Category Archives: Success

Who Is Destroying Your Happiness?

In his recent post “Destroying Happiness“, Seth Godin admits that he is! OK not him specifically but all marketers (he seems like a good guy personally).

Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.

Seth Godin

We are living in a time of relative affluence where “Most people have a better standard of living today than Louis XIV did in his day” but people are not happier because marketers make them want more!

Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot.

Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4

Be happy with what you have and cut down the materialism. Notice I didn’t say cut out- you can have some fun.

Are you happy?

Success Cannot Be Legislated: Success Comes from Service (Action)

In his article “Success Cannot Be Legislated: Who Said It?“, Stephen J. Dubner of the The New York Times (and of Freakonomics Fame- a book I highly recommend) lists this quote:

The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.

Calvin Coolidge

In an elegant way President Coolidge said someone else can’t give you success- not the government, not your mommy and not your spouse. You acheive success through (service) action.

What action will you take today to achieve success?

What is Success?

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Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2008!

A while ago, Lifehacker posed the question How do you define success? It’s obvious that each person defines it different but I think the underlying theme is that success is achieving what you want. Acheiving what you want is the premise of the Success Making Machine– you can be successful at anything. Want it and then go get it the best way possible .

For me, success is “quality” time- I want all my time spent doing what I want and enjoy. Enjoy my kids. Enjoy my spouse. Enjoy my work. Enjoy my friends. Control my time. Make a difference in my community. Controlling my destiny and enjoying every minute of it. It’s important to enjoy the little things.

How do you define success?

photo credit: eschipul

The Super Goals- The Missing Ingredients For Your Success

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Multicolour PeppersThe difference between a dream and success is whether you pursue your dream.

You’ve no doubt heard you need to set your goal before you achieve it. If you’ve thought about your goals you’ve compiled a long list of all your projects. But it’s likely there’s one project you missed- your life goals(a.k.a. dreams). Dreams are the ultimate that you want to achieve. They are your super goals. Here you are picturing what success looks like for you.

To set goals, you first need to crystallize your dreams. What do you want? What do you want out of life? How do you want to live it? Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? These large decisions can have effects down to: How do you know which job offer to accept? Which house should you buy, if any? To the day to day decisions: should I buy this fancy coat?

What’s stopping you from achieving your dreams? For many people it’s simple, they haven’t verbalized their dreams. Without verbalization, dreams can’t happen. One way to put some structure around your dreams is to determine your dreams for each area of your life: career, financial, family, social, community, health etc. When you are verbalizing your dreams- focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, “I want to be fit” is more powerful than “I don’t want to be fat”.

A dream should be something you truly want. Then set your energies to it. Your thoughts, beliefs and actions should be geared toward achieving this goal. You’ll need to believe this dream is possible. You don’t need to know all the details of how it will happen- just know that it will. Logic tells you if you believe something, invest yourself in it and your mind works toward achieving it, you will be more likely to succeed.

Before you commit to a dream ask yourself if it’s really what you want. Picture your life with your dream achieved. You may find that it isn’t quite what you want. Growing up, many of us wanted to be sports/music or film stars. If a genie came and offered to grant you that wish would you still want it? Maybe you wanted the fun that went with being a baseball player but do you really want to play every single day for 10-20 years? Perhaps you may want it, but do you want to keep up that rigorous travel schedule? The pressure of performing every day? How will this correspond with your goal of raising a family? So before you commit to a dream- think it through.

Just verbalizing your dream will get you closer to achieving it. Add your dreams to your goal list so you take steps to make it happen. Layer your dream to break it into reasonable parts. Review your dreams often to ensure you’re still striving to reach it.

May all your dreams come true.

What are your dream?

photo credit: Tracy O

The Two Minute Guide To Success

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VictoryThe Two Minute Guide To Getting Things Done(GTD) went through the steps to start being more productive. Here we’ll talk about how to become successful.

Rule 1: Write down what you want

If you don’t know what you want, you can’t get it. Take a paper and write down your goals.

Rule 2: Review your goals often

Be sure to schedule time to review your list, otherwise you’ll never get to it. The process of reviewing will keep your goals fresh and give you ideas on the next step to achieve them.

That’s it. This isn’t earth shattering. This isn’t anything you didn’t know. But this time I hope you do it.

