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.

How To Maintain Your COD Productivity System On A Day To Day Basis.

2018-10-02-Blog post.jpg

The top reason people stop using a productivity system is over-complexity. If your carefully crafted system makes it hard to collect stuff, and you have a complex organisational structure that takes too much time to maintain, you are going to stray from the productivity road. Your system needs to be as simple and as fast as you can possibly make it so knowing what to do next is as simple as looking at a daily list.

If it takes more than ten minutes to organise the stuff you collected throughout the day your system is too complex. You need to be able to ask: “what is it?” And “what needs to happen next to complete it?” And know immediately what to do. If you find yourself having to think too much about where something should go, your system has too many levels. If you can look at something you collected and within a few seconds have it filed where it should go, then you are well on the way to making your system work.

Go back to basic principles.

One of the best ways to simplify your system is to start with the basics. Notes can be filed under simple headings. Work and Personal. Most note-taking apps will allow you to create folders or notebooks in order to create some form of organisation. From there you can decide how to make it easy to find the note you are looking for.

Understanding how you think when you search for something can be a big help here. For me, if I want to find something related to James Bond, I have a tag called James Bond in Evernote. This means All I have to do is search for James Bond and I will be presented with a small list of related tags. James Bond — Films, James Bond — Cars, James Bond — Clothing and James Bond — Accessories. Now that’s just the way I think. You will think differently and you should create a search strategy that reflects your thinking.

It is a mistake to look at someone else’s organisation structure and think that would work for you. The chances are it will not. You think differently and you are going to have different types of things to file and keep. Create a file system that reflects the way you think and the way you work.

Keep your to-do lists simple.

The same basic principles work with your to-do list manager. Too often I see people creating very complex structures that involve multiple levels of projects and sub-projects. The question is do you really need that many levels of structure? To-do list managers only need to tell you what needs doing next and when. If you spend too much time going through multiple levels of projects, tasks and sub-tasks just to find what to work on you are not only wasting time, you are also going to get dragged off into places you really should not be spending time in.

At a very basic level, you only need a list of active projects or areas of focus — depending on which works best for you — and have these organised so the tasks that need doing pop up in a daily list when they need doing. You don’t need different hierarchies of child and parent projects, start and due dates or snooze and hide functions. It is a good idea to have these tasks organised into simple projects or areas of focus so you can review them when necessary. But the purpose of a to-do list manager is to tell you what needs doing next so you can be focused on the important and keep away from the unimportant. A good setup means you are doing the important work, not looking for the unimportant work. A good system shows you what needs doing next with as little fuss and mess as possible and is very easy to maintain.

It’s about doing the work, not reorganising your tasks.

you have your system working properly, you will be doing the important work you have set for yourself and collecting your commitments, tasks, events and notes throughout the day. You should not be spending much time inside your to-do list manager at all. Your calendar will be telling where you need to be and when your to-do list manager will be telling what to work on and your notes app will be giving you all the necessary information when you need it. It’s ninety-five per cent doing the work that matters and five per cent maintaining your system. When you reach that ratio consistently you will know you have the right system.

Take ten minutes to plan each day.

At the end of the day, you take ten minutes to organise everything you collected that day into its rightful place, make a decision on what two objectives you will complete tomorrow and what eight things you would like to focus on. And that’s it. Turn off, enjoy your life and be relaxed knowing you have the next day planned and will be able to start the day off supercharged and ready to get your most important work done.

Being better organised and more productive does not have to be difficult. It certainly doesn’t need overly complex structures. You need to know what’s important, what needs to be done and where you need to be. Anything else is just adding more complexity. When you remove those levels of complexity and focus on simplicity you will find you get a lot more of the important stuff done and when that happens you can spend more time doing the things you want to do, like spending more time with your friends and family, enjoying time to appreciate the amazing nature around you and feeling a lot less stressed.

If you want to know more about COD (Collect, Organise and Do) then you can read last week’s blog post here, where I go into detail about how this system works. I have also put together a FREE online course right here that will take you through the basics of setting up your own COD system and if you are in the Todoist community, I have a YouTube video here that explains how to set up a COD system in Todoist.

