Why You Should Not Confuse Processing With Doing if You Want to Become More Productive.

2019-07-15-Blog post.jpg

Becoming better organised and more productive is about collecting all the stuff that comes your way that means something to you and processing that stuff somewhere that will be easy to find when you need it.

Now the keyword there is processing. It is great that you have started to collect stuff into a digital to-do list, a notebook or even on a piece of paper, the question is what are you going to do with the stuff you have collected?

All that stuff you have collected needs to go somewhere. It needs to show up when you need it and be out of the way when you don’t need it. This is where having a few apps become incredibly valuable. If you don’t want to use apps, a simple notebook would work — and many incredibly productive people swear by their notebooks. That’s the beauty of creating your own system, you get to choose what to use.

Once you have a ‘system’ in place using your system consistently becomes the next step. And part of using your system is processing all your collected items into their rightful place and making the right decisions about what something you collected means to you and what you need to do next with it.

And that is where I see quite a lot of people having difficulties.

Process don’t do

To me, processing what I collected is very different from doing the work. Let us imagine it is 9:30 am on a Thursday morning and you work for an international trading company. When you open your email you discover you have 120 new emails in your inbox. Now for most people, those 120 emails represent hours of work. Yet it should not. Those 120 emails just need processing and processing that number of emails should only take fifteen to twenty minutes.

Processing is about making a decision about what something means to you, whether you want to, or need to, do something with it and if you do need to do something with it, what do you need to do and when? Processing is not about doing. It is when you start replying to those emails while you are processing when things take much much longer.

Let’s be honest here. Most of those emails in your inbox will not need an immediate reply. Even in the most urgent of cases, a reply could wait for an hour or two. The problem with ‘doing’ while you are processing is all that doing is putting a drag on your processing. It means that rather than taking fifteen to twenty minutes to clear an inbox of 120 emails, you are going to take at least an hour, and most likely have to stop processing before you finish to attend a Thursday morning meeting. Now you have eighty unprocessed emails plus all the new emails on top. So, you cleared forty emails, went to a meeting, came back and you now have over a hundred emails again in your inbox.

No wonder people feel overwhelmed!

Ah! But what about the two-minute rule?

Good question. The problem here is if you apply the two-minute rule to twenty of those 120 emails, that’s going to take up forty minutes and still leave you with one hundred unprocessed emails. Those unprocessed emails are going to be playing on your mind until you do something about them.

It is far better to go through the 120 emails first. Deciding what they are, deleting, delegating and moving to their rightful place and then if you have time, start going through your actionable emails applying the two-minute rule if necessary then.

This workflow trick also works with your other inboxes. I often see people with fifty to seventy items in their to-do list manager’s inbox. When items build-up to this number it is very easy to ignore the problem and stop adding things in there because of the overwhelm that list creates. Instead, decide to give yourself twenty minutes to clear the inbox and only process, not do. You will not only clear your inbox, but you will also clear your mind. Now you have made decisions about what an item means to you, deleted what you no longer want, organised tasks you need to take action on and delegated anything that could be delegated.

Now you have a clear mind and a clear inbox and you can start doing the work you identified needs your attention today.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein

This method of processing first and then doing is akin to what Albert Einstein meant when he said he would spend most of his time thinking about a problem before solving it. When we mix up processing and doing, things get messy. Your processing will not be complete and in the end, you will still be back where you were when you started — a lot of unprocessed items and an overwhelming feeling that you have far too much to do.

So, today, try processing first and then doing. Do not mix these two processes. You will find you gain a lot more control over your work and your time and feel a lot less stressed and overwhelmed about unidentified work sitting in your inboxes demanding you look at them.

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.

Why You Should Not Be Spending So Much Time In Your To-Do List

2019-07-09-blog post.jpg

Your to-do list is there to guide you. To tell you what needs doing and when. When you use your to-do list for that purpose, it works and it works well.

When you spend too much time each day reorganising your to-do lists and playing around with the settings, that’s when your to-do list stops working for you.

I’ve seen so many elaborate setups in my time. Projects with sub-projects linked to labels and tags. Tasks cross-referenced with other tasks. Tasks organised by colour and sub-projects on top of sub-projects. All these elaborate setups do is add complexity that requires a lot of managing and ultimately too much time to find what needs to happen next.

If we stop for a moment and ask the question: what do I want my to-do list to do? The answer to how to set up your to-do list becomes clear. To tell you what tasks need to happen next. For that you do not need anything elaborate. Just a daily list of tasks. To achieve a relevant daily list of tasks, all you need is a set of tasks you have decided needs your attention on that particular day. A to-do list does not need to be any more complex than that.

