Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TEDx event - passion is all around us... and so the feeling grows

Last Friday I went to a local TEDx event. "X" stands for the independent TED event, and if you don't know what TED is, check out their web site and watch some cool and inspiring videos of some global leaders talking about their passions. The event lasted an entire day... and it was a blast!

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Great way to spend a day

I was very skeptical about the event. If you watch TED videos, the presentations there are almost always top-notch and it was hard for me not to have high expectations for our local TED event... and on the other hand doubt that for an entire day of speakers, not everyone will be that great.

Passion was all around us...

My high expectations were met. Of course there were better and a little "less good" speakers, but overall everyone was prepared and was talking about their passion, their ideas and global as well as local problems and issues. For a guy who's mainly going to tech-only conferences, it was a refreshing change.

Passion is infectious

It really is. My GTD notetaker wallet was full of notes after the whole day. The passion coming from speakers resulted in my brain working overtime... I could relate what they were saying to my work, my ideas, my industry... I had new ideas attacking me from all over the place... It was exhausting... and inspiring. And I learned a lot about stuff I normally knew nothing about.

Can't wait for next TEDx event

When the next event is coming, I'm definitely attending. It's worth it. Processing all of my notes from this event took me more than two hours... and I'm normally processing my inbox really quickly. The videos from this event are online now, so I can refer to them again. Cool.

Question: Have you ever been to a TEDx event? Or better yet, a TED event? Did you feel inspired?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting the Productive Magazine ready... finally almost there

Last year I wanted the Productive! Magazine to be released every two months but due to life-changing events happening in my private life, I had to focus on Nozbe and the business in my work time and didn't have both the time and the drive to make the Productive! Magazine happen... until now.
Leo-productive-mag
Today I finished preparing the Productive Magazine issue 4 for digital print. Now my team of editors (Dustin and Lori) will help me make sure the magazine is readable in good English and we're good to go.

Early March the new (free as always) PDF-formatted Productive! Magazine is coming to the computer (and iPad?) screen near you. Stay tuned!

Today I posted a lengthy blog post with quotes from my "editor's note" on the Productive Magazine page, so make sure to check it out and let me know what you think.

If you still haven't - go and get the three issues of the magazine, featuring guys like David Allen, Guy Kawasaki and Michael Bungay-Stanier.

Here's to making the magazine more regular in 2010!

Need your feedback: What did you like particularily in the past issues of the magazine? What is it that you did NOT like? Help me make the magazine better! Thanks!

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz not buzzing with me (and my email) all that much

OK, so Google launched Google Buzz yesterday. Their next attempt to do something about this whole social media stuff that they never managed to pull off. Facebook and Twitter are growing like crazy and the search giant (well, all the giants, including Yahoo and Microsoft) seem not to comprehend the social craziness.

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People seem to like buzz, but I have mixed feelings about it:

Integration with Gmail adds noise to my email

Google decided to use their Gmail user base to make sure the buzz is being used... so now everyone has buzz in their Gmail account. I get enough messages in my email inbox that it distracts me from my work, so I don't need more noise.

Furthermore, if someone comments on a buzz, I get it to my inbox... I don't want more stuff in my inbox. I grew up in the "Inbox zero" world and it's hard enough to keep it up anyway... Luckily there is a hack for that :-)

New profile, new followers....

So I had to set up a new Google Profile, and it seems I need to set up new followers and following! No thank you, I've been working hard enough on my Twitter following and I have more than 8K+ followers (thanks guys and gals!) and I don't feel like building it all again.

My current social media flow...

My main hub is my Twitter account. Statuses from there go to my Facebook profile and Linkedin profile... I occassionally use comments on Facebook and I use Llinkedin strictly for business related stuff. Why do I need Buzz? Can't find any real use for that.

