Archive for 2008

Maximum Productivity: Persistence

November 18th 2008

This article is part of a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of persistence.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

Persistence is continuing to do something in all kinds of situations no matter what happens.  Maximizing productivity definitely requires that since there are many difficulties and short term setbacks in learning to do new things and becoming productive.

Steps for Persistence

I’ve got 5 steps to follow to be persistent and I’ll outline how each of those can be applied for maximum productivity.

Step 1: Direction

Being persistent is not enough.  You need to be persistent at things that continues to steer you in the right direction.  I love the analogy where a plane traveling from point A to point B is off course the majority of the time and just continually correcting that course to keep steering in the proper direction to get to the destination.  If people would look at productivity the same way, they would realize they need to constantly be changing paths, using new tools, ideas and methods while always going in the right direction.  You have to look past any one particular setback or failure, and continue to move forward regardless of that temporary setback.  Knowing your direction and where you want to get with your productive tasks allows you to work in the right direction.  That is the first step to being persistent with productivity.

Step 2:Plan

Once you know the direction, it’s important to make a plan to get there.  It may be an elaborate plan or just a couple of simple steps, but as long as your plan moves you in the right direction, you make progress and can move to the next step.  There are a number of ways to develop this plan and it is something you shouldn’t try to make perfect.  Persistence relies on doing things over and over so the plan you start with can change and evolve over and over.  Some of the ways you might want to consider building a plan are:

  • Brainstorming ideas and just write down everything that comes to mind
  • Think of things that have worked for you in the past
  • Identify the people you could contact to get help from
  • List new methods and techniques to try
  • Research ways others have done the same things you want to do

Step 3:Prioritize

Once you have some plans or at least some possibilities, you need to look at prioritizing things.  First you should prioritize your plans if you have a few ideas and look at which specific things you want to do.  Make sure the plans make sense and that it is something you can work on.  Do you have the resources to do it or do you need to find that still?  Pick the things that you will be able to do or ensure your plan has steps that will get you what you need in order to then get started.

Step 4:Act

This step is simply doing what it takes to put your plan into action.  While this often seems like it is making things sound easier then they are, that is not ever the case.  Taking some action in your plan should not be difficult or elaborate.  If you don’t know how to do something yet, then pick an action that will help you figure that out.  Take an action to do some research or to learn more about the topic before you are ready to move ahead.  There is always something you can do to make progress, even if it is small .  That is the important part here in being productive and it will keep you from ever getting stuck for a long time.

Step 5:Repeat

The last step in to be persistent is to simply repeat these steps.  Go back to step 1, to ensure you are still heading in the right direction.  Keep your perspective in mind, your positive attitude and focus you’ve learned from my previous articles in this series and start these steps again.  You can either reuse your plans, or adjust it as needed.  Just keep repeating through these steps and you’re on the path to reaching your maximum productivity.

Repeat Your Successes

As you execute these steps and make a number of passes through them, you’ll learn some things that worked and some that didn’t.  This is valuable to learn and use for continuing to improve your productivity.  The things that work well for you are things you should look to repeat and enjoy the benefits of. Recognizing that progress definitely makes persistence a little easier and it will help to motivate you to keep working at it!

Don’t Make it Hard

Persistence is not something that will come quickly and it will certainly not come without a lot of mistakes along the way.  Don’t make it hard for yourself by expecting too much too quickly and ensure you take your time to slowly learn this practice of persistence.  You will have setbacks and sometimes the plans or actions you put in place won’t work or be productive.  That’s OK.  Just stop to learn from the mistake and go back to your steps and start again.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 15 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Focus

November 14th 2008

This article is part of a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of focus.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

Productive focus is narrowing your actions and time in on the areas that produce results.  Using this to maximize your productivity has a number of benefits and is something that is especially hard to do in today’s society and workplaces and it is actually getting hard and harder as we use more technology.

