How To Avoid Overwhelm By Only Allowing 10 Tasks per Day.

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Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of people, in the forums I follow, commenting on how overwhelmed they feel and how many tasks they have on their to-do list every day. I’ve seen numbers ranging from twenty to sixty tasks per day and I know, from my own experience, that these numbers are not sustainable and what will happen is people will end up rescheduling many of these tasks because they won’t get done.

The problem with a long list of to-dos is the very sight of such a list leads to that feeling of overwhelm. Looking at a list of thirty to-dos first thing in the morning is just going to put you off wanting to even start attacking such a list. Instead what you need is a list of around ten items that will leave you feeling inspired to get started.

Why ten?

We live in a world of distraction. No matter who you are or what you do, you are going to get distracted. Email brings new tasks, bosses and colleagues ask us to do little pieces of work for them and clients and customers demand attention. These are unavoidable. When you start the day with a list of thirty tasks something is going to break, and usually that something is your task management. When you assign yourself a maximum of ten tasks a day on your to-do list two things happen. The first is you have time to deal with the distractions that will come in and second you will be forced to prioritise what you want to get done that day which helps you to focus on the things that are meaningful to you.

The Ten Task Maximum

The ten task maximum does not include your regular daily routines. If you have a morning routine of exercise, planning and learning for example, then the morning routine would not be included in your ten tasks. A morning routine is just something you do every morning and if you do it regularly — ie every morning — you should not need any reminder on your to-do list to do it.

I have a morning routine that involves 45 minutes of studying and 15 minutes of meditation. These two tasks are not on my to-do list, but the one hour is scheduled on my calendar as my self-development hour. It is a non-negotiable part of my day. I have been following this routine for nearly a year now and I really do not need to be reminded to do it in my to-do list. All I need to see is at 5 AM tomorrow morning I will do my studying followed by fifteen minutes of meditation.

I also have around eight routines admin tasks that need doing at the end of every day. Little things like writing up student feedback, updating attendance records and tracking new students in my learning centre. These routine tasks are on my to-do list, but I filter them out and they only show up at the end of the day when I need to see them. For the majority of the day, I do not need to see these tasks because they cannot be done until the end of the day and they act as little reminders to make sure I have done them. I do not include them on my list of ten tasks.

What I want to do is see ten tasks (or less if possible) when I begin the day and those ten tasks are meaningful and advance my work or projects in a positive way. I have a daily calendar event on my calendar for doing admin tasks (8:00 pm to 8:50 pm) and so I know they will get done.

Time Blocking

Because it is inevitable we will be distracted by something each day, be that a request from a customer or a demand from a boss, blocking an hour or two off each workday to get on with the ten tasks you have assigned yourself is crucial. All of us should be able to find an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon for undisturbed focus work. There really isn’t anything so urgent it cannot wait an hour or so. Of course, if you work in the emergency room of a hospital or are a firefighter, then you are not going to be able to do this, but any information worker who cannot block off an hour or so each day has bigger problems than just a long list of to-dos.

In twenty-five years of working in the legal and education professions, I have never once come across a situation where I was not able to block one hour off to get some focused work done. I have some language students who sometimes tell me they are too busy to do their English class, yet they are always able to find ninety minutes for their lunch (officially they have one hour, but they go for lunch at 11:30 am and they don’t return to their desks until close to 1 pm.) When we need to, we can find the time. It’s just a question of priorities.

Priorities

And that nicely leads me to the biggest benefit of only allowing ten tasks on your to-do list each day. It forces you to prioritise. We all have a lot of things we would like to do each day, but we only have twenty-four hours to do them. We cannot do everything at once. When you are limited to just ten meaningful tasks each day you are forced to think about which of the tasks you have to do will have the biggest positive impact on your day and your active projects. When you choose tasks that will move your projects forward each day you are making a bigger impact on your projects than if you were randomly picking away at a long list of tasks. You become more focused on the outcomes and less focused on the trivialities. Ultimately, projects need to be completed and focusing on the tasks that will get you to completion rather than the little insignificant tasks will get you to the outcome you want faster.

Having a long list of daily to-dos does not make you a hero. All it does is cause you to feel overwhelmed and that leads to procrastination. Reducing your to-do list to the ten most important tasks each day allows you to begin the day focused and energised and ready to move your projects towards the outcomes you desire faster. You will procrastinate less and you will still have time each day to deal with the unforeseen interruptions and distractions that are an inevitable part of living in the twenty-first century.

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

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

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

Why You Should Not Be So Hard On Yourself.

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The pressure to be constantly on your best game and to always be producing, delivering and executing is intense these days. Not only are the expectations of other people placing us under pressure, but the pressure we apply to ourselves is relentless. There’s never any let-up and no drop in the pressure. Just constant demands, endless work and high expectations.

