Why The Weekly Review is Essential.

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The one part of Getting Things Done that a lot of people struggle with is the weekly review. That’s the part when we take some time out of our crazy, busy, always on lives for some reflection, planning and thinking. Without this weekly time, no system is complete and, I would argue, no life is complete.

The world we live in today is fast. Very fast. In the past we had time to think about and compose a letter, now we receive an email and minutes later we get a phone call or text message asking if we have received the email (I hate that!) When we wanted to book our annual holiday we had to go and get brochures, sit down and look through them and then visit a travel agent to book the holiday. It took days. Now a quick browse online and within minutes your flights and hotel are booked.

The pace of life is the biggest change in terms of personal productivity in the last thirty years and it is not going to slow down. We don’t have time to stop and think about all the inputs that are coming our way and if you are not allocating just one of the 168 hours you get each week to a full and comprehensive review of all your commitments, tasks and collected stuff, things are going to slip, get missed and forgotten.

This is why more than ever the weekly review is so important. It allows you to take a step back and gather your thoughts. It allows you to evaluate the direction you are going in and it gives you the opportunity to plan what you will do and when the following week.

I like to think of my weekly review as my time off the grid. It’s when I put a stop on inputs for an hour and get everything zeroed out. My to-do list manager, notes app and email. I also go through my Twitter and Facebook messages as well as any other messaging services I use to make sure I have not missed anything — which is very easy to do given the number of inputs we have coming at us every day. Doing this allows me to start a new week with a clean sheet. It also means everything of value is in my system, processed and I know what and when something will happen with it.

The reality is if you are not doing a weekly review you are just entering stuff into your system, adding random dates so you won’t forget something, but those dates are meaningless if you have not really given any thought to what needs to happen next. When the vaguely written task comes up, you take one look at it and push it off to another random date.

When you do a weekly review you can give each project and task careful consideration and decide if you want to do anything with it next week. You can remind yourself of the outcome you want for that project and review it to make sure it is moving in the right direction. You can decide if you want to do anything with the project next week and if not you can remove the date. This means anything dated for next week has been thought through, a decision about exactly what needs to be done made and a date assigned that has meaning because it has been assigned with the knowledge of what will be happening on that day.

How long should a weekly review take?

As long as it takes. My weekly reviews take around 45 to 60 mins. I can do it faster, and I often do if my time is limited, but I never feel comfortable doing a quick review. I always feel I may be missing something and usually give myself a little extra time on a Monday evening to make sure everything is collected and a decision made on everything in my system.

Over the last few weeks, I have been focused on writing about taking your personal productivity to a higher level. The weekly review is one of the cornerstones to achieving that next level of productivity. It’s where you find that calm controlled feeling. Knowing you have everything decided upon and knowing you will get whatever is required done on time and to a high level of quality. It also means that no matter how fast your world is, you will always have time set aside each week to review, reflect and adjust course if needed. You get the opportunity to catch up, to make sure nothing important has been missed and it means you begin a fresh week with a clear mind and ready for anything that will come your way.

The key to a good weekly review is to customise it for you. Over on the Getting Things Done website, there is a great template you can use to follow in the early days, but you need to be customising it to fit your system and your way of doing things as quickly as possible. We all have slightly different system setups and we all have different projects and areas of focus. You decide which ones need reviewing and which ones do not need reviewing as frequently.

If you really want to get in control of your work, projects and life, then develop a weekly review that works for you and make sure that doing the weekly review is a task set in stone each week. It is through doing a weekly review that everything will come together, it will ensure you are making the right decisions about what to work on and it will take you to the next level of productivity.


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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.

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.

How to Find Your Productivity Enlightenment.

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What is productivity enlightenment? What do you have to do to become completely at ease with what you have to do so you feel calm, relaxed and ready for anything? That’s a question most people find themselves asking once they have a productivity system in place.

Just having a system for collecting and organising your ideas, tasks and events is only the first step. It’s a very good first step, but there are a number of levels above this state you need to move towards in order to feel completely at ease with all the stuff you have to do.

For a lot of people, these higher levels are elusive. They are elusive because although stuff is being collected and organised, the necessary decisions on what has been collected are not being made. If, after you have collected and organised your stuff, you still feel busy, overwhelmed and stressed it is likely you have a lot of stuff inside your system you have made no decisions about. These tasks and ideas are just in your system taking up space, but you do not know what you need to do next to take them to their natural conclusion.

Decisions like:

  • What is the outcome I want here?

  • What do I need to do to reach that outcome?

  • When will I do it?

