Advertising
Advertising

How Steve Jobs Changed My Productivity

How Steve Jobs Changed My Productivity
    Photo credit: Minifig

    One of the world’s most recent innovators passed away yesterday, far too soon and yet achieving so much in the time he had on this planet. Whether you admired, revered or thought little of him (in terms of time spent thinking about him or in terms of who he was), he left an impression that will outlast many of us who are still alive. There have been many tributes to the man, his ideas and his achievements over the past day or so on the Internet, but I’ve yet to encounter one that discussed how the man, his ideas and his achievements have changed the realm to which Stepcase Lifehack primarily dwells in: productivity.

    This is not to say Steve Jobs has enhanced the way all of us do things. For a lot of people, his company’s creations played a minimal to non-existent role in their lives – at first glance. But if you look deeper than the iDevices he had a huge hand in bringing to the world, you may find that some of what he helped create may have had a more profound impact on your productivity than you realize.

    Rather than endow you with how Steve Jobs may have had a hand in making you more productive, I’ve thought about how his innovations have done so for myself. There are some things that were quite apparent to me from the get-go, but as I dug deeper I found there was a lot more there than meets the “i”.

    Advertising

    Time

    There’s no question that the things Steve dreamt up (or re-invented, innovated, improved, etc.) has boosted my efficiency. Much of what I use to manage my time exists on the platforms his company created. I don’t need to use those solutions to manage my time; I can use pen and paper just as easily – and still do for some aspects of my workflow. But the fact that they are at my disposal has allowed me to reflect on the value of time as a whole.

    When I don’t have my task management program at the ready, I’m not at a loss – at least, not anymore. Instead, I’m more mindful of where my time is being spent and how quickly it can pass. That mindset came to the forefront yesterday when I read that Steve had died. He was so young, only 19 years older than me. Sure, that may seem like a long time, but it isn’t. It really isn’t.

    With all that he did in the time that he had, he treated time like the precious commodity that it is – and unlike his wealth (which not many of us have), we all have the same amount of time in the day to accomplish what matters most to us. He did that, and that shows how much he valued his time. I aspire to treat time with as much care and reverence as Steve did.

    Advertising

    Simplicity

    Every Apple device I’ve ever used has been more intuitive than any other computing device I’ve ever used. I’d go as far to say that my Mac computers have truly been “appliances” in the sense that I know they’ll do pretty much what I need them to do time and time again, much like a refrigerator, a microwave or a deep freezer. I think that’s what he was going for. I also think he wanted to make sure that an Apple computer would blend into your home as seamlessly as any other household appliance would. The look on the outside was simple and inviting, more than the inside was. But once you got in there, that’s where things got done.

    Everything seems to flow in iWorld. The whole “mind like water mantra” that David Allen espouses to fits Apple’s philosophy as well. Get the stuff out of the way that blocks access to progress. Steve got this, and it showed in virtually all aspects of his life. The famous photo of him sitting in an apartment with very little stuff surrounding him is a testament to this. There’s no stuff in the way – just what matters. He may have been more complex on the inside, but the uncluttered Apple remote, the miniscule MacBook Air and the glowing white Apple logo that came to replace the spectrum of colours beforehand all showed that simplicity was what he wanted to deliver on the outside. Right down to the mock black turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers – grass-stained or otherwise.

    Play

    Rarely have I found that using my iDevices has been a chore. But beyond that, his greatest source of play has to be Pixar.

    Advertising

    Pixar seems to embody a lot of the earlier aspects of my productivity that Steve has had an impact on: time and simplicity. I’ve never found that watching a Pixar film is a waste of time, and I can only think of one that didn’t appeal to me (sorry, Cars 2). I value Pixar’s work so much that it is the only movie studio where I look forward to hwat they’re working on next. Much like I do with Apple, actually. I value what they offer to me and my family, so much so that I am willing to spend time and money going to the theatre to watch one of their films rather than wait until I can do so at home.

    The stories behind each of their films are simple as well. From Wall-E to Toy Story to Up, the heart of the film is the story, and the technology serves to bring the story to life. The technology is the platform, the story is the goods. And the goods are, simply put, brilliant.

    Steve loved to work and loved his work. So, for him it was play. If only it was that way for more of us. We spend so much time working and not enough time playing. Imagine if work was play for more of us. It’s become that way for me in recent years, and that’s partially due to what Steve has had a role in delivering.

    Advertising

    Creativity

    This is a no-brainer on so many levels, but for me it’s creativity on so many levels as well. Steve’s work has allowed me to integrate my creativity into so much of what I do, almost effortlessly at this juncture of my life. Knowing that I can push boundaries and limitations with the tools I have at my disposal allows for a much greater flow of creative juices. Even as I write this, I know that the wellspring of my creativity can be fostered on a variety of platforms (prose, video, audio) in large part because of Steve’s vision and his ability to create tangible tools from that vision.

    I can say, withut a doubt, that I would not be making a living as a writer if it had not been for Steve Jobs. Not because I couldn’t have done it without his innovations, but because I wouldn’t have. The barriers to entry were too high when I started to feel the need to express myself in this career. That would have made taking the risks I’ve taken to get where I’m at today much tougher to swallow. Honestly, I’d probably still be working my old retail day job instead of writing this today. Not necessarily a bad place, but a bad place for me.

    So it goes.

    Steve Jobs changed my productivity. His life’s work has played a part in helping me craft my life’s work. The best way to honour his memory is for me to press on doing just that: my life’s work. And thanks to his vision I can do that a lot more efficiently and effectively than I could have without it.

    More by this author

    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

    4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain (Beginner’s Guide) Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    Trending in Productivity

    1 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works) 2 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 3 14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have 4 Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony 5 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Making Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More About Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next