We are living, emotional beings that from time to time get upset, angry, feel tired and are just not in the mood to do the work expected of us. The push to standardise work — to make sure we are always following the SOP (standards of procedure) manual — has left us feeling we have to get the work finished on time every time to the exact same standard on time every time.

Take a step back.

I think It’s time to step back. Time to realise we are not machines. We have our own independent thoughts and feelings. Some days we are going to be on fire. On those days we can achieve an inordinate amount of work to the highest possible standards. Other days we are less energetic. Maybe we didn’t get a great night’s sleep, perhaps we had a fight with our loved one or a relative is seriously ill. There are many factors that can have a debilitating effect on the work we produce.

And that’s the point. We need to understand we cannot produce a consistent amount of work every single day. There will always be days when we are not at our best. We are human beings, affected emotionally by external events subjected to our own body’s biorhythms and our own body’s physical fragility and we need to become comfortable with that fact.

On days when you feel fantastic, take the opportunity to get a lot of work done. On days when you feel particularly fragile just focus on getting whatever you can do done. Small steps taken every day can lead to amazing destinations. You do not have to accomplish everything in one day. When you feel great, do a lot. When you feel not so great just do what you can.

You don’t have to be hyper-productive every day.

That’s a problem with the world today, we feel we have to be hyper-productive every single day and that’s simply not true. It’s not only not true, but it’s also impossible.

This is why we need to be less hard on ourselves. Accepting that there are days when we are not going to be as effective as we would like and instead of sitting at a computer screen and getting more and more frustrated with ourselves, we should give ourselves permission to get up and go out for a walk or just take a nap. Just do something different and that we want to do and feel like doing.

Each week I have a number of things I want to complete. This blog post for example usually gets written on a Monday morning and posted Wednesday morning. Although I like to get it written Monday morning, there’s absolutely no problem doing it Monday night or Tuesday morning if I am tired and not in the mood to write Monday morning. It’s far better I write when I am in the best mood for writing rather than forcing myself to do something my heart is not in the mood for. This need to feel under pressure all the time is what leads to break down and that is not something we should be aiming for.

There are, of course, things you can do to maximise your energetic and productive self. Make sure you get enough sleep. Pulling all-nighters three times a week will just lead to burn out and a terrible state in which to get quality work done. Likewise, if you are filling your stomach with greasy, sugary food all day this will impact your brain’s ability to stay alert.

A few small steps…

To maximise the number of days you perform at your best make sure get enough sleep and drink enough water. These are the basics. On top of that make sure you get enough exercise each day — and no, that does not mean going to the gym or doing a 10k run every day. It just means you do at least thirty minutes walking each day — eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid alcohol. Take regular breaks throughout the day. Trying to sit at a desk for several hours without a break every day won’t produce more work than a person who works for ninety minutes and takes a thirty-minute walk. It’s likely you will produce less work and the work you do produce will be of a lower quality than the person taking regular breaks.

And it is not just healthy physical habits but also mental habits too. Avoid stressful situations. Understand you do not, and will not, have the answers for every problem and never allow yourself to get upset, stressed or angry about events you have no control over. Accept negative events and situations for what they are and deal with them. As the Stoics would tell you, you may not have control over the events that happen to you, but you do have control over how you react to them. Letting small inconveniences annoy or cause you to get angry will not change the event.

Stop putting yourself under constant daily pressure to produce and execute. When you feel you need a rest, take a rest, even if it is only for an hour or so. Just take that time out. When you come back to what you were doing you will be refreshed and energised and ready to produce amazing work. Life should always be about enjoying what we do every day and being proud of what we produce. So be proud, stress-free and well rested.


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.

How I Use My Apple Watch To Maximise My Productivity.

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One of the surprising things in my life is my Apple Watch has been the biggest influence on my personal productivity since I first got an Apple Watch in 2015. Surprising because what I first saw as a device to monitor my exercise very quickly became the centrepiece of my productivity collection process.

The integration of Siri with the Apple Watch a couple of years ago was the catalyst for the productivity gain. If I need to collect an idea or a task or just add an item to my shopping list, all I have to do is raise my wrist and add the task or item to my list. It could not be any simpler. No typing, no opening of apps, just raise and speak.

Whenever I am coaching people, I always stress the importance of making sure collecting your ideas, tasks and events has the least amount of resistance. Whether you are using a pen and piece of paper or your phone, you should be optimising your collecting process so it is fast and easy. When your collection process is fast and easy you are much more likely to collect everything and not ‘trust’ your brain to remember it. For me, the Apple Watch has made the collection process so much easier.

