More ‘Zen’ in my productivity

Lately I have been slowly moving away from GTD towards something else, a more simplistic and ‘zen’-approach if you like.

The GTD Weekly Review was taking me more and more time to perform.
Why? Because I had just so much input for it. Especially my input for the Someday/Maybe-list got so overwhelming that I could not cope with the information stream anymore.
I was feeling like I was locked up in a tredmill going nowhere and I found out I had become an information-addict! Scared to miss out on the latest and the loudest, in fear of making the wrong choices of where to put my focus on.

What were my solutions to this feeling of impending doom?

Information Bankrupcy

I declared an information-bankrupcy by rigorously cutting back on my information sources:

  •  I am done capturing every nice shop or brand I want to check out on the web and putting them all in my Someday/Maybe-list for follow-up. I’m ashamed to say had become a slave to my ‘wants‘, a slave even to commercialism. I was reacting, not creating…
  •  I pruned my facebook and twitter contacts and declared total rss-reader bankrupcy.
  • I have been (re)reading Leo Babauta‘s books. ‘the Power of Less‘, ‘Focus‘ and I will also have a look into ‘Un-procrastinate‘. His views on living life mindfully, simply and fulfilling have greatly inspired me! Check his websites: Zenhabits and Power of less.

The Power of Less

I use Leo’s approach by working on 1-3 important things each day and simply list them each evening.
This keeps my head clear, my goals realistic and my focus strong. Leo Babauta is even moving to a goalless day at the moment. I know that life is so quicksilvery and fragile, I can make all the plans I want, but when I go with the flow and am flexible, yet not procrastinating, things get done in a far more easygoing, fluid way. Rigidity and complexity can frustrate things unnecessarily. ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’… (cliche but true).

Waiting For list

I keep using the ‘Waiting For’-list. It’s still an awesome GTD tool.
I write the date and the person or organization who owes me: money, a reply, goods, a call or whatever and I occasionally look at the list. Voila, easy does it.

Evernote

For Someday/Maybe stuff I use Evernote.
This is very convenient for me. My favorite things to clip off of internet are: quotes and nice pictures for moodboards or blog entries. Also I can easily clip info from different pages into evernote and compare for a quick but informed purchase decision. I don’t like to spend too much time on comparing stuff, but I also want to make a good (not perfect) choice. Just like the bike I bought recently.

Nothing beats pen and paper

For my daily lists I use good ol’ pen and paper (I have to admit that I even got rid of Nozbe, which I really liked at first and which I still think is a really good tool for GTD’ers, but too complex for my liking).
I am a stationary lover (not to say addict…) and I just love the tactile sensation of a Moleskine notepad with  my favorite pen: the Uniball Eye.

Simplifying things is making me feel reborn and renewed! More about simplicity, mindfulness and productivity in my coming blog-entries.

Tool #1 for simplifying my life:
I use a writing tool with the dodgy name of ‘Darkroom‘ (for Windows), which allows me to have a totally black screen with green writing without formatting for a focused and simple writing experience.
I highly recommend it.
For Mac-users there’s WriteRoom

If you like you can leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.

Are we enslaved to productivity?

We live in a high tech information Society, trying to drink from a firehose of information — as David Allen so vividly put it — consuming blogs, twitter updates, facebook statuses, RSS feeds, podcasts, books…
We’re also expected to crank out tasks at an equally dense rate. We write, we blog, we work, we construct, we devise, we plan, we toil, we sweat. It seems never enough.

Leo Babauta writes in the Power of Less:

‘ There has never been an age in whick we could get so much done so quickly. (…) There has also never been an age in which we were so stressed by the incredible demands of our lives’.

This rises the question:

Are we really enslaved to productivity?

Let me share a story with you:
Today I listened to the Daily Audio Bible podcast and had a major BFO (a Blinding Flash of the Obvious!) When I heard the story of the people of Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt.
The people of Israel had been enslaved to Pharaoh of Egypt, being forced into labouring daily, building bricks. One day they asked time off to sacrifice to their God. To numb that inclination, Pharaoh let them work even harder. He decreed that they had to produce even more in less time.
And here was the kicker:’ You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks’, he said.

And isn’t that story not the story of our lives too?
Let’s pretend we are the people of Israel and Pharaoh is our inner slavedriver egging us on to produce more, more, more, every day, by no means reducing our number of bricks, i.e. tasks.

We make resolutions that won’t stick as well as we hoped for; stuck in the rut of productivity. This could be a hope-less life.

But, to quote Jamie Haith of Holy Trinity Brompton church:

‘Rules, regulations, resolutions, they don’t bring hope. We are in need of a Savior, one who is right here and able to save us (…) we need the kindness and love of Jesus’.

So instead of exhausting ourselves on the productivity treadmill we need hope.

‘Hope is not about what isn’t. Hope is always about what isn’t yet.’(www.incourage.me).

Speedily we work on our endless to-do lists or even worse: our heads are crammed with to-do items, what-ifs, someday-maybe’s or fretful busyness. We immerse ourselves in the treadmill of frantic activity, not to — I guess — feel the emptiness of our existence.

My wish for you is to enjoy being productive, in the flow, in the present moment and get to know the One who is the embodiment of hope itself.
Have a hopeful day!