All posts tagged Time management

Take Imperfect Action.

How regularly screwing up can help you get stuff done.

By Brad Beckstrom

I’ve always liked taking action. Getting stuff done. A friend once told me, “The best way to fall asleep is to lay in bed and think of each thing that you did that day from beginning to end.  Include the little stuff, washing your face, taking the dog out. If you’re like most people you probably do a lot of things even though at times it doesn’t feel like much. By the time you get near the end of the list, you will be asleep.” This trick didn’t work too well for me, sometimes I would lay there and think of the things I forgot to do which was a great way (not) to fall asleep.  It’s okay that it failed. I was trying to do something that would help me fall asleep. I’ve learned something by trying this out, it didn’t really work, I’ll try it again, I took imperfect action.

What’s “imperfect action”? My first thought was doing something that didn’t work or trying something like a shortcut that just made the task longer. It could be something that was unproductive but got you 1% closer to reaching your goal. Maybe it wasted a good chunk of your day but you learned something from it.

Taking imperfect action is something that can help both the perfectionist and the procrastinator. Read more…

Finding Clarity in Simplicity. How to stop reacting and focus on what’s in your control.

By Brad Beckstrom

Have you noticed a big drop off in any part of your life?

I’ve been noticing a real drop off in the number of (non political) blog posts I’ve been seeing since November of 2016. At first I thought it was the election, the holidays etc. People have been distracted. I figured at some point we would stop discussing politics and get back to talking about anything but that. Well, the drop off has continued. You see, I don’t follow any political blogs or news publications in my feed reader. So, a lot of the blogs I do follow have dropped off, from maybe a post a week to less than one post per month. This is across a wide variety of blogs I follow, personal finance, photography, financial independence, minimalism, small business, creative writing etc. What’s going on? I feel like I already know the answer because my own writing has dropped off at about the same level, from once a week to once a month. It has a lot to do with many people, including myself, being totally distracted by all of the stuff outside of their circle of control.

The Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control

A circle of concern is simply a big circle with all of the things you’re concerned about scribbled inside of it. Inside of that circle is a circle of control. The circle of control is things that you have direct control over, what you read, where you live, what you eat, essentially your actions and thoughts.

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Focusing inside versus outside the circle of control

Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits series, said that people with a large circle of concern become reactive. Read more…

Tap into the power of habit. How to design your ideal day then duplicate it.

The working world has changed. The traditional thirty-year career, company loyalty, great health plans, company cars, and pension plans are all but gone. More people are working from home, pursuing side gigs. They are taking a more entrepreneurial approach to work. Entrepreneurial adventures have become the new pension plan.

There’s some great news here. For those of us who are stubborn, who refuse to live life by someone else’s rules, who are comfortable with uncertainty, lies opportunity. If you’re one of those people, it doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 55: if you can do these things, you can redesign your life to take advantage of the current uncertain environment.

Reinvention, one day at a time

Yeah, that sounds easy, just redesign your life. No problem, right? As anybody who’s tried it knows, completely reinventing yourself is extremely hard. I’m recommending a different approach. In his book The Four Hour Workweek Tim Ferris talked about designing your week so that there were only four hours of work (that you didn’t enjoy). A lot of people misunderstood the title of the book to think that this meant only working four hours a week and sitting on the beach of the rest of the time. The book’s cover even had a guy on the beach in a hammock! The book’s actual premise is that If you’re doing something you really love then that is not work. Make no mistake, you will be doing something. A lot of something, often for less than you’d make in a traditional commuter/cubicle job. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job, it means redesigning your entire workday to eliminate the distractions and poor use of time that are getting in the way of your perfect day.

Let’s look at a slightly different approach. Instead of trying to figure out what type of lifestyle, business, or new invention would be needed to support a four hour workweek, we should start smaller. Let’s start by simply designing a perfect day. Read more…

The Power of Slow. 8 things I started doing to slow the hell down.


By Brad Beckstrom.

“You are too close to the TV, back up, your going to ruin your eyes!” my mom would say. If I were still a kid today she’d be shouting “You’re too close to your phone, put that thing away.” It would be good to hear, as I sit here, flicking, clicking, responding, on my phone then picking up my iPad.

Like many, the problem for me isn’t the iPhone or iPad, it’s the massive flow of information, it’s the screen time. The sensation of being 4 inches from this screen or group of screens that bring this massive data dump into our lives. We often hop from one screen to the next from the laptop to the phone to the tablet to the TV.

I wanted to slow this down, significantly. I wanted to reboot, shut stuff down and spend more time stepping back and looking around. I wanted to go on a low information diet. I wanted to slow down to improve.

Here’s how I discovered the power of slow.

It’s your time, not theirs.

I stopped looking at notifications on my phone. I turned them off on lots of apps like Twitter and Facebook, many others. These apps were also sending me email notifications. I also shut those off. Twitter and Facebook and other apps will still be there, and I’ll still use them but it will be on my time versus the steady stream of interruptions many of these apps were creating. You can do this in settings on your phone or go to your settings page, example facebook/settings. If you still want some background notifications, just shut off email and change your notification settings to silent. With a little fiddling, you can even turn off the little red notification badges that pop up and attach themselves to the app icon. Then you can use social media on your schedule, and slow that stream of notifications to a trickle.

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The 3 Act Day – Why you should structure your day like a screenplay.

By Brad Beckstrom

What if every day were scripted like a great film?

the godfather act 1

Marlon Brando, The Godfather Act I

Whether you like it or not, they often are. Here’s a super abbreviated version of the classic three act structure in screenwriting.

3 act structure

Act I The Setup: Establish the main characters, their relationships, the world they live in, and what the story is all about?  Later in this act there is a “call to adventure” or “catalyst” that sets the plot in motion.

Act II Confrontation: Also referred to as “rising action,” this typically depicts the main characters attempt to resolve the problem initiated by the first turning point, only to find him or herself in ever more challenging situations.

Act III Resolution: Features the resolution of the story and its subplots. The climax is the scene or sequence in which the main tensions of the story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are.

The Hero’s Journey

What if every day could follow the structure of the hero’s journey with a call to adventure, rising action and intense point where dramatic questions are answered and we have a sense of who we really are? That’s a hell of a lot more interesting than a to do list or a calendar.

Act I is the early part of the day, the setup.  If you’re in a foul mood, skipping the important stuff or feel like a rudderless ship, this day may end up not being a very good movie.

Act II  is the main part of the day. For our purposes here, let’s call this “rising action.” You can call it the workday, whatever you want. The main character – “you” – is attempting to resolve ever more challenging situations and sometimes, small or large confrontations.

Act III Finally, there is resolution, wrapping up our efforts for the day and hopefully bringing the day to a successful close.  Our hero, again “you,”  finishes out the day and rides off into the sunset.

Here’s how to script your day like a blockbuster.

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