Technology Distractions

Technology is really only useful if it does something for us to make our lives better or easier.  While we are constantly taking advantage of that with technology in our lives, I cannot say that it comes without a cost.  That cost is focus.  Technology is connecting and enabling anyone to have a wealth of information available at their fingertips, anywhere and at anytime.  That anytime is the dangerous part.  Most people allow phone calls, email and internet to be an integral part of every day and they let it distract them with a moment’s notice for low value activities.  We let popups, audible alerts, vibrating devices, flashing LEDs, and many other digital distractions consume our precious attention regardless of the priority of that digital tidbit.  Many people find that they just don’t know how to work without these tools, let alone get maximum productivity without them.  This is where technology needs to be eliminated in order for a person to learn and really experience the power of focus.  The ability to stay disconnected and attentive on a single set of tasks is critical to maximize your productivity.  If you can’t do this for a few hours at a time, you have more work to do to master the power of focus.  I challenge you to go a whole day without your cell phone, email, internet or handheld device.  Try working at one thing at a time and don’t let anyone or anything distract you from it.

This article I wrote should help give you more ideas about how you can focus while working on a computer.  Maximize Your Productivity on Your Computer

Stop Wasting Time

If all those technology distractions are not enough, media can easily consume any additional time you might have.  We all love our media, whether its books, TV, newspapers, movies or internet, and while they can provide a valuable time for relaxation and entertainment, they consume far more hours in our lives than useful.  And unfortunately, there is a staggering amount of bad media and full of poor or negative messages bombarding us in these various media channels.  Television is my least favorite and it is also the most time consuming to the general public.  Most people spend hours every day watching television and then griping about their life situations, finances, relational problems and negative attitudes.  It amazes me.  If I was ever to teach a psychiatrist school, I would give them one technique to use with their patients and it would work to fix most people’s problems in life.  That technique would be to eliminate television from your daily routine.  Oddly enough, people can stay focused on the television for hours on end, yet will immediately complain about not having time to start a business, or build relationships, or work a little harder in school or a job.  Getting rid of television is a great way to focus more time on productive things and to stop wasting it.  I personally watch only about 1 hour per week and I’ve developed a love and value of all the time I have outside of television.

Newspapers and the internet can easily be as bad at wasting time.  Set a completion time when you take on these activities and track your time carefully.  Pay attention to what you are reading or surfing and look to keep asking yourself if it is useful.  It’s so easy to get sidetracked by advertisements with these media we often find ourselves spending massive amounts of time reading things that we don’t even know how we got to it in the first place.

Do Productive Work First

For some people, eliminating the distractions and time wasters won’t be easy and even if you work at it, you may not be very successful at it for some time.  To change that I recommend to always do your productive work first.  Plan to spend just a few minutes a day when you first start work and again when you first get home or finish supper to do some productive tasks.  Those few minutes can often turn into hours where you will get a lot of productive work done or they might just be a few minutes, either way, it trains you to do that first and to continually make progress and practice maximizing your productivity.

Build Your Mind

Training your mind to focus and stay productive is what it really takes to maximize this.  To focus your mind, you need to do a lot of the similar things as I’ve outlined above about your physical activities.  You need to break the patterns in your mind that distract you, that feed limiting beliefs, that clutter your thoughts and prevent your ability to stay attentive and focused.  There are many ways to do this, but it requires that you develop new beliefs and patterns that encourage productive behavior. Take a look at this article on Beliefs: They’re Entirely Yours to Control .

Aside from working to eliminate specific things from your mind, you can also develop your mind by learning and practicing to be more positive, focused and productive.  The best way to practice focus in the mind is to do it without distractions.  No people, no music, no technology, nothing!  Find a place of solitude (preferable in nature) and stay there focusing on a specific topic.  Let your mind wander around that subject but pull your thoughts back to the same topic over and over each time it drifts.  Focus on visualizing and detailing everything you can about that topic you are focused on.  Imagine it and be creative in your mind.  Imagine being productive, staying productive in the present and future and even what maximum productivity looks like.  Focus those thoughts and images and repeat them.  Practice until you can instantly bring that image into your mind of you being at your maximum potential.  Lock those thoughts into your mind and remember how you felt and use those feelings or some action as an anchor point to return your mind to that state in the future.  If you master your state of mind , you can learn to switch your mind into that state immediately and focus on it.  This is a great skill to develop for building your mind to help you reach your maximum productivity.

What are the methods you use to focus?  Do you agree or disagree with these ideas?  I’d love to hear your comments and further the discussion on focusing for productivity.  Please add your comments below!

