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

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

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

Increase Your Visibility

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

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

Make The Most Of Performance Reviews

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

Don’t Overdo It

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

Tell A Story

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

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

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

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

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

Why Hustle Porn Is Not As Dangerous As The Naysayers Tell You.

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There is a whole category of blog and social media posts blasting the rise of what has become known as “hustle porn”. Hustle Porn is those motivational posts and videos that show people working out, waking up very early and doing work and not ending their day until they are exhausted.

The reality in life is if you want to achieve greatness — and there’s nothing wrong in that — you are going to have to do the work. You are going to have to be better than everyone else and you are going to have to work long hours. There are no shortcuts and no magic formula that allows you to stay in bed until lunchtime on weekends. You have to be focused and you have to do the work.

Now, not everyone wants to do that and that is perfectly fine. We live in a wonderful world that allows us to live our lives the way we want to. To criticise a genre of books, videos and blog posts because they tell us what it takes to become successful is really missing the point. These videos, books and blog posts tell it as it is. To imply that you don’t have to work hard to build a successful business or to become a better person is just plain wrong.

I’ve met dozens of people who pay $100 a week to go to the latest new fitness classes that promise you will get fit and lose weight and all you have to do for an hour a week is stretch out your legs and arms with a group of other like-minded people and you will lose those ten pounds you’ve been wanting to lose for the last three years in no time at all. Sorry, it won’t happen. To lose those pounds requires you to push yourself, get out of breath and sweat. Laying on the floor stretching your arms and legs in a hot room will not do that for you.

If you want to lose weight, build a successful business or become an Olympic champion you have to do the work. There are no shortcuts. The work involves a lot of hours. It’s the hours you put in and the consistency of the work you do that will get you there. Nothing else will.

However, where criticism of hustle porn is correct is where you are told you have to work eighteen hours a day seven days a week. working eighteen hours a day seven days a week and trying to survive on three or four hours sleep is not sustainable. Sure you have to do the work, but you also need the rest. As with all advice (and motivational content particularly), you do need to take it with a pinch of salt. When you begin to feel tired mentally or physically stop and rest. Go for a walk, take a nap or just turn on the TV and watch something. Being aware of your physical and mental state and acting accordingly is important if you want to maintain your physical and mental health. You do not have to do it all in one day, one week or one month. Success takes time, it takes patience, a lot of action and plenty of time. Mix those four ingredients into the mix and you have a sustainable pathway.

We live in a fast-changing world. A world where it is predicted 80% or more of the jobs available today will disappear within the next 20 years. Schools and universities do not prepare us for the future, they are teaching nineteenth-century principles in a twenty-first-century world. The best way to learn about what is required to survive this future is from the people who are thriving in today’s world — many of who did not have a great formal education — the people who are doing the work that matters to build a career and a life for themselves that so many people admire. Is that wrong?

I believe it is far more dangerous to not do the work. To sit around and live a sedentary lifestyle, that involves going out with friends for a few drinks complaining about your boss or how much work you have to do and sitting at home scrolling through the thousands of lifestyle images on Instagram or Facebook. Dreaming and doing nothing. That is what leads to depression, misery and stress. getting up early and doing the work to build a life and a career of success that gives you purpose and with purpose comes fulfilment.

Is there a happy medium? Of course, there is. Doing the work, being strict about resting, getting enough sleep and taking care of your health should always be at the top of your to-do list. Spending hours on social media, complaining to your friends about how hard your life is and binge-watching episodes of your favourite drama is not going to get you very far in life. You will end up miserable and depressed. Finding your purpose, having a goal, wanting to better yourself, these are the building blocks to a fulfilled, happy life. When you find your purpose and a clear set of goals, that’s where you will find your happiness and if you need a little motivation from a video of “The Rock”, Gary Vaynerchuk or Will Smith then great! If it motivates you, watch it.

As with all things in life, too much of something is not necessarily good for you. If you are spending hours every day watching and reading hustle porn, then it’s going to be counterproductive. You are watching videos instead of doing the work. If you spend too much time thinking about doing something you are not taking any action. Results come from your actions, not your thoughts.

The best advice I could give you is choose your own life’s course, work hard, rest well and don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you-you are wrong to wake up early and work long hours, because that’s where life’s true value is.

