Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and others

Hi there, This is the first time I write in the forum…

I have been researching a little bit about what productivity tools the super-achievers used.
Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, among others…

The thing is, they don’t use any. They don’t rely on contexts, or next actions, outliners or perspectives.

I’m kind of annoyed about this…

In one side, there we are, spending hours configuring perspectives, discussing about if the App A is better than the App B, if contexts or tags, if due or defer, if OF1 or OF2… and in the other side we have this ultra achievers relying on nothing but memory and calendar appointments and achieving world-changing things.

So, I’m kind of thinking, after viewing several sequential projects for fixing the garden fence…

Are we missing the point and focusing more energy on the tool than in the goal?

What are your thoughts guys?

My thoughts, validated by being introspective and being on this earth for 50 years, is that people have vastly different qualities and capabilities.

For instance, I have a very small working memory, and other defects (possibly related) are nominal aphasia (difficulty remembering names), and ADHD. I use technology to augment and bolster up my faults.

For instance, in my iPhone contacts for a restaurant, I list the manager’s name, bartender, favorite servers. A quick glance before we go to the restaurant helps prevent the awkward “Hey, how’re you doing?” response when they greet us by name.

The point is, we’re not all created equally, and those fellows that you mentioned are incredibly gifted in other area that most of us aren’t.

Good question, though.

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Well, I guess it helps when these CEOs have a personal assistant or administrative assistant that understands their workstyle and lifestyle. Then they can schedule the CEO’s whole life and to-do’s. Then also take care of the menial stuff like housekeeping, followups with people, and the noise of Life.

I think the app of choice doesn’t matter as much as the workflow that you try to install. In the beginning, we all have to do the routine daily tasks that takes up the bulk of our lives. But as we move upward, we can delegate so much of that stuff. I can’t imagine the Prime Minister/President of a country having to worry about buying laundry soap when he/she has more pressing issues to worry about. A lot of that stuff has been delegated to someone else.

I know when my family was starting our business, we did everything from sweeping, mopping, dusting, inventory, and every other job that needs to get done to get the business up and running. Slowly, we’re able to contract out some of that work so my wife and I can concentrate on some of the higher level stuff in running a business.

A lot of us really leaned on our task manager to help us get through the day. I’ve learned that I am starting to not spend as much time in OmniFocus as I once did. I use the task manager to help me keep track of the multiple projects that are happening in our personal lives and our work lives. But now I am managing to use it as a restaurant menu. I can see what food items are available at the restaurant and I’ll pick up two or three dishes and focus on those plates. In the same way, I’ll wake up in the morning and decide which tasks and projects to focus on today. Then I make significant progress in those areas that need attention. Today might be admin work day. Tomorrow might be working on an advertising project. The day after can be all meeting with clients. Meanwhile all the administrative stuff (one off tasks) also need to be taken care of.

As I’ve evolved, I’m learning to spend less time in my task manager and more on doing.

  1. Plan my day by looking at the list of available tasks. Choose a handful (five to seven) of the available tasks that I want to work on today. Write those down on a sheet of paper.
  2. Choose the Big Rock project(s) I will be working on for the next 7 days. Write those projects and the next 5-7 tasks to work on from these Big Rock projects on that paper.

Then I work off of that paper. I never refer back to OmniFocus while I am “doing.” I hide OmniFocus so it is not visible on my Mac screen.

The other times I will use OmniFocus are:

  1. Checking off tasks as completed.
  2. Capturing new tasks.
  3. Creating and planning new projects or revising an existing project.
  4. Curating projects and tasks to get them up-to-date once a week.

I have found myself spending less time in OmniFocus and more time actually getting things done. Don’t confuse “planning” with “doing.” Otherwise, we’ll have our head stuck inside OmniFocus and Life passes you by.

So I can imagine that the Jobs/Bezos/Gates/Musks of the world do a fair amount of planning but they’d rather be working to get their projects to completion. Then they delegate everything else (laundry, cooking, lawn mowing).


Those people have staff who provide them materials as needed, filter inputs, and keep them focused. I have OmniFocus and Google Calendar (and an EA for scheduling meetings for my calendar, booking meeting rooms, juggling meeting times, booking travel). One could look at it as you have a lot lower operating expenses around organizational matters, but fewer filters assisting you in keeping out noise.

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Besides of having a team of people assisting them. I guess the people mentioned in this topic has the ability of saying NO to anything else not related to their main goals.

So, if the “garden fence” is broken, they just don’t care. The fence is invisible. They won’t spent a minimum amount of energy on this.

I saw in this forum folks having tons of projects and tasks in OF. and I used to think about the cognitive load of having to process all that material even if you set long review periods… this still there consuming energy that should be dedicated to the objectives linked to our dreamline.

I guess, the key here is the ability of saying NO to the other things no related to the real goals. And the ability of wipe out this stuff of our minds. No processing, not deferring. Just wipe out.

Then you will have a very streamlined amount of projects/tasks that OF can help to organize and process.


Thank you guys, very much appreciated your points of view.
It helped me to align my own thoughts.