Using OneNote To Manage Your To-Do List

When it comes to productivity software (to-do lists in particular), OneNote is a clear choice if you need:

  • Elaborate and or complicated notes
    • multimedia attachments
    • pen input and handwriting recognition
    • voice and video recording
  • Detailed pen input
    • sketches overlapping multimedia
    • diagrams mixed with text
  • A less prohibiting structure

If you don’t need any of those things there are more suitable applications out there for you. If you do need all of that stuff, and you’re looking to keep your to-do list in OneNote then this tutorial is for you.

I wrote this particular tutorial to show one way (there are lots of ways – checkbox tags, outlook task integration, etc.) that someone could use OneNote for their to-do list.

OneNote To-Do List Tutorial (25 Steps):

  1. Before anything else, set up your tags. Click the dropdown arrow as shown to show the current list of tags.

  2. At the very bottom of that dropdown you’ll see a button called [Customize Tags…]

  3. Clicking that will take you to the ‘Customize Tags’ window. From here you can create new tags or modify existing ones. For me, I just created new tags.

  4. Customize your tags however you see fit. Some of the tags I created are called “bread loaf” and “bread crumb”. A bread loaf tag represents a task that is too big or complex to sit down and just do. So, wherever I have a bread loaf tag, I should put some thought into creating an associated breadcrumb tag. A bread crumb tag represents something that’s do-able and not too complicated. “Start for 5 minutes” could be a good bread crumb task.

  5. Now you can start making a list and assigning tags.

  6. You may notice, from previous steps, that there are keyboard shortcuts that you can use to assign tags. In fact, it looks like there are 9 shortcuts for that. In the screenshot below, I initially created a blank list and then clicked [Ctrl]+[1] to assign the top item to ‘bread loaf’ and [Ctrl]+[2] to assign the next item to ‘breadcrumb’.

  7. Now toggle the ‘Find Tags’ button to show all of your tags on the right hand side of your OneNote screen.

  8. Now let’s create a linked item by highlighting the words we want to link and then pressing [Ctrl]+[k]. Alternatively, you can right click your highlighted item to get a menu and select the ‘Link…’ button from there.

  9. After that you’ll get the ‘Link’ screen where we can create a new page. After all this, you’ll be able to click the link on your task list and it’ll take you to the linked page.

  10. Now your task list has a linked item! Click your new linked item to populate it with stuff.

  11. I populated my linked page like this:

  12. Now I can go back to where I was, my task list, by pressing [Alt]+[left arrow key] on the keyboard. Once back at the task list, I’ll add more tasks and tags then click the [Refresh Results] button to show my updated ‘tags summary’.

  13. Let’s add even more items!

  14. After adding additional items and tags, press [Refresh Results] again.

  15. If you make your OneNote window big enough, you’ll see a nicely formatted list.

  16. Now let’s imagine that I actually do one of those tasks and need to adjust my list accordingly. First I’ll do the task and then click the task from the ‘Tags Summary’ pane to highlight the entire line item.

  17. Then I’ll press [Ctrl]+[-] to cross out the line item on my list.

  18. Now I’ll press [Ctrl]+[0] to remove all of the tags from that line item in my task list.

  19. At this point, we can update the ‘Tags Summary’ by pressing [Refresh Results]. The updated summary should no longer show the item that we just completed!

  20. Now let’s rename our notebook to something proper, if you haven’t already, and add in some additional sections and pages to it. While you’re there, assign a tag to a task/line from one of your new pages.

  21. Click [Refresh Results] to show your new line item in your summary.

  22. Now create a new notebook called ‘Work’ and throw a task/line item in there before assigning a tag to it. After that, select ‘all notebooks’ as the search criteria for the tags summary.

  23. Click [Refresh Results] and you should be able to see the tags from both the ‘Home’ notebook and the ‘Work’ notebook. Of course, if you were to click the task in your tags summary page, OneNote will promptly escort you to wherever that item appears in your notebooks.

  24. Click the ‘Work’ notebook and change your tags summary search criteria back to ‘This Notebook’. Then click [Refresh Results]. Now you should only see the tagged items from your ‘Work’ notebook.

  25. If you have the OneNote phone app, you can sync all of these changes to it. Here’s what it looks like on my phone after a sync:

(on notetaking) incoming gadgets – what to buy, if anything

I’m now in the market for a new toy to use for my note taking. I’ve recently found that I take lots of notes and do not, in any fashion, organize those notes; every day I find myself looking for something that I wrote down “somewhere” or a piece of paper that I stashed away somewhere.

This is not a big issue yet, but as I get more and more notes and papers, I can see it becoming one – wait, actually, it kind of is an issue since I’m taking the time to talk about it. Anyways …

I don’t have the money to burn on a really nice “affordable” 700 dollar tablet PC, nor do I want to deal with the following issues on a day-to-day basis: battery life, finding a plug every hour, glare, vista, did I mention I don’t wanna spend 700 dollars on another computer?

Now, of course I would LOVE to own a tablet and play with it constantly and use it to death, but the pricetag alone would be bad for me. Now that we’re over the tablet pc’s, what are my other options?

software to organize my notes
Well, the two softwares that I imagine using to organize my notes in windows would be onenote or evernote. I like them both.

Onenote review

Evernote review

hardware to make my notes
For this area, I’m going to disregard ugliness, bulkiness, and all around shoddy design. I’ll focus on functionality and price for my needs.


