premeditation and productivity

This week I set aside time to think, organize and plan. As 2008 fast approaches it has become apparent that I can no longer put off preparing myself for all the things I wish to do and accomplish next year.

At first I was overwhelmed. I wrote down my goals and ideas, but I still could not wrap my head around how I would achieve them. They seemed huge and impossible. Perhaps that is why I had felt so much inertia around starting to get ready for next year.

I did a little reading online, and became a latecomer to the most popular productivity site on the web, 43 folders. Merlin Mann wrote an incredible pair of posts on Building a Smarter To-Do List that I found inspiring and helpful. In the time I set aside, I began to break down my goals into smaller steps which are simple and doable. Every day I can do something that gets me a little bit closer to my ideal. My to-do list is very long right now, but instead of being overwhelmed I feel like I know what I need to do and how I will get it done. This exercise has raised my confidence considerably.

When I visited Susie Love to watch PRC on Monday she generously lent me Dr. Stephen Covey’s classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on old-school cassettes. I have never listened to motivational tapes before but Susie’s endorsement is very convincing. Since I met her at the Fashion and Design Festival in August she has inspired my admiration. Even within a few months her progress as an entrepreneur has been considerable. Every time she gets a new account or fresh press, I cheer. She is a firecracker.

I have been listening to the tapes while I cook and clean, and while I practice sketching. Dr. Covey is friendly and deliberate. The information he offers is common sense and he repeats himself often. Yet instead of feeling patronized I appreciate the simplicity and the reinforcement.

Within 2 days of listening to the tapes I already found one situation with a client where I was able to apply Dr. Covey’s lessons with positive effect. I was able to change a project from something daunting into something manageable. The client’s spirits were visibly raised over the course of the meeting, and of course I felt a lot better too.

I am not the only fashion blogger/entrepreneur who takes an interest in productivity. Elaine Perlov at i am a fashion designer. gee has a whole series of posts dedicated to her taskmaster, which happens to be an adorable egg-timer. I will have to add “buy adorable egg-timer” to my to do list.

While I was poking around Elaine’s blog I also noticed that she is working on some custom favicons, and I was inspired to do the same. I used my initials, which I sometimes sign small sketches with.

What do you think?

The other things I have been pondering this week have more to do with people and relationships, things that are not so easily itemized as a to do list. The spirit of self-improvement I have been feeling lately is compelling me to reflect on how I can communicate better. I want to figure out how to be more empathetic and helpful. I feel like I have a long way to go. I hope by practicing a sense of awareness, someday I will develop these sensitive and important skills.

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4 thoughts on “premeditation and productivity”

  1. As someone who often does too much, and doesn’t have enough time in life, I think breaking down goals is definitely the way to go…I realize this sounds silly, but do you have a yearly planner? I can’t live without mine. I sometimes joke that I spend more time planning my life than living it, but taking an hour or so every week to plan really helps me get things done.

    The other thing that helps me out a lot is answering people as quickly and efficiently as possible. I try never to have stuff sitting in my inbox or voicemail, otherwise, I’ll forget, or people won’t get answers soon enough.

    All this to say…in spite of all my planning, I really like being spontaneous as well–throw the book away sometimes, if someone calls you up for dinner, you should go!

  2. Thank you for the mention. Very kind. I worked all afternoon yesterday on new navigation features on my blog. Take a look. The left margin has a whole new look! Oh, I just remembered, I have to add ‘egg timer’ to the ‘plus more’ list.

  3. Strangely enough, a number of years ago, when I found myself overwhelmed and depressed, Covey’s book was a real life saver to me, primarily because it got me to focus on what I could control. Since then, the concepts continue to prove useful.

    But I still get overwhelmed from time to time. ;0

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