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2015: The year of GTD.

Happ 2016 edited

Did you see it?  

If you blinked, you probably missed it.  2015.  

It just passed by. Making  a loud whooshing sound too.

Time!  It’s oh so fleeting.  Just one look at old picture albums sends you reeling down the memory rabbit hole. Reminiscing of what once was.  

Thank God for Birthdays, Anniversaries and New years.  They stop us dead in our tracks and give us the chance and ask ourselves, “Uhhh what the heck just happened?  How did I get here?  Where am I?  Hell, who am I?  Where am I headed?”

Tough questions. Questions for which if you find the answer before you die, you’re probably on the fast-track.  

2015 Will Always Be the GTD Milestone Year:

The 2015 chapter of my life book is titled GTD.  One of the highlights of the past year has been partnering with The David Allen Company to conduct GTD trainings here in India, under our latest venture Calm Achiever.

GTD has become  way of life for me and Ali.  We were first exposed to it over 10 years ago.  And once we had a taste of it, by God there was no turning back!

Oh How I wish I could get you to experience what it feels like to have nothing on your mind.  I mean nothing.

You see, right now you don’t really have any idea of how severely overstretched your mental capacity is. It’s literally a blizzard of ‘stuff’ burying you with its oppression!  But you are so used to it, perhaps addicted to it, that you don’t realise it.  I can just trigger that stress and anxiety by asking,

“Um…so is there anything on your mind?  Anything that you have to do that is not done yet?  Any calls to make, emails to send, groceries to buy, reports to right, people to get back to?

And off you will go on a HUGE guilt trip!  You’ll feel a sense of stress, anxiety and overwhelm all at once.  

Well don’t feel too bad.  That’s how EVERYBODY in the world functions.  Even the smartest, brightest, most effective efficient people on the planet run on anxiety.  “Oh Damn! That’s not done yet…rush rush rush.  Oops, now that reminds me to…oh, by the way let me make a quick call….I’ll do that while I send that email…on and on and on.”

That Sucks Right? But There is a Cure!

What if I told you that there is a way out of this “Busy Trap”.  So that you have nothing on your mind.  Except for the one thing that you are focusing on.  Wouldn’t you like to know how?

Well that’s what me and Ali have been propagating and training for the past year.  Oh boy, does the system work!

One just has to follow the 1, 2, 3 step by step process. And poof!  Viola!  You are in your ‘productive’ zone.  You are focussed on the thing that you intuitionally know will get you the maximum bang for your buck in the moment and nothing can distract you.

And if something does try to intrude, you know how to handle it and boom you’re back in that magical space again.

Get to Know GTD Better:

There’s tonnes of GTD material that we’ve written on this blog.  There is more current material on our Calm Achiever website as well.  I would strongly encourage you to access our Five Part Free Productivity Series and automatically get on the Calm Achiever newsletter list for regular updates.

However, if you would like us to take you by the hand and show you the methodology, the secret sauce, on how to get control when overwhelmed, you have to attend a live workshop.


We have had rave reviews and people have felt profound shifts right in class!  And lucky for you we are organising our 9th GTD Workshop at the end of the month.  

You can learn more about this great (and discounted) opportunity here.  

It would be great to have you over.  Meanwhile, if you have any doubts, questions about GTD.  Feel free to write in the comments section below. We will be happy to respond.


PS: Blogging after this interminable hiatus feels so GREAT! No promises but will try and be more regular with my musings. :)

The Confessions of an E-mail Junkie: How I ditched checking email every few mins.


I’ve just got to tell you about this!

Because its downright amazing how a small piece of software can have such a massive impact on a personal & professional level. I mean really! I’m 4 times as productive as I used to be, before I stumbled upon this little miracle.

And no, I am not exaggerating.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what I’m talking about, so let me explain!

You know what it’s like to live with email client on your phone. You check it not just every day, not just during work hours. But Every. Freaking. Minute. Even in places I have no intention of committing to a public platform.  In short the pre-occupation with email is no different than an addiction.

Basically I was an addict. I was addicted to email. I needed to know who sent me what, otherwise I just couldn’t take the next step.

However to my comfort, it was not just me. Almost everyone who has an email address is addicted to email. And that’s a lot of people! Nir Eyal explains it well in his book Hooked. He says that emails generally bring in excitement – a contact with someone we desire to associate with. In short it is a reward and our brain can’t get enough of the stimulation.

When looking for ways to become more productive, I came across this innocuous  plugin sitting in a quiet corner of the internet, called Inbox Pause. After I installed it, 3 things happened:

  • It made me aware of my email addiction!
  • It forced me to reduce the number of times I checked my email down from few times an hour to just 3 times a day.   (Research says 3 times keeps stress away).
  • It freed up a huge chunk of my time to tackle activities which could really benefit my work and personal projects.

So how does this plugin work?

Here’s a verbatim definition, directly from the website:

“With INBOX PAUSE, you can put new messages on hold, making it so they won’t appear in your Inbox until you are ready for them. Paradigm shifted.”

A shift indeed! After I installed the plugin and used the simple ‘Pause’ button, it showed me this message:

Inbox Pause

It customized the easy settings to allow emails to hit my inbox only at 8:30 am, 1:00 pm & 5:00pm.

Is that it? Yes that’s it.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

I bet you are skeptical

You may be thinking, “Oh I don’t need a plugin to stop me from checking email. I’ll just close my browser tab. And email is gone!”

But here’s the thing, closing the browser won’t solve the problem because:

  • You still need to reply, compose & archive email.  For that you need to be in your inbox which will keep showing you new messages. This defeats the purpose of not checking email.
  • Emails are not restricted to your browser. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, they follow you in around. And you’re always tempted to check email!

You need to try to ‘Pause’ your Inbox to believe it.

Summing up the benefits of this plugin

It is liberating.

The beauty of this plugin lies in what happens after the Inbox is paused. All of a sudden you start thinking, “Hmm… I can’t check my email. So what do I do now?”

*twiddle your thumbs for some time*

“Wow I never realized I have so much time on my hands.”

So Instead of checking your email you make a habit of perusing your todo list. At least that is what happened to me.

One task at a time, I start working on my pending action items. Before I knew it, I had gotten so much done!

Post Inbox Pause, life changed for the better:

  • I stopped checking emails in the mornings & before going to sleep. My stress levels reduced. It feels like I’m back in the late 90s. I love it.
  • I got back control over my time.
  • I’m more focused in meetings.
  • And when I do check my email, my attention goes to the most important ones. I don’t end up wasting time reading forwards & offers.

I’m not suggesting or advising you to install this plugin!

I’m ordering you to do it.

Here’s the link. It’s free.

Come back in a week and tell me about your new life! But don’t email me… cause I may not be checking it like my life depends on it!

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.


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

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:

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