Why You Should Stop Using Tools For Jobs They Were Not Designed To Do.

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Over the weekend I foolishly got myself into a discussion about why a certain app didn’t have the ability to print. Being a long time user of that particular app, I knew the reason was because the vision the app’s developers had was to give their users the freedom to go paperless. Being able to print out notes, would contradict their founding purpose.

I often see people complaining that this app doesn’t do this or that app makes it difficult to do that function, and in all cases I find it is because the person complaining is trying to get the app to do something it was not designed to do. In the case of the discussion I had over the weekend, Microsoft Word or Apple Pages would have done the job far better as those tools were designed for the job he was trying to do.

Over the years I’ve seen this happen time and again. People trying to get Evernote to be a to-do list manager and then complaining because it doesn’t do the job very well. Trying to get Google Docs to be a note-taking app and using their email inbox as a to-do list manager And then claiming being productive is hard. None of these tools were designed to do the jobs these people were trying to get them to do. of course it is hard. It means you have to hack the app and create workarounds and all that does is add complexity and an increased likelihood there will be a productivity system breakdown.

The goal of building your own productivity system should always be a seamless, simple system that is fast to collect, easy to organise and shows you what you need to see when you need to see it. You don’t need to be hacking anything to achieve that. There are thousands of free apps that will do the job for you. Even if you do not want to dive into the ocean of productivity apps available, Microsoft, Google and Apple provide specific apps for specific jobs built into your device for free. A simple system, using the tools that were designed to do the specific job you want to do will keep things simple and easy.

Here’s a short list of apps I use with the jobs they do for me:

Todoist — to-do list manager

Evernote — note taking and ideas

Apple Numbers — financial reports and attendance sheets

Apple Pages — one or two page documents that need to look good printed.

Adobe Photoshop — creating thumbnails, blog images and banners

Adobe InDesign — for professional production of workbooks and PDF help guides.

Adobe Premiere Pro — video editing

Scrivener — for book writing

Ulysses — for all other form of writing.

(A full list of apps I use can be viewed here.)

As you can see, there could easily be some overlap between apps. Pages and InDesign for example can produce very professional looking documents, but Pages does not have the professional print shop options that InDesign has. Page bleed for example, which is essential for printed documents. On the other hand, InDesign takes quite a Lot of setting up, where as Pages can be set up on the fly. So for short, one or two page documents that do not need printing, I would use Pages.

Evernote could be used for writing blog posts and books as you can write the text and add images. But, in order to get an Evernote note to look professional when printed would take a lot of steps and I would have to trade a lot of functionality for blog posts when exporting to my blog just to get Evernote to work. It is far easier, and better, to use Ulysses, which allows me to use Markdown which formats my documents as I write them and publishes directly to my blog from the app.

Simplicity does not always mean less. Simplicity means using the best tool to get the job done. I could use a trowel to dig a garden wall’s foundations, but it would take a long time and a spade would do the job faster and better. Just because the trowel is the best tool to dig up weeds in my garden, does not make it the best tool to dig the foundations. There are better tools.

Part of the process of becoming better organised and more productive is finding ways to do your work better and more effectively. Part of that process is finding the right tools to do the right jobs. Many of the tools you need are free, others, such as Ulysses and Todoist, cost as little as $30 per year and the time and effort these apps will save you makes that cost an investment worth making.

If you want to become better organised and more productive stop trying to hack apps to do jobs they were not designed to do. You have a lot of choice today, but a simple system based on having a set of tools to do specific types work will give you the best results in less time and with less stress. And that will do more for your productivity than trying to hack apps to do types of work they were not designed to do.

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If you are ready to become better organised and more productive then take a look at my latest course, From Disorganised To Productivity Mastery in 3 Days! — A course designed to take you to productivity mastery in three days through a step by step approach over three days. Hurry, the early bird discount ends on tomorrow! (Thursday 18 October 2018). This course will change your life!

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.

Productivity is not about doing more work.

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There’s a perception that to become more productive means doing more work. Yet that is not the purpose of becoming more productive at all. Becoming more productive is about becoming more effective at getting your work done so you can spend more time doing the things you want to do with the people you love being with.

The world we live in today is an amazing place. We can do things, visit places and experience events our grandparents could only have dreamed of, yet our work seems to fill up our time leaving little left to enjoy life. When you become more productive, you free up time and mental energy by getting your work done more efficiently and you experience less stress because you know exactly what needs doing, by when and how.

Living a life of less stress and more fun!

When you know what needs doing, by when and how you are going to do it, you feel more relaxed about what you face. When you collect everything into a trusted place and you have everything organised in places you instantly know where to find later, it creates a sense of calm. It frees up your mind to become more creative, more at one with your surroundings and to enjoy time spent with people you care about without worrying about the workload facing you on Monday morning. It allows you to leave the office at the office so you can be fully engaged with your family and your friends at home.

The consequences of not being productive.

I work with many people who have allowed their work to take control of their lives. Bosses, shareholders, clients and suppliers are constantly demanding time, leaving them stressed and worried about what they haven’t done. Their minds are constantly trying to remember if they have forgotten something, they never have time to relax and it’s not a nice place to be. It leads to anxiousness, dangerous levels of stress and when they are not at work, their mind is still working, worrying about the presentation they haven’t finished, the report they haven’t written yet and the meeting with the important client on Thursday afternoon.

The good news Is making a few simple changes to the way you manage your day is all you need do. Taking a few seconds to collect your commitments, ideas and events into a digital to-do list or writing them down into a notebook when they happen. Spending around ten minutes at the end of the day organising what you collected in a way you will see them when you need to see them is all you need. It’s simple, not necessarily easy, but it is simple.

Practice and patience.

With practice, a little patience and some time, collecting your ‘stuff’ becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit the whole process becomes automatic and when that happens you will find yourself more productive, less stressed and more in charge of your time.

When you become more productive, the first thing you will notice is your stress levels reduce. This is an almost immediate change in the way you feel. You have everything organised and where you need it. You are fully aware of your approaching deadlines and you know where you need to be, with whom and when at any given time. Just that level of control over your time will have a significant positive effect on your overall feeling of wellbeing.

The power of self-discipline.

One of the wonderful side effects of becoming better organised and more productive is your self-discipline improves. The fact you took the time to set up your ‘system’ shows that when you put your mind to something you can do it. It builds momentum and momentum is an incredible fuel for self-discipline. When something positive happens, the feeling you have is addictive. That sense of accomplishment leaves you craving more accomplishment and you begin looking at other areas of your life to improve. It creates a wonderful cycle of positive change that can only benefit you and the people you care about.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about how I can help more people take control of their time and become better organised and more productive. I know when it comes to self-improvement, for many people improving their productivity and time management is not high on their list of skills to acquire. But productivity and better organisation is the foundation on which you can build huge improvements in your life. Consistently improving ourselves is essential if we want to grow as human beings, but if we don’t have the time to self-improve we will never get round to doing so.

Introducing From Disorganised to Productivity Mastery in 3 Days.

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So I decided to put together a three-day online course — No, the course does not last 72 hours — It is a course where you take three days and by a combination of classes and time to take the required action you can become better organised and more productive. Over the course of three days, you will have around thirty minutes of tuition each day, followed by the rest of the day setting up and putting in to practice everything you learned in the classes. You start on day one by collecting all your stuff together and getting it organised into places you can find when you need it. The second day teaches you the basic tools you need for an effective productivity system and the final day, called “implementation” gives you a system that has helped thousands of people from all walks of life around the world go from being disorganised to becoming productivity masters.

This whole course is designed to get you from where you are today to having the skills of productivity mastery in just three days. It won’t be easy but it is simple and with a little patience, quite a bit of action and consistency, over time you will become a productivity master and with that start enjoying the benefits of less stress, less time spent in a cubicle at work and more time being with the people you care about doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them.

The course launches on Friday (12 October) and I hope you will join me and start a new, incredible life by becoming better organised and more productive so you can spend more of your precious time with the people you love doing the things you want to do.

For more details, you can visit the course’s page here where further details of this incredible course can be found and where you will be able to enrol from Friday.

Good luck and see you on Friday in the From Disorganised to Productivity Mastery in 3 Days.

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.

How To Maintain Your COD Productivity System On A Day To Day Basis.

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The top reason people stop using a productivity system is over-complexity. If your carefully crafted system makes it hard to collect stuff, and you have a complex organisational structure that takes too much time to maintain, you are going to stray from the productivity road. Your system needs to be as simple and as fast as you can possibly make it so knowing what to do next is as simple as looking at a daily list.

If it takes more than ten minutes to organise the stuff you collected throughout the day your system is too complex. You need to be able to ask: “what is it?” And “what needs to happen next to complete it?” And know immediately what to do. If you find yourself having to think too much about where something should go, your system has too many levels. If you can look at something you collected and within a few seconds have it filed where it should go, then you are well on the way to making your system work.

Go back to basic principles.

One of the best ways to simplify your system is to start with the basics. Notes can be filed under simple headings. Work and Personal. Most note-taking apps will allow you to create folders or notebooks in order to create some form of organisation. From there you can decide how to make it easy to find the note you are looking for.

Understanding how you think when you search for something can be a big help here. For me, if I want to find something related to James Bond, I have a tag called James Bond in Evernote. This means All I have to do is search for James Bond and I will be presented with a small list of related tags. James Bond — Films, James Bond — Cars, James Bond — Clothing and James Bond — Accessories. Now that’s just the way I think. You will think differently and you should create a search strategy that reflects your thinking.

It is a mistake to look at someone else’s organisation structure and think that would work for you. The chances are it will not. You think differently and you are going to have different types of things to file and keep. Create a file system that reflects the way you think and the way you work.

Keep your to-do lists simple.

The same basic principles work with your to-do list manager. Too often I see people creating very complex structures that involve multiple levels of projects and sub-projects. The question is do you really need that many levels of structure? To-do list managers only need to tell you what needs doing next and when. If you spend too much time going through multiple levels of projects, tasks and sub-tasks just to find what to work on you are not only wasting time, you are also going to get dragged off into places you really should not be spending time in.

At a very basic level, you only need a list of active projects or areas of focus — depending on which works best for you — and have these organised so the tasks that need doing pop up in a daily list when they need doing. You don’t need different hierarchies of child and parent projects, start and due dates or snooze and hide functions. It is a good idea to have these tasks organised into simple projects or areas of focus so you can review them when necessary. But the purpose of a to-do list manager is to tell you what needs doing next so you can be focused on the important and keep away from the unimportant. A good setup means you are doing the important work, not looking for the unimportant work. A good system shows you what needs doing next with as little fuss and mess as possible and is very easy to maintain.

It’s about doing the work, not reorganising your tasks.

you have your system working properly, you will be doing the important work you have set for yourself and collecting your commitments, tasks, events and notes throughout the day. You should not be spending much time inside your to-do list manager at all. Your calendar will be telling where you need to be and when your to-do list manager will be telling what to work on and your notes app will be giving you all the necessary information when you need it. It’s ninety-five per cent doing the work that matters and five per cent maintaining your system. When you reach that ratio consistently you will know you have the right system.

Take ten minutes to plan each day.

At the end of the day, you take ten minutes to organise everything you collected that day into its rightful place, make a decision on what two objectives you will complete tomorrow and what eight things you would like to focus on. And that’s it. Turn off, enjoy your life and be relaxed knowing you have the next day planned and will be able to start the day off supercharged and ready to get your most important work done.

Being better organised and more productive does not have to be difficult. It certainly doesn’t need overly complex structures. You need to know what’s important, what needs to be done and where you need to be. Anything else is just adding more complexity. When you remove those levels of complexity and focus on simplicity you will find you get a lot more of the important stuff done and when that happens you can spend more time doing the things you want to do, like spending more time with your friends and family, enjoying time to appreciate the amazing nature around you and feeling a lot less stressed.

If you want to know more about COD (Collect, Organise and Do) then you can read last week’s blog post here, where I go into detail about how this system works. I have also put together a FREE online course right here that will take you through the basics of setting up your own COD system and if you are in the Todoist community, I have a YouTube video here that explains how to set up a COD system in Todoist.

Being better organised and more productive does not have to be difficult. It just takes a decision and a couple of hours to set up and you too can start focusing on doing work that matters and being much less stressed.

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.

COD — The Simple, Easy To Use Productivity System Anyone Can Learn.

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Over the years I have been practising better productivity I have studied many of the ‘systems’ available. Most are quite complex, many involve a lot of hours of setting up and all involve a disproportionate amount of time to maintain. For a lot of people this is not too much of a challenge, but for most people, a productivity system that allows them to just get on with their work and disappears into the background is the nirvana.

After much studying, I came up with my own system that focuses on simplicity, ease of use and disappears into the background and only requires around ten minutes at the end of the day to maintain. Now, if you cannot find ten minutes at the end of the day, then you have far bigger problems than time management and productivity. Everyone can find ten minutes each day to organise their stuff if they are serious about becoming better organised and more productive.

Let me introduce you to COD — Collect, Organise and Do.

COD is based on the basic fundamentals of all great productivity systems. That is you need to collect everything that means something to you. That could be a commitment or an event. It could be an idea or something you would like to look into at some point in the future. Once you have collected everything, you need to organise what you collected in a place you trust you will be able to find what you collected later. That could be a notes application, it could be a digital cloud drive or it could be a simple paper-based notebook or folder. And finally, you need to be doing your work and the things you want to do at the right time.

So how does all this work?

Throughout the day you collect and do. This means the tools you use to collect your commitments, appointments and ideas should be easily accessible and are with you everywhere you go — after all, great ideas can come to us at any time in any place. Today, those tools are most likely to be your mobile phone or computer, but it could just as easily be a small pocket notebook. Your collection method needs to be as fast as possible and this means the applications you use should be optimised for speed of capture. This is the reason why I use Todoist for my commitments and todos and Evernote for my ideas and notes. You might prefer another method or application, there are a lot of choices out there. Choose carefully and make sure that whatever tool you use, whether it is digital or paper-based, it is easy and fast to collect.

Organise.

