Orange Post-It Notes

Wednesday mornings I’m usually the third person at Barriques on Monroe street. I love my Wednesday mornings. One of the guys is about 70 years old, he usually wears an old tweed sport jacket, he’s on a Mac with headphones, doing some kind of audio work. It fascinates me but I don’t know his story… yet. But today I’m writing about the second guy. He’s younger than the first, probably about 55 with a grey goatee, nice rimless glasses and usually wears a blazer also. I prefer the window seat early in the morning to get this writing done, so I walk the length of the coffee shop and I notice his Mac also (funny how coffee shop people usually are on Mac). But he’s got three or four orange Post-It notes on this keyboard. It strikes me as odd, how someone can pay that much for a computer, have access to great apps, probably has an iPhone also, but he’s keeping important reminders on a Post It note.

orange post it notes

Let’s clear the air: I’m not judging, and here’s how I can prove it. I give the guy huge props for doing what works for him. Yes, I think Reminders on Mac would be much better than Post-It Notes. But chances are Post-It Notes are what work best for him. He has a system. It’s a system he trusts. As he opens his notebook and starts to type, there’s the paper stuck to his keyboard, screaming at him to take action on these few items. It’s not how I would do it, but my wife does the same thing. It works for her. Would it work for you?

As I get busier, as projects seem to hold more weight, as more people rely on me personally and professionally, I find myself fine-tuning my systems of productivity. I’m trying to perfect my Getting Things Done methodology, of which one of the principles is to have a trusted system of taking in information and processing it in a timely and efficient manner.

One of my systems is to get some personal writing done Wednesday mornings after I teach my class. With a 5:45am workout under my belt, my mind is clear and primed for creative thinking. Another system is how I track my work log and project notes in Evernote. I know that if I worked on it, it’s in there and I can easily search any date or description and find my material within a couple seconds.

I am not a productivity expert. I probably even sound more organized and thoughtful than I really am. I know many of you have bigger responsibilities and systems than I do. But I think I can add a lot of value talking about these systems and thinking about our thinking. Do you agree?

What system have you put in place that allows your day to be more productive?

If you use Post-It Notes or a digital system of some kind, use the links below and share this post on your favorite social network.

What UConn vs. Kentucky Means For Your Fitness

When I think of Kentucky and UConn basketball, I think of legendary programs. Kentucky is the winningest program in college basketball history. UConn has won three national championships since 1999. These storied programs are staples in the college basketball landscape. Tonight they play for the national championship. But last year? Last year neither team made the tournament!

We are really good at looking at the past. It’s very easy to look at what we have or haven’t done to make ourselves healthier and come to conclusions that hinder or completely derail our efforts to move forward.

“I haven’t jogged in over five years.”
“I put on more pounds this last winter than usual.” (This one’s from personal experience)
“Last year I had an easier work schedule and I could find time to workout. This year it’s just not possible.”
“I started lifting last year but I don’t think I can add to my workouts this year.”
“That 5K last year was fun, but it that’s about all I’ve got.”

In sport the best players are the ones with short memories. You hear it all the time in reference to cornerbacks in football. They get beat on a play and have to line up and be ready for the next snap. There’s no time to complain or feel sorry for yourself. The wide receiver is coming for you again. You need to have a short memory. Yes, you got beat; now line up and get after it again.

KUvsUConn

We have good memories, right? We remembering getting beat. It’s easy to pin-point the times we failed. Maybe it isn’t “a time.” Maybe it’s years of unsuccessfully prioritizing your health. Maybe it’s remembering workouts in January, fading in February, gone by March. See the quotes above. That second one is me. I put on more weight this winter than ever before. Well Saturday night’s Final Four games should give us hope.

Last year Kentucky and UConn both missed the tournament. 64 teams (don’t get me started) in college basketball play for March Madness, neither of these two programs were there, and this year they’re playing each other for the national championship! Short memories allowed these teams to work hard for one calendar year and earn the right to play on the last Monday night of the season.

What’s your story? If you forgot about the past and gave yourself one calendar year, what could you accomplish?

 

 

Numbers are Important

I ended my last post with this statement: “I can’t change the water problem. But together we can? Who wants to join me?”

It’s hard to get momentum by yourself. It’s hard to stand on a platform and get people to sign up. But there’s power in numbers. We need more eyes on the goal. There’s an anonymous donor at Blood:Water Mission who knows this and is putting his money towards “joining efforts”. I’m on a larger team with Jars of Clay. ¬†And if our team can get 1,000 people to join the cause, he will unlock a $25,000 gift! That sounds “sales-ie”, right? But think about it from the perspective of the donor. Imagine you have a cause and you just want more people to get into that story. And you know that the more eyes on this topic the better. The size of the individual donation doesn’t matter – we’re going to win this battle by death from a thousand cuts! Let’s get more donations rather than bigger donations!

