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Productivity Library

I have written more than 150 articles about Productivity. They cover many aspects of the popular GTD methodology which I actively practice, along with articles on technology that include cool hardware devices and valuable software tools

Please check out the Featured Articles from our Productivity Library to get you started.

Happy Birthday, Winston | How Did You Get It All Done?

Today, November 30, is the birthday of Winston Churchill.

H e was born 142 years ago in 1874 … and died almost 51 years ago in 1965 … yet his talent and prodigious output remains striking to this day.

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Winston Churchill has always been one of my favorite historical characters … and for many reasons. His oratorical wit, style and passion was without peer.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. ~Winston Churchill

He had a spine of steel … with discipline and resilience to match, albeit the certainty of his convictions often triggered an abject stubbornness that wasn’t always welcome. It also created no small amount of turmoil.

I suppose some of these attributes can be found among many of us, so by themselves, they may not be so distinctive.

Prime Minister during WWII is only part of his record

To believe is to be strong … Doubt cramps energy … Belief is power. ~Winston Churchill

For me, his greatest distinction is the enormity of his accomplishments.

In most lifetimes, we’d be fortunate to accomplish a fraction of what Churchill got done.

Most notably, he served as the Prime Minister for Great Britain (and for 40+ years in the House of Commons, holding many other cabinet-level positions previously), leading the Allies to victory against the Axis forces during World War II … by most standards, enough to earn eternal praise and approbation.

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The Nobel Prize for Literature

Yet, who else in that same lifetime wrote 43 book-length works in 72 volumes?

Keep reading to learn of Churchill’s extraordinary accomplishments

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Are you moving at the Speed of Lame?

Here’s the thing. If you’re not organized, you can’t be the effective leader you want and need to become.

If you aren’t organized … and know it … you will be among the loudest critics.

If you like to think you’re organized but know you’re really not, you will quickly delete this email because you don’t want to face up to that challenge.

Sorry about all this. Go ahead and disagree if you wish.

I get it.

Getting organized is a lot harder than you think. It’s a lot harder than it ought to be, but as soon as we get some time, gosh darn it, we’re going to get organized.

But, what does that mean? It’s a valuable shorthand that some people will debate as sadly misplaced, but I think we all know what it means.

For me, it means making sure that I don’t lose track of any thing that has my attention and holds my interest. There’s no better bible for Getting Things Done than David Allen’s book by that name.

Keep Reading for Productivity Tips & Tools …

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Why don’t people return phone calls?

It’s remarkable that so few people return their phone calls on a timely basis. Why is that?

Are we just lazy? Too busy? Did I mention lazy? Don’t give a rip? “If it’s important, they’ll call back?”

 

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Are you eyeballin’ me? Of course not … not you. You return all your calls. Right?

Wanna think about all the time we invest in phone tag? Nah, me neither.

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Ok, let’s do it anyway. Talk about a time sink … keeping track of all those who …

  • don’t return the call,
  • are out of the office,
  • traveling,
  • on vacation,
  • sick,
  • already on the phone …

… what a bother, huh?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got dozens of these floating around at any one time.

What if they don’t return phone calls at all?

Keep reading if you need a few more reasons to NOT return phone calls

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There’s a simple one-word formula to Achieve Excellence

PREPARE to Win … or get ready to get your butt kicked!

I n our travels, we’ve seen plenty of obstacles to success, from making the tough decisions to staying focused on execution.

As if all that isn’t enough, there are still a few more barricades around the corner.

Lack of preparation is one of them.

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How many people have the will to lose?

How many of us have the will to lose?

Few, I’d guess, probably between zero and none.

How about the will to prepare?

The determination to do the unrelenting hard work to prepare to win … maybe not a lot more … and yet that’s exactly where the rubber mallet hits the lobster claw. Keep reading to embrace the key to success

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Hope Springs Eternal … but it’s not enough!

How’s that strategy execution coming along?

I ’ll bet things are starting to drag about now, aren’t they? Summer’s here, you’re dialing it back a little, taking some well-deserved vacation. You launched the year full of promise … but many of your initiatives seem to be stuck, people have too much on their plates, the plans you made may not quite make it to the finish line …

How do you get your initiatives back on track?

The gum does kinda lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight, doesn’t it? Even though you’re about to round the clubhouse turn toward year-end, you’re discovering that it’s much easier to start than to finish.

You struggle to keep the engine stoked with the same energy that propelled your launch at the beginning of the year.

You may be feeling some of the air coming out of the tires, and begin to wonder … “where did all of our energy go”?

What’s that whimpering sound?

