Weekend Project: Hō‘imi your Trusted System

Preface: Hō‘imi means “look for better and best” and is defined here:
The 3 Secrets of Being Positive

Dip into the Talking Story archives, and you’re likely to find several posts on productivity studies which I had done within a learner’s obsession I’d had with GTD: David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach to stress-free performance.

Initially, GTD appealed to me as a great companion to my earlier learning of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; it fortified and revitalised those lessons-learned for me with how habits can put us on auto-pilot in a good way.

Get lazy

I still refer to GTD often and with confidence, for there is a wealth of productivity “stuff” to be learned from David Allen, who amuses me in the way he will repeatedly say,

“I’m lazy and I don’t want to think about anything more than it deserves.”

How’s that for a statement perfectly in tune with weekend living? He recently repeated it as the opening line of his last newsletter. Allen goes on to explain,

“So my quest became to find the best and most efficient ways to think about things as little as possible. What I found was that by asking a few clarifying questions, and putting the answers in a trusted system, I was able to use my mind more creatively and more strategically for the kind of stuff that really did deserve my mental horsepower.”

Reflecting back on it, if I had to reduce everything I have learned from GTD into a single useful take-away statement, it would be that of which he speaks: GTD has taught me to capture my stress-free performance answers in a trusted system. My answers. My trusted system.

Strengthen your trusted system

What does this have to do with our current-to-February theme? (February’s Strengthening. We know it as Love.)

When you have a trusted system for your own personal productivity, a system which perpetuates what works best for you, and which discards everything else, you are strengthening your system of self care.

You can work on the goals which set your heart on fire (and express your spirit of Aloha), because you’ve already done your very best work on the most important project of all: You, and how you operate —your strengths, your values, and your trusted systems of well-being.

Consider what falls within ‘discarding everything else’

I devoted part of yesterday to working within my own trusted system, capturing my answers, and discarding everything else: It was a day I had calendared in my Strong Week Plan for reviewing my Project List for 2010.

I tumbled the brain-writing captured in the table below at one point of my review, as a reflection on my Mahalo, the Hawaiian value of thankfulness. (To any of you GTDers reading, think of brain-writing as a contextual mind-sweep.) I was appreciating what I have managed to do right thus far in 2010, instead of beating myself up over what I still needed to improve upon. In other words, I captured some of my answers:

Accomplishment Busy-work
Chic, custom-fit design One-size fits all (which usually doesn’t, and is never very flattering)
Useful bits Irrelevant bits
Essentials only Extras and clutter
Captures your needed attention Sources of procrastination
Batches work Scatters work, or needlessly duplicates it
Creates “flow” Conducive to interruption
When auto-pilot = learned When auto-pilot = consumed
Designed to work efficiently Designed to work “pretty” or riddled with “should-ing”
A blend of low-tech and digital Stubborn about “system purity”
Conducive to thinking Conducive to distraction
Energy-efficient or even energy-exponential Drains your energy or wastes it
Cheap (i.e. inexpensive) Costly (in numerous ways)
Your “burning YES” What you haven’t said “NO” to yet

and I MUST point this out as a connection to The 3 Secrets of Being Positive:

I am evangelizing batching work more and more every day. Batching is the only work-around I know of, where we can successfully apply our “multi-thinking” to our “multi-tasking.” A good way to tackle more batching is to separate the tasks within your work into low-tech, mid-tech, and high-tech (own it as  your tech: Comfy with My-Tech GTD).

Messes can be pretty

‘Ike loa: Look over that list again from the viewpoint of how much you learn when your trusted system becomes one of your Wow Projects!

“We all need systems installed into our days to ensure consistency of results, order and superb outcomes.

Success doesn’t just occur: It’s a project that is worked on each day.”

Robin Sharma, author of the book I reached for most over the last year (besides Managing with Aloha :) The Greatness Guide

One of the things I learned in my trusted system, was to embrace my messiness when looks messy actually means I can see everything better. For instance, I no longer use liquid paper in my check register or personal journal, because I want to see what I crossed out, and/or quickly recall why I changed my mind. Strikeouts have become my friend;  so much so that I even use them digitally now! Used to be, I wanted everything to be pristine clean and match; now I realize how useful it is to see my dog-eared, annotated pages, doodling and all, and the ink color-coding which looks like pre-school play to the untrained eye.