Use your next minute to start your list.

photo credit: Georgio

The Best Success Is Yet To Come

Over the past couple of days I’ve received nice write ups from the fine folks at LifeHack (which I read religiously) and GTDTimes (which is very useful so I’m now subscribed). But there’s more to this site than what they mentioned.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s article I have many drafts in progress. Here’s some of the titles I’m working on:

  • Raise Your Employees, Empower Your Kids(7/23)
  • The Best Diet: Eat What You Love (7/24)
  • The Two Minute Guide To Success (7/25)
  • How to Raise your employees
  • How To Give Your Kids Super Powers
  • The “Best” Diet
  • The Success Cold War: Stop the Rushins
  • The 9 Ds of Processing: Turn Your Excessive Time Demands Into Manageable Tasks
  • My Paperless Office: Trashing Paper, Completing To-Dos and Being Organized
  • QTime: The Mathematical Way To Guarantee Your Happiness Forever
  • How I automated myself out of a Job- and am thankful I did
  • How I increased my rate 10 fold and you can too
  • The computer ATE my work and now I’m successful
  • How To Increase Your EQ (Enjoyment Quotient)
  • Productivity Can (Should) Be Fun and Games

These and other articles will be send to my editor (my wonderful wife, Cindy) shortly. Your success will just get better if you keep reading.

Productivity vs Success: Why Do You Need Both

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SuccessPeople throw out the term productivity all the time so it has earned a negative connotation.

Productivity is a process- do it better, faster, cheaper, with more quality. Success is a result- when your efforts work out well.

You can be successful without being productive- think of digging a large hole with a spoon. You can be productive without being successful- think of digging efficiently with a shovel for a treasure, but in the wrong spot.

To maximize your machine you must identify success and get there in the most productive way possible.

Ultimately success is most important (as evidenced by the name of this blog)- because if you aren’t succeeding you aren’t getting anywhere.

photo credit: aloshbennett

The Big Fat Productivity Curse

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Productive Eating- Not!
Being more productive has many advantages including getting more done and feeling empowered. But productivity on its own, can cause your belt to become less productive. You see there is no need for a belt when your stomach gets so big it can hold your pants without assistance. In fact, the more productive you become the more likely it is that you are getting fatter. Here’s five ways productivity can make you get fat and what you can do about it.

Too Efficient

Being productive can make you too efficient at getting the wrong things done. For example your to do list will work perfectly when you’re shopping- even when this means adding a “family size” bag of chips to go with the super-sized chocolate bar. You end up buying all the wrong things because you’re used to it and you’re good at it.

Solution: Take the bad foods off your list. Replace it with healthy (or at least healthier) alternatives. Avoid being in a position to see the “bad” items.

Work Long Hours

A strange phenomenon happens to productive people, they get more responsibility. More responsibility equals more work. Long sedentary hours especially when coupled with the lack of time to exercise leads to more weight.
Solution: Schedule breaks. Delegate: see if others can do some of your tasks(especially the ones you did before you got increased responsibility). Train others to do what you do- it’s worth the investment. Studies have shown that long hours lead to decreased mental function, so limit your work time. Use the extra time to do something fun and active.

Look to fill every second

Productive people don’t want to waste a second. You are always looking to use every minute of their time. So if you have an extra minute that may mean an downing an extra snack or treating yourself to a double moca latte.

Solution: Allow yourself time to soak in your surroundings and think. Thinking can lead to creative solutions. Let yourself unwind, being stressed can make you less productive.


Productive people look to save time – this includes doing two tasks at once aka multitasking. Sometimes people will combine food with another task- thinking they’re saving time. The problem is that they’re so busy doing the other task, like watching TV, they don’t realize they’re eating. Before they know it they have scarfed down a huge meal and they don’t even know what they ate.

Solution: Multitasking has been proven not to work, doing two tasks at once means one or both won’t get done well. Don’t multitask! You can combine tasks if you want though. Combining a task means that you’ll spend the right amount of time on each one- you are just doing them together. For example, you can schedule a meal with a friend- you’ll get your networking/socializing opportunity yet you wont be scarfing down the food. You’ll be eating at a reasonable pace and interacting- the best of both worlds.

Finish Everything

Productive people like to finish everything they start. That means that super-sized meal will be finished in no time even if it isn’t needed.

Solution: Stop yourself, realize food is not a task. Even simpler, take smaller portions.

Of course there’s more you can do to become leaner and healthier but frankly changing your approach is easier than dieting or exercising. Keep your eyes open and see where your habits are bringing you into bad situations. Then use your productivity skills to productively wipe it out.

Photo credit: Melting Mama

8 Steps to a Productive Day

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Path to a productive dayThe Getting Things Done Yahoo Group is having an interesting discussion about Control mechanisms.

Without control mechanisms of some type in place, doesn’t that pretty much leave you in the lap of the gods so to speak?

In my response I outlined 8 steps to being productive. I try to instill control, yet give the flexibility to be creative and maximize your day. It all starts with thinking first.


