Blog Professional Development – Productivity with Purpose with Tim Stringer

Professional Development – Productivity with Purpose with Tim Stringer


I’m a huge productivity nerd, I love videos like “Inbox Zero”, “Broken Meetings and How to Fix Them” and of course the website Lifehacker. When my friend Jason Ryant (a great Digital Lifestyle Consultant) mentioned that someone dropped out of this course “Productivity with Purpose” by Tim Stringer I jumped at the opportunity.

The course was based around David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” (GTD). I’ve integrated a lot of the tenants of that workflow without actually reading the book so I thought it’d be interesting to go to a class about it. In his book David Allen asks the question “Who would procrastinate the most?” and answers with;

“Of course, it would be the most creative, sensitive and intelligent people! Because their sensitivity gives them the capability of producing in their minds lurid nightmare scenarios about what might be involved in doing the project, and all the negative consequences that might occur if it weren’t done perfectly! They just freak out in an instant and quit!” – David Allen

Guilty, I’m a textbook perfectionist… which stops me from doing a  “rough draft” of many things. I have about 8 sketchbooks on my bookshelf waiting for me to draw the perfect picture… This course helped me realize that I need to fail to get better.

“The fact I’m willing to fail is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

All the things I’m good at today I failed miserably at to begin with. With something like Ultimate I loved it too much to notice… then all of a sudden I was coaching a Junior National team to 8th and 9th place in consecutive years. Tim went on to speak about Pole Vaulter syndrome, speaking to the fact that each time you succeed you’re only getting closer to your peak potential (pole vaulters can only go so high) and that can be a scary thought.

A big change for me after leaving the Langara Professional Photo-Imaging was losing that face to face community of 23 photographers I saw on a minutely basis. I realize I need to create that community again to help me succeed.

“…by yourself you go fast but with others you go far” – Anon

One of the cooler exercises we did was a “Guided Mind Sweep” in which we just wrote down everything that was on our minds to do right now. I came up with 20 things that are just floating around waiting to be forgotten. Usually I route everything through my email inbox but there were a fair number of creatives sitting up there waiting to be executed. It felt so refreshing to have them down on paper and out of my head ! I think I might make that a nightly practice before I go to bed. A big point in GTD is;

“…never have the same thought twice” – David Allen

Writing it down and having a system to approach it is much less stressful. If it takes less than two minutes… don’t write it down, do it.

It was also useful to be shown a different way of approaching a project;

  1. Project Name
  2. Objective
  3. Time Frame
  4. Next Actions

The “next actions” were a big take away for me as breaking a huge task down into small actionable steps really helps me quickly devour something that seemed monstrous before.

Great tip on dealing with interruptions, write down what you were doing before you pick up the phone etc. so you can get right back to where you were rather than re-reading/doing a step you already completed. If you are being interrupted by choice (like checking your email for the 1000th time) ask yourself “Is this more important than what I’m working on right now?”.

Some of the software recommendations included:

In addition to the ScanSnap for paper to digital conversion (this looks awesome by the way…yes, I am that nerdy).

Another interesting idea was piggy backing habits ie; everytime you check your email, do 10 pushups. Either I check your email less or get one hell of a workout with the number of times I check email/day.

At the end of the day it’s about creating accountability;

  1. Share and Clarify your Goals with someone
  2. Establish the Frequency of Check In’s
  3. Establish the structure of the Check In’s

Jason’s been great at that ever since the workshop, we’re both heckley enough to keep each other on our toes without it becoming a chore. For me it’s about visual reminders throughout the day, buy some Post-It stock, I guarantee they’re going to have a surge this year!

Kurtis Stewart with Tim Stringer of "Productivity with Purpose"


Thanks Tim for the great course, can’t wait to implement all of this wonderful information.

To see also see my other posts on Professional Development and Business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *