How I Get My Work Done - The Tools I Use - 2018 Edition

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It’s been a year since I last updated my “The Tools I Use” blog post, so this week, I thought it would be a good idea to update it so you can see what tools I am using now to get my work done and to create the videos, blog posts and podcasts I create each week.

For the most part, little has changed. This is because I strongly believe once you have found a device or an app that works for you, you should not change it. Instead, I find using the same tools year after year I am able to go very deep into learning the app, get faster at using it and work with it without having to figure out how to do something. That is a huge time saver and allows me more time to do work that really matters.

So, what has changed?

The biggest change over the last twelve months is in how I edit my videos. I have started to use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit my headshots because Premiere Pro allows me to adjust the lighting and sound better than Screenflow does. Screenflow is still my go-to app for recording and editing my screencasts, but for the introductions and other headshot type videos, these are edited in Premiere Pro.

Another area that changed over the last twelve months is how I write my blog posts and other short-form writing. In the past, I kept all this in Scrivener, which worked very well, but I found writing in Scrivener on my iPhone was not the easiest thing to do. So, I invested in Ulysses and now use Ulysses for all blog posts, online course introductions and other short-form writing I do. For writing books, Scrivener still wins hands down every time.

I made a physical change to my journaling this year too. After a year of trying out a digital journaling system in Evernote, I returned to paper-based journalling. There was nothing wrong with using Evernote as my journal, but I missed writing by hand. There is just something more special about physically writing out your thoughts and ideas than typing them. I found a great leather bound journal made by a U.S company called Gallery and since buying the journal I have not looked back. It just feels so much better writing rather than typing.

 

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My journal of choice is Gallery Leather’s large ruled desk journal.

 

Finally, I began using Asana for managing my weekly content schedule. Asana has allowed me to see visually, in a board like set up, all the content I am working on for the week and helps me to manage the scheduling better than a list view would do.

Hardware

  • Mid 2013 Apple iMac 27in (my workhorse for writing, research, web-surfing and music listening)
  • Mid 2014 Apple MacBook Pro 13in (For the hard graft of video and podcast editing as well as all Adobe products I use.)
  • 2016 9.7in iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil (for writing and teaching materials)
  • 2017 iPhone X in Space Grey with 256GB memory

Software/Apps

Todoist

Todoist is the core of my whole productivity system. It controls my daily tasks, it makes sure I am doing stuff that is important to my future goals and it makes sure I collect all the daily stuff that comes into my life so I can organise it later.

Evernote

Evernote is my go-to notes application. I have been using Evernote for nine years now and I have built up a large collection of articles, ideas and reference materials over those years. I use Evernote to collect articles I find interesting or want to refer to at a later date. I also use it to collect ideas and plans for future use. I even use it for brainstorming ideas.

Fantastical

Fantastical is my calendar app of choice for all my appointments. I’ve been using Fantastical for about three years now and I chose it because of its incredible natural language recognition abilities. Over those three years, Fantastical has got better and better and now with its desktop app, it has become an all-round great calendar app.

Newton Mail

For years I used Apple’s built-in mail app on all my devices. That was until I was introduced to Newton about eighteen months ago. To me, all the traditional mail apps looked too ‘corporate’ and were not an inspiring place to do work. Newton changed that for me. Its interface is gorgeous and it really is a pleasure to compose, read and organise mail. I confess I do still use Apple Mail at the end of a day because Apple Mail has smart mailboxes where I can collect all the action today emails into one place.

Asana

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I use Asana for a specific reason. Asana is my Kanban type board for tracking the content I produce on a weekly basis. This allows me to plan and schedule my content so there are no conflicts and I can visually see the progress on each piece of content. I was inspired for this set up by Steve Dotto’s video showing how he and his team put together their content.

So there are my core apps. These apps tell me what I have to do and where I have to be while at the same time makes sure I get my work done on time.

Now for the heavy lifting apps:

Apple Keynote

I really don’t think I would be a presenter today if it was not for Keynote. I began using it from the very first day it was launched and have never been tempted back to PowerPoint. All my workshops, presentations and even draft design work is done in Keynote. I love the fact I can create outlines, PDF files and so much more with this brilliant app.

Apple Pages

Pages is my go-to app for all formatted written work. I love its interface and the way you can format documents pretty much how you please. I also use the track changes features to proofread client work and then export as a Word file (as pretty much all my clients use MS Office)

Apple Numbers

Like Pages, I use Numbers for my day to day office work. I keep all student attendance lists, client payments and other similar files in iCloud so I can access these from my iPad when I am out and about.

Scrivener

For writing books I use Scrivener. Scrivener is the best app there is for long-form writing such as a book and since the app came available for the iPad and iPhone last year, this has meant I no longer need to carry my laptop with me every day as I can simply pick up where I left off on my iPad with its Dropbox syncing.

Ulysses

One of the best all-round writing apps there is today. It is simple, yet has enough features to handle almost all writers’ demands. I love writing in dark mode on my computers as this gives me a feeling of complete focus and that is how I want to be when I am writing — completely focused. The iPhone app is just outstanding. There are times I just love to sit back on the sofa and write using my iPhone.

Screenflow 7

Screenflow is now in its 7th edition and I upgraded from version 6 over the last twelve months. Screenflow is my app of choice for recording and editing my YouTube videos. I love its simplicity and solidity. It works, it has direct publishing to YouTube and the way it allows you to mix videos and text is just fantastic.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is the video editing software I use for recording all my headshot videos. Because Premiere Pro has such a fantastic array of tools for adjusting lighting and sound, it is just the best tool to use for this kind of work. Screenflow can do it, but Screenflow’s lighting adjustment features just do not match Premiere Pro’s.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop has been my design tool of choice for nearly twenty years now. All my blog post images, online course images, thumbnails and YouTube video thumbnails are created in Photoshop. This is another app that is pretty much open on my computer all day, every day.

Adobe InDesign

I use InDesign for designing my workbooks and other PDF learning materials for teaching. This is another new app added to the list this year and I spent much of last year learning to use it and designed and produced a number of workbooks as well as a book I published for the university I teach at. I really enjoy working in InDesign.

Now for the cloud drives, I use.

I essentially use two cloud drives. These are:

Dropbox

Over the last year, I have reduced my usage of Dropbox. Not because there is anything wrong with Dropbox., it is still one of the best cloud services on the market. I am now using iCloud much more as I am fully invested in the Apple eco-system and iCloud has improved so much over that few years.

iCloud

I use iCloud for specific apps. In particular, I use iCloud for Pages and Numbers files I am currently working on as I can access these directly from the device I am working on. I am now also using iCloud for all my productivity business matters. I am paying for the 2-gigabyte storage option and share this with my wife. As time goes by, I am using iCloud Drive much more.

And now for the little utility apps, I use every day to make my life that little bit easier.

1Password

I couldn’t live without this wonderful app. 1Password is where I store all my passwords so I do not have to remember any. The only password I have to remember is the master password and as I use that every day it’s not difficult to remember. With the fingerprint ID and now Face ID on my iPhone X the functionality on the iPhone and iPad, 1Password is brilliant on my IOS devices.

TextExpander

Another one of those little apps that I couldn’t live without. TextExpander stores little snippets of text I use regularly so all I have to do is type the trigger word or letters and boom! The text appears. I also use TextExpander for today’s date and to correct my most common spelling errors — such as business which I regularly spell as “buisiness” for some reason.

Drafts 5

Drafts recently got a big update and WOW! What an update. Drafts is just brilliant and I could not live without it. Drafts is a clever note-taking app that allows you to send notes and captured ideas almost anywhere. I have a list of Evernote notes that Drafts can append notes to so I don’t need to go into Evernote and search for a note. I can type my idea in Drafts, and then use the actions menu to send the note to any of my pre-defined notes. I also have some pre-written emails in Drafts that I use to send reminders to students. I do not need to type anything except the recipient’s email address.

Scanbot

Scanbot is my scanning app of choice. It’s a great little app that works really well with Todoist and Evernote and allows me to take a quick scan of a document or a receipt and then send it to either my Evernote, Todoist or iCloud accounts. Scanbot is one of those solid apps that does exactly what it is supposed to do and does it very well.

Apple Music

Love this app so much. It allows me to listen to my favourite trance artists as well as go down memory lane whenever the mood takes me. How I survived without it I have no idea.

Apple’s Podcast App

Okay, this one might surprise some people, but I have found Apple’s Podcasts is a solid app that works extremely well. I’ve tried a lot of alternatives, but none of them has been so much better than Apple’s native podcast app that I wanted to change. On my phone, where I listen to most of my podcasts, I am subscribed to Above & Beyond’s Group TherapyJudge Jules’s Global Warm Up, and Anjunabeats’s Worldwide. Perfect music for when you are out and about or just need a pick me up.

And finally for reading I have the following:

Reeder

I use Reeder to collect all the articles from the blogs I am interested in and scan through these every morning while I am on my way to my first client. Any article I want to read later I send to…

Instapaper

Over the last year, I have switched from Pocket to Instapaper because of all the ads I was getting with Pocket. I was using the free version of Pocket, so it was probably to be expected I should get some ads, but Pocket went overkill and it destroyed the reading experience. Switching to Instapaper, a free competitor to Pocket was a no-brainer really.

And that is really all there is to it. I use Safari as my main browser on all my devices and from time to time I use Google Docs and Google Drive for collaboration projects. If I need a browser for doing work, I use Chrome as I have no social media sites saved there and so the temptation to procrastinate is removed.

What you use to get your work done is irrelevant, what really matters is the content you produce. How you produce it doesn’t matter. The only advice I would give is to choose tools you enjoy using. If you do not enjoy using them, or if you actually hate them, then it will affect the quality of your work.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit the like button below👍  It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

 

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Why Project 1 Million Matters To Me.

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PROJECT 1 MILLION is a project to help one million people by 2020 get better at time management and become more productive.

I passionately believe that once you know what needs doing, when and how at all times, your stress is reduced, your health improves, your relationships with loved ones improve and your goals get achieved. Overall, being better at time management and becoming more productive changes peoples lives for the better and I want the whole world to experience these wonderful, life-changing benefits.

Stress is one of the world’s biggest killers today and a lot of that stress is a result of the huge amount of stuff that is being thrown at us every day. We have stuff we have to do for our boss, our colleagues, our families and friends and so on. It is just relentless. Messages, emails, commitments and appointments. It just does not stop.

The problem we all face is how to manage all that stuff being thrown at us and that is where having a simple, workable system in place that allows you to focus on what is important to you, while at the same time allowing you to collect and organise all the stuff thrown at you into a trusted system so you can evaluate it later when you have more time.

I have been very fortunate in life because I discovered the power of being organised a long time ago. I’ve always had the desire to manage my time, to keep my things organised in a logical way and to give myself space and focus to work on the things that are important to me. This has meant I have little stress in my life and gives me the space to focus on the things that are important to me. And that feeling, that way of living life and the happiness and structure it brings with it is what I want to share with as many people as I can. In fact, I want to share it will one million people over the next two years.

This is where I would like to ask you for your help. Please share my latest course with as many people as you know. The Beginner’s Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System is a FREE online course designed to help people, no matter where they are today, to create a system that works for them that is minimal to set up and very easy to put in to practice and follow.

This course is the first of many new projects I will be producing this year and next to help people discover the benefits of being great at time management, at using the digital tools we all carry around with us every day and learning how to be productive with the things that are important to us — whatever they may be.

Thank you for reading this little message and thank you for your amazing support. Without you, none of this would be possible and I feel so humbled and honoured to be in a position to help as many people as I can discover the fantastic benefits of being organised and productive.

The Beginners Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System.

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Over the last few months, I have been thinking how I can best help more people discover the wonderful benefits of getting better at time management and more productive. To show more people how by having a productivity system that works for them can reduce daily stress, begin an unstoppable journey towards achieving their goals and ambitions and to give them more time to do the things they really want to do. 

I have written books, created extensive online courses and produced over 300 videos on YouTube. Yet, I feel there is so much more I can do to help more people discover a world of being better with the time they have each day. 

This is why I have created a new FREE course called Beginners Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System

One of the strongest beliefs I have is that a productivity system needs to work for you. If you prefer using digital technology then your system needs to work digitally. If you prefer pen and paper then it needs to work on paper. And if like me, you prefer a hybrid system then it needs to work both digitally and on paper. We are all different and we all have different lifestyles, ways of thinking and ways of doing our work.

However, the basic foundations of a great productivity system never change. You need to be collecting everything that is thrown at you into a place you trust you will look at regularly, you need to spend some time each day organising what you collected and you need to do the work so you meet your deadlines and you know what is coming up in the next few weeks and months. 

This new course will help you start the process of creating your own system. It explains the principles of COD: Collect, Organise and Do. It also takes you through the tools you need in order to implement COD and it explains why you need PACT (Patience, Action, Consistency and Time) in order to build the habits so the system you build for yourself works without you having to think about it. You will collect naturally, organise naturally and do the work naturally. 

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This course is part of my PROJECT 1 MILLION project, a project to help one million people by 2020 get better at time management and become more productive. I passionately believe that once you know what needs doing, when and how at all times, your stress is reduced, your health is improved, your relationships with loved ones improve and your goals get achieved. Overall, being better at time management and becoming more productive changes peoples lives for the better and I want the whole world to experience these wonderful, life-changing benefits


What’s In The Course?

  • Introduction
  • Who am I?
  • Why build a productivity system?
  • What you need.

Part 1: COD - Collect | Organise | Do

  • What is COD?
  • Collect
  • Organise 
  • Do

Part 2: The Golden 10 Minutes

  • The Golden 10 and why it’s important
  • Building your Golden 10

Part 3: How To Use Your Calendar

  • How to use your calendar
  • The Calendar’s golden rule

Part 4: PACT - Patience | Action | Consistency | Time

  • Patience
  • Action
  • Consistency
  • Time

Part 5: And finally…

  • Learn from the masters
  • Project 1 Million
  • A final word

Also included in this course are free downloads of the Your Digital Life 2.0 workflow, The Golden 10 basic checklist and the PACT guide. 


This course will get you started on the road to becoming better organised and more productive and these are the foundations of building a life of achievement, happiness and success. 

You can enrol in the course right here from Friday 11 May 2018. 

 

It’s The Daily Grind That Will Take You Towards Your Dream.

