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Game Show Time Management

Game Show Time Management

I’ve got it! This came to me on the ride to work this morning. We have systems for executing our tasks. We have Getting Things Done, which tells us to sweep our heads, capture the details, do our work in the right contexts, and keep the flow going. And I always say that what we need over this is a framework, to help direct our thoughts and mindset towards what matters most to us. 7 Habits, for example, tells us to organize and execute around our priorities. Use Covey’s methods to get your priorities straight. Use Allen’s methods to execute properly. It’s perfect in the larger picture stuff.

But what about those tasks where all things are equal? Maybe they all matter equally, all need to be done, and all meet the same context requirements. What to do? What to do?

Game Show Time Management

The part of the game show we’re going to consider is the lightning round. Near the end of various game shows is that spot where the contestants are thrown a bunch of questions, and they have to answer them in rapid succession. The pressure of speed makes for better tension, and that’s why they do it on TV. But here’s the part we should steal.

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“Pass.”

Abe Lincoln was shot in which theater? …. Pass! Michael Jackson wore his glove on which hand? Right! Abe Lincoln

Task Pass

Take your list of priorities, and the tasks assigned to a certain context, and put them in your own personal lightning round:

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  • Copy a new WordPress install
  • Build header art – PASS
  • Burn new FeedBurner feed
  • Edit WordPress install – PASS
  • Build MySQL database
  • Build header art

Now, there are some ways to implement that technically. You could set the task to recur. (Can you set a task to recur faster than daily? You must, right?). You can throw nag SMS at your cell phone for the ones you are most likely to let slip by passing too many times.

Maybe it’d be great to implement a “3 Pass” rule. You can’t pass more than three times. That way, procrastination-only passing will be shoved away.

Scoreboard

Lots of people like to keep tabs on how they do with their tasks. Sometimes, we do this by leaving completed tasks on the list for a while with a strikethrough. What if you threw scoring against it? What if you decided that completing a task with only 1 pass is worth more than completing a task with 2 passes? Would it change your behavior?

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Lightning Round

I’ve spoken about Time Quilting before, as a means to finding usable time by sewing together scraps of time from various parts of our day. Parents do this well, snagging a few minutes while your son is taking a nap, and another ten minutes while they finish their couscous and lentils. This ties well into the Game Show Time Management premise. If you’ve got 10 minutes to do something, you’ve just set up your own personal Lightning Round right then and there. See how much you can get accomplished in the brief time provided. Pass on things that seem likely to scuttle the ship, and set those for time frames when you can really get at the problem.

I think this will help you develop a better landscape of time. You’ll understand when you consistenly get a few hours uninterrupted. (If you know where this time is, protect it like it’s GOLD, because it’s worth more than that). You’ll also learn how to better instrument your time for those moments that used to be for throw-away tasks. Reading a magazine is a great way to unwind, and occasionally provides you with some insights, but what if you converted that time into four more things you said you wanted to get done, but that were too insignificant to schedule?

Put This Into Action

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Take the following concepts and try overlaying your current productivity system for a week:

  • In same context situations, rapid-fire review your tasks as a lightning round, and see which you choose to execute. Count up passes.
  • When executing a task and completing it, mark 0, 1, 2 for how many times you Passed before you executed it. If there’s a 3, review.
  • Turn 20 minute scraps of time into lightning rounds. See how many tasks you accomplish. (Similar to Merlin’s dash concept).
  • Scoring: Give yourself 10 points for every task completed at 0, 5 points for 1, and 3 points for 2. Subtract 10 for anomalies (more than 3 passes).
  • At your weekly review, consider how you used your Lightning Rounds, consider your scoring, and see if this changes how you execute your priorities.

Your Feedback

This is just a premise. I haven’t tried it yet myself (but plan to launch a trial starting Monday). I’d love your feedback. Please send in comments on the premise as you understand it, and then, as things move forward, please give feedback (I’ll do a check-in post in about a week) on if it worked for you, or what side-effects you encoutered.

It might prove to be neat.

–Chris Brogan needs a perfect blend of simple interface but flexible-for-multitaskers web-based time/project/task software, keyboard heavy preferred. Have a suggestion? Let him know. Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and is launching an audio and video podcasting production company at Grasshopper New Media.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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