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Tag Archives: Productivity
Discipline is choosing between what you want now … and what you want most.
— Abraham Lincoln
It’s been more than thirty years since I read the Odyssey for a literature class in college. The details of the story have faded from my memory, but one passage remains as vivid as ever: Odysseus lashes himself to the mast of his ship in order to resist the incredible lure of the song of the Sirens.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were beautiful to behold and enchanting to hear. They were dangerous yet beautiful creatures who lured nearby sailors to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. “Their song, though irresistibly sweet, was no less sad than sweet, and lapped both body and soul in a fatal lethargy, the forerunner of death and corruption,” Walter Copland Perry observed.
The sirens are alive and well in our modern era.
It’s tough to be productive these days. Focus is hard. As if the Internet wasn’t distracting enough, along comes one of the most insidious wastes of personal energy since the invention of the chat room. We’ve all clicked on them — the alluring list post, or ‘listicles’ as professional bloggers and content marketers like to call them.
Instant productivity tip: STOP CLICKING ON LISTICLES. Just stop. If you want to fell more focussed and be more productive stop clicking on any article that has a number in the title.
You know the articles I am talking about. Listicles are those articles written with seductive headlines like:
- 5 Things Super Lucky People Do — Time
- 10 Innocent Hand Gestures You Should Never Use Abroad — Huffington Post
Happy New Year!
As the holidays wrap up this week, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead.
A cycle of annual and quarterly planning sets the strategy that you execute with a weekly and daily rhythm. You think ‘big picture’ and chart your course broadly at the beginning of the year. Then, on a quarterly basis, you make more specific plans that help you reach those ‘big picture’ goals.
Next, every week you lay out specific activities that you are going to work on, and finally, every day you identify tasks that must be done.
I love to hike. There is something deeply satisfying in loading a few provisions into a backpack and heading off into the hills. I have had the good fortune of hiking in the Colorado Rockies as well as the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Hiking is both an exhausting and exhilarating activity. The pack is heavy and rarely comfortable. The trail is often steep, the terrain rocky. There are times when each step is a slog. You make progress by keeping your head down and putting one foot in front of the other again and again. You find your stride.
Eventually, it’s time for a break. You reach a vista where you loosen your pack and refresh yourself with water. And then you look up. The view is amazing. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how far you’ve traveled. Looking ahead, you see the path clearly in front of you. You catch your breath, revel in your progress, affirm your course, and don the pack for another march.
The rhythm of productivity follows a similar path.
Do you struggle to be productive? At the end of the day does it feel like there are more items on your ToDo list than there were at the beginning of the day?
There is no end to the articles and blogs and tools and apps that aim to help you be more productive. Many of them are even good. But in some ways, they’re all a bit of distraction for the task at hand: getting stuff done.
Being productive is hard. If it was easy — if an app could solve your problem — we wouldn’t see the proliferation of articles and blogs and tools and apps.
Personal productivity is a Holy Grail: Many pursue it. Few seem to find it.