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.

How To Stop Re-Organising Your Work And Just Get The Work Done.

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Last week on my Productivity Mastery Video Series, I talked about why your to-do list is not going to do the work for you and sometimes you just need to get the work done.

This is something I see all the time. People spend so much time reorganising their to-do lists, playing around with the settings and changing colours and view options and not doing the work. Then they complain they are so busy they have no time to do the things they really want to do.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t recommend feature-rich productivity apps. There is always too many things to play with and this playing around is often at the expense of the work that needs doing. These apps, while on the surface appear to give you everything you could want in a productivity app, very quickly become a procrastinator’s heaven, sucking you in on a never-ending quest for the perfect set up and preventing you from getting the work done.

Collect | Organise | Do

My to-do list manager collects all the stuff I need to pay attention to, it is a place to organise all that stuff at the end of the day and it tells me what work needs doing next. That’s it. My ratio of work to organising is in the region of 95% of my time I am doing and 5% I am organising the stuff I collected. I feel there is still a few more percents I can squeeze from the organising side of the ratio. If I could get it to 2% organising I would feel I have a perfect balance. The less time you spend inside your to-do list manager, the more work you get done. That is the mindset you should be adopting.

Output -V- Input

Becoming more productive is not about the tools you use to be more productive. Becoming more productive is about your output. What to-do list managers and other productivity tools do is tell you what needs doing next and the fewer steps it takes to tell you that the better.

Just because your to-do list manager can maintain a dashboard of all your current projects, can automatically assign dates to your tasks and prioritise things for you doesn’t mean you do not have to do the work. No matter how feature rich your to-do list manager is, it is never going to do the work for you. To become more productive, you are going to have to increase your output. Productivity is your output measured against your input. So if you are collecting everything and spending too much time organising what you collected, then your output will suffer and you are not being productive. To be more productive you have to reduce the time it takes to collect and organise your stuff so you can maximise the time you spend doing the work — the output.

Set up for speed.

Make sure the way you collect stuff into your system is as easy as it can be. Set up keyboard shortcuts, learn the fastest way to collect on your mobile devices etc. When it comes to organising, set your system up so moving tasks and commitments into their right placeholders takes as little time as possible so the time available for output (the doing) is maximised. When you place your focus on maximising the doing, you create a system that works for you and a system that takes your productivity into areas you have always dreamed of.

The more time you can find to do the work and the less time you spend organising your work, the more productive you will be. If you can spend ten minutes or so the night before deciding what you will work on the next day and start your day with those tasks, you will find you make a great start on improving your output. Too often when you don’t plan the day before, you spend far too much of your most creative time (the morning) trying to decide what to do. That’s not a good way to become more productive. That’s just wasting valuable creative time.

The ‘perfect tool’ does not exist — everyone is different.

App switching, playing around with settings, colours and layout of the productivity apps you use is not doing the work. It is time wasting. Maintaining a simple system of lists of things to do, a calendar that shows you where you have to be at the right time and a notes app that allows you to find your notes when you need them is all you need. The simpler these apps and systems are the more productive you will be.

Focus more of your attention on your output and less on the tools and you will very quickly see fantastic results in what you get done.

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.

You Can Always Say "No"


The biggest cause of work-related stress and overwhelm, without any doubt is our inability to say “no”. Not being able to say “no” is what leads to task overwhelm, overcommitment and missed deadlines. It is our desire to be liked and appreciated that leads to the feeling we don’t have enough time to do the things we want to do.

I have talked at length with many of my clients about this, and they all say the same thing, “I can’t say no to my boss”. Oh really? If your boss told you to climb to the top of a tall building and asked you to jump, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t. You would say no ( or words to that effect) So, you can say “no” to your boss. The difference between saying no to jumping from a tall building and saying no to another project or assignment is not as big as you might think.

Jumping from a tall building would likely cause your immediate death, stress, on the other hand, is a slow pervasive death. It’s difficult to attribute a direct cause, but it still leads to the same end.

Not saying no, has long-term consequences and not just to your health. It means your ability to be creative, to spend more quality time with the people you love and to focus on your goals also suffer. It means when you do have time to spend on things you want to spend time on, you are too tired and too stressed to enjoy them.

