Category Archives: Eliminate

The Two Minute Guide To Getting Started With Productivity

1) Get your to do list out of our head

SAF#2The mind is for generating ideas, not storing them. Don’t keep your to do list in your head- you risk forgetting something. Plus with your mind freed from your to do list it can work on generating better ideas.

2) If It Takes Two Minutes Or Less Do It Now

If you can do something in 2 minutes or less, dont put it on any lists, just do it. You’ve already accomplished something. This is especially true for tasks you need to delegate e.g. have other people help you with.

3) Be Conscious In Whatever You Do

While working on something, even (especially) routine tasks, ask yourself, why am I doing this? How can I stop doing it? How can I do it better? Asking yourself these three questions will help you improve quality, eliminate unnecessary tasks and gives you automation opportunities.

photo credit: Roby Ferrari

The 9 Ds of Processing: Turn Your Excessive Time Demands into Manageable Tasks

weekend book binding43 unread emails, 1713 emails in out inbox, 18 new letters in the mail, 33 ideas in our head, 4 piles of papers on our desk, 36 items on our to do list and a blinking answering machine. Our inboxes (electronic and physical) are constantly being filled with more demands on our time. To keep our sanity and be productive we must take a short time to “process” our overflowing inboxes and get it empty (or as close as possible). This will ensure that our task lists are filled with manageable tasks.

Here’s a quick mnemonic to making this process go faster and efficiently- use the 9 Ds: Delete, Deposit (file), Deflect, Deter, Delegate, Defer, Designate(calendar), Do Now, (To) Do List.

Delete

If an item is junk or you’ll never need it, get rid of it right away. Newspapers are trash(yesterday’s news is worthless), old magazines are trash(you’re not going to get to it anyway), junk email should be vaporized, old clothes go to good will, you get the idea. Bonus: figure out how to never deal with it again (e.g. unsubcribe from lists, sign up on do not call lists etc.)

Deposit

File your reference information. Many of the files on your desk or old emails are no longer needed except as a reference just in case. If you think you’ll need it someday- just put it in a obvious file folder- out of site so when you’ll need it you can quickly find. Get it out of the way so it’s not cluttering your workspace.

Deflect

If you are definitely the wrong person for this task then quickly point the requestor to the right place and get this out of your boxes. You don’t to do this immediately so you don’t hold up the project.

Deter

Learn how to say no. Not every request that comes to your inbox means you must do it. See if it fits within your responsibilities and/or goals. If not just say “no”.

Delegate

There are some tasks that should be done but someone else can help you with it. If someone on your staff or your spouse etc can do it let them help you especially if they can do it better. Some people get in the mindset that only they can do a task, that they do it best. Given some else a chance. Keep in mind when you delegate you are not completely giving up the task, you will still get the last word and should keep a follow-up on your task list so the issue is done on time with quality.

Defer

Some tasks are interesting but it’s not important or urgent. Put it on your “someday/maybe list”. This way you’ll still have it on your radar but it wont clutter your mind. Examples of items to defer are painting the house (you dont have time for it now anyway), launching a completely new product etc or other tasks that you know aren’t needed in the near future.

Designate

Designate a specific time for an appointment. Just put it on your calendar and move on. An appointment should sit in one central place so you dont double book your time or miss appointments.

Do Now

Any task that takes two minutes or less should be done quickly. No excuses- do it. It will feel great to shorten your to do list.

(To) Do List

All other tasks go on your “to do” list. Just get it out of your inbox.

This post was inspired by: Matthew Cornell’s post The Path of Maximum Productivity: Seven tensions, and how to resolve them. Thanks Matthew.

photo credit: nate steiner

Are You Finished? Finish What You Start

adiml48I recently received this message forwarded to my email box:

Recently Dr Phil, the talk show host, proclaimed, “The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.” So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how good I feel right now.

Jokes aside it is important to finish what you start. Unfinished items will clog your to do list. When you leave an item unfinished for a while you should use the “processing” rules:

  • Delete- Don’t do this task (don’t worry about the work you already did if it’s not needed drop the task.)
  • Delegate- maybe someone else can help you finish it.
  • Defer- if you’re not going to get to it soon- defer it. Put it on your someday/maybe list so it’s not cluttering your current to do list.
  • Do now- Can you do it in 5 minutes or less?
  • Designate- if you know you need to meet someone to get further details on this task (or to do it)- designate some time on your calendar.

