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Creating A Framework For Productivity

Creating A Framework For Productivity

    Something that has sped the development of awesome web and desktop applications over the past 10+ years is the idea of a technology or set of technologies coming together in harmony in what is known as a framework. There are many popular technical programming frameworks out there today like .NET for Windows, Ruby on Rails, or Zend for PHP. These frameworks help the programmer development applications rapidly and in much less time than it took before the frameworks were available.

    What these types of frameworks do is keep programmers productive by allowing them to concentrate on building their application rather than getting mundane and trivial things to work like database access, control usage, and even deployment in the environment the application will be used in. Without getting too-too technical, it’s pretty easy to see why frameworks are needed and appreciated by developers:

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    1. They keep mundane things out of the way.
    2. The give the programmer awesome tools to work with to get more work done.
    3. This allows the programmer to concentrate on creating her app rather than what language or technology she is using.

    Creating a framework for your life

    That being said, why don’t we take a lesson from software development and engineering and apply it directly to our productivity practice? The idea of Getting Things Done is to keep track of the more mundane and next action type of stuff to clear our heads so we can concentrate on creating rather than just checking off a list of unimportant or habitual things that need done.

    Developing a framework for your productivity can be just as liberating for us as a programming framework for coders. But what should this framework entail?

    The mundane and everyday

    One of the best tutorial ebooks I have read in the past year was Using OmniFocus by Kourosh Dini. This book should be bundled with the task management system OmniFocus because of its in depth setup of the system as well as some awesome insights about personal productivity.

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    Dini details how to setup some “Routine Maintenance” folders and projects that contain all of the routine stuff you have to keep track of. This forms the basis of the system and allows you to free yourself from simple things and look towards more creative actions and processes. He also discusses creating templates of repeated projects so you don’t have to weigh yourself down in the future with “boilerplate” types of processing.

    But what’s this mean if you aren’t an OmniFocus geek like myself? Well, you need some lists or reminders around that keep the mundane and everyday things off of your mind. Whether it be a morning, noon, and night checklist of things that need done, weekly reminders, monthly and otherwise; all you need is to set something up to remind you and help you from thinking that you are forgetting something.

    Before I was on the OmniFocus wagon I would have a repeating event on my calendar right before I left for work that had a simple checklist of things that needed done before I left the house. Things like, remember all needed school books, review your errand list for things that you need to take with you, remember your work ID, wallet, chargers and phone, etc. This simple, stupid list helped me keep the whole “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling away. This allowed me to concentrate on other bigger things that needed done in the day. It also allowed me to have my cup of coffee in peace and to actually relax before I entered my work day.

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    Taking care of the simple and mundane stuff everyday is a key part of creating your productivity framework. Without it, you will always have that sinking feeling that something is “falling through the cracks”.

    Creative tasks and doings

    Something else that I have found to be of utmost importance is to create repeating tasks for the creative parts of my life. These are things that I need to do everyday to keep my creative energy flowing and to allow myself to do something other than think about “real work”.

    There are a couple of creative tasks that I have now that repeat every single day including writing 750 words and working for at least an hour on my web app idea. This time is blocked out everyday, so no matter what I am doing two things that benefit my spirit and sanity.

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    Being productive and spending your energy on “real work” is great, but without having some “you time” your productivity framework can fall apart. Sometimes we just need to be selfish a little bit every day.

    From framework to getting important things done

    Now that you have created a framework of the mundane and creative things that you want to commit to every day, it’s time to clear them out of the way so you can concentrate on moving your projects forward and accomplishing your goals. Making these routine tasks a normal part of your day is the first step in creating a productivity framework for your life.

    The more that you don’t have to think about, especially the habitual and even boring stuff, the more you can concentrate on important aspects of your work and creating real value in the world.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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