A Week Of Ultra Productivity

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Time Keeps On Slipping, Slipping, Slipping Into The Future

Recently I’ve read a number of articles on productivity, success and tracking – probably triggered by my new years resolution to pack more into each day. To that end – I’m going to attempt an “experiment in ultraproductivity” – over the next week – starting now I will:

  1. track every waking moment – using Timesheet, a time tracking app on my Galaxy S4
  2. spend time at the end of each day assessing the day and tracking wasted time
  3. develop a plan to refine the next day’s activities
  4. continue to refine the process over the week

Kind of like applying an Agile process to my life. Instead of a daily standup at the start of the day, its more of a daily lie down at the end of the day…

Some of the things I’m going to try:

  1. Getting up early – I’m going to shoot for 5am, which is tough for me as I’m a real night owl
  2. Exercise first thing – I have a FitBit on the Ultivator, so I need to hit my step goals otherwise I’m going to get penalized, so I need to hit that
  3. Write some fiction for at least one hour – I’ve got Precog in the Kindle store and on its way in paperback, so I need to start on the 2nd book in the series, Telekin.
  4. Write a blog post – like this one
  5. Fill up my Buffer every day with new stuff
  6. Spend time connecting with people via social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn etc…

All before breakfast.

Part of this was inspired by Ramit Sethi, a guy who alternatively annoys me and gets me motivated. He is currently selling a package of “productivity hacks” for some dumb amount of money, supposedly collecting a number of these productivity tips into one package. More power to him, but I’m cheap and I figure I’ve got enough experience to come up with my own set of hacks. I’ve applied all of this in varying ways over time – but this time I’m going to apply them all at once – and with any luck, by the end of the week, have a finely honed and ultraproductive process in place. Then maybe I’ll sell it for big bucks too.

Oh, BTW, I noticed that all of those folks who get up early never tell you when they go to bed. Do you imagine that High Powered Executive Who Gets Up At 4am To Conquer The World is in his jammies and under the covers by 9pm in order to get a good nights sleep? What is he, a kid?

Let me know if you have any “productivity hacks” that you personally use to pack more into each day below – would love to hear from you…

Planning Vs. Resilience

trampolineIf life is change, then how does planning work?

I firmly believe that there are two core ways in which to run your life. You can either:

  • Plan everything out to the Nth degree, and hope nothing upsets your plan
  • Expect that something will happen to ruin what you are doing, and be able to bounce back

A lot of people believe in the “plan it all out” strategy. Problem is that life does not work that way. Life is change, and no matter how you plan, invariably something will happen that you cannot plan for. And in that case, all of your planning will be for nothing.

I read this great article in a now defunct magazine which was part of the Forbes empire – it was called Forbes ASAP, and it was all about leading tech thought and investment etc. The article was called “How the West Kicked Butt

In this article, the author postulated that the reason the west coast was getting tons more investment than the east coast was the “style” of the place as opposed to the ideas coming out of that place. The author suggested that the difference was planning vs resilience – and used the weather and earthquakes as the metaphor. On the east coast, you know that during the upcoming winter, you are probably in for terrible weather. So you prepare for the weather: you buy warm clothes, you get snow tires for your car etc. You have some idea what is going to happen so you plan your life. So planning is a big deal. The better your plan, the better you can deal with this known quantity: bad weather. On the west coast, on the other hand, you have no idea when a devastating earthquake may occur.

So you can’t plan for it: sure you can get supplies in etc in case one occurs, but you can’t really plan for when it happens. So what is a big deal? Bouncing back from disaster: or resilience. The ability to claw back from bad things that happen. That’s more important than planning on the west coast.

So why is resilience better than planning? Simple. This article was focused on business and investment: it supposed that venture investors would prefer to invest in companies which could survive sudden adverse conditions.

Life is like that too. Being able to survive sudden adverse conditions is much more critical to life than planning out your every step.

