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Be Brutally Honest – Ramit Sethi

I’ve recently been reading Ramit Sethi’s blog.

One of his advice I’ve been using is “Be Brutally Honest”.

Here’s how this advice helped me recently. I’ve been delaying creating Kindle versions of my Sufi Comics books.  I would give the usual excuses:

“I don’t have time”
“This is going to be difficult”
“It’s too much work”

But these were surface level excuses. When I became brutally honest with myself, I found the real reason for procrastinating was spending too much time on low priority tasks.

I cut down on some of those tasks and made a simple next action of doing one thing ie posting a job requirement on odesk.

Within a week from that date, the Kindle books were done!  Wow, something that I was procrastinating for more than a year, got done is less than a week.

If you like Ramit Sethi’s blog, I’d recommend his SuccessTriggers course.

This year… make things happen!

“Getting things done is not the same as making things happen.

You can…
…reply to email.
…pay the bills.
…cross off to-do’s.
…fulfil your obligation.
…repeat what you heard.
…go with the flow.
…anticipate roadblocks.
…aim for “good enough.”

Or you can…
…organise a community.
…take a risk.
…set ambitious goals.
…give more than you take.
…change perceptions.
…forge a new path.
…create possibility.
…demand excellence.

Don’t worry too much about getting things done.
Make things happen.”
~ Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)

Read more brilliant and inspiring stuff in the ebook, What Matters Now (pdf).

Ps. Have trouble finding your passion?  Make sure you catch Derek Sivers note on Passion on page 51.

How to Achieve Your Goals with Healthy Habits

I’m the kind of person who loves making Goals. Goals motivate me to aim for something great, to be in a better place then where I am now.

But I’ve also noticed that goals can become a source of unhappiness.

Let me explain.

A person with a Goal mindset often thinks in this way “If I get [goal here] then I’ll be happy”.  As a result our Happiness gets pegged with achieving the Goal.

And once you reach your Goal, you plan for the next Goal starting a new cycle of wanting something to be happy.

Here are some more problems with having a Goal mindset:

  • There’s a lot of excitement in the beginning when we make Goals, but the excitement fades with time, making it difficult to reach the Goal
  • Outcome is not in our control. Therefore even if we do our best, we still may not end up reaching out Goal. But instead we end up carrying the burden of failure
  • All the focus is on the result, and not on the journey. When infact it’s the journey that is more important than the result
  • Goals are often conceived without account for unexpected changes in life. Sometimes our plans change along the way that don’t allow us to reach our Goals

Focus on Habits

Here’s something I found better than goals.

Habits.

Instead of focusing on reaching your Goals, focus on creating the right Habits. In doing so:

  • You are free to enjoy the present moment by focusing on the habit your want to create
  • Your Happiness doesn’t depend on reaching something in the future, but instead of building something in the present – a Habit
  • You’re aiming for long term change, not short term gratification.

How to turn your goals into habits?

For example, if your Goal is to lose 5 Kg in the next 3 months. Focus on creating a Habit like “Workout at the gym 5 days a week”.

Now inspite of your best efforts if you’ve not lost those 5 kg, that’s ok. You’ve done something better… you’ve formed the habit of exercise that will keep you health for the rest of your life.

Isn’t that better than just losing 5 kg and putting that weight back on after 3 months?

Here are some more examples of forming Habits from your Goals:

  • Write a 300 page Book in the coming year. Focus on creating a Habit of writing 30 mins a day
  • Learn to speak a new language. Schedule language speaking sessions a friend
  • Learn a new programming language:  Commit to spend 5 hours a week on an online class with Lynda.com.

You get the point :-)

But how can you achieve anything if you don’t have Goals?

Ok, let me clarify something. I’m not saying “Don’t make Goals”, what I’m saying is don’t have a Goal mindset where you’ve set all your hopes and dreams on achieving that one Goal.

Instead put your attention in forming habits that will take you towards your Goal.

Welcome 2014

It’s the new Year, and many of us are making Goals. I’ve made Goals as well, and for each Goal I’m focusing on a Habit to support the Goal.  What are your plans for 2014? Share your thoughts in the comments section below:

Dream Come True – Reflections of the GTD Road Map Seminar, London

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Note: This post has many references to jargons that would be familiar mainly to implementers of David Allens system of productivity called Getting Things Done or GTD. To Learn more about GTD, you may read this post, 5 Steps to Begin Learning GTD A Guaranteed way to Save Hours from your Workday.

