Course Correction
Check to See You’re Being Logical

Check to See You’re Being Logical

I often recommend that when you are confused in your thinking on some issue, you need to take multiple passes, first to gather information, then to test your thinking. The simplest test is to ask about each sentence, "is that literally true?" By asking this question,...

Distinguish “Buffering” from Procrastination and Self-Care

Distinguish “Buffering” from Procrastination and Self-Care

Have you ever found yourself teleported to the refrigerator at the time you were supposed to be doing work? Or taken a “short” break to watch one video, then had that turn into watching an entire series? Or started to tidy your desk to settle down to work, and wound...

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

“Don’t Panic” “Keep Calm and Carry On” Are these two pieces of advice equivalent? No. If “Keep Calm and Carry On” is your mantra, you are more likely to maintain your equilibrium in turbulent times, such as the current coronavirus crisis. Why? First, “Keep Calm and...

Learn from Mistakes, not Failure

Learn from Mistakes, not Failure

People often say that you learn from failure. But I think you learn primarily from your mistakes, not from your failures. There's a big difference. You can make a good decision, based on sound reasons, and still have it result in failure. For example, there can be...

How an “Urge Jar” Can Help You Follow Through on Your Intentions

How an “Urge Jar” Can Help You Follow Through on Your Intentions

While doing a competitive analysis to build my business, I checked out the Self-Coaching Scholars program created by Brooke Castillo. It looked interesting, so I joined and have been educating myself in her methods. One of the new tools I’ve adopted is the use of the...

Mental Leverage

Mental Leverage

Some of you may be familiar with Wally Wallington and his techniques for moving Stonehenge-like blocks (up to 19,000 pounds) with ropes, little rocks, wood, and his own effort. No metal, no machines, no engines. Just clever use of levers and wedges. If you haven't...

Four Productivity States to Manage

Four Productivity States to Manage

Some years ago I read an interesting book titled The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress, by Robert Thayer. The bottom line from the book is you need to distinguish (and manage) four identifiable productivity states: Relaxed & Energized...

Take Fear of the Unknown Seriously — Do an Experiment

Take Fear of the Unknown Seriously — Do an Experiment

I often hear from people who are paralyzed by fear of the unknown. They think they know the next step to take, but they are uncertain whether it will result the way they hope. If they knew, they would take it. Instead, they are stopped by fear. For example, a woman I...

Measure What’s Important

Measure What’s Important

You have probably heard, "If you don't measure it, you can't improve it." True. You can't make something better unless you can get objective feedback on how you're doing. By choosing a metric, and periodically measuring it, you can see whether the changes you are...

The Alternative to “Get a Grip”

The Alternative to “Get a Grip”

I encourage members of the Thinking Lab to send me their "thinking on paper" so I can help them sort out any problems they are having. It is amazing how easily you can diagnose thinking problems in another person if you see the thinking written out. As with...

What’s So Hard About Planning Projects?

What’s So Hard About Planning Projects?

When you make a marketing plan, or a 5-year strategic plan, or even just a plan to complete a complex project, you sometimes don't know much. You know what you wish would happen. You know some things you need to do so you can make that happen. Everything else is...

How do you know what matters most?

How do you know what matters most?

In order to do what matters most right now, you need to first know what matters most. That is not always obvious. I use a simple test to see if I've got it. I ask, are "should" and "want" and "can" aligned for this action? If they are, this is clearly a valuable step...

Coping with Interruptions

Coping with Interruptions

By some estimates, people lose 2 hours of work a day due to interruptions. The time is wasted in two ways: First, when you are interrupted, you often lose your place. You have to go back and redo some of the work to restore your working context. Second, the topic of...

How a Decision Log Can Help You Move from Scattered to Focused

How a Decision Log Can Help You Move from Scattered to Focused

Don't be embarrassed if you occasionally feel scattered. It's a normal transition state. For example, after you've finished a major project, you may feel somewhat scattered until you've figured out the next big thing to focus on. But don't let yourself remain feeling...

Applying a Thinking Tool to Create a Humorous Speech

Applying a Thinking Tool to Create a Humorous Speech

Reading a "how to" book or taking a "how to" course doesn't magically transform a person's thinking abilities. Changing one's thinking methods can be as difficult as changing the established procedures of an entrenched bureaucracy. A person's old ways of thinking feel...

Case Study: Hard Thinking on Writing Problems

Case Study: Hard Thinking on Writing Problems

When I tell people about my course, sometimes they don't quite know what I mean by "hard thinking." I don't mean thinking on specialized subjects like astrophysics. I mean thinking on any subject in which, at times, it's not clear how to proceed. Some extra effort is...

Don’t Motivate Yourself, Lead Yourself

Don’t Motivate Yourself, Lead Yourself

There was a theme in the questions that members of the Thinking Lab asked me this week. They all involved some form of, "how do I motivate myself?" I've had an epiphany. This is a mistaken way to conceptualize the problem. Motivation is an effect, not a cause. When...

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