Tag Archive: Productivity


Quotidian Manifesto

Changing course is easy. Never reverting is hard.

Half way through the year and I find myself teetering on the edge of relapse. Some old habits are creeping back into my daily routine. I’m trying to fight them off. As part of that effort, here is a reminder of what I set forth to quit, start and substitute.

Quit

Being Ignorant – In this information age there is no legitimate defense for prolonged stupidity; you are a Google search away from insight and intelligence. Therefore, immerse yourself in books, online articles and videos focused on the long term effects of diet (good vs. bad) and exercise (regular vs. none). If nothing else, you’ll be smarter and preemptive guilt will help you avoid indulging late night cravings or spending the night in front of the TV.

Excusing Neglect – Tired. Overweight. Dispassionate. Lethargic. These things are not okay and should not be tolerated. Stop rationalizing your current state under the guise of more pressing and important concerns—spouse, kids, work, house, finances, etc. Your performance in all these areas is directly affected by your mental and physical health, so don’t ignore your daily diet and exercise requirements.

Eating Sweets – Most often sugars provide nothing than empty calories and momentary gratification. In exchange for this you incrementally give away your waistline and long-term health. It’s a bad deal. Give them up. Completely. It will be one of the hardest daily changes to maintain, but will pay out big over the long term. To ease your pain, allow one exception each day: a 30 calorie 85%+ cacao chocolate square.

Mindless Snacking – Whenever hungry outside of meal time, force yourself to wait ten minutes before heading to the kitchen; odds are the desire will pass. If it doesn’t, go ahead and snack on fruit. And after dinner, no eating. Period.

Start

Creating Accountability – Establish clear consequences (positive and negative) for your behavior. Whenever possible, make them visual and emotional. Weigh yourself everyday and display it on a Post-It stuck to the bathroom mirror. Use smaller plates and dish at the counter rather than the table so you have to physically get up for more food. Publicly track your exercise activity, books consumed and ideas generated. And don’t leave yourself an easy return to the past—throw out or donate clothes once they become too big or oversized, pay the fee and update your drivers license photo and weight, and blog about your successes and failures.

Thinking Big – Work on building or creating something bigger than yourself. Don’t worry about accomplishing it, just focus on the pursuit and know achievements will follow. Identify others with whom you can partner, collaborate and create. Give away your ideas, especially to those who are more capable of implementing them. Maintain an innovation wall. Practice edge craft. Plan, book and reserve your next vacation at least 9 months in advance. Create a life list.

Exercising – Incorporate at least 30+ minutes of physical activity into your day five times each week. Elliptical is fine, but mix it up; do some running, basketball, swimming and weight lifting as well. In addition, adopt a daily routine that includes stretching, sit ups and push ups.


Substitute

Productive for Busy – Get things done and ship everyday. Identify fixed commitments, tasks that cannot be delayed without rapidly increasing penalty (cooking, exercise, If it can be completed in under two minutes, do it. If not, list it. Don’t browse the internet during lunch. Instead, watch one TED or BigThink video (20 minutes and your out). Limit email checks to three times a day—morning, lunch and 30 minutes before end of business—and advise everyone of this schedule and your cell number. Blog everyday for at least 30 minutes and publish whenever a post is 90% finished; if you work on it for more than three consecutive days, move on to a new idea.

Nutrients for Calories – Mind your portions, but don’t starve yourself. Instead, swap out high fat, high sugar and low nutrition foods for lean, nutrient rich superfoods. Consume more fruits and vegetables. Lots of them. Don’t skip breakfast. Drink unsweetened iced tea in place of soda; cut out red meats and use portobello and shiitake mushrooms in their place; snack on frozen grapes and fruit smoothies rather than ice cream. Be sure to start every morning with a cup of green tea, a hard boiled egg and some fruit with non-fat yogurt and a little granola. And supplement one of your meals with a capsule cocktail that includes multivitamins, fish and flax oil, turmeric and curcumin.

Books for TV – Instead of ending the day falling asleep on the couch in front of the television, conclude by reading a book in bed. Trade out mental sedation for intellectual stimulation. And when you do want to watch something, do it while on exercising.