Yet learning to say “no” is easy. It comes down to knowing where you are right now with all the things you are committed to, knowing what it is you want to achieve in the short, medium and long-term and knowing what time resources you have for other things. It means you need to get a grip on your life and take control of it.

People are not judged by how busy they are. People are judged on the results they achieve. We are not remembered for the hours we spent in the office, we are remembered for what we created while in the office, what we wrote and for what we changed. It’s the quality of what we have done, not the hours we spent creating it that determines whether or not we are judged a success.

Once we understand that it is the results of what we set out to do that we are remembered for, we can start being more selective in what we say “yes” to, and more importantly what we say “no” to.

When I talk about learning to say “no”, I don’t mean being direct and just saying the word “no”. What I mean by learning to say “no” is learning phrases like: “I am sorry, I have a lot on at the moment, so I am not going to be able to start this new project until next month/year” or “I’m sorry, I don’t have time to do that at the moment”. It is very easy to politely decline to do something. In general, I have found people do not get upset with you for declining an event or a project. People usually respect your decision and understand you have other things to do. People do get upset when deadlines are missed or the expected quality of the work you do is not achieved.

When you become known for the quality of what you produce and not your willingness to say yes to everything, people will start showing much more respect for your time. Your colleagues will respect your time more and you will be asked to do less non-important stuff. But it starts with the word “no”. When you start declining tasks, projects and meetings and the quality of your work improves, even your boss will respect your time more. But it all starts with you making that decision. How much is the quality of your work worth?

You need to decide what is important and what is not. You need to learn where you are most valuable, and where you are just making up the numbers, and you need to set boundaries about what you spend your valuable time doing. It is no good complaining about attending a weekly project update meeting, that does nobody any good. Either you take action to change the way the meeting is held, or you politely ask to be excused so you can work on more important things. Complaining about it will not change anything. Complaining will only earn you a reputation for being negative and that is much worse than being known as someone who protects their time.

As always, the choice is yours. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and overstressed because of the volume of work you have to do, then you need to do something about it. You can learn to politely say “no”, or you can do nothing and remain stressed and overwhelmed. That’s the wonderful thing about life. We have choices and it is up to us to make those choices, or not. But there is no use complaining about it.

Learn to say “no” and start claiming your valuable time back.


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 goal is to help show you how to live the life you desire. To help you find happiness and become better organised and more productive so you can do more of the important things in life.

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

Busy Work tasks -V- Goal Tasks

Over the last few weeks I have seen a number of articles and videos claiming the rising popularity in personal productivity is nothing more than a phase. In some cases I have seen personal productivity be described as a cult, which is rather hurtful, given that the word “cult” is often associated with rather nasty organisations and societies.

I understand the rise in personal productivity popularity. We find ourselves having to deal with so much information it is very hard to decide what to do with and where to put all this information. We are being asked to do more and more things and are expected to do those things faster and faster. I just about remember the days when we received a letter in the morning and we had two to three days to reply. Now you receive an email at 9AM and if you have not responded by 9:30AM you are receiving chase emails and or phone calls asking if you received the email.

In this environment it is very easy to get caught up in irrelevant busy work, doing tasks that maintain a position, but do not drive anything forward. You feel busy, you feel like you are working non-stop and you finish work exhausted, yet when you examine what you have actually done, if you have time to do so, you discover you have done nothing to move anything forward. You are working longer and longer hours, yet achieving less and less. Something is wrong somewhere. It’s as if you are hamster on a spinning wheel going round and round feeling completely spent, yet ending up in exactly the same place you started at.

The problem is often where your tasks are focused. In most work environments it is very easy to get caught up focussing on regular busy work tasks, because they are often the loudest. The less loud, but arguably more important tasks, the tasks that move you closer to achieving your and your company’s goals get pushed to the back of the queue. These are the ones that do not necessarily have an urgent deadline. They don’t shout at you. An example of this would be running through the important presentation you have to do next week. The presentation is important, but it is a week away, so it is not shouting at you. Your boss needing a file about a crisis that happened this morning is shouting much louder. So you spend all morning searching for the file.

