I bought Sebastian Marshall's book, Ikigai, when it first came out. His is one of very few blogs that I read regularly, so I had high expectations for the book. And, hey... even if it's not great, I like supporting people I respect.
As soon as I bought the book, I read the first chapter. It was the blog post that I mentioned in the isolation post. Oh, I thought, I guess this book is just a bunch of blog posts that I've already read. I stopped reading.
That was six months ago. These days I read about 2-3 books per week, which means that I have a really tough time keeping my reading list full. Last week I was searching through my Kindle to see if I had any half-finished books I'd forgotten about, and I decided to give Sebastian's book another shot.
Man, am I glad I did. I'm not sure I've ever read a book with lessons that can be applied so quickly for such immediate results. Ikigai is one of the top few books I've read in 2012.
The focus of the book is rational and efficient productivity. Or at least that's what I got most out of it. If you're into that sort of thing, definitely read it.
I now plan my day every morning. Sebastian shares his daily planning routine, which I used as a rough template for my own. Every morning I record the time I went to bed the night before, the time I woke up, the time I brushed my teeth, the time I finish planning, and the time I finished writing a blog post (I'm writing one every single day, but not posting them all).
Recording the time you finish these things is a bit of subtle genius from Sebastian. When you record the time you finish something, you tend to do it earlier. Today I woke up and had two immediate phone calls that had to be made, which pushed my whole schedule back. As soon as I saw the time, I started doing my few morning things, including writing this post. Morning used to be my least productive time of day, but now I jump right in and start producing.
The rest of day planning consists of making a todo list for yourself. You're supposed to create a list that you believe can be completed to 70%, but I've completed 90-100% every day, despite trying to make the list harder each time. It's amazing how much you can get done when you have a plan and start early.
I use the tasks feature of Google Calendar for my todo list. It's not amazing, but it's good enough and keeps me looking at my calendar, which makes me more likely to schedule things and see when they're happening.
At the end of the day, I do a quick five minute summary, as prescribed by Sebastian. I record whether or not I flossed, reflected on the possibility of death, and played my violin. I write down my key accomplishments for the day, my top life goals, a quick analysis of the day, and my top priority for the following day. Last, I record how many minutes I wasted, how many minutes I worked on SETT, and how many minutes I spent writing. RescueTime helps me come up with a rough estimate of these things.
There's a lot more than planning your day in Ikigai, but that was the big value that I got from it. He also spends a lot of time covering the same sort of strategy and philosophies that I'm a big fan of and write about here.
The great Alaska trip starts next Saturday. A few friends and I will be riding our motorcycles to Alaska for no real reason at all.
I'm sitting by a crackling fire at my aunt and uncle's house in New Jersey and we're just a couple hours into the new year, which means that it's a perfect time to review the year and look forward.
If I were to title my year, I'd call it the year I got serious. Something interesting happened near the end of 2011-- I realized that I wasn't actually on track for a lot of my goals, that I was going to have to actually get serious about stuff, and that this seriousness had to come in the form of action, not talk. I ended 2011 with a few months of solid productivity under my belt, and a year-end post that optimistically predicted a productive year.
I'm happy to say that the productive year materialized, and that my focus on getting serious has intensified.
When I was young, maybe third grade or so, a psychologist did a study at my middle school. We answered some questions and were offered two choices: a small prize now or a large prize later. I took the small prize now. I think knew it was the wrong move at the time, but the pack of stickers on the table looked like a lot of fun. Later on the big prizes were given to the waiters in such a way that I was able to see what they got. Sure enough, their prizes were a lot better and my stickers were long gone.
I've been through all the task, checklist, and to-do apps out there. Evernote is supposedly working on one but until then I've found a nice workaround in my notebooks. Each day I create a note for tomorrow in my daily journal notebook. These notes are places for me to put one line items about what happens each day. If I make a phone call, have a meeting, or need to expand on what happens I link the one line to a new note.
How I've begun using Evernote as a checklist is to make up the list of thing I would like to do the night before then that day's note has my list. On February sixth for example, when I woke up and had an hour to work I wanted to complete those seven things. Usually I try to have only four things there but some of them were simpler and required less time.
Then I also try to plan my day. I've also found that when accounting for travel times my Google Calendar doesn't have enough details for me. For busier days then I'll make up a list of things I need to do and when I need to do them. For this note, my meeting at work didn't begin until 4PM but I had to leave my house at 245PM so I could do other things before my meeting. Same thing with going to church that night.
I once read an article about a new mother who was finishing law school and writing a book and she said that her number one productivity tip was to have her laptop out with a cup for coffee in the morning along with her list of three things to do right away. That way, when she woke up her list was prioritized and she was less likely to drop into Facebook for five minutes - which really means fifteen.
See more ways to use Evernote