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

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

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

So, what has changed?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Hardware

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

Software/Apps

Todoist

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

Evernote

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

Fantastical

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

Newton Mail

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

Asana

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

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

Now for the heavy lifting apps:

Apple Keynote

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

Apple Pages

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

Apple Numbers

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

Scrivener

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

Ulysses

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

Screenflow 7

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

Adobe Premiere Pro

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

Adobe Photoshop

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

Adobe InDesign

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

Now for the cloud drives, I use.

I essentially use two cloud drives. These are:

Dropbox

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

iCloud

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

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

1Password

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

TextExpander

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

Drafts 5

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

Scanbot

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

Apple Music

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

Apple’s Podcast App

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

And finally for reading I have the following:

Reeder

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

Instapaper

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you guilty of majoring in minor things?

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

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

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

Are your productivity apps helping or hindering your productivity?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Time Management is Not the Problem and Distraction Management is.

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These days it seems popular to attack companies like Facebook, Apple and Google for not doing more to prevent tech addiction. It is as if these companies — that give us tools to help us get our work done better or keep in touch with friends and families across the world — are somehow responsible for our inability to manage what we do on their products. It is very easy to complain about how little time we have to get everything done and blame others for the problem when really the problem is ours and our inability to manage the distractions that come at us every day.

When it comes to time, nothing has changed for hundreds of years. We still only get twenty-four hours. We are not getting any less than the likes of Edison or Newton or Einstein. They had twenty-four and so do you. The problem is not with time, the problem is what you do with the time you have each day.

The biggest difference between Edison, Newton, Einstein and us is technology. Edison, Newton and Einstein did not have computers and mobile phones. They had minimal technology in their lives. If they wanted to research something they had to physically go to the library or visit someone in person to find the information. In Newton’s time, those visits could have involved travelling for days as the automobile was a long way from being invented. People like Edison, Newton and Einstein were incredible. To access the information they needed in order to move their work forward required a lot of effort. For us, to access the information we need requires a few taps on a screen. We should be out-performing these great people, yet most of are not. Why?

The simple answer is distractions. While it is much easier for us to access information, it is also much easier for us to get taken down rabbit holes of irrelevance. When we open up our phones the first thing we see are our notifications. Messages from our Facebook friends, emails from our colleagues and customers. We click on our messages and get lost in a conversation with our colleague for thirty minutes. Then we open up Facebook to comment on our best friend’s honeymoon picture and while we are there we see a cute little puppy video. And on it goes, rabbit hole after rabbit hole of distraction. Before you know it two or three hours have gone by and you haven’t started the research you planned to do and then you tell anyone who listens how incredibly busy you are.

Now it’s easy to blame the tech companies. “Apple and Google need to do something to prevent tech addiction”. “Facebook’s building a social network designed to turn us into device addicts”. Of course, they are. That’s their business. But wait a minute. Nobody forced us to download the Facebook or Twitter app. No one forced us to buy a smartphone. These were all our decisions. We chose to have a smartphone. We chose to download Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat apps onto our phone.

We are responsible for how we spend our time. That was true in Edison’s and Newton’s time and it is still true today. We are 100% responsible for how we spend our time. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by Facebook posts, messages from our friends and colleagues and emails when we really should be focused on doing some work, that is never the fault of Facebook, Apple or Google. That’s is 100% our fault.

Unlike the Tobacco industry forty years ago, tech companies are not trying to hide the negative effects of device addiction. Their whole marketing revolves around their product’s ability to stay connected and in touch with our friends and colleagues. Their goal is to make staying in touch with our friends and family easier, simpler and less expensive and to me, that is a very good thing.

The answer to our inability to get our work done is to take responsibility for how we spend our twenty-four hours. It is not difficult to turn off notifications on our devices for all except the important. It is not difficult to turn on “do not disturb” for an hour or two while we get on with the work that matters. Your friends won’t desert you if you do not reply immediately. Your boss won’t fire you if you take an hour to reply to her email and you won’t lose your best customer because you missed their call.

Taking control of your time and managing your distractions is not impossible. Every Monday morning, when I write this blog post, my email is shut down, my phone is on do not disturb and for ninety minutes I have complete silence to focus on writing. It is not difficult and it results in a completed first draft of a blog post and a real sense of accomplishment at the beginning of the week. Likewise, when I record my YouTube videos on a Saturday afternoon, I turn on do not disturb on all my devices and for two to three hours I am focused on nothing else but recording those videos.

