Tag: gtd

Sunday Column (401)

andre agassi

I am reading Andre Agassi’s biography. It is a good read and in one of the chapters this week he said that when he finally ranked number one, he didn’t care. If I say he didn’t care, what he meant is that he had to tell himself to be happy. Inside it didn’t bother him too much to have achieved such a a fundamental milestone.

From my perspective I understand that. I like to win. Be on the top. Be the one people look up to. Of course, most people would enjoy that. Now I don’t do that for my benefit. My motivation is for others. I am motivated by helping others to succeed and others to progress. Whilst this usually follows with the succession and progress for myself, this isn’t the main reason I am doing it. So if Andre got a nice ranking, and people wanted him to achieve that, then this is for others, not for oneself. His motivation to win is different. I get that. And people get motivated in different ways.

My first week back to work. My first week after the long summer. Summer has been great this year, compared to the last few years, and I truly enjoyed some downtime too. And we had some amazing family time this year. This week it was good to be back. It was busy, good busy, and yet it takes time to find my feet and get things going. I am trying hard, I am enjoying it.

star wars

Last weekend we started watching Star Wars. Most people don’t believe I never watched it before, and watching a movie that is now 40 years old was amazing. I genuinely enjoyed it and we will continue the sequel over the next few weeks. Also I started watching ‘The Americans’, a TV show about Russian spies that have been part of the US society for many years. It is a fascinating watch and takes place in a time I grew up in, with the Cold War and everything. It is great to see how much has changed for the better over the years. Yet with Brexit looming, they say that they expect 140 years worth of applications for residence permits in the UK in the next 12 months. Wow. I will be one of them, as I intent to stay and therefore will go through the process of naturalisation. On the other hand I have been speaking to a lot of British nationals that are keen on getting a EU passport to have the chance to leave. Europe, the world, is changing. Let’s wait how the US elections will turn out later this year. Part of me is scared.

We also went rock pooling last weekend. I have never done that before so it was a lot of fun. We found shrimps and fish, caught some not others. We had ice cream and the kids went for a swim in the sea. Contentment. Happiness. What else could you ask for in life. It is the end of summer but I have the feeling the kids really enjoyed it and got a lot of positive experiences and memories out of it. This weekend feels like autumn already. The hanging baskets are coming down. Memories, that’s the main thing. For them it was another summer, new things to explore, doing more of the things they enjoy. I tried to wean them with new food, like cheesy garlicky bread or charcuterie, even Frikadellen. But never mind, they eventually will explore more.


So with summer over, a new beginning at work, it seems like a new beginning overall. I am relatively content. I enjoy my life at the moment. This might change, with the wife going back to work, my work to pick up more towards Christmas, and other changes and hurdles to come our way. I treated myself to new noise cancellation headphones. I can’t even hear myself typing anymore, can connect them to the phone and the laptop at the same time and they are wireless. With Apple’s anticipated new phone not having a headphone jack anymore, things change. And I wanted to go wireless for a while.

I finally decided on a design for my illustrations in my book, using Fiverr. I used the platform before for a logo, but not sure I made the right choice this time. The discussions going back and forth. I guess I see when it has been delivered as a final version. So I am progressing on a few fronts, however the first designer has cancelled their order, full refund πŸ™ Shame. I persevere.

Lastly, I listened to a podcast this week quoting ‘Discipline is freedom’. Allegedly an old war poster from the states, this quote, again, makes a lot of sense to me. Any (useful and good) habit you have, will free up your time to think, work, do things you enjoy. Essentially by being disciplined and sticking to routines and habits, you are having less time at which you are pottering around organising yourself. As David Allen says, ‘I am lazy, hence I organise myself in order to spend less time looking for things’. I am the same. I like my routines, my habits and workflows to free up time, thinking space and allow for growth to happen. And yes, I am still growing. Whilst hopefully not vertically or horizontally, my mind should continue to grow and expand. Let me make sure to challenge it daily.

That’s all for this week, have a fantastic one.