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I work with a lot of people who have dreams of starting their own businesses or have aspirations to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and the sad thing is most of them are going to fail to achieve these goals.

As most people recognise, success in anything doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years and years of practice. Even those businesses that develop an app that suddenly takes off in the app stores and turn the company from a small, single operator business into a multi-million dollar business did not happen overnight. The developers spent years and years learning to code and developing their craft in order to create an app that resonates with millions of people.

People don’t go from a high-level manager in a medium-sized company into a sort after consultant overnight. No matter what their reputation in the business world is, going from manager to a successful business consultant takes years of contact development, building a track record in consulting and proven results. It just does not happen overnight.

And that’s the thing about success, while most people see the end result, what they rarely acknowledge is the years of craft development, the commitment of time and the sacrifices that have taken place over years in order to get to a level where people say you are successful.

The daily grind of learning, growing and developing your skills are requirements that you are going to have to commit to if you want to achieve any kind of success. Doing the Golden 10 every evening, for example, so you are focused each day on what is important to you and maintaining that focus every day. It means learning skills that will enhance your abilities, practising existing skills so they remain relevant in today’s world and creating work that you show to the world so they can see for themselves what you are capable of doing.

If you are not prepared to put the daily work in, then you are not prepared to succeed. It is really that simple. Dreaming, thinking and talking about achieving success does not achieve anything. At some point, you are going to have to take action and make those dreams, thoughts and words become reality. Action could be reading the books, taking the courses, and building the content. Each one has its own part to play and of course, you are going to have to allow sufficient time to mature these skills and build your fan base. Without any of these, nothing is going to happen to move you towards building the future you want to build.

The problem we have as human beings is we are all experts at making excuses for not doing. We think we have more time than we do and we are more than happy to allow ourselves to be distracted by other shinier projects, other people and of course the naysayers who will tell you you won’t succeed and you should forget about it and live a ‘normal’ unambitious life.

The reality is it is tough to be successful — it has always been tough. This is why so few people become truly successful. It takes a single-minded purpose, a lot of time and a determination that cannot be broken by the next new shiny project offered to you. You have to do the daily work, day in day out and build whatever it is you want to build without allowing yourself to be distracted by anyone or anything. If you are not prepared to do that, then you are not going to make your ambitions, goals and dreams come true.

So, ask yourself, are you prepared to do the daily grind to make your goals happen?

 

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit the like button below👍  It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

Project 1 Million banner.jpg

My purpose is to help one million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Why Your Comfort Zone Is The Most Dangerous Place On Earth.

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As we grow up and move along the journey of life we pick up habits, customs and routines. We settle down into a way of life that is comfortable, manageable and acceptable to the people around us. Yet for most of us, we crave for something more. We desire a better job, a better social life, a better house, car and holidays. We have this constant feeling we can be better than we currently are, but, we ignore it. We feel where we are today is where we are supposed to be and all those people who keep telling us we can do better and achieve greater things are just snake oil salespeople talking rubbish and trying to sell us things.

This thinking conveniently ignores the thousands of people who have got up of the sofa and begun going out for a run every evening, read the self-help books, taken the courses and workshops and made the decisions to change their lives and achieve great things. All those hundreds of thousands of people who have watched Jim Rohn talks, been to Tony Robbins’s Unleash the Power Within events and read Zig Ziglar’s books. People, just like you and me, who have changed their lives and created a success because that desire to be better than the person they were was just too strong to ignore and they walked out of their comfort zones. They ignored the naysayers and their so-called friends who criticised them because of their own inability to step outside their comfort zones.

I learnt at a very early age that we all have the power to change our lives at any time we choose. When I was twelve years old, I got myself in with the wrong crowd. I began smoking, I didn’t study in school and I was heading for a disastrous life. As a twelve-year-old, I didn’t know I was heading for disaster. At that time, I thought I was cool. But one day, I had to run a cross-country run during a school games lesson and I came first! This was on the back of no training and a lot of smoked cigarettes. My teacher pulled me to one side after that run and told me I had talent and I should develop it. He told me to turn up for cross-country practice later that week and he would help me become a runner.

I started running, I joined the cross-country team and then in the summer I started running 800 and 1,500 metres on the track. Within two years I was the Bradford and West Yorkshire schools 1,500-metre champion. By sixteen I had become my school’s cross-country and athletics team captain, my school work improved dramatically, I gave up smoking and hanging out with the wrong crowd and I became a school prefect. This all happened because I made a decision when I was twelve years old to change my life, to get out of my comfort zone and do something different and that decision began a transformation that helped me to have a successful school life and introduced me to something I still love doing — running.