Being better organised and more productive does not have to be difficult. It just takes a decision and a couple of hours to set up and you too can start focusing on doing work that matters and being much less stressed.

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.

COD — The Simple, Easy To Use Productivity System Anyone Can Learn.

2018-09-25-Blog Post.jpg

Over the years I have been practising better productivity I have studied many of the ‘systems’ available. Most are quite complex, many involve a lot of hours of setting up and all involve a disproportionate amount of time to maintain. For a lot of people this is not too much of a challenge, but for most people, a productivity system that allows them to just get on with their work and disappears into the background is the nirvana.

After much studying, I came up with my own system that focuses on simplicity, ease of use and disappears into the background and only requires around ten minutes at the end of the day to maintain. Now, if you cannot find ten minutes at the end of the day, then you have far bigger problems than time management and productivity. Everyone can find ten minutes each day to organise their stuff if they are serious about becoming better organised and more productive.

Let me introduce you to COD — Collect, Organise and Do.

COD is based on the basic fundamentals of all great productivity systems. That is you need to collect everything that means something to you. That could be a commitment or an event. It could be an idea or something you would like to look into at some point in the future. Once you have collected everything, you need to organise what you collected in a place you trust you will be able to find what you collected later. That could be a notes application, it could be a digital cloud drive or it could be a simple paper-based notebook or folder. And finally, you need to be doing your work and the things you want to do at the right time.

So how does all this work?

Throughout the day you collect and do. This means the tools you use to collect your commitments, appointments and ideas should be easily accessible and are with you everywhere you go — after all, great ideas can come to us at any time in any place. Today, those tools are most likely to be your mobile phone or computer, but it could just as easily be a small pocket notebook. Your collection method needs to be as fast as possible and this means the applications you use should be optimised for speed of capture. This is the reason why I use Todoist for my commitments and todos and Evernote for my ideas and notes. You might prefer another method or application, there are a lot of choices out there. Choose carefully and make sure that whatever tool you use, whether it is digital or paper-based, it is easy and fast to collect.


Next comes the organising. Now, this is a very personal subject and you should be organising your stuff in a way that works for you. A mistake I find a lot of people making is copying someone else’s organisation structure. The chances are someone else’s system will not work for you. Our brains are wired differently. I grew up in an analogue world with physical filing cabinets and plastic in-trays, which means my brain is wired to organise alphabetically. I have tested other ways to organise, but nothing works as well as a simple alphabetical system. My notes are tagged with the subject the note is related to. For example, for my Korean study programme, I have a Notebook in Evernote called “Korean” and I tag notes I collect related to Korean with the subject. It could be “Korean vocabulary — eating out” or “Korean vocabulary — questions”. I know those tags are long, but they work for me.

Once you have decided on how you want to organise things you should test it for speed. If you have an organisational structure that fits the way your brain works, organising your stuff should be very fast. To start with, you may find you have to do a bit more thinking about where something goes, but after a few days or weeks, you will find you can organise everything you collected almost without thinking.

Organise your todos by project or areas of focus?

This question is a difficult one to answer. For some people, projects is how they think. Each project they have is organised with its title and deadline and the tasks required to complete that project are listed within that project. For others, their areas of focus is how they like to organise things. Areas like family, hobbies, health and fitness for their personal life and marketing, sales, personal development for their professional life. Again, this is really up to you and how your brain works. If you are a beginner to productivity and time management, then experiment for a few weeks. I use a combination of both these. My areas of focus help to keep me organised with my various roles as a husband and a business owner. It also helps me to stay focused on my health and fitness and hobbies. I like to have project work like writing books, developing courses and holiday plans as separate projects. Choose what works best for you. You may find you need to experiment a little to discover what works.

When to do your organising.