It is true I now collect a lot of things I later decide has no importance to me, but if you want a productivity system to really work for you, collecting everything is what matters. Later, when you do your processing you can decide, in a cool, reflective way, whether it is relevant to you or not. Deleting a task or idea is simple and only takes a split second. Not collecting that task or idea could cost you a lot of time and money later. So, an increased volume in my inbox is not something I worry about.

So, how do I use my Apple Watch to improve my overall productivity?

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Watch face.

On my watch face, I use a customised Infograph. At the top I have today’s weather by temperature — a useful piece of information in South Korea as the temperature can vary quite significantly — and my exercise app so when I begin my exercise the Workout app is easily accessed.

In the centre of the face, I have the calendar complication at the top. This gives me today’s date by number as well as my next appointment. This feature is fantastic as it means with just a glance I know exactly what I should be doing next and when. I have my deep work sessions on my calendar with a clear description of what I want to work on during that session so with a glance at my watch I can see exactly what I will be working on next.

Also, in the middle of the face, I have the times in LA and London. I work with clients in Europe and the US, so knowing what time it is in those times zones is a very useful piece of information to have at hand. I also have my activity tracker in the centre to let me know how I am doing on my activity metrics for the day — this helps me decide whether to get off the bus a few stops earlier to ensure I close all my activity rings for the day.

Finally, at the bottom of the face, I have the timer and Drafts Apple Watch app. I use the timer for when I am meditating and cooking. I like to do a fifteen-minute session of meditation in the morning after I have finished my studying and the timer means I do not need to looking at my watch to see how long I have been doing. Instead, I get a vibration from the watch to tell me fifteens minutes are up.

Drafts Apple Watch App.

Drafts is the hub of my collection process. I use Drafts to collect everything I want to collect. Even on my phone, I prefer opening up Drafts, typing or dictating whatever it is I want to collect and sending it off to its rightful place. On my watch its one tap and dictate. It’s incredibly fast and it maintains a discreet number on the watch face to tell me what is in my Drafts inbox. That helps me to know if there is anything in there that needs processing.

Optimisation.

Optimising the way you collect your stuff is how you continue to grow and develop your productivity system. Often it is the small adjustments to how you collect or how you organise your stuff that can bring you big improvements to your system. If you have a complicated array of systems to collect your stuff, you will resist collecting. If you are not collecting into a trusted place, you will resist organising and if you don’t know where anything is you will not be working on the work that matters.

Using the best tools you have available to collect and organise your life and work and making sure these tools are set up so they work best for you is one of the fastest ways you can improve your overall productivity system. If you have a few quiet days this month, take a look at your system and see where you can make some small improvements. Look at how you collect your tasks, events and ideas. Can you make that collection faster? How are you organising what you collected at the end of the day? Can you improve your Golden Ten time? After all, the goal with any productivity system is being able to spend more time doing so you can spend more time doing the things you love doing with the people you love doing them with.



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.

Why Hustle Porn Is Not As Dangerous As The Naysayers Tell You.

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There is a whole category of blog and social media posts blasting the rise of what has become known as “hustle porn”. Hustle Porn is those motivational posts and videos that show people working out, waking up very early and doing work and not ending their day until they are exhausted.

The reality in life is if you want to achieve greatness — and there’s nothing wrong in that — you are going to have to do the work. You are going to have to be better than everyone else and you are going to have to work long hours. There are no shortcuts and no magic formula that allows you to stay in bed until lunchtime on weekends. You have to be focused and you have to do the work.

Now, not everyone wants to do that and that is perfectly fine. We live in a wonderful world that allows us to live our lives the way we want to. To criticise a genre of books, videos and blog posts because they tell us what it takes to become successful is really missing the point. These videos, books and blog posts tell it as it is. To imply that you don’t have to work hard to build a successful business or to become a better person is just plain wrong.

I’ve met dozens of people who pay $100 a week to go to the latest new fitness classes that promise you will get fit and lose weight and all you have to do for an hour a week is stretch out your legs and arms with a group of other like-minded people and you will lose those ten pounds you’ve been wanting to lose for the last three years in no time at all. Sorry, it won’t happen. To lose those pounds requires you to push yourself, get out of breath and sweat. Laying on the floor stretching your arms and legs in a hot room will not do that for you.

If you want to lose weight, build a successful business or become an Olympic champion you have to do the work. There are no shortcuts. The work involves a lot of hours. It’s the hours you put in and the consistency of the work you do that will get you there. Nothing else will.

However, where criticism of hustle porn is correct is where you are told you have to work eighteen hours a day seven days a week. working eighteen hours a day seven days a week and trying to survive on three or four hours sleep is not sustainable. Sure you have to do the work, but you also need the rest. As with all advice (and motivational content particularly), you do need to take it with a pinch of salt. When you begin to feel tired mentally or physically stop and rest. Go for a walk, take a nap or just turn on the TV and watch something. Being aware of your physical and mental state and acting accordingly is important if you want to maintain your physical and mental health. You do not have to do it all in one day, one week or one month. Success takes time, it takes patience, a lot of action and plenty of time. Mix those four ingredients into the mix and you have a sustainable pathway.