If you want to stop feeling overwhelmed and get more of your important work done, then start managing your distractions. There are times when you need to shut off distractions and there are times when you can welcome distractions. No one is saying you should become a robot of productive output. But equally, there are times every day when you need to sit down and be focused on the work that needs doing. That is the time to turn off the distractions for an hour or two so you can focus on what is important. None of this is difficult. It’s not quantum physics or the laws of motion and universal gravitation.

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

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

Self-discipline is the foundation of a productive day and It Starts By Making Your Bed.

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Having a daily plan and following that plan is not difficult. It is very easy. Yet so many people fail to act on their plan and fail to achieve or complete the things they want to complete that day.

I’ve always found it fascinating that some people have the ability to remain focused on completing their tasks for the day yet others struggle to get more than ten percent of their tasks completed. The excuses I hear for not completing the work range from “I have a lot on my mind” to “I’m just not the organised kind of person” but really whether you get your tasks for the day completed or not comes down to your self-discipline.

There are other considerations. There’s the problem of trying to cram in far too many tasks. Having a long list of tasks for the day and a calendar full of appointments and meetings is not a good strategy. You are not going to get your tasks completed. You need to be realistic and disciplined about what you put on your task list for the day. And I do mean disciplined. If I look at my task list manager, I see I have somewhere in the region of over 250 tasks in there. That means each day I have to be disciplined about what I put on my list for the day. This is why I spend ten minutes at the end of each day planning what I will get done the next day. I know, from experience, I can complete around twenty tasks a day. If I tried to complete thirty, something would not get done. This means I have to be disciplined about what I allow on my list for the day.

How productive you are and how much you get done each day has nothing to do with your personality type or the work you do. It comes down to how disciplined you are. To stay on task and remain focused requires discipline. To make sure your to-do list for the day does not become a dumping ground for unimportant things requires discipline, and to sit down and get on with the work requires discipline.

Self-discipline goes deeper than what you get done each day. Self-discipline is required to write in your journal every day. Self-discipline is required to create your to-do list every day and you need the self-discipline to get out of bed every morning. Wherever you want to see improvement and advancement in your life, you will require self-discipline.

If you want to improve your productivity, improve your self-discipline. Self-discipline is at the core of all productive lives. Without it, you will never be productive.

The good news is to become more self-disciplined is not difficult. Start small. Start by making your bed every day before you leave the house and have a list of two things you really want to complete for the day, and for a whole month, make sure you get those two tasks done every day. These exercises will begin strengthening your self-discipline. Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more you use it, the stronger it will become. The great thing about building strength into your self-discipline is you will soon see benefits elsewhere in your life. If you strengthen your self-discipline by making your bed every morning and by making sure you get your two most important tasks for the day done, you will find you have the self-discipline to exercise regularly, to eat healthier food and this then builds more strength into your self-discipline and you become better and stronger is so many other areas of your life.

The downside to this is that if you give in to the temptation of not doing something when you know you really should be doing it, you weaken your self-discipline. The more you give in to temptation, the weaker your self-discipline becomes and you have to start all over again. The lesson here is, don’t give in. No matter what, keep going knowing that the less you want to do something, and you still do it, the stronger your self-discipline becomes.

If you really want to become better organised and more productive, improve your self-discipline. Focus on building strength into your discipline and make sure that no matter what, you get those tasks done. As Admiral William McRaven said in his talk to the students of The University of Texas, “start by making your bed”.

 

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.

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

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

How To Be Stoical With Your Time Management.

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Why accepting responsibility for your own time management is important for your sanity and your productivity.

I recently discovered I am slightly stoic. I accept bad things will happen in life, to me and to others and understand my response to those bad things is entirely in my own hands.

The same attitude is something I bring to my time management and productivity. It is very easy to blame bosses, clients and students for our inability to complete projects, but in reality, it is we who have ultimate responsibility for how and where we spend our time each day. That is the world we live in and the sooner we accept that the better it will be for our time management and our sanity.

Time is the most equal of equal opportunities employers. Every day, we all have exactly the same amount of time. Nobody has more or less. We have twenty-four hours. It does not matter whether you are Tim Cook, Warren Buffett or a freshman in college; we all face the same decisions every day about where to spend our time. If we choose to work on our college assignment all day and manage to get six, good quality hours of work done on it, then that is what we chose to do. At the same time if we plan to spend six hours writing our thesis, but wake up late, spend four hours responding to social media messages and email, then it was our decision to do so. These are just the choices we all have to make each day. It’s no good blaming other people, your email or phone. You always have the choice to ignore those emails and messages.