+ works very well with onenote
? don’t know if it works with evernote
– requires special notebook
– 300 dollars, I could almost buy a tablet pc for that pricetag


+ records audio along with the writing
– requires special notebook
– doesn’t work with onenote
– doesn’t work with evernote
+ reasonable pricetag


+ doesn’t require a special notebook
+ reasonable pricetag
+ there’s a program out there that makes this work with onenote
+ works with evernote
– does require special clip board, but that’s comes with the one time purchase of the set

So there is obviously a clear winner for my needs – I NEED to have searchable notes, otherwise I might as well use paper and a scanner. But even still, I’m reluctant to spend the money. Maybe I should just stick my head back in my sewer and try to keep my paper notes organized? The feature that I just swoon over in regards to evernote, and onenote, is that 5 years from now, my notes should still frikkin be there waiting for me to type in a search expression and summon the golden nuggets from history – really, how could you possibly top that.

Lastly, I don’t know much about scanners. I do know that there are some nice small scanners out there with a nice small pricetag, but when you scan your notes into a computer, can those notes become searchable? So far, I haven’t found any real clues to indicate that this sort of thing works; still have to do more research. Initially I thought the only downfall of the scanning idea would be that I’d have to go HOME in order to scan in notes I just took, unless I was cool with looking ridiculous in that moment, but I later realized that’s not a downfall at all. With any of the note taking tools, aside from the expensive tablet pc, I’d have to wait until I get home in order to put the notes back on my PC anyway since I don’t want my business on public computers. And with that in mind, here are two other potentials:

random “portable” scanner – no I wouldn’t really carry this in a bag

random flatbed scanner

And that’s where I’m at in regards to incoming gadgets; I’m in the grey area of “still trying to decide to get anything at all”.

30 day trial? How about 30 day trial x 12! Go efficiency!

This written thought is in response to a few blog posts that I’ve read in the “personal development” section of my google reader feedz.

If you’re into personal development blogs, you’ve probably heard about the 30-day trial and you’ve probably heard that it takes approximately a month, or 30 days, to make a habit out of something. And if you’ve read any blog post about this 30 day idea, you probably know how adamant the writers are about focusing ONLY, making it a really high priority essentially, on that one item for 30 days straight to form a habit.

So if we go by the 1 habit every month idea, we’re limited to 12 habits per year. How could we … raise that number?

I approached that question, while smoking outside before bed, with some solid modeling software in mind. At work, five times a week, I’m rubbing noses with this modeling software called Pro/Engineer. I’ve learned a lot of pro-tips from the experts (people I work with) without even having a firm grasp of the basics – I’d never even heard of the program before three months ago. With this software, there is the significant feature of “assembling” parts. And, most of the parts will have a parent part. THATS MY ANSWER RIGHT THERE! In pro/E, if you delete the parent part, all of its children parts will be deleted as well.

Flip-flop and then apply that same parent-child relationship to a 30-day trial. How could one have a parent 30 day trial that had, lets say, 12 children parts which were part of the parent? Think for a sec about that … if you want.

My theory is that if you could schedule out, on paper, a list of items to repeat every day for 30 days, and make your 30 day trial be something like “DO THE LIST FOR 30 DAYS STRAIGHT” with the understanding that the list will not change in those 30 days, you could theoretically kill 12 birds (the 12 daily items on that list) with one stone (or schedule/paper/whatever).

How’s that for efficiency!

Now, all of this is coming from a person who has never done a 30 day trial. Anyone wanna test out my idea? Or has anyone tried something like that?

Here’s some reading material from blogs that like the 30 day idea with 1 item every 30 days:

30 days to success
the beginners guide to the 30 day trial
the beginners guide to the 30 day trial part 2

Learn Autocad for free! I’ve done the research for you … the 2 links inside are all you need.

disclaimer: The 2008 tutorials are here

Also, I’m moving this blog to a new location soon, but I know most of my visitors go here for this one autocad post so I figured I’d let you guys know. I’ll update this blog with my new location as soon as I have everything setup.

I’ve done the research for you so you don’t have to search for “easiest/fastest way to learn autocad for free”. And, if you know me, you know I need to be handheld step-by-step to learn things that are new to me, so the links should appeal to the lazy crowd as well.

First, you’ll have to download an install autocad 2007 (my version preference) or any other flavor of autocad really -they’re all the same. You can get a trial from the autocad site, you could steal a copy from a torrent site by searching google for “autocad 2007 torrent” with the quotes, you could just use the copy you have at work, etc. Or, to make things easier, you could just go to the link below:

Of course, I’m not advising that you download autocad 2007 as everyone should always pay thousands of dollars for using software for self education, that’s not for commercial use, but what you do is up to you.

Anyways, as I said, these are cherry picked links that I found after searching all over the internet for the best and easiest – note: I also tried to find the best/easiest books as well but most of the “books” out there suck because they want you to do more reading than playing in autocad; and I need something that was more hands on and “learn by doing”-like.

My aim was to find tutorials which followed a laid out outline and actually had some direction so that I wouldn’t have to think up my own route of learning for some piece of software I’ve never used.

Without further ado:

Step 1 – Get familiar with navigating autocad [or skip this step if you’ve used autocad and know the cad command line pretty well]. The link that follows provides 13 free high quality video tutorials for absolute newbs using autocad who have never touched it before ever. There are more videos on the site, but the others cost 10 dollars (more than I’m willing to spend) to access them.
user: test123
pass: test123

Step 2 – After getting comfortable with the basics, go ahead and start making stuff! The link that follows has REALLY GOOD and an outline of the 46 tutorials you’re going to follow – this guy covers the basics, 2d autocad, and 3d autocad. The person who made these tutorials provides autocad files to follow along in some lessons, and it’s just really good so please take a look – why can’t books be this good.