Next comes the organising. Now, this is a very personal subject and you should be organising your stuff in a way that works for you. A mistake I find a lot of people making is copying someone else’s organisation structure. The chances are someone else’s system will not work for you. Our brains are wired differently. I grew up in an analogue world with physical filing cabinets and plastic in-trays, which means my brain is wired to organise alphabetically. I have tested other ways to organise, but nothing works as well as a simple alphabetical system. My notes are tagged with the subject the note is related to. For example, for my Korean study programme, I have a Notebook in Evernote called “Korean” and I tag notes I collect related to Korean with the subject. It could be “Korean vocabulary — eating out” or “Korean vocabulary — questions”. I know those tags are long, but they work for me.

Once you have decided on how you want to organise things you should test it for speed. If you have an organisational structure that fits the way your brain works, organising your stuff should be very fast. To start with, you may find you have to do a bit more thinking about where something goes, but after a few days or weeks, you will find you can organise everything you collected almost without thinking.

Organise your todos by project or areas of focus?

This question is a difficult one to answer. For some people, projects is how they think. Each project they have is organised with its title and deadline and the tasks required to complete that project are listed within that project. For others, their areas of focus is how they like to organise things. Areas like family, hobbies, health and fitness for their personal life and marketing, sales, personal development for their professional life. Again, this is really up to you and how your brain works. If you are a beginner to productivity and time management, then experiment for a few weeks. I use a combination of both these. My areas of focus help to keep me organised with my various roles as a husband and a business owner. It also helps me to stay focused on my health and fitness and hobbies. I like to have project work like writing books, developing courses and holiday plans as separate projects. Choose what works best for you. You may find you need to experiment a little to discover what works.

When to do your organising.

Organising is best done daily. I have found if you try and organise all your collected stuff at the end of the week, the job of organising becomes too much. Once it becomes too much you will resist doing it and you will soon find yourself back to being a disorganised mess. Instead, spend ten minutes at the end of the day organising everything you collected that day. I organise every day Sunday through Thursday and allow myself a break on a Friday and Saturday. This is because I find I don’t collect very much on those days and the things I collect can be organised when I do my weekly review on a Sunday afternoon. If you are organising every day, and you have developed a system that works seamlessly and is fast, then all you will need is ten minutes each day to organise. At first, it will take a little longer than ten minutes. But once you have developed the habit and are comfortable with the way you have organised your stuff, then ten minutes is all it should take. I call this my “Golden Ten” minutes.

The rest of the time you are doing. Doing the work you have assigned for yourself. COD is simple, fast and is designed to work the way you think. When you build a system around the way you think and naturally organise stuff, you will find being better organised and more productive is easy.

The COD workflow.

To help you better understand the flow of COD, below is a workflow diagram that although looks complex, is actually simple to use. I have also put it in ‘dark mode’ for you because it seems very trendy to have a dark-mode option these days. If you prefer a ‘light mode’ version you can download a PDF copy from my downloads page on my website.


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You can also enrol in my FREE Beginners Guide To Productivity where I take you through the principles of COD and how to get it set up using a todo list manager, a notes app and a calendar.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to give you some guidance if you need it.


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please 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.


How To Not Get Caught Up In Unimportant Busy Work.

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One of the things that has always struck me about amazingly productive people is their ability to quickly decide whether something is important or not. These incredibly productive people seem to be able to eliminate the unimportant and only focus on tasks that will move them closer towards their goals.

A better way of making sure you get the important things done.

In my book, Your Digital Life 2.0, I explained this by recommending you establish what routine tasks you have to do each day, week and month and then separate them into their own project. What this does is help to remove tasks that need doing, but do not improve the quality of your life or take you closer towards achieving your goals. Those things just have to be done. Taking the garbage out, doing the weekly sales report or cleaning your house. These are tasks that will not take you further forward to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Essentially what you are doing is demoting their importance to you so you can focus on the higher quality tasks.

We naturally move towards the easy tasks.

The problem is when you have a to-do list full of important and unimportant tasks you are naturally going to navigate towards doing the easy tasks. Doing the quick easy tasks gives you the dopamine hit we all crave and we feel our to-do list is shrinking. The problem is we also feel we are accomplishing something, yet if you took a step back you would release you are accomplishing nothing important. The harder, longer tasks get pushed back and those are tasks left to do when we are tired or about to finish for the day. The problem here is those more difficult, harder tasks are the important tasks. The tasks that would accelerate you towards achieving the things you want to achieve.

A far better way to manage your to-do list is to relegate those easy routine tasks to the end of the day. And this is why moving your routine tasks into a separate list helps to stop you from being tempted into doing them at the expense of the more important tasks.

The question is how do you do that?

The first thing you can do is sit down and take a look at your to-do list from the last week. Look at the tasks you completed and find the tasks that you have to do every day or week and write them down on a list. Once you have collected all those tasks onto a list, find the ones that have to be done regularly either daily, weekly or monthly and decide whether they are tasks that improve you as a person and take you closer towards achieving your goals. If they don’t they are likely to be routine tasks and you can move those tasks into a separate list called “routines”.

