productivity
Attitude Adjustment

How to balance long-term with urgent—one task at a time

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Quick, do this exercise.

Think of all the short-term tasks you completed yesterday, like: replying to emails, fixing glitches on your web site, answering the phone, updating Facebook status, making lists, and waiting for people to confirm their appointments. All valuable. None pay the bills.

In the course of a day most people spend most minutes putting out fires, tinkering with details, making lists and procrastinating. It’s called the Parkinson Principle – work expands to fill the time allotted.

What about long-term projects. How much time do you invest every day moving those projects ahead. I’m thinking projects like:

  • designing your next product launch
  • getting help to build an advertising campaign
  • writing that book you’ve been talking about since 2001
  • outsourcing your social media (that’s eating up a hour a day)
  • using customer feedback to update your product
  • getting your accounting up-to-date

Those projects move the needle forward. The trick is to employ a system where long-term goals drive your actions, not hoping you’ll find more time (mysteriously) later.

Here are three died-in-the-wool systems that will help you balance long-term objectives with urgent tasks. I have taught these systems to thousands of people and they always the most popular parts of my time management seminars.

1. Work from a Flight Plan

Once a week you need to create a Flight Plan – a short list of essential objectives to complete by next Friday. This is not another “To-Do” list full of miscellaneous tasks and “left overs” from last week—instead it’s mission-critical work that moves your long-term projects forward and gets you closer to your goals.

Start with “Boulders” (the big goals for the year): what “Chunks” of Boulders can you complete this week? It might be setting up a meeting, research, or outsourcing – the trick is to have something every week that keeps your Boulders rolling forward.

Next, add in one-off, time-sensitive tasks. Be as specific as possible – “Post job in upwork.com for graphic design” is better than “Get help with graphic design”.

Once you have your Flight Plan, keep it visible and drive all your actions toward completing it before the weekend.

2. Remove Distractions

A distraction could be that sticky note that’s been on your desk for two months, or a full InBox screaming “look at me!” Minor in the moment, distractions have a way of gnawing away at your focus and making it difficult to complete. Boundaries (creating time slots when you are strategically unavailable) and Blocking (creating appointments with yourself) are two systems to start with. Here are some other fast solutions:

  • take 10 minutes and purge your desk of anything not immediately needed (yes, that includes that stack of business cards from the last conference you attended).
  • unsubscribe from email lists that you no longer want. Yes, this will take time (you can outsource this), but think of the distractions that will disappear every day.
  • get all your lists in one place—this includes calendars. If you aren’t using that cool app on your phone every day it’s likely not needed. Delete it.
  • create a list for the month and a “someday” list in Evernote. These are un-prioritized holding zones. Do not look at these except once a week when you update your Flight Plan.

3. Practice Triage

In an emergency, paramedics practice triage. They often can’t attend to everything and everyone immediately, so they make hard decisions about what can wait. You need to do the same.

Jumping from one task to another, without completing what you started is a recipe for anxiety and failure. I am often surprised how much more effective I can be working from a cafe with no Internet connection, as opposed to my office where I am fully connected.

When a distraction comes up (“I’ll just take a minute an check out their web site”), resist. If this does not contribute to your Flight Plan it can wait. Tough love in the moment will pay big love dividends long-term.

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver

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The Power Of Standing
Performance & Productivity, Personal Development, Staying Healthy

The Simplest Success Tip You’ll Ever Read

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We love to overcomplicate success sometimes. But one of the most successful habits that has helped me over the years is so simple that people can’t believe it possibly works.

It comes down to one word: Movement.

Successful people don’t sit around much . They are always moving or standing or generating motion in some way. Movement has the magical quality of generating more movement and more energy. Whenever you sit down everything in your body wants to relax. Body parts want to fall asleep. When you stand and work your body has no choice but to pump more blood throughout your system to keep you upright. Sitting has always made me more sluggish – especially when I am already tired. But once I stand (like I am right now) my brain starts to go into overdrive with ideas. I’ve even learned that I can get a great Facebook or blog post out faster when I am standing. Whenever I visit spaces where people have to be highly creative, I’m seeing standing desks all over the place. And let’s not even get into the extra calories that you are burning when you are standing and generating even the smallest amount of movement.