And that’s that. The tutorials are VERY easy to follow, which is why I picked them out of the bunch. I’d actually start with these two links before even touching a book on autocad and boring yourself to tears.

Furthermore, here’s our runner up link: – this site has good info and some good tutorials however it wasn’t organized in a fashion that made me feel it was easy enough to follow all the way through. But, good stuff still if you need an extra reference.

PS: In case you’re curious, I’ve already watched and followed those 13 videos, and now I’m onto the second link and will follow that. Also, the way I do this is I keep the videos/tutorials on one screen (macbook), and autocad open on the other screen (desktop). If you have two computers you can just put the screens close to each other and manage that way, otherwise dual monitors will work excellently.

reflecting on failure in order to bathe in success!

After reading this blog post, I decided that I love the idea of “only for today will I [do this/that]. If it’s good enough for the pope, it’s good enough for me. And you already know I’m not yet comfortable doing things that have yet to be done if you read my previous post on entrepreneurship.

That brings me to todays post. I didn’t really complete any MIT’s from my previous MIT post on that particular day, but I did complete one of them today. I got my birth certificate! Hurray.

After reflecting on how I managed to not do any MIT’s the past two days, I realized that I often fail to take my own advice – nothing new there. If you see my last post about failing to do it, you can see that I do actually know how to get “it” done, but when it comes to making the decision to do it or not, I sometimes decide not to do it – that last post was also advice for myself, which is why I took the time to post such a lengthy collection of words.

That last post, in summary, basically said that we fail at “do it” because we decide that “doing it” is too hard for one reason or another although it’s really not hard at all and only takes time and attention to turn around and decide to do it. Now, with that in mind, and if I know the trick yet decide not to implement it, there must be something else going on in the background to block me.

After reading the stuff about “only for today will I [yada yada]”, I get this thought in my head … I think that the reason I don’t go pwn it every single day, even though I could easily do so, is because I’m afraid! I’m afraid I’ll run out of energy and, although I’ll feel good for a moment after getting those things done, instead of feeling satisfied, I’ll feel worn out and over worked – I know, I know, it seems like a list with 3 things on it isn’t much, and it isn’t much; exercising discipline by following a list every day, consistently, is not something I’m used to.

Digging into my background, I see a line of uncompleted projects (see: how to memorize a book, in my previous posts), neglected tasks, doors left half open, etc. I have a history of starting out with flying colors, and tossing any successes to the wind when I decide the task/project/whatever isn’t “worth it”. This is both good and bad. I do give myself the liberty to throw a task in the trash-can if I’m unsatisfied with it; but, more often than not, I unintentionally neglect said task/project/whatever upon setting my sights on a new task/project/whatever.

I do things throughout the day, but a lot of times, I find more interesting and instant-rewarding things to do that aren’t on my to-do list. My to-do list isn’t necessarily boring or anything, but if I were to actually do all of those things currently on the list, what would I really get out of it? Where’s my reward? Why is it worth it? Why do [item on my list] as opposed to writing a blog post or reading something interesting and insightful?

Are you with me? Do you understand what it’s like to have an item sit on your list that you know you want to do yet, even though the deadline is quickly approaching, you manage to negotiate with yourself that it’s not worth the time and attention required to get it done yet? Alright if you’re with me and all the other “do it at the last minute” when it finally feels worth it, read on.

Here’s a [true] scenario: I’ve got this paper to fill out for my new job. It’s only about 5 pages long. It’s composed of a bunch of intrusive questions about my history on all fronts. Now, I’ve had “fill out paperwork for work” on my to-do list since I got this form. I completed everything else except the last 5 pages of this document because those last 5 pages would take the most TIME and ATTENTION, and of course, my time is valuable and I have better things to do that seem to be ‘worth it’ more than spending an afternoon filling out this jazz.

So, my next step from here is to figure out how to make this [name your task] feel like it’s actually worth the time and attention it requires. And I need to figure out how to escalate the worth of a task on command.

My current feeling is that these tasks really are not worth it at the moment. They will be worth it eventually, close to the time that they’re due, but right now, they just aren’t worth it at all. So why should I bother if it’s not worth it … in fact, it’s hard for me to even do something trivial if it’s not worth it. I rely on “worth it” almost entirely in order to complete a task. Otherwise, the only way it’s going to get done is because of an outside influence (*cough* my girlfriend *cough*).

Let me back up a bit. Let me get down to the feeling level of why, when presented with task, I manage to weigh the odds and come out empty handed.

example: changing the tail light

Walmart is soooo far away, I know if I drive over there, it’s going to take me an hour just to find what I need. And then, I’m going to get to the car and it’s not even going to fit, or I’m going to be missing some tools needed to get the friggin broken light out of there. I’ve also gottah figure out what type of light it uses and to do that, I’ve gottah find tools needed to get it out of there and then take in the bulb with me to match it up, and then even with the bulb in hand, it’s probably not going to be labeled to where I can easily find one that matches. And, I know this entire process is going to take FOREVER and completely kill the rest of my day because I’ll be worn out from travel and light bulb frustrations. Then, if I do do this, I’m going to be nagged at constantly by outside sources to do this/that and to get this and that while I’m at walmart. Plus, I’m probably going to have to take my daughter with me and I’ve gottah worry about keeping her pleasantly appeased at the same time. Then when I get home, I’ve still got task [whatever], task [whatever 2], etc into infinity and it just doesn’t stop.