Sunday Column (255)

Some weeks are slow in taking off. One focuses on the family, one’s health, and just tries to relaxes, getting on top of things and making sure things are in order. They never are. There are always things that need doing. One never really finishes a todo list. Crazy, ey? A never ending story of always being busy. But maybe it is a good thing, to be occupied, and to be chilled out at the same time. However, that really doesn’t happen either, does it? The latest suggestion this week is to keep two lists: a todo list and a not-todo list, but would that work?

How chilled out can one get? Going to the sauna, steam room and spa facilities at the local gym doesn’t make one relaxed. Meditation, relaxation and clearing your mind helps. The idea of emptying your brain, rid yourself of thoughts and making sure you quieting your mind: that helps! The ultimate GTD Brain Dump. That really helps!

Ridding oneself of the past, letting go, finding closure whilst looking ahead – key to any successful person I suppose. Steve Jobs said that too (I believe I mentioned that a few weeks back). Starting from zero, kind of. Like the changing of the year when you close one book to write a new one, with every day being a new chapter.


My coach helps me a lot, sorting thoughts, twisted rules and contradictions in life. We all got them, some more than others and some are less aware of them than others. I enjoy digging deep into my (un)conscious to identify needs of change. I need to understand my values and rules, to make sure I only support and not limit my own boys moving forward. Show them freedom, peace, happiness and make sure they are willing to take risks and push boundaries. I want to support them doing all that. This is something somewhat alien to my parents’ generation due to guilt and limitations after the war in Germany. Even my grandparents’ generation were more risk taking, more entrepreneurial because they saw the world before the war and lived more actively in times of the “Wirtschaftswunder”. But all that has changed now too.

Yet in a few years time people will look back at our generation, our influences in society like the recession, flying in space and having permanent digital influence. I read another post this week asking “do you feel like 1990 is 10 years ago” – I suppose a lot of us do. There are personal circumstances that will influence our values, rules and life. Isn’t that exciting? Isn’t it fascinating how every generation shapes new rules, validates old ones and abandons others. It is a constant learning for the greater unconscious we are tapping into on a regular basis.

What is holding you back to move forward and take the next step? What is driving you on? Questions I like to answer for myself. And I do answer them. I know what drives me on and why. I love moving forward and I am. Follow your dreams. For now my dream is a successful career in digital. A 944 Porsche. Lots of quality family time.

To close I’d like to make a remark about The Big Issue who’s CEO spoke to our Rotary Club this week. The Big Issue gives homeless people the chance to earn money, trade their time for money and giving them a chance to think beyond the next 60 minutes. A purpose in life. And if you buy the next issue, don’t just give them the money but also take the magazine. Because if you don’t, they just got money for nothing and the purpose is to sell an issue, to make something out of what they have and do. I hope that makes sense. And the foundation offers help beyond the magazine too. A fantastic charity worthwhile supporting if you ask me.

If you got a few minutes, please watch below for a good insight.

That’s really it for this week. There are some more details next week about my drive and how I move forward. But I spare them until then πŸ™‚

For now I hope you have a smashing week.


Inspirational Thought: Hard Work

I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work. ~ Thomas Edison

A nice little quote by Edison to tell you to just get on with what you are doing.

Hardly any entrepreneur or inventor for that matter ever sat in the garden and came up with the big idea to change the world or earn millions of pounds. A few might have but hardly any have.

Getting things right, coming up with good ideas or inventions is about one thing: HARD WORK.

My grandma who would be over 100 years old now never said anything else: Volker, she would say, you going to be ok. You have the gift to get on with people and the stamina and attitude to work hard. And that is exactly what I do.

I get on with things and put a lot of hard work into it. That got me where I am.

No, I haven’t changed the world (yet), not earned a million (yet) and I haven’t invented anything or founded anything (yet). But I got to a place I am happy with: work, life, family – all-round.

Things just don’t come to those who wait, do they? Although a bit of patience would have helped me along the way πŸ˜‰

Get on with it, work hard and make it happen. You got it in yourself.


Life Life Balance

20121029-181747.jpgTriggered by an article in the New York Times, I thought I pick up on some thoughts re life life balance. I have written about work life balance before. Both when discussing the move towards the South coast and regarding jobs and personal development.

I prefer the term life life balance as we don’t balance work and life, we essentially balance our life.

Actually, there is a reason why I am so interested, and to my mind very good, in productivity. I get a lot more things done than others in less time and know when and where I can get things done. What do I mean by that?

