Preface

by Francisco Saez

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Pursuit of Mastery.

Productivity has changed my life. Not the type of productivity understood as a series of tricks that let you do some things with less effort and buy some more time, but productivity understood as a philosophy of life. Let me explain . . .

I am one of those people who has always felt more comfortable surrounded with some sort of organizational stuff. When I was 10 years old, I was given a plastic pocket diary with a colored divider for each of my school subjects as well as a blank section in which I could let my creativity run free. I loved to write and draw anything I could think of, and write down notes about the homework my teachers gave me. And—oh yes!—it was a great pleasure to cross out the things I had completed, the ideas that had become a reality, or those that were simply no longer interesting to me.

Years later, I earned a degree in Computer Science, and have been developing software for the last 20 years. As a programmer, analyst, consultant, and project manager, I have always looked for ways to improve my personal productivity and work more efficiently so I can have more time for the other things I care about in my life. You know what they say: “Programmers work long hours designing stuff that keeps them from having to work long hours.” I love programming, but I also love playing sports, going to concerts, traveling, and spending all the time I can with my daughter.


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Productivity has changed my life. Not the type of productivity understood as a series of tricks that let you do some things with less effort and buy some more time, but productivity understood as a philosophy of life. Let me explain . . .

I am one of those people who has always felt more comfortable surrounded with some sort of organizational stuff. When I was 10 years old, I was given a plastic pocket diary with a colored divider for each of my school subjects as well as a blank section in which I could let my creativity run free. I loved to write and draw anything I could think of, and write down notes about the homework my teachers gave me. And—oh yes!—it was a great pleasure to cross out the things I had completed, the ideas that had become a reality, or those that were simply no longer interesting to me.

Years later, I earned a degree in Computer Science, and have been developing software for the last 20 years. As a programmer, analyst, consultant, and project manager, I have always looked for ways to improve my personal productivity and work more efficiently so I can have more time for the other things I care about in my life. You know what they say: “Programmers work long hours designing stuff that keeps them from having to work long hours.” I love programming, but I also love playing sports, going to concerts, traveling, and spending all the time I can with my daughter.

It was not until five years ago that I began to perceive productivity as something deeper, something that goes far beyond simply staying well-organized. At the time, I was working as a project manager for a software development company and my life was really painful. I was managing more projects than I could handle, and consequently, was receiving phone calls and emails constantly—both in the office and at home—no matter if it was a weekend or not. To put it simply, I felt completely overwhelmed.

Nobody teaches us to be productive. Some of us simply try to be better—some of us try to figure out ways to escape this rat race in which we live—and as part of that process, we read, we study, and we put into practice new ways of doing things. Actually, though, if we adjust our thinking slightly, we are not seeking simply to be more productive, we are seeking to live a more meaningful life.

Fortunately, on a work trip to the U.S. I found David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, and began to see a way out of my overwhelming plight.

I have to admit that implementing the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology in my life required some major effort. Changing habits is not easy. But taking these efforts to improve my overall productivity not only helped me organize my work and make it more bearable, it actually ended up teaching me to connect my everyday actions with the bigger picture of my life, my long-term goals, and my responsibilities. It taught me not to give up on my personal life, or to compromise it for the sake of my work. It taught me to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. It taught me to say no to things that do not drive me anywhere.

It taught me to feel satisfied—even when I’m doing something I may not necessarily enjoy all that much—because I know it’s something that will help me get closer to some significant goal that’s important to me.

To sum it all up, it taught me to run my own life. And through this experience I learned that productivity isn’t only a means to greater efficiency, it’s an entire lifestyle. It’s a way of focusing our everyday lives on what we really care about, and by doing so, making it much more likely that our lives will be filled with happiness.

A couple of years after learning the importance of productivity as a general philosophy, I created my own company built around a personal productivity application called FacileThings. My goal is not just to provide an app to help people get their work sorted, but to help people understand the principles of productivity and to help them establish the good habits needed feel like life is under control. I want them to feel that they are doing what really matters.

In addition to developing the FacileThings app, I have been writing weekly articles on the FacileThings blog for three years, with the aim to convey all that I am learning along the way. The folks at Hyperink have compiled, edited, and grouped together my best articles from the blog into this ebook. As you read, you’ll find a collection of some of the most effective and meaningful thoughts, techniques, approaches, and philosophies that I’ve discovered over the course of my many years attempting to live a productive life.

I hope they open your mind and your appetite to seeking a better life, in which you spend the majority of your time doing those things you care about most—and enjoying it!

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