Can you convince me to give Google Buzz a try? Like it? Hate it? What's your take?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 productivity tips and tricks for open space workers in California's Silicon Valley offices

If you've been following my Twitter feed lately, you can see I've been traveling in Silicon Valley in California, visiting headquarters of the companies like FacebookYahooGoogleTechcrunchPlug and Play Tech Center and others... and most of these companies have office spaces that look like this:

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"Open to everyone"... and everything - including distractions

All of the companies say this kind of office setup is cool and promotes openness... but what they don't tell you is that it's really hard to concentrate and get things done in a setup like this. The funny thing is that most of the guys who designed offices like this are brilliant people who might have even read the book "Peopleware" but they somehow forgot about the key advice from this book...

How to get stuff done in an "Open" environment?

OK, let's be constructive about this situation and embrace the "openness" and give some solutions as to how to be effective and productive in this kind of environment:

"Solution" 1 - use headphones

Yes, I've heard that before - developers and office workers use headphones to clear the noise, but many studies have already shown that programmers do a better and more creative code when they are sitting in silence than listening to the music. Music is usually a distraction as well.

"Solution" 2 - use 3 display monitors... or more!

The problem with working in a place like this is the fact that even if you've cleared the noise with headphones, you can still see everyone around you. To make sure you won't be tempted to look around and stare at other people, get as many display monitors as you can... and as big screen displays as can be - this way you won't be able to see people around all that much.

Using multiple monitor setup is actually a great productivity booster as such, but in an open environment it gives an additional benefit of being a barrier between you and the guy in front of you.

"Solution" 3 - embrace it (like you have a choice)

That's right, embrace the fact that most (if not all) companies in Silicon Valley prefer open spaces. That Venture Capital firms which invest in startups don't want them to "waste" money on private offices. Be proud of the fact that you work for Facebook in an open environment - after all it's the most over-valued and over-hyped startup in the world and they are allowed not to care about your working environment.

Finally, enjoy the good weather in California, maybe other programmers at companies like Fog Creek have great private offices, Aeron chairs and a overall fantastic environment (I know, I was there)... but they are located in the cold New York City.

The "solutions" described above won't help all that much

This is why they are written with ' " ' sign - these are not solutions but key problems I have with open spaces. Aha, and did I mention that it's really hard to get stuff done in an office because people can poke you and distract you all of the time? Well, in an "open" office constant poking is guaranteed.

I don't like open spaces and I think they're a contradiction to productivity. I'm just not THAT open - what do you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

7 ways the new Apple iPad will increase your productivity

The Apple's iPad is still causing lots of controversy all over the Internet and since it's not been shipped yet to the Apple stores, hardly anyone has ever played with it. However, looking at the iPad's page and the promo video, one can already find a number of ways the iPad will do to improve your productivity (if you get one of course):

1. There's no "right" way to hold it, it rotates automatically to adjust to you

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iPhone users know this already, but for many folks this can be a new thing - you can just grab the iPad and it rotates to adjust to the way you grabbed it. It doesn't force you to think "how to hold it" - just grab it and start playing with it.

2. Pinch and zoom photos, tap articles to make them bigger and better for reading

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Again, nothing new for the iPhone users, but on this kind of device it's unprecedented - just pinch and zoom or simply tap to read an article better, to see more details, to make sure your eyes are not working too hard. This will make it a perfect computing device for people with sight problems.

3. Process email inbox to zero beautifully

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The beautiful all new interface to email will make processing messages to zero fun and cool. You'll be inclined to process more messages at the time just because of the cool interface of the new email app - the "paper-like" feel to the email messages and ease of use will encourage you to get email done.

4. Single-tasking will improve your focus, it's a feature, not a bug!

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People complain about the fact that you can be in one app at the time on the iPhone and will do the same on the iPad... but this actually helps boost your focus and decrease distractions. You'll get more done, one app at a time. The only thing I'm concerned about is the performance of the on-screen keyboard, especially for people like me who are touch-typing.

5. One email message at a time in vertical view

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Similar to the point above, iPad has another focus-boosting feature in its email client - when you rotate the screen you see the email message in a beautiful vertical view and you see only this message, no inboxes, no folders, no clutter, just the message that you can give full attention to.

