Archive for the ‘productivity’ Category

Everything In Its Place

June 2, 2016

You just had an important thought. Go to the desk for a pen and paper. Can’t find either.

You’re gathering ingredients for a recipe as dinner time approaches. Can’t find a spice you’re sure you had. And where’s that favorite knife?

Getting ready to study. The desk is cluttered. Can’t find the Bible. Favorite pen is not in its place. Oh, where’s my journal?


I talked yesterday about my vacation reading–The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen.

Let’s look at a Lean concept called 5S. It stands for five English words roughly translated from the Japanese: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.

Meyer defines each one:

  • Sort: Review each item, ensure it has a purpose, remove what isn’t needed.
  • Straighten: Find a defined location for what remains, preferably as close to where it will be needed as possible.
  • Shine: Clean and polish the newly uncluttered area.
  • Standardize: Create a checklist or other method to ensure the area doesn’t revert back to how it was.
  • Sustain: Create a habit, routine, or daily activity to keep the area clean and neat, and to audit that it has stayed that way.

You’ll notice that this is also a method of simplifying your life. Get rid of stuff cluttering your living and working space. Organize. Your mind will thank you. It can settle in on a task with few if any distractions.

As you sit to study, pray, meditate, or even converse, you remain calm and focused reflecting the environment you’ve created.

Spiritual formation requires intention. Organizing workspaces and our lives intentionally is a step on the path.

Wasting Your Time Through Indecisiveness

May 13, 2016

Failure to make timely decisions kills motivation, productivity, effectiveness.

Life can get caught in mesh of not knowing what to do next. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple computers, took it to an almost insane level. Ever get up in the morning and wonder what to wear? You can waste considerable time. Jobs visited Japan and saw how company employees wore uniforms. He picked black pullover shirt and jeans. Never had to make that daily decision.

Of course he lived in California. As for me here in west Ohio, I’m looking at the weather forecast and mentally going through my closet and dresser trying to decide what to wear. What a  waste of time.

But it gets worse. You’re in a business. You have to decide on the next product, or whether to add a product. You lead a committee at a church or volunteer agency. You need to decide how to deal with someone or what the next project will be.

You’ve committed to “Getting Things Done” and made a fabulous list of all the next actions to move your projects forward. Which one to do?

Each little decision moves your day forward.

Train yourself to look in the mirror. Realistically. Catch yourself when you’ve lost momentum or motivation because you are sitting on a decision. You’ve studied it. And studied it. And worried about it. Your energy spirals downward. You can’t focus.

Decide. Now. Yes. No. Modify it.

Decide now and move on. You’ll feel better.

Stop Dropping The Ball And Get Things Done

April 5, 2016

Are people beginning to drop hints about your forgetting to do something? Too often? Do you think of things you’d like to do? And then think of them again a week later? Are you stressed out trying to remember things?

Lately I have run across many people exhibiting those traits.

I recommend the methodology of David Allen laid out clearly in his book Getting Things Done.

Someone remarked recently about how productive they think I am. Well, to be honest, I could be better–I’m looking into my daily habits. But, I adopted the GTD method about 10 years ago. After trying a number of digital apps as an aid, I settled on Nozbe.

Want to be more productive? Buy the book. Read it. Do it. If Nozbe helps, get it. There is a free version or you can upgrade for a few more features.


The reason I talk about this in a spiritual development blog is that if your mind is not clear and you are worried about many things (Martha), then you will not be able to settle into your study, prayer, and meditation time.


Collect all the things you need to process, remember, do. Emails, requests, “honey-do”, reports, shopping lists, and so on.

Put them in one trusted place. Either in pen and paper in a file folder or in one digital spot.

Process these things:

Can  I do them in 2 minutes or less–then do it.

Is there a date requirement–put in a dated tickler folder to pull out on the date you’ll do it.

Is there a context? Gather all your things to get while out running errands. List all the calls you need to make while you have phone time. List all the things to do while you’re working at your computer. Etc.

Most important–translate everything into next actions. If your action is “birthday party”, you’re not quite right. Your next actions really are something like write invitations, mail invitations, buy cake….Get the picture?

Everything goes on a list.

Every night, look at the list and determine the three most important tasks to tackle tomorrow.

Every week, review the previous week and the upcoming week and determine what you need to get done.

Every month, take some time and review at a higher level. Is what I’m working on helping me accomplish what I want to and become the kind of person I want to be?

Every year take a couple of days into a self-retreat. Think about the bigger picture of who you are and what you want to do and organize your lists or set project.

Stopping dropping the ball. Become known as a dependable person on top of things and your life.