To be Productive You Don’t Need A Complicated System.

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When Ian Fleming sat down to begin writing Casino Royale on 17th February 1952, all he had was an idea, an old Remington typewriter and a few reams of paper. Every day over the next six weeks, while he was on holiday in Jamaica, he began his day with a swim then breakfast in the warm Jamaican sun and afterwards went into the living room of his bungalow, closed the blinds, sat down at his typewriter and for the next three hours wrote.

He did this every day for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, he had the first draft of Casino Royale and James Bond was born.

If you study anybody who has created something special, from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso, you will find they never had a complicated system of task management. There was no hierarchy of projects, contexts, filters or Kanban boards. There was just an idea and a consistent amount of work produced every day until the masterpiece was completed.

Yet many people believe if they create a complex hierarchy of projects and sub-projects with an array of assorted tags, filters and dates they will miraculously become super-productive and all their work will get done.

It won’t.

To become super productive, you need two ingredients: focus and consistency. Focus on the project or goal you want to accomplish. When you begin each day with the sole purpose of working on your masterpiece (the project) and you dedicate time every day to work on it, over a period of time you will have a masterpiece. That is how great things are made. Focus and consistency.

Ian Fleming did not wake up in the morning, check his mail, review a long list of to-dos, have a chat with his colleagues and review his social media feeds (which did not exist in 1952 anyway) He woke up, ate breakfast and began writing.

This consistent routine, repeated every day for six weeks, resulted in a finished draft yet he still had the afternoon to go snorkelling, sunbathing have dinner with his friends and explore the beautiful Jamaican island.

Even in our time, the most industrious people still do not have a complex hierarchy of projects, sub-projects, tags and filters. They have instead a focus on what it is they want to accomplish. Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur, runs numerous companies with multiple projects and manages all this armed only with a little notebook. When he wakes up in the morning he follows a simple routine of exercise, breakfast and work. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve that day and he remains focused on that outcome. He has no need for a complex to-do list manager because he is completely focused on the outcome he wants to accomplish.

To achieve this level of super-productivity all you need is to apply a little focus consistently every day. You do not need to isolate yourself from the outside world. You only need to begin each day with a purpose. A purpose to move forward on whatever project you are working on at the moment. Focus two to three hours on that project every day and within a matter of weeks, you will have a completed project. There is nothing complex about that and there is no need for complex productivity systems. A notebook, a pen and clarity for what you want to accomplish is all you need.

Every Monday morning I begin the day with two objectives for the day. Write my blog post and do my exercise. The first thing I do after waking up and making my coffee is sit down at my computer, open my writing app and begin writing. For the next ninety minutes, that is my focus. Email is off, my phone is on do not disturb and I write.

Likewise, at 2 pm my phone goes back on to do not disturb and I will exercise for about one hour. By 3 pm, my objectives for the day are completed and I still have plenty of time to handle replies to emails, work coming in from clients and any admin tasks that need to be done for the day. That’s just two-and-a-half hours out of a day that has twenty-four. There is nothing complex about that.

People often say to me “ah yes, but I have to be available for my customers and boss” Really? That’s only true if you do not set any boundaries. Ian Fleming regularly had house guests staying with him while he was in Jamaica, yet everyone knew that between 9 am and 12 pm he would not be available and nobody complained because he told them he needed that time to write. From after lunch until bedtime he was available for his house guests. No one complained. Instead, people respected his time.

No one will respect your time until you respect your time. Take control of it and set some boundaries.

If you want to become super-productive, create your masterpiece and still have time to take care of your colleagues, bosses and customers, then set aside two or three hours every day to focus on your most important project. Tell everyone — colleagues, bosses and customers — that you are doing your important work at that time and you will be off the ‘grid’ for a little while and very soon you will be turning in quality work without the stress and overwhelm so many people have today and no one will complain.

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

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

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

Why Your Work-Life Should Never Be Built On The Silicon Valley Model.

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I have been reading Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons and I have been amazed that intelligent and incredibly talented people have become so obsessed with working for a Silicon Valley startup that they are willing to sacrifice not just their private lives, but their dignity and health as well.

Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling, but it should not become all-consuming. Work is something we need to keep us mentally healthy. It gives us a purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It also provides an income so we can put food on the table and enjoy the benefits of living in an amazing world that allows us to travel to far off places that would have taken months to get to just 100 years ago. But that does not mean we should allow work to consume all our time. We need rest and relaxation too.

