How to Solve Common Tech Issues that Reduce Productivity

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This is a guest post by Joe Peters (@bmorepeters). Thank you, Joe for writing this for us.

Technology is a massive boon to your productivity and efficiency. With task management tools, you can organise your day into a simple schedule, placing crucial tasks at the head of your list, so you never miss a deadline.

With email software and instant-messaging apps, you can communicate with your team members quickly and effectively, without having to wait for them to respond to a voicemail or be available for a meeting in-person.

To make the most of the benefits offered by technology, you need to learn how to overcome the little issues that can often harm your efficiency.

Rather than automatically calling tech support every time something goes wrong with your essential tech, you’ll get more done if you take the collect, organise, do approach to solving your own IT issues.

Before You Do Anything Else: Collect Information on Your Issue

As useful as the digital world can be, it’s not foolproof. Everything from internet connectivity issues to problems with device functionality can stop you from getting work done.

Before you can start solving your own problems, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on with your tech.

Ask yourself: What’s stopping me from working right now?

If it’s your internet connection, you can troubleshoot your connectivity by right-clicking on the connection icon at the bottom right of your taskbar and clicking “Troubleshoot problems.”

If it’s something going wrong with a piece of software, go into the settings for that tool and see whether there’s a troubleshooting feature available.

If not, type your issue into the search bar on Google to find out if anyone else has encountered the problem before. You can often find helpful guides online that teach you how to fix numerous problems that commonly occur with everything from operating systems to popular devices.

Organise Your Resources

  • Once you understand what your tech problem is, think about the resources that you have to help you solve the issue. If you’re having trouble with your internet connection, free resources such as Speedtest.net will shed some light on the speed performance. Just make sure that there isn’t a device that’s hogging your bandwidth when you perform the test.

  • If your upload or download speeds aren’t as fast as they should be, then you can contact your internet service provider to find out if there’s a problem with your service. You may also be able to find out about outages by visiting the ISP’s website.

  • If there’s a specific software or hardware that’s causing headaches, see whether there are any manuals available either offline or online that can help you to tackle the problem.

  • There are plenty of technology forums out there that offer downloadable manuals for free. If you can’t find what you need in these documents, consider asking a question about your issue on a website like Quora or Reddit.

  • If the problem is that your computer performance is lower and your PC is slow, find out if you have plenty of free space on the hard-drive responsible for your operating system.

  • Search for the Microsoft System Configuration tool in your start menu by pressing Windows-R, and typing MSConfig, hit the enter key and navigate to the Services tab.There, check the manufacturer and startup item columns to find out if there are any tools you can safely disable to speed up your computer’s performance.

  • Usually, software like Spotify, Steam, and Google Update are all fine to shut down. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to close a program, don’t disable it. Alternatively, you can go to the Startup Tab to disable high impact programs that run on startup immediately to give your PC a performance boost.

Create a List of Things to Do if You Encounter a Technical Issue

You might wonder why you would bother figuring out how to solve technical problems for yourself if you could call your IT team to do the work for you. The simple answer is that learning how to rectify these issues now makes you more self-sufficient in the future.

If you know how to solve the issues that could be damaging your productivity in a matter of seconds, you can save yourself a lot of time and disruption when something goes wrong.

It’s much easier to click on a file or hit a couple of buttons on your keyboards than call IT and wait for someone to be available to solve your problem. For instance, it might sound like a no brainer, but one of the easiest ways to fix a lot of technical issues first-time is to restart your computer.

As fundamental as the process seems, sometimes your network can get overwhelmed by a stray bit of data or code going awry. Restarting the computer gives your system a chance to refresh. While you’re at it, make sure that your operating system is fully updated by using the Windows Update service. Neglecting your updates can often deprive your computer or devices of crucial performance (and security) fixes.

Be Your Own IT Team

Rather than turning to an IT professional every time your internet connection slows down, or a program won’t open, become your own IT expert, and learn how to fix the common issues for yourself. You’ll get more done in the long-term, and you’ll also have something impressive to add to your resume when you’re looking for your next job.