Does that seem worth it to you? It doesn’t seem worth it to me. It actually seems pretty scary.

example2: filling out the last 5 pages of this paperwork for new job

I know that when I first even look at those papers again, I’m going to be met with something I don’t want to see. It’s going to ask me some question that I’ve gottah dig through generations of people, who are no longer anywhere near my place and don’t have cell phones, to get the answer to. I’m going to have to call 10 dozen people just to find out the answer to question such and such. It’s going to take me 10 hours just to fill out this piece of crap, and I don’t want to give it 10 hours. Also, what if I write something down there that the new employer doesn’t like? I already quit my stable job after this new job had me sign papers to get it – but they could always fire me on the spot for giving misinformation or because of something I wrote down that they weren’t pleased with. They hire me first, without paying me a dime, get me to quit my current job, and then do all kinds of in depth and unrelated background checks so that they can up and fire me because I once walked out on an employer for good reason? How could I not feel uneasy about that.

Now that, that’s over the top for five sheets of paper. How scary is that?

How could I even begin to “focus” on my other tasks when these two buggers keep knocking at my door. I’ve written them down in efforts to get them out of my head, but they’re still in my head banging away at the walls.

On the flip-side of things, when push comes to shove for both of these issues; the due date will come for these last 5 pages of paper and I’ll spend an hour max filling them out to the best of my ability and be done with it; a cop will pull me over after noticing I have a messed up tail light and I’ll roll my vehicle straight to walmart, disregarding any outside influences, and purchase/install the new light in less than an hour.

So, these two things have a maximum of being monstrous tasks and a minimum of being hour long tasks. I can handle an hour long task that takes up only a fraction of time, but I’m willing to bet that something wont go as planned and it might reach the maximum allotted time and attention required to complete the task.

The thing is though, that’s inevitable! I can’t stop that so why don’t I just get started and mow my way through it? Good question me thinks. Lets dig deeper!

One thing that both of these tasks have in common is that they’re scary. And that, to me, rings a bell. I don’t like being scared, and I know that fear is something that has plagued me in the past (see post about entrepreneurship). It is TIME to address that issue as it’s creeping up into my every day normal tasks. It definitely feels “worth it” to solve this riddle.

[fruitful research went on at this point in this post]

So after mucho googling (what would I do without you!), I’ve determined that this issue is a matter of not having a strategy for my TIME OUT period (see previous post). Basically I get to step 3 (doing the task) and I FREEZE. I take a moment to think of my strategies and then realize that’s just not going to cut it for these two scary items. So, I’m going to use the end of this post to list out all the strategies I’ve found and can think of at the moment. But before I do that, let me tell you how I’m going to prepare for battle *rawr* today.

I have a pda that I use solely for MyLifeOrganized (an awesome hierarchal list manager – best I’ve found over the years, but only runs on windows so … yeah deal). Today, when I come across an item that scares me to inactivity for one reason or the other, much like a lot of my MIT’s, I’m going to flip to a word document with my TIME OUT game plan (steps to follow during my time outs) and play a motivational song on the PDA – I don’t have any music on there now, but I’m going to put some on there tonight (this morning).

OK, so here’s what’s going to be in the document, more or less. Here are the tips/tricks to boost my feelings from “uck” to “pwned” – oh, keep in mind that this is just what I’m going to use temporarily for personal use ’til I make time to edit it down, making it prettier and junk:


  • visualize doing the task, succeeding, and how you’ll feel afterwards
  • (10+2)5 – do it for 10 minutes, stop for 2 minutes, and do this 5 times for hour before taking a long break
  • 15 seconds – do it for 15 seconds and then decide if you want to continue from there
  • remember what goal this item ties into, and realize that this is for the greater good
  • get the blood flowing by doing some exercise! Do 20 pushups, some situps, go for a run, whatever yah need to do
  • break it down into something that’s simpler. focus on the next step and succeeding in the small thing then relish in the success and move along
  • make sure that you have the time. if there’s nothing more important than this, then you have time
  • get someone else to motivate you
  • don’t feel down because you can’t get this seemingly “simple” task done. if it’s not that simple for you, then it’s not a simple task it’s a complex one
  • build on success by doing something else you KNOW you will be able to do, get a few of those under your belt and ride onto the new daunting task as a winner with success in sight
  • if this doesn’t tie into your goals, rm -rf and delete it
  • 80/20 rule – 80% of the results come from 20% of the tasks .. or something like that
  • imagine you were someone else or even some imaginary figure who pwns to-do lists. step into that persona and rake havoc
  • promise yourself a reward. if you do this this and that, you’ll treat yourself to dinner or buy yourself an ipod touch. pick a reward that feels like a reward
  • remember all those other hard things you did that turned out to not be as hard as you thought they were going to be
  • remember that one thing that was so hard and you still did it
  • ensure that your thoughts are positive – negative thoughts are just going to screw you into the ground
  • write down your fears of doing the task and look at it in its true form (not all that big bad or ugly is it) then write down counter thoughts to resolve that fear right below what you previously wrote
  • think to yourself “i only have to do this once”
  • boost moral by listening to some motivational music
  • think to yourself “only for today will I [do such and such]”
  • breath in deeply for five minutes and imagine yourself doing it slowly and meticulously as a way to relax
  • take a moment to realize that you need to live it, do it, be it, now. You need to be your dreams now, feel how you’d like to feel now, get things done as you’d like to get things done NOW, act as you’d like to act NOW. You need to BE the you of your dreams NOW because tomorrow may never come for you or me, seriously. Be accomplished now. Be fulfilled now. Yes, you can reach that goal NOW with what you do NOW and how you feel NOW in these 24 hours. Tomorrow may never come, why wait for [whatever] to arrive .. have it now. NOW is the time to have everything you ever wanted and perform like you want, and get things done like you want, etc. You only have to do it for today. Just today. Just now. Only now. This is a one time event.
  • if the task is important enough that it made it to your top priority list, it’s important enough to spend the time and attention needed to negotiate your thoughts from “wanting to do it” to “doing it”
    -remember that guy bill? Yeah, he did this same thing you’re doing and he didn’t have the slightest of a problem. You gunnuh let bill show you up like that?