Some People like Rock Stars, others adore Movie Stars, My Hero is David Allen. It’s because of David and GTD, that I am getting so much done (exercise, blog, work, study, spend time with family), yet feel relaxed. David and GTD has helped me prioritise and feel good about my priorities. Ofcourse I am not always in that zone. But when I am not, I am able to recognise that and I know what I need to do to get there. I have written oodles about GTD on this blog. Those on my mailing list have received several emails coaxing them to climb on to the GTD Bandwagon. I have even compared David to Einstein. He is a Genius. Genius is looking at what everyone is looking and seeing something different. Then to codify that difference so that it changes the world is indeed Einstein-ian indeed.

Imagine my thrill and pleasure when i finally get to meet David Allen. I had the privilege of attending his seminar in London earlier this year. It’s a seminar that I was hoping to attend for years and finally so many different factors came together that I could attend it.

The take backs from the seminar were plentiful. Here are the top few:

1. If you are still Bothered/Stressed that means subliminally you feel you can do something about it. Maybe you Should. God thinks you should.

This is huge. May seem obvious when typed out, but it was much needed therapy that I needed. GTD suggests that when anything is bothering you, first step, you write it down. Next Ask yourself, 1. What is the Successful Outcome?, 2. What is the Next Action? After practicing GTD for years, I have got most of these things nailed. Whenever something bothers me, it’s so automatic that I write it down, define the Successful Outcome, the Next Action and just move on ahead. But as you keep practicing GTD, you uncover subtler aspects of your self and psyche. And even after you identify the Successful Outcome or the Next Action, you are still left uneasy. The fact that you are feeling uneasy is your intuition (or God) nudging you that you can do better. There is a better Outcome that you can envision and achieve. Your Next Action could be more effective. And most likely it’s fear that is holding you back. And we all know we should Fear nothing but fear itself.

So next time you find yourself uneasy about an Outcome that you have envisioned or a Next Action that you need to take, congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Because you are officially capable of doing better than what you have just worked out. So take the Bold step and take the action that you are okay and comfortable with. It will all work out in the end.

2. If you keep paying attention to what has your attention, were do you eventually reach?

David’s main mantra is “pay attention to what has your attention”. If you are bothered by your kids education, pay attention to that, write it down in a trusted place, you’ll immediately feel relaxed. Next your attention will move to something else, perhaps work or exercise , notice that. Write it down in a trusted place, you’ll again feel relaxed about that. Since I’ve been practicing GTD, and I have been doing that. My question to David at the Seminar was, when you keep on paying attention to your attention where do you eventually reach? I loved the answer I got:

“You move from Distraction to Calling”

You then start listening to your voice, your intuition, your calling. You begin to hear, listen and move towards your destiny as human spirit on the planet. And that is your Only Project. If all the other Projects are helping you get there, keep ‘em on, otherwise dump ‘em.

But you’ll only know once you Pay Attention to what’s Pulling your Attention, capture that, get the distraction out of your mind/psyche so that you can truly hear your God’s voice within you.

3. You eventually get what you focus on.

We did a brilliant exercise within the seminar that deals with Focus. You see what you Focus on. You eventually get what your Focus is on. It’s The Secret all over again, but without the airy-fairy bit to it. Pay attention to your Focus. Keep asking yourself two questions:

- What are you focussed on?
(Extroadinary Fitness or Mediocre Health, Spiritual Enlightenment or Material Pursuit, Being An Active Change Agent in this World or a Helpless Consumer)

- Would you want your focus on that?
(There is a choice here. And it’s your choice.)

Conclusion:
Overall a brilliant seminar indeed. Really thankful to God for the opportunity. It’s something that i had my attention and focus for a long time and glad that I have it checked off. Hope to make the most of what I’ve learnt there. Oh yeah, another couple of take backs. Boy, it was inspiring to see how amazingly fit David himself was. Furthermore, poor guy had a cold. Yet, because of his professionalism he didn’t let that stop him from delivering an awesome talk. Even though he had to take swigs of cold-cough syrup in between to keep going. Thank you David. Truly Awesome of you.

My mindmaps from the and Some pics from the Road Map Seminar 2011 in London:

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Finally I can sync my tasks between my Blackberry and Mac

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For years I have been searching for an elegant solution to sync my task list between my blackberry and Mac. But nothing would cut it. There are so many clumsy attempts out there that at one point I’d thought to have the blackberry and Mac synced is an impossible riddle to crack . A real pity because the market for blackberry and Mac users out there is huge. Finally now there is the awesome app, that not only ensures that my tasks are synced between my Mac and Blackberry, but even on my iPad, infact I can access my tasks anywhere as long as I’m connected to the web.

