To help you kick off your New Year — and the new decade — with more clarity and purpose, I’d like to recommend a blog post, a simple daily practice, and a transformative book that I believe could propel you not just through 2020, but the 2020s. I’ll list them in the order of the lowest investment of time to the greatest:
1 Post about a family who suffered the greatest loss imaginable in 2019, and the lessons their loss teaches us about making the most of our lives, personally and professionally:
The biggest challenges most of us had in 2019, thankfully, pale in comparison to that which my good friends continue to endure — the sudden loss of their 17-year-old son to a previously unknown heart condition. It was the last, most challenging, and most important post I wrote for Forbes last year, or in any year.
But the life of this young man and the habits he embodied — sharing his self-confidence, speaking words of affirmation, and finding the best in any circumstances — could change the course of your life and those you love. I know it has mine.
1 Practice that draws us away from the distracting world of electronics and into the “analog” space where the research shows our time is best managed:
There’s an app for everything, and there are more than we could possibly count that promise to make us more productive and to manage our time better. Ironically, research suggests that the very best tools for optimum productivity may actually be a good old-fashioned pencil, paper, and most importantly, a little uninterrupted time.
With an attention span easily swayed, I’ve spent the better part of my career hunting for the best productivity methods and mechanisms. After getting on and falling off of that wagon more times than I can count, with complex “systems” that seemed hard to adopt and even harder to adapt, I finally found a method that has stuck with me now for three years without fail — Bullet Journaling.
- Read my Forbes post on the topic with nearly 200,000 views: 5 Reasons Why Non-Digital Time Management Is More Productive
- And if you’re ready to take the plunge: My Complete 10-Step Bullet Journal Productivity System
1 Book that changes the way we think about work — and life — and helps us get more from each through the power of intention:
You’ve heard that multi-tasking is a myth, and it’s verifiably true. But most of us are still working — and playing — in such a way that this realization and its ramifications have not yet sunk in. In so doing, we rarely leave the realm of “shallow work,” where our attention is sufficiently divided that we slow the process down and decrease the quality of our efforts.
By reordering our time and space to facilitate “deep work,” we can actually get more and better work done in less time. And the same applies to our less laborious pursuits in life.
- Read Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport
This book, this practice, and the subject matter of this post have left a mark on me — a mark that has already outlasted a few New Year’s celebrations — and I have no doubt will impact my life and work through the 20’s. I hope they are of some value to you as well.