If you have not made those decisions, they will still be in your head. On top of that, each day you have bosses, customers, friends and family giving you new things to do, it is no surprise you feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Not only are you undecided about much of the stuff you have already collected, you now have to make decisions on what you will do about all these new inputs as well.

Just getting it out of your head and into a system is the first step. The next step is to make decisions about the outcome, what do you need to do to reach that outcome and when will you do it?

A decision could be to not make a decision. For example, you may have an idea of creating an online course. You sketch out some ideas about the tasks you will need to do in order to create the online course, but you decide right now is not the best time to do it. That’s fine. But you do need to decide when you will come back and revisit this project. It could be in three, six or twelve months, but you do need to make a decision and make sure that decision is in your system. Adding a task that says “review online course project” and dating it for three months in the future is all you need to do to take it off your mind.

Once you have made these decisions though, you are only 75% of the way there. Why only 75%?

That’s because where you put that task or thought matters too. Write it down on a loose piece of paper and have bits of paper all over the place means you are now worried about losing the paper. To clear the final 25% you need to trust where you put the task or idea will show up when you need to see it.

It does not matter if you use a notebook or a digital to-do list manager or notes app. Whatever you use you need to trust it. Trust that it will show up on the day you need to see it or it will be in a place you know you will find it when you need it.

This is why people like David Allen, Sir Richard Branson and Cheryl Sandberg have been using the same set of tools for years. It’s because they trust them. They work and they don’t waste time trying to find anything. From my own experience, for example, app switching destroys trust in your system. I’ve been through that process of continually looking for the ‘perfect’ set of apps and discovered each time I think I have found the ‘perfect’ app it doesn’t do exactly what I want a productivity app to do and I go off looking for another one that does. It’s an endless search involving multiple compromises and a serious lack of trust in my system.

The only way to build trust in your system is to stick with one set of apps and learn everything you can about those apps. Subscribe to their blog so you know what updates have come and how those updates will impact your system. Go through every menu item and sub-menu. Look at the preferences and see what you can do. Do everything you can to learn about the apps you have chosen. With knowledge and time, you build trust and with the trust, you discover what true productivity enlightenment is.

So if you want to experience true productivity enlightenment, clear stuff from your head as soon as it arrives, make a decision about what needs to happen next and when you will do it and get it into a set of tools you trust.

That’s it. That’s the secret to a stress-free life and productivity enlightenment.


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.

Are You Ready For Anything?

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There are many different levels of being organised. There’s not being organised — where everything is a mess and you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. Then there’s the situationally aware state where you know where everything is and are prepared for anything.

Most people are somewhere between those two extremes — usually nearer the disorganised end.

When you decide to get yourself organised and focused on the things important to you such as your relationships, your career and your goals, you begin to move towards the situationally award end of the spectrum. This is where no matter what is thrown at you you are able to deal with it in an appropriate way. You won’t panic, you won’t get stressed and you will always be in a position to allocate sufficient time to manage whatever it is.

This means, on a day when you have back to back meetings all day — meetings that are important for a project that has a deadline coming up in three days — and your ailing mother is rushed to hospital, you are in a position to be able to cancel the meetings so you can spend the day with your mother without stress or concern.

Part of being situationally aware is understanding what is truly important to you. If you take a step back, an ailing parent rushed to hospital should always be your priority. Meetings at work related to an important deadline in this situation are not important (no, they are not important at all, seriously!) Even a job interview for your dream job is not as important as being there for your mother. A quick phone call to the right person would solve the problem in less than 30 seconds.

A job is a job and there are always plenty of jobs around. You only have one mother.

When you understand what is important and what is not, making the right decisions in times of chaos and drama is easy. You make your decisions through a filter of strong values and priorities. You understand your priorities and you live your values. You can make split-second decisions based on those values and priorities.

When you have all your projects and tasks organised in a solid system. Your important information is readily accessible — on all your devices — and you know what events are coming up, you are then in a situation where you are situationally aware.

Recently, I interviewed David Allen for my podcast and during our conversation he mentioned he hated backlog. Where you have an overflowing inbox, email waiting for a reply and other stuff you haven’t dealt with or made any decisions on. When you have a backlog of stuff it’s very hard to be situationally aware. There’s just too much going on in your mind. Having a clear mind, knowing everything is collected and organised and you have a plan to do the work puts you in a state of complete calm. It means if something good or bad happens, you have the clarity and space to deal with it appropriately and return to your normal state. To me it’s the Bruce Lee analogy. “Be like water”. Water will always act appropriately no matter what you put it in. Put it in a teapot and it becomes the teapot, put it in a square container and it becomes the square container.

When your mind is full of unprocessed stuff it is almost impossible to focus on the work that needs your focus. When you are trying to comfort a friend who is going through a hard time, you are unable to give them your total concentration because half your mind is still trying to deal with all the stuff you have still not made a decision about. You are unable to create a compelling story for your next presentation because you are still thinking about the engine warning light that came on in your car that morning and you have not externalised it or arranged for your car to go into the garage for a check. Having everything externalised and a decision made about what you need to do next is being like water. It’s about being fully engaged in what you are doing because your mind is clear of clutter and unprocessed decisions.

The reality is unexpected events are going to happen. It’s just life. What we need to be is ready for them. We need to have the clarity of mind to know that whatever is thrown at us we can handle it because we have everything that needs our attention organised and under control. It means you are fully aware of your obligations to your family, friends and work and you know that no matter what happens you will always be able to make the right decisions. It means that when you need to design the new business cards you become a fully engaged designer, when you need to deal with a poorly performing employee you become a fully engaged counsellor and when you need to take care of your ailing parent you become a fully engaged caring daughter or son.

“Be like water, my friend”

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 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.

Are you struggling to keep on top of all the things you have to do?

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If you are like most people, you have discovered there are more things to do than time available to do them. Not only on a day to day basis but also week to week, month to month and year to year. The reality is you will always have far more to do than time available to do it.

We have our regular work to do — reply to client emails, write the report, prepare and deliver the presentation, prepare the designs for the autumn/winter collection etc. And then we have our regular personal errands to do — grocery shopping, cleaning the house, planning our Summer holiday and spending time with our friends. It never stops and it can feel overwhelming.

With all this stuff to do, if we do take some time out and try and get some rest we feel guilty and unproductive and begin to wish we were “more productive” or better at “managing our time”.

This is just a fact of life. We do have far more to do than time available to do it and the way to get all this stuff under control is to accept that your time is limited and become more selective about what you spend your time doing.

Each day, you get twenty-four hours — or 1,440 minutes. That’s the same for everyone. What you do with that time is up to you. If you decided to contract with a company to spend eight of those hours, Monday to Friday doing work for them, then for eight of those twenty-four hours you do the work assigned to you by that company. If you use some of those eight hours to chat with your coworkers about your weekend, order a new jacket online and chat with your friends through instant messaging, you are not doing the work assigned to you by the company. You will naturally find you don’t have enough time to complete the work assigned to you in those eight hours and as you ‘borrowed’ time from the company to do personal things, it means you will need to pay back that time from your personal time. All of these ‘extracurricular’ activities add up leaving us feeling rushed, overworked and overwhelmed.

One of the best ways to get things under control and to feel less overwhelmed and stressed about the work you have to do is to write down everything you have to do. This externalises the things you have to do and when you see those tasks written down you will immediately feel a sense of relief. Our brain is terrible at storing things to do because it keeps reminding us to do them at the most inappropriate time. You could be out on a date night with your partner, enjoying a gorgeous sunset with a nice glass of wine and your brain reminds you of the presentation you have to do on Monday. Or you could be in the middle of a job interview and your brain reminds you to make a dentist’s appointment. Your brain just does not understand the context. All it knows is you need to remember something and it will remind you whenever it has that thought.

When you start collecting all your ideas, tasks and events into a trusted place — a to-do list manager, notes app or notebook — your brain relaxes. It stops reminding you to do things at the wrong time and it starts to work for you by being creative. This transition does not happen immediately, but as you develop the habit of collecting stuff, you begin to trust your ‘system’ and your brain relaxes. It’s a simple change that will give you huge results.

The very act of writing down what you have to do in a clear, concise way relieves your brain from having to remember to do something. When your brain no longer has to remember everything it quietens down. It now has space to develop ideas, solve problems, be creative and be present to enjoy the scenery, the people you are with and the environment. You no longer feel overwhelmed because everything you have to do is written down in a place you trust.

When you begin organising your list of to-dos and ideas and making decisions about when you will do them your feeling of overwhelm and stress will begin to reduce. Part of the reason we feel stressed and overwhelmed is that long list of things we have to do has not been evaluated and assigned a time to be done. This is where the power of your calendar comes in. You don’t have to micro-manage your calendar, you just need to assign periods of time to do the things you need to do. Saturday afternoon between 1 pm and 3 pm could be assigned for cleaning your house. Friday night could be assigned for meeting up with your friends. Monday morning between 8:30 am and 10:00 am could be assigned for working on your presentation. You get to choose. When you bring the power of collecting, organising and doing together into a fluid system, amazing things begin to happen to your wellbeing and overall feeling of control.

Your stress is really caused by the feeling of being out of control not the long list of things to do. We all have a long list of things to do. The problem is you have no idea exactly what needs to be done and how you will find the time to do it. When you do get those elements under control by collecting all your commitments and to-dos into a trusted system, organising those commitments and to-dos in a way that gives you the time to complete them you soon feel more relaxed and in control. Your decision making becomes easier because you know exactly what you have to do and when you will do it and almost all areas of your life improve. You are more relaxed, more engaged and more disciplined and because these areas of your life improve so do your relationships because you are much more connected in the moment and not worrying about what you have to do and how you are going to find the time to do it.

This is a simple change, but one with huge benefits. It does not take long to develop the habit of collecting everything into a trusted place, and spending a few minutes at the end of the day organising what you collected so you assign time to do them. When you start doing this you brain is released from the burden of trying to remember everything and when that happens it starts to work with you instead of against you.

If you have never tried this before, I have a FREE online course you may wish to take that will give you the know-how and skills to create a system that works for you so you can start to get control of your life and unburden your brain and feel a lot less stressed and overwhelmed.

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 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.

How Your Reasons For Doing Determines Your Level Of Happiness.

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Your happiness comes from your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. It’s your reasons for doing it that ultimately leads to you feeling happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

When we get our first job, most people do it for the money. We fall into the trap of get a well-paying job, buy a nice house, buy a nice car, go on nice holidays etc. It’s all about the money and what money can buy us.

At some point, though, we discover having that nice house, car and those increasingly expensive holidays no longer give us the buzz they once did. So we buy more and more expensive luxuries and the thrill we feel having those new things lasts less and less.

So what really is the secret to feeling happiness, joy and fulfilment? It’s your purpose — your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. When you do something for someone else and you see the smile and gratitude on their face, the feeling of happiness stays with us all day. When you give a friend a piece of advice and they act on it and it enriches their lives, the feeling we have, knowing we helped them — even in a small way — is lasting.

If we are doing a job for the money, we soon begin to hate the job. We resent having to go to the office every day. Our commute becomes a drudge and we spend most of our time complaining about email, our boss and colleagues.

But if you are going into work because you are doing a job that enables people to look their best by designing great clothes for them or you design beautiful buildings that give people a comfortable and safe place to live. That’s a purpose worth going through traffic hell for every morning. It’s your mindset for doing the work that brings you joy. Not the paycheque at the end of the month.

Too often the deciding factor for taking a job is the salary. Yet, that will never bring you fulfilment, joy and happiness. Whether you do a great job or an average job you still get the same amount of money each month. But if you took a job because of what that job will enable you to do to help people live better lives, now if you do a great job your sense of fulfilment and happiness increase massively. Improving the way you work would mean more people benefit from your efforts. That’s an incentive worth getting out of bed for.

Of course, we need a certain amount of money to survive, we need to eat, to have shelter and we need to be able to move around. But a lot of what we use money for we don’t need. We just think we need because everyone else has it. I would certainly not say that money is not important. It is when it becomes your purpose. When it becomes your purpose you will never have enough. And the more money you receive, the pleasure it brings diminishes. Yet when your purpose is about giving and helping others, the joy you feel increases.

How this affects your productivity.

When you look at your projects list, what are the reasons you are doing those projects? Do you have a clear purpose for doing them? When you go to the gym what are your reasons for doing so? Why are you trying to achieve your goals? When you have a clear, higher purpose for doing everything you do, you will find your energy and passion increase. The closer that reason is to helping other people or making the world that little bit better, your sense of fulfilment will improve and so will your enthusiasm for doing the tasks or completing the projects.

This really is a simple mental shift. Rather than focusing on the material benefits to you, focus on the benefits you will give to others. Going to the gym means you are keeping yourself strong and healthy so you can be there for your family. Doing the accounts for the small business that needs your help so they can thrive and support the community by providing jobs and a service people want.

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, record a YouTube video or podcast, in my mind I see the people I am trying to help. I have a clear vision of the difficulties they are facing and how I might be able to help them with some advice, or a new way of doing something. That’s all the motivation I need to write, record or prepare. Knowing that somewhere, maybe, I have helped someone become less stressed and be able to spend more time with the people they care about.

Every piece of work you do has a higher purpose than money or personal material benefit. It is when you focus on those higher reasons you will discover long-lasting happiness and joy and a passion and drive for what you do.

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

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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.

Be Comfortable Not Doing What You’re Not Doing.

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Last week I received an email from a student in my Learning Centre saying he now felt guilty playing videos games — a hobby he loved to do. Despite becoming much better organised and more productive, every time he sat down to play video games he felt he was wasting valuable time.

Becoming better organised and more productive is not about doing work all the time. Becoming better organised and more productive is about freeing up time so you can do the things you love doing. Whether that is playing video games, watching your favourite TV show or taking a walk in the countryside.

One of the inevitabilities of life is our to-do lists will never completely zero out. There will always be something to do. Washing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing expenses, preparing our kids’ sports kit. While not all our tasks will be work-related, there will always be something we should be doing.

If we accept our to-do lists will never be completely empty, and that it is impossible to be doing stuff 24/7, then we need to get relaxed about not doing work when there is work to be done. One of my favourite quotes from David Allen is “defining what you are not doing is as important as knowing what you are doing”and that is where you need to get comfortable. Knowing there is work to be done and being comfortable not doing it right now.

The key to creating a stress-free life and being productive is to be fully aware of what needs doing and making the conscious decision not to do that work at this moment. Instead, if you prefer to relax on the sofa and watch an episode of Mock The Week or Would I Lie To You ( two of my favourite TV shows) then do so.

Of course, if you have a project deadline at 8 am tomorrow and you have not finished whatever work is required to complete the project, sitting down on the sofa playing video games or watching TV might not be the best way to spend your time. The project needs completing and that is where you would best be applying your time.

This is where getting all the stuff that needs doing into a system helps to keep stress down. Because you know what needs doing you can make better decisions about what you should be doing right now. When you know what you are not doing and knowing you have everything under control and time to do the work that needs doing you no longer feel the stress and overwhelm from not knowing what needs doing. ( I do hope that makes sense)

And that is where the stress comes from. If you have a pile of stuff you are not sure what needs doing with, your brain is going to be constantly telling you to do something about it. It’s what in GTD speak is called “open loops” — unclear stuff to do with unclear deadlines and unclear next actions. The fear of missing something important becomes overwhelming and so if you do try to sit down for an hour or two to play video games or watch TV you will have this nagging voice in your head telling you you should be doing something else. The problem is you don’t know what. And so you have this vicious cycle going on inside your head and that is where your stress (and guilt) comes from. It’s a fear of the unknown and thinking you should be doing something else instead of what you are doing right now.

When you have everything processed and put in its rightful place, you no longer have that worry. You know what you are not doing and are comfortable with the decisions you have made about what you are doing right now. You can play video games or play with your kids knowing everything is under control and you will have enough time to complete all your upcoming projects. That’s the wonderful thing about becoming better organised and more productive. No stress, no overwhelm and enough time to do the things you enjoy doing.

If you feel stressed and overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do, then I have a FREE course that will help you get control of your stuff. It will give you a framework to collect your ‘open loops’ and organise them in a system you create for yourself so you have control and you know what you have to do and you know when you can relax and do the things you love doing.

You can get yourself enrolled right here.


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

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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.

Maintaining Culture and Efficiency With Remote Workers.

This is a guest post by Rae Steinbach Thank you, Rae, for writing this for me. 

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While the traditional office might not be a thing of the past, the relationship many employees have to these shared work environments is changing. According to a report from IWG, 70% of employees are working remotely at least one day a week, and 53% are doing at least half their work at a location other than the office.

Some companies have embraced the shift toward remote work and have smoothly transitioned to more flexible arrangements. For managers that have a more traditional outlook, the trend of increased work away from the office is troubling. The primary concern for many of these managers is the worry that they will not be able to effectively manage employees if they are not in the office with them.

This concern is understandable, but there are significant benefits that can come with allowing employees to work away from the office. Many employees today prefer the flexibility that comes with being able to do work elsewhere. They may have family obligations or are indulging in the digital nomad lifestyle. Allowing for remote work can be an incentive that helps businesses attract top talent when hiring. In fact, 74% of employees said they would leave their current job for one that allows for more remote work.

Culture and Remote Work

Creating and maintaining a culture can be difficult when employees do not regularly share the same physical space. However, you need to remember that culture is not bound to a location; it is a set of values, beliefs, and ideals that your company keeps alive with various practices. Some of these can be performed remotely, like all-hands meetings via video calls. Sharing a common work environment might be an advantage for culture, but it is not a necessity. Company leaders just need to take steps to keep the culture in place for employees that work away from the office.

If you have offices, they should still play a role in the working life of employees. One way to do this is to set a minimum number of days per month that have to be spent in the office. You can also do things to make the office a more attractive work environment. If workstations are comfortable and have all of the tools an employee could need, like green plants and standing desks, your people might prefer to spend more time there.

