Evernote is one-third of my digital planning system. I use OmniFocus to track what I need to do, Fantastical to track where I need to be, and Evernote to record a log of what I’ve done.
On both macOS and iOS, OmniFocus and Fantastical have ways to capture pretty quickly. You’re never more than a few taps, keystrokes, or spoken words away from creating a new task or meeting.
Updating your daily record in Evernote isn’t so easy. Evernote will let you quickly create a new note, but we need to be able to update an existing note. On macOS, I solved this problem a long time ago with an AppleScript that will find or create the right note and add a new entry. It made updating my daily record almost frictionless.
On iOS, the friction was still there. Making an entry on the go was so tedious that instead of recording what I had done right then when it happened, I’d try to remember it to do it when I got back to my Mac. You can guess how well that worked.
Fortunately, I just found a solution that makes updating your daily record on the go as simple as doing it at your desk. In fact, I’ll sometimes use my phone (okay, watch) to make an entry because it’s kind of fun.
Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / tiagozr
Think of the following paper-based workflow: you’re working at your desk when an idea comes to you. Maybe it’s something you need to do, someplace you need to be, a book you want to read, a new recipe you want to try this weekend, or a character trait you want to develop. Whatever it is, you don’t want to forget it, but now is not the right time for it.
You reach for a slip of paper from a small stack you keep next to your inbox tray on the corner of your desk. You write down the idea, put the slip in the inbox tray where you can process it later, and get back to work.
It’s textbook GTD. Your brain had an idea. Instead of trying to hold it there until it was time to act on it, you wrote it down to process it later. Mind like water.
It’s a clean and simple workflow. If you plan digitally, there’s an app for that! Meet Drafts, the unusual text editor for iOS from Agile Tortoise.
Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / kaseyj
High-performance cars have a special mode called launch control. When launch control is turned on, the car takes over the details of accelerating from a standstill (usually at the start of a race or timed trial, but sometimes when you just want to feel the G-force pushing you back into your seat). The brakes, accelerator, and clutch are all controlled automatically to ensure that the car launches with the maximum possible acceleration under the conditions.
Many cars limit the number of times you can use launch control, requiring a cool-down period between launches and/or limiting the number of launches you can make over the lifetime of the vehicle. That kind of performance takes its toll on the car. Even Teslas with their simplified drivetrain will pull back so you don’t cause permanent damage to the car.
High-performance individuals like you and me have a launch mode, too. When we’re starting a project or a goal, we start off strong. We lay out a plan, identify a bunch of next actions, and schedule milestones. We want to go from zero (where we’re starting) to sixty (goal achieved) as fast as possible.
Like a high-performance car, we, too, need a cooling down period after we launch to preserve our performance. Otherwise, that kind of performance takes its toll on us. If we push ourselves too hard, it can damage our capacity to get work done.
Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Luis Viegas
When an idea to do something bold pops into your head, you have five seconds to act on it before your brain kicks into survival mode and talks you out of it.
That’s the idea behind Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. It has nothing to do with the hot dog you dropped on the ground at the BBQ last weekend. It has everything to do with interrupting this natural defense mechanism that your brain is invoking so you can get around it and do something bold in spite of yourself.
Here’s the Rule: when you have an idea, count backward from five (5–4–3–2–1) then act. Launch, like a rocket taking off. Despite its simplicity, there’s a lot of psychology packed into it, which Mel covers.
Most of the book is dedicated to the Rule, how she came up with it, and hundreds of examples of how it has helped people change their lives ever since she mentioned it, almost in passing, at the end of her 2011 TED talk. She also goes a bit into how you can use the Rule to overcome anxiety through reframing it as excitement and how she overcame her fear of flying through anchor thoughts.
Throughout the book, she hammers home one point that I absolutely love: change is simple, not easy. There’s a difference. Having an idea isn’t going to change your life, but acting on that idea will. The 5 Second Rule is a simple tool that is surprisingly effective at closing the gap between the two.
Our brain is where we think thoughts. It’s also where thoughts go to die.
You see, our brain has one job: keep us alive. As our need for Survival is satisfied, we start exploring ways of staying alive more efficiently, improving the quality of our lives, and helping others stay alive. The moment our Survival is threatened, however, our brain sets all that aside and reverts to its primary mission.
There’s one problem: our brain is terrible at distinguishing between different types of threats. It doesn’t matter whether the threat is physical or emotional. If it threatens any of our basic needs, our brain will invoke the same fight-or-flight response to get us out of danger.
When you have the idea to do something bold, you have five seconds to act on it before you brain will shut the idea down.
Photo courtesy of SpaceX