Want more energy? More ideas? More momentum? More action? Try standing instead of sitting. You’ll be happily surprised with the results.

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Ten Things Right Now
Attitude Adjustment, Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

10 Things You Can Do In The Next Hour To Increase Your Happiness

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There is one common feeling that all human beings have: They want to be happy. They want to wake up healthy, do what they want to do, love their friends and family, and go to bed worry-free.

However most people don’t get to live that way. There is a huge problem in our world, and it is the problem of lack of control. Most people don’t consciously live their lives and take actions by choice. They react. They allow themselves to get into conditions they don’t want to be in. Then they spend every waking moment reacting to conditions that they don’t like. If you live this way long enough, you will become depressed and frustrated. But there is a cure. And it is called action.

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How High Achievers Think
Attitude Adjustment, Leadership Lessons, Performance & Productivity, Personal Development

Five Things High Achievers Do That You Need To Start Doing

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Success leaves clues. I believe that there is nothing new in the world, so the traits that successful people have today have been around awhile. Sometimes I have a discussion with someone who is looking for a new Holy Grail of success. They are convinced that if they could just find the right tip, the right book, the right video or the right time management system that they would be successful. [insert game show buzzer here]. It's not going to happen. Quit looking for the magic beans to grow your bean stalk.
The people around you that are successful follow a set of rules. These are the guidelines that control their thoughts and their actions throughout the day. They are not flexible. The rules they follow keep them focused on what has to be done every day to continue to grow and mature - both personally and professionally.

Here are five killer habits that high achievers do on a regular basis via @patrickallmond

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They know their planned outcome for the day

(Tweet that) – A high achiever knows what to expect every day when their alarm goes off. Their day centers around their master plans that they worked on last week. They do not allow random phone calls or emails change their mission every five minutes. They have a certain set of objectives that must be accomplished by 5pm (or 6pm or 7pm – whenever they stop). Start planning your your day, your time, and the tasks you will accomplish each day. Create your future based on your daily actions. And don’t wait until the morning of a day to plan the rest of it. Plan your day at the end of the previous day or week.

They get up early

(Tweet that)– And not just a little early. Very early. They need the extra time to reflect in thought, exercise, and to get their ship moving a little earlier than their competition. Getting up early also allows them uninterrupted productivity time. If you want to start getting ahead faster in life, go to bed at a decent time and get up an hour earlier.

They ignore noise

(Tweet that)– What is noise? Noise is something that our world has created that takes your attention away from the focus on your prize. It comes at us every day and in many forms. Most social media can be distracting noise that takes your attention away from the important things. Your cell phone that you answer every time it rings is noise. Checking your email account every hour is noise. What other people say about you in an effort to discourage your success is noise. To many social activities and “hanging out” is noise (“social” meaning in person. Not Twitter. And “hanging out ” meaning with people. Pre Google Plus) / Start ignoring these and other items that get in the way of your focus. You have a limited amount of time in each day to make progress on your goals. Don’t let the noise distract you.

They make other people better

(Tweet that)– The high achievers of the world have figured out the secret formula that makes the world go around; If you want to live a fulfilling life, help other people. It is a simple concept that gets overcomplicated too often. Solve someone’s problem. Make somebody else richer, faster, stronger, smarter, or more emotionally stable.

They are precise in their ways

(Tweet that)– A high achiever does not use words that allow for ambiguity. When they want a certain amount of money, they specify the exact amount. When they want to accomplish a BAHG (Big Ass Hairy Goal), they define their target in every way possible. When it is going to happen, who it is going to involve, what resources are needed, and what are plans B (and C, and D). If you want to achieve something great in this world, then define EXACTLY what you want. Make a poster or a screensaver out of it. Keep it in your view at all times. Keep it on your refrigerator. Become obsessed with it. That is the only way you will make it happen.

The main point of this list is to show that there are regular habits that lead to success. If you have been looking for the “magic beans” to productivity then you will never find them. Everything about how to be highly productive (which leads to a high rate of success) has already been done.

The question now is:

Are you going to ignore this blog post and go back to your old habits? Or are going to start changing your habits which will change your life?

I commit to being better. I am going to implement at least one of these five habits this week and change my life via @patrickallmond

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