I actually started this post months ago. I feel much better, it’s one less draft I need to worry about and I now have a post for tomorrow (today, for those of you reading it).

photo credit: Cara_VSAngel

How to Succeed Without Really Trying

No Elevator To SuccessMichael Jordan can beat you at a game of basketball without trying. Donald Trump can find a better real estate deal than you with just a few calls. Jeremy Schoemaker can make money on a web site faster than you with minimal effort (and get other people to promote for him for free). Skellie can get more subscribers for a new site in just 5 days than you can in a year of trying. So how do they do it? Why is it so easy for them? The answer is they built a machine.

In this article I’ll outline how you can build your own machine. The concepts are simple but the results are long reaching. Building the machine may require hard work to create a foundation, but once it’s built you can achieve success without really trying. Follow the four rules below and your machine will give you long term, self-perpetuating success.

Long Term

Is Trump smarter than you? Maybe, maybe not. But his machine is certainly better than yours for making real estate deals. Trump’s machine has many industry contacts to get him the right deals. It has his knowledge in evaluating deals. It has his financial backers allowing him to move on his deals. His machine has many parts to it that allow him to succeed almost automatically.

A machine is different than an experience. It’s built to have long term results. I may have bought a house once and certainly would have some knowledge of buying a house but I’m not setup to do deals consistently. It’s more than just being smart- anyone can take the time to read a book to get the essentials of success. It’s about building a foundation. It’s building the bank relationships. It’s building the industry relationships. It’s building a track record to make people want to invest in you. It’s building a staff that knows what needs to be done. It’s the mind set that this will be done more than once, so I should plan accordingly and not just get it done.

Quality

The Trump example doesn’t mean that you need to be big to build a machine. Being big can actually be detrimental if you don’t have your machine under control. Let’s take Skellie for example. Does she have a big organization behind her? No. Is Skellie a better writer than you? Probably, but not necessarily. She may be a good writer but there are probably a number of blogs that are better written than hers that don’t receive the attention she gets (I don’t have examples because those blogs don’t get attention so I haven’t seen them). So what is it that makes Skellie able to launch a site and instantaneously attract 1000 subscribers? It’s her machine of course. Her machine is her ability to use her creative talents and harness loyal readers. Her machine includes the loyal readers she built up at Skelliewag. It includes her contacts with other bloggers. You get the idea.

Building a machine requires a commitment to quality otherwise your machine will work against you and create problems instead of solutions. Success requires that you solve the problem. That you create a process to ensure quality. That you review your open commitments so items don’t slip. A well built machine does the same thing over and over again.

Skellie didn’t take shortcuts by sacrificing quality in her content. Quality takes constant introspection and improvements. For example, Skellie batches her writing to one day a week (in advance) and has a system to deal with writer’s block. Skellie has found the way to keep creating quality content and her machine helps her achieve success.

Self-Perpetuating

How does Paris Hilton have the resources to continue her escapades? Simple, she’s an heiress to the Hilton fortune. The money in her trust is her machine. The money that built her nest egg just keeps earning more money with little effort. Some people are lucky enough to take advantage of other people’s machines.

A machine simplifies a process and makes success self-perpetuating. It provides a road map to the future and provides the tools to get there faster. This is what makes Success Making Machine special. It’s not merely a few helpful tips, it’s something you can build on.

Enjoy It

Even when I’m old and grey, I won’t be able to play it, but I’ll still love the game.
Michael Jordan

I’ve always told people that to be successful you have to enjoy what you’re doing and right now I really enjoy what I’m doing. I’m having too much fun with my life. Why would I want to do something else? Why would I want to run for governor?
Donald Trump

Enjoy your work and you’ll never work a day in your life. If you asked Trump or Jordan to do what they do for free, they would. With dedication like that it’s no wonder they overcame the obstacles in their way.

You can build your machine to eliminate the tasks you don’t like. Machines can do the heavy lifting. I’m sure Trump isn’t interested in the nitty gritty of making his deal more tax effective, but people in his machine take care of that for him. Always enjoy the journey.

