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.


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.


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.


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.

How Your Reasons For Doing Determines Your Level Of Happiness.

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Your happiness comes from your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. It’s your reasons for doing it that ultimately leads to you feeling happy, satisfied and fulfilled.

When we get our first job, most people do it for the money. We fall into the trap of get a well-paying job, buy a nice house, buy a nice car, go on nice holidays etc. It’s all about the money and what money can buy us.

At some point, though, we discover having that nice house, car and those increasingly expensive holidays no longer give us the buzz they once did. So we buy more and more expensive luxuries and the thrill we feel having those new things lasts less and less.

So what really is the secret to feeling happiness, joy and fulfilment? It’s your purpose — your reasons for doing whatever it is you are doing. When you do something for someone else and you see the smile and gratitude on their face, the feeling of happiness stays with us all day. When you give a friend a piece of advice and they act on it and it enriches their lives, the feeling we have, knowing we helped them — even in a small way — is lasting.

If we are doing a job for the money, we soon begin to hate the job. We resent having to go to the office every day. Our commute becomes a drudge and we spend most of our time complaining about email, our boss and colleagues.

But if you are going into work because you are doing a job that enables people to look their best by designing great clothes for them or you design beautiful buildings that give people a comfortable and safe place to live. That’s a purpose worth going through traffic hell for every morning. It’s your mindset for doing the work that brings you joy. Not the paycheque at the end of the month.

Too often the deciding factor for taking a job is the salary. Yet, that will never bring you fulfilment, joy and happiness. Whether you do a great job or an average job you still get the same amount of money each month. But if you took a job because of what that job will enable you to do to help people live better lives, now if you do a great job your sense of fulfilment and happiness increase massively. Improving the way you work would mean more people benefit from your efforts. That’s an incentive worth getting out of bed for.

Of course, we need a certain amount of money to survive, we need to eat, to have shelter and we need to be able to move around. But a lot of what we use money for we don’t need. We just think we need because everyone else has it. I would certainly not say that money is not important. It is when it becomes your purpose. When it becomes your purpose you will never have enough. And the more money you receive, the pleasure it brings diminishes. Yet when your purpose is about giving and helping others, the joy you feel increases.

How this affects your productivity.

When you look at your projects list, what are the reasons you are doing those projects? Do you have a clear purpose for doing them? When you go to the gym what are your reasons for doing so? Why are you trying to achieve your goals? When you have a clear, higher purpose for doing everything you do, you will find your energy and passion increase. The closer that reason is to helping other people or making the world that little bit better, your sense of fulfilment will improve and so will your enthusiasm for doing the tasks or completing the projects.

This really is a simple mental shift. Rather than focusing on the material benefits to you, focus on the benefits you will give to others. Going to the gym means you are keeping yourself strong and healthy so you can be there for your family. Doing the accounts for the small business that needs your help so they can thrive and support the community by providing jobs and a service people want.

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, record a YouTube video or podcast, in my mind I see the people I am trying to help. I have a clear vision of the difficulties they are facing and how I might be able to help them with some advice, or a new way of doing something. That’s all the motivation I need to write, record or prepare. Knowing that somewhere, maybe, I have helped someone become less stressed and be able to spend more time with the people they care about.

Every piece of work you do has a higher purpose than money or personal material benefit. It is when you focus on those higher reasons you will discover long-lasting happiness and joy and a passion and drive for what you do.

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.

Maintaining Culture and Efficiency With Remote Workers.

This is a guest post by Rae Steinbach Thank you, Rae, for writing this for me. 

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While the traditional office might not be a thing of the past, the relationship many employees have to these shared work environments is changing. According to a report from IWG, 70% of employees are working remotely at least one day a week, and 53% are doing at least half their work at a location other than the office.

Some companies have embraced the shift toward remote work and have smoothly transitioned to more flexible arrangements. For managers that have a more traditional outlook, the trend of increased work away from the office is troubling. The primary concern for many of these managers is the worry that they will not be able to effectively manage employees if they are not in the office with them.

This concern is understandable, but there are significant benefits that can come with allowing employees to work away from the office. Many employees today prefer the flexibility that comes with being able to do work elsewhere. They may have family obligations or are indulging in the digital nomad lifestyle. Allowing for remote work can be an incentive that helps businesses attract top talent when hiring. In fact, 74% of employees said they would leave their current job for one that allows for more remote work.

Culture and Remote Work

Creating and maintaining a culture can be difficult when employees do not regularly share the same physical space. However, you need to remember that culture is not bound to a location; it is a set of values, beliefs, and ideals that your company keeps alive with various practices. Some of these can be performed remotely, like all-hands meetings via video calls. Sharing a common work environment might be an advantage for culture, but it is not a necessity. Company leaders just need to take steps to keep the culture in place for employees that work away from the office.

If you have offices, they should still play a role in the working life of employees. One way to do this is to set a minimum number of days per month that have to be spent in the office. You can also do things to make the office a more attractive work environment. If workstations are comfortable and have all of the tools an employee could need, like green plants and standing desks, your people might prefer to spend more time there.

Team events are another good way to make sure employees get some in-person time with each other. Face-to-face meetings are beneficial for building team cohesion, so try to get your employees together as a group. Hold training seminars to get everyone together; if the company is reaching an important milestone, celebrate as a team. These events can be great for building connections and maintaining a vibrant work culture.

Remote Worker Productivity

Some leaders might worry about a drop in productivity if they let their employees work outside the office. For the most part, the keys to avoiding this are to make sure employees understand your expectations and to instill accountability as an important part of the company culture.