One reason you need time for yourself is to preserve your ability to be creative. Our creative ideas do not come from sitting in front of a computer screen twenty hours a day dealing with the same issues. They come from nature, from getting outside and spending time with friends and family and the experiences we have when we are not doing our work. You will never improve your skills doing the same stuff every day over long periods. To improve your skills you need time away from your work.

But far and away the most important reason you need to be taking sufficient rest is for your health. If you are not taking care of your health, then no matter how much money you earn working in a slavish startup culture, it will not be beneficial to you as you will not have the health, energy and vitality to enjoy it. Sure, you might think because you are still young you can slow down and take care of your health later, but that rarely happens. The damage you do to your health today will come back and haunt you later. Heart disease, back, shoulder and neck problems develop when you are young, and become debilitating in your later years. Is that obsession for money really worth that sacrifice?

Instead, you should be developing yourself. Building healthy, positive habits and seeing your work as a purpose. Developing real meaningful friendships will always be better than developing a network of acquaintances you only use to further your career.

Here are a few ideas that will go a long way to helping you develop the right mindset for a healthy, positive life.

Always make time for yourself

This needs to be a daily activity. Whether you meditate, exercise or journal you need time each day for yourself. Giving yourself thirty to sixty minutes each day to do something you love doing will give you the necessary mental space to relax, have fun and focus on yourself. Exercising, walking and meditating are three activities that should form a part of your daily life. It does not mean spending hours in the gym or out running, it just means you get around thirty minutes of physical activity each day and some quiet time to reflect and relax.

Never sacrifice your sleep time

As more and more scientific research is being published on the debilitating effects of not getting enough sleep, we should all be aware now of the dangers of persistent lack of sleep. Without the right amount of sleep each night, you will never be able to perform at your best. So take some time to work out how much sleep you need and make sure you get that each night.

The long-term damage consistent lack of sleep does to your health is just not worth it. Trying to do an all-nighter might sound heroic, but the reality is you are not going to be doing your best work or be efficient if you are in a state of sleep debt. You’d be far better stopping, getting a good night’s sleep and returning to your task refreshed and alert the next day.

Review your personal goals and objectives once a week

When we allow ourselves to become absorbed in the daily grind we lose sight of what is important to us as individuals. We are constantly fire-fighting at work and never stopping to look up to see if what we are doing is important to us as individuals.

This is why each week you should be reviewing what you have done and asking if what you did that week aligned with your personal goals and objectives. If your goal is to start your own business, for example, how much time did you spend developing your business ideas? How much time did you give to yourself and your personal relationships? If you spent all your time on your work issues, then you know you need to adjust things so you are giving yourself time to work on what is important to you.

Spend time with the people that matter to you

Relationships are important. We humans are social beings and we need that connection with people that matter to us. If you are not spending time with the people you love and instead spending all your time in your place of work thinking when I am rich I will be able to spend more time with my friends you are deluding yourself. Money never replaces real friendships. And you will never feel you have enough money.

Make sure you spend quality time each week with the people that matter to you. It will give you more balance and happiness than money ever will.

When you take a little time each week to work on yourself, your health and your relationships you will have far better balance in your life, you will find yourself much more relaxed and your creativity will explode. Now that’s a far better way to live your life than being a lab rat chasing something that will never bring you long-term happiness or health.

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

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

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

How To Practise Self-Promotion At Work (Without Being Too Obnoxious)

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This is another guest post by the wonderful Lucy Rose. Thank you Lucy, for allowing me to share this post.

Many of us cringe at the mere thought of tooting our own horn. But in the workplace, this kind of confidence is essential if you want to see significant professional growth. Studies have found that confident people generally achieve more in their careers, and this is largely linked to how they assert themselves in the workplace. Self-promotion doesn’t have to come off as bragging; it’s all about being proud about what you’ve accomplished and owning it. However, the line between self-promoting and boasting is quite thin — here’s how to do it without coming off as a total jerk.

Increase Your Visibility

You have the skill and experience to do the job excellently, but unless people know about it, you could miss out on plenty of opportunities. Make sure that people can see what you’re doing by talking to your colleagues, even those you don’t work with directly. Volunteer to represent your team whenever possible, and participate in your company’s events.

