Clear thinking

In the area of torrential flow of information ability to think clearly is a must skill to stay on top of your goals, plans and life in general.

The below post summarises few principles of thinking employed by Vaclas Smil

My two favoites are:

  • read widely, with maximum curiousity – drawing knowledge from different disciplines help not only understand those disciplines but also make connections between them.
  • put reality first and theory last – reality is much more complex and nuanced the any theory can be. Models are useful but they have their limits. Pair with Map is not the Territory

More principles are at A Few Principles for Thinking Clearly.

Accelerating change with personal sprints

Drawing inspiration from sprints, I wanted to see what would happen if I did a personal reflection every month instead of waiting for a whole year to pass before checking in with my resolutions. I wanted to see how my life would change if I had a clear focus and achieved a goal each month, instead of setting and forgetting my goals each year.

Personal Sprints: Applying Design Thinking to Your Life – Praxis

This idea definitely grabbed my attention and its something I have scheduled to test in the coming months.

Pop the bubble you’re in with @iansanders

But it’s not healthy to breathe in the same air day in, day out. Enclosed by the walls around us, it’s difficult to stand back and get the perspective we need, or to take learnings from other industries and disciplines. Enclosed in our world, we’re less open to ideas about other ways of doing things.

Ian shares some simple but effective ways for  periodic change of your surroundings and environment both in terms of physical and mental space.  Some examples include:

  • leaving your office for quick coffee in an area you never visit.
  • reading magazines that are outside of your domain
  • at lunch time stepping away from your desk and going for a walk

More over at Getting out of your bubble – IanSanders – Medium

Components of personal productivity

Plan: Identify what matters. I do this daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.
Act: Focus on and do what matters.
Rest: Sleeping, relaxing, relationships, entertainment.
Think: Let my brain wonder, noodle, etc.
Review: Check in with where I’m at and what I’ve been doing. I do this daily, weekly, monthly, annually.
Move: Get out of my head and into my body. (Moving and exercising is about more than physical health, it is also a huge booster for thinking and creativity.)

A Look at My Hybrid Productivity Method — Using Both Analog and Digital for Task Management – The Sweet Setup

The negative knowledge

Negative knowledge is highly underrated in my book. Some of the most important decisions you make in life will be the:
– investments you don’t make.
– people you refuse to work with.
– pundits you stop paying attention to.
– people you stop going to for advice.
– clients you don’t want to work with.
– types of investment products you won’t put your money in.
– filters and policies you put in place to guide your actions.
– Figuring out your own too hard pile is a decent way to go about this process.


the not-to-do list is in this category too.

My Too Hard Pile

What to do with a paper notebook

In an earlier post I shared couple links which outline why you need a paper notebook. Now that hopefully you have one I’ve listed few more posts which will give you an idea what to do it and how to use it.

  1. Keep paper notebook
  2. My first Baron Fig
  3. An Illustrated Guide to Using the Sh*t Out of Your Notebook
  4. How to Use a Simple Pocket Notebook to Change Your Life
  5. My GTD “Get Things Done” Moleskine Setup

Obviously these reflect other people ideas and circumstances to make the paper notebook become part of your every day carry you need to find your own uses.

Experiment, test and refine.

Why you need a paper notebook

A lot of people I admire and follow and learn from use some sort of notebook of regular basis.

These posts came across my radar recently I thought it would be worth sharing them as they nicely show why it’s worth having one.:

  1. Why Should you always carry a notebook

  2. Why I keep a paper notebook and you should to

  3. The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook

I’ve been carrying a number of notebooks for last few years and experimented with different formats. I found that pocket size works best when it’s relatively thin say 40-60 pages tops and used for quick capture of ideas on the go. The larger size (13 x 21 cm / 5 x 8.25 in) works better for notebooks with more than 100 pages and suits to planning and writing.

These are my observations you best bet is to try and see what works for you.

More intentional GTD

I recently read few discussions on the GTD Forums and came across a dabate around planning a day.

There is strong argument suggesting that planning days and weeks is best approach to make progress on large and important itmes that may otherwise may drown in the pool of small actions. “If it’s schedules it get done” goes the mantra. This approach does not apper to tie very well with GTDs more opportunistic model which looks at context, time, energy, priority to make decision about next task. In effect you “crank the widgets” and male small amounts of progress on many different projects.

The discussion was quite interesting and one more prolific GTD advocates – Testeq – made excelent comment pointing to projects as key reference points in daily and weekly planning.

What about making your day-planning decisions more Project/StandaloneNextAction oriented than context oriented? I mean: don’t look at your at-work context to choose next actions but rather look at your active Project list to choose projects you want to make progress and change contexts to reach your goals. GTD contexts may hurt your productivity and motivation.

Messing Up on Planning My Day 

When planning a day or a week moving up a level to projectes or a big next action really makes GTD much more intentional. It also helps to address some of the valid criticism raised by Cal Newport. Adding to calendar block of time to spend on a specific project and its next actions can  increase focus and chances of making good progress.

This is excellent suggestion for those who may be overwhelmed by the volume of items on next action lists.

Build it gradually

I’ve been listening to some old episodes of Weekly Briefly podcast. The episode I really likes was (Lifestyle Practices)[].

The point that hit home with me was the idea of turning a long term commitment into a series of short term ones and gradually increasing the lengh of each interval. This is very simple approach but gives you an opportunity to check things out and reduces the psychological burden of making a huge commitment.

I practice this works as follows:

  • select something you want to implement.

  • get very excited and decide that it’s a thing you want to do.

  • so rather than jump head first and crash an burn take it easier.

  • set to do the thing for 30 days first.

  • see how it goes, can you do it? is it the thing you expected to be. Keep your eyes open and observe your progress.

  • once the 30 days is up. Set another goal for 60 days and keep observing.

  • once that is up set another interval for 90 or 120 days. Once this is done you have stuck with the change you wanted for 7 months.

  • Continue on until you reach 1 year by that time things should be automatic and well established.

  • one more added benefit of using interval

**Good way to apply and execute a commitment is to make it a short term one. Start with a month then 3 months then 6 months, then 12 months and so on.

This way you implement a change that builds up from short term want to a long term habit.**