One Concrete Action
Never underestimate how crazy busy your life will become when you have kids. Our first son, born this past New Year's Eve, hit us like a ton of bricks. Taking care of him, on top of a day job, has meant my side business has taken a backseat at times.
Nonetheless, since he's been born I've managed to launch a brand new design of our website, release a major upgrade to VirtualHostX, build a new Mac app (coming soon), and I'm in the process of writing my second book.
None of that would have happened if I had spent much time looking at my ever growing todo list. I would have been too overwhelmed. Instead, I've been making progress on all of my areas of responsibility by way of one simple trick.
Every day, no matter how small, I open up OmniFocus and find one concrete action I can take that will move me closer towards one of my goals.
It's such a simple idea it's nearly silly. And I realize even writing about it borders on the kind of syrupy "life hacking" articles I dread. But I'll be damned if it doesn't work. Whether it's brainstorming a new chapter outline (yesterday), updating an expiring SSL certificate (today), or fixing an app bug (tomorrow), every day I cross something off my list.
Much like Jerry Seinfeld's famous productivity advice, the simple act of completing an action every day in a row builds momentum, which, in turn, makes it easier to mark off the next day - or harder to skip depending on the way you look at it.
The idea really builds off of GTD's concept of "next actions" and being able to quickly and decisively choose what to work on next. Apps like OmniFocus make the process of picking that next action simple and then get out of your way.
I really do wish it had occurred to me to motivate myself this way sooner.