This is the third article in the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about their goals, habits and productivity systems.
Kyle Pott of Lifehack.org is one of my favorite writers on one of my favorite productivity blogs. I'm happy to have him in this series, and his responses are insightful and inspiring.
Kyle is a computer programmer and a productivity, industrial and graphic design enthusiast. He lives in Chicago, Illinois and he is the Associate Editor of Lifehack.org. In his spare time he enjoys reading, writing, jogging, and spending time with his friends and family. He is grateful to have the opportunity to work with Zen Habits and be included amongst the kings and queens of goal-setting and productivity.
1) What would you consider your greatest achievement in the last few years?
My greatest achievement over the past few years was losing 50 pounds and keeping the weight off for an entire year. Although this is rather insignificant when it comes to career, family, etc., the benefits have transcended nearly every aspect of my life. I have been struggling with weight issues since high school and I finally felt like I "conquered my demon" when I lost the weight. Not being overweight allowed me to focus on other, more important aspects of my life.
2) What was the key to achieving that success for you? Was there one thing, or were there a number of factors?
I wrote about many of the factors on my post at Lifehack.org, but the key to achieving my success was planning my meals, planning time to exercise everyday and having the support of my girlfriend as I went through the process of losing weight.
3) What are the essential habits that you've formed to help you achieve your goals?
The most important habit that I've developed to help achieve my goals is waking up at 5 a.m. I love starting my day before the rest of the world. I use the early morning to prepare my goals, relax, and get mentally prepared to start the day. Ironically, I also find the early morning a great time to get chores done. I've also made major changes to my diet that have given me more energy. Planning is also extremely important. At the beginning of each week I budget out my time and decide when I am going to accomplish specific tasks. After creating this schedule I adhere to it as strictly as I possibly can.
4) How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?
I review my goals three times per day for daily tasks and monthly for larger things. When I first wake up I set my goals for what I want to accomplish by lunch. At lunch I reassess and set my goals for the tasks I want to accomplish by the end of the day. During my commute at the end of the day I reflect on what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish) and start thinking about what I want to accomplish the following day.
5) Describe how you overcome failure, how you pick yourself back up if you are struggling, and how you motivate yourself if your enthusiasm is lagging.
I try to manage my emotions closely and avoid getting to this point. In an ideal world (this does not happen everyday) I have all my work done by six o'clock and I only leave the computer on to check email. On Sundays I don't do any work, and I only turn the computer on to check movie times or read the news. This condenses my work week and saves Sunday to get refreshed and mentally prepared for the following week. This might be too much information, but at the end of particularly stressful and/or frustrating days I take a shower with the lights off to help relax and de-stress.
6) Could you describe your productivity system and any productivity tips you have for people?
I use a mismatched productivity system. I carry a quasi-moleskine that I use strictly for writing down ideas I get throughout the day. I also use my quasi-moleskine to write down appointments until I can get them onto my calendar. I strictly adhere to the principles of GTD when it comes to managing my email and next actions. When I need to do some serious concentrating I follow the 48 on and 12 off system described here: The Power of 48 Minutes.
I only use Google docs and spreadsheets at home-- I have no office software installed on my computer. Like I previously mentioned, I am up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday without fail.
See also: all interviews in the Golden Goals series