• David Allen • Oliver Starr • Leo Babauta • Alexander Kjerulf • James Mallinson • Nick Cernis • Gretchen Rubin • Steven Aitchison • Mark W. Shead • • Marc C • Stephen Smith • Glen Stansberry • Chanpory Rith • Brett Kelly • Alex Shalman • Michael Ramm • John Kendrick • Michael Sliwinski and more...
#1 (November 2008)
magazine Exclusive Interview with David Allen
Best-selling Author of the „Bible” for productive people
Things Done The Art of Stress-free Productivity
Articles from the Best Productivity Bloggers talking about:
4 Getting Things Done vs. Zen To Done 4 Happiness of Productive People 4 Tips on Figthing Procrastination 4 Decluttering your Life and Work Space 4 2-minute Productivity Tricks Sponsored by
From the Editor
Welcome to the Social Productivity Wisdom By Michael Sliwinski, Editor
f you’re reading this first, inaugural
When my application quickly became
issue of the Productive!Magazine,
popular among productivity bloggers,
chances are you’re just like me
I discovered the wealth of information
– a busy professional who just
provided by the GTD (Getting Things Done)
wants to have a happy, productive and
blog community. I read and bookmarked
many great articles with very useful tips and tricks to help me “hack” my life.
Being overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had to do and the streams of
This is when I found out that even though my Nozbe tool was doing a great
written several articles for the GTDtimes
basis, I needed a system to take control of
job at helping people stay productive and
blog to date, this time I decided to simply
all this. More than a system, I needed a set
focused, my users needed more than just
turn to the “social productivity wisdom”
of practical tips that would help me take
this tool. I began preparing a “10-step
and invite the best productivity experts
control of my life and get more done. Most
Simply Get Things Done course” which
to contribute to the magazine and let them
of this has been delivered by the book
started as a series of articles and ended up
talk to you through their best articles and
I read – “Getting Things Done and the Art
as a series of videos viewed totally more
blog posts. Based on my long history of
of Stress-free Productivity” by David Allen.
than 20,000 times on YouTube. I continued
blog readership I decided to personally
the video path with the “2-minute
invite the people I’ve come to know and
Productivity Show” video series and people
respect in the blogosphere and I’m really
a tool and some practical tricks and
loved it. You’ll find out more about this
happy they accepted my invitation.
“cheats” that would really make me stay
series at the end of this magazine.
The book was still not enough. I needed
productive every single day. As I didn’t find the right tool on the market, I built one
have been asking for. Although I had
information I was receiving on a daily
Thanks to their great contributions, in When the idea of a downloadable PDF
this first issue of the Productive!Magazine
using my company’s resources and called it
magazine came up, I realized this would be
you’ll find 15 great articles about different
“Nozbe – Simply Get Things Done!”.
something many of us busy professionals
approaches to getting things done (i.e.
Without further ado, I encourage you to read the interview with David Allen and all the 17 great articles by their respective contributors. Under each article there is a short biography of each blogger and a link to their blog as well as a the online version of the article so you can add your comments and join the live discussion on their blogs. Lastly, I’d like “zen to done”), happiness, tips on fighting
to dedicate this
procrastination, de-cluttering your life and
other useful “cheats” and “hacks” that will
to the living memory
definitely help you live a productive and
of Marc Orchant
– a great blogger, my personal GTD guru and a close friend. At
All the included articles are real gems, but
age of 50, Marc passed away after suffering
one of them deserves an extra introduction.
a massive heart attack on 9th December
This first issue of the Productive Magazine
2007. I wouldn’t have achieved so much
will feature an exclusive interview with the
in the GTD community without his help.
author of the “productivity bible” – David
Thanks Marc – our prayers are with you!
Allen himself – the best-selling author of
the “Getting Things Done” book will talk to Oliver Starr, the editor of the GTDtimes blog (official David Allen Company blog) about the whole phenomenon of the GTD method and his new book, “Making it all
Michael Sliwinski Editor, Productive!Magazine
work” due to be released this December. I met David personally on one of his seminars (see photo) and we had a great chat so I’m really happy he decided to contribute to our magazine.