Keep reading …

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Have you ever heard of the Zeigarnik Effect? You Experience It Every Day.

Time is the one thing we want more of … and yet more of it dissolves every day.

H ere’s one more way to get the most out of your day … every day.

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Don’t we all know there are many tasks or projects that require us to wait for something else to get done first … or for someone else to get something done before we can continue?

We know that “waiting for” stuff is a critical piece of our personal productivity program because it’s the linchpin of the critical “follow up” that we must always be doing.

So, that part is pretty obvious.

But, have you ever prioritized your tasks to make sure that you’re taking account of the “elapsed time” that something requires?

Here’s the simple hierarchy I try to use. See if it makes sense to you.

1. The 2 Minute Rule

If you can get it done in 2 minutes, do it, get it over with, move on. I think we all know this one.

Keep reading to put the Elapsed Time Effect to work for You …

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Do You Follow a Routine – Or Just Full Speed Ahead and Hope It All Gets Done?

If you’re like me, you realize that there are a lot of “little things” you need to do every day that often “leak out” in the maelstrom that surrounds your normal routine.

A re you diligent about keeping track or have you just given up?

imageIf you’re like me, you realize that there are a lot of “little things” you need to do every day that often “leak out” in the maelstrom that surrounds your normal routine.

It’s usually those things we’ve promised someone we would do that day FOR SURE … a small thing, easily done … but then, in the firestorm at the office, we completely forget about it until we hit home and are gently reminded about our oversight … again.

Yes, it could be very minor but it’s often one of those nagging little nuggets that keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.

What is a Routines List?

what should be on your routines list? Keep reading …

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Accountability | What Does It Really Mean?

Accountability comes up as one of the top 3 issues on the minds of CEOs in almost every conversation I have with them.

T hey know, deep in their bones, that unless they build an organization that embeds this elusive concept into its DNA, the chances of achieving their goals will be equally elusive.

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When does Accountability begin?

“When is it no longer my responsibility to get people to complete their assignments … and where does their responsibility to perform begin?” a North Bay CEO asked me recently.

“Your responsibility never ends … and neither does theirs,” I said.

“Your job is to work tirelessly to build accountability into the organization so that your team understands that being held accountable is the cornerstone of a strong, successful organization. It is not punitive.”

Recently, we’ve discussed personal accountability as the “singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.”

We’ve also discussed the After Action Review a valuable teaching tool that reinforces accountability and inspires a culture of continuous improvement.

An organization focused on accountability might be seen as the thread that connects our personal accountability

–talking the talk, and, the After Action Review as …

walking the walk.

But what is it, really?

What is Accountability … Really?

In simple terms, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our actions.

It’s being reliable and making certain that the commitments we make, from the perspective of others, have been kept. For a responsible culture to prevail, each of us must make certain that those commitments are honest – and honored.

At the core of accountability is the requirement to set clear expectations.

Keep reading to make sure you understand what Accountability really means

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The Power of Personal Accountability

The Power of One concept is not new — it’s the bedrock of everything from motivational speeches to Army One.

So, why not begin by setting an example of personal accountability that can be emulated throughout your organization?

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There’s an entire industry devoted to the power we have over our destiny.

In the context of Becoming a More Effective Leader, you can view the Power of One as a series of concentric circles that ripple outward from the center … from where you stand as a business leader.

God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference. ~ Reinhold Nieburh

With a jittery economy and an historical presidential election on the horizon, we’ve been inundated with economic data, shards of doubt and glimmers of hope. While we can’t ignore these external forces, we can’t allow them to deter our commitment to reclaiming control of our agenda.

It all starts with Personal Accountability

As a result, there’s no better topic with which to start than Personal Accountability, the singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.

Keep reading to learn more about the Power of One ….

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Rip Off that Mask. Let’s See Who’s Really Responsible for All of This?

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed how it’s possible for different cultures to produce equally profound results.

H ow do you create a mindset where everyone takes full responsibility for their actions and refuses to blame outside forces for failure or disappointment?

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Déjà vu all over again?

How often have you heard that phrase banging against your skull … and how often was it telling you …

“I’ve been here before.”

“Didn’t we already solve this problem?”

“Why does this subject keep coming up all the time?”

Why do these issues keep resurfacing?

We’ve been talking about culture and accountability over the last few weeks, and as I’m sure in your experience, you’ve already discovered how often so many of these issues continue to be the same challenges year after year.

They’re constantly resurfacing, often in disguise as a different issue altogether … but really, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

Have we become dumb and dumberer?

Why do these same issues keep popping up like whack-a-moles?

Continue reading to see who to hold accountable for what happens next …

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