Even though you’re not actively looking for better job opportunities, having an up-to-date LinkedIn account, as well as a professionally designed website or online portfolio, is also crucial for career growth. These are easy ways for potential employers to learn about your services, and without them, you could be losing out on career growth. That said, just having a website isn’t enough — it’s also important that you work on making sure that your site comes up on search engines, so it’s also a good idea to take an online course or two in SEO.

Make The Most Of Performance Reviews

Your performance review isn’t the place or time to practise humility. While it’s a good way to understand your manager’s perception of your work, it’s also an opportunity to highlight your accomplishments. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of talking yourself up, all it takes is preparation and practice. Start by writing down a list of your contributions to the team, and practise saying them. It may feel strange at firsts, but with practice, talking about your accomplishments will come more naturally. Plus, it’ll boost your confidence as well.

Don’t Overdo It

While talking about your accomplishments will make you more comfortable at doing so, you also run the risk of coming off as arrogant if you do it incorrectly. Read the room and pay attention to people’s body language. Take into account how you speak about your achievements, and who you talk to. For example, you don’t have to sell yourself to your coworkers: you want their support. Do this by building positivity by acknowledging their good work as well — this shows that you’re a team player. Talk about your accomplishments to people who have the power to advance your career: your bosses, potential clients, business leaders, and so forth.

Tell A Story

While going into the specifics about how you improved your company’s bottom line may be effective on your resume or even in a job interview, if you talk about numbers in a normal conversation, that’s a quick way to make your listener tune out. Make your accomplishments easy to listen to by telling stories that people can connect to. Instead of making yourself out to be a superhuman worker, allow yourself be relatable.

Learning how to promote yourself effectively is essential to career growth. However, there is a time and place to do so. Figuring out the balance is tricky, but when in doubt, focus on staying true to yourself.



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

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

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

How I Get My Work Done — The Tools I Use — 2019 Edition.

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Every year I write 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. (See my 2018 version here)

Once again, little has changed. 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 and working 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 my hardware. I retired my 2012 iMac last October and replaced both it and my ageing 2013 MacBook Pro with a new MacBook Pro 13 inch with Touch Bar and an LG 27 inch 4K monitor. The speed bump and quality of the screen have been worth the upgrade price alone.

Also changed is how I store my files. I no longer have a premium Dropbox account. Instead, I have downgraded Dropbox to the basic plan and use it only for backing up my Scrivener files as Scrivener only supports Dropbox for backing up at the moment.

I have now gone all in on iCloud as I am completely in the Apple ecosystem and I have 2TB of iCloud space which I share with my wife. iCloud has improved a lot over the last year or two and so it was really a no-brainer when I changed my hardware to go all in on iCloud. Apple’s smart syncing is fantastic. Although I only have a 256GB hard drive on my MacBook Pro, I have never once got a warning I am running low on storage space.

For sharing files, I now use Google Drive. iCloud can share files, but you cannot share folders which is something I occasionally have to do. Of course, that will change later this year when Apple releases its latest operating systems so this will be reviewed then.

Finally, I no longer use Newton mail. Newton was great while it lasted, but with its demise last September (2018) I moved back to Apple Mail. I had used Apple Mail since I started using email and Mac computers way back in 1997, so moving back to Apple Mail was no problem at all.

So here is what I am using right now to get all my work done every week.

Hardware

Late 2018 MacBook Pro with 256GB hard drive and Touch Bar

LG 27inch 4K Monitor

2019 iPad Pro 11 inch 64GB with Apple Pencil and keyboard

2017 iPhone X in Space Grey with 256GB memory

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Gallery Leather Large Desk Journal (lined)

I love these journals. They are the perfect size for writing out all my thoughts, objectives for the day and what I actually did. This allows me to go through my entries to see if I have been doing work that matters or work that makes me feel busy but does not move me forward on anything important.

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SF Bags (Waterfield Designs)

For the last seven years, I have bought all my work bags from SF Bags. They make bags designed specifically for the devices I use and they are solid, well made and very very robust. Recently, with my hardware changes, I bought their Bolt bag in small size. WOW! It’s perfect for my city life. Small enough to be my grab bag and large enough to carry my iPad Pro, iPhone, water bottle, wallet and AirPods.

If you are looking for a great looking bag that will last you for years, then this is the place to go.

Software

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 almost ten years 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. It really is my digital brain.