Michael Sliwinski is the founder of Nozbe – a web application that helps thousands of busy professionals and companies get their things done (also available for the mobile phone and iPhone). He actively participates in the GTD community as a blogger, a host of the “2-minute Productivity Show”, a contributor to the GTDtimes blog and recently the editor of the Productive!Magazine. Michael holds a master degree in Business Economics and a bachelor in Marketing and Management. He fluently speaks English, German, Spanish and Polish. Michael will be happy to hear your feedback, just email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored by www.nozbe.com
Table of contents
Oliver Starr GTD is really about gaining control and gaining perspective Interview with David Allen
Leo Babauta Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System
Alexander Kjerulf Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster
Nick Cernis Happiness and the End of the Working Week
Gretchen Rubin Seven tips for making yourself happier in the next hour
Productive!Magazine www.ProductiveMagazine.com Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski email@example.com Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich firstname.lastname@example.org www.blog.mediafun.pl Sponsor: www.Nozbe.com Your Online tool for Getting Things Done – available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone. Tribute: Marc Orchant (1957-2007) The Productive!Magazine is dedicated to the memory of a productivity guru, great blogger and a very close friend, Marc Orchant who passed away on 9th December 2007. All articles are copyright © by their respective authors. Productive!Magazine is copyright © by Michael Sliwinski. Getting Things Done® and GTD® are the registered trademarks of the David Allen Company.
Marc C How To Work Less and Still Impress
Stephen Smith 3 Essential Tools for Productivity
Alex Shalman Seven Questions That Will Change Your Life
James Mallinson Having One Of Those Days? Here’s How To Deal With It
Glen Stansberry 7 Idea Dumping Tips
Michael Ramm Getting Things Done® Primer: Chapter 1
Steven Aitchison The GOYA method for Personal Development
Chanpory Rith 10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy
John Kendrick The Five W’s of a Weekly GTD Review
Mark W. Shead 17 Things you Should Stop Doing
Brett Kelly 14 Numbers Your Cell Phone Can’t Live Without
Michael Sliwinski Learn Productivity Tips and Tricks In 2 minutes!
GTD Times Interview with David Allen for the Productive Magazine
GTD is really about gaining control and gaining perspective Oliver Starr
liver Starr: What was the original
and other over-achievers on the planet
business book is a great business card. To a
impetus for writing your first
and I had become convinced due to their
large degree it was a large anticipation but
productivity improvements while using the
a low expectation exercise. Additionally I
system that it was pretty bullet proof.
wanted to see if I could put GTD in a box
David Allen: It took me about 25
years. Really that’s how long it took me
In addition I had reconfigured my
such that people who were not around me
to have enough life experience to put
business and put my name on the masthead
could get it, I also wanted to see if I could
GTD together, as well as to realize that
so part of my mission was to create a
even write a book and also if GTD would
it (GTD) was as unique as it was and as
website and was advised by my advisors to
be anything that would be recognized as
badly needed as it was. There really wasn’t
create a book – write a bestselling book.
unique in the marketplace. I knew that
anything else out there like it. Plus I’d been working with some of the best and brightest business people
This was pretty intimidating for me
what I was doing was unique but I wasn’t
but I said well – maybe somebody needs
sure that the world or the marketplace
a manual for this and besides, a good
would recognize it as unique.
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magazine OS: Have you been surprised by the
Done” that seemed to resonate, that had
addresses priorities but going deeper
success of your first Book?
no cultural bias of any sort in terms of
than that, it is such a complex issue,
DA: Nicely so. It kind of depends; I’m of
ringing universal bells out there? So part of
there are so many aspects and variables
two mindsets. My ego says “Why didn’t
my reason for writing this was to find out
involved in prioritization that it needs its
the world catch it before this – it should
what that was true.
have sold 10,000,000 instead of 1,000,000.
Another reason was that over ten years
The different factors that go into making
On the other hand I think wow, I’m
of my own maturation has taken place and
the correct choices instead of making
surprised that anyone bought it. It is pretty
during this time I’ve had lots and lots of
hoped-are correct choices. It’s one thing to
feedback and noticed that there wasn’t
get control and perspective but then what? So in the second book I go more into the
I’m one of the first guys to ever define organization which means “just parking stuff in a place depending upon what it means to you”
Horizons of Focus and the different factors that go into making those choices. OS: It seems like you put a fairly heavy emphasis on this in your road map seminars too. I was lucky enough to attend one of your Road Map seminars and when you went into the Horizons of
OS: Well your sales are pretty exceptional
anything I would change about Getting
Focus, for me the way that this related to
considering how little you’ve done to
Things Done but I realized that there were
my life and my experience as an athlete
promote the book.