Just one no.5 Brush

I’ll bet you already have the makings of a trusted system within your personal productivity habits, and that you do know of your “good bones” in your success structures. Have you ever stopped to articulate them, and value them, so you capture your answers with the work you’ve done on a system which you continue to place your trust in?

That’s the weekend project I suggest you tackle if you haven’t other plans. You will find it a fabulous way to set a better course the rest of the year to come, and it might just become your passionate flare-up for February!

What can you share with the rest of our Ho‘ohana Community about your trusted system of personal productivity?

How is it connected to your feelings of well-being, and your ‘Imi ola, your best possible life?

How has your trusted system helped you give movement to your big ideas?

Footnote: If this doesn’t appeal to you, last weekend’s suggestion might!
Weekend Reading: Let’s go Blog Rolling


  1. says

    this is not an easy to answer question for me. Regarding the tools I use I think I have found some which I trust and feel comfortable with – it is toodledo and springnote.com .
    Toodledo I use for task management. It is an online web application and for free. You can put up projects, tasks, goals and so on. The latest project I put up is one called health – with tasks like take steps instead of lift two times a day (sounds silly, I know).
    Springnote.com I use as a journal – I write down the results of meetings, use it for writing text for webpages, as a learning journal, for collecting ideas for squidoo pages and blog posts.
    It took me some time to find those tools – I played around with some but was never really happy. Now I have got – so I think – my trusted system of productivity.
    .-= Ulla ´s last blog ..Why You should use Flickr =-.

    • Rosa Say says

      Good morning Ulla,
      Listing the different tools you use is a good way to tackle this project, for when you do so you identify the performance processes you are drawn to (simply feeling better when you use it is a strength clue), and which you find you use more than others (which is a clue as to when ease syncs up with “it works!”). With each tool listed, you can then ask yourself, why this one?, and do I trust in it? (it puts you on auto-pilot in the good-habit way, it traces recurrences or sends you a reminder, that sort of thing).

      With tech apps exploding in variation, we do get lulled into a lot of needless duplication, and can end up having info all over the place. Then maintaining them becomes busywork that doesn’t really move our performance along or serve a foundational purpose (such as deciding on your Address Book/Contact Manager). After you have your list of tools, put them to the test using the chart above, and see which column gets the most checkmarks – are they part of your trusted system (or becoming part of it), or are they trending the other way into “everything else?”

      One thing I’ve found in helping many managers streamline their systems at work, is that most of us have a relatively short learning/attention span with our new tools (or those mandated by our companies, e.g. Outlook instead of Gmail). We don’t investigate them fully to make those decisions on which features we will use, and which we purposely will not. A good example are the filters in Gmail, which are a HUGE timesaver and auto-labeler of your information inventory. Much as I love Gmail however, I turned off Buzz because besides the privacy issues within the release, it was pretty much all in the “everything else” column of my chart.

      If you decide to tackle the project starting with a tool inventory and find you have some holes to fill, and suspect you want to go the digital route, this post may trigger some thinking for you:
      The Tech Life of a Manager, 2010 and Beyond.
      Rich G. also followed up on it with: What tech can’t I do without?

    • Rosa Say says

      Just one more thing Ulla; I don’t think your health project sounds silly, not at all! In fact, I believe we all need on-going projects connected to our health, for without good health so much else simply stops as health struggles consume us, and we don’t attain ‘Imi ola (our best possible life), or we find that seeking it has become increasingly difficult.

      So hurrah, and I am with you in taking those stairs!

  2. says

    The latest project I put up is one called health ”“ with tasks like take steps instead of lift two times a day (sounds silly, I know).

    No way is it silly. Sparkpeople.com, a site I’m a raving fan of and prone to evangelizing about at any opportunity lol is all about making small changes over time that add up to a big difference. I’ve been using that technique and their site and tools for months now and have reached my lightest weight since… well since forever. At least 10 years, probably 15.

    • says

      Thanks for the support, Rich! I m doing that take-steps-avoid-lift program in order to get my heart and lungs in better shape (and my leg muscles as well). I am not a running person, but taking steps may have the same effect one day…


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