There are many more things to quit, start and substitute, but this list will do for now.

Busy

If bees and beavers could talk, they would be insulted by the universal labeling of their behavior as “busy”.

Not because they aren’t busy (a honeybee can visit 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip and a beaver can fell 100+ trees during the construction of a dam or lodge). But because they are incredibly productive (a colony can produce 80+ pounds of surplus honey each year and a beaver will collect and store enough food to last an entire winter).

See, in the world of bees and beavers, the terms busy and productive are synonymous. Any flurry of activity has a defined purpose and yields a valuable product.

Not so for us humans.

For us the term simply denotes a high level of activity; but there is no correlation between being busy and producing something of value.

Case in point: I was extremely busy at work last week. I had to travel six hours to my employer’s corporate headquarters, attend numerous meetings, lead several conference calls, complete a myriad of forms and documents and reply to an assortment of email requests. Each night I returned to my hotel room mentally and physically tired.

Yet I produced little of significance. No remarkable idea. No insightful learning. No breakthough solution. Was the trip a waste? Not necessarily. But given the substantial effort, one could have expected more in return.

And that is the danger in equating “being busy” with “being productive.” You come to assume your flurry of activities and minor contributions are creating substantial value. Meanwhile, someone else (your customer, your boss, your spouse, your child, etc.) is wondering why your efforts aren’t producing more.

Recognize the difference. Don’t get busy. Get productive.

The Road in My Head

I cannot honestly say where this whole thing will end. But I am excited to get started.

I begin the journey with a pretty good map for the site that includes structure, thematic elements, style, etc. I have begun to acquire and develop some of the assets needed to efficiently create content and I am polishing up some old post-production skills. More details later.

While the road in my head appears straight forward, navigation is continually threatened by a never-ending brainstorm.  There is a constant desire to try something different, learn something new and explore alternative possibilities.  I am the classic ENTP

  • Excited by strategy.  Bored by tactics.
  • Quick to design.  Slow to build.
  • Eager to identify a solution.  No interest in implementing it.

And so the greatest barrier to the launch of 2MinuteGenius.com is myself.

Should make for a fun trip.

Taming My Lizard


For the last decade, I have been searching for the “right idea” to invest my entrepreneurial energy; a Utopian business model derived from self-improvement buzzwords—passion, purpose, prosperity, etc. Since I function like a walking think tank there has been no shortage of options, simply a lack of confidence in any of them.

Then one night I stumbled upon a video—The Crisis of Credit Visualized by Jonathon Jarvis—that caused a “That’s it!” moment and inspired a new idea. Over the next six months, I did what I do best: I thought about it.  I hashed it out in my head, poked holes in it, played devil’s advocate and attacked it from every possible angle in an effort to prove it could not work.

Ultimately, I failed. And there I stood, in my basement staring at a cinder block wall full of Post-it® Notes (Super Sticky, of course) that represented the components of a really great idea for a new blog site: 2MinuteGenius.com.

And I didn’t do anything.

Now admittedly, I have a long history of dreaming about many things and delivering few. It is not that my ideas are quixotic, I just struggle to bring them to reality without a strong, extrinsic, kick-in-the-butt, get-it-done-or-else form of accountability. If someone else doesn’t fire the starter’s pistol, I’ll simply sit by the starting blocks in my sweatpants and “visualize” how I am going to run the race. Bottom line, I would have accomplished little to this point in my life if not for the expectations and deadlines imposed by my parents, my wife and countless teachers, professors and bosses.

Then one night, Seth Godin reminded me about the lizard brain, a concept I first learned from Clotaire Rapaille over a decade ago. Seth asserts the lizard is ”the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise…that’s because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk.” And because you cannot get rid of the lizard, your only option is to figure out a way to tame it.

For me the lizard has been quieted via accountability created by third-parties.  But that didn’t exist for my great idea.  No one knew about it but me.  No one cared about it but me.  No one was waiting for it, expecting it, desiring it, demanding it.

Hence this blog—a first step toward creating accountability for the development and launch of 2MinuteGenius.com.

More to come.  Right, lizard?

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