deeper and deeper levels that needed to
is what really hit home. So would it be
be explored. So the new book is really
fair to say that your second book expands
in that if you create great content people
more about lifestyle as much as work style
more upon this sublime but critical aspect
will tell people about it and over time it
as well as how the principals of GTD are
will get popular. Business books can be
really about gaining control and gaining
sleepers for years and then reach a tipping
DA: Well it is a bit like the blog world,
point where they become popular.
When we go to do things we tend to
really elegant way to say it – and maybe
want to get organized and get focused.
you can help me with this – I think what
for that possibility but then we sold like
Those are two admonishments, not one.
I’ve done is really figured out the essence
60,000 copies the first year, which for
In the first book most people were so
of time management. But you can’t manage
business books is a best seller so they
blown away by just getting stuff out of
time so the mislabeling of the problem is
kept it in hardback for an extra year before
their heads and make lists and determine
one of the reasons that no one ever came
going to paper to keep the higher margins.
next actions and organize by contexts –
up with a solution.
In fact they were sort of preparing me
So all that was good news but then
if someone just did that at a 30% level it
I think I’m one of the first guys to
when it hit paper that made a really big
totally changed their life but there’s so
ever define organization which means
difference. As you know when people read
much more to GTD than that.
“just parking stuff in a place depending
the book – if they get it – there’s this “ah
You know for those that had ears to
upon what it means to you”, and the
ha!” moment where people suddenly think
hear you could probably find it in the first
whole idea of setting priorities well –
“everyone around me needs to know this
book if you really took the time and looked
I’ve got it as simple as I can get it and
stuff ” a lot of business people want to get
carefully but what I’m really doing with
ten copies to give to everyone they work
the second book is just speeding up the
with and this is a lot easier physically and
financially when a book is a paperback.
DA: Yes. I haven’t been asked this enough in interview yet to figure out a
In a way it’s a good one-two punch.
I haven’t seen any situation in which it won’t work so once you figure out – what is the purpose of all that stuff?
There’s a lot of take this here, put this
Prioritization, personal productivity, time
OS: So, you’ve got a new book coming
here – very process oriented coaching
management and I think what I did was
out very soon. Tell me a little bit about
in the first book. Book two is really
just nail what we all knew intuitively; sort
the key differences between the new
spending a lot more time on the
of the truth inside us, and I think that the
book, “Making it All Work” and your
prioritizing aspect. The criticism of
new book, Making it All Work, pulls this
original “Getting Things Done”. Why
the first book – if there was one – was
all together in one coherent, set of best
would I want to buy both?
“well David doesn’t really spend much
DA: Part of the focus of the new book is
time on prioritization – he doesn’t care
why was the first book so successful. What
much about priorities.” Well that really
things, if you need perspective evaluate
was it about the first book, “Getting Things
isn’t true – if you look the third chapter
these six horizons. There’s nothing I’ve
Look: if you need control do these five
Everyone pooh poos the doing the thing right – “yeah but you want to be doing the right thing”? ever seen that can’t be corrected by one of more of the principals inside of those eleven modules. OS: I had a friend that used to always admonish people to step up the stairs, not stare up the steps, and I’m continually reminded of that when I look at what you’ve done with GTD. Really you help people take a lot of what’s overwhelming them and break it down into manageable chunks. DA: The interesting thing with all this stuff is that if you go top down you never get down [to the bottom] but if you go bottom up and build toward the top from the bottom where it’s nice and grounded, if you know how to process your own in basket and your own ideas and get clear on that most mundane level and build up from there, you’ll know how to get clear on every level. As you now, it’s a holistic model. You don’t need to start anywhere; It’s not a
I realized that there were deeper and deeper levels that needed to be explored. So the new book is really more about lifestyle as much as work style
linear model it’s really “which part of the model do you need to work on?” but you can’t really ignore any of it. Our approach is to start with what has your attention, not what should have your attention, because what should have your
inbox) but once I was finally able to get
thing as opposed to doing the thing right.
