Over twenty years ago, my pal Alex and I were so taken with the idea of Eno and Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies – and access to the real thing seemed so out of reach – that we came up with our own set of off the wall nuggets. I printed out the results on address labels using a noisy dot matrix printer and stuck them onto file cards. Since then the two of us have been awesomely creative almost every minute of every day. And it’s all thanks to these strategies. Sometimes it’s so exhausting that we have to hide them just so we can get less done. Obliquely Productive is an attempt to offer you something of the same…
Don’t eat them all at once
The mindful strategist takes her nuggets seriously. Of course, you can flick through at a rate of knots hoping for the golden words that will, as if by magic, make your current situation all peachy. These strategies are good. And they are not magic. If you commit yourself to follow through before flicking to the next one, whatever following through might mean, they can be astonishingly powerful. That’s the black belt approach. You can get great mileage if you at least think you ought to be doing that and refrain from too much casual browsing.
Brian Eno, of course, the I Ching, and those get on with it superstars Merlin Mann, David Allen, and Steven Pressfield.
Hyperlinks can be great. They can also dilute your focus and tempt you into putting off what you most want to do. Here I chose to place links at the foot of the page to help you to make an active choice as to whether to surf or refocus your attention elsewhere.
- There’s plenty of material on the net about Brian Eno and Oblique Strategies.
- In The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles Steven Pressfield recommends that you get fierce with your own resistance. He argues that if you don’t, you’re just not serious about your creative endeavour. Uncompromising. Always stimulating, if not always right.
- David Allen’s Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity is wildly popular. It’s great. although I think it would be greater if it were shorter.
- Merlin Mann is writing a book called Inbox Zero. He describes the techniques in a series of web posts. It really works. Do it. Today even.
Note: the links to books on Amazon generate a tiny kickback for me if you make a purchase.