Putting your stake in the ground

24/5/2013 |

5 - Maynia-01

It’s 11am on a Thursday morning, during my “maynia” experiment.  I’ve just noticed something very interesting.  With me currently having no access to my Toodledo, no daily checklist routine first thing in the morning, no weekly review process and a burgeoning inbox which I’m deliberately trying to avoid sweeping back to zero… I am directionless.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.

My mind is swirling around my email inbox, largely revisiting things I dealt with yesterday or looked at 10 minutes ago.  With no system to get to zero there’s no incentive to move on to the next email.  And with no second brain full of lists to consult, I also have no incentive to move OUT of the inbox either.

In my book, I talk about the idea of the “second brain”.  The job of the second brain is partly about memory: as David Allen said brilliantly, “your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them”.  And yet there’s more to a brain than memory.  What I’m missing this month actually more than my Toodledo system with all its reminders is my daily and weekly routines.  For a brain to function, it needs intelligence and intuition, not just memory.

My daily checklist is a quick and simple ‘check in’ with my day, my lists and myself each morning, to work out how best to set up my day, the choices to make and so on.  My weekly checklist takes care of the bigger, more strategic overview:

“where is everything up to?”, “what did I miss because the week moved so fast?”,  “which projects need me to breathe new life into them?” .

These simple routines are what makes my second brain really tick: the intelligence and intuition.  My stake in the ground.  They’re my orientation with not just my lists but with the world around me.  And without a stake in the ground, I feel as if I’m floating in space.

So next time you feel like that, remember this: productivity and organisation does not end with lists.  It’s possible to have a complete set of lists and still feel disorientated and lost.

You need a second brain that has the intelligence and intuition too.  These come from routines.  Routines develop into habits.  Habits – not complete lists – ultimately create the magic.  What are the behaviours  and habits that are leaving your attention directionless?  And how can you challenge these things with a tiny yet consistent focus on them every week or every day (or even every hour if you need to!).  A stake in the ground gives you the assurance to act decisively.  To move on, move out and move up with a sense of purpose and gravity.

And whilst I’m stuck floating  in my “Maynia” experiment right now, I can only dream of the things that you have the ability to make possible right now.  I’m jealous!  Don’t waste it.


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Last week in Maynia

Graham’s productivity experiments – see where it started

Graham write about the second brain on Productive Muslim

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