When you add complexity into your to-do list you waste time. Time you could spend doing the tasks that need doing. It also means you have more decisions to make and we now know that your brain has a limited number of decisions it can make each day. Once it goes past its optimum number you experience a condition called “decision fatigue” This is where you are no longer able to make good rational decisions. This means that the simpler your to-do list is, the less decisions you need to make, the more effective your brain will be throughout the day.

When your to-do list for the day contains a limited number of clearly written out tasks not only will your list be manageable, you will also require less decision making as your to-do list is a pre-decided list of actions. Each day you start at the top of your list and work your way down.

With a simple list like this, all you need do is spend a few minutes at the end of each day reviewing what you have planned for tomorrow, compare that with your calendar to make sure you have the time to complete those tasks (and if not to reduce the list to a more manageable number) and you will be good to go.

Now, of course, you do need a place to hold your future tasks and that is why it is important to have a list of active projects. These project folders are really just holding pens of tasks yet to be completed. Whether you decide to organise these by projects or areas of focus is really up to you. That would depend on the type of work you do. If you work in a project specific job, then projects may be the best way to organise your tasks. But then you may work in a less project specific job, in which case areas of focus may work better for you. These are decisions you need to make when you are developing your system.

Beyond that, you are really adding complexity and that should be resisted at all costs. The ‘perfect’ to-do list is a list you refer to first thing in the morning to see what tasks you have to complete today and then you get on with your work. You should not need to refer to your list again until later in the day when you have completed your more important tasks. For a point of reference, I usually look at my to-do list two to three times per day. Mid morning, mid afternoon and in the evening when I review what I have completed, plan tomorrow and process my inbox.

To-do lists are there to help you know what needs doing and when. They will never be able to do the work for you and the simpler your list is, the more likely you will get your work done. When you add complexity in the hope your list of tasks to do will magically disappear, you are only fooling yourself. Your to-do list will never do that for you.

So keep things simple. Write clear tasks that tell you exactly what you need to do and focus on doing the work. When you do that, you will soon find yourself becoming better organised, more productive and a lot less stressed.

1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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.

This Simple Trick Will Guarantee to Improve Your Productivity.

2019-06-04-Blog Post.jpg

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.

1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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.

Get Control of Your Calendar And Take back Control Of Your Time.

2019-05-07-Blog post.jpg

n our armoury of productivity tools, there is one tool that beats them all when it comes to getting control of time and life. Your calendar.

While there are a lot incredible so-called ‘next generation’ productivity tools — more intelligent to-do lists, better notes applications to collect your ideas — the humble calendar is the one tool that will tell you where you are spending your time, how much time and whether or not you are wasting your valuable time. It’s simple and in one form or another has been around hundreds of years.

Sadly, so many people allow others to schedule stuff on their calendars, they give other people access to their calendars to schedule meetings that may or may not be important to them. It’s incredible when you think about it. Time is a limited resource and if you waste it, unlike money, you are never going to get it back.

Sure, you may think to allow someone to schedule a meeting on your calendar at 9 AM on a Monday morning is not going to cause you any problems, but 9 AM Monday might actually be the best time for you to plan your week so you are focusing on what is important to you. When you allow someone else to schedule a meeting for 9 AM Monday morning, you know you are going to spend the first fifteen minutes or so talking about how your weekend was and what you did. That someone else has seized your time and now controls what you do with that time. There’s also a good chance you are going to be given more work to do that now completely destroys any plan you may have had for the week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about calendar use over the last couple of days and I realise the calendar is quite different from other productivity tools in that it only allows us to schedule events for the twenty-four hours we have each day. It helps to constrain our enthusiasm for doing more stuff than we have the ability to do and it brings a sense of reality to our day. That means if we allow other people to have control over our calendar, we are delegating how we use our valuable time to other people who do not know what work we have on, do not know what is important to us and does not care anyway. Surely your time is worth more than that?

I have two calendars (plus a couple of subscriptions — Korean public holidays and my sport’s team fixtures list) I have a personal calendar and a work calendar. I don’t hide any calendars — I don’t see the point — I want to see everything I have scheduled for the day so I can be alerted to any conflicts that may cause me problems later. It’s simple and I have complete control. The classes I teach are fixed and are on my calendar, my writing time, podcast preparation and recording as well as my video recording sessions. These are fixed, non-negotiable events on my calendar. I know if they were not on my calendar they would not get done. These ‘events’ are important to me because they directly contribute to my purpose in life — to reduce the epidemic levels of workplace stress in the world by helping as many people as I can to become better organised and more productive. That is why these ‘events’ are non-negotiable.

I maintain strict control over my calendar. I do not allow anyone else to schedule anything. I use a booking service, Acuity, for clients so they can schedule call times with me at a convenient time for all of us.

