Advertising

How Steve Jobs Changed My Productivity

Advertising
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.

    Advertising

    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 What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 35 Quick and Simple Tips for Better Productivity Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive

    Trending in Productivity

    1 How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness 2 Are You Addicted to Productivity? 3 Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less Productive? 4 How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data) 5 10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Advertising
    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

    Advertising

    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

    Advertising

    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

    Advertising

    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

    Advertising

    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    Advertising

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

    Read Next