Tasks such as “go for a run” may be routines, but they improve the quality of your life. These are important tasks. Tasks such as these do not go on your routines list. However, a task such as “prepare weekly grocery list”, is a routine task. It just has to be done. Those kinds of tasks go on your routines list.

I have a weekly task to write this blog post. It comes up on my daily to-do list every Monday. This task is a task that contributes towards my goal of helping one million people to become better organised and more productive by 2020. I do not consider writing this post a routine. It contributes towards a goal. Yet, cleaning up my folders, project lists and calendar does not contribute towards any of my goals and so a task like that would be on my routines list.

Becoming better organised and more productive is not just about starting a to-do list. There is much more involved. It’s a great start to write everything down that needs doing, but you also need to attack that list with laser-like focus to establish which of those tasks are important and will contribute towards your overall goals and which ones will not. What you want to do is apply Pareto’s Rule to your list by asking yourself which twenty per cent will contribute to eighty per cent of my goals? Those are the tasks you should focus on completing. The other eighty per cent of your tasks you do when you can, if you have time.

This is why doing the Golden Ten daily planning works so well. Those ten minutes at the end of the day when you sit down and plan out the next day not only leaves you feeling less stressed, but it also helps you to stay focused on the important work, the work that will turn you into a productivity master. During those ten minutes, you can see what needs doing and make sure the important tasks get done first so that when you are feeling tired towards the end of the day you can be safe in the knowledge you have done your twenty per cent important tasks.




Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit that like button👍 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 You Should Be Focused On Simplicity Not More Features And Complexity.

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The biggest reason so many people fail to maintain a robust, workable productivity system is their desire for complexity. This desire seems to be human nature. We begin simply enough, but then we add more and more levels of complexity until eventually, we have a system that takes far too long to maintain.

First the analogue world

When I began building my own productivity systems years ago it was simple. I had a list of things I needed to do that day and I carried a diary where I wrote my appointments. Notes and ideas were put in a little notebook or in my diary. It was simple. Each item had its place and there were no grey areas.

Then the digital world.

Then along came the digital world. It began with a calendar app on my computer which then became a calendar app on my phone and a to-do list and a notes app. Then app stores opened up a world of business to software developers and we soon got deluged with productivity apps. These wonderful developers devised fantastic features to add to our apps so they could differentiate themselves from the competition. Some of these apps succeeded — OmniFocus, Todoist and Trello. Others failed. Unfortunately, for us consumers, this has given us far too much choice, which has led to constant switching and trying out new apps, which destroys our productivity.

Find a problem and solve it is not great entrepreneurial advice.

I understand why so many apps have become feature bloated. The generic advice for all aspiring entrepreneurs is to find a problem that needs solving and solve it. In the productivity world, that means trying to find a way for an app to do the work for us. Of course, this is not going to happen, so the next best idea is to add features.

A classic example of this is a feature called “start dates”. Start dates as far as I can tell is a feature unique to OmniFocus. What it does is allows the user to add a start date to a project or task so it ‘disappears’ until the start date. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. The problem here is now we have “start dates” and “due dates”. So when we are processing the things we have collected, we have two dates to think about. If I added a start date and a due date to a task or project, and I got the start date wrong (something I often did) even though I had a due date added, if the start date was after the due date, I would end up not seeing the task. The start date overrode the due date. Fortunately, I saw the ridiculousness of this feature and stopped using start dates. I went back to keeping everything as simple as possible. I dated projects and tasks for when they needed doing and made sure I did a full weekly review every Sunday. No more missed deadlines.

Even email apps are not immune.

We are now seeing this with email apps. Each new email app has so many features it has become almost impossible to keep up. We have “snoozing”, scheduled sending, read/receipts, smart mailboxes and so on. But if you stop and think for a moment, email should be simple. A person sends you an email, you see it, you make a decision about what to do with it (reply, file or delete) and move on to the next one. Operating at this simple level makes email easy, stress-free and manageable. When we add in snoozing, smart filtering, VIPs and all the other stuff that’s now added to our email apps, we end up with far too many decisions to make and that just slows us down.

What we need is different to what we think we want

What we need are apps that focus on simplicity, not features. To-do lists need to be built around collecting, organising and doing. We collect stuff throughout the day, we organise that stuff into projects and then we get on and do the stuff. When we are doing, the app should disappear. Email apps should make it very easy to reply, file or delete emails without having us to make decisions about whether we want to snooze an email, or flag it or schedule a response. Notes apps should be making it easy for us to capture notes and then find them again when we need them. None of this is difficult. Simplicity and speed. That’s what is needed.

The secret to success is simplicity.

