Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Taxes and the Pursuit of Spiritual Practice

April 12, 2016

Working on income taxes brings out so many spiritual issues that there could be a book. Or maybe spiritual practices and personal development practices (as if they could be separated).

I’m working on mine. Yes, I know they are due in less than a week. But mine are a little complicated. I have a business with income and expenses and the like. On the personal side, my wife and I are reasonably generous and have many charitable deductions–our major personal deductions.

While pondering all my receipts and expenses, I thought of all the ethical decisions based on each item.

Is this truly charitable? Well, in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, is it truly charitable and deductible? This is both an ethics and a legal question. Deserves honest answers.

There are so many ways for a non-rich person to ignore income that was cash only or came in a variety of “off-the-books” ways. Not illegal, but not reported. More ethical decisions.

I use a tax preparation program. Fitting things into the categories has always been an intellectual exercise calling for yet another cup of coffee.

Yes, tax time is definitely moral inventory assessment time.

It’s also personal growth and productivity time.

I’ve written about Getting Things Done, Evernote, and Nozbe (my to-do list capture and productivity tool).

The first practice is to capture everything–idea, receipt, income, contract–in one trusted place. I keep almost no paper. I use Evernote for documents. I photograph or scan all receipts or use the cloud where possible. Send directly to Evernote. I link important things that relate to next actions from Evernote to Nozbe. Nozbe is my daily (hourly) reference for what I should do next. This one is easy–sit down, concentrate, do taxes!

This collecting process is the one thing that helps that few people do. Looking around for scattered notes and odd pieces of paper is time consuming and will definitely lead to your missing important documentation.

Good record keeping circles back to help on the ethics issue. You have the document and know what sort of income or expense. Of course, you still have to make decisions and do the work. Where’s that extra cup of coffee?

Productive or Busy

November 27, 2015

Seth Godin asks:

Is productive the same as busy?

No one complains of having spent an entire day doing ‘productive work’. Busywork, on the other hand, is mindnumbing.

It’s possible that if you have a job where your tasks (your busy-ness) is programmed by someone else, that being busy is your job.

For everyone else, though, busy might be precisely the opposite of productive.


David Allen has updated his classic book, “Getting Things Done.” Recommended–highly.




How do we wind up on the “productive” side of Godin’s question?


We do it by thinking. And then by defining “next actions.” The key is to think through all the “stuff” you must do or accomplish, defining just what the desired outcome looks like, and then figuring out all the things you must do next–“next actions”–to further your project.


Few things contribute to work anxiety more than finishing a task and then wondering what you should do next. If you have disciplined yourself into a way of life like GTD and are using a support application (I use Nozbe with great success).


As we reach the end of the year and we begin to reflect on what we accomplished relative to what we had hoped to accomplish, perhaps now is the time to get serious about productivity.

Energy Is Key to Productivity and Much More

April 10, 2015

Last week I was driven to complete a lot of work in preparation for leaving town for a week. My energy level shot up several notches in intensity.

Much important work was accomplished. Items disappeared from my to do list at a gratifying pace.

Physicists know that energy is the underlying physical force in the universe. We know that energy is an underlying force for success in our lives.

Time management skills are good. Especially when tied to thoughtful construction of to do lists. But those skills don’t get things done. They organize you. Doing gets things done. And to do requires energy.

Ramping up energy has amazing benefits. After three days of higher personal energy:

  • My weight finally dropped below the plateau
  • My meditations, being active, brought more insight
  • Things got done
  • A consulting session with a client was fruitful
  • I was able to work through a travel schedule crisis calmly and effeciently

I teach young (and old) soccer referees to show energy on the pitch. When the players see that you have energy, they respond. They respect referees who are working hard. When you exhibit great energy, you’ll be in better positions to make better calls. You’ll manage the game better.

Same with our life in general.

That was good yesterday. Now what about tomorrow?