Posted by Mike King under Life | 17 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Attitude

November 11th 2008

This article is part of a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of attitude.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

Every avenue of life has one variable that allows you to have a unique experience from it.  That is your attitude.  You can experience the exact set of events as 100 other people, but you will have your own unique experience, as will each of the other people.  The way you experience something and how you think and feel through that is what makes you, YOU!  The attitude you have and demonstrate completely shapes not only your actions at that specific moment, but your entire personality and character.  Similarly, it shapes the way you look at productivity and that’s what we’ll look at here.

Self Confidence

The biggest area I see suffering when people do not have a healthy attitude is self confidence.  I don’t want to label an attitude as good or bad as that seems to superficial to me but what I do want to do is lean those terms to what I would call a healthy or unhealthy attitude.  A healthy attitude when it comes to maximizing your productivity is one that further enables a person to accomplish the things they put their mind to.  An unhealthy attitude is one that diminishes that.  The things that affect that are really a collection of the thoughts, words, expression and body posture.  All these things make up your physiology and it leaves in your mind, your own interpretation of what you think of yourself.  Looking at that over a variety of actions and time is what really shapes your self confidence.  If you look to build that confidence by choosing and steering your mind and make visible the actions you want, you have direct control of what becomes your attitude.  There are many ways to choose and control your attitude and instead of getting into many details, I’ll simply reference a few articles I’ve written before that should help to control and set the attitude that is healthy for maximum productivity!

Motivation

A big part of productivity is about understanding motivation and to see where your attitude ties in with that.  I recently wrote an article about How to Find and Develop your Own Internal Motivation and this is a major step in shaping a productive attitude.  The things that motivate you in a positive way with regards to attitude is anything that leads you closer to your productive actions and results.  If it steers you away from or deters you from those then it’s not a productive motivator.  If you are to stop and list all the things that motivate and demotivate you towards being more productive, you can then begin to choose to engage in the helpful things and stay away from the ones that hinder you.  The more you experience the things that help motivate you, the more you will see progress and improvements in your productivity and this continues to cascade.

Creativity

Another aspect of a healthy attitude for maximum productivity is with your creativity.  Creativity is something that enables people to get unstuck in difficult circumstances, see solutions to problems that might otherwise hold someone back and it gives you an opportunity to try new things.  It is an important trait of any highly productive person and so exercising your creative mind strengthens it and continues to build an attitude of working towards an end.  Carrying through with that and learning from creative work is what enables you to make quicker judgments and decisions on similar circumstances in the future, which continues to increase your productivity.

Health

I included health as an important aspect of building a productive attitude because I constantly see how health affects people.  For example, I love Agarwood chips. It is certainly related to self-confidence but I believe it is a strong enough component on its own, it’s worth including.  Health is more than just your physical health, it also includes your mental health, spiritual health and relational health.  These areas all highly impact people’s attitudes and any one of them can quickly shift a person from a great day and mood to a terrible one, or vise versa.

If you want to examine ways to improve your attitude, then these 4 areas are great starting areas.  Identify the things you love in each and do more of it.  The things you don’t like, stop.  It’s fairly simple.  For example, if you find that your mental health is affected because you like to learn, then spend more time learning.  This will improve your mental health and can help your attitude.  Not only that, but it’s a powerful way to see that you can steer your actions which applies to other productivity areas as well.

Happiness

Last and certainly not least, I feel that happiness plays an important role in attitude which further shapes a person’s ability to be productive.  Everything that happens to us influences us, but how we react and how we let that affect us is a direct reflection on our choices and IF we let it change our mood.  You have a choice whether you want some sad news to make you sad as well or if you can continue to see positive things and be happy even amongst sad circumstances or events.  A person with a happy attitude can generally deal with bad circumstances more effectively because they are able to keep a positive mind and look for ways to improve and get back to a happy state.  If you let yourself become what you experience, you will likely find yourself having a lot of difficult days with regular poor moods.  That inhibits the mind from seeing positive solutions and getting attentive to do productive things.

When people who are very happy encounter unhappy circumstances, they take responsibility to change that and make things better.  This applies with productivity as well and is a superb training grounds to not only look for ways to improve and get better, but for overcoming situations that would otherwise get in the way of you reaching your maximum productivity!

