People will always be offering you new projects (because you’re so good at your existing ones) or new social opportunities- just say no if you don’t want it.
Say No To Yourself
As a high achiever you will always want to do more. Just say no to yourself unless it directly helps you achieve your goals.
Set Aside Me Time
When you set aside time to do things you enjoy don’t give up that time. Don’t let your other tasks bleed into your time.
Watch Your Goals
At all times you want to keep on eye on your goals. In every action be mindful of what you ultimately want to accomplish.
Take Enjoyment From Everything You Do
Live in the moment. Look for opportunities to enjoy what you do.
Make The Best Of Your Situation
After years of hard work a friend was recently promoted to a senior role in his organization. Now he’s complaining the challenge is gone because the team he assembled can handle everything. So he’s thinking of going to another company so he start the fight again. Rather than moving on he should seek the challenges in his current role. Try to double revenue. Try to make the company better. Try to make the world better. With the machine he’s assembled he can achieve a lot more.
We all look forward to vacation. It’s a time to relax and enjoy ourselves. There’s just one problem- we spend the week before vacation packing, making arrangements and making sure work is taken care of. Then we spend the week after vacation unpacking and catching up. So we basically sandwiched our relaxing vacation between two hyper, active periods.
So you’re saying “at least I’m enjoying my vacation”- right? Wrong! Some people spend their vacation running to catch every tour- how is that relaxing? Others may take a “relaxing” vacation on the beach. But let’s think this through. After working hard all year and being extra active the week prior to vacation, is sitting and doing absolutely nothing for a long time good? All their creativity and energy is wasted. And just sitting isn’t necessarily giving enjoyment. Energy cant be stored from vacation and brought into real life.
The problem is there’s no balance. No balance the week before- too much activity. No balance the week after- too much to catch up on. No balance on vacation- too much or too little activity during the vacation. The solution, of course, is better balance.
Balance With Smaller Vacations
Instead of going on long vacations consider taking numerous long weekends as vacations. It allows you to have frequent balances against your daily grind. Plus you wont miss much at “work” being out for a short time.
Balance Your Long Vacations
Include a day on each side of your trip to pack and relax at home (and/or do some errands). This will allow you to start your vacation leisurely and transition to real life at the end your vacation. This way you wont need a vacation after your vacation.
Balance Your Leisure
A resting vacation (e.g. sitting by the pool) doesn’t have to be all vegging. Challenge yourself to swim some laps or have other fun in the pool- giving you some exercise. (Plus if you keep eating out this will help keep the weight off). Also have a pad next to you at all times. Now that your brain has a chance to relax you’ll find yourself more inspired with more ideas than ever.
On my recent vacation I did this and came up with this article and other solutions to problems I’ve been working on.
Balance Your Itinerary
Just because you are in a foreign city it doesn’t mean you must spend every waking minute exploring it. Do touring as long as you enjoy it- you don’t have to see everything. Take some time to “relax” also. On relaxing vacation don’t sit at the beach till the last second which would cause a stressful run to catch your plane.
Balance Your Bad Days
If you’re feeling stresses by your day to day- just take a random day off. Just sleep late and treat yourself to some rejuvenation and fun. It will give you an instant productivity boost.
Ordinarily I don’t get into topics between the arms (heart) and stick to topics between the ears (brain). Lets face it, it’s easier (at least for me) to deal with something logical. If A then B- is simple. You can see results. But this time I want try and use the brain to control the heart.
There is one simple law to learn that will reduce stress: you can’t change others. Once you internalize this you can pick a strategy to overcome this stress and watch your productivity soar. You can choose to eliminate the stresser, change yourself or your perception.
You can (and should) control yourself, not others.
Meetings can be big time wasters or productive planning sessions. But there is one you should have daily- first thing in the morning – a meeting with yourself and it will increase your chances for success. This will give you time to prepare for the day and not rush into your morning. Let’s start with a case study of a typically morning for Eileen (based on a true story).
8:48am Eileen gets off her train at central station. She heads for the connecting bus and takes a seat- today she’s luck that she got one. She anxiously looks at her watch, still on schedule for her 9am conference call.
8:50am The Bus leaves central station. At this point it’s packed, Eileen is feeling the elbow of her neighbor in her ribs. Eileen glances at her watch and is glad the bus left on time.
8:55am The bus arrives at the front door of MegaCorp, where Eileen works. Eileen waits for her turn to get out and proceeds to the building. She’s still on schedule.
8:56 am Eileen is waiting at the elevator bank at MegaCorp. Only 4 minutes to her 9am meeting.
8:57am Bill from IT gets on the elevator just before the doors close, causing them to reopen. Eileen smiles at Bill, though secretly she’s upset at the 4 seconds he stole off her morning. They discuss the previous nights game as they ride up to the 20th floor, but Eileen is only partially engaged. She’s already thinking about her dash to her desk as soon as the doors open.
8:59am Eileen wishes Bill a good day and says “Gotta run, I have a nine o’clock”. She gets to her desk puts down her bag. Flips the on switch on her computer and sits down. Just in time as the phone rings for her 9am phone meeting.