The problem here is that the important task of preparing properly for next week’s presentation is relegated to the bottom of your priority list because something else, something less important, is louder. Ultimately, this decision means your presentation next week, although important, will not be as good as it could be. It is interesting to note here, that Steve Jobs would spend two weeks before and important keynote presentation practicing. Everything else, no matter how loud it was, was relegated to a lesser priority. To him the priority was the presentation. Steve Jobs was very good at delivering presentations. Maybe we can learn something from that.

To overcome this problem there is an easy trick you can do. Everyday give yourself at least one task that is important, that you will complete. I call this task my “Today’s Outcome” task. This is the one task that no matter what, must be completed today. At the time of writing this blog post, writing this post is today’s outcome task. No matter what else happens today, this blog post must be written and it does not matter to me if I have to keep working until after 11pm, I will complete this task. Writing this blog post is a “goal task”. It will be completed.

All the other stuff that comes my way today are “regular tasks” these are made up of my daily or weekly routine tasks together with the other tasks that get thrown at me. However, the one task that must be done today is writing this blog post. It will be done

When I do my daily mini-review, the evening before, I decide what one task must be completed tomorrow. Sometimes, but very rarely, there maybe as many as three such tasks on my “Today’s Outcome” list. They all have priority over the other tasks, no matter how loud those tasks are.

Since adopting this method, I have found my productivity rocket. Important things get done, and the quality of my work has gone up. The only change I made was to make it a part of my daily routine to identify the one task I wanted to complete the next day and to make sure it gets done. It is a simple trick, but it is a trick that ensures you are moving forward on your goals and not getting lost in your regular, busy work tasks. The tasks that make you feel busy, but are not helping you to improve or move your life further forward.

Our lives are changing. Information is being thrown at us from all angles and that information is coming at us at increasingly faster speeds. With this change, we need to change the way we handle the work we have to do. Giving yourself ten to fifteen minutes at the end of the day to identify your goal tasks for the next day prevents those important, but not urgent, tasks from getting buried underneath a mountain of regular busy work tasks that may make you feel busy, but are not taking you anywhere.


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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more successful, productive and creative.

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Your Office Worker Mindset Is Destroying Your Chances Of A Successful Life.

For many years now, we have been conditioned to believe we need to get a good education, go to university and get a job with a big global company. We are told time and time again this is the formula for a successful life. Yet, if this was true more people than the estimated 0.08% of the world’s population would earn above $100,000 per year. That means 99.02% earn less, most a lot less than this.

The truth is, if you are relying on just one income, your salary, you are not going to have any kind of financial success unless you are extremely lucky or you are wise enough to know the importance of investing when you begin earning your first salary cheque. Which, let’s be honest, very few twenty-somethings understand or even want to do.

I know success should not be measured in terms of money, but even if we measure success in terms of spending time doing pleasant things with our families and friends when we want to, most people spend more time at their place of work than they do with their family and friends. In Korea, where I now live, most office workers are working on average 10 hours a day, they then have dinner with their colleagues before heading home around 8 or 9pm. Not much time to spend with family and friends here.

The truth is if you think working for a company, earning a regular salary is going to give you the life and lifestyle you have always dreamed of, you are going to be very very disappointed. It will not. If you truly want to have the freedom to spend time with the people you care about, doing the things you love doing, you are going to have to dramatically change your thinking and start to understand that you need to be more opened minded about how and where you earn a living.

The success of books like the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and the growth in entrepreneurship is indicative of the changing attitudes to work. In the past working for a company for a regular salary offered us security. These days that is less true. Automation and AI could take away your job tomorrow. In the past when industries declined, it took many years to happen and gave employees opportunities to retrain and move to other jobs or companies. Today that time no longer exists. The speed of change in technology today is having a very disruptive effect on job security.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Indeed, all these changes have given us so many more opportunities to create a life for ourselves. The internet has given everyone the chance to spread their ideas, showcase their talents and interests. It is a fantastic time to be alive. We no longer need to rely on one salary. The opportunities to increase our income streams are endless. You could create a YouTube channel that can earn you a few extra dollars a month, it is very easy to buy and sell on the stock market, you can create online courses, develop a website to sell your expertise to other individuals who want to learn new skills through Skype or FaceTime. There are so many opportunities to earn additional income. But if you have the office worker mindset, you are not going to be able to take advantage of all these opportunities because you still think in terms of “9 till 5”.