6. Beautiful calendar will encourage planning your Weekly Review

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The calendar app on the iPad is incredibly similar to the good old-school paper calendars we used to carry around with us. I'm sure this app will encourage more order and better planning... and who knows, maybe we'll finally be able to schedule your GTD Weekly Review more often than once a month? Let's hope so!

7. Books will encourage readership - you'll read David Allen's book again!

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The iPad is to serve as an eBook reader and from what I'm seeing on the video, it'll be the most elegant eBook we've seen so far. It'll help you read more and learn more... also about productivity!

Elegance helps getting things done

I've highlighted many times in this post the iPad's aesthetics and the fact that the apps coming with it also look gorgeous and I'm telling you - interacting with pretty tools makes you want to use them more. I should know, I'm using the Macbook Air and enjoy working on it every day.

How will the iPad improve our productivity? Will the apps really deliver on the iPad? Time will tell, but since it's just a bigger iPhone/iPod Touch, I'm sure this device can be a real productivity booster for everyone. What do you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A tale of a proud father - how my baby daughter made my life richer

Exactly one year ago the woman of my life - my wife - gave birth to the second woman of my life - my daughter - and my life as I knew it has come to an end. Today, my daughter celebrates her first birthday and I can't seem to comprehend how the time has passed so quickly... and there is no day I'm thankful enough for this little, sweet baby girl. I never knew this kind of love ever existed...

Daughter-mac

So they say kids are great...

Before I became a father, a few friends of mine said to me kids were great... and I thought - "of course you say kids are great - what else can you say now that you have kids, right?" Don't get me wrong, I wanted to have kids, but it was an abstract feeling for me, I didn't know what it meant to have a kid.

Now I know. "Kids are great" is an understatement.

Kids are amazing. You discover a totally different art/type of love than the one to your spouse or to your parents. Something changes in you. It's such a positive change that I wouldn't ever want to miss that. This new art of unconditional love and devotion is just mind-blowing, it's incredible.

If you don't have kids you don't know what I'm talking about.

Whenever I heard above statement before I thought "yeah, right" but now I know it's totally true. I've used words like amazing, incredible before... but the truth is that until you get a baby child on your own, you really have no clue what I'm talking about. Sorry, but I really know, just a year and one day earlier I didn't have a clue.

Some of my friends in their 30s don't seem to want a child.

I don't blame them. They say they are busy with their careers, the timing's not right, whatever... and the fact of the matter is that they'd probably be just fine and live quite a happy life... and a "kids are great" statement won't convince them. The problem is that, as stated before, "if you don't have kids, you don't know what I'm talking about" - so they don't know what they are missing out on.

Now that I know what it means to be a father, I know that I wouldn't want to miss it for anything. I know what it feels and that this kind of feeling can't be described in words. You just have to have your own kid, see it grow rapidly, be dependable only on yourself, be smiling to you in the middle of the night... to discover this new world of feelings, emotions and love. And it's not something you want to miss. Not in million years. Trust me, I know.

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Productivity 101: Power of a "boring" structured day

Recently many of my friends started asking me questions about my habit of rising early at 5 am. After that they'd continue inquiring about how the rest of my day looks like. To many of them, regular habits and early rising seems impossible... and they claim it's boring and not spontaneous...

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So I wake up at 5 am. And I don't have to. Nobody makes me.

As I wrote before (even recorded a video about it) I wake up at 5 am on weekdays (on weekends I usually sleep a little longer). Why am I doing that? Because I can start my day early and get a lot done before my wife and my daughter wake up.

Was it easy? No. Hell no. I'm not a morning person. I used to love staying late... but when I found out that between Midnight and 2 am time passes by without me doing anything productive... or anything at all... just staring at the TV... I decided to switch patterns and wake up early.

