Archive - Systems & Tips
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My Favorite Productivity Trick: Six Reasons for a Detailed Daily Plan

I have a pretty detailed and very particular plan for my workdays. I schedule things down to the minute in a way that would make even type-A people think I was a little uptight.

But I think that it’s one of my best “tricks” for being productive.

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The Bruce Lee Style of Productivity

Bruce Lee

He is most recognizable for his movie and TV appearances, but don’t let that fool you. Bruce Lee was the real deal.

His speed was legendary, and his fighting performance was impressive. But what really set Lee apart was his revolutionary philosophy and approach to the martial arts – and this, surprisingly, can have a profound impact on our time management.
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The Motivation Experts Are Wrong: Visualizing Success Can Actually Lead to Failure

If you’ve read a few time management or self-help books, you’ve heard the same mantra over and over: the way to motivate yourself is to intensely visualize the benefits of success.

“Close your eyes,” the experts say. “Picture a better version of you. Healthier. More attractive. Wealthier. Imagine how confident and happy you’ll feel.”

These experts tell you this is the key to success – but psychological research shows the startling truth: these methods of motivation actually have a negative effect on performance.
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Weird but Useful: Being Productive by Using a Kitchen Timer

You may laugh because it seems silly. You may groan because it seems so uptight.

But using a simple kitchen timer has had a profound effect on my ability to be productive. There are lots of creative ways to use this little device, and I’ve surprised myself at how beneficial it’s been for me.

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Just Dive In Already!

I’ve noticed a dangerous combination in my personality – maybe you’re the same.

For one, I love to learn how to do things the right way. I love reading and thinking and talking and perfecting my methods. I love looking for different perspectives and digging deep into my interests.

I also really don’t like to fail. I don’t like launching into something and sputtering out. What’s the point, I tell myself, in tackling something if I’m not going to see it through successfully?

When these two thoughts mix together, the end result is paralysis. I don’t actually start doing anything until I’ve assured myself that I know everything that I could possibly need to know.

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Six Ways to Organize Your Life with a Tickler File

So you’ve got your tickler file ready to go… now what? How do we go about using it?

It’s really a pretty easy concept: just file away anything you’d want to remind yourself about.

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Using a Tickler File: Simple but Powerful

Ok, so it has a really silly name.
But a tickler file is one of the easiest and most effective tools you can use to help you get organized.

Imagine this:
You yawn and stretch while taking the first few sips of your morning coffee. Sitting down in front of your computer, you browse a few news sites and begin to think about what’s on the agenda for that day.

Then the phone rings.

You mutter under your breath – something about what type of fool would call you this early – as you pick up the phone. But the voice on the other end of the line is… you.
A time travelling version of you – from the past.

“Hey, just wanted to mention that you might want to think about calling Jeff at some point today.”

“Oh…thanks,” you say. “I hadn’t even thought about that in two weeks.”

That’s what having a tickler file is like – minus the sci-fi, time travelling phone call. It’s a way of filing reminders for yourself to “tickle” your memory at a later date. It helps you remember what you want, when you want, so that nothing falls between the cracks.

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Stop Wasting Time: 5 Tips Learned from Buyer Psychology

Impulse Buys

They’re called Impulse Buys.

You’re probably familiar with them: all the candy, gum, toys, sodas, and magazines that you’ll find right by the check-out counter of grocery stores.

They didn’t get there by mistake. A lot of thought and a lot of research have gone into arranging these impulse buy zones – because retailers know they work. They know how impulse buys work and why they work.

Interestingly, a lot of the psychology is also applicable to how we use our time – helping us to see why we waste time with “impulse actions.”

Here are five factors behind the success of impulse buys that we can use to be better stewards of our time:
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Christian Concerns with “Getting Things Done” by David Allen

As I mentioned in my review of Getting Things Done, David Allen has outlined a wonderful framework for organizing and efficiently acting on the vast amount of information in our lives. I use a modified version of Allen’s GTD system as an integral part of my personal approach.

The book has some practical shortcomings, but of particular interest to this post will be the spiritual issues of Getting Things Done. Is the book suitable for Christians?
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Book Review: A Christian Look at “Getting Things Done”

Life of a Steward rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Highly recommended.

Most books on time management and productivity are really just the same old ideas repackaged again and again. Authors have new ways of looking at the same old paradigms, but it’s rare that someone truly breaks new ground with their material. Getting Things Done
by David Allen, however, does just that.
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