Apple Calendar

Apple Calendar is my viewing calendar app of choice for all my appointments. I was using Fantastical for about three years but I always had a problem with the design. It did not fit my aesthetic tastes. I chose it because of its incredible natural language recognition abilities but found I rarely used that feature.

I run Google Calendar through my calendar. Google’s calendar has the best sharing features and these days that is a feature I am using more and more frequently.

Apple Mail

With the demise of Newton Mail last September (2018), I shifted back to Apple Mail. I have a tried and tested system and workflow in Apple Mail that has worked for me since my first Mac back in 1997, so the switch back to Apple Mail was easy.

Mailbutler

To make Apple Mail a little more functional I added Mailbutler to the mix. Mailbutler allows me to quickly send emails to Evernote or Todoist, gives me read receipts and scheduled sending. Functions I don’t use often, but when I do, saves me a lot of time.

Asana

I use Asana for a specific reason. Asana is my Kanban 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 those 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:

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Ulysses

One of the best all-around 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 computer 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.

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 are 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.

Screenflow 8

Screenflow is now in its 8th edition and I upgraded from version 7 over the last twelve months. Screenflow is my app of choice for recording my screencast videos. I love its simplicity and solidity which means I can produce my videos quickly without having to deal with feature overload.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is the video editing software I use for recording all my headshot videos and for putting together the final 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. 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. I really enjoy working in InDesign.

Now for the cloud drives, I use.

I essentially use two cloud drives. These are:

iCloud

Over the last twelve months, iCloud has become my cloud workhorse. It stores all my files, my documents and desktop folders on my computer as well as all my apps’ data. I also use iCloud for Pages, Keynote and Numbers files I am currently working on as I can access these directly from the device I am working on. I am paying for the 2-gigabyte storage option and share this with my wife.

Google Drive

As my email is run through Gmail, I get 30GB of storage and this gives me ample storage for sharing files when I am collaborating with other people.

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 on my computer and now Face ID on my 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 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. Drafts is also how I collect all my to-dos before sending them off to Todoist. 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.

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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 Therapy, Judge Jules’s Global Warm Up, and Anjunabeats’s Worldwide and Anjunadeep’s podcast. 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

Instapaper is where I collect articles I want to read later. It’s simple, and the free version does not inundate me with ads or pop-ups. It strips out all the advertising and allows me to read the article. Note to websites here is in all my time of reading articles on websites directly I have never once been tempted to click on an ad. I’m there to read the article you want me to read, not click on ads you “think” I might like to look at.

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 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, 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 Feel Overwhelmed and Overworked (and What To Do About It)

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Technology promised to make our lives easier by taking the word “hard” out of hard work, and in many ways, it has done that but by making our lives easier it has also raised the expectation on the amount of work we can accomplish each day. Twenty-years ago if you read and replied to ten or so letters in a day, that would have been considered a productive day. Today, you are expected to read and reply to ten emails in thirty minutes or so.

The wonderful technology that surrounds us today is fantastic. We have the answers to questions at our fingertips throughout mobile phones and computers. If I want to know the birthday of Nelson Mandela, all I have to do is ask Siri and within seconds I have the answer. Fifteen years ago, I would have had to have gone to a library to get that information and depending on where the nearest library was that could have taken hours.

With that growth in technology has come raised expectations. We are now expected to do a lot more work in a day than we ever had to do just ten to fifteen years ago and that means we need to change the way we work.

Fifteen years ago I was using a Franklin Planner to organise my day. I had time each morning before I left for work to spend a few minutes planning my day and I remember if I had more than ten tasks on my to-do list I was being very ambitious about what I was going to try and do. Today, for most people, ten tasks on a to-do list for the day would be considered a quiet day.

So the problem most people have today is not that the work has changed — it has, but only in how we do our work — the problem most people face today is the volume of expected daily work has increased dramatically and we have not developed ways of working to handle that explosion.

This is why you need to develop strategies that allow you to focus on your work, to get better at prioritising the work that comes in and to learn how to automate as much of that work as you possibly can.

Take email for example. Almost all email clients whether you are using Outlook, Gmail or Apple Mail allow you to create rules to manage your email. You can create simple rules that take all your newsletters out of your inbox and put them into their own folder so you can read them when you have time later. Or if you are managing a project you can have all your project update emails sent directly to a folder without ever dropping into your inbox. Likewise, you can create templates in Microsoft Word, Google Docs or Apple Pages to take care of a lot of the regular work you need to do.