Here's how my day looks like

5 am - wake up call - a cup of coffee and I'm at my computer cranking the first tasks I planned the day before
7 am - two hours into work... time to reward myself with a gym time  - sport is good :-)
8 am - after around 45 minute gym time and a shower, my ladies (my wife and my daughter) wake up and it's time to prepare some breakfast and get my baby-girl dressed (love spending mornings with my daughter)
9 am - Au pair comes to take care of my baby and my wife goes to work (she has a J.O.B.)
9 am-10 am - email, twitter and Google Reader time
10am - 2 pm - work again, mainly Nozbe and the new app we're cooking (in the meantime snack)
2pm - lunch
3pm - 5pm - work, meetings, blog posting, whatever I feel like doing
5pm - Au pair is gone - it's time for me to play with my baby girl again and spend time with my wife.

Rest of the day is totally up to us :-) I go to bed around 11 pm.

A structured day is not boring, it's empowering. Being in control is not boring... it's powerful!

None of my days looks the same... but I'm trying to make sure that most of my days start the same. That's the difference. Thanks to this early start I get to work early and get to do some sports before the day starts for anyone else. Because I work from home I decide what to do an when to do it... (after writing this post I'll go play some pool as a reward for myself)

What if something like this is not for you?

Of course it is. If I can do it, anyone can. And I'm telling you it's not easy. But it's great. As David Allen the GTD guru says - being in control is fantastic... and doesn't make you boring... it makes you powerful and makes every choice of yours a conscious choice. Good luck!

P.S. There is a key secret here - don't be so hard on yourself. Do you think that every day my first two hours of work are ueber-productive? Do you think that every day I work I get tons done? Not really. We're just humans and we have good and bad days... but the structure I've created helps me get more good days than the bad ones.

What does your day look like? What's your secret recipe for a productive day? 

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Productivity tip: Online screen sharing and collaboration with Skype

This blog is not about software but is about productivity tips and tricks that work for me and my users so I might be posting about software - this time it's about Skype. Specifically it's about a feature Skype brought up which is not very new yet many Skype users don't know about - screen sharing...

Skype-screen-sharing

Quite frankly, I use Skype a lot - both for cheap Internet-to-telephony calling (I live in Europe and need to make calls to the States every now and then) and (mostly) for online voice and chat collaboration with my team. It works great for us, I don't even use headphones, only the built in mic and speakers of my Macbook Air, so my hands are free. It's really cool. And costs nothing if you call other Skype users.

Why is this "screen sharing" feature a big deal to me?

Because it just works. Within the app that I use (Skype) and my fellow friends and colleagues don't need to download anything to view my screen... and I can see their screens just as easily.

Because it's cross-platform. I'm the only Mac user on the team. Rest are using Windows laptops - I'm a recent Mac convert and most of my team is used to Windows status quo so it's ok. And now it's great we can share screens with a click of the button.

Because it's good enough. Of course, I cannot take control of the other computer's screen or do any of the "advanced stuff" but I found myself that in most of the cases I don't need any of those. I just want to share my screen or see the other screen. It's good enough. (and for more advanced stuff I can always use YuuGuu)

There you go - my productivity tip for you - if you're using Skype and want to share screen with someone or want to see their screen, it's right there built in and makes the project collaboration so much easier! We're using this frequently now with my team and it's a great productivity boost for us.

One more thing: Skype nailed the implementation of this feature:

They didn't come up with separate window, view or whatever with that feature, they just embeded the screen view into the current "webcam" view - so you can either see my face... or my screen... or my avatar in the Skype call window. I think it's a fantastic choice - every startup owner should look at this and see how you can elegantly add a feature to the software without adding too much noise or fuss. Great!

Do you use Skype? Did you know about screen sharing? Have you tried it? What else do you use for online real-time collaboration?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Readership - Business Motivational Quotes, eBook readers and Meetings

So Friday's coming to an end... it's almost weekend so I decided to post some of the cool articles that stuff that caught my attention this week. Let's start with the poster I found on the Signal vs Noise blog:

Meetings

This is so true - and it's why everyone in my company works remotely and when we meet, we eat lunches, we hang out and talk, we don't work together "physically", we use this time to recharge our batteries, get to know each other better and have fun... and loosely talk about our business.

