Tipping the scales

http://www.asianefficiency.com/task-management/simple-task-management/

Since you can’t do everything, you have to choose the things that are most important. That’s where a task management system can really help. By allowing you to filter out the things you shouldn’t be doing right now, it limits the scope of what you are thinking about and makes it easier to choose the right thing. By choosing the right tasks to work on, you can tip the scales of imbalance in your favor and achieve your personal and professional goals.

~ Mike Schmitz

I suppose it is possible that one day I will manage to let go of all the things I want to achieve. I say that only because the alternative — what I’ve been doing my entire life, chasing goals — is completely and utterly hopeless. Down that path lies madness.

Calm

https://zenhabits.net/becalm/

You have a million things to do an not enough time to do it all? Not a big deal: pick the things you can do, and get to work. That’s all you can do anyway, so it’s not worth adding some stress to the already difficult situation. Have a huge task to do that is going to be very difficult? No big deal. Just take the first step. Just get moving. You’ll deal with the difficulty.

~ Leo Babauta

Frenetic activity. Fits of rage. Tidal waves of guilt. Mountains of frustration. Spasms of activity. Rivers of self-doubt. Occasional moments of calm. Thank you Leo!

How can I help?

https://alifeofproductivity.com/the-3-questions-managers-should-ask/

These are questions this manager has homed in on during his decades-long career at a high-tech company. Here they are…

~ Chris Bailey

A short article listing the 3 questions managers should ask in every one-on-one meeting.

Meanwhile, separately, I have recently realized that I’ve started frequently asking, “How can I help?” (It seems to be my version of the advice to ask, ‘Why?’ five times.)

The ideal day

http://hackthesystem.com/blog/getting-to-the-ideal-day/

The first element to consider when creating a more realistic “ideal day” is that unlike Franklin, we have many more places to be and many more opportunities to lose focus. We have to account for this, not fight against it.

~ Maneesh Sethi

The ideal day is not one which is completely fixed — neither fixed-the-same every day, nor fixed-the-same week after week. The ideal day is one in which I know my goals at various levels– daily, weekly, yearly. etc.. A day where I feel no worry about making progress, because I know I’m making progress. A day where I am presented with challenges I feel that I have chosen. A day where I get to work on things which are interesting to me, and useful to others. A day where surprises are interesting and add value, (as opposed to causing me to react by feeling stress, panic and existential crises.)

Bookending

(Part 65 of 67 in ~ My Journey)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an idea I call “bookending.”

While most of life is reasonably flexible, there are certain important events which are scheduled at firmly fixed times. Bookending is planning, starting with the fixed event and working backwards. From the fixed event, I can imagine in reverse all the preceding steps, and how much time each requires. I can then determine the time at which I must begin the first step in the chain. From the beginning of that first step, through to the fixed event, defines a wide bookend during which all my actions are more or less known.

As I was writing my series on Parkour Travel, it became clear that bookending is critical to my success with traveling. A Parkour trip tends to be very random and unorganized (those are good things,) but that means it’s even easier to get surprised by firmly scheduled things sneaking up.

Bookending is simply a visualization practice. Various professions use visualization to minimize mistakes. They visualize each step happening successfully, as a complete chain of events, which leads to the desired outcome. When they face time constraints, visualizing the important details of each action they will take reduces errors and increases the likelihood of success.

Here’s an example from traveling:

My flight leaves at 11:00. I don’t have any checked luggage, so I’ll plan to arrive an hour and a half before my flight departs. I’m now thinking, “9:30.” There’s a bus which leaves at 8:00 and arrives at the airport at 9:27. That’s too close for my personal preference. I’ve already bookended the time before the flight: It’s not, “flight at 11:00”, the fixed event is now “be at airport at 9:30.” The previous bus leaves at 7:00, I’ll plan on that one. Now I’m thinking, “bus leaves at 7:00.” I need 15 minutes to drive to the bus terminal, and let’s aim to be 15 minutes early for the bus. That’s now 6:30. I need to park, buy a bus ticket, probably stop at the bathroom, and I need a cup of coffee somewhere along the way, so I’ll throw in another half an hour. I’m now thinking, “6:00.” My bookend is from 6:00 through 11:00. When I begin at 6:00, everything falls into place, bumps in the road don’t cause significant problems and I’ve plenty of time at each step of the way.

Before I learned to bookend, I used to remember the time of the firmly scheduled event (“my flight departs at 11:00”), and then I’d have in mind how long I needed before that (“I need five hours to get there.”) People would ask me, “What are you doing tomorrow?” and my train of thought each time was always, “Flight at 11, I need 5 hours… Five hours? Really?! Yes, I’ve already thought about this. I should leave at 6:00. Ouch. That’s pretty early.” And then I would finally say, “I have a flight at 11:00 and I want to leave about 6:00.”

With my old “method” is was, “Flight at 11:00 and then here are more details that aren’t important, but actually 6:00.” In my mind, and everyone else’s, it’s 11-and-then-all-these-other-details. In my mind, and everyone else’s, we’re always second-guessing why I seem to want to start so early. How did a flight at 11:00 lead to wanting to leave at 6:00?

A large part of what makes bookending useful is that it flips the thinking to, “I would like to leave at 6.” I’m thinking 6:00. I’m saying 6:00. 6:00 is what’s bouncing around in my head. 6:00 comes around and the entire planned sequence of events for the bookend is cued. Off I go, and on time I am.

As I got used to this process, I discovered other benefits: People who host or who are helping you when you travel, understand when you do NOT need their help. If I say “I have a flight at 11:00,” does that imply I’d like a ride to the airport? Perhaps. But if I say, “I’m leaving at 6:00,” that implies I have a plan to get wherever it is that I’m going.

There’s another huge benefit that sneaks in. Having extra time padded in, leads to little chunks of time for me to read. I keep a collection of read-this-later items in my phone (via services like Pocket or Read It Later.) As I find pockets of spare time I always have things to read rather than wasting time in social media or bookface.