Now that practically all jobs require some manner of technical skill, the quicker you start working on your tech troubleshooting knowledge, the better off you’ll be in the long-term.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favourite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters


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

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

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You Do Have Enough Time.

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“I don’t have time!”, “I’m too busy”, “There’s not enough hours in the day”

I hear these words every day and I know it’s not true. The truth is you do have time. You can do your work and have a family and social life and there are enough hours in the day. The problem is not with time, the problem is with you.

First, let’s deal with the issue of time. Everybody gets the same number of hours per day. Twenty-four hours. That’s it. You and I are not going to be able to bend the laws of time and physics. Wishing for more hours is not going to help, it’s not going to happen. So rather than praying for more time, we need to use the time we have each day more effectively.

Now out of those twenty-four hours, we need to sleep, eat and spend some time with our loved ones and ourselves. And that should be your starting point. Too often, I see people starting with their work. Their calendars and thinking begin and end with their work. But out of the 168 hours in each week, we spend only forty to fifty hours of those at work. That still leaves around 120 hours.

Let’s say you also need ten hours per day for sleeping and eating, we still have fifty hours each week for ourselves. That averages out at seven hours per day! What are you doing with those seven hours to leave you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed?

Rather than stressing about the time you have available, you would be far better being strategic about how you are spending your time.

The first step to gaining control of your time is to find out what you are doing with your time. What do you do when you are not working? Your work is fixed. For most people that means Monday to Friday 9 AM to 6 PM, you are contracted to be somewhere or doing something. That’s fixed. The question you should ask is what am I doing with the rest of my time each day?

Now there’s nothing wrong with coming home from a day’s work and sitting down on the sofa to watch TV if that’s what you want to do. But if you are doing that every day and complaining about how little time you have for your hobbies and interests you are deluding yourself. The truth is you do have time, it is just you are choosing to use your time in a way that is not benefiting you.

To get control of your time you need a plan. That does not mean you have to plan out every minute of every day, what it means is you begin the day with the intention of accomplishing a number of objectives. For example, if being fit and healthy is important to you, you need time for exercise. There are plenty of people who work ten hours a day and still have time for a one-hour gym session six days a week. There are people like Dwayne Johnson who spend more than two hours a day working on their fitness and still have time to be on a movie set at 7 AM, spend a whole day shooting and gets another session in the gym in. How do they do that?

Yes, of course, Dwayne Johnson has the money for assistants, but he still only has twenty-four hours a day just like you and me. He manages his time by prioritising what is important to him. Dwayne Johnson understands his success is partly built on the foundation of the way he looks so he prioritises maintaining that look every day. There is nothing that Dwayne Johnson does with his time each day that you and I could not do.

Part of getting control of your time is understanding what is important to you. What is it that you want to spend your time doing? Whether it is working out, knitting, studying for a Masters degree or learning to beat match on a CDJ, you do have time. All you have to do is prioritise it and schedule it on your calendar.

If it’s important to you you will find time for it

The key to gaining control of your time is your calendar and the way to do that is to first get all your commitments on to your calendar. That’s your work commitments, your social commitments and anything else such as medical appointments or picking the kids up from school. These are what I call my ‘fixed commitments’ and they need to be on your calendar first.

I recommend you colour code your calendar. Choose a different colour for your work commitments, family and friends and your personal activities. When you do this you can easily see how you are spending your time each day by category.

Once you have your ‘fixed commitments’ on your calendar you will see where the gaps are for your activities. Now you can schedule in your gym time, writing your future best selling novel or time to spend reading. Whatever you have decided is important to you.

Do this every Sunday evening. Sit down with your calendar and plan out your week. You do not need to schedule beyond a week, our lives are not fixed. A lot of unexpected things will come up. Scheduling out your week on a Sunday evening gives you the mental space to objectively design your week. You won’t get it right every time. Your fixed commitments will change — appointments get cancelled at the last minute or events are rescheduled — but you will have the framework in place and you can modify and adjust your calendar as the week goes on. The important thing is you will have a plan.