Of course, to set up these rules and templates takes time, and time is what many people feel they don’t have. But here’s the problem with that thinking. Part of the reason you do not have time is that you are not taking advantage of these features. If you did take an hour or so to set up some mail rules and create a few templates out of the documents you regularly have to create, you would save yourself a lot of time in the future. It’s a sort of no gain without pain situation. The pain of setting up rules and templates now gains you a lot of time in the future.

Technology enables us to do so much more and learning how to take advantage of that technology is easy. YouTube is full of tutorial videos on how to get the most out Microsoft Office and Apple or Google’s productivity apps and so much more. There are tools such as Evernote that allow us to create digital brains that can store information simply and easily which can then be found within seconds later.

With all this wonderful technology it is still your responsibility to find out how to get the most out of it. It is up to you to learn how to use the tools you use so you get the most out of their functions. If you are not prepared to spend a few minutes each week watching a YouTube video on managing email more effectively or reading an article on best practices for working in the digital age then you only have yourself to blame when you cannot cope with the volume of work that continues to come your way.

Your workload is not going to reduce. The expectations on you to complete more and more is not going to go away. If you want to reduce your levels of stress and overwhelm then you need to take responsibility to spend a little time each week learning how to get the most out of all this incredible technology. Just learning the basics will not do much for you. Go deep, learn everything you can about the tools you use. Spend some of your valuable time setting up templates, rules and automation so the technology at your fingertips does a lot of the work for you.

To finish, here are a few resources you may find useful in developing your skills at using the amazing technology we are so lucky to be able to use.

Dotto Tech YouTube Channel

TechTalk America

My Channel on Todoist and Evernote

Getting Things Done

Now go learn.


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.

This Simple Trick Will Guarantee to Improve Your Productivity.

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Do you want to improve your productivity, get more work done and feel less overwhelmed and stressed? There is a simple and easy way to do it.

There are a lot of ‘systems’ and ‘techniques’ that claim to improve your time management and your productivity and work. Many of them, though, involves a lot of setting up and organising and an inordinate amount of time to maintain which means that while they look great, they don’t actually improve your productivity and your effectiveness.

However, there is one ‘system’ that is guaranteed to improve your effectiveness and your overall productivity and that is to do the work.

The single biggest problem I see when I help people with their productivity is the number of apps and ‘systems’ they are using. Too many of these and you spend all your time shuffling tasks, adding labels and or tags and trying to decide where something goes. Now that’s all fine if you want your lists to look pretty and well organised but it does nothing for your effectiveness or productivity. You are just shuffling. You are not doing.

The simple, easy technique to dramatically improve your productivity is to just do the work. Stop shuffling, stop reorganising, stop app switching. Just get on and do the work.

The COD framework promotes this. COD stands for Collect Organise and Do and what it does is puts the focus on doing. Throughout the day you are collecting all the stuff that comes your way into a trusted place. That could be a to-do list manager, sheet of paper or a notes app. It does not matter where you collect everything, all that matters is you collect everything into a trusted place. Don’t trust your brain to remember — it won’t. The rest of the time you spend doing the work you assigned yourself to do.

At the end of the day, you give yourself ten to twenty minutes to organise the stuff you collected throughout the day in its rightful place. tasks go into their project folders, notes go to your notes and events go onto your calendar. You then give yourself a few minutes to decide what ten things you will do tomorrow and then get yourself a good night’s sleep, safe in the knowledge you know exactly what you will work on tomorrow.

Once a week, you give yourself an hour or so to do a full weekly review to be sure you have not missed anything, to organise all your tasks and to create a plan for yourself the following week.

Take the FREE COD online course here

With all that done, the key is to focus all your efforts on doing the work. Doing the work is the only way I know that will guarantee you do not feel stressed and overwhelmed. It is the only way I know that gets your work done. Shuffling tasks around, making your lists look pretty and moving all your tasks into a new app has never improved my productivity and I have not found anyone else who has found it works either.

Becoming better organised and more productive is not difficult. You do not need elaborate systems or expensive apps. All you need is to focus on doing your work not shuffling your work.

When you restrict yourself to focusing on doing the work, you get better at prioritising and you are clear about what is important to you. Your to-do list manager tells you what needs doing next. Your notes app supports your projects and ideas and your calendar tells you where you need to be and when. There’s no complexity at all.

