Sometimes, productivity is as simple as doing nothing for a long while. And time management, effectively reducible to words like: Wait. Rest. Silent. Prepare. As above. Yet the cognition, health and strategic benefits, enormous. Never forget the importance of that balance.
But as Warren Buffett said: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Or as Mike Murdock more succinctly put it: “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”
The elusive, yet ultimate secret of achievement and fulfillment boils down to lean. Optimizing your life by optimizing your time and scaling your work. Speaking of which:Taking Pat's “Plug the leaks” and “Cut the fat” mantra literally, go further in striking the balance.
Subtract, subtract, subtract, —is the key. Seek to simplify.
Prioritize religiously like great leaders and startup founders do. Delegate more. Heed Brendon Burchard's advice (above). Copy habits of legendary, prolific entrepreneurs. Moreover, a great read I must share with you came from a Twitter follower. Click or tap '5 no-nonsense time management hacks' (above) anytime. But for best results, be sure to read AND implement all insights shared here as well.
There's no shame in appearing to conflate Lean Manufacturing principles with being highly productive. Or as TimeBack Management's founder Daniel Markovitz correctly put it: “Whether you're a giant factory making computer components or cars, or an individual...The principles that underpin lean manufacturing—that enable companies to produce more value with less work—also apply at an individual level.”
Indeed wherever you find people haven't learned to efficiently master what matters the most to them, you find under-performance, lack of vision, and failure.
Just as whenever or wherever you see people in conferences or situation of great importance with certain audience members phubbing nonchalantly; not paying attention, sooner or later, you're likely to find low quality work, lack of accountability, defensiveness, a history of costly negligence, failure or corruption to their name.
There are poor people, broke and broken nations, dysfunctional families, as well as circle of friends stuck in poverty, who have built a culture of mediocrity around starting their days with “news” and reacting to “news”.
People for whom success habits (and I've tested this for years — read on), means nothing.
People who may like the fact that Peter Drucker said: “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.” Yet never stop to consider how that relates to the things they invest their time on that have absolutely nothing to do with their current struggles.
People who wonder WHY other nations are getting ahead but theirs isn't.
People who surrendered their potential and morphed into blind followers a long time ago. By habitually putting others' routines and whims in front of them. Instead of delineating their OWN priorities.
Followers, who wake up to follow media that scratches their itch for whining as a pastime.
Followers who ONLY recognize an idea as good if it comes from a celebrity or personality propped up as important, or influential. People distracted by all the wrong things.
Go dangle your revolutionary ideas at #CitiCBS or #JoySMS (on Twitter). See for yourself how few, if any, appreciate the value.
Focus never used to be a concern of mine until I lost traction, and with it, much momentum. And lots of ground. My mentor, Steven Pressfield adds clarity to this further below.
When I lived and built my first couple of careers in the States both before and through college, everything seemed logical. Every challenge and obstacle was in my face.
However, when you're kicked out — as I was from our former Bronx apartment in the middle of a mercilessly cold Winter night — and have to catch a Greyhound bus arriving in Washington, D.C. around 3AM or so, to live with total strangers, focus, traction and momentum motivates.
When, preferring to live alone, those same total strangers turn you lose barely two weeks later and you now have to scramble — with almost no cash — and wind up with total strangers (AGAIN) in New Jersey, unnecessarily but strategically enrolling in High School having already graduated elsewhere as you await Admission news from the only college you applied to, again, everything is in your face.
All that just to say: As you travel the globe and actually meet and hear people's stories, you might find that many Black folks like the author, had to hack Time Management and Productivity long before puberty. And certainly before the Internet or buzzwords like Growth Hacking went mainstream.
Either that, or massive failure. Privilege was not an option. But privilege is what allows us to glean the fruits of Garbugli's 26 (hyperlinked) hacks.
When, responding to a piece I wrote on the importance of listening and observational skills my friend lamented how he was having trouble teaching his son those selfsame skills, he was blown away by response.
Don't try to teach him, I said. Just take him out into nature or on long walks. Give him lots of moments, as my late Dad did walking with me in pitch darkness as a kid. It was like: Us vs. nature. Versus the possibility of surprise! And I saw for myself how COOL ... Attention, Awareness, Situational Awareness (a Security Skill) plus Problem Sensitivity (another Security Skill police depend on), etc. are. Especially in a world as noisy as ours.
Now that we have to flashy, noisy, distractive devices like so-called “smart” digital devices, Apps, wellness & fitness wearables, Social Media and a very loud hyper-connected world, keeping your challenges and priorities in your face requires being super selective and smart. And if you're not careful, you learn important lessons many I know learned too late. 3 of which are:Unless you or your family are super rich, and/or have a death wish, avoid globe trotting in the name of business, school or adventure. Build on your successes right where you are. Because time lost, can never be regained.