We live in a fast-changing world. A world where it is predicted 80% or more of the jobs available today will disappear within the next 20 years. Schools and universities do not prepare us for the future, they are teaching nineteenth-century principles in a twenty-first-century world. The best way to learn about what is required to survive this future is from the people who are thriving in today’s world — many of who did not have a great formal education — the people who are doing the work that matters to build a career and a life for themselves that so many people admire. Is that wrong?

I believe it is far more dangerous to not do the work. To sit around and live a sedentary lifestyle, that involves going out with friends for a few drinks complaining about your boss or how much work you have to do and sitting at home scrolling through the thousands of lifestyle images on Instagram or Facebook. Dreaming and doing nothing. That is what leads to depression, misery and stress. getting up early and doing the work to build a life and a career of success that gives you purpose and with purpose comes fulfilment.

Is there a happy medium? Of course, there is. Doing the work, being strict about resting, getting enough sleep and taking care of your health should always be at the top of your to-do list. Spending hours on social media, complaining to your friends about how hard your life is and binge-watching episodes of your favourite drama is not going to get you very far in life. You will end up miserable and depressed. Finding your purpose, having a goal, wanting to better yourself, these are the building blocks to a fulfilled, happy life. When you find your purpose and a clear set of goals, that’s where you will find your happiness and if you need a little motivation from a video of “The Rock”, Gary Vaynerchuk or Will Smith then great! If it motivates you, watch it.

As with all things in life, too much of something is not necessarily good for you. If you are spending hours every day watching and reading hustle porn, then it’s going to be counterproductive. You are watching videos instead of doing the work. If you spend too much time thinking about doing something you are not taking any action. Results come from your actions, not your thoughts.

The best advice I could give you is choose your own life’s course, work hard, rest well and don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you-you are wrong to wake up early and work long hours, because that’s where life’s true value is.


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.

Where’s Your Anchor?

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Having a place you can go when all around you is in chaos.

Many years ago, whenever I went on holiday I always felt safe and secure once I was booked into the hotel or, if I was camping, had erected my tent. This was my anchor, everything I did while on holiday, or a business trip, was centred around that anchor. It was my temporary home. A place I could always come back to, regroup and plan what I would do the next day.

I’ve used This ‘anchor’ idea in my productivity system for many years. Rather than being a physical place though, my productivity anchor has always been either my journal or my Franklin Planner, when I used a Franklin Planner. It is a place where I have a list of all my plans, goals and dreams and in times of overwhelm, stress and drama, I can go there and it brings me calm and refocus.

Other people’s demands will drag you away from what’s important.

It is very easy to get waylaid by the stresses and dramas of the day. Other people’s emergencies, demanding bosses, upset customers and angry partners. These things can very easily distract us from our goals and purpose. We may start the day with the best of intentions, but one hour in our workplace on a Monday morning can destroy our intentions for the day and we find ourselves dealing with other people’s agendas and we lose track of our own goals and objectives for the day. When the day ends, we look back at the day and wonder where all the time went and why we did not do anything we wanted to get done.

This is why having a place, either a digital place or a paper-based notebook, is a vital tool in your productivity toolkit. It is a place you can always come back to and review your intentions, your goals, your plans and refocus you on what is important to you. It is the reason why all the best advice about planning, goal setting and productivity always say “write it down”.

Our brains are attracted to distractions.

Our brains are very easily distracted. Anything unusual, loud or new will get our attention and our brain will then try and make sense of it. That is how our brains are wired. It goes back millions of years and it is a defence mechanism our brains developed back when we were on the lunch menu for animals that had a taste for human meat.

Today, we live in very different times, of course. We are no longer on the menu of roaming wild animals. Instead, we are now on the menu of people who want us to take responsibility for their problems. While that may be a good and noble thing to do, it also means we lose focus on our goals and intentions and this means we spend all our time serving the interests of others at the expense of our own interests and that is not a very good place to be.

Having an anchor gives you a place to refocus.

The way to avoid this and take control of our lives is to have in place an anchor. A place where your goals and aspirations are written down so you can read through them and remind yourself of what you want. What your goals are and where you want to go in your life.

Although I am very much in the digital space — my to-do list manager and notes app are all digital — I still use a paper-based anchor. My journal acts as my anchor and it is where I write down my goals, my life’s purpose and my daily objectives. Throughout the day, whenever I am doing work at my desk, my journal is there next to me, reminding me of my objectives for the day. It’s where I keep track of the work I have done for the day and allows me to see what I am working on. If I find my list of things done is filling up with other people’s problems, I know it is time to take a few minutes to read through my own objectives for the day to make sure I am addressing them, and not spending all my time dealing with other people’s crises.