  • if human kind can create a rocket ship to blast into outer space and play around on the moon, human kind can also do [name the task you’re frozen on]
  • if you don’t try, you have 100% chance of failure. any attempt at all will raise your chances of success by a ridiculous amount.
  • got something else on your mind? if it’s more important, switch to that. If it’s equally important, flip a coin. If it’s less important, write it down and throw it in your inbox
  • recite some positive affirmations in relation to the task “I am awesome”, “I will complete this easily and effortlessly”, “I can relax while I’m doing this”, “I am happy and successful”, “I am productive NOW”, “I fulfill my dreams NOW”, etc
  • “Consider the impact of your decisions and actions, and how they will affect your life in the next 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.” – someone
  • Got any hero’s? What would they do in this same situation? They would PPWWNNNN
  • Do Your Worst: Give yourself permission to suck. Relieve the pressure of needing to achieve perfection in every task on the first run. [Just run wild.] –
  • give yourself a break. take a rest to recoup and then go attack this
  • is someone bothering you or are you being interrupted somehow? Remove the obstacle in your way. Tell them no. Unplug that television. Grab the modem and stick it in the trunk of the car.
  • read a motivational article
  • google up blog posts about failure and read that for a bit
  • visualize becoming your future self, then looking back on your present self and giving your present self a word of advice
  • add new stuff to this list as I discover them

    If you get to the end of this list and still can’t do it, postpone it and move on to the next item with confidence and vigor.

    One more thing,

    Now that I mentioned tips/tricks to use during a time out, I’d like to also mention that in addition to the following steps in the game of a day of life:

    1. realize
    2. stop and take a time out
    3. turn it around and do it

    There’s also a PRE-STEP that I kind of glossed over simply because I really didn’t feel like going there yet – so, I guess I’ll just dab in the topic a ‘lil bit.

    Just like a basketball game or any sports game, or any big event, it benefits you to prepare. In the sport of pwning your to-do lists and/or beating procrastination, it helps if you’ve got your PRE-GAME down tight. I suppose I could cover this in more detail at a later date… well, here’s some parts of the pre-game that, if not addressed, might be the root cause of a lack of motivation when doing that “hard task”.


  • remove all distractions
  • ensure that your self maintenance is up to par: showered? shaven? well dressed? eaten breakfast? exercised? brushed teeth? slept? – your body is like a car, if you don’t take care of it, it will break on you and cause all sorts of problems along the way
  • prepare to say NO to outside influences
  • write out a plan of attack and visualize that plan of attack
  • schedule to get things done during the first half of the day, and leave the last bits of the day open for whatever. take comfort in knowing you will have ‘no obligation time’ and ‘reflection time’
  • make sure you know what you want … and if you dont’ know what you want, find out
  • is your environment clear enough to allow you to bypass
  • check your compass (ala the secret); how do you feel?
  • are you prepared to singletask, focus, and do one thing at a time?
  • have you automated or outsourced (to your children) the little bitty tasks so they don’t distract you today? And do you have reminders setup to remind you when [such and such task: dentist appt, oil change, etc] becomes important?
  • do you know your de-motivators and your do-not-do list? avoid the bugs and hiccups since you know where they are already
  • …and so on

    PS: After writing the entry, I couldn’t help but be motivated to go and start filling out the paperwork. I didn’t finish it but I definitely put a dent in it. Hmm… seems like I was right about the time out thing. This blog post, essentially, served as a big time out where, at the end of the time out, the result was motivation where there previously was no motivation. Sweeeet.

    PPS: Note to self. It is OK to postpone a blog entry to the next day in exchange for more sleep.

  • Have the master plan but still fail at “do it”? Read more ..

    So you know where you are now and you’re aware of your current situation and have made goals and have some sort of insight as to how you will achieve those goals. You know what the next step is and you have a schedule or to-do list of sorts to get from point A to point B. You visualize, you theologize, you brain it up real good and are satisfied with the method to your madness. But, when game time comes and it’s time for action, you fall flat on your fucking face. Why?

    Can you relate to this?