This is where so many people get stuck. Rather than making the decision to focus on the important stuff, they make the decision to focus on the unimportant stuff, then find themselves panicking and rushing to get the important stuff done later. This leads to missing out on sleep, increased stress and strain and a never-ending cycle of blame and a persistent feeling of being busy.

The good news is we all have the power to stop this. All we have to do is make a decision to spend our time on the important work first and, if we wish, we can choose to reward ourselves by allowing time to work on the less important stuff later. We can choose to use the powerful tools that come built into our devices to schedule time, to tell us what to do and to capture our great ideas. Equally, we can choose not to do so.

Ultimately, where we spend our time, doing what and with who is our choice. Even within your office, when you joined your company, you signed an employment contract that meant that for eight hours a day, Monday to Friday, you would give those hours to the company, and in return, they would pay you a sum of money. Signing that contract was your decision. A decision about where you would spend thirty-five to forty hours of your 168 hours each week. It is no good complaining about how little time you have to spend with your friends and family afterwards. You chose to spend those thirty-five to forty hours each week in your office.

If you then choose to work more hours, regularly working an extra two or three hours a day, then for whatever reason you decided to work those extra hours, you still chose to spend those hours in your office and not with your family.

It is no good complaining about your boss always giving you work at the last minute, or your colleagues interrupting you when you are trying to get the important work done. That happens to everyone no matter their position in the company. It is still your responsibility to decide where to focus your efforts and what you will do with your time. Time spent complaining about it, is not going to get the important work done. You have a personal responsibility to develop ways to stop those interruptions and to get your boss to give you the work in a more timely manner.

So rather than complaining and blaming, start taking responsibility. Be stoical. Spend ten minutes or so every evening and identify the most important things you must work on the next day and make sure this remains your priority. Lower the priority on your email and social media and only look at it when you have finished the things you really wanted to complete that day.

Just making this tiny shift in your approach to each day will reward you with a lot less stress, more time to spend on the more pleasant things in life and you will feel a lot less busy. But once again, you can choose not to do so. It is always your choice.

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.

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

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, 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 Don’t Have To Sacrifice Your Social Life To Be More Productive.

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To become more productive and better at time management does not need you to sacrifice your social life.

This week, on my podcast, I shared five tricks anyone can use to boost their productivity and start getting the important things done. None of these ‘tricks’ requires you to be doing work all day — You still have time for those more pleasant activities and time to get the important work done, all you need to do is be aware of what is going on in your life.

To get to this level of productivity does require a little planning, you need to know what is important and where you need to be spending your time. The problem for most people is they do not know what needs to be done and by when. This leads to last-minute cramming and feeling stressed, busy and out of control. Leaving work to the last minute defies what is possible for your brain to do. Trying to sit down for six hours straight to cram in some last minute revision for an exam, or to prepare the report your boss asked for is not possible. Your brain is incapable of focusing on work for that length of time. At best you have twenty to thirty minutes before your brain will wander off and be distracted no matter how well-intentioned you are. After ninety minutes, the quality of the work you are doing will begin to drop rapidly. Pushing on, because the deadline is almost upon you, is just going to cause panic and stress which results in a further decline in the quality of your output.

However, when you do know what needs to be completed and you have scheduled time to get it done, you feel surprisingly relaxed and find yourself looking forward to the day ahead.

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Take for example my day today. I have two things I want to get done today. The first is write this blog post and the second is to go for a run. These are what I call my objectives for the day. I have scheduled time for both these activities. This morning, I will write this post, and at 2 pm, I will go for my run. By 3 pm today, I will have completed my two objectives for the day. I do have other work I would like to do today, and I have a number of classes to teach and I will get these done, but apart from the classes, the other work is not that important and it wouldn’t be a crisis if I didn’t do them and I can do those after I have completed my objectives.

When you know what tasks need to be accomplished for the day, once they are done, you are free to do anything you like. Take your dog for a long walk, spend an hour chatting with your friends or just going to a local coffee shop with your favourite book or magazine. If you are “in the zone”, you may wish to start something else you had planned to do later in the week.

To achieve this level of relaxed productivity doesn’t require much work either. But you do need to be aware of what’s going on in your life and the deadlines you have. Without that knowledge, you will have a constant nagging going on in your head telling you that you need to be doing something important, but because you have not identified what that is and decided when you are going to do it, your brain goes into a cycle of panic and stress. You need to put a stop to that cycle and get yourself organised so you know exactly what needs doing.