Work on yourself you can help the people who matter to you.

It is important to be there to help your friends, family and colleagues, but you also need to be working on yourself. It is you who is more important, and while that may sound selfish, it is not. Remember the last time you took a flight somewhere? When the flight attendant did the safety instructions, whose oxygen mask did they tell you to put on first? Your’s or your young child’s? Your’s. And the reason for that is if you do not take care of yourself first you will not be in a position to help others. And that lesson is true in life too. For you to be in a position to help others you need to make sure your life is in order. If you neglect your life and your goals and spend all your time working on other people’s problems, in time you will become a burden to other people and those other people are usually the people you most care about.

No matter how you do this, having a place where you have your own goals, plans and life outcomes written down will bring you incredible peace of mind. It will allow you to refocus your energies on what is important to you so you are in a position of strength to help those people you most care about. It brings clarity, purpose and it is a way to check you are making progress in the right direction. And more importantly, it becomes a joy to do.

The world we live in is a very distracting place. The demands for our attention not only come from people we interact with, but we are also inundated with adverts, notifications and ‘breaking news’. Having an anchor in place that brings you back to what you want, a place no matter how chaotic life around you brings you peace and focus is a great way to stay on track, and maintain your momentum towards achieving all the things you want to achieve in your life.

Start planning 2019 now!

If you don’t know what you want or are struggling to set goals and plans, then take a look at my Ultimate Goal Planning course. It is a course designed to take you on a journey of discovery and will help you to establish what you want to achieve and show you how to turn those into achievable goals on a realistic timeline. Now is a perfect time to take this course with 2019 just around the corner and at just $59.99 is a fantastic investment in your amazing future. More details can be found here.

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

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

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

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.

In Defence Of InBox Zero And Why You Should Be Using It.

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Inbox Zero is an email management system created by Merlin Mann around 2006. The basic concept is there are only four things you can do with an email when it comes in: Reply, delete, defer or delegate it. This means when you are working on an email you do one of these four things with it and move it from your inbox. The idea is that by the end of the day, your inbox will be zeroed out and all emails will have been dealt with appropriately. Merlin did a great talk at Google Talks that is well worth watching for a full breakdown of how the system works.

These days, inbox zero appears to be out of fashion and I find it hard to understand why. I have seen articles and comments likening inbox zero to being Sisyphus forever rolling a rock up a hill, suggesting inbox zero is a waste of time and not a practical way to handle email because it’s a never-ending task. And yet, since I adopted the principles of inbox zero around 2009, I have never had any problems with email. No overwhelm, no difficulty finding anything and I generally reply to email in a timely manner.

Being Organised and productive will always be never-ending

The same, of course, can be said with anything related to becoming better organised and more productive. Many things in life will feel like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill. Putting clothes away at the end of the day is a never-ending task. Doing the dishes after eating a meal, or writing the weekly sales report. These are all never-ending tasks. If you don’t do these tasks, things will mount up and become a huge mess. Never putting clothes away after you have worn them will eventually make it difficult to find the clothes you want to wear when you want to wear them. Not doing the dishes at the end of the day will result in you not being able to find a clean cup in the morning for that life-giving first cup of coffee.

This also is the case with email. If you are not dealing with email as it comes in, it is going to mount up and become a cesspit of overwhelm and disorganisation. Finding that important email, sent to you last month, will take up a disproportionate amount of time because you cannot remember the correct spelling of the name of the person who sent it to you. And your suppliers, and in many cases, your customers will feel you don’t care because you didn’t take the two minutes it would take to respond to their message.

The importance of good email etiquette.

Any email that requires a reply has been sent by a human being. It is simply polite to reply in a timely manner! It shocks me the number of times I have answered a complete stranger’s question and not received a simple thank you reply. I don’t mind, but if I reach out to a stranger for an answer to a question, I always have the courtesy and good manners to thank them for their answer.

If your email is a mess, you cannot claim to be a productive person.

However, the deeper issue here is how can anyone claim to be a productive, organised individual if their email organisation is non-existent? Maybe their to-do list is beautifully set up, their notes app has a sophisticated structure that manages their notes in a complex hierarchical structure and yet their email inbox has thousands of opened and unopened emails. That is not the character of a well organised, productive individual. It’s a sign of laziness. If you are striving to become a better organised and productive person, you cannot do it by half measures. It’s an either all in or not at all way of life. It’s like someone running 10km every morning for their health but smoking twenty cigarettes a day, eating burgers, pizza and cookies and downing eight pints at the end of the day. You’re not living a healthy life.