Every day, we all have the opportunity to change our lives. We always have a choice to end the destructive habits and routines we have developed and start doing more positive, life-improving activities. If, over the years, because of your addiction to fast food you have piled on the weight, you can choose to stop eating junk food. You can choose to eat healthily. You can choose to get up off the sofa and go out for a walk for an hour every day. If you hate your job you can always choose to enrol at your local college and learn new skills and find another job you enjoy doing. If you find you are struggling to pay your mortgage and are sinking further into debt, you can always choose to get a part-time job and earn some extra money. Instead of sitting around at home complaining about how little money you have, you could choose to sit down and plan out an online course and sell that through Skillshare or Udemy. There are so many ways you can change and improve your life, all you have to do is accept your current habits and routines are not doing you any favours and you can choose to change them.

None of this is easy, I accept that. But what is the alternative? If you continue with your self-destructive, unhappy lifestyle what will the end game be? One thing for sure is it won’t be very pleasant.

It is easy to stay inside our comfort zones and blame external forces for the way our life has turned out. Those external forces don’t care. The government doesn’t care you choose to sit on the sofa every night eating fast food and killing yourself. In fact, the government is probably very happy you are doing it. It means less money to pay for your retirement. No matter where you are today, you have the power to change the direction your life is going in. All it takes is one decision to move away from what is holding you back and start taking action towards a life you deserve and a life you can build for yourself. It really is your choice.

Every day, thousands of people, just like you and I, make decisions to move outside their comfort zones and make improvements to their lives. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail. That’s just the way life is. But this move away from their comfort zones makes them a little stronger, a little more determined to get better and slowly their lives improve. They become more positive, less accepting of life as it is and continue making improvements. The great thing about deciding to walk out of your comfort zone is it shows you that anything is possible and you gain momentum to becoming a better, stronger, happier you.

Your comfort zone is a dangerous place. It prevents you from improving, it stops you from achieving all the things you are capable of achieving and it makes you miserable. So, make a decision today to change something in your life that you are unhappy with and start experiencing positive changes.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

For Better Productivity, Make It Personal And Make It Your Own.

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Many years ago when I moved over from an analogue productivity system to a digital one, I created a system based on what I had seen other people doing. I researched articles on the internet, read all the books and listened to podcasts. What I ended up with was a hodgepodge of a system that just didn’t work for me. I ended up with something that was too slow to collect tasks and ideas, was cumbersome to organise and seeing what needed doing next was a series of windows and button clicking that in the end, I was not bothering to even try and look at.

I also found my system changing all the time. I would read an article, watch a video or listen to a podcast that talked about another great way to organise all your to-dos and tasks and I would change my system. In the end, I had no consistency and no workable system.

Finally, I sat down and applied all the knowledge I had gained over the many months I had been researching and developing my own system. To do so, I began with two simple questions:

What do I want my productivity system to do for me?

Once I answered that question, I then moved on to the next question:

How can I create such a system given the tools and environment I have?

On a piece of paper, I mapped out exactly how I was going to create such a system. I applied a few rules, such as it had to be able to collect my ideas with one click, I had to be able to use keyboard shortcuts to process what I had collected at the end of the day and I had to be able to see what needed doing next simply by opening the app or apps I chose to use.

Speed and ease of collection were vital for me to get into the habit of collecting. I knew if it was hard to collect I wouldn’t do it and I would simply continue to rely on my rather unreliable memory. And there were other considerations such as the ability to sync across all my devices so I could collect with my phone and process from my desktop.

All these factors were written down on my sheet of paper. Once I had everything written down I began modelling different scenarios. I went through a typical day and imagined myself in those situations and with the tools I had with me, collecting thoughts and tasks. I imagined myself in meetings taking notes and managing the tasks I had been given in those meetings. I modelled every different scenario I could imagine. Even how I would manage my ideas when I was away on holiday. This modelling of different scenarios allowed me to tweak and adjust my planned system so it would work seamlessly in any given situation.

Most of all this work was done before I went down the road of productivity app selection. My to-do list manager was a gorgeous Quo Vadis Habana notebook for months. I wanted to know if the system I created on paper worked before I started investing in to-do list apps. The first app I invested in was Evernote because it synced across all my devices and I loved the idea of being able to collect notes on my iPhone and see them all magically appear on my desktop when I got home (that was a thing back in 2010 — the magic of it all!)

This process did not take a few hours. It actually took a few months, but over those few months what emerged was a system that worked for me. A system that has not let me down in the years I have been using it. Of course, as technology has improved I have adjusted my system. Now I can add tasks using Siri, I can also do a lot of my writing on my iPhone and iPad and I can store my working files in iCloud/Dropbox. At its core though, my system has remained unchanged over the years since I sat down back in 2010 and began creating it on a piece of paper.

Your life, your work and the way you think are unique to you and because of that someone else’s system is never going to work for you. Seeing other people’s systems can help give you ideas, but those systems will not work for you. You need to develop your very own system based on your personality type, the way you work, where you work and what is important to you. Just following like a sheep someone else’s system is going to result in something that just does not work for you.