9:02am Eileen scans her email during the call. She sees one from the client, just as the the content of it comes up. “I sent you an updated widget report overnight.” says the client.
“Yes I saw it. I’ll look at it closely and let you know my feedback later today.” she answers quickly while opening the attachment.
9:05am The subject of the new computer equipment comes up. Eileen says she’ll follow up on it and notes it on her to do list.
9:22am The client call ends. Eileen puts her bag in the corner where it belongs. She puts her lunch in the office fridge. She comes back to her desk to listen to her voice mails and processes her email.
9:40am Eileen goes through the client’s widget report and sends a detailed report of her feedback.
9:55am Eileen calls Bill from IT. They exchange pleasantries. Then she asks about the progress on the computer order.
10:00am Eileen dashes another email to the client about the computer order progress.
10:02am Eileen is happy with her productive start.
Now lets image Eileen changes just one thing- she has blocked her calendar so no appointments can be made first thing in the morning. Her 9am appointment is now at 9:30am.
8:48am Eileen gets off her train at central station. It’s a nice day for a walk to the office. She glances at her watch, she has time and strolls to the office. It’s a 10 minute walk or a five minute ride by bus. She’s glad she doesn’t have to rush and can walk.
8:50am As she walks she passes some school kids playing in the yard and thinks of the funny thing her five year old said that morning.
8:55am She’s two blocks away from MegaCorp but she sees the bus stops in front of her building. She sees people rushing out. It reminds her of the opening scene of the Charlie Chaplin Movie “Modern Times”. She chuckles to herself as she thinks of the pigs.
8:57 Bill from IT sees her coming in the building and waves to her as the elevator doors close in front of him. He waits for her to arrive. They take the next elevator up.
8:58am Eileen and Bill chat about the previous night’s game as they head up the elevator to the 20th floor.
9:00am Eileen and Bill finish their sports chat in front of the elevator banks. Eileen asks about the the equipment he’s ordered for “The Client”. He says he’ll look into it. She says “I have a 9:30 call with them. If you can get me the answers by then it would be great.” He assures her he can and they depart.
9:03am She puts her lunch in the office fridge as she passes the employee lounge.
9:04am She gets to her desk and puts away her bag. Flips the on switch on her computer. Eileen listens to her voice mails as the computer starts up. Then processes her email.
9:15am Eileen notices an email from “The Client” and goes through the client’s widget report. Instead of composing a long email, she prints it out and marks it up so that she can go over it during the phone call. She highlights the four main issues.
9:25am Eileen goes back to finish processing her emails. She sees Bill’s response which includes the tracking number.
9:28am She prepares her notes on the meeting with few bullet points.
9:30am The phone rings and Eileen picks it up confidently.
9:35am The subject of the new computer equipment comes up. Eileen gives them the update and says she has the tracking number if it’s not received.
9:45am “I sent you an updated widget report overnight.” says the client.
“I got it. I went through it and have 4 questions for you.” Eileen replies and they talk about the widget report.
10:01am The client call ends.
10:02am Eileen is happy with her productive start.
As you can see in both these scenarios Eileen was productive. But in the second one she had time in the morning to prepare. The preparation gave her more confidence and allowed her to accomplish two important tasks: First, the meeting gave her feedback on what she needs to do with the widget report. Second, she was a step ahead following up on the equipment order.
She was also able to squeese some relaxing exercise into her morning and wasn’t curt when talking to co-workers. Of course i worked out these times to correlate. But less stress and more time thinking help. The ideal scenario would be to come in early each morning, but that isn’t always possible. Coming in early allows you to prepare in a quiet environment.
Starting your day with stress can send a bad tone for your day. So don’t run, walk into your new day.
I rarely procrastinate. My secret? Self discipline, the usual tricks plus I try to live by “do more of what you like and less of what you dont.” Let’s face it if you enjoy something you wont procrastinate on it. But there was one project that I just wouldn’t start. It was important and each day I’d find a bunch of other productive things to do but not this project. So I tried to figure out why I’m procrastinating. Is it because I don’t have time? That’s true but I never “have time” and accomplish plenty. Is it because I don’t enjoy it? No, because there are some parts of this project that I do enjoy. I couldn’t figure it out.
Then I had an epiphany- the project was just too big. I could start of course but there’s so many places to start from. You cant just do a project. Then I quickly spelled out each tasks. Some of which were fun others weren’t. Now I can just check off the items as I do it. There will be tasks I don’t enjoy as much but those are just individual tasks and I can reward my self with fun tasks after.
This isn’t a novel concept and is the basis behind Getting Things Done‘s Next Actions. Break down big projects into small actionable parts. Actionable means something you can do something about. For example, create web site isn’t a next action. You break it down into brainstorm site sections, design theme, design home page etc.
Next time you find yourself procrastinating ask yourself why.
I finally got started on my big project. Now you start on yours. Let me know why you were procrastinating and what you did to beat it.
Take Away: Find the reason you’re procrastinating and work around it.
Are you working harder and harder and becoming more “productive” yet you still feel like there’s much more to do with no end in sight? The problem is that productivity (doing something well) is only one of the three pillars of success. I will explain the other two pillars and show you how you can use a few easy steps to significantly increase your ability to succeed.
