Tag Archives: GTD

Getting ‘Pumped’: Productivity for Entrepreneurs

What does “priming the pump” mean to you?

A quick search would show that the idiom describes the act of putting in a little energy of your own to get the action started. You get the ball rolling, starting the momentum, by making the initial moves and investing some of your labor, by making a sincere effort to jump-start something into working, and do it well.

In an entrepreneur’s life,  priming the pump makes for good habits in the following ways: Going back to water, a suction pump– those old-fashioned types with the handle you had to pump out and down — required that you pour water down the pump to get the air out, restore the pressure, and form the vacuum necessary to start pulling up the water when you pump the handle.

In your case, it  means doing a little something before-hand to make it easy to start something bigger: whether it’s starting on a project, continuing with something you left off yesterday, or starting the work-day properly.

Priming the pump can mean many different kinds of actions, but basically boil down to you preparing the stage to take the next step in your work:

  • You clean up after you’re finished so you can start with a clean, neat work space the next day.
  • You take good, orderly notes and organize your actionables into logical batches so you’re not all over the place attending to them.
  • You devote a block of time solely for making cold calls, or research, or deep thinking about where you want to bring your business.
  • You ensure that you are not bothered by distraction, and so on.

 

How can this help you:
Priming the pump aims to serve a particular purpose. In the field of economics, the phrase “priming the pump” means to provide stimulus for the economy to function properly. And when we use it right, it works the same for  us. We do things to  push our chosen activities work properly. We become more productive at the things that matter to us, and get more value out of the work that we do. Continue reading Getting ‘Pumped’: Productivity for Entrepreneurs

Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

One of the most effective practices to success in your business is encouraging a positive mindset in facing challenges. When you work on stretching and expanding your capabilities and skills, your  potential for success can surprise you.  These skills include the specific abilities you use in your work (for example: coding and design,  data analysis and interpretation, planning ), but also extend to the so-called ‘fuzzy areas’ which include interpersonal relations, personal improvement, and risk-taking. When you strengthen your skills, you grow more confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations and adversity, and make a working  relationship with discomfort.

See more here: Welcome To The Discomfort Zone, Part 1 and Part 2

Learning and growth is a life-long road, and taking it asks for active engagement and real labor, hitched to  the relentless desire to become a better person in the time that we have. We are all mortal, and within mortal limitations we have only so much influence , and only so much time to exert it — we we better be frank with ourselves about where, why, and how we spend both.

Time won’t let you be the same person you were ten, five or even a year ago.  Nor will  you be able to say you’ll be the same person in another year’s time. That’s why you need to take the wheel and work on developing yourself and mastering the good habits you want to serve you. That means being able to accept that you will be facing challenges all your life. Continue reading Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

Deconstructing Intimidation

18 July 2011, by A. Cedilla

  • A good opportunity comes up through word-of-mouth, but then you take a pass. “I don’t have the time, and I have all I can handle as it is.” And you don’t mention how a similar opening just slipped through your finger because you’re still smarting about that one instead of the one that just landed in front of you.
  • A friend mentions a new venture in the works that might just be perfect for someone with your qualifications, and you regretfully say, “I’ll have to take a rain-check, I’m fully booked, thanks.” Only you’re not, not really. You’re just not ready yet.

Intimidation works one of two ways, and both are a matter of perspective: Either you see what you’re facing as something too big for you to deal with, OR you believe you are not up to the task of dealing with it. E.g, it’s too much, or you’re not enough. Sometimes you can feel it’s both.

Whatever side of this divide you stand, you look at it from a distorted perspective. You’re too small, the task is too big, it’s too much, you’re not enough….and when the inevitable anxiety digs in, you feel so strongly about it that your mind comes up with all sorts of explanations to support your feelings.

What are you telling yourself about this situation? Continue reading Deconstructing Intimidation

Doing Things Without Thinking VS. Automating Processes

11 July 2011, by A. Cedilla

When you think about it, there is a significant difference between doing things automatically and doing things without thinking.

Things I have done without thinking:

  • Poured a teaspoon of sugar into the container of powdered milk instead of the cup of coffee I had waiting.
  • Emptied a powdered drink mix into the trashcan instead of the pitcher of water I had waiting. (I’m sensing a theme here: Be more awake in the morning.)
  • Turned the lights off while there were still people in the living room. (Be more aware at night.)

Things I do automatically:

  • Double-check doors and windows before turning in, as well as check to see all appliances not in use are turned off and unplugged.
  • Set the alarm for the next morning — and place it in the book-case across the room so I would have to get up and walk over to shut it off, instead of rolling over to slap it and then going back to sleep.
  • Write down the next day’s heaviest priorities before turning in for bed, jotting down any incidental things I happen to remember like “Get new supply of binder clips before Thursday, call M to confirm next week’s attendance for the general meeting. Buy aspirin.”

The difference in automatic action lies in the pre-thinking and awareness. Before using anything to automate a process, you have to have an issue with it. You want it to work better. You want it to go smoother, easier, faster, whatever. You want to save time and effort, so you PUT in time and effort looking for the best way to do it.
Continue reading Doing Things Without Thinking VS. Automating Processes

How To Make Discipline A Habit

20 May 2011 , by A. Cedilla

Discipline is a habit that, like muscle, gets stronger the more often you use it.