Two questions: “What is it?” And “what’s the next action?”

Of all the email organisation systems I have come across over the years, inbox zero is by far the best system. As soon as an email comes in, I ask the questions: “what is it?” And “what is the next action?” Whatever the next action is I do it. There are only four things I can do with an email. Deal with it if it will take me less than two minutes. Defer it if I need more than two minutes. Delete it if it has no value to me or forward it on to a person who could handle it better than I could. This is not on a level with quantum physics. It is simple and with practice, you get incredibly fast at it.

Email is one of the best communication methods ever developed. It allows us to communicate with people on the other side of the world in an instant. It allows us to send documents, confirm reservations and receive important information. It is a fundamental part of any system, just as important as your to-do list and notes. If you want to become a more productive, organised person you need to treat email in the same way you treat your to-do list manager and notes app. Have a system in place that organises your mail so they are easy to find when you need them and always remember that when another human being sends you an email, they have taken valuable time to write to you and so the least you could do is reply with a simple thank you.


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Find out more about my 2018 Email Productivity Mastery course right here. Learn how to implement the system described in this post and become an master of email productivity.


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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.

11 Realities About Being Productive.

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Living and working in the productivity space I get to read a lot of articles and watch a lot of videos about productivity. I get to hear stories from clients and followers and I get to experience living a productive life every day.

One of the things that stands out to me is the number of people desperately searching for a ‘hack’ that will magically do all their work for them. That could be the latest new productivity app raved about in productivity forums and groups or a new way to organise to-dos in to-do list manager.

The reality is there are no shortcuts and there are no magic apps out there and there is never likely to be in the future either. If you need to do the work, you have to do the work. That’s the reality.

So in an effort to dispel many of the myths and untruths about personal productivity here are a few truths you should know:

1 The only way to get the work done is to do the work.

The biggie. If work needs to be done, someone needs to do it. Nine times out of ten that “someone” is going to be you and there are no apps, hacks or shortcuts to doing great work. You are going to have to sit down (or stand up) and just get on and do the work. Thinking about it, complaining about it or reorganising the order in which you will do the work is not doing the work. Doing is the only way the work will get done.

2 Complaining about how much work you have to do is not doing the work.

Telling everyone how busy you are does not give you any gold stars. Everyone thinks they are busy. The reality is “busy” is just a state of mind. If you think you are busy, you will feel busy. We all have twenty-four hours each day. Some people get a lot of quality work done, many do not. The ones getting the quality work done are not complaining, they are doing. The ones complaining are not doing the work. The more they complain, the less time they have to do quality work. Stop complaining and just get on and do the work.

3 Reorganising your to-do list is not doing the work.

I find a lot of people spend far too much time reorganising their to-do lists as if a new way of organising it will magically reduce the amount of time they need to do the work. It does not. All you need a to-do list to tell you is what work to work on. Then, when you see a task that says “Work on fixing bugs in the latest software release” you can go straight to your coding app and start fixing the bugs. It’s simple and it has been working very well for years. As a guide, it should be taking you less than ten seconds to get started on your work for the day. You open your to-do list, you see what needs doing, you start doing.

4 Checking your email is not the same as doing email

This one always gets me. I see so many people just checking their email and not doing anything about it. The way to manage your email is simple. When you see an email, you make a decision about what you need to do with it. Either you reply, file or delete. Just looking at the email and then moving on to the next email is not efficient. It means you will now have to look at the email at least twice. Make a decision about it and then do it.

5 Complaining about disruptions and distractions is not dealing with the problem.

We all get disrupted and distracted at times. Complaining about it is not going to stop them. The only way to stop them is to stop looking at your phone, turn off notifications on your computer and to politely ask your colleagues and boss for some uninterrupted time to get on with your work. Asked politely, most decent people will respect your time and allow you time to get on with your work.

6 Most meetings are a waste of time.

The vast majority of meetings you are asked to attend are not going to move you forward on your projects. Most of these meetings are just talking shops and an opportunity for people to complain about how busy they are. If you can, avoid 90% of the meetings you are asked to attend. Be selective and develop strategies to avoid attending these meetings (I know this one is much easier to write than do)

7 Speaking to someone gets results faster than emailing them

One of the fastest ways to get a solution to a problem is to pick up the phone and call the person who can give you the solution. Better still, standing up from your desk and walking down the hall to speak to the person is even faster. Emailing the person is not going to get you the solution very fast. You could be waiting days for the reply. Get up, move and ask the question directly. (But respect number 5)

8 Not knowing your outcome before you start will result in failure and delays.

Far too often people begin projects without being clear what it is they are trying to accomplish. Make sure when you start a project you are clear about what the desired outcome is. If you are given a project by your boss or a client, ask the right questions so you and they know what outcome is expected. When there is no clarity, procrastination will set in. A simple example would be saying “I want to earn more money”. If I gave you one extra dollar, you would have achieved your goal. You need to be specific with something like “I want to earn an extra $1,000 this month” This is clear and specific and will give you the starting point to begin planning out how you will do it.

