A paragraph from Tim Ferriss and a thought process on productivity as a knowledge worker



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Tim Ferriss writes:

“Don’t ever arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities... There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day... If you are stuck trying to decide between multiple items that all seem crucial, as happens to all of us, look at each in turn and ask yourself, If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”

If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?

It occurs to me that all kinds of experts (myself included) have thousands of tips ready on how to be more effective.

But we all don't use them.

Apparently not to the extent that we are satisfied.

Therefore, we keep reading these tips, collecting all sorts of tools and methods and worksheets. I have just completed the latest cohort of BASB (Build A Second Brain), just to be safe (indeed, my self-organization seems to have improved by participating in this 4-week online training – despite knowing all the books).

We read that, do some of it, and then still end up dissatisfied. It's unlikely that we are ineffective, after 20…30 years of productivity training, after hundreds of methods starting with the Time Systems planner from 1987 and GTD from 2003 and all the other methods since then like Zettelkasten and BASB, the many note-taking tools and information graphs, etc.

What's it really about?

We can read all the information on a topic. There are thousands of articles about productivity enhancement, work methods, self-organization. But without a coach, without personal exchange, we don't implement it. Not because we can't, but because we are too lenient with ourselves.

As Pirmin, the traveling merchant from Daniel Kehlmann's sensational novel »Tyll,« already said: to really get good, one must practice over and over again »and that with a teacher who lets nothing slide, because you always let a lot slide with yourself, you are not strict with yourself, so it is up to the teacher to […]« motivate and cheer you on. I have read BASB and learned PARA (an acronym for organizing information) and did not do it. Not immediately and also not with the intensity that one would need to. Only the cohort, this online training program with several live sessions weekly at various times (international participants), with training videos on tasks that had to be completed within a week, advanced me.

But only a little.

Too little.

I was (at first) too stingy to buy more and also too stingy to give more time to it. Was, because I have now invested further. Really moving forward – i.e., quickly and without a lot of self-discipline – only works with a coach, a relentless coach. Developing such a coaching behavior is also something one must first develop. I am still too much a service provider, too little demanding (as a customer once told me). The person who wants to advance and seeks the support of a coach (a »Segretarius«) for it to be faster and more effective, wants to be driven. A trainer who agrees at the eighth push-up that the trainee can stop, is worthless. The trainer must encourage so that the tenth is also achieved. … To some extent.

Therefore, one should indeed follow Tim Ferriss's call. Never show up at the office or in front of the computer without a clear list of priorities.

He doesn't mention the workshop. Interesting, isn't it? Probably because most craftsmen, the good ones anyway, know exactly what they need to do next. It seems to be a phenomenon of knowledge workers. However, craftsmen (the tradespeople) have a lot of knowledge work to do. For this (as I observe) they then also need such a behavioral rule (and some would do well to hire a business design coach).

One should do that – hence also backlog refinement and daily standups – and sort all important I-must-do-this-now tasks by their significance for the day. If I could only do one of them today, which would it have to be, so that I am satisfied with my day?

PS: Wann immer du über dein Business nachdenkst, du hast vier Möglichkeiten mit mir in Kontakt zu treten:

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Also published on Medium.