Category Archives: Motivation

The Two Minute Guide to Getting Things Done (GTD)

One of the biggest obstacles to getting more productive is getting started. Here’s a two minute guide to Getting Things Done (GTD).

1. Capture– Get all your to dos into inboxes. e.g. mail goes in one spot, verbal to dos go in your notebook etc.

2. Process– Go through all your inboxes and empty out anything in your head onto a to do list. Here’s how to filter your list:
  • Delete- If you wont need it, get rid of it.
  • File- file away anything you’ll need later- but dont need now
  • Delegate- if someone else should be doing it- let them know. keep a to do item to follow up
  • Defer- Is this task not important enough to be done soon? Put it on a “someday/maybe” list. Review the list weekly.
  • Do now- Is it a task that will take 2 minutes or less? Do it. That includes putting appointments in your calender, adding addresses to your contact list etc.
3. Do– Do your to do list.
4. Weekly review– Be on top of your to do list.
Of course there’s much more but if you start with this then you’re already ahead of most people.

Don’t Give Up

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PerseveranceYou can find inspiration anywhere. Steve Pavlina, in his Skill article writes “During my first six months as a blogger, I earned a whopping $167. That’s about 17 cents per hour…But about a year and a half later, my blog’s income was passing $10K/month…” (his unreleased book has cracked Amazon’s Top 100 books). Not everyone is as successful as Steve but it’s goes to show that perseverance pays.
Creative Commons License photo credit: dearbarbie.

How I Beat Procrastination Today and You Can Too

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.

The Day I Got Fired For Being A Mets Fan and What We Can Learn

It was a Wednesday like any other. I passed by my CFO’s office and we began discussing the Mets’ previous night’s victory.

The HR director walked in and interrupted our conversation. “I thought you were talking about work. Are you a Mets fan?” he asked.

After I confirmed it, he said “We like the Yankees around here. You’re fired”. He proceeded to turn to the CFO and have the same conversation.

Of course this conversation was all in jest. Now the three of us have something we can jibe each other about.

Wouldn’t it be great if other work disagreement could be discussed as candidly without each side getting defensive?

Next time you’re in an argument (or about to get in one) ask yourself “What’s the best way to resolve this?” Often you’ll find avoiding the whole issue or agreeing to disagree can save a lot of ill will and time.

In the meanwhile I’ll be plotting my revenge against the HR director.

How To Be A Winner and Thanks For Making Me One

As I mentioned, I recently entered a contest at ChangeThis– whose mission is to “spread important ideas and change minds“. My proposal “Stop Bring Productive, Start Being Successful” was selected to be voted on. The person with the most votes for their proposal gets their manifesto (long article) published. I was against 9 others with big ideas. Fortunately, with your help (Thank You) I won! The manifesto is coming soon. Here’s some of my take aways.

Think Like a Winner

Put your concerns aside and do your best. Confidence and determination are key. Think of a plan how to get success and do it.

Put Yourself in Position To Win

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

Wayne Gretzky

If I had been intimidated by the other good ideas I wouldn’t have entered. As the lotto says- “you gotta be in it to win it” (not that I’m advocating playing the lotto). Take whatever cliche you want, the point is if you aren’t trying, you definitely wont win.

Look For Inspiration

By blog buddy Francis Wade of 2Time had entered a previous contest and won.

Ask for Help

You can’t win on your own. I asked Francis for some pointers. I asked my readers to vote. I asked my online buddies to vote. You all came through. Thanks.

How To Act Like a President, The Seven Year Lesson From Jay Chiat

During the high flying days of the first internet revolution I worked for a public dot com. The chairman was Jay Chiat the legendary ad man who co-founded Chiat, Day. He was the advertising genius behind many campaigns including Apple’s 1984 commercial which some say transformed the Super Bowl into the advertising event it has become. I only worked with Jay (everyone was called by their first name- it was a dot com after all)  a few times. But once, a month into my tenure as a freshly minted MBA, during an informal chat on the way back from the men’s room he made a huge impression on me.

We were talking and then he paused, crossed over to my side, bent down to picked up a small piece of paper (which I didn’t notice) and threw it out. Then he continued the conversation as if nothing happened. This act left me puzzled for over 7 years. I couldn’t understand it and theorized he was just a very clean person and this bothered him. Or maybe he was trying to make a statement- every piece of paper out of order is important- let’s portray a positive image. Or maybe his statement was that even a famous chairman like him is involved in the mundane day to day tasks.

Fast forward 7 years. I was walking back to my desk saw a little piece of paper in the hallway next to someone else’s desk, I bent down and threw it out. After I realized what I had instinctively done I started thinking about why I did it and remembered the story with Chiat those years earlier. Then it hit me, I did it because I felt responsible for the company. At the dot com I worked hard and felt responsible for my projects and surroundings, but didn’t feel as responsible for the company (even though I had stock options). At this new company as a long time employee and manager I felt a sense of ownership on the company’s success (though I wasn’t an owner). That’s probably why Chiat did it.

The lesson is simple. Act like the president of whatever company or task you’re working on. Instill in your employees a sense of ownership. Instill it in your kids. They will work
for their own pride harder than they would work for someone else’s. The way to do it is to give more responsibility.

Do You Have The Audacity to Succeed?

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.

The Problem
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.

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),

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.

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.

So act now and be audacious.

Update: Skellie linked to this blog at The 5 Barriers to Success Series — Part 3: The Absence of Definition

Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream on Productivity

“If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. excelled because of his ability to incite passion. The passion started within and extended to others through his speeches (e.g. I have a dream) and actions. His passion was so broad that it still inspires today.

The lesson continues- whatever we do, no matter how mundane, we should exhibit passion and do it right. Then we’ll have a lasting impact.