At the core of my system is David Allen’s Getting Things Done Five Steps framework. It’s a beautiful framework because it is flexible and simple. I capture my stuff into inboxes, I process that stuff every twenty-four hours and I organise it into projects. I review everything at least once a week and I do the work. The one thing I have never been good at using is contexts, which I know is a fundamental part of Getting Things Done, but that is okay. I developed my own system. Instead of focussing on contexts, I have separate projects for my routine tasks and tasks that take my life further forward. That works better for me. However, I know for other people, working with contexts work brilliantly.

So, whether you are new to personal productivity or a seasoned master, the system you create needs to be a system you create for yourself. Sure, there is a lot of advice out there, but the only important thing about your system is that it helps you to make the right choices so you are doing the work that matters and not getting lost in an ocean of unimportant work that neither takes your life forward nor helps you to become a more productive person.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Identifying your Major and Minor Work is critical if you want get focussed On The Important.

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Most people go through their lives majoring in minor things, never identifying what it is that is important to them. And those who do identify their own major and minor things, often find themselves majoring in the wrong things.

Take for example a salesperson. What is their major work? Is it planning the sales call? Is it studying the market? Learning more about the product they sell? No. It is none of these. They may be important, but they are minor things. The major work is the time spent in front of the customer.

I work with a lot of clients who insist their sales team come into the office once a week to talk with their sales managers and to have meetings with product managers and for training. That’s twenty percent of their working week spent in meetings and training that serve the administrators and helps HR tick boxes but does nothing for the customer. It’s important, of course, but it’s minor time.

No matter what you do, there are always things that matter and things that do not matter. The problem is the things that matter are often a lot harder than the things that do not matter, so it is more attractive to spend most of your time doing things that do not matter and feeling proud of how busy you are, yet you are not doing anything of real value. You are majoring in minor things.

One of the most productive things you can do is to take some time and work out exactly what things you do that have the biggest impact on what you are trying to achieve. A simple example would be if you were training to run a marathon in October. Sitting down and making a training plan is minor work. Going out for a ten to twenty-kilometre run would be major work. It has the biggest impact on your overall goal. Another would be if you were speaking at an international conference, deciding when you would fly to the conference and which hotel you will stay in would be minor work. Preparing and developing your presentation would be major time.

Minor work is important, a lot of the major work cannot be done without the minor work, but the issue is how much time are you spending on the minor work and how much time are you spending doing the major work?

it can be difficult to work out what your major and minor tasks are but the effort and time you spend doing them will give you a better chance of being successful at whatever it is you want to accomplish but you do have to work out what those tasks are.

As a teacher, I know where my major and minor work is. Being in front of students and guiding them towards better performance is major work. It is my whole purpose. I try to spend most of my time working on tasks that will help my students perform better. Minor tasks are completing attendance records and dealing with administration. It does nothing to help the students and it does nothing to make me a better teacher.

Major work for me is spent writing and creating content. It is that content that helps people to learn how to become better at communicating or with time management and productivity. Major work is answering student questions. I am very clear about what my major work is and my major work is my priority. Minor work does creep in from time to time, but because I am fully aware of what is major and what is minor, I know when this happens and can adjust my to-do list. An example of this is the end of the month when many of my client companies ask me to provide an attendance record or an evaluation. Evaluations are useful for my students, but not for the company as these are generally used for employee records and not used to help the student become a better communicator or better at time management. I do these tasks, but they are always lower priorities to what really matters, and that is helping my students.

And this is something you have to figure out. What tasks have the biggest impact on what you do? What one task could you spend time on today that would have the most value on what it is you are trying to accomplish? These are the questions you should ask yourself as part of your Golden 10 evening routine — the ten minutes at the end of every day when you plan the next day. When you get into the habit of identifying your major tasks, you spend the majority of your time on those tasks and you find your productivity skyrockets on the things that are important and this will give you a huge advantage over the 95% of people who never do anything to identify what their major work is.

Are you guilty of majoring in minor things?

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Good News! There are No Shortcuts to Success Only Hard Work and a Passion to Learn And We All Have That Ability.

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Over the weekend I watched a four-part documentary on Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine called “The Defiant Ones”. The documentary was about how both these icons in the music industry began their careers producing music and how both became huge successes.

Usually, when we look at people like Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine we only see the success and we believe they are unique, special or in some way blessed. What we rarely see is the amount of work, practice and sacrifice people like these guys make and do. Both Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre spent almost the whole of their twenties inside a recording studio. While most twenty-somethings spend their time going out with their friends and having a good time, these guys were learning their skill and practising their art. They loved and breathed music and learning. Not academic learning, they were doing and living their learning. They were experimenting, crafting, making mistakes and building the kind of knowledge no university or school could ever teach.

Another vital ingredient in this mix was their love and passion for music. They not only lived and breathed learning production skills, they lived and breathed music. Always pushing to get a better sound, a better beat or a better vocal. It was always about the passion, the love for the music and how to make it better.

