Templates will help you finish stronger than you started this year.
Principle and technique is what will increase your productivity, and not the gidgets and the gadgets that you have in your pocket or the stuff that you buy that you think will make you better. We all go through that technology appeal where, “Oohhh, you just have to have the latest gidget or gadget, and this gidget and gadget is going to do so many things for you—it’s even going to cook your dinner and take the dog for a walk for you so you can just sit on the couch and eat chips.” To all of us there’s that sexy allure that says, “Hey, if I just buy this, it’s going to do it all for me.” Well, it’s not. That’s the dark side of technology and productivity.
One of my Sensei (Japanese for Instructor/Mentor) explained it really well to me years ago. He said, “Principle is like a nail. Technique is the hammer that drives the nail into the wall and with the right hammer and the right nail putting it together, that wall will stay up and form a house that can stand the tests of time for a hundred years.”
When you’re doing your work, what are the principles behind your work? It’s simple things like the right mindset and focus with questions that gets your energy flowing.
- Why am I here?
- What am I working on?
- What is the end result?
- What I am trying to achieve here?
These are examples of the principle side of the equation.
The techniques are how you use technology.
What are you going to use to communicate with?
Dark Side of Technology
Is it a text message that’s going to get the job done, is it an e-mail, do I go to do a promotion on Facebook? Is it a hardbound, glossy-paged, printed piece? Is it a coffee table book? What is the best technology behind communicating my message and getting my work done? A lot of times today, people are driven by the sexy side of technology. If I just buy that gadget, it will be enough and they don’t learn the principles in order to make that technology work.
I’ve always been from the Apple Two Plus computer generation where I’m not a techno whiz, but I’m not afraid of technology either. I just kind of grew up in the middle with the Apple Two Plus and I took computing science back in university only to realize that I didn’t want to be sitting there pounding out 12,000 lines of code every day for the rest of my life, so I changed education paths and went into business. I transferred into the university business program.
That was good, but all through university I’ve had palm pilots along with almost any type of laptop you could name. I was a first early adopter of tablets and pen technology. Well, that’s great, but again, unless you invest thousands of hours to learn that stuff, it’s going to become your master and not your servant, and that’s not what you want.
The dark side of every good thing is uncovered when you go from master of to being the slave. You want the technology to serve you. That’s the key role. So if you can find technology and then you can match it up with the principles as to why you’re doing it and some really good training, technology will be a great servant to you.
Evade the Dark Side
In order to stay the master of your technology and productivity, I am going to share with you a few simple, but powerful principles that we use at Samurai Innovation to keep it all together every day.
One Place Productive
Get all of your stuff in one place
We all have stuff that rolls around in our heads each day. How about the stack of paper, the 7,736 e-mails that’s in your inbox (Eddie’s Inbox Story) and everything that’s falling out of your pockets. All that stuff is part 3D clutter (physical, mental, digital). If you can get it into one place, you can manage, organize, capture and share it without worry.
So that’s really the key.
If it’s in ten places, you now worry about all those ten places. You worry about how you’re going to get place number two to talk to place number three. You worry that your grandma is not on Pinterest, and you’re on Pinterest, but you can’t share your pictures with her, and it just goes on and on and on. So it’s the ability to get it all in one place, which is a key technique we call One Place Productive.
Here are two actionable things that I’d like to share with everyone.
They’re paradoxical. They’re probably going to shock you, but they will work for you.
1. Kamiza – Always start from a clean slate or a work space
Now, in every dojo that I train in, we have something called the Kamiza. The Kamiza is the focal point of the dojo. It usually has some flowers and a picture of the dojo head and it symbolizes North or the focal point of the dojo.
Everybody needs that in their work space as well. So for you, this might mean clearing your work space off. I really recommend that you take that two foot by two foot space wherever you’re working, whether it’s your desk, a coffee shop, hotel room, whatever, clear it off, because that will tell your mind that okay, I’ve come here for one thing and one thing only right now and in the next five minutes or fifteen minutes or two hours I’m here to work on this project. That really changes your mindset versus trying to work on top of the stacks of the magazines you haven’t read, the invoices you’ve got to pay, the e-mails that are sitting in your inbox. All that stuff clutters and confuses you, so just clear off that space.