The Right Way to Build a Machine
Building a machine is a conscious decision to create a quality focused, automated system for the long term for something you enjoy. Using these principles helps you realize your efforts today can have huge long term ramifications that can improve your life. Once your machine is built you can just live on the interest- without really trying.

What kind of machine do you want to build?

 

Next step

Think about your goals. How can you make a quality machine that self-perpetuating built for the long term?

Now, look at the principles to building your machine.

Photo by: Coda

8 Ways To Do Less Of What You Don’t Like

Readers of this blog know that being more successful can be easy and fun- all you have to do is follow The Rule of Thumb for Success: do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like. Today we’ll concentrate on doing less of what you don’t like using techniques you already know.

Identify Your Tasks That You Don’t Like
The first step in any en devour is to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. During the course of your day there will be numerous tasks that will annoy you, cause you to pull out your hair or that you simply don’t like. Identify them- they are now put on notice. Pick a few items you will work on eliminating. I suggest you start with a few easy ones so you can see quick results (see layering). Once you get the hang of it go for the really annoying ones that may be harder to eliminate.

Eat the Tasks You Don’t like
Now that you know what you want to accomplish it’s time to plan how to do it. I recommend you Ate your task- By ATE I mean eliminATE, delegATE or automATE. Below I’ll explain the concepts and show you how you can use it. To better illustrate the power of these techniques I’ll give you specific examples using everyone’s least favorite task: washing dishes.

Eliminate

  • Decide– Decide that you don’t want to do it. It could be it’s not needed or it’s not that important anymore. If you’re doing the task for someone else ask them if they still need it. If you’re too chicken to ask your boss if he still needs that monthly report, just ask him if you can enhance it or make it better in any way. Perhaps you know of a different report that will do the job better.

Lets see how to use this to do fewer dishes: Decide you don’t want to do dishes anymore and switch to plastic (at least for really mess stuff). Decide that you don’t want to bake anymore.

  • Combine– Combine the task you dislike with something else you like. People often combine exercise with TV. Before they know it they’ve run another mile. Be sure that the tasks are compatible (e.g. no tv and washing dishes because your eyes cant do both at the same time) and that you don’t multi-task. You need to give each task the appropriate attention.

Do fewer dishes: Use dishes time as quality time with your partner. You are going to talk about your days (at least you should) and discuss future plans you may as well get something accomplished at the same time. He can even dry.

  • Simplify– Try not to over complicate the process- that may be leading to your dislike. Try to isolate the parts you don’t like doing and find a solution for that.

Do fewer dishes: Eat out/Order in. The goal is to eat- not to cook. If you don’t cook, there are no dishes. If your issue with washing dishes is that your hands get too dry be sure to have gloves handy and that will eliminate your problems.

  • Batch it– Do multiple tasks together and save setup time. It will also limit your dislike time to a small portion of the day.

Do fewer dishes: Don’t wash a dish at a time, wash them all together.

Delegate

  • Insource– See who within your organization (or family) you can get to do the horrid task. Offer to trade tasks or even bribe them. If you don’t have people capable train them. You may think it takes a while to train but it can pay huge dividends in the future.

Do fewer dishes: Trade tasks with your partner- you take care of the kids if she’ll wash the dishes.

  • Outsource– Pay someone to do it. You can find personal assistants for virtually anything. It may be expensive but you may decide to skimp on your budget elsewhere or put in extra hours just to afford the luxury.

Do fewer dishes: Hire help.

Automate

  • Automate the process– Look to computers and other technology to take care of the task for you. It may take an investment of time or effort but often can lead to huge dividends.

Do fewer dishes: Get a dishwasher.

  • Habits– Set habits for yourself that will make your job easier. You can try to set habits for others to.

Do fewer dishes: Annoyed that your kids don’t bring the dishes? Have a candy dish at the sink. When dishes are deposited then they get to take an item. Replenish it quickly at first and then less in the future until it becomes second nature.

Bonus

Sometimes there are tasks that you just have to do so try to make it more fun. Add music to it. Do it in a fun way (splash the water). Remember it’s not work if you want to do it.

At Seth’s Blog he calls our rule of thumb for success: Have to vs. Get to. Wouldn’t it be great if you get to do what you have to do.