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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”.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Mike Vardy

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

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

    More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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