Complexity creeps in when you start adding more and more levels of stuff to your system. You only need one to-do list manager, one notes app and one calendar. It does not matter how busy or important you think you are, you still only need one. As the saying goes; the less moving parts the less there is to go wrong.

If you look at the most successful people they only use the simplest of productivity tools. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done uses Lotus Notes eProductivity and has been using that for over twenty-five years. Warren Buffett uses a $2.00 pocket diary he carries with him everywhere he goes, Sir Richard Branson and Cheryl Sandberg use simple notebooks. There’s nothing complex about any of these tools and these people have reached the top of their fields.

So, if you want to dramatically improve your productivity and time management, then reduce and simplify. Use fewer tools, keep things as simple as you possibly can and focus on doing the work you need to do instead of reorganising, shuffling and switching.

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.

Are You Focused on Process or Outcome? Why Project Success depends on this Question.

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I work with a number of large companies and it always strikes me as crazy that at certain times of the year someone decides it’s time for a sales campaign and then a flurry of meetings begin where everyone throws in their ideas about what type of campaign they will do and how it will be measured and who will be responsible for it and then they do exactly the same campaign they did last year.

A lacklustre campaign is then developed and run and at the end of the process, it’s never mentioned again until next year.

This scenario is repeated year after year and no one ever stops to ask if this is achieving what they want it to achieve. It’s as if because it has always been done this way they have to keep doing it.

Many years ago in the U.K., we all looked forward to the annual Boxing Day sales (26th December) all the big stores began an ‘everything must go’ sale that ran from Boxing Day to usually the first week of January. In most cases, it was the only sale a store had all year and we all got excited. We even saved money just for the sales.

Then some clever person came along and thought, why don’t we have a sale at the end of every season? And so began the end of season sales and then the every week sale.

The problem with having a sales campaign every week is nobody looks forward to the Boxing Day sales anymore. Nobody saves money to spend in the sales and stores have become so desperate, they begin their end of year sales at the beginning of December, and in many cases even earlier.

What has happened is a loss of sight of the outcome — to clear out the old stock to make room for the new stock. — It has just become a process. Something they now do at the end of every season. There’s nothing special anymore. Nothing for the customer to get excited about. But the question still needs asking, why? Why are we having a sale? Because the competition is doing so? Because we want great short-term sales results? Because sales performance is not very good and we need to boost our figures?

In our own personal lives, we often do something similar — New Years resolutions and the desire to lose weight before going on holiday — We plan the same things year after year and eventually lose sight of why we are doing it. We just go through the motions and when we just go through the motions, the goal becomes irrelevant and we just follow the process we followed last year so we can say we tried and we failed again.

When you stop and think. Get clear about the outcome you want to achieve and know exactly why you are doing it, your outcomes improve. The “how” becomes obvious and your energy and enthusiasm for doing your projects increase and you know, with clarity, when you have achieved it.

That’s the secret to accomplishing anything. Understanding your “why”.

If you are doing something ‘just because’ you are either going to fail or your results will be poor. Unclear outcomes and unknown whys never achieve very much.

It is true, the process is what will get you to the result you want. But before you begin the process you need to take a step back and clearly define the outcome you want. Start with “what is it we want to achieve?” And “What will successfully achieving this outcome look like?” Write the answer’s to these questions down and make sure everyone in your team fully understands them.

Next comes the why. Why are you doing this project? Ideally, this needs to hit an emotion. “To safeguard our jobs” might be a bit extreme and does not really hit the right emotions — fear is never a good reason for doing something. But “to make it more affordable for our customers to receive the benefits of our products” works better. Particularly if you are sincere about wanting to help your customers.

Likewise on a personal level. If your reasons for losing weight and getting fit is to look good in your swimwear, you will probably find vanity is not such a good motivator. But if you want to lose weight and get fit so you can spend more time playing football with your kids, now you have a strong personal why. It also becomes apparent that this is not something you should start thinking about at the beginning of the summer. This is something that should be built into your daily life as a matter of course.

In both our personal and professional lives, being very clear about what we want to achieve and why is crucial to our success. Clarity of outcome and strong, emotional whys gives us the right motivation to push forward when things don’t go according to plan and that is why it is vital we spend enough time defining the task and knowing why we are doing it so when things do go wrong we have a strong fallback position from which to launch a big push.

