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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 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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