attention can’t really be dealt with until
my inbox under control and even get it
Everyone pooh poos the doing the thing
you’ve addressed what does have your
to zero I saw the difference in my ability
right – “yeah but you want to be doing
to focus on the task at hand and not
the right thing”? The truth is that process
OS: As you know, I’m still very much
get distracted. The flipside to that is
is harder to change and learn than your
in the early stages of my GTD learning
that now when my inbox starts to creep
focus. It’s easy to shift your focus on to the
process but I can really see what you
towards having more than a few messages
right thing; it’s a pain in the ass to change
mean by that. Marc Orchant always used
in there that I haven’t processed yet I find
how you get that done!
to say – “if you have 10,000 things in
THAT to be a distraction!
your email inbox then you have 10,000
You know that’s why I think GTD has hit
DA: I’ll give you a scoop – this is
such a nerve. I focus more on the process
different bosses all pulling at your
something I haven’t put into an essay or
piece and this is what I think people find
anything, and it’s a big one.
so challenging to grow as well as to change
Of course I didn’t really believe him (and I always had about 9,000 things in my
You’ve heard of efficiency versus effectiveness? That is doing the right
their behaviors to make that happen. See if I make you highly efficient at getting
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magazine anything done, you can change your focus
because one of the things that GTD does
on what you want to get done in an instant.
is that it frees up your psyche for creative
Cornell – a serious mathematician who is
Now that’s a bit of a simplistic way to
thinking. It allows you the freedom to be
now at Xerox and this guy said that we need
say it since we’re all going to resist taking
as spontaneous and intuitive as you want
a GTD plug-in for the deep research types.
on bigger things and challenging ourselves
to be as well as facilitating that process.
and getting out of our comfort zone. You
Now the more anal retentive,
It seems that they want to create this same cognitive dissonance – generate so much
know, all the venerable “golden goodie”
implementer types love GTD because it
data that they’re thinking is so clogged that
stuff about motivating and goal setting and
gets those things done extremely well.
they have no choice but to think outside the
mission and purpose and vision. This doesn’t
It lets them keep track of stuff and get
box to make any forward progress.
denigrate the power of what all that’s about.
closure on stuff… Now the really, really
Again if I can get you to do well what you’re
anal types think that GTD is too loose and
same principal. As soon as you want to do
doing well and now just shift your focus so
too right brain while the right brainers that
something that isn’t true yet you create a
that you’re doing the right thing well, that’s
aren’t sophisticated enough to step of the
little bit of cognitive dissonance – this is what
easier than somebody saying “I know how
plate think GTD is much too anal.
brainstorming is just what are all the here to
to focus on the right thing but I don’t know how to get anything done”.
The bottom line is that GTD is not really a system, it’s a systematic approach and
OS: That’s really true. You know, because
The truth is this is still actually the
there’s now that I know what the “there” is. For the deep research folks they don’t
that approach can be taken by anyone for
even know what the “there” is. They’re
just trying to come up with solutions that
of my background as a professional
they don’t have problems for yet. Even so I
athlete I see a lot of this stuff as it might
think it still maps to the GTD model.
relate to sports or coaching an athlete at a world-class level. This example is really true; you can identify something that an athlete is doing wrong and make them aware of it but it’s much, much harder to get them to fix it. One of the things that I was curious about
the principals of GTD are really about gaining control and gaining perspective.
is whether in your experience there’s a
You know people that like piles around them? Are you a pile kind of guy? That’s exactly what GTD is. When you are doing your weekly review you are going around to much more discrete much more sophisticatedly managed piles, that are created much more efficiently and are themselves the endpoints of creative thinking.
personality type that tends to excel at
OS: As you know, I was a little resistant
GTD or get more out of GTD than any
to trying GTD at first. I didn’t think
about the ants leaving pheromones to
that I needed it because it’s sort of a
help them - well this isn’t that different
gift of mine that I can remember where
– it’s an extended mind. You want all
If you read the Belgian paper that talks
everything is and all my appointments
that stuff out of your mind. When you
OS: It works across the board huh?
and it doesn’t take any energy – or rob me
think about what piles are for they are for
Doesn’t matter if you’re a super high type
of any creativity – or so I thought.
things that you still want to be thinking
A or a type B – just works the same?