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.

The Dangers Of Stress: How Workplace Worry Harms Human Health, And How To Stop It.

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This is a guest blog post by Lucy Rose.

In recent years it has been said that stress is the new smoking, with the impact of chronic stress leading to serious health consequences like increased risk for cardiovascular disease and amplifying the adverse effects of existing medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. While certain types of stress are unavoidable, and can even be beneficial in small amounts, chronic stress is unarguably negative and is often the result of a hectic work schedule and poor work-life balance. Chronic workplace stress persists over an extended period of time as a result of job-related worries, and its’ negative impact on our health can not be overstated. The good news is that adopting some simple techniques and creating healthy stress management habits can have a tremendous impact on reducing or eliminating chronic workplace stress.

How Stress Affects Your Physiology: The Fight Or Flight Response.

Stress is the body’s natural, inborn reaction to an internal or external trigger. Early humans relied on the body’s stress response, often called the “fight or flight” response, to ensure survival in a world filled with defined risks, like hunting among deadly predators for food. As we evolved into modern humans, we replaced those primitive dangers with more abstract fears: instead of worrying about predators, we worry about job security and financial woes. The problem, though, is that even though the triggers of stress have evolved, our physiological response to stresshas remained the same. Concerns and fears about getting fired or missing a promotion release the same chemicals into your bloodstream as being stalked by a hungry lion on the plains of Africa.

When stress is triggered, your brain recognises the trigger and jumps immediately into “fight or flight” mode, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, increasing your heart rate, and raising blood pressure. And while this acute response to stress is a good thing, preparing the body to react to a potential danger or threat, workplace stress that persists over time as chronic stress is dangerous and damaging to the body. Even without preexisting medical conditions, the impact of constantly elevated hormones like adrenaline on the cardiovascular system is extremely negative and is a likely contributor to the risk of adverse cardiovascular events like hypertension and heart attacks.

Set Yourself Up For Success By Planning Ahead.

High pressure working environments, constant work related travel, and poor eating habits as a result of busy schedules all contribute to the burden of workplace stress. To reduce pressure and stress levels, consider meal prepping on the weekends to set yourself up with healthy lunch for the work week. If you travel often for work, create go-to packing lists or adopt a capsule wardrobe to reduce frantic, last minute packing. Even when not traveling, use the weekend to plan your work outfits for the upcoming week, and make sure your clothes and shoes are clean and ready for wear ahead of time.

Manage Workplace Stress Without Sacrificing Professional Goals: The Power Of The To-Do List.

It is important to develop habits to help manage workplace stress so that we can alleviate acute stress before it becomes chronic and unmanageable. One simple way to manage a hectic schedule and clear the clutter from your brain is to keep simple to-do lists.When the brain is trying to remember a million things at once, clutter begins to pile up (just like unwashed laundry or dishes in the kitchen sink), and this brain clutter makes us feel too busy, stretched too thin, and are inadequate or incapable of tackling daily work responsibilities. To alleviate that “too busy” feeling, carry a small journal or notepad with you and jot down tasks as they arise throughout the day. Take this habit to the next level by setting aside 15 minutes every evening to review your list, and migrate any unfinished tasks to the next day’s list.

Not a big fan of carrying around extra paper and pens? You can still integrate this habit by using your smartphone. There are countless productivity apps available to download on your phone. Find a simple one that works for you, and that you find pleasing to use. If you enjoy using the app, and it is simple to learn and integrate into your daily routine, you are much more likely to use it every day and create a habit of making your to-do lists.

Still Struggling? Consider A Coach.

If you are still struggling to manage your brain clutter with lists and apps, you may consider reaching out to a life coach or mentor. Some of us simply need an external push in the right direction, and a life coach will hold you responsible for implementing positive stress management habits. The benefit of creating these positive habits far outweighs the cost associated with hiring a third party coach to get you across the finish line.

Simply put, workplace stress is one of the greatest health risks for working professionals in 2019. When acute stress becomes a chronic condition, the potential for harm is amplified and the outcome of chronic unmanaged workplace stress is decidedly dangerous. Commit to keeping your brain clutter free by using a to-do list, either on paper or in an app, and reap the rewards of creating a stress busting healthy habit.

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 Find Your Productivity Enlightenment.

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

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

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

Decisions like:

  • What is the outcome I want here?

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

  • When will I do it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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