If four or five families help a cause, that’s better than one or two. What if it grows to 30 families? That’s some support! What about 200 families?! Now we can make some big things happen! Well this anonymous donor has decided that he wants to reward the power of numbers. This part of the goal is not (I repeat, NOT) about what you give. A $5 donation is awesome, and I promise you’ll never miss that $5. At the same time you’ll be helping a cause bigger than yourself, bigger than me; you’ll be part of a team. I’d be truly honored if you joined me.

There are a lot of causes out there bidding for our time. I get that. I just hope you’ll consider getting in the game here and helping a great cause. Today, I have two people on my team and I’m looking to get five more. Might it be you?

TRX-Kettlebell Fusion

I’ve been teaching a TRX-Kettlebell Fusion class at the YMCA for the last few weeks. I’ve always been interested in both pieces of equipment, but I’d only used TRX in a sports conditioning class I taught while I was at Harbor Athletic Club. It didn’t take me long to put the 8-week program together, and that process made it clear how versatile and dynamic these two tools are as trainers. And it also demonstrated how in the end, simplicity wins.

Exercise, fitness, and healthy eating can be very sensitive subjects. As a practitioner, it feels like I’m talking about religion or politics. People are either really into it or they’re not. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. I don’t blame people either way because there’s a lot of information out there, there’s a lot of sales people out there, and we’re all dealing with a very personal matter – our own bodies. With all this complexity it would be easy for people to get lost or just frustrated at the idea of beginning a fitness program. And it’s the simplicity of TRX especially that really shines here.

It’s not cheap, but for $200 you can have a single piece of equipment that will challenge you in life-changing ways. No, I’m not selling any TRX straps here. I’m trying to sell the idea of an attainable goal. Spend that $200 at a club and you’ll be there for just over three months – and you still have to get your tail to the club to make it work! Spend that money on weights for the house and you’ll immediately limit the exercises you can perform. But hang these straps in your basement, in your garage, or even across a doorframe in your house and you have a full-body workout waiting for you. Every time I set up my class I wish I had “discovered” these simple yellow and black straps.

If you need a workout, send me a message and I’ll get you set up. Yes, there are also knock-off versions available. There’s also workouts all over the internet. But they either charge you or don’t email you back. I’m not charging and I promise to get your workout prescribed and updated as much as necessary. Don’t think exercise needs to be complicated. These TRX straps will have you stronger and more agile within four weeks of starting. By eight weeks you’ll feel pretty powerful and you’ll be ready to add the kettlebells. First things first: find something simple and do it really well.

Out the Door

I had a big website project at work that was hanging over my head. My boss wanted to redo our website, specifically the homepage and I was totally up for the challenge. After a few weeks we had the big changes implemented and were moving on to some of the smaller details that weren’t essential to the project, at least as far as I was concerned. I started to feel pressure from my boss because now the project was getting close to going over budget. After implementing a significant round of edits on a Wednesday, I decided that on Friday we were going to launch.

Most people know I’m a converted Apple-guy. As I’ve studied Apple, I’ve been fascinated about the narrative that other business people adopt from the narrative of Steve Jobs. The most common quote from the late Steve Jobs is “real artists ship.” Sadly I am not an artist. Could this quote still apply to me?

Real Artists Ship

I stumbled on this quote reading various business and leadership writings. Many of the writers, in fact, are artists themselves. But I began to see that “artist” could be painted with a broader brush. I have learned that I am an artist. I create things. I edit things. I publish words. I do more than just consume. I am an artist and so if Jobs was right, I need to ship. I need to get things out the door. This means I need to pay attention to how much I consume vs. how much I create. At some point, consumption needs to lead to creation, and my web project for work had plenty of consumption and plenty of creation. But until that Friday when I launched, it really didn’t matter because no one saw it. Hitting publish, shipping my project was when could call it art.

I was reminded of this principle today reading this article by John Muldoon on Medium. It’s a fascinating idea to constantly be aware of your consumption and your creation. This topic also took me to the topic of exercise training. It’s been a long winter, it’s been tough if not impossible to train outdoors. I’ve planned a lot of training for the next couple months. But planning doesn’t do anything for me until I ship it, until I put it into the world and start executing.

Consumption is fun and it certainly has a place for the artist, the business person, the athlete. But growth happens when we execute what we’ve consumed and put it all into practice. Are you consuming more than creating? Do you need to hit “publish” and get some things out into the world? Do you need to start executing?