Team events are another good way to make sure employees get some in-person time with each other. Face-to-face meetings are beneficial for building team cohesion, so try to get your employees together as a group. Hold training seminars to get everyone together; if the company is reaching an important milestone, celebrate as a team. These events can be great for building connections and maintaining a vibrant work culture.

Remote Worker Productivity

Some leaders might worry about a drop in productivity if they let their employees work outside the office. For the most part, the keys to avoiding this are to make sure employees understand your expectations and to instill accountability as an important part of the company culture.

For example, the management by objectives process encourages managers and employees to set goals together, and share progress regularly. This then allows leaders to have a more accurate idea of how remote workers are performing and reaching key objectives.

Working remotely comes with its own set of skills, so create trainings that ensure communication and performance remain as fluid as if everyone was working in house. For some employees, skills like time management will come naturally, but this is not true for everyone. If you want your employees to have success as remote workers, check-in regularly to see if these need to be changed or refreshed.

Managers can also leverage technologies that can simplify remote work. Modern communication technology offers a range of platforms that can make it easier to stay in contact with remote workers, and there are project management applications that can be used to ensure collaborative work stays on track.

Finally, hold regular in-person (or video) meetings to give everyone a chance to check in. The frequency and format of these meetings will depend on the specific culture and work-cadence at your company, but assemble everyone as often as is practical to go over the progress they are making on key projects. These meetings are also a fantastic opportunity for employees to give updates and appreciations to each other, and for managers to provide important news about the company.

Remote work shouldn’t be viewed as a compromise by management. When done well, it can be a way to increaseproductivity and allow people the space needed to access more creativity. As a leader, you just need to take the right steps to build a culture where people want to perform and produce for the good of all.

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content for the HR industry. Her specialization is in performance management and leveraging team talent for the future of work. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

How Becoming More Productive Improves Critical Soft Skills.

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To get ahead in your career it is not enough to have the right degrees from the right universities. Today, to make sure your career moves in the right direction, you need to develop a number of critical skills that collectively are known as “soft skills”.

Soft skills are skills that are developed through practical experience. Communication, decision making, negotiation and conflict resolution, for example. Skills that cannot be taught from a textbook or in a lecture hall. These skills can only be developed by practice. School and university curriculums are, for the large part, built around the tired old tell teach method where a teacher or lecturer stands at the front of the classroom or lecture hall and tells students what to learn. Not a very useful way to prepare students for the realities of the modern world. School and university do not prepare you for life, they prepare you to pass exams. The development of soft skills — skills that are essential for life — are left to outside influences. Your friends and parents. Life experiences and the skills you get from reading the right books and applying what you learn to everyday life.

However, one skill tops all of them because it is a skill that develops all other skills and that is time management and productivity. Here are six ways improving your time management and productivity skills will improve all other soft skills

Communication.

Most people’s relationship with email is bad. Email is considered annoying, stressful and overwhelming. Yet, it is the primary form of communication in business and being slow to respond to a colleague or customer ‘s email causes delays in projects and important decisions as well as frustration from the people that are waiting for you to reply.

When you become better at managing your time you become better and faster at responding to your emails. You are in control of your inbox and know what’s in there, what needs responding to, reading and deleting and you have time to respond in a timely manner to all important emails.

Decision making (critical thinking)

If you practice a system such as my COD system or David Allen’s Getting Things Done you learn to make decisions quickly. You ask the right questions about what something is: “What is it?” Is it relevant to me? What’s the next action? Etc. With practice, you develop decision-making skills that can impact your whole life.

Asking questions such as “what is it?” And “What do I need to do next to move this forward?” Helps to develop your ability to make decisions based on available facts and information quickly and decisively. The very skills companies are looking for when hiring potential executive level employees

Conflict Management

You might be wondering how being better at time management and productivity can help with conflict management but it does. It does so because when you are better at managing your time you are able to give people better attention. You are not just physically present, you are also mentally present.

Being present and giving another person your full, undivided attention means you are able to listen and understand their perspective and are able to make better and fairer decisions about what to do to resolve issues before they become conflicts. When you are in control of all that is coming your way and have a system in place that allows you to compartmentalise your work, you become much better at managing people and their issues.

Stress management

This may be an obvious one. When you are in control of your time and have your work and commitments prioritised and organised you will experience a lot less stress. Stress in the workplace is generally caused by over-committing to work and increased workloads that pile up. Not knowing what needs doing and by when leads to panic setting in and this causes stress.

When you write everything down and have everything organised in its rightful place you feel in control. You know what needs doing and by when and you do not feel overwhelmed.