And that is what success is all about. It’s about pushing your boundaries, pushing beyond your own limitations and beliefs. Trying new things that will probably fail, but you just want to try to see if it will work. It also means incredibly long hours of practice and loving every minute of it.

The kind of success people like Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre have achieved is rare. The vast majority of people, although capable, are not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve huge success. Most people never give up their weekends to practice their skills or give up their twenties to live their passion for music, food, art or whatever their passions are. Most people buy into the belief that a good life is a work-life balance with two holidays a year, an average sized house in an average street, driving an average car to an average nine to five job they are going to hate going to. That is not success. That is average. And it is not a very good average if you look at it, that kind of life means hating five days out of seven. That’s 71% of your week you hate. That is not a successful life.

I know finding what you love doing is hard, but when you look at the alternative, an alternative that for some reason society tells us is the right way to go, then I think it is something worth spending the time to find out. To seek out what you love doing requires you try new things, to revisit your childhood, what things really got you excited when you were eight, ten or twelve years old? What topics do you find yourself reading when you surf the internet? What subjects do you read about when you read a magazine or newspaper? What are your favourite blogs? All these will point you in the right direction.

What skills would you love to learn? YouTube and other resources are freely available where you can start to learn new skills. Would you like to learn how to do video editing? Photography? Cooking? Computer programming? All these skills can be learned free of charge and from the comfort of your own home and if you find you do not enjoy learning these subjects, there are hundreds of others you can try. All you have to do is start looking, searching and learning.

Searching for what you really love doing is worth investigating. Because when you find what you really enjoy doing, your whole life will change. You become passionate, more energised. Each day is another opportunity to learn, develop and become better at whatever it is you want to learn and when that happens, you find you wake up with excitement for the day. No more waking up to the dread of going to the office, or living just for the weekend. You have a purpose, you have a goal and you love every minute of it. Now that is a life worth living. Giving up your favourite drama, or going down to the local pub every Friday and Saturday will not feel like a sacrifice, because what you are now doing and learning is giving you energy and a burning passion.

We are natural learning machines. We are like sponges soaking up information every minute of the waking day and when we sleep we are processing that information. This is why it is so easy for us to get lost in our Facebook or Twitter feeds because they are serving us information. Information about our friends, our favourite celebrities and brands. All we need to do is focus that desire for information towards things that can improve our lives. Focus your desire to learn things that can improve your life, that can stimulate your passion and give you the energy to learn more. That is how you build a life of success and it is a lot easier than you think.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below   It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Being “Good Enough” is not Good Enough If You Want To Enjoy Life’s Journey.

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Stagnation in life is all too common. We buy into the idea that all we need do is get educated, get a job, find a life partner, have a family and life will be great. The reality, of course, is not that simple.

We humans have a natural ability to stagnate, to find our comfort zone and stay there. We don’t like change. It’s built in. That’s why moving house or changing jobs is so stressful. These changes involve us moving outside what we perceive to be comfortable and there is a fear of the unknown. Will the neighbourhood be safe? Will I be able to do my new job? Our instincts fight these changes and even though our house might be too small for our growing family or we hate our jobs, we find ourselves reluctant to change.

But life doesn’t make it easy to stay comfortable. Life makes it hard. It knocks you about, it pushes you down and it changes the environment around you. It might feel at times life is against you, always trying to make you change. Of course, that’s not what it’s about. Life is testing you, pushing you, forcing you to improve and grow. Imagine a child, after falling down when trying to walk for the first time just giving up. It would never learn to walk. Children get up and keep trying until they walk unaided. They get stronger and stronger until walking becomes the natural way to get from point A to point B. If we want to move around our environment unaided, we have to be able to walk.

But here lays the problem. Once we get to a point where we are ‘good enough’ we stop trying to improve. We do this in so many areas of our life. When we learn to drive we develop the ability to drive and once we pass the test, we stop trying to improve. We can drive a car. That’s good enough, and for the most part that is probably quite true. The problem is we also become just good enough girlfriends and boyfriends, just good enough mothers and fathers and just good enough taxi drivers, salespeople and doctors. We live lives of being “just good enough”.

I would suggest this is not good enough. We should not be striving to be just good enough. We should be striving to improve. To be a better person each day. Imagine the motivation you would have if you woke up each morning with a purpose to improve an area of your life. It could be “today I am going to be the best daughter I can be” and your focus for the day is your parents. You go visit them, take them out for afternoon tea at a beautiful riverside cafe and find out how they are really doing. Or you could decide today you are going to be a great colleague to your coworkers and go into your work and help out your colleagues in a way you have never done before.

When you strive to improve small areas of your life every day, you soon find your whole life starts to improve. When you feel you are improving every day, you start to feel happier, more energetic and have more purpose in life. Waking up in the morning gets easier, your thinking becomes clearer and you sleep better. All these little improvements are moving you outside your comfort zone and all these little improvements very soon add up to large improvements in your career prospects, your relationships with the people you care about and in the way you live your life.

