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Creator: — A simpler personal productivity system. Writing about productivity, self-improvement, business, and life.

This 110 year-old book taught me more in 90 pages than many of the newest big books on the market

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I love stumbling upon a hidden gem of a book. One that I’ve never heard of, but someone well-respected speaks highly of it.

I was listening to an interview with the great Brian Tracy, when I heard him mention a book in passing as one of his all-time favorites on productivity. It was called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day by Arnold Bennett. I had never heard of it. But if the mind behind Eat That Frog! says a book on productivity is his favorite, you’ve got to check it out!

As a bonus, it was only about…

Use it in your work life, personal life, and everywhere in between

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Early on in my sales training, I had to sit down with engineers and learn about the technical side of what the company sells. The company I work for places a lot of emphasis on its technical aptitude and sells based on industry-leading technical services. So when I began talking with the senior engineers, I expected some definitive and informative answers to most of my questions.

Instead, I kept getting the same answer to quite a bit of them. In fact, I got the answer so often that it became a kind of inside joke among those of us training…

I was a GTD fanatic for over 10 years, but when I realized it wasn’t giving me what I needed, I had to build my own system

Index cards.
Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

For the first 10 years or so of my working life, I was a huge GTD adherent. At times, I was more than an adherent, I was a fanatic. It seemed like the perfect system to me. I loved ubiquitous capture (and still do, as a matter of fact). Understanding the world in terms of projects and next actions seemed intuitively right to me. And to an extent, it still does. …

A reminder that it’s not about you, and thinking otherwise is the primary reason why things go off the rails

Photo by Grégoire Hervé-Bazin on Unsplash

Goals are interesting. A goal is basically just a strong desire that things be different than they are now. That’s not too interesting. What is interesting is the reason why a particular goal is adopted by someone. That is, you want certain things to be different than they are now — but why?

In my own professional journey, I failed to ask that question on many occasions when it would have saved me some grief. Had I actually bothered to ask myself why I adopted certain goals, the answer I would have had concerning many of them would have been…

On Feelings, Facts, and the Minefield of Human Motivation

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A few months ago, I was on the phone with the sourcing manager of a prospective customer. I had submitted a quote to her a week ago, and I was following up to see what the next steps were. As I suspected, the next step was: lower your prices.

I asked the sourcing manager that I was working with: what number do you need us to get to and why? Her answer was that she needed to see a 7% reduction in our pricing. She needed that because she and her leadership are facts-based people. Her (paraphrased) explanation was: “Just…

Finding both the work I love and the person I love took me on a journey that taught me to rethink everything I thought I knew about how love works

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From the time I was an adolescent, and I first became aware that I was responsible for making a life for myself, I knew that a good life involved love. I had to find work I love, a person I love, a place to live that I love — and so on. A good life meant finding love — in its various incarnations. And so when it came time for me to leave home and build a life of my own, I went looking for love.

Unfortunately, I ended up finding out that I — like so many of us…

The thin line of choice we face every day between us and the world

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“Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated.”

The quote above is from Confucius. I think about it from time to time — whenever my list of things to do seems to have swelled to larger than I can manage.

I also think about it when I catch myself doom-scrolling on Twitter, or falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes, or standing in front of the open pantry, mindlessly eating most of a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. I think about it as I sense things becoming too complicated for me.

I think about whether or not Confucius was…

No matter your environment, practicing humility in speech is a great step toward being a better person

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In Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, he lays out 12 virtues that would serve as his guideposts for becoming a better person.

  1. Temperance
  2. Silence
  3. Order
  4. Resolution
  5. Frugality
  6. Industry
  7. Sincerity
  8. Justice
  9. Moderation
  10. Cleanliness
  11. Tranquility
  12. Chastity

But Franklin notes that not long after adopting this list, a friend of his politely told him that he seemed much to proud. Specifically, he tended to speak to others in a way that made constructive discussions difficult.

And so, the eager-to-improve young Franklin quickly added a 13th virtue to his list — which by his estimation, became the most useful. That was humility. And though many people…

Some thoughts about a famous 20 year-old quote and what it means for how to learn and strategize

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In 2002, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was conducting a briefing about the possible link between Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. At one point, a member of the press asked about a report that something hadn’t happened. Rumsfeld took the opportunity to turn the event into a masterclass of obscure epistemology (the study of knowledge):

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some…

The benefits of simple, deep rest sessions as an alternative to the baggage of a practice

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The internet is saturated with content about mindfulness. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more widely discussed phenomenon in a wider array of different spaces — from business to technology to mom-blogs to the world of sports. The buzz about mindfulness continues to be loud. There are apps, journals, classes, books, podcasts, and so on. Each with its own method and practice to advocate for.

I’m guilty of having jumped on many of these bandwagons myself. I’ve tried, and still have on my iPhone, many different mindfulness and meditation apps. …

Mike Sturm

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