They have a voting process (everything is a reality show) and they will distribute the “manifesto”* of the winner. Please go to the site and vote for my idea.
What Will I Write
Readers of this site know the three pillars of success: Think, Do, Enjoy. I plan to expand on these concepts and explain how they can be used to enhance success.
What You Will Get
When my idea is selected (I’m thinking positive), you will be able to download the full document for free.
* Manifesto always reminds me of the unibomber. I promise no people will be harmed in the making my manifesto.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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 dividents 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 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.
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.
Most times when I read a blog post and it has some good ideas I’ll file it
away. But the idea usually isn’t acted on. The problem is there’s just too much information out there and without quick action a newer idea has taken its place in your mind. But there’s one post by Skelliewag that truly inspired me to act and it has already helped me achieve results.
First, a little background. I’m interested in being more productive (aren’t we all?). I’ve read the productivity books and the productivity blogs. Some are interesting, some are useful but they’re all flawed. One common flaw is that although they can teach you how to do a task faster they don’t consider that maybe you shouldn’t be doing it at all! But the biggest flaw is that they concentrate so much on “doing” (faster, better) that they neglect to realize that you’re not enjoying what you’re doing. What’s the point in doing something if you don’t enjoy it?!? It’s no wonder there are so many posts on motivation and overcoming procrastination.
Based on my readings and experience I’ve boiled success down to a simple formula: Think, Do. Enjoy. The doing is important but when you think before you do and enjoy the process- it increases the potential for success exponentially.
Using this formula, I took an inventory of what I enjoy: writing and increasing my productivity/success. As a result I launched my site Success Making Machine which shares the details of my system. But a site takes time to grow so I had to think of ways to promote my site.
Think I can just continue to post quality articles and hope someone notices to make a big splash. But that’s a long process. Then I saw inspiration: Skellie’s post Audacious Blogging. There are many ways to be audacious. The Success Making Machine principles encourages calculated risks. I wouldn’t try to be a guest poster for a New York Times blog, that’s too big of a risk (waste of time). My idea was to be audacious by trying to become a guest blogger on Skelliewag, it’s a warm site in my target and she recommends guest posting (#58),
Do When you’re doing something do it right. I could have just sent an email inquiry to Skellie asking if she would be interested in a guest post but that would have made it too easy to brush off. So I wrote the entire post in advance. Why spend time writing the full post when an inquiry would have seen if there was interest? Audacity! I needed to prove that the post would be quality.
Enjoy At every stage of doing and thinking you should enjoy it. I follow a simple Success Making Machine principle: Do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like. Without enjoyment people give up at the first sign of adversity. So why am I up past midnight with an early morning tomorrow writing? I could have put this off for another day. The answer is I enjoy it.
So does Audacity work? This isn’t Hollywood, everything doesn’t have a perfect ending. Skellie “loved the post”, but she’s not accepting guest posts at this time. But there is a happy ending which shows it is worth it to shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. She did offer to link to the story on my blog. So I modified the original for my blog (this makes the original post the best post you never saw). I now have a link from a popular blog and a great story. I think audacity works.
“In general, this is good advice, but some of the most necessary things in life are hard. I like eating french fries. I don’t like exercise. I like dating whoever I want. I don’t like being committed to just one at a time. I like play. I don’t like work. I don’t like brushing my teeth. I like sugar.”
These are great points and answers point to the power of the enjoyment principle.
Let’s take your points one at a time.
“some of the most necessary things in life are hard.”
They don’t have to be. Let’s go through your list and see how some “hard” items can be eliminated.
“I like eating french fries.”
So eat it. The problem you probably have is that it’s not healthy. I’m not a health professional but french fries never killed anyone- in moderation. If you otherwise eat healthy a few fries shouldn’t hurt you (confirm with your Dr.). But when you eat it make sure you’re eating the best ones. Why waste empty calories and lots of fat on subpar food? Treat yourself to the best.
“I don’t like exercise.”
Welcome to the club- most people don’t. Sara recently complained about the same thing. After discussion the solution was simple- don’t exercise- watch TV. Do you like TV? So go to the gym and watch you favorite show as you run or do another exercise you like better. Last night Sara reported that she worked out for over an hour. I warned her not to overdo it as she’s just starting out. “I didn’t feel it- I just wanted to finish watching my show”.
“I like dating whoever I want. I don’t like being committed to just one at a time.”
These can be worked out with thinking and honesty. Figure out what you want and what you don’t want.
“I like play.”
Have fun (when it’s time to have fun). Now think about a way make money off this fun and then you can play and have fun at the same time.
“I don’t like work.”
Then quit. But before you do figure out what you do like. Put yourself in position to get that job (it may take time- but once you make it you wont work another day in your life). Before you make the leap look at your current job- are there ways you can make it more fun? Work on it.
I don’t like brushing my teeth.
Do you like music? comedy CDs? Play something while brushing and you wont realize it.
;I like sugar.
So eat it. But see my suggestions about french fries above.
These are some ideas off the top of my head. If you apply your brainpower to this and add your knowledge of what you like/don’t like you’ll come up with even better ideas.