Mind Like Water – Start from a blank sheet
Sometimes the best way to get over procrastination and all that stuff is to just start from a blank sheet. Maybe it means creating a new outline or putting your thoughts on paper or mind mapping or doing whatever you can to get that information out onto that piece of paper.
So that’s the first one. The second one is always…
2. Always start from a template
Start from a template and never a blank sheet.
Hopefully that’s not too paradoxical. But in aikido and the martial arts traditions that I practice, there’s always a positive and a negative. There’s always an up and a down and an upside and a downside. Not always starting from a template means there is so much time in your day that you waste thinking about what are the steps that I need to do to get this project moving or get it completed?
Many of you out there don’t have problems setting and identifying goals and telling us what you want out of life. You have problems finishing strong. You have a problem realizing the end result. That comes back to procrastination. It comes back to worry and confusion—a lot of which can be taken away by starting with a template.
Think about a recipe book. Why do recipe books have some of the most leading book sales in book stores today?
I mean, if it wasn’t for children’s books and recipe books, I think book stores would be really out of business today, especially with Barnes and Noble and Kindle has really taken the digital world. But people need that cookbook sitting there on the counter so they can bake the cake or make the dish. So if you can start from a template, it will get you going faster than you could on your own.
I don’t know any six figure salespeople that don’t start with a proposal template of some sort that has all the key elements that they can just go in and spend the critical time customizing that further to the end needs of the prospect that they’re trying to serve.
In your life and in your business, I can guarantee you there is at least 20 templates that if I was working next to you side by side, I could say, “Do you have a template for your sales process? Do you have an e-mail template for customer service responses?”
Back in the day when I was managing a customer service division, I had draft templates set up in my e-mail box so that when somebody would call in and say, “How do I get my order on time?” I would just pull that draft and I would insert the name and I would maybe insert a customization as to what they ordered, and I would send the e-mail. Well, that would take me twenty seconds. But I know people today who sit there and actually retype that whole e-mail every time they get that inquiry. So, having a template will really save you a lot of time and agony.
Travel Smart with a Travel Template
We bring you 3 awesome and I mean truly awesome resources to cut down the stress and time of packing for your travel while increasing your peace of mind because you most likely haven’t forgotten anything!
Watch the video below and checkout the links to each template under the video. Let us know by way of leaving a comment if any of the travel templates are of help to you.
Travel Checklist for Plane Trip (Microsoft Template)
Pre-Travel Checklist (Microsoft Template)
Business Trip Planner (Microsoft Template)
Trip Planning To-Do List (Microsoft Template)
What to Pack? (“One Bag” Website Template)
The Recipe Book Saved Me!
A friend invited my wife and I over for dinner one evening. My friend’s wife is vegan, so my wife said, “Well, we’ve got to bring a dessert. What do we do?” I said, “Well, find a vegan recipe.” So we looked at some websites that were recommended to us and guess what?
In less than a couple of hours my wife had a vegan recipe for apple crisp. She made the apple crisp the first time ever. We went over later that evening and my friends were just over the moon because they couldn’t believe the vegan apple crisp. They were touched that we took the time to make a vegan dessert and that it tasted amazing. Well, that’s because we did some research, found a template (which was a great recipe that hundreds of other people online said they had tried and found it worked brilliantly—no doubt ten out of ten) and went for it.
So those are two things that if you started working on today; blank work space, and improving the use of templates, will improve your productivity 20%-30% by the end of the week.
Finally, have a stopping ritual so that when you stop a project, you write down one simple thing.
What’s the next action?
The next action might be I’ve got to call Linda and confirm that arrangement. This way, two weeks from now when I have it in my calendar to “resume the project with Linda,” I open my system up and see that my next action is to call Linda to confirm. Perfect! I grab Linda’s phone number, we get on the phone and it’s done. I’m not rummaging through a stack of paper and going back and seeing what’s in my manual notebook. Neither do I waste time trying to determine where was that information at mid-November, only to find it was actually the third week of October. Instead of wasting time, I implement the right stopping ritual that becomes part of my system, a combination of principle and technique designed to boost my productivity ability.
Leave a comment and let us know which principle or technique you put to work for you this week.