I'm still not sure if what Mike is writing will really be the case so quickly and if 2010 will bring so much change... however due to the fact that the content is "in the cloud" this could really start happening... 

I've read my last books on my iPhone and now I also started purchasing audio-books... there will be lots of new ways of digesting content and it'll be really exciting to see what the consumers will eventually choose as their "dominant" way of "reading"... or there will be no dominant way? Just a set of really powerful alternatives?

Neil has compiled a list of really cool quotes, I'd also add additional one by Henry Ford:

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." -- Henry Ford.

Out of the list Neil posted I really enjoyed the one about "buses" by Richard Branson and about competitors by ... Henry Ford, but there are a lot more that will definitely keep you going and keep you motivated while you think about your startup this weekend.

Do you have any inspirational quotes for me for this weekend and next week and beyond? What do you think about new era of publishing with ebook readers taking place of books?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New uncluttered space is a place for creative thinking

As I've already mentioned on my blog, we've moved to a new apartment where I'll finally have a dedicated room for a home office. I'm working currently on the whole IT-office-setup for my home office and for our house. It's a constant work in progress - but the main "theme" is to have the least clutter possible....

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If you've been following my blog for a while know, you might know my cool clutter-free cabinet.

It's a thing I've been really proud of - takes the least amount of space and manages to pack my laptop, external monitor and another laptop (that acts as my home server)

Less space is cool, but there is no room to breathe

Now that I have a dedicated room to work, I have a big desk where I can fit all of my stuff and have lots of space to feel better... and I must tell you - having a big desk with just a few things on it and lots of "unused" space feels really fantastic... and gives you more "creative room" to breathe and think.

It's a work-in-progress but it's almost done now

I'll post next week about the results of "pimping my new desk" and you'll see the steps it took to make it really perfect.

One important hint - don't put anything on the desk unless you need it there.

The desk I have is really big... so started "littering" it with stuff... because I could :-) ... and I made it really quickly an impossible place to work... I had to get rid of everything from my desk and only put the stuff I really need there - my laptop, my other laptop and hardly anything more... and I could work again.

If you can - get a big desk and make it clean and uncluttered

Having lots of clean, uncluttered space on the desk makes you feel great.. and creative... gives you space to breathe and if you have to sit by this desk 10-12 hours a day to get stuff done, this makes a big difference.

What's your working space? What's your productive desk? Link them up! Let me know!

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GTD Notetaker Wallet - why pen and paper is still cool in high-tech world

Yesterday many Twitterers noticed my video on ProductiveShow.com about my capture tools and asked about my GTD notetaker wallet designed by the GTD father, David Allen himself. This year in March when I was speaking at the GTDsummit in San Francisco I decided to get me one of these:

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I talked to David about the idea behind the wallet and why would he invent such a thing in the world of electronic devices.

David said this wallet was very helpful - in a meeting or on the party, jotting stuff down in the wallet wasn't that problematic. People would accept it very well... contrary to a situation when you'd pull up your mobile phone to add a note. They'd think you're not interested in the conversation and you're texting someone.

Wallet notes go straight to inbox.

Also the logic is very simple - you jot stuff down in the wallet and when you get back home you just tear the pages away from the wallet and put them in your GTD inbox.

Now, when you're in the processing mode, you'd just pick the notes one by one from your inbox and decide what to do with the data saved on them... and later simply throw the notes away to the trash bin.

The photo above shows my real-world notetaker wallet with the information I jotted today that went straight to inbox when I came home. As you can see, I'm really using the wallet extensively and notes are being torn away very often. Good I bought a lot of refills with this wallet.

