Tackle Tough Long-Term Issues with Three Pages a Day

In Thinking Tactics, I teach a set of thinking procedures that each take under 10 minutes. They can be used to clarify most confusion, resolve most conflicts, and figure out the next step on most projects. But not everything. Sometimes you face a bigger issue–one that cannot succumb to a few minutes of targeted thinking. […]

Three Reasons to Learn a Formula

At a humor workshop I attended recently, Judy Carter taught us a formula for creating a joke around something mean that someone said to us. The steps were: 1. Remember exactly what words were used, plus the tone and body language, so you can act it out. 2. Backtrack: what negative personality trait does this comment reveal? […]

Taking Words Seriously Can Help You Get Things Done

“I need more time.” That is what a client told me was the solution to his grueling work schedule. We say such things without thinking about it, but it’s worth pausing for a moment to focus on the thought. How could the solution possibly be more time? There is no such thing as getting more […]

Coping with Interruptions

By some estimates, people lose 2 hours of work a day due to interruptions. The time is wasted in two ways: First, when you are interrupted, you often lose your place. You have to go back and redo some of the work to restore your working context. Second, the topic of the interruption is often […]


The Pomodoro Technique: How a Kitchen Timer Can Help You Get More Done

When people complain about not getting things done, they almost always wish they had bigger blocks of time to do the work. A surprising solution to this problem is to plan your unstructured time using standard time blocks of 25 minutes. The method, called the Pomodoro Technique, helps you to resist interruptions, focus on finishing […]

How a Decision Log Can Help You Move from Scattered to Streamlined

Don’t be embarrassed if you occasionally feel scattered. It’s a normal transition state.  For example, after you’ve finished a major project, you may feel somewhat scattered until you’ve figured out the next big thing to focus on. But don’t let yourself remain feeling scattered for long. A scattered state is an indecisive state. None of […]

Achieve Your Lifetime Goals by Thinking About Them Every Year

“Change your smoke detector batteries when you change the clocks to or from Daylight Savings Time. Otherwise you’ll forget.” This little trick suggests a way to help you achieve some of the most important goals you’ll ever set: your lifetime goals. Your lifetime goals are the things you’d like to do, either in the next […]

The Secret to Doing Better Next Time

Did something go badly? A “discussion” with a spouse or coworker that ended in acrimony? A proposal that flopped? When something goes badly, you may be tempted to forget about it and just try to do better next time. But the secret to doing better lies in thinking more about that failure now, even though […]

The Unfounded Assumption that Can Stop Logical Thinking in Its Tracks

Join me in the campaign to eliminate prejudice against messy thinking tactics. Floating in the back of many people’s minds is the idea that “logical” means “neat.” People sometimes hesitate to make a list unless they can write down the items in their proper order. They sometimes shy away from brainstorming because silly ideas come […]

?It's the Electronic Age, But Don't Forget Paper-Age Lessons

Here’s some old-fashioned advice that may be just what you need to get out of a present-day thinking block: Spread out your notes all over your desk. That’s right, your desk, not your computer screen. Yes, programs exist to move around words in many wonderful easy ways. But sometimes you need to have those words […]

Don't Let Pressure Sabotage Your Thinking

Pressure can sabotage your thinking. By pressure, I mean an issue weighing on your mind as you try to concentrate on something else. Perhaps it’s an imminent deadline or a desperate desire to do a fantastic job. Maybe it’s a highly-charged emotional situation you haven’t had time to resolve. Or maybe it’s just that other […]

Playing Two Thinking Roles Can Ignite Your Thinking

Here’s a surprisingly effective technique that can pry information loose from your brain and ignite your thinking when you’re stalled: The “Q&A Technique.” [1]  Here’s the technique:  Write down a question you are puzzling over. (“How” and “Why” questions are particularly suitable.) Blurt out an answer without censoring. Then blurt out an unself-conscious follow-up question. […]

Stuck in a Pattern? Break Out with an Experiment

It’s easy to fall into a counterproductive pattern. Perhaps you often check email before settling down to work–and then reading the email wipes out your morning work time. Or three days in a row you put off an important call until the afternoon–then forget to make it until it is too late to call. Looking […]

Find Yourself Digressing? Take a Quick Timeout

It happens to the best of us. You sit down to work on your top project, but soon you find yourself thinking about how to respond to a contentious email. Or after a solid hour’s work, you step out for a quick break and get waylaid by a co-worker who “just needs five minutes” help. […]

Three Good Things

Here’s a daily practice I learned from Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness. Once each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. You can write them before going to bed or first thing in the morning. You can write them in a journal or in a […]

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