At the end of each day you should plan your next day. This may be an outgrowth of your weekly review- or as it should be called “The Weekly Preview”. Depending on your type of job think this is impossible, but it’s not. For example, if you are in constant crisis mode most of your plan may be thrown out each morning but your plan should be to get the bottom of the crisis so you can move past it.

First you’ll need to determine the most important tasks (MITs) that need to be done the next day. Don’t count daily maintenance tasks like following up and checking email as part of this. If there are 20 things you need to get done then you’re just setting yourself up for failure (unless they aren’t big and you can batch a bunch together and count it as one of your MITs).

Don’t try to fill your full day with MITs- these are just the choices to get you started. Just pick the 1-5 items that you want to get done the next day (keep it 3 or less ideally). Start with items that MUST get done (e.g. deadlines) – that if you don’t do it you’ll need to stay late. Also check your calendar of how much time you’ll have. The more scheduled time you have the less MITs you should plan. Then if you still have open slots, pick tasks that will be best for you for the long term while balancing for project size: smaller projects go first. A better idea is to use layering to cut your most strategic projects into small attainable parts so they don’t get pushed off and are the smaller projects that you end up doing.

At the end of this process you’ll have you a few MITs and a bunch of other tasks. Dont worry these other tasks will still get done.

Here’s how to schedule your productive day:

1. Most Important Tasks

Start with your first MIT first thing when you get in, before you check email or process your other in boxes. Much has been written about the advantages of starting the day early. Getting in early to do a MIT can set your day in the right track. Even if you cant get in early get to your first MIT as soon as possible.

2. Process

When you start processing your in boxes do the quick tasks on the spot. GTD has a two minute rule that in itself can trim items off your to do list before they get there. I would expand this to a 5 minute rule (or even 10) for the following scenarios:

a) Lots of small tasks

Your to do lists are long enough, if you keep having to add 5-10 minute tasks to it and cycle through 5-10 minute tasks every time you want to pick a task you’re just wasting time and energy. Further if you know someone will spend 5 minutes following up on these tasks then it wastes more time. Get it done. Once it’s done it’s no longer on your list and out of your mind. This is part of the reason you didn’t over schedule yourself, so you can properly react to your incoming tasks. If you have a lot of these tasks then you may decide to schedule a MIT for the next day to get rid of the 10 minute tasks.

b) Offensive Opportunities

Sometimes if you take care of a task quickly you can create good will. This can be used with prospects, customers and bosses.

c) Preparation

If you receive information about a task that doesn’t have an immediate deadline don’t just file it away, look at it first. Jot down a quick outline of your thoughts. You may create a few Next Actions right away. Pay special attention to missing information, you’ll want to email people quickly so they have maximum time to do proper research. Seek to get project scope/deadline early on- this will save you lots of rushing at the deadline.

d) Soaking Time

Give yourself time to be creative by figuring what needs to be done and let your mind work in the background. Again an outline helps here. Then let your brain work in the background. You can even schedule a reminder for your self in a few days to jot down a few more notes.

3. Maintenance tasks

These are the small daily tasks you need to do like ticklers/follow ups. Be sure that you go through your follow up list.

4. More MITs

Spend uninterrupted time on your next MIT. Set your environment so you can get in the zone.

5. More Processing/Breaks

Breaks are good for you- just don’t take it to an extreme. Two to five minutes every hour gives you time to rejuvenate. After a break you can switch gears to the next MIT or processing time.

You should schedule processing time at key intervals of your day. Different jobs have different requirements. I would recommend once in the morning, once before and after lunch and one last time before you leave.

6. Context

You can only do certain tasks in certain places. In your Preplanning, you may have scheduled yourself to be in a place to do one of your MITS (e.g. a meeting). Be sure that you think through where you’ll be so you can have a productive time during the transitions e.g. as you wait. Trace your steps through transitions. If you find yourself in your car be sure to have your cell phone or something appropriate to listen to.

7. Seize The Day

After you’re done with your MITs for the day, you pick your next task by gaugin the time available/energy available. If you’re ambitious you can find another MIT, otherwise just slice and dice and get your task list down.

8. Start Planning

Before you leave for the day preplan (see the first section) the next day to get it going on the right foot.

As you see this schedule is rigid but allows flexibility. You may be going along one day doing your tasks and realize that the current task can be ATEd (automated, eliminated or delegated). If you spend some extra time now you’ll receive greater benefits in the future. You can then decide to schedule it for the next day or push off your next MIT to the next day and do the automation on the spot.

I used this flexibility to write this blog post. I started the base of this blog post as a reply to the conversation but as I kept writing I realized it was getting lengthy as there were some concepts I wanted to explain. Some may have quit and said there’s too much to write and not enough time allocated. Instead I took the extra time and it became the foundation for the blog post that I wrote later.

Have a productive day!

Photo credit: Maik Radke