Should we start with the end in mind?

Yes, we should!

One of the 7 habits of highly effective people is….Start with the end in Mind. Start with the answer.

Do I have an end in mind for tidWOWs? Yes I do. My aim is to provide you with tools, advice, coaching and content around productivity and personal development. I do that whilst still having my day job. However, I spend about 3 hours commuting each day, and I am very productive. I write articles all the time, so writing about something I enjoy for people to gain from, is a pleasure. It isn’t work or a task.

I ended the last post about trusted systems and processes. About trusted places where you put things so you find them easier later on. That is about order in your cupboards, wardrobes, how you store your food in the fridge to how you have a trusted place for your thoughts. As with everything in life, you have something you work towards to. A project, a career move, a new job, a pay rise, a holiday (of a lifetime), a trip, a new hobby, a routine.

Whatever it is, you already know it. You have this picture in your mind what it looks like, you might have a sound or smell associated with it? The beach in Thailand you will be holidaying on, or the new TV you buy with the pay rise. Whatever it is, make it something to really go for. A really big, colourful picture, a goal! Visualise it. Put it on your wall or on your desktop or your phone and look at it, remind yourself that is why you get up in the morning.

You want to develop a passion for this “item”. You want to live for this item.

Now, with this end in mind, have a look what you need to do to achieve it. What steps do you have to take to achieve that goal? Steeping stones. What does it take to make things happen?

And you will realise that you will break things down in smaller tasks. Into small little todos. Tiny todos. From needing to remember to get a vaccine for the holiday, the passport renewal, the toothbrush, the sun screen, …..

And did you ever try to keep that all in your brain. To keep this all totally stored in your brain whilst still concentrating on your day job, going shopping or playing football.

That is where a trusted system comes in. A todo list that you can put things into, by category even.

Todo list holidays:
– vaccine
– passport
– …

Todo list shopping:
– milk
– eggs
– …

Todo when out and about:
– check on latest magazines
– pick up firing wood
– …

Todo when offline (plane for instance):
– read latest paper on productivity
– answer the emails in my inbox and clear up
– do expense report
– …

Todo when at home
– repair cupboard door in kitchen
– door stopper garage
– …

As you can see, a todo list is a trusted system. For all your notes, for all your todos, categorised by location or by project or both. It keeps your brain clear for its main task: thinking.

So it isn’t only important for you to know where you hang your keys or where you are putting your loose change, it is also important for you to have a system to organise your thoughts and todos. As otherwise you will forget things. And the more important something is, e.g. getting back to a client or remembering someone’s 50th birthday, the worse are the consequences of forgetting it.

Hence begin with the end in mind, then break it down to tasks you putting into your trusted system.

Does that make sense?
Do you have a trusted system?

Let me know of your experience.

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Why focus on Productivity?

I often get asked why I focus on productivity. The answer seems simple to me. Ever since I was a wee boy, I did focus on improving myself and my workflow.

Whilst in school I realised early that it didn’t make sense to come home on a Monday to finish my homework I was given that day. If I did for instance had a task of reading a story, I wouldn’t remember it, if we weren’t having the same class until Thursday. Hence I changed and worked more project oriented, result driven. Of course I didn’t call it that.

So for the example above I wrote down to read the story on Wednesday (or for Thursday). The written tasks, like writing an essay or doing some maths homework, I did on the Monday but reviewed again just the day before they were due. I did effectively managed my tasks, created my own todo list to stay on top of things.

Then, as I grew up, I thought a lot about life. I thought about what I wanted to be, how the day went, which girls I liked and so on. I realised soon that a lot of thoughts came to my mind that stopped me from sleeping. So I took a pen and paper, put it next to my bed, and whenever I remembered to do something or review something, I wrote it down. I got it off my brain, emptied it, so I could sleep. The notes were in a safe place, a trusted system, for me to review at a later stage. I must have just been 10 years old.

I refined this over the years and found a lot of those things covered in GTD (Getting Things Done) by David Allen. Many years later I read all his books, I attended his seminar and realised I knew it all already, yet had less experience than he did. Never mind. This comes over time, and today I am here, talking about GTD, my own experience, work flows, processes, structures and strategies.

More often than not I am sitting at my desk, reviewing some articles, and notice that essentially all those time management and productivity gurus speak about the same things over again. They change the context of course. So for instance, the trusted place:

– This could be the trusted archive online (I recommend Evernote to do that).
– This could be a trusted place for your keys like a key hook or a place for important (offline) documents, like a folder.
– This could be for certain emails, an archive or folder within your email system.
– This could be a system rather than a place for certain processes: this could apply to anything from housework, office work, but also hobbies and alike. A routine if you like and if you are living with a partner and might even have children, then you already know what I am talking about. Because you can be set in your own ways too – which can be both positive but also negative.

You see, just because one is interested in productivity, that doesn’t mean it cannot touch all sort of things in life.

So where do we start, where do we stop.

As a basis for this blog I decided to make my newly commented book on Productivity of Life available to everyone. Open Source if you like. I want to discuss my ideas, make them available to everyone in order to being able to help you with some of the things you might need help with. My recent promotion of the book resulted in over 200 downloads, so I am confident you find it useful!

So for now, let’s have a look at some general things. We touched on trusted systems what they could mean, but haven’t really decided what they are or how we create them. Habits take seconds to break but 60 days to build. A tough decision to prioritise. That is another aspect of productivity.

Let’s leave it for now and let’s bring in some structure in the next post.

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Welcome Post – August 2014

tidWOWs stands for “Things I did Whilst Others Were Sleeping”

I came up with the idea for tidWOWs in early 2014 and will post more info some time soon.

For now you can start following me on Twitter – I will start revealing more info as we go along.

The content will be closely linked to productivity, see also Productivity Of Life, a book I wrote in 2013 related to productivity.

For any questions, please feel free to EMAIL me.

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