For example, the management by objectives process encourages managers and employees to set goals together, and share progress regularly. This then allows leaders to have a more accurate idea of how remote workers are performing and reaching key objectives.

Working remotely comes with its own set of skills, so create trainings that ensure communication and performance remain as fluid as if everyone was working in house. For some employees, skills like time management will come naturally, but this is not true for everyone. If you want your employees to have success as remote workers, check-in regularly to see if these need to be changed or refreshed.

Managers can also leverage technologies that can simplify remote work. Modern communication technology offers a range of platforms that can make it easier to stay in contact with remote workers, and there are project management applications that can be used to ensure collaborative work stays on track.

Finally, hold regular in-person (or video) meetings to give everyone a chance to check in. The frequency and format of these meetings will depend on the specific culture and work-cadence at your company, but assemble everyone as often as is practical to go over the progress they are making on key projects. These meetings are also a fantastic opportunity for employees to give updates and appreciations to each other, and for managers to provide important news about the company.

Remote work shouldn’t be viewed as a compromise by management. When done well, it can be a way to increaseproductivity and allow people the space needed to access more creativity. As a leader, you just need to take the right steps to build a culture where people want to perform and produce for the good of all.

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content for the HR industry. Her specialization is in performance management and leveraging team talent for the future of work. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

How Becoming More Productive Improves Critical Soft Skills.

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To get ahead in your career it is not enough to have the right degrees from the right universities. Today, to make sure your career moves in the right direction, you need to develop a number of critical skills that collectively are known as “soft skills”.

Soft skills are skills that are developed through practical experience. Communication, decision making, negotiation and conflict resolution, for example. Skills that cannot be taught from a textbook or in a lecture hall. These skills can only be developed by practice. School and university curriculums are, for the large part, built around the tired old tell teach method where a teacher or lecturer stands at the front of the classroom or lecture hall and tells students what to learn. Not a very useful way to prepare students for the realities of the modern world. School and university do not prepare you for life, they prepare you to pass exams. The development of soft skills — skills that are essential for life — are left to outside influences. Your friends and parents. Life experiences and the skills you get from reading the right books and applying what you learn to everyday life.

However, one skill tops all of them because it is a skill that develops all other skills and that is time management and productivity. Here are six ways improving your time management and productivity skills will improve all other soft skills


Most people’s relationship with email is bad. Email is considered annoying, stressful and overwhelming. Yet, it is the primary form of communication in business and being slow to respond to a colleague or customer ‘s email causes delays in projects and important decisions as well as frustration from the people that are waiting for you to reply.

When you become better at managing your time you become better and faster at responding to your emails. You are in control of your inbox and know what’s in there, what needs responding to, reading and deleting and you have time to respond in a timely manner to all important emails.

Decision making (critical thinking)

If you practice a system such as my COD system or David Allen’s Getting Things Done you learn to make decisions quickly. You ask the right questions about what something is: “What is it?” Is it relevant to me? What’s the next action? Etc. With practice, you develop decision-making skills that can impact your whole life.

Asking questions such as “what is it?” And “What do I need to do next to move this forward?” Helps to develop your ability to make decisions based on available facts and information quickly and decisively. The very skills companies are looking for when hiring potential executive level employees

Conflict Management

You might be wondering how being better at time management and productivity can help with conflict management but it does. It does so because when you are better at managing your time you are able to give people better attention. You are not just physically present, you are also mentally present.

Being present and giving another person your full, undivided attention means you are able to listen and understand their perspective and are able to make better and fairer decisions about what to do to resolve issues before they become conflicts. When you are in control of all that is coming your way and have a system in place that allows you to compartmentalise your work, you become much better at managing people and their issues.

Stress management

This may be an obvious one. When you are in control of your time and have your work and commitments prioritised and organised you will experience a lot less stress. Stress in the workplace is generally caused by over-committing to work and increased workloads that pile up. Not knowing what needs doing and by when leads to panic setting in and this causes stress.

When you write everything down and have everything organised in its rightful place you feel in control. You know what needs doing and by when and you do not feel overwhelmed.

Flexibility / adaptability

Having a time management and productivity system in place means you can handle any changes that come your way with ease. All projects change over time. Outcomes change, timelines change and so do the people involved in the project. When you have all your next actions organised in a list you can change them, adjust timelines and adapt.

When you don’t have a system in place any changes to a project you are working creates uncertainty, a lack of clarity on what needs to happen next and a lot of confusion. Being a productive person allows you to accept changes and adapt accordingly.


When you are in control and you know what the outcome is you are leading. Too often, we are doing work each day that has no clearly defined goals or outcomes and we just keep out heads down, do the work and not worry about which direction we are going in.

Organised productive people know the outcomes of all their projects with clarity. They know what the outcome needs to be and they lead their teams forward knowing they are going in the right direction. With that clarity of purpose comes clear communication which ensures all team members are moving in the right direction with purpose.

So, If you want to improve your overall soft skills, start by improving your time management and productivity skills. That one skill will lead to improvements in all other soft skills and allow you to build a career of success and fulfilment.

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 To Avoid Overwhelm By Only Allowing 10 Tasks per Day.

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

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

Why ten?

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

The Ten Task Maximum

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

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

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

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

Time Blocking

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Why You Should Not Be So Hard On Yourself.

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

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

Take a step back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few small steps…

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

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

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

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


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

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

How I Use My Apple Watch To Maximise My Productivity.

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

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

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

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

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


Watch face.

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

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

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

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

Drafts Apple Watch App.

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


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

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

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


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.