9 The water cooler/staff canteen is not a place where work happens.

Yes, you need water. Yes, you need food. But that is all these places are going to give you. They are not going to help you get your work done. They are generally areas of gossip and complaining. Avoid these places as much as you can. Nothing good ever comes from indulging in gossip.

10 Not getting enough sleep will destroy your performance.

If you think staying up late working on a piece of work and getting up early to finish it will result in a great piece of work you are wrong. You need breaks and you need sleep. Pulling all-nighters and trying to survive on a few hours sleep each night will result in something breaking — usually you. A lack of sleep is not only bad for your health, it also damages relationships and dramatically reduces the quality of your work. Just don’t do it. Take your sleep seriously.

11 Not having a plan for the day is planning to fail.

If you are serious about becoming more productive then you need to plan each day. It does not have to be a minute by minute plan, but you do need to plan what you want to get done that day. Without a plan, you are going to end up working on someone else’s agenda and that is never going to work out well for you. Plan the day. Keep it simple and try to get whatever you plan completed by the end of the day.

Becoming more productive is not difficult, but you do need to be very clear about your work. Playing around with your to-do list, attending every meeting and just ‘checking’ your email are guaranteed ways to make you feel busy but you will have little work to show for it at the end of the day. End the day with a plan for the next day and when you start the day, start the work.

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.

If You Want The Success Of Gary Vaynerchuk, You Have To Work Like Gary Vaynerchuk.

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For many people the dream of building a successful business is real. To be able to create something from your own ideas and to build it into a multi-million dollar enterprise is the stuff dreams are made of. We’ve all heard the success stories of people like Steve Jobs — drop out of university, team up with a tech genius and build a world-changing company. Or Gary Vaynerchuk — turn a liquor store into a huge online success and then build a media company and become an internet sensation. It all seems so easy.

The media paints a misleading picture

The truth is it’s not easy. It’s incredibly hard. The media has a tendency to focus on the glamorous side and play down the daily grind. There are very few glamorous moments. The real truth is eighteen hours a day, seven days a week of mundane grind. It’s about grabbing a few moments with your family when you can and it’s about missing out on a social life. For most twenty-somethings, getting out on Friday and Saturday nights with friends, having a few beers and talking about how they are building a business to change the world is considered essential. We need a break sometimes don’t we? The problem here is, Gary Vaynerchuk never took a break.

While all of Gary Vaynerchuk’s friends were out partying and chasing girls in their twenties, Gary Vaynerchuk was in his father’s liquor store working. Fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. While all of Steve Jobs’ classmates were out tripping in the seventies, Steve Jobs was working on building the Apple I with Steve Wozniak. It was a relentless, seven days a week grind. Back then, nobody was talking about them, no media organisation was chasing them for interviews. They were just like you and me, nobodies in a world full of nobodies except they were doing things differently. They were not socialising, they were not partying. They were working. They were doing the boring, repetitive, mundane work that everyone hates, but has to be done to build the foundations of success.

It is only when people like Steve Jobs, Gary Vaynerchuk and Elon Musk break through and become successful, as defined by the media, does the media begin to pay attention. It is only when they have achieved some form of success do they start writing about these people. They show the corporations they have built, they show off the products created, but they never show the hard work and grind it took to create these successful products and businesses. The failures, the ‘back to the drawing board’ moments and broken friendships and relationships. None of these is ever shown. They are not part of the glamour narrative. The failures though, the back to the drawing board moments and broken relationships are 99% of what it takes to become hugely successful.

Most people wanting success still don’t get it

I occasionally watch a Gary Vaynerchuk keynote. He very generously posts them on his YouTube channel, and he is always telling people to stop focusing on the glamorous side of entrepreneurship. He’s constantly talking about the grind, the hard work and the sacrifices. Even in his short videos on Instagram and Facebook, he talks about patience and the lack of it most people have today. Yet, you can tell from the questions his audience ask that most people still don’t get this. They believe they can become hugely successful without the sacrifice. No, you can’t. That’s not the way the world works.

We were all penniless once

Tony Robbins tells the story of how Sylvester Stallone turned Rocky into a huge success. The repeated rejections, his first wife walking out on him, having to sell his beloved dog and the sleepless nights. The grind of writing and re-writing the script with no money for food. All this happened when nobody knew who Sylvester Stallone was. He was a penniless bum with a dream. Just like most of us were at some point in time. But what made him different was he would not accept defeat. He knew he could make it as an actor and he was never going to settle. He was prepared to go through hell to get there and he did go through hell.