Posted by Mike King under Life | 14 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Perspective

November 7th 2008

This article is part of a series called, “Maximum Productivity ” in which I’ll explore the topic of perspective.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

I guess the first point to understand is what is productivity?  While productivity as a definition is simply producing readily and abundantly, that itself leaves a huge gap for what you are producing.  And that is where I will start things off in this series by looking at life, tasks, work and everything people do and wish to do from a perspective that matters or has some purpose!  Being productive is useless if it’s not on the things that matter to you.  So perspective is first.

Perspective

Perspective is really about looking at where productivity can be applied in your life.  It’s about taking a step back to analyze your situations and environment to see what it is you want to be productive at.  This allows you to put more efforts and productive work towards the things that are in some way meaningful to you.  To gain that perspective there are a number of things you can do to change your normal perspective and realize what does matter.

  • Explore your passions
  • Discuss and even debate with others
  • Read books that question or expand your views
  • Ask others for their opinions and stay open minded
  • Write your will or obituary for yourself
  • Explore and understand the legacy you want to leave
  • Imagine yourself in other people’s situations and challenges
  • Look at how your creativity can change your perception
  • Study and learn new things to gain new understanding
  • Ignore your gut or instinctive response

All of these things can help you to step back from what is normal in your life and analyze new situations from a distance.  It’s critical to CHANGE and EXPAND your views on every subject without limiting yourself to your old beliefs.  It’s often those new areas that will truly let you see not only what you can do to be productive but also why that is important!

Identity

The way you see things is a big part of one’s identity so expanding that and exploring it deeply is done to really take a deep look at oneself.

  • Do you know what drives and motivates you to do the things you do?
  • Could you explain all of your actions to others and would you be happy to hear that explanation?
  • Is the time you spend on things productive to you?
  • Are you OK with that whether it is or isn’t?
  • How much time do you spend productively?
  • Can you change that and do you want to?

The things you consider to be productive should be the things you enjoy doing and want to do.  That is part of what drives you to do it and so of course this drive has to come from within to have any lasting impact.  That is why I encourage you to reflect on those questions above, answer them truthfully and look at what reveals itself.  It’s impossible to just become productive overnight and it is a slow process to change since it’s your identity, not just your productive actions, that must also change to shift to seeing that new perspective that is required in everything.  That perspective change will enable you to learn easier from new experiences and adapt quicker to changes.  This will make controlling your productivity much easier. Expanding and seeing with more perspective is also helpful to look for improvements, optimizations and ways to be more productive.  Instead of just thinking the current way is the only or best way to do something, you can accept suggestions, changes and help to increase your productivity.

Who Do You Do It For?

This concept of perspective applies not only in looking at productivity directly and seeing areas to improve that but also in why you do it.  What makes you want to those things and motivate you to improve.  To what end?  Do you have something to achieve in working at those areas?  Some people do it for approval, to be liked, to make themselves happy, to meet others.  Some do it for status, material things, health or longevity.  I personally look at productivity more from an angle of service to others.  I want to do things that are productive not only for me, but for others, for strangers, for family, for new friends, old friends, and for God.  Those are things that I highly value they motivate me to drive forward in creating more time, more productivity and more results in the areas that are service oriented.

So who do YOU do things for?  Can you say that you are working with a purpose, a mission and set of values?  I hope if you don’t that you stop to take a look at why you do things, what will leave you happy if you only had short time to live and that you are able to be productive with the things you want out of life.  That, my friends, is what perspective is for and I hope I’ve been able to shed a little bit of new light on this first article in a series for maximizing your productivity.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23

Posted by Mike King under Life & Personal | 16 Comments »

Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction

November 3rd 2008

I’ve looked at various topics here at LearnThis.ca around improving your productivity in your life through techniques, tools, skills and practices but I’ve never linked or presented many of them together.  This is an introduction only for the start of a series of articles that do just that and it will look at maximizing productivity in all areas of your life.  I’ve learned from everything I read that personal development has a fairly high level of overlap in how things can be applied and even though there are very specific things to look at with each article, book or coaching idea, there is also a lot of overlap between them.  This series will examine how those overlapping themes can be learned, applied and mastered for maximizing our productivity.  So, please read through the topics and come back for the rest of this series!  Subscribe to my RSS feed or email feed to ensure you don’t miss any!

Perspective

I guess the first point to understand is what is productivity.  While productivity as a definition is simply producing readily and abundantly, that itself leaves a huge gap as to what you are producing.  And that is where I will start things off in this series by looking at your life, tasks, work and everything you do and wish to do from a perspective that matters to you!  Being productive is useless if it’s not on the things that matter to you.  So perspective is first.