I’m not a developer, I’m a consumer. One of the reasons I moved away from OmniFocus to Todoist was a need to return to simplicity. OmniFocus is great! It has so many features, but I realised those features, designed to make my life easier, were actually making me less productive. My move to the simpler Todoist gave me a huge boost in productivity and that was down to Todoist’s focus on simplicity. I’ve used one note taking app for nine years now, Evernote. Evernote comes in for a lot of criticism because they are not adding new features. The truth is, one of the reasons Evernote has endured for over ten years is because it has not been adding more and more features. There are just enough features for power users, but it has remained simple enough for anyone to use.

The majority of consumers do not need, nor want, all this complexity. What consumers want is a product that is fast, simple to use and works without crashing, freezing or causing confusion by having so many choices.

If you want to boost your productivity, if you want to get more amazing work done and if you want an easier, stress-free life, then go back to basics. Focus on simplicity and use apps that have fewer features. Apps with fewer features are less likely to go wrong, have a much easier learning curve and will allow you to spend more time doing your work. And that is what being productive is all about.

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.

You Will Fall Off The Productivity Wagon. Here’s What To Do When You Do.

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No matter how strong your intentions are, there will always be days, weeks or even months when you will lose your productivity habit. It happens to us all from time to time. I’ve gone through it so many times myself when I have become a disorganised mess and yet, I’ve always found a way to get back into my productivity stride by following a few simple strategies.

Here are a few of those strategies you can use to get back into your productivity habits quickly when it happens to you.

1 Learn to recognise the trigger points.

As they say, “prevention is better than cure” If you find yourself regularly falling off the productivity wagon ask yourself why. There are multiple reasons why a person may frequently fall off the wagon. It could be having an overly complex collection system to not having your collection tools with you at all times. Problems can also occur when you do not have clearly defined projects and areas of focus or you continue to ‘trust’ your brain to remember things. Find the triggers or the bottlenecks to your system and discover ways to remove them now before your habits fail.

2 Keep your system as simple as possible.

One of the biggest causes of falling off the productivity wagon is over complexity. If you create a productivity system that is so complex, that when you find yourself inundated with work and imminent project deadlines, it’s easy to stop collecting and organising. The way to avoid this is to build as simple a system as possible. Focus on active projects, areas of focus and have a someday | maybe folder for all inactive or ‘would like to do’ projects. Creating a system involving complex project and task hierarchies may appear great at first but it will become a drag on your effectiveness eventually. Reduce the complexity.

3 Focus on the basics of COD

When you do find yourself in a productivity mess get back to the basic principles of COD — Collect, Organise, Do. These basic principles will always get you back on track. Collect everything that has your attention and is on your mind into one list. It does not matter whether it is a digital list or pen and paper list. All you need do is get everything into one list. Then organise the items you have collected into their right place — projects go into your project list, ideas into your notes app and appointments and deadlines onto your calendar.

Starting from this position will always get you back into a state of organisation and it returns clarity and control into your life.

4 take some time out to gather everything together.

Whenever I have fallen off the wagon, I set aside an afternoon or an evening to get things back under control. Usually, this would be a Friday or Sunday afternoon, but it really doesn’t matter when you do it. Once you recognise you have stopped being productive and you feel everything around you is a mess, that’s the time to take a step back and take some time off to get things back under control. Do a quick review of where your system is and what’s overdue and needs urgent attention, then go through the process of COD. I’ve always found this one step lifts a huge weight off my shoulders and fills me with optimism and energy to get things back on track.

5 Have a backup collection system on standby.

There are going to be times when there is so much going on at work and in your personal life that it becomes difficult to keep up with everything going on. These situations are rare, but they do happen. If you find you are unable to maintain your system, stop worrying. A great trick is to switch to a piece of paper on your desk to capture everything, or a simple note open on your computer where you can just drop ideas, commitments and tasks when they come up. You can then “organise” these collected items later. There have been many times when I have been working at a client’s office and have not had easy access to my regular collection tools when I have resorted to using a single page in my notebook (I carry a notebook in my work bag everywhere I go). Once I get back to my own desk, I transfer the relevant items into Todoist or Evernote later.

Don’t be too hard on yourself — nobody’s perfect. Situations change and things will break. The important thing is you have a system in place that makes it easy to jump back on the productivity track quickly and without too much effort when you do fall off. It happens to us all at times but the key is to have a way to quickly get back on the productivity wagon when you do fall off.

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.

4 Simple Habits To Become Better Organised And More Productive.

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Over the twenty-five years of having a seemingly unhealthy fascination with all things to do with productivity and time management the biggest lesson I have learnt is to become better organised and more productive is not something that happens by accident or overnight.

It’s an interesting idea that if you could just find the perfect app or the perfect system somehow a miracle will happen and without doing anything you become amazingly productive and all your stuff will organise itself. Of course, this is not going to happen. No app or system is ever going to do that for you. Even the growth of artificial intelligence won’t help you. AI will still require you to input data in some form or another and you will still have to make decisions on how best to organise your work before any machine will be able to do anything with it.

