definition of success, Objective Success, your success will motivate you to put in another unit of effort.
- With the right kind of motivation, Authentic Motivation, your motivation will increase as a result of effort, not peter out.
When you integrate all three of these components, each one reinforces the others, making work easier, more motivating, and more successful. You create a virtuous cycle of productivity.
I recently read Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This is a good book, which I recommend. I agree with 98% of what he says, and I have on my agenda to re-read it. My goal will be milk a little more of the wisdom out of it. I was...
I'd like to share an invaluable technique that improves both your productivity and your motivation: Deliberately plan to reach a finishing point in your work every half hour. A finishing point is different from a stopping point. For example, if you're juggling, and...
With 20:20 Hindsight, I wish I had written this article before the last one, which analyzed the relative merits of “Don’t Panic” versus “Keep Calm and Carry On” as advice. That may have been a bit esoteric for some readers. So, better late than never, here is more...
Here's a daily practice I learned from Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness. Once each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. You can write them before going to bed or first thing in the morning. You can...
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