Attitude

Next in the series will be to explore attitude.  So much about personal development and certainly this site is about your attitude towards things.  This is no less true when it comes to learning and mastering productivity.

Focus

The right knowledge and attitude towards something is useless if you have no time or attention spent on it.  Focus is absolutely required to become productive and really, it is a key part of the action steps.  We’ll look closer at how to apply focus in our lives and to gain the most from doing it!

Persistence

Productivity is something that seems to come and go for a lot of people.  We all go through phases in life so of course there will be variation, but maximizing productivity is about applying the right techniques to be consistent.  With all the things that can get in the way, we need to be very persistent to make this happen.  We’ll look specifically at how to do this once you’ve captured segments of great productivity.  Keeping it going is the real payoff!

Adventure

Everyone knows how challenging life can be and that it seems to throw stuff in our way all the time.  Most people think of those things as obstacles to avoid and prevent but what about the adventure that comes with those obstacles.  Most of the great stories in life and of people are always about ridiculous odds, crazy circumstances, difficult challenges, surprising events, and all kinds of other things that just don’t happen every day.  Looking to make some of these things happen is a great way to expand your ability to produce and we’ll discuss how those adventures can improve your productivity.

Connections

All this work is lost within a single person’s life if it isn’t shared with others.  You’ll also require the help of others if you really want to be at your maximum productivity.  This article will explore the value of connections and relationships in maximizing your productivity.

See the rest of the series here:
Intro: Maximum Productivity: Series Introduction
Part 1: Maximum Productivity: Perspective
Part 2: Maximum Productivity: Attitude
Part 3: Maximum Productivity: Focus
Part 4: Maximum Productivity: Persistence
Part 5: Maximum Productivity: Adventure
Part 6: Maximum Productivity: Connections

Posted by Mike King under Life | 9 Comments »

Book Review: The Tipping Point

October 31st 2008

Review  Review Review Review Review

Author : Malcolm Gladwell

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The books jacket is a great sample of content.  It explains that the tipping point is:

. . . that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviours cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire.

The idea of this tipping point is explained with numerous examples of dramatic change which Gladwell seems to focus on specific causes for this.  While I do believe that many of his examples are clear indicators of the tipping point concept, I can’t accept the incredible examples of crime shifts in New York to be because of only a few dramatic messages enforced on the subway systems that he claims are the sole reason the shifts occurred.  I do however feel his point is made well and whether those examples are believable or not, there are many others that clearly indicate supreme cases of the tipping point.  I love the way that Gladwell writes and he has an amazing ability to draw you into simple concepts with examples and stories that have unseen correlation to his message without his guidance.  I think that leaves the reader with an edge to recognize the tipping point themselves and gives an advantage in that the tipping point is often easier to achieve than one thinks once it can be leveraged.  The book and stories in it very much remind me of Freakonomics , another great study that uses examples to show massive social impact from normal unseen things.

There are three main areas covered by Gladwell in this book:

  • Law of the Few – This is about the ability of a few people (known as connectors) to establish a level of influence that has a broad reach and can drive adoption of ideas or movements easily.
  • Stickiness Factor – How effective a message is portrayed in its medium has a huge impact on how influencial and lasting that message can be.  It has to do with how the message is packaged and the circumstances of the delivery.
  • Power of Context – Every tipping point is sensitive to the circumstances of such an event.  This time and place of when it occurs dramatically shifts the impact.

One of the things I was looking to get from the book were new ways to make my own actions impactful.  How to make a BIG difference!  From this book, I’ve learned that it’s not the effort, big committment or dedication that will always lead to this but instead more attention to the smaller details to recognize the timing, circumstances and influence every action has.  Those have the ability to be the tipping points for all kinds of actions, whether its achievement, social influence, business or blogging.  Paying attention to those smaller areas and making the most of minute actions can be easily as effective as a massive amount of work to try to brute force get the same results.

It’s a great book if you have any desire to increase your social power or understand how reactions can turn a crowd.  I found the content very intriguing and an area not yet well explored for me, which by itself I love! It has changed my thinking in any social situation and has helped me to make more sense of trends. I would definitely recommend it!

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

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