    We have all had a problem at one time or another that kept us from getting from point A (current situation) to point B (goal). Of course we took some time to address that and figure out a solution. But why, even with our awesome plan, did we never reach that goal? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you gave up. But why did you give up? Because even though you could see yourself in the winning zone, and could see yourself overcoming anything that came between you and your goal, you consistently failed at the base. Your day-to-day involved constant failure because you couldn’t, for whatever reason, DO IT. That one item on your to-do list never got addressed; you would start down the right path but whenever it came time to do [that one thing] you somehow just didn’t do it. It’s not because it was impossible, it wasn’t even because you found it particularly difficult. YOU just couldn’t bring YOU to do it. Why is that?

    Think back. Think back to a problem that you once had when you just froze up at “do it” and try to recall how you solved that problem.

    Here’s how we “do it” everyday

    Here’s a visualization exercise where yo go from realizing there was a problem with doing it, to changing your mind and solving the problem:

    You wake up and realize “crap, I really don’t feel like going to work today.” From there you think to yourself “this is not what I want” You then you stop that thought dead in its tracks and set your sights on what you do want. You know it’s not going to be easy to turn this mountain of a thought around without having practice doing so … after all, you did call in sick last time this happened.

    You decide that in order for this thought to be turned around, you’ll actually have to be able to see yourself turning this thought around. With that in mind, you close your eyes and imagine yourself saying “yes, I can’t wait to get to work today” and feel the feelings of accomplishment resulting from waking up early, and getting to work early. You think about the negative effects of not doing so, and how the whole day could easily go to shit if you don’t start off the day with something positive.

    You think to yourself “maybe I can objectify this?” So you objectify it by telling yourself “IT doesn’t want to go to work today, but I DO want to go to work today and achieve my true desires instead of IT’s desires.” You split yourself in half, separating yourself from the negative bug that wants to be lazy and undisciplined.

    You lean over to the side of the bed and grab your IPOD. Music always makes you feel good. You decide to play that song that makes you want to get up and be awesome. Five minutes later, you’re rearing to jump out of bed and conquer the day. After being uplifted, you further imagine yourself owning the day and feel thankful for the win. From here, you are filled with confidence and leap up to your feet.

    Wait, what just happened there? – let me break it down ..

    Here is the part where you realized there was a problem with doing it – you REALIZE

    You wake up and realize “crap, I really don’t feel like going to work today.” From there you think to yourself “this is not what I want”

    Here is the part where you STOP and take a TIME OUT

    You then you stop that thought dead in its tracks, take a time out, and decide your sights on what you do want. […]

    Here is the part where you apply some *tricks* and cheat codes in order to TURN IT AROUND – note: a lot of people freeze up at this part and go back to step 1 because they think it’s too hard (even though it’s not really “hard” at all, and only requires TIME AND ATTENTION).

    You visualize

    You decide that in order for this thought to be turned around, you’ll actually have to be able to see yourself turning this thought around. With that in mind, you close your eyes and imagine yourself saying “yes, I can’t wait to get to work today” […]

    You objectify it

    You think to yourself “maybe I can objectify this?” So you objectify it by telling yourself “IT doesn’t want to go to work today, but I DO want to go to work today and achieve my true desires instead of IT’s desires.” […]

    You boost moral

    You lean over to the side of the bed and grab your IPOD. Music always makes you feel good. […]

    Lets review that real quick

    1. REALIZE: Whenever you realize that something is wrong or doesn’t feel right …

    2. STOP and take a TIME OUT: stop as soon as you possibly can, and right at that point, take a time out

    3. TURN IT AROUND: During your time out, use your tricks (see below) to turn it around; and, of course, you will need to use your TIME in order to apply these tricks.

    All together now! REALIZE – STOP and take a TIME OUT – TURN IT AROUND

    Why do we fail at TURN IT AROUND for some things and not others, for some situations and not others? Why didn’t I just do it?

    For some things, we fly by steps 1, 2, and 3 without any thought at all. Why is that? It’s because we’ve just gotten so good at it that we’re just that aweseom already. Like tying your shoes. For other things, most of us can do steps 1 and 2 with hardly any effort at all. It comes naturally. However, sometimes when we reach step 3 (turn it around), we just sort of freeze up and go back to step one without actually doing anything, thus “failing”. In some instances, we’ve never successfully turned it around before. In others, we’ve done it once before and haven’t since. In others, we’ve done it a looong time ago and forgot what we did there. So, why the variances? Why don’t we DO IT all the time? Well..

    Lets visit some examples of pwning it, doing it once, and not doing it at all:

    scene 1 – tie your shoes: Consistent success! But, at first it was hard. Do you even remember how you got from “this is hard” to “this is second nature”?

    Remember when you knew you should’ve tied your shoes but you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it? Now, it’s second nature to you isn’t it. How hard was it those first few months when sometimes you’d do it, then sometimes you wouldn’t. It took some time to get consistent didn’t it.

    scene 2 – ace a test: Tasted success once before, but will you be successful again?

    Remember when you wanted to get an A on that test, but you couldn’t bring yourself to study? Then one day, you stopped, took a time out, and used some mind bending (literally) strategies to change your view of studying. You kept your eye on the goal and for the entire following week you studied like a madman with that study group and pwned that test didn’t you.

    scene 3 – wake up early: Never tasted success or seen it.

    Remember when you used to complain about waking up early? – wait, who am I kidding, you still do complain about that don’t you.

    Tying your shoes was once just as difficult as waking up early.

    Lets gain some understanding here: tying your shoes, was pretty hard back in the day … just about as hard as waking up early is now. Sometimes you would achieve success and then tying your shoes became as difficult as acing your test. Eventually, tying your shoes became as easy as … tying your shoes. See what I did there? From that, some would say “It’s hard at first, then it becomes easier and easier everytime you do it.” If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re wrong.