I always think I know everything until I
about that you still want to be moving
DA: You may be using the model
discover that I don’t. In the case of GTD
forward on in some way that I still want
and GTD may be of interest to you for
I’ve been truly surprised at the impact
to be creative about…
various different reasons based upon your
that getting stuff out of my head has had
personality but the model itself – anybody
on my creativity and my ability produce
is that I have my piles set up in really
that has to keep more than one thing that
at the creative level. I’ve seen a really
appropriate ways to turbo-charge my
they can’t finish with they think of it is
dramatic increase – much greater than
thinking so that your mind kind just
going to find GTD is universally applicable.
I would have expected under even the
graze…How elegant can piles get?
I don’t know what personality model Brain, Left Brain, which ever you want to
In truth a really good GTD application
boldest prediction. OS: I know we’re running long already so
you are familiar with; Meyer’s Briggs, Right
Similarly, I was talking to a fellow from
DA: I have another scoop for you that I
I’ll try to wrap this up but I do have just
pick but let’s say you have your typically
haven’t written about yet in much detail.
a few more questions; what is, you think
anally retentive implementer type and
You know the people we’ve been touting
the single most common mistake you see
you have your crazy maker visionary right
that the creative, artistic mind likes a
high performance people making?
brain type the right brainers love GTD – in
certain amount of mess around themselves
fact I think that at the summit we’ll have
to create a certain amount of cognitive
that. IF I did what would it be??? I’d say
a right brainer workshop. All the actors
dissonance. The resolution of that sort of
it’s the neglect of the speed up by slowing
and writers and artists that love GTD
takes them out of the box.
down factor. Unless you’ve already built in
DA: I don’t rely have an answer for
magazine the habit of stopping and taking a breath
As GTDers were probably the largest
I think that to some degree GTDers
– building in time to stop and reflect is
group of radical non-joiners that we could
are a bit eccentric so when you put 500
commonly missed. This is true, especially
band together – it’s sort of the same idea
people who are nuts together then all of a
of the younger high performance types
that people who you really want at a party
sudden you’re not nuts. You know there
who don’t have to stop.
are the ones that don’t have time to be
are some people doing some really cool and
there but will show up and be willing to
interesting things with GTD so at the end of
just not have an agenda.
the day, I think if we put them all together
The other things are the ability to say “no”. The ability to put things into “someday, maybe”…
and create a forum for the open exchange OS: Last question: You’ve got a big event
of ideas and stories and information it will
OS: Would you say that your thinking has
coming up in 2009 and I thought you
benefit everyone and will be a success.
changed over the last ten years?
might want to talk about that a little bit..
DA: Only that I’m even more confident
I think that the appeal is simply that
DA: To some degree it’s build it and
people that get into GTD do so because
that it does work. No one says: “GTD
they’ll come. It might be that this is the
they want to get better and as you have
doesn’t work”. Some people say, “GTD
only GTD summit if we come together
probably heard me say, the better you get,
works, I just don’t work it.”
and realize that we’ve all got it together.
the better you better
And we’re all glad we’re there but there’s
get. Hopefully the
“First there is a labeler,
no reason to continue. On the other
Summit is a way
Then there is no labeler,
hand there seems to be this magnetic
to help people get
Then there is a labeler.
energy where people that are involved
Because ultimately the labeler is really
with this who want to get together to
At its essence you might even say:
share best practices. So in a way this is an opportunity to deepen what GTD is
OS: I was wondering, in your own
and really I think a lot of the focus will be
thinking what the goals were behind
not only what are the coolest ways to get
starting GTD times and what you hope it
things done, but also, what are the cool
things to GET DONE? That’s not to try
DA: I think there’s been a great
to replace TED or any of the other great
universal adoption of GTD but at the
works conferences that are out there, but
same time a certain lack of depth and
really just to explore the people that really
understanding so part of the goal was to
work this and have great practices and war
create a forum where the various idea and
stores to share about how impactful this
thoughts, tips and techniques applications,
can be as a way to reinforce that set of
crazy ideas, whatever can support and
be synergistic of one another instead of
We’re still in the process of determining
6000 voices crying in the wilderness not
what the most interesting way will be to
to create a central thing that doesn’t try to
format the summit but the good news is
legislate what GTD is or where it’s going
that people seem really exciting that we’re
but still keeps a central focus.