There are a number of things you need to be aware of. You need to get enough sleep, you need some time each day for ‘me time’ so you have some time to develop new ideas and you need time with your family and friends each day. Again, these should be non-negotiable because they are important. When you give control of your calendar to other people they don’t care you want time with your family, or need time for yourself. They only care about their agenda.

All these important areas of life need time. And the only place you will find the time is on your calendar. Your to-do list is not going to tell you how much time you have in a visual format. All your to-do list will do is tell you what tasks you need to do. Only your calendar will give you a true picture of your day and where you are spending your day. If you give control of your calendar to other people you will lose that important control.

If you really want to take control of your time then take control of your calendar. Use it to schedule the things that are important to you and adopt a strict policy of what goes on my calendar gets done Schedule your exercise time, your family and friends time and never give control of your calendar to other people. If you do have a work calendar that allows other people to schedule meetings, then make sure you are blocking time out on your calendar for the times you want to get on with some focused work. If you know you are most creative in the morning, for example, then block an hour or two every morning for your focused work. Why would you want to give up your best times of the day to other people? That’s just madness.

It is very easy to use the excuse that you have to be available for your boss or clients or customers. But if you want time to work on what is important to you then you need to accept that you can no longer use that excuse. You have to take control of your time and the best tool to do that is your calendar. So don’t give up control of it to other people.

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.

1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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 Stay Productive When You Get Thrown Out Of Your Routine.

2019-04-23-blog post.jpg

Over the last few days, I have been away in the UK and Ireland. Part work, part holiday and this has thrown me out of my regular routine. By following a few best practices I have developed over the years, I have managed to stay on top of the important work and I wanted to share some of these practices with you.

The first thing to get control of is your calendar. This is where scheduling your regular important tasks on your calendar can help. There are a number of things I have to do each week. Write this blog post, record the podcast and record and edit my YouTube videos. During my weekly review, I review my calendar and put in the times I will create the content. Today, Monday, I have scheduled the writing of this blog post. Tomorrow, I will prepare the script for next week’s podcast and Wednesday and Thursday I will prepare my YouTube videos. All of these will be done in the morning so I can spend the afternoon doing the kind of things you would normally do when you are on holiday.

These are my core pieces of content I produce each week and they are important to me. Because they are important they get scheduled. No excuses.

This is the same if you are on a business trip. You are out of your normal working environment and when that happens it is hard to get your regular work done. Often when you are away on a business trip you are in back to back meetings, your normal eating habits get thrown out and your exercise routines are thrown out of sync. This is why it is important to make sure you follow some kind of routine that will enable you to complete your core habits, so the important things are getting done when they need to be done.

So far in the last week, I have written a blog post on a plane, written up some client session feedback on a bus and planned out my weekly YouTube videos while sat in the waiting area of an airport. We are lucky to have tools that enable us to do our work anywhere, yet it can be very difficult to focus on getting that work done when you are travelling between airports and cities. There are a lot of new distractions as well as emails coming in and all the other usual interruptions. It’s tough, but if it’s important to you, you need to find a time to sit down and get it done.

The way to do this is to schedule one or two pieces of work each day. In effect, you use the power of the 2+8 Prioritisation method to stay focused on what needs doing. Today, I have scheduled focused work from 9 AM to 12 PM. I have just got back to Ireland from doing a workshop in the UK and there is a lot of admin work that needs catching up on. Important emails to reply to, the usual business admin and of course this blog post needs writing. Three hours this morning will get everything back up to date and the rest of the day can be spent on holiday type things.

But none of that will happen by accident. I have to schedule deliberate time to get it done. If you are away on a business trip, you can schedule an hour in the morning for your important work — wake up an hour earlier than usual and get it done. Alternatively, if you are more of a night owl, then make it a priority to spend an hour before going to bed to do your important work.

This is far better than worrying about all the work that is piling up while you are away. An hour or two, scheduled, each day for focused work will give you the time you need to stay up to date. You can make decisions about putting off some of your work until you return. Get those into your to-do list manager so that you are fully aware of them and trust you will see it when you get back to your base.

One final trick I use is to schedule a free day when I return home. For me, I will have a day of travelling to get back home. By scheduling a free day on my return means I can recover from the travelling, and have plenty of time to catch up, take stock and do a complete weekly review. The weekly review will put me firmly back in control and I will be able to begin my regular work fully refreshed, up to date and know exactly what needs doing and when.

So if you find business trips and holidays disrupt your natural working state, use your calendar to stay focused on what’s important to you. Spending an hour or two each day doing the necessary work and deciding not to make a decision on some of the things you have to do until you return to your normal environment will free up your mind to either focus on your business trip or enjoy your holiday. That’s a far better state than spending all day worrying about what you are not doing.