    Tying your shoes is actually as hard as it ever was.

    Humor me here. You still have to physically bend down and manipulate your fingers to shape some object into a knot. Generally speaking, it’s just as “hard” for you to do that now as it was for you to do those exact same physical actions a year ago. So understand that it’s not harder or easier now to do it.

    So if that’s true, then how in the world did you get from “tying my shoes is difficult” to “tying my shoes is second nature”?

    The only difference between now when you tie your shoes and a year ago when you tied your shoes is in your mind. And the difference in your mind between now and, lets say, when you were a little snot nosed five year old, is the TIME and ATTENTION you need to give to get from wanting to do it to doing it. Those are all invisible things and don’t require “effort” at all and are not “hard” to do.

    Think about it. Once you had no idea how to tie your shoes. Then, someone showed you how. You tried it a few times and failed a few times. Your fingers finally got the hang of it. From there, it was just a matter of doing it or not. When you did tie your shoes you were so happy and felt so accomplished. When you didn’t tie your shoes, mom/dad/authority brought it to your attention … even though you already knew you didn’t tie them and just thought to yourself “i don’t wanna” because you thought it was too “difficult”. It was not physically difficult at all; the difficulty was in your head. Somehow you managed to do step 1 (realize your shoes were untied) and step 2 (you stopped and decided you wanted to tie your shoes) but when you got to step 3, you JUST DIDN’T DO IT … even though, deep down, you wanted to. It just seeeeemed so hard, even though you’ve done it many many times before and could do it in less than a minute now.

    But now, step 3 isn’t even an issue. Now, you tie your shoes as soon as you see that they’re untied, not because it’s any easier or requires less effort now, but because you’ve gone through step three so many times that it’s an automated process now.

    Step 3, doing it, when it’s a battle between you and yourself over doing it or not, only requires time and attention to get the outcome that you desire. At first when step three seems difficult, it will require time and attention to get through the process, and before you know it, that thing that you wanted to do – you’re doing it.

    You can know all the tricks in the world, but if you don’t give step 3 (the part where you sometimes freeze up) the time and attention it needs, you will get pwned and it wont ever get started, or finished. Step 3 is like a baby, you have to give it the time and attention necessary in order for it to grow into an automated adult who needs nearly no time and attention at all.

    So now you know.

    When you’re banging out your to-do list and end up with that 1 item that makes you go “uck”, you can either postpone it, remove it from your list altogether, or give yourself the time and attention you need to get from “uck” to “pwned”. If you could always decide “Welp, mind is frozen. I fail this time.” But doing that just postpones the inevitable -you’re either going to do it or you’re not. And with most things on your to-do list that don’t repeat every single day, the “doing it” for that particular item might only need to be done once! Lucky you.

    The reason why we fail at doing it (the area between wanting to do it and starting to do it) is because for one reason or another, if the item requires too much “effort”, it’s not worth it at that point in time. But as we’ve now come to find out, it doesn’t require effort at all, it only requires TIME AND ATTENTION. If you can afford to give the item, which you’re reluctant to do, some quality time and attention -thus giving you the opportunity to apply the tricks below- you will find that you can win them all, do them all, pwn it all.

    Next time you encounter a situation where you reach step 3 (doing it) and freeze, take your time with it. Work out the kinks you have in step 3 until you are able to “turn it around”. At first, your step 3 might take a large chunk of time for you to do it, but with experience it’ll be faster and faster and eventually become automated – remember, for some things you only have to “do it” once.

    To aid the “frozen” brains that lurk around step 3 without actually doing step 3, I’ve posted some tips below that I’ve picked up – you can add them to your bag of tricks so that you will actually have some way of addressing the situation once you have taken your TIME OUT.

    As a refresher, lets review once more!

    1. Realize <– this is where you say “hey, there’s a problem”
    2. Stop and call a time out <– this is where you decide “no, this is not what I want, let me turn it around
    3. Turn it around <– this is the part where you negotiate “thinking about doing it” to “doing it”

    Now that you do understand you have to give step 3 TIME and ATTENTION, here are some strategies/tricks/tips (the fun part) to use while you’re giving the issue the time and attention required:

  • Visualize the win!
      Visualize what you’d like to do, how you’ll feel once you’ve done it, where you’ll go from there, and so on. Take time to smell the air in your visualization, touch an object in your visualization, be there, feel the win, feel the success, touch your face as you smile in your visualization.
  • Objectify the bad thing/thought/decision/whatever.
      Seperate yourself from the problem, and then respond to the problem.

      You, by yourself, are fine. You have great goals and great ambition. You’re a creater and you reach any goal that you set. You are in perfect control of yourself. You are always positive and awesome. You have complete control

      The error some people encounter because they weren’t previously aware about the fix is that they equate themselves to the problem. We’re born with two. We’re born with the positive and the negative, the good and the bad.

      You have to separate the two just like anything else, because a good amount and a bad amount is still a bad amount. You separate positive thinking from negative thinking by viewing the negative thought as some outside force trying to rain on your parade, and then you immediately deny that negative force and drench it with a positive one, giving it only enough attention to express your difference from it, you can do that with all other things.

