We all lead busy lives, and we all struggle sometimes to fully achieve our goals and be our most productive selves. I was recently in the process of revamping how I organize my projects and what goals I want to achieve when I came across some motivational videos by Jocko Willink.

This post was inspired by Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL and best selling author and podcaster. One of the many inspirational things he is known for saying is “get after it.” And he is perhaps best known (at least in my mind) for saying “discipline equals freedom.”

What follows is a short collection of the things that I now use daily to get organized and get stuff done.

Jocko Willink, former Navy SEAL

Incorporate GTD into your life

So, I just listened to a podcast episode of The Accidental Creative (would highly recommend by the way), a podcast by Todd Henry about the life of creative individuals. It’s a very well done resource for creatives and innovators. If you are a creator and/or innovator you should definitely check out the website and all of the fantastic resources that can be found there. In the most recent episode of The Accidental Creative Podcast that I listened to there was a nice summary of a few take home points from the book, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. The book is in its second edition, and there is now a brand new version for teens. I just ordered it for my kids. The book is all about the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) philosophy of goal setting and productivity. Many folks consider GTD the go-to for productivity. The book is full of detailed information on how to get organized and achieve your goals. I have read it, and it is fantastic.

Here is a snippet of the GTD website listing the first two steps in the process, capturing and clarifying.



Here are the three take away messages from Todd Henry:

Knock out the easy stuff

If you have a list of tasks that would take < 2 minutes to get done, get them done now. Don’t wait any longer, and don’t let them pile up more. These little tasks can build to the point that they drown out the other important tasks in our lives. If you need to fill out a form and email it to a conference planner, don’t procrastinate and wait to do it. Knock it out now. If someone needs you CV, email it to them now and don’t put it on the back burner. Completing these simple tasks will clear your plate and help you declutter. Simple but powerful advice.

Plot your next move

All of us have a running list of the projects we are involved in and the tasks we need in order to complete them. The problem is that we “live in our heads.” What this means is that we have a running list in our brain that we don’t write down or place into digital storage. What ends up happening is that we often forget where we are in certain projects. Weeks to months later we remember that we had more work to do to complete the project.

To solve this problem, David Allen suggests we keep a running list of ALL of the projects we are involved in AND what the next step in each project is. For example, I am working on at least 20-30 projects and each day I look at the list and ask “what is the next step?” Daily project monitoring and planning is vital for not getting lost in your list and not knowing what to do next.



Capture your thoughts 

Write down/capture all thoughts you have during the day and you be well on your way to reaching greatness. The problem is that most people forget to write down or record their brilliant ideas. I have started to carry around a note card that I can use to jot down an awesome idea that I might have while waiting in line somewhere. We all lead busy lives, and these fleeting thoughts sometimes don’t come back for a while. Sometimes they never come back!

Captured, random thoughts are the seeds of brilliance.

Don’t miss out on capturing the random thoughts that pop into your head. These thoughts may very well make the difference between being ordinary and building something special. You don’t have to go nuts with this and let this process interfere with your life, but if you can record just a few of your thoughts each day you will be in good creative shape. Make sure you periodically look at this list to review your brilliance!



Inspiration from Jocko Willink

If you don’t know who Jocko Willink is or you haven’t listened to his podcast or watched his videos, you owe it to yourself to do so. Do it TODAY. Jocko posts a short, motivational video on social media on Mondays, and I have to tell you that they are awesome. If you find yourself complaining about getting up early to get your day started, just listen to these.



In addition, every day of the week he posts a picture of his watch. Yes, just a picture of the time he gets up everyday. And keep in mind it’s early. Usually around 4:30 am. That is his daily routine.


Jocko posts a picture of 4:30 am (or so) every day…


The Monday videos and the daily Twitter pictures are inspiring and motivating, but the real message here from Jocko is that YOU control everything and that motivation and inspiration are not the answer. Discipline is the answer. Discipline equals freedom.

I’m almost finished reading one of his latest books, “Discipline Equals Freedom-Field Manual.” It’s a true look at discipline and how to achieve your goals. Trust me-it’s amazing. If you have any desire to be productive and get stuff done, this book is for you.


Discipline equals freedom.



It’s my opinion that the medical education community could greatly benefit from what Jocko has to say. And that’s why I have invited him to be a guest on The Medutopia Podcast. I will keep you posted on how well my campaign goes.



Read the Book “Deep Work”

Do yourself a big favor and read this book, if you haven’t already. It’s amazing. It will change the way you look at things in your life that are distractions, like social media. Yes, I said it. Social media can be a distraction. The book discusses what it means to do “deep work” and how to get there. Deep work includes things like writing an article or a book. It includes building that website you have been putting off. Deep work is essentially the work that requires focus and time and energy. And this book will open your eyes on how to truly do that type of deep work.

By incorporating some of the principles of this book into your daily life, you will be so much more productive, and you will truly be able to finish those important projects in your life.



Dream Big

Don’t forget to dream big! I know that’s not necessarily a helpful productivity recommendation, but it’s one that needs to be said over and over again. We are what we dream. What that means is that the truly special things that we create all start with a thought, a fleeting thought, or from day dreaming about our next big project.


We are what we dream.


Don’t forget to save time to day dream. To sit and reflect on creative and innovative solutions. Dream big! The impact of your great ideas depend on the depth of your dreams.



What are your favorite ways to stay productive and achieve your goals? Please leave a comment here. We would love to hear from you!


AND….most importantly, please help me get Jocko Willink on the Medutopia Podcast. He is a busy, busy guy. My fingers are crossed that we can get him on the show. Use this hashtag and include @EM_Educator on Twitter: #MedutopiaNeedsJocko