Personal Productivity / Personal Development

Self-Reliance, Part Two

Three weeks ago, I shared with you the first third of my favorite essay of all time, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self-Reliance has profoundly affected my life in countless ways, and I find myself re-reading it every month or two. Each time I read it, it reveals something new to me, giving me something …

Self-Reliance, Part One

Of all of the essays and short articles I have ever read, the one that has had the greatest impact on me is Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you’ve read my “Pieces of Inspiration” column before, you’ve probably seen me quote from it several times – and for good reason. Every time I read …

Building a Meaningful Life from the Bottom Up

One of the biggest struggles of modern life is the search for meaning and purpose. Most of the time, we go through our day-to-day lives just accomplishing the things we need to get done and relishing the spare time that’s left over. It can feel a lot like jogging on a treadmill, where life is …

Building a Better Day

On Tuesday, I woke up, got the kids ready for school, spread organic fertilizer over our back yard, got in contact with a local Congressional campaign about volunteering for them, spent two hours at the library doing research, wrote three articles, read a few chapters of a challenging book, played with my children for a …

How I Made a Pocket Recording System Work for Me

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I rely heavily on a pocket notebook for recording ideas and jotting down expenses or things I want to investigate further. At least once a day, I run through these notes and deal with them in whatever way is appropriate for each note. I have found this system invaluable …

The Distraction Sheet

There are many moments in my professional and personal life when I need to bear down and concentrate for a little while. I need to write an article. I need to do my taxes. I need to finish a book chapter. I need to review my investments. When I’m doing these things, I don’t want …

Establishing a Difficult but Rewarding Habit

The process of moving from spending all that you earn (or more) to spending significantly less than you earn is an absolutely essential part of gaining control over your finances – and it’s not easy. It involves upsetting a lot of the habits that you’ve established in your life. At the same time, you also …

Dealing with the Time Management Problems That a System Won’t Fix

As I discussed recently, I view time management as a key element of personal finance success. A good time management system frees you up to engage in the things in life that you deeply value without the need to “throw money” at the situation. I use a system that’s largely based on Getting Things Done …

When Work Becomes Overwhelming

As I mentioned a month or so ago, I’ve come to the recognition that time management is a vital part of personal finance. It not only helps your career, it also has an impact on your focus throughout the day and on your other financial choices. With that in mind, I’m writing occasional articles on …

Distractions and Focus

One of the biggest reasons for mistakes in my day-to-day life is mental distraction. My mind will be floating around, trying to remember several things at once, and just like that, I’ll make a mistake with regards to whatever it is that I was focusing on. I’ll put something in the shopping cart that I …

The Danger of Lots of Simultaneous Goals

Setting and pushing toward goals has been an incredibly positive and powerful part of my life over the last several years. Goal-setting and progress toward goals helped me build The Simple Dollar, helped me get out of debt, and helped me build a successful marriage and a strong connection to my children. It helped me …

Breaking Down and Managing Large Life Goals and Projects

Jennifer writes in: “I was wondering, though, if you would consider another post that goes a bit more into detail on how you break down your larger goals? Particularly, I would love to see an example of a project that you created daily tasks for that eventually led to a larger goal. Do break things …

Getting Things Done: Five Key Things

This is the final entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. Before I start digging in to what I think are the five key take-home messages from this book, …

Getting Things Done: The Power of Outcome Focusing

This is the thirteenth entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. It is easy to set big, audacious goals for ourselves like “spend more time with our kids” or …

Getting Things Done: The Power of the Next-Action Decision

This is the twelfth entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. One key theme in this book is the importance of coming up with a “next-action” list, which is …

Getting Things Done: The Power of the Collection Habit

This is the eleventh entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. Allen concludes the book with three short chapters discussing the power of various aspects of the GTD system. …

Getting Things Done: Getting Projects Under Control

This is the tenth entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. One of the biggest difficulties in modern life is dealing with projects. We deal with so many projects …

Getting Things Done: Making the Best Action Choices

This is the ninth entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. Over the last four articles, we’ve reviewed four of the five major components of getting things done: 1. …

Getting Things Done: Keeping Your System Functional

This is the eighth entry in a fourteen part series discussing the time management classic Getting Things Done by David Allen. New entries in this series will appear on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings through July 16. So far, we’ve talked about three of the five major steps for getting things done: collecting all of …