You’ve heard the conventional wisdom: never check email in the morning.That sounds great, unless your job involves communicating with people, or if you happen to care about what people have to say to you. In either of those cases, you very well might want (or need!) to see what's happened overnight just as you sit down to work. It's also true, though, that it's easy to get sucked into replies and never end up creating or building or just working on something that requires long-term focus, all because you can't get your nose out of the inbox. Years ago I found a better way that I still use most days of the week. Here's how it works. Read More
Productive people are never "free." They don’t have 15 minutes on their lunch break to "have a quick call." They don’t "kill time"—a terrible phrase. You can always put a window of time to good use if you work for it. Productive people schedule their priorities—not always their time, but always their priorities. When they don’t have something to do, they find something to do. By the way, it’s not that productive people don’t make time for friends, family, recovery, and play time. They do. But because they do, and because they have plenty of other things to consider... they’re rarely "free." Read More
Q: What are your tricks for time management? “The simple answer is to attempt to avoid, at all costs, situations that waste people’s time.” “Regarding my personal time management, I also try to live by the philosophy that focuses on: ‘What did I do that was productive and beneficial in the last 40 minutes?’ I…Read More
The drugstore in my neighborhood has a deliberate policy of wasting every customer’s time. If you arrive to pick up a prescription, you’ll wait a minimum of 20 minutes, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting a refill. It doesn’t matter if your doctor’s office has called in your prescription. It doesn’t matter if…Read More
I never was much for any kind of mechanical labor. If something breaks, I’m inclined to leave it broken. Give me a hammer and I’ll try to screw in a light bulb. One time I changed a tire and got really excited, until the spare tire nearly fell off as I drove along. Despite my…Read More
Happy 2014 to all! If you haven’t set goals or a theme for the year yet, it’s not too late. Habits do not create themselves. If you get off track in a habit you’ve committed to, you have to make adjustments to ensure you course correct. Over here I’m getting back to my writing routine,…Read More
You've been here before. The weeks and months have gone by, and now you find yourself at the point where something big is due. The deadline you've been ignoring is now staring you in the face.
Sup, the deadline says. Did you forget about me?
You didn't forget, of course. But you didn't entirely take it seriously either. It was hiding out in the background, and now the background has planted itself directly in front of your desk.Read More
This post was written entirely in the air between Seattle and Anchorage the other day.
It was a bad travel hacking morning. For some reason I was assigned a middle seat in peasant class—the torture chamber of the modern traveler. Alas.
I squeezed into 6B and unloaded my stuff. MacBook, notebook, magazine, iPad, book manuscript, cinnamon twist. I tried to arrange things as best as possible, without sitting on the MacBook or the crucial cinnamon twist.
I felt sorry for myself for a moment. And then I realized the obvious: am I going to complain, or am I going to get to work?Read More
To wake in the morning full of life and energy, awaiting the day with anticipation and purpose.
To step out into the world ready to accomplish a significant task.
To engage and initiate instead of merely responding. To take the active choice that you will make something happen.Read More
In JFK I got on the 16-hour Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. It was 3pm in the New York afternoon, and 3am in HKG—exactly halfway around the world. The Boeing 777 took off, I had lunch, and I took a short nap. I always set my watch to the destination time when boarding a flight, so it was now sunrise in Hong Kong ... with 13 hours to go. What's next?Read More
Here’s the idea: we make time for what’s important to us. If I fail to fulfill a commitment I’ve made in a timely manner, it’s because of a conscious choice I’ve made. If I don’t return the phone call I said I would, it’s because I chose to do something else.Read More
Image by deqalb
Have you ever gone on a vacation only to come back feeling more tired than before you left? It’s not a good feeling to need a vacation from the vacation, but many of us have experienced that kind of let-down.
The secret to overcoming this feeling is planning some good, productive blocks of “work time” into your restful vacation.
No, I am not a workaholic. The key difference is that the work you do on vacation needs to be the kind of work that brings you energy… not the kind of work that tethers you to your cell phone or PDA.
While people not interested in lifestyle design may not appreciate this idea, I suspect that many AONC readers will not find the combination of vacations and productivity to be strange at all. The goal of most vacations is to relax, but we often go about it the wrong way. We binge on relaxation the same way we binge on work. It feels good the first day, but by the third day, you may have the same burned-out feeling you get from working too much.
Without a clear set of goals for your vacation, you may not come back feeling relaxed.
That’s why I advocate a process of goal-setting and GTD for vacations that is fairly similar to what I use for the work-week. The projects on the list are much different than work-week projects, but the system is the same.
At the start of any vacation, I set a few goals for myself -- usually just two or three big ones, along with a few small ones such as journaling every day. If you adopt this system, you should set goals that make sense for you, but feel free to steal some of my ideas if you’d like.
Here’s a Few Ideas
-Complete a bigger “weekly review” than usual. This could be a quarterly or yearly review. For several years now, I have completed a full annual review each December while on vacation. It is the most important thing I do that week, and I plan everything else around it.
Later this year, I'll explain more about that process in real time -- but for now, you can create your own review by looking at the major aspects of your life and planning anything you want to change. There are also many good books that can help with this - two of my favorites are Wishcraft and Finding Your Own North Star.
-Work on one or more writing projects. The good thing about being a writer is that I can work anywhere. I don’t even need a laptop all the time (although I do usually take one with me) because I do a lot of my initial work in a paper notebook before transferring it to computer. But even if you’re not a writer by profession, chances are you have some writing projects to work on, and these are usually a good fit for a relaxing week. You’ll likely find you get a lot more done without interruption, and the work is usually free of the stress that comes with being online all the time.
-Exercise Goals. I try to eat sensibly wherever I go, but I do usually end up eating a bit more while on a real vacation. That’s why I always make sure to set some simple goals of exercise during the week, which also helps maintain my regular habits of taking care of myself. I like to run, so my exercise goals revolve around that, but depending on where you are vacationing, you may also be able to swim, bike, or just take long walks.
Live from Alaska
By the way, I actually wrote the notes for this short essay in June while on vacation myself, from a cruise ship on the Alaskan inside passage. And in between all those big dinners and bread pudding desserts, I set aside a morning to run a full marathon (26.2 miles) while on the open sea. You can read the whole story here, but the short version is that it was an intense, crazy experience that I probably wouldn’t repeat, but I’m tremendously glad that I did it.
I knew I would have a good story to tell, and I enjoyed the bread pudding a lot more afterwards. Then, I went back to my room and did some more writing.
Did you enjoy this article? Please pass it on to others at your favorite social networking site, or share your own thoughts in the comments section.Read More