Being more productive is important if you have dreams or desires in life.
We are in an age where competition has grown to incomprehensible standards. The more we stagnate in life, the faster we are erased from the sea of relevance. And in this day and age, you have to be relevant one way or the other in order to survive.
But productivity is not strictly about doing more. Its also about being more. As soon as you build something, that something becomes a part of you whether its a relationship, a business, a career… and so on.
At the beginning of this year, I found myself reading a lot of books mainly because I was looking for answers on being more and not just doing more.
What I found was a whole maze of techniques to help me achieve what I wanted. A lot of them had fluff and by fluff I mean too much focus on details that may not apply to everyone’s situation. I was simply looking for a one – off formula to take me from little to big in the fastest possible way. Just when all this information was starting to overwhelm my neurons…
I read the action method
The action method is a practical approach by one James Altucher. Altucher is an author, investor, I.T professional and trader. He has seen the launch of over 20 successful start up companies one of which was a social networking site for stock traders. After many failed attempts at becoming an established writer he finally broke away from his day job as an IT wiz and started trading in money markets. In time, he got back to writing and this time he made it big pretty quick. He came up with this daily practice that is bound to uplift your state of mind instantaneously. It is does not exactly tell you how to stay focused but it helps you exercise your focus muscle.
The action method has a 4 step approach.
Physical – You need to do something everyday that will improve your health and fitness – exercise, yoga, sports.. name it. Altucher believes that health preceeds happiness in our everyday lives. You are less likely to be happy if you have some pain, condition, infection or tumour of some sort interfering with your state of mind. The idea here is to be as healthy and fit as you can in the long haul. You might not not be completely and perfectly healthy but its important to try getting there. This will keep your body is the best shape to pursue anything else.
Spiritual – Stepping away from the exterior, you need to take care of your inner self. For James, this refers to your soul. You need to believe in something as a human being. You need to believe in something that is beyond scientific proof and something that is greater than you. This could be a higher diety or a higher power that will keep you in the race when you have lost control. Its a habit that keeps you at peace with yourself. It keeps you from laying every burden on yourself in the hope of keeping everything under control and hence becoming responsible for it all.
Mental – We have the ability to create value with our minds. Exercising the mental helps you find solutions to problems everyday. It helps you create value for people and for yourself. Altucher recommends coming up with new ideas each and everyday. The fastest way to go about this is to create lists. For instance a list of 50 blog post ideas for your blog…or for someone else’s blog. Or a list of 15 favours you can do to your clients that wont cost much. Or 20 party ideas. Its healthy for your intelligence and it creates opportunities. If done consistently it can turn you into a perceived genius.
Lastly we have some emotional practice. In other books this would be described as ‘developing emotional intelligence’. Its a tough part of the method but its still quite crucial. Generally, Altucher states that one should draw closer to those people who lift you up and stay away from or tell off people who drain your emotional energy or your happiness. Some people do a bit of both but at the end of the day the list of folks at either end of the divide is usually quite clear in our minds.
I read Jenny Shih’s Idea flight kit
I have to admit at first glance, I felt like I was at the wrong place on Jenny Shih’s home page. It was too pink for my taste and I had the feeling the site had been designed specifically to help women. But given that I had been directed to it by a man, I decided to give it a shot. At her site, Jenna offers two kits to help get any project or dream you have off the ground. These are the idea flight kit and the system flight kit. I took greater interest in the idea flight kit since it is where the whole dream actualization process kicks off.
If you have gone through some of my posts explaining task scheduling as a key to learning how to stay focused, then this method is quite similar. In a nutshell the process is as follows. First you write your idea (dream) down. Secondly, you define what you want to do about it, why you want to do it, who the whole idea will help, where, when and how its going to work and finally how much it will cost. That second stage is pretty much what in project management is termed as scope definition. Thirdly, you now need to break down every single activity that will take you from point A (now) to point B (dream achieved). Some may not be clear but those will be ignored and listed later. The essence of this stage is to have the steps broken down to their simplest forms. For instance, if you are planning on becoming a photographer, you shouldn’t just write “buy a camera”. You should first find out which camera, find the best price for that camera, the best place to buy it and decide how you will buy it (online, physically..). After this has been clearly outlined, it is not yet time to jump. You will need to mark each activity with a timeline. When will you do each of them?
As soon as stage three is done, you will have stage 4 to jump into. This is the implementation stage. During the implementation stage it is important to mark your progress so as to find insights on what better routes can be taken on the road map for achieving your chosen idea.
I read Tim Ferriss’s dreamlining technique
This is the method outlined in his famous bestseller book The Four hour work week.
You first need to define your dreams or goals in three categories. What you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have. For example you might want to become an expert programmer (be), you may also want to learn a language (do) and you may want a new car (have). You then give this set of dreams six or 12 months (depending on which you can work with) to be realized. The next step is to assimilate them into your daily lifestyle. This means picking three of the simplest activities you can do towards achieving each goal each day (precisely 24 hours).
Eventually you should be able to gain the results you want.
Your choice of method will depend on how specific your goals. If you simply want to find more balance in life, the Altucher’s method will work perfectly but if you are reaching out for something very specific, Jenny’s flight plan will work wonders and train on how to stay focused on one thing at a time. If you want something that offers both of these then you can easily apply Feriss’s dreamlining strategy like I did. Or even better you can use all three in a integrated approach.