It is time to take a look around us and see the amazing opportunities we all have to create the lifestyle we have always dreamed of. There are of course some basics, things like hard work, a little imagination and the ability to have a vision of what our perfect life would look like. But once you have the basics, the next step is to start trying new things. Start writing a blog, create that YouTube channel you have always wanted to start, begin writing the book you promised you would write one day. Just start now.

The way to create the life you have always dreamed of is to break away from the office worker mindset. You life is worth so much more than a commute to a 9 till 5 office or factory job Monday to Friday followed by a weekend spent feeling tired and worn out stressing about the week to come. You could spend a few hours each week creating content for your blog or YouTube channel. You could learn how to make cushions, smart phone cases or hen coups. Anything that could help you increase you income streams.

And that is what it is all about. Increasing your income streams. using your talents, your experience and your know-how to help other people find the things they are looking for. None of this will happen if you have the office worker mindset though. With that mindset you will spend the best years of your life giving your valuable time to a company that will take everything it can from you, while paying you the least amount it can get away with, before leaving you on the scrap heap of former employees. You deserve better than that and the great thing about life today is you have the power and opportunities to break away from all that.

So open your mind, start thinking about you being your greatest asset and make that asset work for you in as many ways as you can. And always remember, you only have this one life, this one life to make an impact on the world and the people around you. Don’t give up the best part of you to a 9 till 5 job. You, your friends and family deserve so much better.

In the spirit of not having an office worker’s mindset, check out my latest online course on email management. If you hate email and find it a burden, then this course is just for you. With this link there is a 50% discount as well.

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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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It's All About Doing, Not Tweaking

Recently on my YouTube channel, Enrico Nahler did a fantastic video for my Working With Productivity series in which he pointed out that many people get stuck between the processing and reviewing stages of GTD (Getting Things Done) and never actually move on to the “Engage” stage. In GTD speak, “Engage” means do. Do your tasks and complete your projects.

This got me thinking too, I also find most people are very good at the middle parts of GTD, the “processing”, the “organising” and, to a point, the “reviewing” but are terrible at the “engagement” or the doing.

Instead, I find is people are very good at creating a system, in fact they are so good at creating a system, they often go back and redo the system over and over again. Unfortunately, this is not productivity. This is procrastination dressed up as productivity. Sure, a good reorganise of your tasks and projects can make you feel better, it can also help motivate you, but it does not take you closer to finishing your tasks or projects or goals. It’s a bit like repainting the road sign at the bottom of your road. Yes, the road sign is going to look fantastic, but you are still no closer to your destination. The only way you get to your destination is if you follow where the road sign points you to.

And that is what you need to do. You need to follow the signs to their destination. Of course you may need to stop along the way to check you are still going in the right direction or you still want to go to that destination, but once you have developed the project, and decided on your tasks, you need to get on and do those tasks so those projects get completed. Changing the map along the way is not going to get you to your destination any faster. Which means, once you have your system set up, you need to stick with it. Not play around with colours, bold or italics. You need to get on with completing your tasks, which lead you to completing your projects which lead you to achieving your goals. That’s productivity. It is completing projects and accomplishing goals. It is not cleaning, pruning and tweaking a system.

There are times of course when you do need to stop and rethink your system. When you find a lot of your tasks are being forgotten, you miss deadlines or you did not do something you promised someone you would do. These are signs your system is not working. Quite often, in these situations I find it is because the individual is not capturing everything, or is not dating things and relying on labels only. When this happens, tasks either do not get captured at the right time or they get lost in a sea of labels that no one, including the person creating them, can figure out. When you find this happening to you, you need to stop and look at your system. It is usually because all the tweaking and playing around has caused a system to become too complicated and too heavy with add ons, hacks and work arounds. This is a time when you need to take a good, long look at what your are trying to achieve and to find ways of simplifying it. In these situations you need to go back to basics. Find simpler, faster ways to capture. Simplify your labels (contexts lists) or make sure the dates you are adding are real dates and not ‘hopeful’ dates. It is not difficult to figure out where the problem is, but if you want your system to work properly, you do need to figure out where things are going wrong.