For others, opportunities lost translates to millions of dollars. And that is as true for Bungee jumping thrill-seekers as it is for climbers of Mount Everest who die needlessly trying to win bragging rights for to Snapchat or post on Social Media. Or Twentysomethings brainwashed into thinking they have time.The wrong friendships and/or romantic relationships will absolutely destroy you. If not your goals. Stay clear, IF you're a bootstrapper. IF broke, but working on your dreams.
When Les Brown talks about the hard times when he was sleeping and bathing in the office, he doesn't mention anything about parties or women because he had his challenges and his hardships in his face. And speaking of work:You can ONLY afford to be around people who have good judgment, are on the right track, who make you uncomfortable in that they challenge you to be your best. People who never get bored because their passionate goals and dreams keep them busy and content enough.
As I said before, when Bill and Melinda Gates met, she (Melinda Ann French) wasn't waiting to get picked.
You never read about the First Lady Michelle Obama nagging about getting old and wanting to have kids NOW or some Desperate Housewives drama like that. Because the right people understand, support you, buckle up or buckle down when maturity calls for precisely that. And it is their stability and contributions that help you maintain focus and rhythm as you grind and hustle for whatever you call success. Don't settle. If you can't find such people.
And don't go looking either. It's hard, we know. But some of your best work will be done in solitude.No roommates. No procrastinators. No irresponsible people. Unless you want drama. And ultimate failure.
When well-meaning people with low standards come around people with high standards, criticism becomes commonplace. Defensiveness and negativity become the norm. And before you know it, especially if you're broke, there you are, depending on the very people you're supposed to be leading. With lost dignity and respect.
By all means, AVOID roommates. Unless you can they are ultra starving and creative entrepreneurial types of Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, or Airbnb co-founders' caliber.By contrast, if your friends are into waking up, fawning of celebrities' success or #FAIL; shade, beef and other #HeSaidSheSaid pettiness, you deserve all your troubles. Because that's not focus.
Over to you, Steven Pressfield.
...Buckling down and hitting a groove. By that I mean finding and achieving a steady, productive, working rhythm.
Traction. It beats brilliance every day.
Nothing gets stuff done like traction. When the rubber grips the road, we can deliver any payload. Long-range. Cross-country. Anywhere.
The opposite of traction is slippage. Spinning our wheels. Starting and stopping.
When we achieve traction, we’re actually accomplishing something.
We’re shooting film, we’re filling blank pages, we’re structuring our new start-up.
For the past two weeks we’ve talked about thinking in blocks of time and saying no. Thinking in blocks of time gives us patience. It sets up the long view. We can say, “It’ll take twelve weeks for pre-production, 39 days of filming, and nineteen weeks of post-production.” We can say that and not freak out. We’re thinking in blocks of time.
Saying no means adopting a No More Mister Nice Guy attitude toward all activities that will pull us away from our objective. Including good things, fun things. We make the decision that our priority is X. Everything that is not-X, unless it’s life and death (or at least really big fun), has to take a number.
The third element is consistency. Habit.
They say at the gym that you have to train in order to train. That’s how traction is achieved. A solid day’s work on Monday makes it easier to do the same Tuesday. A strong week leads to a stronger following week.You can’t generate traction out of the box. You have to make it the old-fashioned way. You have to earn it.
You earn it by day-after-day consistency of effort.
That’s what my goal is now.
Thinking in blocks of time and saying no to distractions lets me sink the lugs of my tires into the mud and really dig in.
Once I achieve traction, I focus on nothing except maintaining it. I don’t overthink. I don’t second-guess. I don’t tinker.
I don’t read pages over and drive myself crazy wondering if they’re “good.” The point is not brilliance, the point is movement. The object is to gain ground.Later, I will switch to left-brain and beat myself to a pulp striving for quality. Later. Not now.
I once read a great definition of work. This came from Frederic Raphael, who wrote the screenplays for Darling (for which he won an Oscar), Two for the Road, Far From the Madding Crowd and Eyes Wide Shut.
Work is when you have pages at the end of the day that you didn’t have at the beginning.
What produces those pages is traction.
That’s what I want now.
My mantra: I will think in blocks of time, I'll say NO to distractions, and I’ll dig my heavy-duty off-road tires into the mud day-after-day until I can feel them gripping good and solid.
Then I’ll shut off my chattering brain and keep rolling.
○ ○ ○The Art of Being Prepared (IV)Images & Colored Text Hyperlinked With Bonus Content