Book Title: Don’t Buy this Book Now! The Art of Procrastination
Author: John Perry
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, with an entire case to be edited before night, I was reading this book. The very fact that I was not at my table editing the case, but browsing the racks (with guilt) of my library is reason enough to have stumbled onto this little gem.
The well-made, hardbound, nicely created book is a quick read. One can finish the book in an hour or two. Once you finish the book, you will first and foremost be guilt-free from ‘procrastination’. You will also come away learning a few tools to fool yourself into a more productive day. Every time I read a book by a philosopher, I wonder about the equipment called ‘the mind’ sitting inside each of us. Whoever said – ‘the enemy is within’, was totally right.
It is no surprise that the author of this little book won the Ig Nobel Prize. Thanks to this book, I learned about these awards and their quirkiness too. I don’t want to share anything about the content of this book for two reasons: (i) book is too short and (ii) the crux of it is so simple, yet so profound.
If you are reading this post instead of making your days count you should read this book.
Why would I want my entrepreneur folk (students/colleagues/clients) to read this book? Answer: Because without their own knowledge they keep procrastinating their most important tasks. While they remain busy, they get frustrated that their key tasks remain pending. This book will provide some unconventional tips to get focus back on what matters. This suits entrepreneurs best.
Happy Reading! Happy Procrastination! Happy Productivity! Happy Living!
Secret: Tips in the book.
Chris Hardwick is a man who probably is seen on TV more than anybody else hosting shows! Where does he find the time to do so much? How does he maintain his output without tiring out? In this interview he shares time management tips and they aren’t really the traditional self help type. This is what makes them interesting. As an entrepreneur one should see if they can pick on any of these of use them as triggers to find their own! Read more here – Link: http://www.fastcocreate.com/3020985/master-class/7-time-management-tricks-from-chris-hardwick-man-of-1000-tv-shows
Social Entrepreneurship is a relatively new phenomenon. The material available around it is also limited. Hence we find social entrepreneurs always borrowing material from business entrepreneurship literature and attempting to adapt it to their needs. This leaves a lot of responsibility on the practitioner to implement, which is both difficult and not really their domain of work. This book seems to attempt filling that need. Read more here – Link: http://wdp.wharton.upenn.edu/books/social-entrepreneurs-playbook/
Is 3D printing the next hype or is it here to stay? Will 3D Printing technology make all the Chinese factories redundant? Will it really change the way manufacturing is done today? If reading this excites you go ahead and read the entire article. Here is an interesting excerpt: “Therefore, to predict the cost curve of a new technology, we need to consider both the rate of volume growth and the rate of cost decline, also known as the slope of the experience curve. The question becomes this: Will 3D printing behave like a microchip or a gas oven?” Read more here – Link: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00219?pg=all
I keep my ‘to-do’ lists on a well bound soft cover A-5 size notebook. I use this because I keep the notebook with me all through the day. I use it for my lists and also for taking notes. I tried keeping all of these separately but found that I had to carry so many of them that the very thought seemed discomforting. Keeping one note book helps!
I find people using their phones (smart ones) to keep their lists. I think it is a smart thing to do as it is rare to find one moving around without the phone. So if you are comfortable with the phone, its software and its interface, it is a great tool to use. There are also number of free and paid apps to help you manage lists. The sheer number of apps tells me how many people must still be attempting to crack the code to use this simple but powerful tool. Try them and find one which is most suitable for the kind of lists you maintain. But if you are like some of us who still feel uncomfortable keeping lists and managing lists on the phone, then go back to the earlier option – a right sized notebook and a pen.
Laptops are powerful devices but may not be the best for managing ‘to-do’ lists. I have found people keeping it on their laptops, but somehow find that most people are not all the time with their laptops in power on mode. So when they are travelling or waiting (which are both in tremendous increase) you may find it difficult to add and/or tick-ff items on the ‘to-do’ list. The trouble with trying to remember till you reach your list on the computer is not worth the effort as that’s exactly what we are trying to avoid by using them! So my advice is to find either one of the above options, whichever is more suitable for you and practice it.
Trial and error works till you find the right tool for yourself. But beyond that you must make it a routine to derive maximum benefit. I haven’t come across too many productivity tools that are as simple, so easy and so powerful in enhancing one’s effectiveness and efficiency.
So try it if you haven’t used it or restart it if you stopped using one!
Once you start ticking-off items from your list, its too difficult to stop using one!
Good Luck in getting productive.
I am one who uses the ‘to-do’ list extensively. I have learnt it from so many successful people who have used it in the past. Based on the years of using it and getting things done, here are some tips for everyone to consider:
- Ensure that your list contains all types of activities – important, urgent, projects, communications, calls, meetings, etc
- They are ideally better to be maintained date-wise. So it must tell you what needs to be done on a particular day.
- Let activities on your list be specific. This is to ensure that you can ‘tick-off’ once done (for this you must know when it is done).
- The list must be accessible at all times. This is to ensure that you can get things done whenever you get some time. It also helps schedule time to complete tasks.
- Its always preferable to make the list every night for the next day.
- Don’t drop activities once they get on the list. Take them forward to their logical ends.