Life should never be about being ‘just good enough’. Life should be about exploring the possibilities we all have to make a positive change in the world around us. Being just good enough is conforming to what society says is okay. But that is not how great lives are lived. Great lives are lived by pushing beyond comfort zones, by always seeking ways to improve. It is about setting goals and each day discovering new ways to achieve those goals by making improvements in our lives.

Making improvements in your life does not mean making extreme or radicle changes. Improvements are made by little steps. Things like getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking into work, or greeting everyone you meet on a Monday morning with a positive “good morning!” instead of a negative “morning”. It means making the commitment not to eat chocolate for a week, or spending an extra hour each day playing with your children. These little changes can make a huge impact on your life and the lives of the people around you in such positive ways. Very soon these changes become your normal behaviour and your comfort zone changes. Then you make further changes and become even better. Life is never about the destination, after all, we all share the same destination: death. Life is always about the journey and the experiences and achievements we have on that journey.

Over time these changes and this commitment to continuous improvement start to reward you in such positive ways. Your relationships improve, you start to enjoy your work, you feel more energetic, more positive about life and this just leads you to make further improvements to your life. It’s a great way to live and one I highly recommend you try.

Being just good enough is not good enough. Being a better human being each day is what life is all about and you can start today. What can you improve about yourself that will have a positive impact on your life and those around you today?

I’ve just launched a new online course. Find out more how this amazing course can change your life and stop you stagnating.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below  It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Are your productivity apps helping or hindering your productivity?

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I am involved in a number of Online productivity groups and enjoy reading them for insights and ideas. There is one theme though that dismays me. That is the theme of new apps.

Every day there seems to be a whole slew of new productivity apps promising to improve your productivity, allow you to get more done and be stress-free. They come in all sorts of colours, designs and of course have all these new cool features that use the latest technology. All you have to do is type in your tasks, put in your events and add all your notes, research and files and you’ll become a productivity genius, or so they promise.

None of these cool new features, colours, gestures and filing options has anything to do with whether you will be more productive or not. Your productivity is directly related to the work you do, (your output) not how what you need to do next is presented to you.

I’ve frequently talked and written about the dangers of app switching. This is where you are constantly changing your productivity apps to the latest and brightest new toy. Doing this involves moving all your to-dos, notes and files over to a new app or set of apps. Moving everything over requires a lot of unnecessary time and then there is the time lost for tweaking, rearranging and learning the new app so you can actually use it. My conservative estimate is that it takes around forty-plus hours to get a new app up and running to the same efficiency as the app you were using before. That’s a ridiculous amount of lost, unproductive time to change an app. Just imagine the amount of real work you could get done in those forty hours.

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The question is how much time are you spending doing work that matters and how much time are you spending inside your productivity apps? The whole point of being productive is in the amount of quality work your produce. If you spend half your morning inside your to-do list manager trying to decide what you should be doing, rearranging things and deciding how you want that shown to you, then your system and apps don’t work. That time should be spent doing, not playing, rearranging and deciding. You are buying your dream house and spending all your time cleaning, decorating and repairing instead of living in it.

A good productivity app should be able to tell you what you need to do next when you need to know what to do next. The rest of the time it should be acting only as a collection tool. A place to dump your ideas, commitments and tasks. At the end of the day, when you have spent all your creative energy, you process what you have collected and turn off. You shouldn’t be spending more than thirty minutes a day inside your productivity apps.

David Allen, the father of Getting Things Done, says all you need is a place to keep your lists of things to do, a place to store your files and a calendar. If something absolutely needs doing on a particular day, it goes on your calendar. You don’t need anything more than that. This philosophy should be at the core of whatever productivity tool or system you use. If the tools you are using require a lot of maintenance, then your system fails. You are spending far too much time twiddling and not enough time doing.

The goal is to have a network of tools that support your work, that helps you to do more of the important work, and to filter out the unnecessary work. If the tools you use need a lot of time to maintain, you are not working at your most productive and in effect your tools are causing you to be unproductive. It’s a bit like buying a new Ferrari and not having time to drive it because you spend all your time checking tyre pressures, deciding what brand of oil to put in it, washing and cleaning and trying to decide what things to put in its tiny boot.

So before you hit reset and start all over again with the latest and greatest tools. Ask yourself what the time cost is going to be. Is this new app you are considering really going to speed up the work you do so much you can afford to spend forty-plus hours moving everything over and tweaking the settings? If not, then spend some of those forty hours making your current app work better. The most productive people on the planet do not spend time switching apps. They know what works for them, they know what is important and they focus on getting the important things done. They do not waste time searching for a better app. They focus on getting the work done. That should be your goal tool. Just drive the Ferrari!

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, the like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to encourage you to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life. If you want to learn more about how I can help you, have a look at the various online courses I have. There might be something there that could change your life!

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.