Archive - Systems & Tips
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A Superior Goal Setting Model: Moving Beyond SMART

You may have heard the advice before about making goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

There are a lot of strengths in setting goals this way, but something about it bugged me. I couldn’t really figure out what it was that I didn’t like, but I knew there had to be a better way.

Then I read Michael Linenberger’s Master Your Workday Now, and it clicked. [Note: I don’t fully endorse this book.]

Linenberger has some great insight on setting goals. I suddenly realized the shortcomings of SMART goals and how a new approach to goal setting would be superior.
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One Simple Question To Tell the Urgent from the Important

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s quadrants before, as mentioned in First Things First.

Quadrant I activities are urgent and important.
Quadrant II activities are important but not urgent.
Quadrant III activities are urgent but not important.
Quadrant IV activities are not urgent and not important.

Covey’s application of this quadrant system is obvious but still profound: Take care of the Quadrant I activities and then address Quadrant II activities before Quadrant III or Quadrant IV activities.

In other words, resist “the tyranny of the urgent” and instead focus on the important.

This is sound advice, but it’s difficult to implement. The issue is that it’s tough for us to properly classify our tasks into neat quadrants. They don’t come pre-labeled and color-coded for easy filing.
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How to Get Control of Facebook and Twitter Time

Before diving in, please allow me to announce that Life of a Steward is now on facebook. The facebook page is brand, spanking new – so if you enjoy Life of a Steward, please stop by and like it.

I get asked about this a lot, and it seems to be a growing problem.

Social networking has changed the way we interact and communicate. The potential for marketing and promotion is alluring. But it can be a colossal black hole of time wasting.

How can we control the massive amounts of time that we spend on facebook and twitter?
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Commute Like Jesus: 5 Steps to Redeeming Travel Time


I’m sure you’ve heard the advice from every time management expert out there – utilize your commute time by listening to educational materials, such as books on tape. (Yes, the fact that people mentioned cassette tapes shows you how old this idea is.)

It’s not horrible advice, and I’m all for making the best use of our commute. But with this approach, I think many people are making hidden assumptions and end up missing the best way to spend their travel time.

Let’s take a look at the behavior of Jesus for some insight.
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Guest Post on TentBlogger: Writing Process

I’m very excited to have a guest post over at today! TentBlogger is an awesome blog run by professional blogger and committed Christian, John Saddington.

In the guest post, I talk about my struggles with writing Life of a Steward, particularly the surprising amount of time that it takes me to write posts. Well, surprising to me as a fledgling blogger, at least.

I read just about every book, ebook, and resource I could get my hands on about writing more quickly. I’ve developed a process that, I believe, helps me write faster and write better.

For those of you who are bloggers – or those who write in any format regularly – check it out! And subscribe to TentBlogger for tons of great information.

The Good, The Better, and the Best Way to Eliminate Distractions

Some days I just seem to get so much done. I’ll fly through eight hours’ worth of work in just five hours.

Then on other days, I feel like I just can’t get anything accomplished. What should take me eight hours ends up taking more than ten.

The crucial factor for me, and I’d imagine for you too, is focus. When I buckle down, concentrate, and ignore distractions, then I can really blast through what I’m doing.

I know people who have transitioned to working from home. When they were away from the distractions of the office, they got their work done in five hours instead of eight. I know when faced with a deadline, I’m often incredibly productive: the pressure forces me to focus.

So focus is important – but how do we get it and keep it?
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One Simple Trick to Increase Productivity and Eliminate Frivolous Breaks: The Prayer Test

The Prayer TestPutting theory into practice is always a little hairy. We may have great intentions and try to follow the advice of the experts, but our implementation often falls short.

That’s how I was with taking breaks: I knew it was something I needed to do to stay effective, but it was a major stumbling block for me.

That is, until I started using one simple trick which skyrocketed my productivity.
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The Hidden Power of One Big Honkin’ To-Do List

My wife was up to her eyeballs in things to do. We were moving, she had two boys to take care of, she had a house to run – I could seriously write the rest of this post just listing all she had on her plate.

But in the middle of this, the biggest frustration for her wasn’t her long to-do list – it was the uncertainty of what she should be doing at any particular moment. It was the nagging feeling that she was forgetting something or neglecting an important responsibility. It wasn’t the amount of balls she had to juggle – it was the fact that she felt like she was juggling in the dark.

I know the feeling. I hate those “I totally forgot to do that!” moments. There was a time not too long ago when I actually woke up in a sweat in the middle of the night, remembering some long-forgotten tasks that I needed to take care of.

My to-do lists weren’t cutting it for me. Yeah, I was getting most of the major stuff done. And I was good at keeping my nose to the grindstone and working. But a lot was slipping between the cracks.
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“Getting Things Done” – System Overview

Getting Things Done by David Allen sparked a worldwide phenomenon. In his best-selling book, Allen introduces a personal productivity system (abbreviated “GTD”) which has become the most popular and talked about time management strategy in modern times – especially on the internet.

Many people may be very familiar with GTD (or even totally sold-out devotees), but I wanted to briefly summarize GTD principles for the benefit of those who are wondering what this thing called GTD is.
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How to Free Up an Entire 40-hour Workweek

6 Minutes and 35 Seconds
6 minutes and 35 seconds.

That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, does it?

Do you regularly spend that much time checking Email? Making coffee? Surfing the internet? Staring at the walls and daydreaming?

Well, let this blow your mind: 6 minutes and 35 seconds a day adds up to, over the course of a year, a 40-hour workweek.
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