This is why one of my top five tips is to do a weekly review. Whether or not you are a Getting Things Done follower or not, that weekly review is where you can take stock of what you have going on in your life and plan where and when you will do the work that you need to do. You can use your calendar to schedule the time to get that work done. On your calendar, you can see an overview of what’s going on in your week, where your meetings or lectures are and fit time around those to do the work that is important. As long as you practice a small level of discipline each day and you stick to what you have scheduled, you very quickly begin getting those important things done and find that cycle of panic and stress disappears. You are getting work done, work that matters and work that is important to you.

So, if you really want to level up your productivity and reduce the stress and panic in your life, start doing a weekly review on a Sunday. Spend thirty to sixty minutes identifying what needs to get done next week so you are on top of everything going on in your life. Then at the end of every day spend ten minutes or so, identifying what two things you want to get done tomorrow. Write them down and schedule time on your calendar to do them. This small practice mixed with a tiny amount of self-discipline is really all you need to remove the stress and panic, get the important work done and allow you time to do the things you enjoy doing.

 

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 goal is to help show you how to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life.

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

Why Time Management Is The Foundation Of A Successful Life.

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Over the last two years or so, I’ve been reading a lot of books and articles on building a successful life. Books and articles about people like Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and Oprah Winfrey. Each one of these people has walked a different path to achieve success, but one of the common traits they all have is their time management skills.

These people achieve in one year, what many fail to achieve in their lifetime. They learnt the ability to focus on the important things in their life and either ignore or delegate the non-important. This is not a difficult skill to learn, but it is a skill many think is not important when held up against all the other skills that are important. Skills such as being able to communicate your ideas, negotiate deals and collaborate with others.

Time management is about identifying what is important and allocating enough time each day to working on those important things. Something most people don’t do. Instead, most people allow the loudest to get their attention. Often the loudest is not the most important, but because it is loud, it deceives us into thinking it is the most important thing.

Robin Sharma talks about the 5%. The five-percent of people who become hugely successful in life. These five percent know what is important and they make sure that 95% of their waking hours are spent working on those important things. The rest, spend 95% of their waking hours on trivialities such as checking social media feeds, complaining about Donald Trump, getting involved in gossip and trying to be more outraged than the last person who was outraged by some non-PC act by a celebrity or politician.

Time management is about allocating your twenty-four hours in the right place so you achieve the right results. It is the foundation of all successful lives. When you put your focus and attention on the work that will bring you the rewards you want, then you are taking the right steps towards achieving success.

One of the great things about time management is that where you decide to put your attention is entirely your choice. How you spend your days is up to you. Your boss may ask you to complete a project by Friday, but whether you decide to complain about the tight deadline with your colleagues all day or not is your decision. You could decide to sit down and begin work on the project and figure out how you will allocate your time so the project is completed on time. Or you could decide to spend all morning complaining about it on Twitter or Facebook. It’s always your choice.

Time management is also about focusing your resources in the right places. Pretty much like all management skills, managing a sports team is about using your players in a way that will get the best out of them. A good team manager does not ask a great defender to become an attacker. A good team manager puts their best defender in the best place for them to be, defending. Time management is the same thing. Good time management is not leaving your latest class assignment until the night before it is due, good time management is starting the assignment as soon as the assignment is given so you know exactly what research needs doing and how much time you are going to need to write the best assignment you can write.

To become good at time management is where you create a plan for the day and make sure it happens. At the top of your plan you put the one or two things you really want to achieve that day and before you do anything else, you focus all your time and attention to getting them done. I always recommend you do the next day’s planning the night before. That way when you wake up you know exactly what it is you want to achieve and you can start the moment you wake up going about achieving it. Quite often you will find that by lunchtime you have completed the tasks you wanted to achieve, you can then spend the rest of the day getting on with the next important things.

Time management does not mean you spend every minute of the day doing work. Time management means you are managing what you are doing with your time. If you enjoy social media, playing computer games and hanging out with your friends, then great, allow yourself time to do those things. Just don’t allow those activities to take over the whole twenty-four hours in your day.

We are given the same amount of time each day — twenty-four hours — what we do during those twenty-four hours is entirely up to us. Use your calendar to schedule time for the important things, the things that will take your life forward towards achieving the things you want to achieve in life, and make it a priority every day to make that happen. When you start doing this, very soon you will start to see some tangible results in what you are achieving. That’s good time management.

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 goal is to help show you how to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life.

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