Planning is good. Blindly sticking to a plan is bad.
My parents taught my sisters and me to play chess. We had two chess sets. The really nice set had pieces made from hand-carved white onyx. (We had to be very careful when playing with that set.) We’d play our parents, each other, and even got a few friends in on the action. Eventually, we got to the point where we could solve some of the simpler chess puzzles the newspaper printed on the page before the comics.
Winning at chess comes down to keeping your options open. You capture your opponent’s pieces and restrict their movement to limit their options. When you sacrifice a piece, you make sure you’re getting a higher-value piece in return, or at least a positional advantage. Then there’s the meta-game—bluffing, misdirection, and distraction.
The game is won when you have eliminated your opponent’s options, and there is no action they can take to protect their king.
If you want to be successful in life, learn to keep your options open. Make choices that give you more choices instead of taking them away.
Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.
Digital books are great. You always have something to read on hand, and you can search them. (Plus, for some reason, I have a hard time bringing myself to mark up a paper book; I think it’s from the days of having to preserve a textbook’s resale value.)
One of the key advantages to digital books is that the information is unlocked. If you can remember a key phrase or even just a word, you can find the passage you’re looking for. Passages you mark are automatically indexed so you can quickly browse through them to find the right excerpt.
What about the information in your paper books? (At least I hope you have paper books.) Fortunately, there’s a way you can quickly and easily search through your paper books, just like your digital books.
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.
Having kids is the most rewarding thing you will do in this life. It will also cause more disruption for your schedule and your task list than anything else you do. For most of us, it’s the closest we’ll come to starting over.
Every time we enter a new phase in our life, we have to figure out what productivity means in the new phase. From high school to college is a big change. From college to your first job is even bigger. Going from one job to another—even one role to another within a company—requires its own normalization and adjustment as we figure out what productivity looks like now.
Intellectually, you know having kids is going to be a huge adjustment. When it happens, you still aren’t ready for it. I thought I was. Four years in, I’m still adjusting.
Lyrics: You’re Gonna Miss This
You’re gonna miss this.
You’re gonna want this back.
You’re gonna wish these days
Hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are some good times,
So take a good look around.
You may not know it now,
but you’re gonna miss this.
Trace Adkins, “You’re Gonna Miss This”
It’s important to write down everything you need to do. You won’t forget anything, you free your mind to think about other things, and you get to cross things off a list.
There’s something about crossing things off a list that’s very satisfying. It stimulates the reward centers of your brain, releasing a little dopamine for a job well done. You can see your progress as you progress through the day.
When you complete a task in OmniFocus, it might stay visible until the current view refreshes. Then it disappears. For a while, you can adjust the view settings or check a custom perspective (if you have OmniFocus Pro) to see what you’ve done, but eventually, the tasks will be gone for good.
This is good for focus (hide completed tasks so you only see what you still need to do) but it’s bad for tracking what you’ve done. Here’s a TextExpander macro that will help you keep a more permanent record of your accomplishments in an appropriate place.
The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management (Business Plus, 1995)
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read on human behavior. It still shapes a lot of how I interpret why we do what we do. It’s by Hyrum W. Smith, the founder of Franklin Quest, the company that would later put the “Franklin” in “Franklin Covey”.
The first half of the book is mainly about defining a guiding purpose for your life, and how you can use that purpose to guide your actions. He walks you through his experiences in creating his own personal constitution (mission statement), how to set goals that you really believe in, and best practices for daily planning.
The second half presents the Reality Model, a framework that helps you interpret, predict, and shape human behavior. The model applies to individuals and organizations of any size—a family, a team, a company, or a country. You will not only gain insights into your own behavior (insight that creates the ability to change), but also an understanding of why your spouse, friends, and coworkers make the choices they make. That understanding has a powerful effect on your interpersonal relationships.
I’ve heard Hyrum speak a good number of times—always on tape, never in person—and his voice comes through when he writes. He has a fresh, relaxed tone that makes what could easily be an obtuse topic very approachable. The examples he shares are memorable, and will get you to reflect. More importantly, you’ll want to make changes in your life so that your living lines up with your core values.