However, once you have taken the time and effort to build a productivity system, with all the component parts in place, you need to let it work. Do its stuff so you can focus on the doing, the completing of tasks and completion of projects and accomplishment of goals. That’s where productivity happens. When you are doing stuff. Your system tells you what you need / should be doing, and you do the doing. That’s it. Simple.

So, as long as your system is doing its job, telling you what to do, and you are doing your job, doing the tasks, then everything will work. If one or the other is not doing its job, then everything will breakdown. It is not really about how your tasks look, whether a new app will do it better (it won’t) or even how much AI is being used by your apps. It is simply about whether your system is telling you what you need to work on and when, and you are getting on with the job of doing those tasks so everything gets done on time and to the highest possible standard.

If you are a “tweaker” and you find yourself with the compulsion to always be tweaking and playing around with the way your system looks, stop. Try to figure out why you have the need to be doing that and fix the underlying problem. Perhaps create a task to look in to it at your next weekly review or in your next systems review (I have one of these come up every three months). But don’t start tweaking your system when you know you should be doing. That just makes having a system pointless. Your system needs to help you to get the right things done at the right time not be a toy to play with.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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Shifting Priorities In A Crazy Week

Last week was a full week for me. I had a number of presentations to deliver and a full schedule of meetings and classes. As usual with full weeks, I found my priorities for each day shifting by the hour. An email, text message or phone call could instantly change the focus of the day and turn my planned day into a disaster zone.

Over the years I have found some strategies that help when these inevitable days or weeks occur and I thought it would be a good idea to share these with you.

Core Priorities

The first strategy is to make sure your core priorities are firmly in place. For me these priorities include ensuring I get enough sleep. That means I will not work past 11pm and I will always make sure I am in bed by 11:30pm. I find I cannot work efficiently or creatively when I do not have enough sleep, and a lack of sleep often results in me catching a cold. When combined, the debilitating effects of feeling tired and sick is a guaranteed way of turning a difficult week in to an impossible week. Experience has taught me this, so trying to be a hero and fighting through tiredness and feeling achy and sick is counterproductive.

Focused Daily Mini-Review

Another strategy I follow is to make sure I maintain my todo list manager and calendar. This means I will spend twenty to thirty minutes at the end of the day reviewing my tasks and making sure my calendar has all the latest updates and changes to my schedule. On busy days, I don’t always have time to be checking off tasks as I complete them or updating my schedule when things change. Fortunately, I am in the habit of capturing everything as it happens and I will be entering any new tasks, projects or changes to my calendar directly into Todoist. I can always tell when a lot is happening in my life when my Todoist inbox is collecting more than ten items a day. Taking those twenty to thirty minutes at the end of the day to check off the tasks I have completed, updating my calendar and pushing off the less urgent tasks to another day or week is my way of putting myself back into the driving seat of my life. On a normal week, my daily mini-review would only take around ten minutes, but when things are hectic, it is important to start each day in control of your agenda and being very clear about what must be done.

Say “No”

My third strategy is to say “no”. Have you ever noticed when you are in the middle of a hectic week, you get more requests for your valuable time? In these situations I have taught myself to be brutally protective of my time. If I get a request from a friend, client or student when my schedule is under pressure, I will always say “no” or at the very least put off having to make any decision, or do any thinking, until the current workload has been reduced and the pressure is off. I would say 75% of the time, I will delay making a decision about something. I will always say I cannot do something this week, but I will be happy to look at it next week. In almost all cases, the person asking for my time will understand and be happy to let me make a decision on something later. I know saying “no” is difficult, but if you are going to be the most effective version of yourself, it is something you really need to learn to do.

Learn From The Experience

My final strategy is to learn from the experience. Whenever I have week as I did last week I will review what went well, and was did not go so well. I enjoy the experience of ‘stress testing’ my system because it allows me to fine tune things and make my system better at handling those crazy times. It is about learning to decide what is genuinely important and what can be delayed or cancelled. In my case, I published my blog post a day later than usual. This was because I made the decision that spending an hour practicing for a presentation was more important than editing the blog post. These decisions can be hard, but they are equally very important. Trying to maintain your routines as well as dealing with a full schedule is likely to lead to a breakdown somewhere. Publishing a blog post a day late is not going to change my life. But not practicing for a presentation could result is a poor presentation and that is something I will not accept.