On a normal day I get up at 5 am. Check any important emails, check for podcasts or video on demand services, and go on the treadmill for 30 minutes to catch up on those. Following that I have a small healthy breakfast whilst catching up on the news, shower and be out of the door for my half seven train.

My 50 minute train journey is different every day. Depending on my work load I might nap in the morning, catch up on emails, google reader, read a book, write a blog post or listen to a podcast. I normally don’t nap in the evening but still catch up on the day’s events, doing similar things to what I do in the morning.

Since moving to the South coast I try to leave the office on time on Mondays and Fridays, and normally not later than six or half six during the week. I know anything outside those hours can be dealt with on the journey or when home. I don’t need to be physically present in the office.

Latter is what has changed since the 1950ies when people had rules: clock in clock out, time stamps, or wife stay at home mum whilst husband is the bread winner. I would try to be home for dinner but currently the kids eat around 5 pm and are in bed by 7 pm. That means unless I leave the office extremely early I cannot see them during the week. But some days I see them in the morning.

I am lucky that I can work from homes regularly and try to do so too. It makes a huge difference to spend some time with the family during the week.


Another key to a good life balance is to be able to switch off. Not only your mind but also your phone. Evenings and weekends are key. Before I had two separate phones I got calls and emails late at night or at the weekend. I wouldn’t do that again. If you spend most of your week working, then you need to be fully present at the weekend, to spend as much time with your family as you can. Full on!

It seems like I am always full on. Relaxation happens in the evening, weekends or whilst running. Or on the way home travelling. Having a GTD (Getting Things Done) like system that allows for optimal task management plus my productivity suite on my iPad makes me super efficient on the go.

Or at least I like to think so. There are still some improvements I can make, and I guess I am lucky because my company understands I have family and doesn’t judge me on time in the office but results. Latter is how we should manage performance in the 21st century.

How do you manage?

Have a productive day,

work balance only?

Yes, you read correctly. There is a new approach David Allen, the GTD guy, wrote in his book “Making it all work“. Or maybe it is not a new approach but a different thinking I personally like.

He says pretty much to forget about a work life balance. David argues that people put too much emphasis and pressure trying to separate the two: work & life. He further says that the concept of balance is irrelevant as you only seem to focus on it when you don’t have it.

By just focusing on what you are doing that moment, trying not to count the minutes you play with your dog as supposed to type your article for the press, it gives you more energy. It is about living in the now and thinking about “What am I doing”, “What is next”. David says that the key element is to eliminate the distraction, whatever its source, and to have focused alignment in whatever you’re doing.

I find this approach quite right. If I worked for myself or at home and let’s say I have to go shopping, then I go shopping. In return, I work late at night catching up with my emails. Of course, some companies already offer that, and it is a common approach for some. And, I would not differentiate between my work and my private life.

By desperately trying to separate the two, e.g. working 9-5 in an office, then going home and not looking at any work related things at all, would put more pressure on me. Naturally I try to not think about work when home and not thinking about home when at work. Maybe the way I demonstrate it exaggerates things, but generally speaking, I agree to not separate the two.

Personally, I don’t mind having a day off but checking and in urgent cases responding to my emails, or even make a phone call. When I get home after work, I surely want to spend as much time as possible with my boy, then put him to bed. And, if there is important work, I might just work for another hour or so. In return, I would (and can) expect my employer to give me time if my child is ill and I have to work from home, or come in late as I need to go and see the doctor with him.

But, and that is the way I understand David Allen, people in general worry too much and think too much about the “what if” rather than “what’s next”. It is about productivity and about making the most of your time. If you are officially at work or at home or if you just in “your time”. And that is what counts.

Of course for blue collar workers that have more of a regulated, maybe even machine driven work pace, things are different as they cannot really do anything else whilst supervising a production line. And, whilst being at home, there might less work to be done. Work might not be as flexible.

Bottom line: Stop Worrying, and Start Living. Dale Carnegie wrote about that more than 60 years ago.

Stop being desperate about a balance between work and life. Treat all as life and organise yourself. From there, you will be productive: for work, for life, for yourself.

Hope that makes sense.