Flexibility / adaptability

Having a time management and productivity system in place means you can handle any changes that come your way with ease. All projects change over time. Outcomes change, timelines change and so do the people involved in the project. When you have all your next actions organised in a list you can change them, adjust timelines and adapt.

When you don’t have a system in place any changes to a project you are working creates uncertainty, a lack of clarity on what needs to happen next and a lot of confusion. Being a productive person allows you to accept changes and adapt accordingly.

Leadership

When you are in control and you know what the outcome is you are leading. Too often, we are doing work each day that has no clearly defined goals or outcomes and we just keep out heads down, do the work and not worry about which direction we are going in.

Organised productive people know the outcomes of all their projects with clarity. They know what the outcome needs to be and they lead their teams forward knowing they are going in the right direction. With that clarity of purpose comes clear communication which ensures all team members are moving in the right direction with purpose.

So, If you want to improve your overall soft skills, start by improving your time management and productivity skills. That one skill will lead to improvements in all other soft skills and allow you to build a career of success and fulfilment.

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 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.

5 Reasons Why You Feel Busy (And 5 Fixes)

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Busyness is not a physical state it’s an emotional state. Everyone has a lot of things to do each day and that list will never end. Every day we have to make breakfast, make our beds, brush our teeth, prepare our kids for school and choose the clothes we will wear for the day and then go and do a day’s work. Millions of people around the world have the same or similar routine every day seven days a week. Yet some people say they are busy while others have everything under control and feel calm and relaxed. Why?

In this week’s article, I give you five reasons why you feel busy and five ways to fix them.

1 You don’t write things down

This is the number one reason so many people feel busy. Not writing down what you have to do means you are relying on your brain to manage the things you have to do. Our brains are terrible at being a to-do list manager. Our brain does not compartmentalise what needs doing. So it reminds you to reply to an email while you are brushing your teeth just before going to bed. It reminds you to wash your daughter’s sports kit while you are in the middle of an important presentation.

Your brain is just not designed to be a to-do list manager.

Get yourself a simple ring-binder notebook and carry it with you everywhere. Whenever you think of something that needs doing write it down. Alternatively, if you prefer a digital notebook or list manager, then get yourself an app. There are thousands of them in your App Store. It doesn’t have to be a complex app with a steep learning curve. You just need a trusted place to collect everything you have to do.

2 Your ‘system’ is too complicated.

Another common mistake. An effective to-do list is simple. It does not have a complex hierarchy of projects and sub-projects. It is just a list of the projects you have on at the moment with the tasks you have to do to complete those projects nested nicely and simply inside those projects.

I often get questions about dependent tasks, tasks that should recur every 3.5 days and tasks that may or may not be a task because the way it has been written is not very clear. Stop! A to-do list does not need all that complexity. All you need to know is what should be done today. That’s all you need to see. You do not need to be messing around with complex organisation structures. It’s just a list of things to do.

3 You’re not using your calendar properly

Your calendar never lies. It has 24 hours each day and you get to choose what you do with those 24 hours. Most people delegate responsibility for their time at work to their colleagues by allowing them to schedule meetings on their calendar. If you want to get control of your time start blocking time out each day on your calendar so you can get on with the important work in your life instead of being at the beck and call of your colleagues who love nothing more than to have another meeting to discuss a problem they are incapable of taking responsibility for.

Do you have four hours in the evening? Then schedule an hour or two for self-development every evening instead of watching pointless TV shows that are doing nothing for you except making you fat and lazy. Read a book, go out for an evening stroll or learn something on YouTube.

With your calendar, anything you decide to put on there gets done. No excuses. It gets done. This is to golden rule of any calendar. This is your time. Sure you may have contracted out eight hours of your day to the company you work for, but that still leaves you eight hours for sleep and eight hours for whatever you want to do. Use that time constructively. Don’t waste it.

4 You can’t say “no”

Here’s an interesting thought. For every “yes” you say to a commitment or event, you are saying “no” to doing something else with that time. If you fill your days with other people’s work and requests how much time do you have left for what you want to do?

People often see any free time on their calendar as time to fill. But that’s not true. If you have free time on your calendar, schedule that time for your family, or taking a gentle walk in the park. You don’t have to fill every available time on your calendar. Part of the reason people feel overwhelmed and busy is they are not allowing any time for themselves and that’s because they can’t say “no”.

Every day you need at least one hour for quiet time. To read, to do your hobby or to get some exercise. This is your time and you should never ever give it up for anyone else. Learning to say “no” gives you complete control over your time. When you have control over your time you feel less stressed and less overwhelmed and busy.