Life is full of surprises and when you have a system that is stress tested and you fully trust you will always be able to manage those surprises and will always be prepared for any unforeseen events. To me that is one of the best things about being organised — having the systems in place to help me maintain my life at it’s more productive. And now, having come through a hectic week of meetings, presentations and classes I have learnt that my system is working fine and it is not broken. This week is looking like a much more normal week so I can now return to some of those things I put off from last week and give my full attention to them. It’s a great way to start the week.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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Collecting All Your Stuff In One Place Is… “a bit obsessive”?

A recent conversation with one of my clients revealed an unhealthy negativity among some people about todo list managers. It seems some people think there is something “a bit obsessive” about capturing all your ideas and commitments into an ‘external brain’ — whether that is a digital application such as Todoist or a simple notebook. What surprised me about this conversation was people thought capturing ideas was a “bit obsessive”.

There are countless examples of immensely successful people using some kind of capture tool to collect their ideas from Leonardo Da Vinci to Sir Richard Branson. There must be hundreds of thousands of articles written about the benefits of writing everything down, I even remember in school teachers telling us to write some important fact down into our exercise books. It seems incredible that some people think capturing ideas into a notebook or digital device is “a bit obsessive”.

So, what are the benefits of having a method to capture all your ideas and commitments? To begin with, in the world we live in today, there are now numerous ways people can communicate with us. It could be by telephone, email, Slack, letter, text message or through social media. That’s a lot of places where a message that needs replying to could hide. Having a central place to remind you to reply to a message just makes sense. It’s faster, more efficient and means once you have captured the commitment, you no longer need to think about remembering to reply. It takes less than thirty seconds to type “Reply to Alan’s text”. The consequences if you do not reply, might not be very bad, but then it could also mean you miss the opportunity to get the job you have always dreamed of, or a sale that could mean the difference between making your bonus or not.

In terms of your own health, stress related illnesses are now the biggest killer in the developed world. The stress of trying to keep so many balls in the air has a profound impact on your wellbeing, your health and your happiness. Trying to remember everything that needs to be done and by when destroys your ability to relax. You constantly have this nagging feeling you should be doing something else instead of what it is you are doing right now. Your brain is in a constant state of work. You think you are relaxing, but your brain is in overdrive. That is not relaxing. Relaxing is being able to think of nothing, or of calm beaches where the ocean laps softly on the rocks. To doze and to enjoy a joke with your partner. Sadly most people are distracted. When your closest friend tells you something important to them, you don’t hear it because you are trying to remember what it was your boss asked you to do for tomorrow. People are distracted and not able to enjoy the moment because their brains are trying to tell them they forgot something.

And the most common one of all. Waking up at 3AM, suddenly remembering you should have emailed your CEO the itinerary for their visit to Germany. Then not being able to get back to sleep because you left the itinerary on your desktop in the office and so you cannot send it until you get to the office. You nervously check your phone in case the CEO has messaged you about it. Then finding you cannot get back to sleep because you are so worried about about how P’ed off your boss will be when he lands in Germany in the next hour.

Writing these things down when they first come in to your head avoids all these issues. You find yourself being enveloped by a calm serenity because you trust your capture tool. When you process everything you have captured during the day, you know what you have to do, when you have to do it and you need not give it another thought until you decide to do it. There’s no more “Oh damn! I forgot to…” There’s just calm, control of everything that is going on in your life. You no longer wake up at 3AM suddenly remembering you should have done something. You sleep better, you are less stressed and your rarely feel overwhelmed or too busy, and you are able to enjoy time with your friends and loved ones completely without the distraction of mentally being somewhere else trying to remember what it is you should be doing. Surely that is a much better state to be in, than a stressed out wreck, overwhelmed with work, yet not knowing what needs to be done next or by when.

So, if you are someone who has learnt the value of capturing everything that comes to mind when it comes to mind, and you have friends and colleagues who think you are a “bit obsessive”, then do not worry. You are the smart one. They are the irresponsible ones. They are the ones who are putting their long-term health and wealth in danger. They are the ones that will get trapped in middle management and they are the ones who will become a statistic in the next calculations on stress-related illnesses. You are the one who has a better chance of enjoying a long, healthy and prosperous life. You will enjoy the times you have with your friends and family and have time to build quality relationships with the people who matter most to you.