Additional benefits of a notetaker wallet

There are two additional benefits of this kind of wallet that are not being advertised by David Allen Company:

1) It's a more creative thing - with the mobile phone you have to write... and with the notebook inside your wallet, you can draw freely and express yourself as much as you like... and when you draw something for someone, you can share the note instantly by just giving it to them.

2) You always have a pen with you - it's so many times that people keep on asking me if I have a pen on me. Well I have, at all times. It's in my wallet and it's a very small, but very nice ball pen. It's really great to have one handy with you at all times.

Grab your note-taking solution now!

You don't need the original GTD-compilant notetaker wallet designed by David Allen. Any small notebook and small ball-pen in your traditional old-school wallet will do just fine... but it's really great to have it all handy and in your pocket at all times. I know.

Watch my video on Productive Show, where I'm showing my capture devices (with notetaker wallet being one of them).

Question: How are you capturing your thoughts? Are you all-electronical or do you also use old-school paper methods?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zen To Done - 30 days to get a habit - early rising and blogging

It's been almost a month since I started waking up at 5 am in the morning to start off my day with at least 2-3 productive hours before my ladies (my wife and my 10-month baby daughter) woke up. It's been more than 2 weeks when I started blogging regularly and if you're a subscriber to this blog you know that I only rest on Sundays. Other than that, I blog every day and I love it.

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It all started after I carefully read the ZTD (Zen To Done) course by Leo Babauta where he explained that it's impossible to develop all the habits we want at once. Instead we should focus on one habit at a time and try it for 30 days and later pick up another one.

I'm not that patient - I bent the rule to two weeks, I'm sorry Leo.

See, I'm not a patient man. I want to be and feel better right now. So I bent the rule a little and started introducing new habits as soon as I felt the old ones are already more-less put in place. This resulted in 2-weeks intervals of introducing habits.

4 weeks ago - Early riser waking up at 5 am every morning

OK, it wasn't that easy. I'm not an early riser by design, I used to go to sleep at 2-3 am. But I managed to change that and I finally got the support I needed from my family, too.

My waking up time depends when I go to sleep, so when I went to sleep around midnight, I'd wake up at 6 am, but I'd try to go to sleep around 11 pm to be able to wake up at 5 am. Most of the time I succeed. The best part is, that right now I'm used to waking up early and I get really productive in the mornings with all my email, IM, Twitter etc. closed, focused only on tasks I planned the evening before. I sleep on average 5-6 hours per day and on weekends I sleep around 8 hours so I guess it's pretty good for my body too.

To learn more about my new early riser habit, watch this short 2-minute video.

2 weeks ago - blogging every day about stuff that matters (for me at least)

I always wanted to blog more and I felt I always had something to share with the community... but never got to it. It was too much work maintaining my Nozbe blog, Productive Magazine blog and Productive Show blog. So what did I do? I went with the easiest blogging platform possible - posterous - I just send emails to my blog and they are being converted into blog post.

It's really easy - I just have to write one more email message each day. And this one's to my blog. It usually takes me between 15-30 minutes. And when someone posts a comment, I reply via email too! This way I totally eliminated the psychological barrier to blogging for myself and after two weeks I keep on writing blog posts. Cool!

Now what? Let's start running! I want to start jogging now.

Did I put on weight recently due to lack of sports? Check. Did I always want to be a runner but never got to it? Check. Did I buy a red iPod nano with Nike+ for my wife and myself? Check. Do  I have a nice big park near my house where I can run? Check.

So what's stopping me? Nothing. I'm going to start running next week. Just after we've moved into our new apartment near a beautiful park, perfect for runners. It's time to lose some weight and get in shape now that the winter is coming. Fingers crossed - wish me luck!

Start your 30 or 14 day trial on one habit now! Start today!

That's right, if I can wake up at 5 am and blog every day, it means it's really doable, so you can do, too. Take the 30 day trial if you have the patience or 14 days if you feel confident enough. Remember, one habit at a time and you're good to go! Godspeed!

Question: Which habit did you want to cultivate but never got to doing it? What do you want to start with? Why not today?


