I admit that I’m not patient. While this has it’s faults, I use it to drive certain behaviors that are positive. For instance, I’m almost an obsessive optimizer in travel. I try to minimize my luggage (I typically travel out of just an expanded briefcase for trips of around 3 days), and similarly the amount of times sitting in lines. And I use apps to try to find the best places to eat in airports and around wherever I’m staying.
App use is one of the tools we have to accessorize our brains. We can use the standard PIM software (e.g. memos, tasks, contacts, calendar) and any other built-in features, but for me the real opportunity is the distinction between smartphone and the app phone as David Pogue calls it. The ability to customize the device with software that meets my particular interests and needs lets me configure with free or paid apps to get the capabilities I need. So, yes, I can use the built-in camera to record hotel room numbers or parking spots, but more importantly I can get a train app to let me plan a trip, or a diagramming tool to let me capture some thoughts, or…
Another habit we can get into is thinking. I just recently blogged about reflection as a powerful tool, and we can make blogging a habit, for instance. I also deliberately will queue up a problem I’m working on before I start exercising or taking a shower, and see if I can’t come up with some new ideas.
The point is that deliberately thinking about possible ways to think smarter and work smarter is a good habit to get into, and one that you can cultivate to discover other habits. How about deciding, at the next conference you go to, to not only pay attention to the messages but also the presentations, to see what you can learn? Pay attention to how a meeting is being run next time, or what the coaching process you are receiving (or not) is? And watch or even ask how other people handle things. How do they book travel, or find out about the program, or… I ask my mobile workshop audiences how they use their devices to make themselves smarter, and I always seem to find out about a new app or two.
The point is that there are some well-known self-improvement tips like reading books, but there are more that are just sitting there awaiting your attention. Why not look for opportunities to work smarter, not harder? It’s the smart thing to do.