And you will have all that because of your simple practice of capturing and writing everything down when it comes in and processing those captured things every day.

Next time someone tells you that writing everything down is a “bit obsessive”, have sympathy for them. You’re not “obsessive” you’re just practicing good old fashioned common sense.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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The Essential Skill Everyone Needs in 2017.

In 2017, the business world is in the middle of some dramatic changes. With the growth in digital technologies, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, most of the jobs we recognise in the world today will have disappeared by 2025. Some will have been replaced by machines, other will have evolved into something completely different. The question to ask yourself is: are you prepared for this future?

To protect yourself in this changing world, developing key, so called soft skills is vital. The ability to communicate, the ability to make decisions quickly and to solve problems creatively are just some of the skills you need to develop, but by far and away the most important skill is that of personal productivity. Personal productivity means you are able to manage all the work that comes your way, handle all the distractions from your smart phone, colleagues and computer without missing anything and not becoming overwhelmed and stressed. If you cannot do that, you will not survive in the future business world.

To survive, you will need to know how to get the most out of your technology and to give yourself time and space to grow yourself professionally and personally. You need to become the master of technology and not allow technology master you. Companies today are not going to give you that kind of training. In the past, when employees stayed with a company for 10 to 15 years, companies were willing to invest in the personal development of their staff. After all, it benefitted the company in the long-term. Today, with so many employees staying with a company for no more than two or three years, it is no longer economic for companies to invest in the personal development of their employees. Your personal development has now become your responsibility.

The trouble with personal productivity is you do not become productive overnight. It takes time and it takes deliberate action to get your life organised and together. You need to read, study systems and learn what works best for you and your lifestyle. None of this will happen unless you take action. Too often I find people thinking they do not need to change, that they are okay and job losses only happen to other people not themselves. Sadly, over the coming years that is not going to be true. The people who survive are the people who have taken it upon themselves to get the training that will develop their skills so they can adapt to the changing nature of work. And the work is going to change. Autonomous cars, Robots and AI are here already and their development is not going to be over a period of decades, it’s going to be over a period of months. Uber intend not to be ‘employing’ drivers by 2030 — that’s only thirteen years away!

Just reading books and taking part in courses will not, on their own, help you. To really get the most out of the courses you take and the books you read, you need to make a determined decision to change the way you work, to be focused and to set up the systems you need to become a master of productivity. You also need to be reading about the latest developments in technology, experimenting, learning new applications that may, or may not, help you to do your work more efficiently and more creatively and most of all, be open to change.

It is not difficult, but it does take time. Taking time to really get your life organised and productive is not something you should take lightly. Your very survival in the business world and your career will depend on it.

I teach a lot of 40 plus year olds and many of them have settled into a career destroying mindset of “I don’t understand all this new technology”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand it. You have no choice but to learn how to understand and use it. You need to be better than the Snapchat generation at using the technology that is at your fingertips, and if you are not, your responsibility to yourself is to schedule some regular time to learn how it all works and how it can benefit you and your organisation.

Once you decide to get yourself organised and more productive, the benefits are more than just professional. You will experience less stress, less time having to work late and your creativity will reach new heights. Lack of creativity is caused by all the stuff your brain is trying to remember. Once you get all that stuff out of your head and into a trusted external place, your brain will be free to think of new, creative ways of improving yourself, your business and your life.

It takes a huge commitment to become organised (just take a look at the above video with David Allen, the GTD creator). It will not happen with the reading of just one book, it will take many months of experimenting, making a few mistakes and learning. But the effort is worthwhile. Once you get organised, you no longer forget things, you will not wake up in the middle of the night suddenly remembering you should have replied to an email from your boss but you had forgotten about it, and nothing will stop you from achieving your goals. You will be more focused, more creative, less stressed and you will achieve much more both at work and in your personal life. The effort is truly worthwhile.

As ever, it’s up to you. You can carry on as you are, hoping one day you will get the promotion you desire, or you can take positive action now and and take control of your future and make the necessary changes to your lifestyle so you move yourself closer each day to the life you want to lead in the future. Your future is in your hands.

Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.

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