Archive - Systems & Tips
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Building a Productivity Utility Belt Unique to You

I think a lot of people approach productivity the wrong way.

They look for all-inclusive systems. They tout this author’s method or this group’s philosophies. It’s like a martial artist debating over whether karate, kung fu, or judo is the superior system.

In reality, productivity is highly individualized. Everyone assembles the random tips and tricks that work for them – a productivity utility belt that is unique to them. These vary from person to person, situation to situation.
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From Andy Stanley to David Allen: Four Qualities of a Leader

The following is a guest post from Mike St. Pierre.

Great leaders are like icebergs – there is a lot underneath the surface.  I visited Andy Stanley’s church in Atlanta last year for a Catalyst One Day event.  Having been fascinated by Stanley’s approach to ministry, I thought I would see for myself the platform that he’s built at NorthPoint.  I left with a deep sense of admiration.  Every detail was thought out and, as a Catholic, I wished every pastor could attend one of NorthPoint’s events.

A year earlier, I attended a David Allen workshop in Boston.  As with Stanley, I had studied Allen’s approach to productivity and wanted to see the show for myself.  While I knew that he wasn’t a Christian, his approach to life and work fascinated me.  Once again, I was impressed and left with a check list of items to implement and work into my daily life.

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Motivation Isn’t Always the Answer in Goals

There are lots of right ways to have goals. And lots of wrong ways.

The biggest mistake I see – a mistake I’ve made too many times myself – is to focus too much on the first pillar of goal-setting: motivation.

Let me make this clear: I think that motivation is the most important pillar. The raw emotion and drive is what holds the rest of the system together.

So it makes sense that we focus on motivation. But that can lead to failure.
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The Three and a Half Pillars of Goal Setting

Too many people over-think when it comes to goal setting.

I can understand. There are dozens of different approaches out there. Each expert promises that their goal setting method is the critical factor in success.

And goals are important. I would say they’re crucial. But they’re not magic.

Goals deliver three major benefits (and one minor, optional benefit). I call them the three and a half pillars of goal setting.

Understand these three and a half simple concepts, and you’ll be able to effectively harness the power of goals.

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The Problem with Margin

The Problem with Margin

It’s wise to leave a little space, or margin, in our day.

Between meetings, deadlines, and our normal tasks, overscheduling to the hilt leaves us frustrated – not to mention constantly dropping the ball.

Even if they aren’t specifically planned, most people normally have some small windows of time in between appointments,

Although this time to catch our breath is nice – and although it’s wise to intentionally schedule this time in our day – margin comes with a potential problem.

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Work Small; Don’t Hope in the Big Blocks of Time

 A Full Plate

There’s a trap that many people fall into. I know, because I’ve made this mistake more times than I’d like to admit.

You have a big block of available time coming up. Maybe it’s a break between semesters, a time when work is expected to slow down, or an extended vacation.

And you’re just sure that you’ll be able to get so much work done during that time.

But the break comes and goes, and the main accomplishment you have to show is a high level of frustration and disappointment.

There’s a better way.

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Journaling: How to Find Time to Take Time to Make Time

The following is a guest post from Yvonne Root.

How in the world do they do it? How do some people find time to flit from one event to the next, from one solved problem to the next, from one meeting to the next and still have time to greet the family and pet the dog?

Even if you believe that you can acquire a new skill in “only” 10,000 hours, where in the world are you going to find those hours?

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Developing a Reading Strategy

Developing a Reading Strategy

We’ve looked at how to find time to read. But that’s only part of the battle.

It’s good to read more, but we also want to read well. We want to think about what we read and how we read it.

And a reading strategy is an invaluable tool to maximizing the benefit we receive from reading.

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How to Find Time to Read

How to Find Time to ReadReading is important.

Whether it’s platitudes like “leaders are readers” or biblical exhortations to remain studious and devoted, reading is something that most people appreciate – and something they want to do more of.

Yet it’s difficult to find time to read. Good intentions get swallowed up by the busyness of our days.

What are some ways we could read more? How can we find time to read?
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One Trick to Becoming a Creative and Productive Powerhouse

How to Be a Creative and Productive Powerhouse

I’m guest-posting today for Jeff Goins, who blogs about writing and creativity. He challenged his readers to wake up early and write every day, so I’m guest posting on some practical strategies to help us wake up earlier. Check it out.

I wanted to share another tip that has helped me tremendously with my writing and a variety of other tasks.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that being in the right mental state – being in “the zone” – can have a profound impact on how quickly and how well you work.

Sometimes we seem particularly creative, and our brainstorming and writing will flow with ease and power. Other times, we crank through Email at high speeds with focused concentration.

These mental states are important, but how do we fully utilize them?

Do we just have to act fast when we get in the zone? Or can we create these frames of mind on demand?

I believe we can be fairly creative and focused on cue. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by exploiting one psychological trick.

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