So to all of those people who plan out their lives to the Nth degree, I say:
RELAX. Sure, make a plan, but don’t go overboard. Life will get in the way. That’s its job. Instead, focus on being able to bounce back from adversity. Move on quickly.

Like in craps. When you throw a bad roll, you just move on to the next shooter. You don’t sit there and focus on that guy who just lost you $1200.

Just move on to the next win.

Its Not Who You Know, Its Who Knows You

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As a student of the “success marketplace” (otherwise known as reading a ton of success books over the course of my life) I came to one revelation last week which of course is probably blindingly obvious to almost everyone. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who is successful, got a lucky break at one point in their life. It may have even happened before they were born – their parents may have gotten their lucky break for them. But for those who are successful now, they went from a poor or regular existence to one of wealth and riches, got there by some lucky break.

A lot of success books which talk about the value of hard work – that if you simply do the work – over and over – eventually you will succeed. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who worked extremely hard all of their lives and are no more successful than anyone else. Same goes for talent. The human race is filled with talent. There are literally millions of talented singers who will never be on the Voice, or dancers who will never see So You Think You Can Dance. Those ones who leapfrogged into the upper echelons of whatever they are successful at, caught that lucky break. Talent and hard work MAY have helped, but they are not a given.

Every example, from Bill Gates, to Mark Cuban, to Michael Jordan, to Donald Trump, every rich person, famous, infamous, and not famous at all, caught a lucky break. Could have been being hired to the right company, like say a Google or Facebook, and granted stock prior to IPO. Could have been running a bakery for years until Katie Holmes walks into your store and orders a cupcake. Could have spent years working on a startup, shutting it down, and then 3 weeks into your next one, Ashton Kutcher tweets abouts it, and suddenly you’re front page news.

Yes folks, success always requires pure dumb luck. All you can do is increase the chances of it happening, it can never, ever be guaranteed. 99% of all success and self help books are total crap in this regard – they often leave out the absolute fact that luck is a key factor in all success.

So, should you just give up? Should you just sit there on the couch and wait for luck to strike you? Well, no because that will reduce your chances of success. If you look at all of those examples that I gave you – they all involve making a connection with other people who can either help you directly OR know someone who can help you. You can’t just sit in a dark cave and code the most awesome product in the world, because when you launch it – no one will ever see it.

People. Increasing the odds of success is all about people. Success is all about the maximum amount of people knowing you and what you are doing, not the more commonly heard “its who you know”, its more “who knows you”.

Why the maximum amount, why not the “most effective amount?” – Simple – its a numbers game. Like dating and eventually finding “the one” the more you date, the more you see person after person, eventually you will come across someone you fit just right. Same with success: expose yourself or your product to enough people, eventually an influencer will get you that lucky break.

So stop sitting there and coding up a storm. Get out there and meet, meet, meet as many people as you can, not just online but at meetups and other places in person. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, just hanging out with other coders won’t cut it. Do this all the time that you can. Carve out some time to make those connections, build those relationships, tell people what you are up to.

Who knows – maybe the next person you talk to is the one who can help you succeed. But as the great Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – so…take the shot.

Do What You Love & The Money Will Follow?

holsteemanifestoBack about 8 years ago, some colleagues and I were discussing this very issue: that many people are very talented in areas in which they can’t really make a living, so they spend time in a “day job” which they may or may not like, but pays the bills while they pursue their true passion. At the time we discussed how there were very few services which addressed this market. Also, at the time, the economy was much healthier, and the fact that millions of “conventional” jobs would disappear was simply not on the horizon. Its a new day, and many people now have no day job to leverage in order to do what they love – services like Gumroad make it possible for people to finally do what they love and with luck, the money does follow.

Gumroad enables creatives to sell directly to their audience — so that they can make a living doing what they love.Writers, designers, game developers, musicians, artists, and filmmakers use Gumroad to earn money off of their creative efforts.

via Gumroad – About.