5 You Don’t have a plan

If you are not planning the day, you are giving responsibility to someone else to plan your day. Whether you like it or not, every day you live is planned. Either it is planned by you, your company, your partner your school or your clients and customers. Every day is planned. In my experience, the people who feel less busy are the ones who plan their own day and do not leave it to fate to plan it for them.

And planning your day does not mean spending hours thinking about what you want to do. Planning your day should only take around ten to fifteen minutes and the best time to plan your day is the evening before.

When you take ten to fifteen minutes to look at your calendar for the next day, review the tasks you have scheduled for the day and add or subtract tasks where necessary, you sleep better and you start the day with the things that you want to get done. When you plan in the morning — when you arrive at work — you waste time and energy deciding what to do. You will get a lot more done and feel a lot less busy when you start the day knowing exactly what it is you want to get done.

So there you go, five reasons why you feel busy and five fixes so you no longer need to feel busy. We all have enough time to get the important things in our life done. We do not have to spend every day feeling busy and overwhelmed. When you stop and write everything that needs doing down, keep your system simple and have a plan for the day, you will feel more relaxed and in control, have more energy and find that all the work that used to make you feel busy just gets done when it needs to get done.


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.

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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 The Backend Work Matters

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went on a family trip. It was only a three-day trip, but before going I needed to do some backend work.

What do I mean by backend work? The backend work is going through your calendar and to-do list manager and looking to see what is coming up over the next week. It also means looking at what work you would normally do on the days you will be away and scheduling time to do the work before you go. The worst thing you can do is put it off until you return. When you return you will have the work you didn’t do as well as all the additional work that mounted up while you were away — not a good way to restart your work when you return.

Because trips like this are planned, I knew it was coming up and because I am always looking ahead to see what is coming up and seeing where I can relieve any potential pressure and bottlenecks before they occur, I was able to schedule my YouTube video recordings, podcast recording and editing and write the following week’s blog post before I went away on the trip.

It sounds like a lot of work to do, but when you have the backend processes in place, it is a lot easier than it sounds. Yes, there is an increased volume of work for a few days, but when you make full use of your calendar and to-do list manager, it is a lot easier than you think.

The alternative is to not plan ahead and have my family break ruined by worrying about when I will have time to catch up with my work. To me, that is not an option. I would much rather have an intense few days before my break, followed by a fully engaged, worry-free time with my family.

That’s a managed interruption to a normal working routine, what about unplanned interruptions? A crisis at work, a loved one becoming seriously ill or your car breaking down on the way to work?

This is where having the processes in place to handle these crises comes in. I often tell my coaching clients to stress test their systems once they have them up and running. It’s fine for a system to work when you are doing your normal day to day work — when things are running smoothly — the real test is how well your system works when things go crazy. And things going crazy is a guaranteed part of life. For example, When you do the weekly review, you can look ahead and see what your schedule looks like for the week ahead. You can review all your projects and identify work that needs doing next week and schedule time for doing that work. You can also build in flexible time to handle crises and any work you have not managed to get done or finished.

This week, for example, I have an article to write for Lifehack. The deadline for that is Tuesday evening. I don’t have articles to write for Lifehack every week so it is additional work. Whenever I get work like this, I look on my calendar for 3 hours. I know I need two hours to write the draft and a further hour to edit. So, I scheduled 2 hours for writing the article Monday afternoon and will edit the article on Tuesday afternoon. The backend work is knowing how long an article will take to write and scheduling that time on my calendar. The writing of the first draft will be an objective for Monday so if the day goes crazy, I know it will get done — my objectives always get done. That’s the power of the 2+8 Prioritisation system. Each day have two objective tasks and eight focus tasks to complete.

Having the backend work done, knowing what you have to do and by when, scheduling the appropriate amount of time on your calendar to get it done and then doing it, that’s making sure you have the backend work done.

So while you might think taking time out of your already busy schedule to plan and have in place a system to make sure the work gets done is time you do not have, the alternative — not having a plan or a system — is what is causing you to feel too busy, overwhelmed and stressed. If you want to end that perpetual feeling of being too busy, you should stop, sit down and gather together everything you have to do and make a schedule to get it done. Put in place a system that prevents interruptions — blocking your calendar, turning off notifications on your phone for an hour or so and listening to some soothing music — you don’t have to disappear completely, just for an hour or two each day. Don’t worry, your boss, customers and colleagues can wait.

The backend work — putting in place the planning and system — is a guaranteed way for you to finally rid yourself of the daily overwhelm and stress. It is your key to having the freedom to do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

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.

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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.