Organising is best done daily. I have found if you try and organise all your collected stuff at the end of the week, the job of organising becomes too much. Once it becomes too much you will resist doing it and you will soon find yourself back to being a disorganised mess. Instead, spend ten minutes at the end of the day organising everything you collected that day. I organise every day Sunday through Thursday and allow myself a break on a Friday and Saturday. This is because I find I don’t collect very much on those days and the things I collect can be organised when I do my weekly review on a Sunday afternoon. If you are organising every day, and you have developed a system that works seamlessly and is fast, then all you will need is ten minutes each day to organise. At first, it will take a little longer than ten minutes. But once you have developed the habit and are comfortable with the way you have organised your stuff, then ten minutes is all it should take. I call this my “Golden Ten” minutes.

The rest of the time you are doing. Doing the work you have assigned for yourself. COD is simple, fast and is designed to work the way you think. When you build a system around the way you think and naturally organise stuff, you will find being better organised and more productive is easy.

The COD workflow.

To help you better understand the flow of COD, below is a workflow diagram that although looks complex, is actually simple to use. I have also put it in ‘dark mode’ for you because it seems very trendy to have a dark-mode option these days. If you prefer a ‘light mode’ version you can download a PDF copy from my downloads page on my website.

COD - Darl mode.jpg

You can also enrol in my FREE Beginners Guide To Productivity where I take you through the principles of COD and how to get it set up using a todo list manager, a notes app and a calendar.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to give you some guidance if you need it.

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


My purpose is to 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 Beginners Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System.

COD Twitter.jpg

Over the last few months, I have been thinking how I can best help more people discover the wonderful benefits of getting better at time management and more productive. To show more people how by having a productivity system that works for them can reduce daily stress, begin an unstoppable journey towards achieving their goals and ambitions and to give them more time to do the things they really want to do. 

I have written books, created extensive online courses and produced over 300 videos on YouTube. Yet, I feel there is so much more I can do to help more people discover a world of being better with the time they have each day. 

This is why I have created a new FREE course called Beginners Guide To Building Your Own Productivity System

One of the strongest beliefs I have is that a productivity system needs to work for you. If you prefer using digital technology then your system needs to work digitally. If you prefer pen and paper then it needs to work on paper. And if like me, you prefer a hybrid system then it needs to work both digitally and on paper. We are all different and we all have different lifestyles, ways of thinking and ways of doing our work.

However, the basic foundations of a great productivity system never change. You need to be collecting everything that is thrown at you into a place you trust you will look at regularly, you need to spend some time each day organising what you collected and you need to do the work so you meet your deadlines and you know what is coming up in the next few weeks and months. 

This new course will help you start the process of creating your own system. It explains the principles of COD: Collect, Organise and Do. It also takes you through the tools you need in order to implement COD and it explains why you need PACT (Patience, Action, Consistency and Time) in order to build the habits so the system you build for yourself works without you having to think about it. You will collect naturally, organise naturally and do the work naturally. 

Project 1 Million banner.jpg

This course is part of my PROJECT 1 MILLION project, a project to help one million people by 2020 get better at time management and become more productive. I passionately believe that once you know what needs doing, when and how at all times, your stress is reduced, your health is improved, your relationships with loved ones improve and your goals get achieved. Overall, being better at time management and becoming more productive changes peoples lives for the better and I want the whole world to experience these wonderful, life-changing benefits

What’s In The Course?

  • Introduction

  • Who am I?

  • Why build a productivity system?

  • What you need.

Part 1: COD - Collect | Organise | Do

  • What is COD?

  • Collect

  • Organise

  • Do

Part 2: The Golden 10 Minutes

  • The Golden 10 and why it’s important

  • Building your Golden 10

Part 3: How To Use Your Calendar

  • How to use your calendar

  • The Calendar’s golden rule

Part 4: PACT - Patience | Action | Consistency | Time

  • Patience

  • Action

  • Consistency

  • Time

Part 5: And finally…

  • Learn from the masters

  • Project 1 Million

  • A final word

Also included in this course are free downloads of the Your Digital Life 2.0 workflow, The Golden 10 basic checklist and the PACT guide. 

This course will get you started on the road to becoming better organised and more productive and these are the foundations of building a life of achievement, happiness and success. 

You can enrol in the course right here from Friday 11 May 2018.