If you are serious about becoming better organised and more productive you are going to have to do your work and change your habits.

The biggest reason you find yourself disorganised and unproductive are the habits you practice every day. When you are asked to do something and you rely on your memory to remember it, you should not be surprised when you forget to do it. Likewise, if you have no idea what work is important and what is not, you will gravitate towards doing the easy, non-important work. These habits destroy productivity and unless you identify them and change them, you are not going to become more productive.

There are a number of best practices you can follow that have been tested by millions of incredibly productive people and proven to work and many of these best practices have been backed up by science. You are never going to change the laws of physics or the laws of human nature. That being the case once you are aware of them you can develop habits that will counter these human deficiencies.

Here are a few to get you started:

Don’t trust your brain to remember things.

Our brains are not great at reminding us to do the things that need doing at the right time. This is why when you use the last of the milk for your morning cup of coffee on your return from work at the end of the day, your brain is not going to remind you to buy milk as you pass the convenience store. Your brain recognises patterns very well and notices when things are different. That is why you always remember you need milk when you go to get the milk from the fridge and you discover there’s no milk. Your regular pattern of having milk in the fridge has changed and now your brain recognises something is wrong and you get an alert. Unfortunately at 7 am, desperate for that morning caffeine hit, is not when you want the alert.

Get into the habit of writing everything down on a list. It does not have to be a complex list either. A simple list on your phone will do. Before you leave work at the end of the day, have a look at the list to see if there is anything you need to do on your way home. Simple but incredibly effective.

Putting things away in their right place.

This one I see with my wife all the time. She wears glasses at home (and contact lenses when going out). My wife leaves her glasses all over the house. Sometimes in the bathroom, sometimes the bedroom or living room. When she wants her glasses she can never find them. Now we don’t live in a huge house, so it usually only takes a few minutes to find them, but over time those few minutes spent looking for her glasses add up. For a more stress-free, easier life I discovered that if I put my glasses in the same place every evening when I go to bed, I know exactly where they will be the next day and never have to waste time searching for them. You can use the same method with keys, your work bag and other items you need to take with you when you go to work. Always put things away in the same place and you will save yourself a lot of time.

Create a morning and evening routine.

Our brains love routines. Regular routines don’t need a lot of energy to maintain or think about. Simple routines like looking at your calendar before you go to bed to see where you have to be and when the next day or doing the dishes before you sit down and relax after dinner. All these little things, once a routine save energy and allows your brain to use its energy to think of other, more important things. Routines also help you to make sure you have everything you need for the day. Make it a routine to charge your phone at the same time each day, to exercise or to make and pack your lunch. All these little things once routine help you to become better organised.

Do a weekly review and identify the things you want to complete next week.

One of the most effective ways to create amazing momentum in your life is to spend an hour each week reviewing what you have done and what you want to get done the following week. This is a habit that changes lives because it focuses you on what is important.

It is very easy to drift through life not achieving much of anything. Even if you never set goals, a weekly review will give you some indication where you are going and where you are right now. If you are not excited by the destination, your weekly review will give you time to think more clearly about where you want to go, what you want to achieve and what you want to accomplish in the following week. It helps you to identify the important things and tells you if you are spending too much time on unimportant things.

These are just a few things you can do to help you become better organised and more productive. By adopting these tiny best practices you will see an immediate improvement in what you achieve. You will have a clearer picture of what is important to you and you will be able to take steps to eliminate those things that are not important and are wasting your time. Your brain is hard-wired to take the easy road and to drift. It is easy to change that by adopting a few simple best practices and habits. Once these have become ingrained you will find your productivity and organisation improve and there will be nothing to stop you from achieving amazing things.

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.

Be Focused On Your Outcomes Not Your Tasks.

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There’s a common misconception about being productive — that productivity is about completing a lot of tasks each day and to become more productive all you have to do is complete more tasks. Of course, this is not true.

Becoming more productive is about doing work that matters so your measurable output increases. Completing two tasks that move a project or goal further forward is going to produce far better long-term results than completing a hundred tasks that have no impact on any of your important projects or goals.

Stop picking the low hanging fruit.

We have a natural tendency to go after the low hanging fruit. To check off the easy tasks because doing so makes us feel good. We get that dopamine hit and that puts a smile on our face and has us wanting more. So we populate our to-do lists with even more easy, non-important tasks just so we can check them off and get that dopamine hit. It becomes a vicious circle we put more and more unimportant tasks on our to-do lists hoping for more dopamine hits.

Of course, we tell ourselves we are completing important tasks. After all, we must have a clean desk so we can focus better on our work and we need to make sure we have enough staples in our top draw just in case we run out while stapling important documents. Oh, and we should check our email just one more time in case something important has come in.

Begin the day with a simple plan.

