“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs
For some time, the wonderfully entertaining and informative site, Lifehacker, has been running a “How I Work” series. Various people are interviewed and together they explore learn about what makes these people tick . . . From their favorite apps to their preferred gear and, of course, how they work. Lifehacker hasn’t gotten around to asking me to be part of this series, yet . . . So I thought I would do it myself. Many of you have asked how I accomplish my day-to-day magic. Well, here’s a sampling.
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA (just outside Los Angeles)
Current Gig: Creator (that should nicely encompass me being an author, public speaker, executive coach, attorney, and magician)
One word that describes how you work: Passionate
Current mobile device: iPhone 5s (Space Gray)
Current computers: iMac (with dual display), MacBook Pro (Retina Display, 15-inch), iPad Air (128GB), and iPad Mini (128GB)
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
I live in either iThoughts HD (for iPad and iPhone) or XMind (for my desktop and laptop). Both are mind mapping tools that sync with each other. These tools mirror the way my brain works and allows me the greatest flexibility for my workflow. I still long for Lotus Agenda and I’ve now created my own Lotus Agenda replacement with these mind mapping tools.
Next would be Notesy (for iPad and iPhone) and Notational Velocity or nvalt (for my desktop and laptop). These are how I capture quick thoughts, reminders, and even record my time.
I’ve started using Siri a lot more. I probably dictate about 30-40% of the time now. I find it truly effective and efficient to dictate several emails in one Notesy entry and then break them apart later into more formal email transmittals. And when Apple’s iOS 8 is released, Siri is going to be even more compelling and omnipresent.
GoodReader is my filing system for my iPad and iPhone. It’s really the Swiss Army Knife of apps.
My handwritten notes are usually captured in a Moleskine (yes, I keep a terrestrial journal) or in an app called Noteshelf.
Naturally, I work a lot in my calendar – it’s how manifest what I want to accomplish. So I am going back and forth between my desktop/laptop Outlook program and Pocket Informant Pro on my iPad and iPhone. They sync back and forth and make my life easier.
What’s your workspace setup like?
My office kind of looks like Mission Control. I have a dual monitor iMac setup. Dual monitors make me much more effective and efficient. I may even move to three screens at some time. I also have a Wacom tablet hooked up so I can draw digitally or make notes as needed.
I also have a standing desk. My MacBook Pro usually sits on that so I can move freely around without losing time.
Naturally, my iPad goes everywhere with me. When I’m traveling, my workspace is made up of my iPad, iPhone, personal hotspot, Apple TV, and extra batteries for the iPad and iPhone.
My workspace really isn’t complete without workout equipment (I like to keep moving). I have a Bosu ball, TRX suspension cord, a large stability ball, and a medicine ball in my office. I make it a habit to periodically take breaks and exercise.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
Planning, scheduling, and actually participating in my own success. I find that most people spend most of their time mostly reacting to what Life mostly throws at them. I like to plan, plan, plan. That doesn’t mean that I’m not flexible. But, I know what I want to create and accomplish on any given day. And I’m ruthless about not participating in and eliminating anything that doesn’t further my grand designs. I like structure. And I like routines.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I keep a Moleskine journal that is carefully configured to track my to-dos. For more complex and fluid projects, I will use iThoughts HD and XMind (mentioned above) to create elaborate action item workflows and deadline tracking.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
My iPod. I still use the old iPod Classic. It’s got 160GB of storage and holds my entire music library. I must have music around me.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I’ve been told that I’m very organized and have a systematic way to make certain that things happen when, where, and as they should. I think that’s really a manifestation of my ability to see patterns in just about anything and everyone. I look at those patterns (even my own) and connect them to what I want to have happen.
Results are very important to me and my clients. That means I start with the desired result, first, and then systematically create a workflow and flight plan that will take me (or my clients) from where I am to where I want to be. It’s a very scripted and structured progression that has improvisation time built into it (no matter how much you plan, Life has a way of throwing you surprises).
What do you listen to while you work?
I listen to all kinds of music. Neil Diamond is my favorite artist. And I’ve really become enamored with Delta Rae lately. I usually set up custom listening stations on iTunes Radio.
I have been experimenting with ambient noise, as well. Take a look at coffitivity.com, rainycafe.com, and soundrown.com for some ideas of what I’m talking about.
What are you currently reading?
I’m notorious for reading three or four books at a time.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield; Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Sir Richard Branson; It Worked for Me in Life and Leadership by Colin Powell
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m an introvert who’s learned to be an extrovert. Many of you have heard the story before: I used to hide under my bed when I was little and I was afraid to go into stores. I’ve developed a strategy – a system, if you will – that guarantees the superpower of being sociable. Still, I need my alone time to regenerate that superpower.
What’s your sleep routine like?
Sleep? What’s that? Okay, seriously, I don’t usually sleep through the night. It’s more like a series of naps. Cumulatively, I get about 4-5 hours sleep a night. Sometimes a little more.
There are times when I’ll take a power nap of 30-45 minutes during the day if I know I have a late night ahead.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
Albert Einstein, Neil Diamond, and Jesus
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My parents constantly reminded me that I could be, do, and have anything I wanted. The best advice from them was actually not a saying but their actions. My father was insanely entrepreneurial. My mother is the role model for being a bohemian. When you combine those two traits, you have magic.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?
The world is moving so fast and technology is changing so quickly that many people don’t think they can keep up. I promise you that by just employing a few, simple systems and creating a habit of success you can achieve what others think is impossible.
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