      This works on bad habits too. You have to separate that bad habit from yourself. Objectify it. Lets say you want a cigarette initially, so you think. Objectify it! “It” wants a cigaratte .. or “that” wants a cigarette or “the little nicotine bug is starving for a cigarette” … you don’t want a cigarette at all. It wants the cigarette. Once objectified, and separated from yourself, you can more easily and effortlessly say no. This is because you’re not denying yourself anything, you’re simply giving into your own desires … and since “it” doesn’t share your desires, “it” will just have to lose out.

      Do this time and again and you’ll find you’re growing closer to yourself. Try it.

      They key to a lot of these problems as I understand them is to separate and objectivity anything that does not tie into your wants/needs/whatever and choose to focus on your desires and bathe in your wants instead.

  • Boost your moral!
      Watch/listen/do something funny and laugh hysterically or go listen to [that song] that gets you “crunk” or excited about where you’re going or what you’re going to do! Grab a friend and tell them you need some encouragement.
  • Realize that experiencing failure is actually experiencing the push/shove that moves you closer to your goal.
      Failure is like the side railing on the road to your goal. The road to your goal is dark and you can only see so far ahead -only as far as the next step- and failure is a luxery we get. Failure is our safety railing that keeps us from falling off the road into the depths of the abyss! Everytime we fall asleep at the wheel and veer off the road, we first hit the railing (failure) and that SHOULD snap us awake so that we can adjust and start going the right direction – but, sometimes we don’t take the time to learn from our history and just hit the same rail over and over lol. That’s why you should accept failure with open arms instead of fearing it. Drive down the road with your eyes closed, if you dare! You don’t even have to worry about how you’re going to get there (to your goal), because as long as your car is moving on the road at all, you’re winning! If your car hits the railing (failure), take some time out to learn from the incident.
  • If you have the advantage of having failed once before when attempting [whatever it is], you can prepare in advance!
      History is a great teacher. Gather up a list of past events where you “failed” the moment and write out a script of yourself experiencing that moment. This time though, write it out as if you’d succeeded … go ahead and let your imagination go wild. Make sure to write out the thoughts and actions you did in order to win the moment. This is one way that you can take a failure and learn from it so that you don’t keep hitting the same rail on the side of the road, keeping you from progressing. Hitting the same road (i.e. failing the same thing over and over again in the same exact way) doesn’t mean you have any thing to be pissed off about … what’s happening is just that you realize that you’re failing over and over in the same way, but you haven’t quite figured out how to learn from the failure. If you’re at that point, it would benefit you to take an active approach like the *trick* I posted to see if you can learn from the failure.

    Here’s the thought that was behind this post

    If you’ve ever watched a competative basketball game, you know that coaches and players call time out’s at times. Try to remember a game you saw where the losing team called a time-out and used that time out to reevaluate their stance and adjust it to fit the situation then went on to return from that time out as awesome hyped up winning machines who pwned the other team. Now, if you can remember a game like that, you can understand my thinking behind this post.

    Lets say that a game equals a day in our life. Every day is a new game; there are times throughout the game/day that we need to call timeouts to reevaluate our stance on the situation! We do have an advantage though – we can call as many time outs as we want!! We’re not limited to a certain amount of timeouts like they are in basketball games. Lucky us.

    Some further tips to understand how this all works:

  • You really do have to STOP as soon as possible. The faster you stop, the less time you’ll spend going in the wrong direction, screwing everything up.
  • Mentally realize that you are calling a TIME OUT and this is your you time to address the situation and turn things around. How you turn things around is up to you, but I’d recommend trying something that actually works. Pick a day to test out different strategies to use during your time out. Or, if that’s to much, use some time to visualize a day where you’re trying different strategies during your time out’s and during your visualization, figure out which one probably suits you best … or which one suits you best for this/that and other situations.
  • Some time outs take longer than others, AND THAT IS OK, but remember we have a cheat code for unlimited time outs and have one for unlimited time limit on time outs – you can call 50, 100, 1, 1000, etc timeouts in during the game if you feel the need. However, the FASTER you are at what you do during your time out’s, the faster you’ll be able to get back in the game and rake havoc (scene example: tying your shoes). Of course, don’t rush this at first, take your time at first as you’ll get better/quicker/stronger as you gain experience (scene example: waking up early).

    ps: If you use wordpress and tag up your posts occasionally, make sure to uncheck the box that says “use visual editor”. If you leave that check, you’ll have all kinds of formatting problems when you post stuff.

    edit: for some reason, FIREFOX makes this blog post look like crap. There are bold tags missing, bullets missing, etc in firefox, but in safari, opera, and internet explorer they’re there. WHY is that happening? Firefox, yah finally let me down.

  • self discipline (3 of 5)

    Today was my last “official” day at my current job. There are still a few loose ends to tie up though, like the article and I’ve gottah drop off the parking/door pass and the headset box on Friday. I should be done with the article sometime tomorrow though if my girlfriend doesn’t manage to outsource all of my time to something else.

    Anyways, I managed to complete the third option of my MIT list for today! That was the hardest one so that’s cool that I made it a priority. But I didn’t do the other two so failed there.

    With that said, for tomorrow I’ll set the following MIT’s

  • start filling out paperwork for job (can do at home)
  • get a certified copy of birth certificate (driving)
  • attempt to finish article … more parts of it (home)

    Also, I’ll try to add my googled starred items to the side of this blog sometime soon. I’d also like to post some productivity apps I use for my mac – I’m actually very productive/efficient on my laptop, when I’m doing something on there. I’ll add those two items to the other list on my pda -yes, I have a pda rotfl.