The two creators of the best-selling Productivity Planner, Mimi and Alex Ikonn know that life is not just about accomplishments. It’s about taking control. In this second episode, the power couple shares their secret about how to stay organized and how to fill your days with meaning and success.
Smart planning is all about setting attainable goals, mastering your to-do list, and prioritizing your well-being. A happy life isn’t just about accomplishments; it’s also about making time for the people you love and the things that bring you joy and give you the opportunity to be creative. Mimi and Alex Ikonn, creators of the best-selling Productivity Planner with built-in prioritization and time-tracking framework, explain how to organize your time––and your life––on your own terms.
Living intelligently means taking control. Having a growth mindset, feeling confident, and achieving your goals—no matter how big or small––isn’t something reserved for the lucky few but for anyone willing to do the work. And this kind of work involves plenty of self-reflection, using tools such as journaling, daily spiritual practices (including gratitude), attainable goal setting, and smart planning. These are all science-backed methods proven to train your brain to adopt a positive mindset, fill your days with meaning and success, and turn dreams into a tangible reality.
Alex Ikonn wears a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “150 Years” Ref. IW377725
Mimi and Alex Ikonn are the creators of the Productivity Planner
Mimi wears the Portofino Automatic IW356504 while taking a tea break
World-famous coach Tony Robbins says that we need to move beyond the classic definition of productivity as “a way to measure efficiency” and think about smart choices that are aligned with our values and life goals. In other words, it’s much deeper than just a numbers game. Achieving this more holistic, personal approach to productivity and planning in general requires some key mindset shifts. For starters, we need to understand the distinction of being busy versus being productive.
It’s easy to equate being productive with constantly being on-the-go, taking on project after project at work, or having a fully booked social calendar. Yet busy doesn’t equate to productivity—quite the opposite. Are you producing your best work for every project you are taking on, and are those projects helping you get closer to your long-term goals? Are you enjoying yourself on social outings or simply going out of obligation? What inspires you and helps you achieve flow state? Those are some of the questions to help you map out your personal and professional schedules and stay productive on your own terms.
Imagination is not only for escaping reality, it’s for creating it
Creating a vision of your life
Imagination is not only for escaping reality, it’s for creating it. You can never have a dream come true unless you have a dream and whatever you want to create, you need to first imagine. Your future lives in the projections of your mind. Same mindset applies to goal-setting.
Setting goals without visualizing the final result doesn’t allow you the space to explore your motivation and can lead to a never-ending quest. And when you create a vision of your life for the upcoming period of time––be it next quarter or next year––you align your actions and decisions on what you truly desire to accomplish. Mimi’s tip is to choose a word or phrase that can describe what you want to accomplish and let this inspire your activities for each day, month, and year.
Mimi’s advice: Let a word or phrase inspire your activities each day
Mimi and Alex at their home
Setting achievable, actionable goals
As creators of the best-selling Productivity Planner, Best Year Journal, and Quarterly Planner, Mimi and Alex Ikonn have tried different tools and methods until they developed a clear, intelligent strategy on how to set attainable, relevant, smart goals.
“Separate your goals into categories to ensure they are balanced, otherwise you may set too many goals in one area of your life and not give enough attention to another. Be specific with your goals––it will make it much easier to figure out a plan for how to achieve them,” explains Alex. Choose focus areas that are relevant and important to you and write down three to five goals for each. Maybe it’s business, finances, career, relationships, recreation, happiness, personal growth, spirituality, or health and well-being. For each goal that you set, note why you want to achieve it. What makes it important to you?
Once you outline your aims, you need to create an action plan for how you will achieve them. The best way to tackle this is to work backward from the desired result and define what action is needed to get you there. Divide the year into quarters, months, and weeks, and identify what milestones need to be accomplished at different points of the year. “Set deadlines for each milestone,” reminds Alex, “as deadlines make you more accountable, making it more likely that you will fulfil your goal.”
Discovering flow state and focused time technique
One of the leading theoreticians in positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, explained in his book Flow that focus is a state of deep, long-term engagement with an “object” of our attention. The flow state is a pleasant and motivating existence outside of the space and time continuum that can’t be affected by ordinary boredom or anxiety. Achieving this state is a long process of practice and learning.
Alex and Mimi Ikonn previously based the Productivity Planner on the Pomodoro Technique, but felt that re-starting the timer after a distraction was a bit harsh. “We created a Focus Time technique to give you the flexibility to pause the timer when those unavoidable distractions occur, deal with the issue, then re-start the timer and re-focus on your chosen task”, explains Alex. Start with 30-minute sessions then experiment with different work periods (25, 40, or 45 minutes) depending on your needs. Stepping out from the self-tyranny of achievement and focusing on focus is how you actually begin to achieve more. Once you stop obsessing over the end result and start enjoying the process, everything will fall into place.
Mimi wears the Portofino Automatic IW356504
Alex wears the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar IW503605
The sooner you learn what makes you happy and how to be happy, the faster you’ll stop chasing the wrong things, and the easier it’ll be to focus on what truly matters
Prioritizing activities will help you balance and enrich your life
Alex wears the a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “150 Years” Ref. IW377725
Shifting from work-life to life-work balance
You need a clear strategy to help yourself prioritize particular activities and actions that will balance and enrich your life. By focusing on your personal growth, flourishing, and transformation, you’ll notice how your value system changes, and things that used to be important, like completing as many items from your to-do list as possible, are becoming quite peripheral. Instead, you begin to prioritize yourself first by balancing your mental and physical wellbeing and taking time for self-care.
As you progress towards achieving the life-work balance, you may notice that you’re becoming even more productive and satisfied with your work. Research shows that people who are satisfied with their lives outside of work have higher performance and engagement levels than those who don’t. The sooner you learn what makes you happy and how to be happy, the faster you’ll stop chasing the wrong things, and the easier it’ll be to focus on what truly matters.
By taking time to reflect and understand what you want, as well as why you want and how you plan to achieve it, you’ll be less likely to get carried away with empty productivity hacks or doing things for the sake of keeping busy. Instead, you’ll be able to curate your time––and your life––in a way that suits you and your overall mission.
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