Why Blackberry and not an iPhone
Simply because nothing tops the speed that one can get on typing on the blackberry. The iPhone keyboard sucks. Well for me it does. For the life of me I can’t type on it. Certainly not with the speed and accuracy I can on the blackberry keyboard. So it when it comes to sending SMSes, typing quick emails, jotting down tasks, with speed and accuracy, the iPhone is yet to conquer the Blackberry in my book.

First the problems with the existing setups possible:

1. The default setup: Syncing the native tasks application on Blackberry with Microsoft Outlook.

This is the second-best option that I had been running till date. I have blackberry server installed at my office. Thereby ensuring that wirelessly all my Tasks, Calendar items, Notes are wirelessly synced to my desktop. They sync is tight. Rarely or no errors. And fast. However the problems are as follows:

- Microsoft Outlook is clunky, heavy software. Operating Microsoft Outlook is like manoeuvring a truck on a crowded street.

- Microsoft Outlook has to run on Windows, which has to run on Parallel Desktop. So I’m constantly running two operating systems. That takes a lot of resources, RAM, speed and battery power out from my Macbook.

- When I’m away from the office and want to process the tasks on the go, my Outlook cannot connect to the Blackberry Server without VPN. And VPN isn’t also reliable. Sometimes it connects well, othertimes it doesn’t.

- The native Task App in the blackberry although great has limitations. The most irritating one is that I can’t see all tasks that are Overdue on a single page. I have the habit of marking tasks to be due on a certain date. But life happens that I can’t attend to the task on that date. And I’d like to see all tasks that are Overdue together. The tasks app in blackberry doesn’t show that.

2. Sync the Native Tasks Application with Remember the Milk.

- Remember the Milk is one of the most popular online tasks applications out there. And for good reason too. It is indeed an elegant solution to managing your to-dos. Clean interface. Reliable. Very fast. Online hence accessible from virtually anywhere. Anywhere except your blackberry. There is an app to sync the Blackberry Tasks with Remember the Milk. It’s Great, when it works. Which it rarely does. Each time I try to sync I get error message after error message.

3. Other attempts that have crashed.

The other applications that I’ve used to sync my Blackberry tasks with my Mac or any online app are:
ToDo Matrix. This may work. However I’ve briefly tried this, and for reasons I can’t remember I couldn’t continue using it.
Blackberry’s official sync software for the Mac. This is the worst of them all. Don’t even think about it.


The Solution: Behold Upvise. Enter the Pearly Gates of Task Management Heaven.

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Literally after years of searching I found one stray reference of Upvise in some forum post somewhere. The homepage didn’t look promising (it’s better now), but I gave it a shot anyway and installed the Blackberry app.

Why Upvise Rocks:

1. They Sync is really Tight. Upvise doesn’t try to sync the native Tasks app of Blackberry. That’s where the other developers were going wrong. Instead it installs an app of it’s on in Blackberry, which automatically syncs really well with the web-app.

2. It’s Fast! Not as fast with the native app. Yet I have been using it for a couple of months now and a picky Power User like me is satisfied with it.

3. The developers seem committed. They are constantly upgrading the blackberry app and web app with new features, without making it heavy.

4. Awesome Customer Service. Whenever I have a problem with Blackberry Tasks or Microsoft Outlook sync. Who can I call? Nobody. But with upvise, I shoot them a mail and mostly receive a reply within 24 hours.

5. They’ve got a super-duper iPad App. I no longer have to squint in my blackberry to process my tasks. I can do it from my ipad and in style.

My Upvise wishlist:

As great as Upvise is, here are a couple of things that I wish they’d implement to make it better:

1. Shortucts. The webapp doesn’t have shortucuts to create new tasks, mark them complete etc. Their customer support says that they should be upgrading it with shortcuts in a weeks time.

2. Option to select multiple tasks to process them. This is a killer feature of Remember the Milk. Meaning I can selelct multiple tasks and then either mark them complete, postpone them etc. Hope Upvise implements this soon too.

3. Option to modify the default due date. When creating a new task, the system automatically sets the default due date to the next day. I’d prefer the option to modify that.

4. When creating a new task, a quick box drops down. I’d like the option to select the task list in that drop box. Right now I have to go to the main task edit screen to do that.

Overall I’m very satisfied with Upvise. The free version of Upvise you get some free apps. The tasks app cost $50 per annum. Well worth the price. I would strongly recommend it. Hope more Blackberry and Mac users read this post and give Upvise a try.

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