Recovering the Lost Art of Note Taking

5 Simple Ways to Create Your Personal Time Machine

If you spend much time in meetings or presentations, note taking is a survival skill. But I’m surprised at how few people bother to do it. Those who do sometimes express frustration at how ineffective it can be.

I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own.

That’s probably true for a lot of people, and I bet it’s why so few people bother to take notes. No one has ever told us why it’s important or how to do it. That ends here. I’m going to share not only why you should take notes but also offer four suggestions on how to do it better.

4 Essential Disciplines for Getting Things Done

How to Avoid the Death of Your Project

Do you remember the last time a major initiative died in your organization? Did it go down with a loud crash, or was it slowly and quietly suffocated by competing priorities?

Organizations operate within a whirlwind of activity. All the calls, meetings, deliverables, and urgent deadlines combine to smother new initiatives.

But, if we take the advice of FranklinCovey’s Chris McChesney, we can step outside the whirlwind and make progress on major goals.

Introducing the Full Focus Planner

A Foolproof Plan to Accomplish Your Goals and Achieve More by Doing Less

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’ve got big goals for the year. Maybe for your career, your health, your family, and the like. But it’s easy to lose visibility in the whirlwind of daily life.

You’re productive, no question. Sometimes you’re flying faster than a tornado. But to what end? It’s like there’s no practical link between your long-term goals and your daily tasks.

When our goals and tasks don’t sync, we get frustrated and fail to make the progress we want. But what if there were a tool that kept your goals visible all year long and helped you stay focused on the critical next steps to accomplish them? Now … there is.

Elon Musk and the 100 Hour Error

3 Big Reasons Why Overwork Is a Productivity Killer

Elon Musk is widely regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs working today. He’s one of the founders of PayPal and the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. He wants to help put a colony on Mars and be buried there.

Because Musk is considered such a visionary, many people want to learn his methods and follow his example. However, they run into a serious problem. Musk may be a genius, but he’s also a workaholic who proposes untenable work habits.

What to Do When You Find Yourself Overcommitted

7 Strategies to Regain Balance in the Midst of a Busy Season

A few years ago I found myself in a busy season. I’m talking crazy busy. In less than a month, I spoke publicly a dozen times and attended two different board meetings—not to mention finalizing my company’s strategic plan.

The pace was relentless, and I was on the road nonstop. That is not how I like to work. But who was to blame? Me. I did it to myself.

Why Greater Productivity Leads to More Income

(And What That Means for Your Impact in the World)

Productivity doesn’t just increase your efficiency. If you do it right, it can also increase your income. The problem is that traditional systems get productivity all wrong.

They define productivity as the ability to do more and do it faster. But that approach just accelerates the hamster wheel we’re already on. Instead of getting ahead, our productivity gains sometimes leave us feeling frazzled, fried, frustrated.

True productivity isn’t about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done.

4 Big Reasons to Attend My In-Person Productivity Workshop

Become Free to Focus on What Matters in Just 2 Days

Is it just me, or is our modern work culture bleeding us dry? It’s not just our cell phones and computer screens that draw our eyes at all hours. As much as we might want to blame technology, the root of our struggle to have satisfactory days goes much deeper.

Far too often, we think, “If I just work harder, I’ll be successful.” But the hustle economy is bankrupt. In a fast-paced working environment, we suffer from a lack of clarity about what’s important to us—not to mention permission to pursue those priorities on our own terms.

5 Steps to a Clutter-Free Workspace

(And Why You Need to Put Them into Action Now)

A lot of productive people operate in disorganized workspaces. The problem is that they’re not as productive as they could be. The hidden culprit stealing their focus is clutter.

When I moved into my new office a while back, I was in the middle of a massive video shoot. Time was tight, and I just wanted to move my stuff in as quickly as possible.

The Secret Productivity Advantage of Workday Breaks

Plus 3 Ways to Put It to Work for You

We all know that sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for our bodies. Standing boosts our energy and our mood. That’s why I use and recommend a standup desk.

But there’s more to it than more time on your feet. It’s also important to get those feet moving. Our bodies just aren’t designed to sit for hours on end, hunkered over a keyboard.

Taking a Break

I’m intentional about staying hydrated during the day. At the risk of TMI, that means frequent bio breaks. I have a restroom next to my office, but I use the excuse to take ten or fifteen minutes away from what I’m doing.

My office is out back, so I go to the house and see what Gail is up to. I play with our dog. And I get another glass of water.

The truth is—we all need to periodically step away. We skip breaks in the name of “getting more done,” but when we don’t break from our work, our productivity suffers. We lose focus. We start making small mistakes and even forget things altogether.

Our bodies have a natural ebb-and-flow response to stress that allows us to work hard and then relax and recover. The problem comes when we chronically trigger those responses. We become all flow and no ebb, and you can only cheat the system so long before it becomes counterproductive.

The problem is that it can be challenging to step away when we’re neck-deep in our tasks.

How to Trigger a Break

You know how it works. We get started on a task and sometimes realize hours later that we haven’t moved away from our desk even once. Even though we had every intention of taking a break, we look at the clock and realize that another day has passed and we never paused.

Thankfully, we know this about ourselves and can take measures to ensure we take breaks. Besides drinking a lot of water, here are three ways to trigger a break and pull away.

  1. Schedule break time. As I often say, what gets scheduled gets done. Breaks are important enough to deserve a slot on your calendar. To make this more effective, establish an Activation Trigger that connects the time slot to a specific break activity, such as going for a walk outdoors.
  2. Use an app. To avoid the pitfall of losing track of time and neglecting your breaks, consider using an app. The Apple Watch works well. So do apps like TimeOut. TimeOut allows you to set your own break reminders that suit your schedule right on your desktop. The design aesthetic is pleasant, and the reminder overlays the screen. The breaks are just long enough for a recharge but not so distracting that you lose your flow. Some alternative apps to try include Stand Up! and Breaktime.
  3. Establish the habit. If you practice workday breaks long enough, you’ll develop the habit. But you can intentionally engineer a habit. Acknowledge the negative effects of not changing. Decide what you want instead. And replace your old habits with new behaviors.

Breaks aren’t just a good idea. They are necessary for our health and success. They are not “time off” from what’s important. They are what’s important.

Question: How often do you take workday breaks? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why FOMO Keeps Us from Being Productive

5 Steps for Choosing the Right Opportunities

The fear of missing out isn’t worth much, but FOMO costs us a lot. That’s especially true when it comes to our productivity. It’s like a powerful undertow, invisible on the surface of our work, which can pull us away in the current.

Right after I left as CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, an online periodical approached me about serving on their advisory board. I was busy building a revenue portfolio, and the role seemed like a good fit. Plus, it would garner me a lot of free exposure, which I figured would help the rest of my business.

Not so much.

Are You Committing One of The 7 Deadly Sins of Productivity?

My Free Webinar Will Help You Overcome Them and Get Things Done

There’s a lot of bad productivity advice that’s widely practiced. Because the nature of our work changes so much, you may not even be able to spot some of the time-wasters hiding in your schedule right now.

They’re secretly a routine part of your schedule… even worse, they’re behaviors that you think are making you MORE productive, but they’re actually doing the opposite.