This is not an exhaustive list, but may be a good one to start. The benefit behind lists is that they kind of give you a feeling of being on top of things. They give you a positive encouragement every time you ‘tick-off’ an item on the list. They also ensure that you know what is actually getting done.
If you maintain a list initially for a few days, you will realize some patterns:
- you have more time than you estimated to get things done
- you seem to be always passing some important activities for urgent ones
- almost all activities you do are urgent ones (they were important some time in the past but were not done then)
- THE BIGGEST OF ALL: You seem to be keeping the most important activity of yours (the one closest to heart) perennially on the list.
Try making lists and you will within days realize the power of this simple tool for yourself. If you have stories to share if your experiences with ‘to-do’ lists (positive and negative) please share – it will help everyone!
They are two totally different things. Knowing the difference can make you utilize the power of each of them in the most useful situations.
Checklists: The power of checklists is immeasurable in repeated activities. Human beings naturally tend towards boredom when involved in repeated tasks. This can at times become too expensive. In these places checklists come to our rescue. Examples of places where a checklist is helpful are: pilots checking the plane before take-off; a surgeon checking the instruments before surgery; trek leader ensuring all instruments and gadgets are in place before the trek; etc. But there are also places where checklists can be very useful but are not often used, namely: checking if everything is planned before start of an event; checking if everything is in place before a business / personal travel; checking if everything is ready for a workshop; etc.,. The basic benefit of using a checklist is that there is less chances of missing something. While lack of a checklist can be dangerous (as in the case of surgeons and pilots) in some cases, in most cases it also helps in enhancing efficiency. Having a checklist most of all can reduce unnecessary stress on the human mind, which can then be put to much better use.
To-Do Lists: These are widely spoken about, but rarely used to its full potential. A simple to-do list is a list of items that you want to get done. When these are listed according to dates they help us track our commitments and when they are kept according to priority, they ensure we are working on our important things than just urgent tasks. Though one needs to understand the ‘how’ of using ‘to-do’ lists better, the bigger problem is actually with a softer issues – namely discipline. I haven’t come across too many people who are consistent users of this simple tool. The disciplined and consistent use of this tool ensures you never miss out on commitments. The mind forgets especially when it is flooded with numerous requests and proactive actions. The easiest way to ensure things get done is to put it down on a ‘to-do’ list and tick-it-off when done.
The beauty behind the above two types of lists are that they ensure that we are free to do what we are designed to do – namely ‘think’. Considering that most of us are also engaged with numerous people during the course of our work, the number of actions and communications are just rising every day. How to keep a tab on all of these? Lists! If they are repeated activities the best option is to create a ‘checklist of activities or items’ and ensure it is used every time a chance arises. If it is an action (call, email, meeting, write, etc) then put it into your ‘to-do’ list and have the discipline to look at it often to ensure it gets done.
Lists are powerful ways to get things done efficiently and effectively! The above two lists are widely used by productive and effective people across the world.
Think about it if you are not using one or are not consistent at using one!
I am a keen user of the to-do list. And for all the gadgets I love to use, I use the A5 size notebook and a pen for my to-do. I religiously write down all things I want to get done. There are all sorts of things on my to-do list from writing a thank you mail to planning for my next book. Usually like most others my focus is always on reducing the list as it grows. So I normally pick all the items that can be quickly ticked off and do them.
This weekend I was in for some surprise. I happened to work on an essay which I wanted to send to a publication. On that day I started at 4 AM and except for an hour of break to sleep in the afternoon (and the mandatory breaks in between) I worked on it till about 10 PM at the essay. I was exhausted and after mailing the work for review, I promptly went to sleep. I was absolutely fulfilled with my work.
The next morning I got up and I was back to my previous day’s list to check off items that I had completed. I was in for some serious surprise. I could only tick-off one item. And as usual a few more items got added. Oh my God! I thought to myself, how have I spent my previous day?Then the next couple of days I was back to completing lists! Enjoyed them too!
Today I sat to spend some time alone with myself doing nothing. I truly enjoy this the most!! It was during this period that this thought of “ticking-off” things came to my mind. There are days when I tick-off many items on the list but feel a sense of incompleteness and there are days when I tick just one item and feel extremely complete.
Have you had days like these? I thought about it and have promised myself to spend more and more days with lesser and lesser items on my to-do list. I will dedicate lesser days to spend on ticking off lots of items. I hope I can bring this discipline into my life. Because I realized that’s the only way I am going to be working on what I love more often than what I need to do!
How about you? What’s been your experience?
These are this week’s picks:
a) For someone who keeps looking out for enhancing productivity, this seemed as a great article – until I reached the last point. An interesting read and something that would resonate with many of us http://www.inc.com/steve-tobak/10-things-you-need-to-quit-doing-right-now.html?cid=em01020week03a&nav=su
b) It really doesn’t qualify as a complete link. But as I am toying with ideas around networking as a topic for my upcoming writing efforts, this got me thinking. Loved the concept of ‘multiplex tie’ http://hbr.org/tip?date=120612&utm_campaign=Socialflow&utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet
c) If you don’t measure you cannot manage. But you cannot manage just because you measure! Tips for designing performance dashboards. http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/15xk9M/www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2012/12/03/using-dashboards/