Yeah, so that probably sounded all worn out and hokey, but it still stands. Aside from leaving you with a sense of accomplishment, discipline helps you grow: from “I don’t think that’s possible,” to “Well, yeah, I’ll try…” to “I did that? I did that. Whoa.”

Enough of this, you get a sense of strength you can’t get from just making plans, but from carrying them out to fruition.

Discipline builds self-confidence in your capability, your capacity to do things, and to get them done. You grow stronger in your good habits, and those habits stand stronger in their support of you. So how do you make discipline your strength? Continue reading How To Make Discipline A Habit

Identifying and Building Your Skill-sets

06 May 2011, by A. Cedilla

A skill is something you know how to do. Practice makes it better.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you learn patience and perseverance in the process of mastering a skill, it ripples out. It carries over to other parts of your life. We’re not programs or machines, which work within a very strict set of parameters to produce a very specific set of results. In human beings, skills bleed over.

In martial arts: you learn to take a hit, and leave your problems off the mat. You learn that when you step on the mat and come in distracted, you get hit, over and over, until you learn to focus on who’s in front of you — and no one else. Not your boss, not your kid’s teacher, not your client, no one but your opponent. And then you also learn to get up. You take the hit, and keep moving. Here, Rocky Balboa is awesome.

Outside the dojo, annoying things at the office seem smaller and petty next to getting caught in a headlock, or slammed into the mat. You made it through 500 side-kicks per side for warm ups, making it through another staff meeting is nothing. As you focus on what’s in front of you, distractions are shunted to the side with ruthless efficiency. If people criticize, you listen, and keep moving.
Continue reading Identifying and Building Your Skill-sets

The Essentials of Keeping It Simple

30 April 2011,by A. Cedilla

There are several flavors of KISS available, aside from the tartly traditional “Keep it simple, stupid!”

There’s the sweeter “Keep it short and simple,” for people who want less attitude, and the more eloquent “Keep it short and straightforward,” for the more precise among us.

As an example, The KISS Principle as applied to coding embodies the very essence of the entire idea. It’s short, straightforward and gets to the point: helping you apply KISS to your work.

In KISS, the fewer things and factors to consider, the fewer things can go wrong. When you factor out the non-essentials, you leave more focus on the vital 20% (of the 80/20 principle, a supportive, close cousin to KISS) and make more time for the essentials, so you have a leg up on what needs to be accomplished to actually getting it done.

Like the circles on a dart board which successively narrow down your focus to the bull’s-eye, keeping things simple asks you to marrow down on the heart of the matter, what is essential to its success — and then taking action to get to that point. If you know that this needs to happen so that that gets to become a reality — you move to make this happen so that you can have that.

Plain and simple.
Continue reading The Essentials of Keeping It Simple

Save Money, Spend Time

28 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

It’s very easy to take advantage of all the many conveniences that modern technology and services offer. Drive-through’s and delivery services, fast food, concierge services, convenience stores, on-line banking and shopping …you don’t even have to leave your house. And if you’re going on vacation, you can even get house-sitting services, and pet-sitters for your fanged, feathered or furry darlings.

Now, if you’re the type who thinks nothing of using services like these because you’re on a level of financial security where you can afford not to think about it, that’s cool.

But if you’re burdened by a nagging feeling that you’re working to pay for the life you have yet to live — being so busy working you have no time to spare to enjoy the life you’re working for — then you need to take some time to think about what you’re doing.

A few hours of study and preparation can save you money, time and stressing out.

It’s in the research and preparation. Old sayings bear this out: “A stitch in time saves nine,” and “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost,” or the more modern “Prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance.”

In other words, thinking things through works. Paying attention pays off.
Continue reading Save Money, Spend Time

How’s Your Schedule?

02 February 2011, by A. Cedilla

When someone asks you this, you:

a) Refer to your handy Crackberry, Google Calendar, or old-school pen-and-planner.
b) Burst into tears and run out of the room.
c) Say nothing, but a muscle starts to tic right under your eye.
d) Say you’re overloaded —pleasedon’taskmeforanyfavorsrightnowpleaseohplease.
e) “It’s fine, I’m on top of things.” (And then you get hit by lightning.)

Schedules came out of the need to coordinate resources and manpower in the industrial age.

During that time, the obsession with efficiency and productivity led scientists to analyze motion studies, breaking down each step a brick-layer took, for example, to see how it could be done faster, better. Time-tables showed how much work and how long each stage of the production line took.

Today that obsession has contributed heavily to an always-on, better-faster-more-NOW culture with a short attention span and a bottomless appetite. Continue reading How’s Your Schedule?

How To Break Down Big Projects

30 September 2010, by A. Cedilla

There are two steps to breaking down big projects. Just like in the most basic math, or beginning chemistry, the way to solve complicated equations — which big projects basically are — is by first reducing complex tasks to their most basic elements. The second step is to finish each stage before going onto the next, keeping on until the project is finished.

Break the big project into little projects. That’s how you tackle a big project: You break it down to its simplest elements, and you solve each combination of elements until you’re done.

Many times it’s not the project that seems big, but it’s you that feels small in comparison. The psychological barriers to attempting to tackle a big project is the distance between experience and expectations. In between this distance lies anticipation and fear.

 

Problem: High expectations coupled with little experience leads to disappointment.
Statement: “Your bark is bigger than your bite.” Continue reading How To Break Down Big Projects