When Rocky became a success, that was when people started to pay attention. The journey to creating Rocky was quickly written out of the narrative and the focus was on the glamour. How many millions Sly was making from the movie and when the next one would be coming out.

The 99% of your time

And the same happens with Gary Vaynerchuk today. We all see him walking around the streets of LA, New York or London talking to the camera. It looks glamorous, it looks like the dream life, but it is only a snapshot of his day. It’s fifteen minutes of a day with 1,440 of them. 1% of his day! What we don’t see is the other 99%. The dealing with clients, the day to day mundane business he still does seven days a week.

The reality is if you want to be hugely successful you are going to have to spend your life focused on the 99% mundane, boring, repetitive work. The glamour will not come for a very long time. The work and sacrifice must come first and it’s decades of work and sacrifice, not a few months. And it will never stop. Your friends will be your business associates. You hobbies will be your work and the beautiful house and expensive car you may one day be able to buy will rarely be used. You will be spending all your time on your work, not driving down PCH in a Ferrari California or sunning yourself around your pool. Your reality will be the office, a regular taxi and a hotel room.

Now, are you prepared to make that sacrifice? At the end of the day, you will always be remembered for what you accomplished and your happiness will flow from what you have achieved and what you are striving to achieve. Happiness does not come from the glamour. It comes from a sense of purpose and accomplishment. 99% of you will not be prepared to make that sacrifice (which is fine) and that is why only a tiny percentage of people will ever become as successful as Gary Vaynerchuk.

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.

How To Stop Re-Organising Your Work And Just Get The Work Done.

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Last week on my Productivity Mastery Video Series, I talked about why your to-do list is not going to do the work for you and sometimes you just need to get the work done.

This is something I see all the time. People spend so much time reorganising their to-do lists, playing around with the settings and changing colours and view options and not doing the work. Then they complain they are so busy they have no time to do the things they really want to do.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t recommend feature-rich productivity apps. There is always too many things to play with and this playing around is often at the expense of the work that needs doing. These apps, while on the surface appear to give you everything you could want in a productivity app, very quickly become a procrastinator’s heaven, sucking you in on a never-ending quest for the perfect set up and preventing you from getting the work done.

Collect | Organise | Do

My to-do list manager collects all the stuff I need to pay attention to, it is a place to organise all that stuff at the end of the day and it tells me what work needs doing next. That’s it. My ratio of work to organising is in the region of 95% of my time I am doing and 5% I am organising the stuff I collected. I feel there is still a few more percents I can squeeze from the organising side of the ratio. If I could get it to 2% organising I would feel I have a perfect balance. The less time you spend inside your to-do list manager, the more work you get done. That is the mindset you should be adopting.

Output -V- Input

Becoming more productive is not about the tools you use to be more productive. Becoming more productive is about your output. What to-do list managers and other productivity tools do is tell you what needs doing next and the fewer steps it takes to tell you that the better.

Just because your to-do list manager can maintain a dashboard of all your current projects, can automatically assign dates to your tasks and prioritise things for you doesn’t mean you do not have to do the work. No matter how feature rich your to-do list manager is, it is never going to do the work for you. To become more productive, you are going to have to increase your output. Productivity is your output measured against your input. So if you are collecting everything and spending too much time organising what you collected, then your output will suffer and you are not being productive. To be more productive you have to reduce the time it takes to collect and organise your stuff so you can maximise the time you spend doing the work — the output.

Set up for speed.

Make sure the way you collect stuff into your system is as easy as it can be. Set up keyboard shortcuts, learn the fastest way to collect on your mobile devices etc. When it comes to organising, set your system up so moving tasks and commitments into their right placeholders takes as little time as possible so the time available for output (the doing) is maximised. When you place your focus on maximising the doing, you create a system that works for you and a system that takes your productivity into areas you have always dreamed of.

The more time you can find to do the work and the less time you spend organising your work, the more productive you will be. If you can spend ten minutes or so the night before deciding what you will work on the next day and start your day with those tasks, you will find you make a great start on improving your output. Too often when you don’t plan the day before, you spend far too much of your most creative time (the morning) trying to decide what to do. That’s not a good way to become more productive. That’s just wasting valuable creative time.

The ‘perfect tool’ does not exist — everyone is different.

App switching, playing around with settings, colours and layout of the productivity apps you use is not doing the work. It is time wasting. Maintaining a simple system of lists of things to do, a calendar that shows you where you have to be at the right time and a notes app that allows you to find your notes when you need them is all you need. The simpler these apps and systems are the more productive you will be.

Focus more of your attention on your output and less on the tools and you will very quickly see fantastic results in what you get done.


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.