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

1*xbInztNismQAnqVKMirH4w.jpeg

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

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

Why The Weekly Review is Essential.

2019-04-16-Blog post Large.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long should a weekly review take?

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

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

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

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


1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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

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

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

How to Find Your Productivity Enlightenment.

2019-04-09-Blog Post.jpg

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.

1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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

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

Are You Ready For Anything?

2019-04-02-Blog Post.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be like water, my friend”

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

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

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

Be Comfortable Not Doing What You’re Not Doing.

2019-03-12-Blog Post.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can get yourself enrolled right here.


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

1*e--lTvP8FkkTFOONF742Og.jpeg

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 Brilliance and Weakness Of GTD And The 5 AM Club

2019-01-29-Blog Post.jpg

GTD — Getting Things Done by David Allen — is a great book with an equally great message. The principles and methods detailed in the book are sound, they work and have helped millions of people around the world to get organised and to become less stressed.

But as with all things as good as GTD, the weakness in it is how people apply its principles. One good example is David Allen’s definition of a project which is, anything that involves two or more tasks is a project. Taken literally that means making an appointment for a haircut could become a project. You need to find your hairdresser’s telephone number and then call them to make the appointment. That’s two tasks. That’s a project.

But really is it a project? Those two tasks could be done sequentially in less than five minutes. Do you really need to create a project for these tasks?

The missing part of Getting Things Done is the part where common sense comes in. Were I to make a hair appointment, or a dental or doctors appointment, it would not become a project. Common sense tells me that to make an appointment to see my dentist can be done with a single task — make appointment to see dentist — even though there may be two or three tasks involved.

Another example where taking what is written in a book too literally can be found in Robin Sharma’s brilliant latest book The 5 AM Club. The book’s premise is that you wake up at 5 AM, do twenty minutes hard, intense exercise (enough to make you sweat), then do 20 minutes planning — preferably in your journal — and finish off the hour with 20 minutes studying, or self-learning.

I adopted the 5 AM Club principles early last year but modified them to better apply to my life and my circumstances. I wrote about my experiences and how I was getting a tremendously positive experience from it, yet I was informed by a well-meaning reader I could not be a “member” of Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club because I do not follow the 20/20/20 principle. I do not do 20 minutes exercise followed by 20 minutes planning then 20 minutes learning. I disagree. Exercise first thing the morning causes me to feel dizzy and nauseous and I have found that planning my day is better done the night before. It removes anxiety and stress and leaves me waking up with excitement, energy and purpose. What my reader misses is that the 5 AM Club and GTD are not about the steps. They are about giving you a framework in order to achieve a desired end result.

Whether I do my exercise at 5 AM or 2 PM as I do, doesn’t matter. What matters is I do the exercise every day. Whether I do my planning at 10:00 PM or at 5:20 AM doesn’t matter. What matters is I do the planning every day. I achieve the same results as if I did my exercise and planning at 5:00 AM. And that is the point.

I wake up at 5 AM and do 45 minutes studying and 15 minutes meditation. It works for me. It leaves me feeling refreshed, energised and ready to make each day the best day of my life. Which is exactly what the 5 AM club is all about.

And the same goes for Getting Things Done. Whether you turn your hairdresser’s appointment into a project or treat it as a single task doesn’t really matter. What matters is you get your hair cut. Getting the work done is far more important than the process you have in place to tell you what needs doing.

We are all different, we all have different ways of doing things and we all think differently. What GTD and the 5 AM Club do is provide you with fantastic ideas and a framework to improve your life. How you implement those ideas into your life is up to you because those ideas need to work for you.

Pure GTD did not work for me. Too many things slipped through the cracks and my projects list became overwhelming. It took far too much time to maintain my system and it wasn’t until I broke away from treating every multiple task as a project that GTD really started working for me.

But at the core, my whole COD system is built on the foundations of GTD it’s just stripped down to work better for the way I think and work. Equally, the message in Robin Sharma’s book is about making a significant improvement in your life by waking up early and spending some time developing your mindset, heartset, healthset and soulset. I do that every day. It’s just I do things in a different order, an order that works better for me.

And that’s really the point. David Allen’s GTD and Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club have a fantastic message and they both give you ideas and strategies that can give you incredibly positive results. But you do need to take those principles and apply them to your life. If you start work at 5 AM in the morning, then perhaps you need to wake up at 3 AM and do your self-development work, or with GTD perhaps you want to redefine what a project is for you. It could be four or five steps before something becomes a project. The way you define it is less important. What is important is that you are capturing your stuff and then organising it in a way that is meaningful to you. That’s how you get to improve your life and that’s how to take the ideas you learn and apply them to your life to make positive change.

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.

1*dQZ3xZz83HZIDJkjPJ_YzA.jpeg


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.