Recently, I was preparing to deliver a speech and found myself in a funk. I was experiencing an unusual amount of distraction and self-doubt. Fortunately, I had about four hours before I was to go on stage. So, I decided to call my wife, Gail.
She instantly knew I wasn’t in a good place. (This is one of the many benefits of long-term marriage. My wife can read me like a book.) After listening to me whine for a few minutes she said, “Okay, I want you to hang up and go for a run. Call me when you are done.”
“I don’t have time to read.”
When I tell people about my blog, that’s one of the comments I usually hear in response. The implication—or at least the way my possibly oversensitive mind takes it—“You must not have any life to read that many books … loser.”
Of course, I exaggerate. But, really, it’s a tension a lot of people in our overworked and overstressed society deal with. They understand that reading is important—after all, their second grade teacher made that clear. But nobody has the time to read a Dr. Seuss book, much less To Kill A Mockingbird or (gasp!) Infinite Jest.
I have been thinking a lot about discipline lately. Everyone knows you can’t succeed without it, yet few people seem to possess it.
My friend, Andy Andrews asks this question:
Can you make yourself do something you don’t want to do in order to get a result you really want?
Apple released the iOS5 upgrade for iPhone and iPad last week. It is a major upgrade and is free. I downloaded it immediately. It has some great new features, not the least of which is the the ability to sync your mobile devices without connecting to your desktop first (via iCloud).
However, I was reluctant to upgrade the phone itself. I already had an iPhone 4. Why did I need a 4s? I just wasn’t sure it was worth the investment, especially since I got most of the new bells and whistles with the iOS5 upgrade.
Everyone’s heard of the “To-Do List.” Whether you use Outlook, Gmail, a dedicated task manager like Nozbe (which I use), or the back of a paper napkin, the idea is the same: you list in priority order the items you want to get done. Simple. Elegant. Powerful.
Until you have more items that you can physically get done.
I have been writing for a while now about Evernote, the software that turns your computer into a digital brain. It allows you to remember everything. Literally.
Yesterday, someone asked me if I had a list of all my blog posts I’d written on this topic. Sadly, I had to admit that I didn’t. The best I could do was point them to my blog’s search engine.
When I read anything, I mark it up. Margin notes, circles, and, most of all, highlights. In fact, I buy highlighters by the box. Or at least I did, until I started reading so much on my Kindle.
Amazon Kindle for Mac, Displaying Do the Work
by Steven Pressfield
Now I use the Highlighter feature of the Kindle to mark passages. I also occasionally use the Notes feature to record my thoughts about a passage. (This is actually pretty cumbersome on the Kindle itself. I usually only do this if I am reading on my Mac. Then I can use my keyboard.)
There is something about the word productivity that makes every blogger blush deeply.
You turn on your computer, check your email and Facebook, and forget why you logged on. Forty minutes later you walk away feeling guilty and unproductive. It happens to you every single day.
The Internet is inherently unproductive. Every aspect tries to consume your attention. Your friends want you to read their updates. Apple wants you to check out their latest gadget. Google wants you to click on as many search results as you can.
Over the last few months, people have asked how I am doing since leaving my CEO post at Thomas Nelson. For the most part, great. I am really enjoying this new phase of my life.
But last week, I was feeling overwhelmed. It seemed that I was spending all day, every day mired in administrative detail—responding to emails, making travel plans, and filling out expense reports. Ugh.
I have a hard time saying “no.” Perhaps you do, too. I think it is more common than we think, especially for those who are empathetic or nurturing. We just hate the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings.
I didn’t really notice this problem in myself, because for most of my career I have had an assistant who said “no” for me. If someone had a request, they had to get through her first.
When it comes to Evernote, I am a hopeless fanboy. It has become an indispensable part of my productivity tool box. I use it as much as I use email or my calendar.
While it is easy enough to get started with Evernote, it is a program that is incredibly deep and rich. Just when I think I have mastered it, I discover a new tip or trick. In addition, the company regularly issues new updates with additional features.