We all have a good mix of easy routine and hard project work to complete each day. Difficulties start when you are not clear about what work is important. Prioritising your work is a big part of becoming more productive. This is why beginning the day with a plan based on what current projects are important is vital. However, the routine work can very easily take over the day if you are not careful.

Assign time each day/week for your routine admin work.

There are a couple of ways you can make sure the less important routine work does not take over your day. One way is to assign one day each week for admin work. This could be Friday afternoon for example. Friday’s are famously difficult to focus on important work because we are often thinking about our plans for the weekend. If that is the case, you could assign Friday as your admin and clean up day (you could even make sure you have enough staples in your top drawer). This means you only have easy tasks to do on Friday and you don’t need a lot of focus to get them done. Another way is to allocate a time slot each day to do your admin and routine tasks. Giving yourself one hour a day to just get the routine, easy tasks complete will help you to stay focused on the important, project work for the other seven or eight hours each day. I assign one hour a day for all my routine admin work. I usually assign the end of the day to do this because I don’t need a lot of concentration to do it. But you can choose any time of the day or week to do it.

Focus on your desired outcome.

The key to better productivity is to focus on the outcome you want, not the tasks that will get you there. We often add unnecessary tasks when we are planning out a project. For example, “send email to get 2019 planning template”. Nine times out of ten, a phone call would get the desired result faster. You might also find you have tasks such as “talk to John about the presentation order” and lower down your list have a task saying “ask John for the 2019 sales forecast”. These two tasks could be completed either by one phone call or walking down the hall to talk to John, but because the tasks are not grouped together you miss the second one. That means now you have to communicate with John twice instead of once.

When you set up a project, you need to be very clear on what it is you are trying to achieve. What’s the desired outcome for the project? David Allen, in Getting Things Done, writes about this and Tony Robbins in his Time Of Your Life course puts a lot of stress on outcome thinking. The tasks help, they are signposts along the way, but more often than not the shortest distance between where you are now and successfully completing the project is not through completing all your tasks in the right order, more often than not the fastest way to completing the project is a simple phone call or going out to see the client or customer.

I use Evernote to plan out my projects and not Todoist. I can add tasks and steps I think will be needed to complete the project in a list at the bottom of my project note and once I am satisfied I have everything needed to get the project completed, I go through the list removing tasks I feel are not necessary. What I end up with is a list of absolutely essential tasks. This often reduces the number of tasks required to complete the project down by half.

If you are serious about becoming more productive, focus less on your tasks and more on what it is you are trying to achieve. The goal, the completed project and the outcome you desire are what you are looking for, not completing ten tasks so you feel like you have accomplished something. As Jim Rohn said, “Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what?”

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit the life 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.

The Secret To Happiness Is In What You Create Not What You Buy.

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For many, having the latest gadget, the nicest car in the street or the best job in your community is everything. Yet these do not lead to a happy, fulfilled life. Sure you get a short-lived buzz, a little smile on your face for a few days. But the lustre and shine soon disappear and then what are you left with?

To really experience the feeling of joy and happiness every day — that long-lasting contentment with your life — you need to pursue more than material things. You need a goal, a purpose. Something to drive and inspire you each day. Something that lights up your fire and brings a smile to your face every morning. It needs to be the reason you wake up every morning with energy, enthusiasm and a desire to make progress. Those material things won’t do that in the long-term. Those will just leave you feeling empty.

To discover your purpose and the things that will bring you long-term joy and happiness, you need to take some time to think about what it is you enjoy doing. Life is about our experiences, our accomplishments, our creations and the people we meet along the way. Unless you take some time to figure out what it is you want to do with your life — this amazing gift you have — you are going to waste it.

Here are a few things that will bring you long-term happiness:

  • writing a book about something you love
  • striving each day to be better than you were yesterday
  • building your own business
  • raising a family
  • working on a side project that will potentially change the world
  • building huge levels of health and fitness
  • making the world a little better than you found it

What you will find is these things are journeys. None of them will bring you instant gratification. They take a long time, a lot of effort and persistence and that is where the joy and happiness come from. The feeling you are making progress on something. Something you created, something you built. Something you can feel proud of. That is where your happiness can be found.

Throughout these journeys, you will experience hardship, knock-backs and frustration. It’s all part of the journey. The harder you find the journey the greater the joy and happiness you will feel in the long-term. It’s the feeling of making progress that brings the joy and happiness.

If you seek happiness in things you buy you will never find it. If you seek happiness in things you create you will have a life of pure joy and happiness. Of course, there will be a side helping of frustration and disappointment, but then that’s all part of the journey. Happiness comes from overcoming setbacks and disappointments and creating something you are proud of.

That’s it. The secret to everlasting happiness. Now go out there and start creating, building, developing and growing and you too will soon discover the simple joys and happiness life brings each day.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, please hit that like button 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.