--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to start something you know you have to but you don't feel like

There are sometimes things we need to do, learn or achieve... but just can't start... we know that by doing these things we'll move a lot more forward or the benefits of doing them will be really great... but still we can't start. We're "stuck". Sounds familiar? Read below for the solution.

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Well, I was recently "stuck" with a programming problem.

I had to learn how to use regular expressions in a very advanced way and I actually never needed or wanted to use regular expressions... although I knew they were really powerful and really useful.

So I was stuck, before yesterday I would just ask my developer to prepare an expression for me that would do this or that... and that's it. Problem solved.

But I hated this - not knowing how these regular expressions work... I always hate it when I don't know how something works. I needed to get to the bottom of it.

Step 1 - ask for guidance

I started by asking my developer for some guidance, for some "regular expressions for dummies" book or anything that would help me understand the subject quickly and nicely.

Step 2 - review the documentation received

He did borrow me a book of his and sent me a couple of links to check out... and most importantly, he pointed me to code in Nozbe where he used regular expressions so that I could see in real time how this works.

Step 3 - read and ask for guidance again

So I did start to read, reviewed the code he sent (I love examples - they teach me a lot more than a dry definition), read the key parts from the book he borrowed me and checked some online tutorials.

Done, I know how regular expressions work and starting using them myself in a piece of code I'm working on.

So what's the most important lesson here? How to start something you don't feel like doing but you know you have to?

Magic Answer: Ask for guidance and support so you don't get stuck in the problem alone.

That's right - asking my developer for guidance and support was the key here - he motivated me to try this and really get to the bottom of the problem and I knew I could ask him again if needed. And he helped me commit to solving the problem. After all I knew he'd ask how it all went and I didn't want to tell him I gave up.

Question: How do you solve these kinds of problems? How do you get things done when you don't feel like doing the stuff you know you should do?


--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This week's stories - be prepared when speaking, make sure you can handle trolls and go for a rapid growth

As I'm approaching my first week of daily blogging for this new posterous-powered blog I'm trying to set up some guidelines and some regular features on this blog so that you - my great readers - know a little more what to expect from me.


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As Friday is typically a day when everyone's thinking about weekend already, I've decided that today I'll post about the articles I've read throughout the week that have captured my attention.
Friday is the "stories from my RSS reader" day:
Speaker's Tip: Don't tell the audience you aren't prepared - is a great article by Jason Fried about a fact that also annoys me when I'm attending a conference or any other public seminar. When someone steps up and is supposed to tell you something, is supposed to be a speaker you've come a long way to listen to, and the first thing they say is this:
I'm not prepared ... I just did this presentation on my way here in the cab ... My presentation will be boring
They think they are funny. Hell no. There's nothing funny about not being prepared - it's making fun of the attendees, because what they actually are saying is this:
"I got here for free and I'm supposed to talk to you about something I have no idea about, and you suckers paid big dollar to listen to me - you should ask for your money back. Now.".
Friends, Critics and Trolls - from one of my favorite blogs by Michael Hyatt. It's really important to be able to differentiate between the three - to make sure you know who's your friend online, who's your critic and who is there to flat-out ridicule you.
It's also important to learn to take a deep breath when someone is offending you both online and offline. The ability to respond cordially and turn around is very important here. I'll dig into this subject deeper in one of my next posts.
Does Slow Growth Equal Slow Death - from Joel Spolsky made me think about my business which at this point is indeed in a very "comfortable" state with a "comfortable" growth rate and although we're working hard on giving more value to our users every day, we might be not doing enough to ensure a more rapid growth.
Although I also liked and agree to a certain degree with David's response, this is something I will be revisiting with my Nozbe team and checking where we can improve and make sure we can "handle success" staying "hungry and foolish" just like Steve Jobs said.
Question: Are you always prepared for your presentations? Do you like it when someone is not prepared and they make fun about it? Can you handle trolls? Can you handle critique? Is your company / startup developing fast enough?