Unstuck in Action: Practicing mindful productivity

Name: Mike Vardy

Age:  38

Location:  Victoria, BC, Canada

Occupation:  Writer, talker, and productivityist. Recently published “The Front Nine: How To Start The Year You Want Anytime You Want”

What is a productivityist?
“It’s a person who is a productivity enthusiast. It kind of started out as a joke. I was doing sketch comedy, holding a job at Costco as a department supervisor, and had a family. Trying to manage all of my time, I needed to adopt some systems. But I found that I didn’t get anymore productive, I just learned about more and more systems. So I started Eventualism.com to parody productivity the way Stephen Colbert parodies politics. The site got noticed by David Allen [author of “Getting Things Done”] and I asked him to write for it. Soon after, I got really into the topic and became the very thing I was making fun of. At that point, Eventualism.com was put out to pasture because you really can’t satirize what you are.”

Passionate about: “Performing, writing, and being a husband and father. One reason I left working for others is I wanted to show my family you can do what you love to do, make a living at it, and make no apologies. Even if you don’t make a ton of money, it shows your kids that you can be happy all the same.”

How did you hear about the Unstuck app?
“I think I heard about Unstuck through my channels at Lifehack or one of the sites I was writing for. It was at a time when apps of this nature were just starting to come out, and none were executing what Unstuck was in a way that was pleasing and compelling to finish.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is this whole idea of ‘doing productive’ vs. ‘being productive.’ People spend time checking off boxes. Unstuck will help you check off the right boxes as opposed to just checking off boxes. We have so many productivity apps and systems that are trying to drive us to more; Unstuck says ‘Don’t do more; do what you’re supposed to be doing and take that to the next level.’ Essentially, Unstuck is helping to usher in an era mindful productivity.”

How often do you get stuck?
“I probably get stuck about once a month. The reason isn’t because I don’t know what to do, it’s that I have so many ideas that I’m trying to figure out which to put first. Instead of my next book idea, I should be promoting first book, or making Productivityist.com better. It’s not the doing, but the deciding what to do.”

How do you know when you’re stuck?
“When I’m doing those little ‘busywork’ things, like going through my email or cleaning my desk.”

What’s it like to get unstuck?
“It’s liberating. Makes you feel like you know what you’re doing. It gives you confidence, and that helps in so many ways. You feel you can take on more. Do better with the stuff you have.”

What have you used Unstuck for?
“The biggest one, as I was working through the book project, was ‘What else can I do with the book?’

“You have to have additional products to spin off from the book, and I didn’t know what ones to go with and where to begin. I was acting like an Ad Libber, which is funny because I do have roots in improvisation. Unstuck told me I needed to make a game plan. That was a big thing. I went through the plan, and it was great because I could refer back to it. I kind of got everything done in the order of the plan, either by hook or by crook. It created clarity, and that’s what I loved.

“I’m a big believer in disconnecting in order to better connect. Disconnecting with Unstuck removes you from what you’re doing and focuses you on the roadblock…or what could be a roadblock. I use the app when I feel like I’m going to get stuck. That’s the nice thing about technology: It’s there to help you and you can think outside of the box with it. Unstuck takes you off the mind-set of checking things off, and lets you get back to center.”

If you could change one thing about Unstuck, it would be:
“I like what it does and how it fits into workflow. Don’t know how much I’d want it to change. Maybe there could be a way to get a quick start with less clicks. That would make it really accessible for a guy like me.”

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