Use your brain

On the OPEN Forum I discovered an article about brain usage and the 10 tips on how to improve your brain.

I have written about “Train your brain” before and always encourage people to use their brain. Not only when parking their car at Tesco, going around a round about, going shopping or making a comment at a conference….and you will find more examples if you actively listen. No, you should train your brain any chance you get. Ever tried to go around the shopping aisles and memorising what you have in your trolley. Make up a story to better memorise things, e.g.:

When I picked the SALAD I also thought of APPLES and BANANAS that would then go together with the CHEESE sandwich and the HAM on top of it. However, the BBQ with the PRAWNS, the CHICKEN and the little cats, who were eating their CAT FOOD, ……

Ok, this is not rocket science. You memorise words, particularly ones that have nothing in common, much easier if you actually think of a story. It has been 2 years since I wrote the article about the brain training and I have written about brain draining in regards to GTD too. The weekly brain sweep as they call it.

The best part is still that things you do go from your unconscious incompetence to your unconscious competence. A simple way of learning new things. When I first started in SEO I had to memorise that Link Building was put together of directory submissions and link sourcing, e.g. approaching websites to link back. Nowadays you don’t need to tell me that and I added more to that knowledge. Anything you learn goes from not being aware of where it fits all in to it fitting in automatically when you worked with it.

Maybe this was not the best example but I found an old note last week with “what is link building” πŸ™‚ However, if you question things and look things up that are new, memorise them, write them down, revisit sites etc, then you get your brain working. That is what the article on the OPEN Forum suggests too.

I particularly like the idea of learning a new word everyday. My birthday’s word was “compedious“, meaning “Containing or stating briefly and concisely all the essentials; succinct.” Now, I will try to memorise that, revisit this blog post and then make sure I use that word when I can. If I manage to learn a new word every other day, then I add almost 200 words to my daily use – and this is for English only. That can make a difference to the way I can express myself, impress others and train my brain too. And, as you can see below, teaching others (which I did at university), gives you the extra benefit!


Also, I am a big fan of the 20 minute power nap they suggest. Not very practical in a day job. But when I was at uni, I used to study for 60 minutes, took a nap for 20 minutes to let things sink in, then had a cup of coffee and studied for another 60 minutes. That helped me a lot in getting a good degree.

Coping with stress, stress management and turning stress into success are key to being efficient and productive as well.

Also, as of my earlier posts on training your brain and the OPEN Forum, the idea of being open minded and turning your view 180 degrees around is very powerful. Imagine you had the best idea in the world. Now, try to change your point of view and think you are the person that has to work with that idea, or if it was a product idea, you are the person that would buy it. Be creative and find different angles of anything you do. NLP is very powerful, e.g. putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, and can help you a lot, with sensory acuity in the forum being another example.

So bottom line is that the OPEN Forum does a good job of summarising various techniques I introduced before plus some key points of personal development. Keep going, you are doing a great job!

Let me know if you have any questions and how cb consultingg could help you!

IScribe? Online Organiser

All eager to put a new system in place for organising my life, I did a couple of things this weekend.

The influence of the seminar? Most certainly so!

I ordered a new diary for 2009 which allows me to have my weekly overview and plenty of notes on the other side. For less than Β£10 money worth spent! It should enable me to mind sweep any one time and transfer those notes directly into tasks whenever I am in my todo list.

The latter made me think. I am at work with Outlook, I am at home with my paper organiser and I do not want to log into my work emails all the time to add a personal appointment. There are a few things I could do.

However, I found something called IScribe that seems to solve the problem. An online/offline organiser that allows me to have todo lists, calendars and edit it whilst offline and then synchronises it when I am online. So I can have it at work, at home, on the plane – anywhere. And, it seems to sync with digital and non-digital organisers. Neat!

I now hope they soon take on more beta testers πŸ™‚ I registered anyway.

Let me know your experience with online organisers! I also use Plaxo which is a neat tool to sync your outlook and backup your contacts and tasks etc. However, you cannot use it offline, which I guess you don’t need to if you have your outlook installed. The premium version for less than Β£30 offers you even greater freedom.

I keep you updated, once I get IScribe, I think that will be the solution for all my problems πŸ™‚ Will it though, lol.

Have a great Sunday.