The final piece is to adopt a golden rule “what goes on my calendar gets done.” This rule is non-negotiable. If it’s on your calendar you do it. You always have the freedom to reschedule, cancel or delay, but if it is on your calendar, then you do it. If you are putting an hour of study time on your calendar for 8 PM to 9 PM on Tuesday and then ignore it, what’s the point of your calendar? You are only fooling yourself and that is not going to solve your time problem. Sure, if you come home on Tuesday and you are exhausted, then you are free to reschedule your study time, but never ignore it.

Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy. How you use your time is in your hands and if you embrace it, use it wisely it will work hard for you. If you abuse it and show it no respect, it will hurt you. So get control of your time. Plan out your week and use your calendar to manage it. You will soon find you have enough time every day to do the things you want to do.


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

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

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

Why You Should Stop Using Due Dates.

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When you use due dates in your to-do list manager for everything your due dates become meaningless.

One of the best features of any digital to-do list is you can add a due date to any task and that task will then appear on your today list on the date you set. It means you can date and forget. However, this can lead to bigger problems. Most of these due dates are not due dates. The date you set is not the date the task is due. It is just the date you think you will be able to complete it. And that would be true if that was the only task you had to complete on that date but as you are randomly adding dates to tasks you are going to have a lot more tasks that are ‘due’ that day, but are not really ‘due’ that day.

When you have a list of tasks for the day that are not due, your daily to-do list loses its power. There’s no sense of urgency and a lot of those tasks will be rescheduled for another random date in the future and the cycle is repeated.

Now several things are happening here. The first is you do not trust your system which is why you are dating everything and secondly you are unlikely to be doing a weekly review or, if you are, you are not consistently doing a weekly review.

Below are a few ways to develop better trust in your system and help you to stop feeling you have to date everything.

The weekly review

The weekly review is where once you have reviewed all your projects and appointments for next week you are in a much better-informed state on what you can do next week. You also know which projects are close to their due dates and you can make informed choices about what you will do on a particular day based on where you will be, who you will be with and what tools you have with you.

When you are doing a full weekly review each week, your trust in your system gives you the security to know that nothing is being missed and the dates you have set for tasks are meaningful and are genuinely due on that day. You are also much more aware of what is going on on a particular day and you can make sure you are not overloading yourself with tasks on days where you have back to back meetings or perhaps doing a training course or on holiday.

The daily mini-review

Our weeks are not static. Things change. Appointments get cancelled, meetings are postponed and new commitments are made. While the weekly review gives you some perspective on what is likely to happen during the week, because things are fluid and changes are happening every day, reviewing the tasks you have assigned yourself for the next day before you close down the day helps to keep your daily to-do list relevant and meaningful.

If for example, your boss informs you a project you thought was due next month has now been moved forward and needs completing by the end of the week, that will change everything you had planned during your last weekly review. It means you can reassess what you planned out for the rest of the week and make the necessary changes.

Now if you still feel uncomfortable not dating everything there are a few more things you can do.

Create reminder tasks

These are tasks that come up every once in a while that ‘remind’ you to check a particular project. For example, if you have a slow-moving project that is due in two months, you can add a repeating task inside the project that comes up once a week that tells you to review the project. I write these tasks like this:

[REMINDER] Review Project X

The “Reminder” at the beginning of the task informs me I do not have to do it, but it alerts me to check the project if I feel I need to. I don’t use many of these, but when I do they give me the peace of mind knowing that nothing is being missed and I am always on top of my projects.

Use tags, labels, contexts

One set of tasks I see a lot of people dating are calls and emails. Now, most of these are dated just so they are not forgotten, yet they do not have to be done on that specific day. It is far better to create a tag, label or context for these and create a single daily repeating task to tell you to check these tags, labels or contexts. Doing it this way reduces your daily task list, yet still allows you to make a judgment about whether a call needs to be made or an email sent without having several of these cluttering up your daily to-do list.

Use the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique

The 2+8 Prioritisation technique restricts you to just ten tasks a day. Two of those tasks are objective tasks that must be done and the remaining eight are those tasks that need to be done today but it would not be the end of the world if they were not done.

When you restrict yourself to only allowing ten tasks per day (not including your routine tasks — those tasks that just need doing on specific days but do not drive your projects or goals forward) you are being much more realistic about what you can achieve each day and you allow yourself enough flexibility to handle any issues that arise throughout the day.

This technique forces you to be selective about what you will do each day and forms part of your daily mini-review. It’s a great way to prioritise your day and leaves you safe in the knowledge that what is on your daily list is meaningful and will have a positive impact on your day and projects.

If you want to feel less stressed, less overwhelmed and be more productive stop dating everything. Trust your system, make your weekly review a priority never to be missed and adopt the 2+8 Prioritisation technique. You will feel much more in control and the trust you have in your system will give you the peace of mind knowing you are on top of everything.

For further reading on this subject, check out Peter Akkies post on the OmniFocus blog.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hither 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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

It won’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always make time for yourself

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

Never sacrifice your sleep time

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

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

Review your personal goals and objectives once a week

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

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

Spend time with the people that matter to you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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Every year I write my “The Tools I Use” blog post, so this week, I thought it would be a good idea to update it so you can see what tools I am using now to get my work done and to create the videos, blog posts and podcasts I create each week. (See my 2018 version here)

Once again, little has changed. I strongly believe once you have found a device or an app that works for you, you should not change it. Instead, I find using the same tools year after year I am able to go very deep into learning the app, get faster at using and working with it without having to figure out how to do something. That is a huge time saver and allows me more time to do work that really matters.

So, what has changed?

The biggest change over the last twelve months is in my hardware. I retired my 2012 iMac last October and replaced both it and my ageing 2013 MacBook Pro with a new MacBook Pro 13 inch with Touch Bar and an LG 27 inch 4K monitor. The speed bump and quality of the screen have been worth the upgrade price alone.

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

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

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

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

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

Hardware

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

LG 27inch 4K Monitor

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

2017 iPhone X in Space Grey with 256GB memory

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Gallery Leather Large Desk Journal (lined)

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

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SF Bags (Waterfield Designs)

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

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

Software

Todoist

Todoist is the core of my whole productivity system. It controls my daily tasks, it makes sure I am doing stuff that is important to my future goals and it makes sure I collect all the daily stuff that comes into my life so I can organise it later.

Evernote

Evernote is my go-to notes application. I have been using Evernote for almost ten years and I have built up a large collection of articles, ideas and reference materials over those years. I use Evernote to collect articles I find interesting or want to refer to at a later date. I also use it to collect ideas and plans for future use. I even use it for brainstorming ideas. It really is my digital brain.

Apple Calendar

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

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

Apple Mail

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

Mailbutler

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

Asana

I use Asana for a specific reason. Asana is my Kanban board for tracking the content I produce on a weekly basis. This allows me to plan and schedule my content so there are no conflicts and I can visually see the progress on each piece of content. I was inspired for this set up by Steve Dotto’s video showing how he and his team put together their content.

So those are my core apps. These apps tell me what I have to do and where I have to be while at the same time makes sure I get my work done on time.

Now for the heavy lifting apps:

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Ulysses

One of the best all-around writing apps there is today. It is simple, yet has enough features to handle almost all writers’ demands. I love writing in dark mode on my computer as this gives me a feeling of complete focus and that is how I want to be when I am writing — completely focused.

The iPhone app is just outstanding. There are times I just love to sit back on the sofa and write using my iPhone.

Apple Keynote

I really don’t think I would be a presenter today if it was not for Keynote. I began using it from the very first day it was launched and have never been tempted back to PowerPoint. All my workshops, presentations and even draft design work are done in Keynote. I love the fact I can create outlines, PDF files and so much more with this brilliant app.

Apple Pages

Pages is my go-to app for all formatted written work. I love its interface and the way you can format documents pretty much how you please. I also use the track changes features to proofread client work and then export as a Word file (as pretty much all my clients use MS Office)

Apple Numbers

Like Pages, I use Numbers for my day to day office work. I keep all student attendance lists, client payments and other similar files in iCloud so I can access these from my iPad when I am out and about.

Scrivener

For writing books I use Scrivener. Scrivener is the best app there is for long-form writing such as a book and since the app came available for the iPad and iPhone last year, this has meant I no longer need to carry my laptop with me every day as I can simply pick up where I left off on my iPad with its Dropbox syncing.

Screenflow 8

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

Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is the video editing software I use for recording all my headshot videos and for putting together the final videos. Because Premiere Pro has such a fantastic array of tools for adjusting lighting and sound, it is just the best tool to use for this kind of work. ScreenFlow can do it, but Screenflow’s lighting adjustment features just do not match Premiere Pro’s.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop has been my design tool of choice for nearly twenty years. All my blog post images, online course images, thumbnails and YouTube video thumbnails are created in Photoshop. This is another app that is pretty much open on my computer all day, every day.

Adobe InDesign

I use InDesign for designing my workbooks and other PDF learning materials for teaching. I really enjoy working in InDesign.

Now for the cloud drives, I use.

I essentially use two cloud drives. These are:

iCloud

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

Google Drive

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

And now for the little utility apps, I use every day to make my life that little bit easier.

1Password

I couldn’t live without this wonderful app. 1Password is where I store all my passwords so I do not have to remember any. The only password I have to remember is the master password and as I use that every day it’s not difficult to remember. With the fingerprint ID on my computer and now Face ID on my iPhone and iPad 1Password is brilliant on my IOS devices.

TextExpander

Another one of those little apps that I couldn’t live without. TextExpander stores little snippets of text I use regularly so all I have to do is type the trigger word or letters and boom! The text appears. I also use TextExpander for today’s date and to correct my most common spelling errors — such as “business” which I regularly spell as “buisiness” for some reason.

Drafts 5

Drafts is just brilliant and I could not live without it. Drafts is a clever note-taking app that allows you to send notes and captured ideas almost anywhere. I have a list of Evernote notes that Drafts can append notes to so I don’t need to go into Evernote and search for a note. I can type my idea in Drafts, and then use the actions menu to send the note to any of my pre-defined notes. Drafts is also how I collect all my to-dos before sending them off to Todoist. I also have some pre-written emails in Drafts that I use to send reminders to students. I do not need to type anything except the recipient’s email address.

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Apple Music

Love this app so much. It allows me to listen to my favourite trance artists as well as go down memory lane whenever the mood takes me. How I survived without it I have no idea.

Apple’s Podcast App

Okay, this one might surprise some people, but I have found Apple’s Podcasts is a solid app that works extremely well. I’ve tried a lot of alternatives, but none of them has been so much better than Apple’s native podcast app that I wanted to change. On my phone, where I listen to most of my podcasts, I am subscribed to Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy, Judge Jules’s Global Warm Up, and Anjunabeats’s Worldwide and Anjunadeep’s podcast. Perfect music for when you are out and about or just need a pick me up.

And finally for reading I have the following:

Reeder

I use Reeder to collect all the articles from the blogs I am interested in and scan through these every morning while I am on my way to my first client. Any article I want to read later I send to…

Instapaper

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

And that is really all there is to it. I use Safari as my main browser on all my devices and from time to time I use Google Docs for collaboration projects. If I need a browser for doing work, I use Chrome as I have no social media sites saved there and so the temptation to procrastinate is removed.

What you use to get your work done is irrelevant, what really matters is the content you produce. How you produce it doesn’t matter. The only advice I would give is to choose tools you enjoy using. If you do not enjoy using them, or if you actually hate them, then it will affect the quality of your work.


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

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

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

Why You Feel Overwhelmed and Overworked (and What To Do About It)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dotto Tech YouTube Channel

TechTalk America

My Channel on Todoist and Evernote

Getting Things Done

Now go learn.


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

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

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

This Simple Trick Will Guarantee to Improve Your Productivity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the FREE COD online course here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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