David Allen – interviewed by Oliver Starr Oliver Starr is the Executive Editor of GTD Times. He’s also a former professional cyclist, a biochemist and a serial entrepreneur as well as reasonably well known blogger. His former blogs include MobileCrunch.com (for the TechCrunch Network), the Mobile Technology Weblog and the short lived Blognation. Oliver is also an industry consultant providing services related to mobile technology and marketing, blogger outreach and blog marketing and business development. In addition to his work at GTDtimes you can read more of Oliver’s writing at his personal Weblog StarrTrek. Visit „GTD Times” blog Visit Oliver’s Personal blog Visit this article’s online version
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Zen To Done I am a huge fan of GTD, as you probably know by now. It’s one of the best productivity systems ever invented. However, it’s not without its flaws, and because of that, I have a new productivity system for you: Zen To Done (ZTD).
(ZTD): Leo Babauta habit-change methods (the ones I talk about on this site) to change their habits. Solution: ZTD focuses on one habit at a time. You don’t have to try to adopt the entire system at once – it’s overwhelming and it’s too hard to focus on your habit changes if you do too many at a time. Instead, focus on one at a time, and adopt the system in phases. Use proven habit-changing methods (30day challenge, commitment, rewards, motivation hacks, etc.) to successfully adopt each new habit. 2. GTD doesn’t focus enough on doing. While it’s called Getting Things Done, often what we end up doing most of the
time is Getting Things in Our Trusted
hy “Zen To Done”? Well,
System. The book, while presenting an
first off, my blog is called
ZTD attempts to address five problems that
excellent system, focuses more on the
Zen Habits, and “Habits
many people have with GTD. I should note
capturing and processing stages than it
To Done” doesn’t sound
that GTD isn’t really flawed, and doesn’t really need modification, but everyone is
To Done” but the acronym didn’t seem
different, and ZTD is a way to customize it
– and how to actually complete your
right. Second, ZTD captures the essential
to better fit different personality types.
tasks, in a simple, stress-free manner.
spirit of the new system: that of simplicity,
ZTD addresses five problems people
of a focus on doing, in the here and now,
have with GTD:
instead of on planning and on the system.
1. GTD is a series of habit changes. This
If you’ve been having trouble with GTD,
does on the actual doing stage. Solution: ZTD focuses more on doing
cool enough to me. I also thought of “Simple
3. GTD is too unstructured for many people. This can be one of the brilliant
is the main reason why people fall off
things about GTD – its lack of structure,
the GTD system – it’s a bunch of habit
its in-the-moment decision making
as great as it is, ZTD might be just for you. It
changes that are attempted all at once. If
about what to do next – but it can also
focuses on the habit changes necessary for
you’ve read Zen Habits long enough, you
be a huge source of confusion for many
GTD, in a more practical way, and it focuses
know that focusing on one habit at a time
people. Some people need more structure
on doing, on simplifying, and on adding
is best, and guarantees the most success.
in their day, and GTD can be disorienting.
a simple structure. Read on for more.
In addition, GTDers don’t apply proven
Different people have different styles.
The Ultimate Simple Productivity System Solution: ZTD offers a couple of habits
Solution: ZTD, as mentioned above,
1 collect. Habit: ubiquitous capture.
to address this: the plan habit, where you
asks you to identify the big things you
Carry a small notebook (or whatever
simply plan your three MITs for the day
want to do for the week and for the
capture tool works for you) and write
and your Big Rocks for the week, and the
day. Another habit in ZTD is for you
down any tasks, ideas, projects, or other
routine habit, where you set daily and
to review your goals each week, as a way
information that pop into your head. Get
weekly routines for yourself. These habits,
of staying focused on them throughout
it out of your head and onto paper, so you
like all the habits of ZTD, are optional. If
the year. GTD contains an element of
don’t forget it. This is the same as GTD.
they don’t work for you, don’t adopt them.
this, but ZTD extends it.
But ZTD asks you to pick a very simple,
But for many people, they will compliment the other great parts of GTD perfectly. 4. GTD tries to do too much, which ends up stressing you out. GTD doesn’t
portable, easy-to-use tool for capture – Again, GTD is a brilliant system, and
a small notebook or small stack of index
works very well. But ZTD takes some
cards are preferred (but not mandated),
of the problems that people have in
simply because they are much easier to use
implementing it, and adapts it for real life.
and carry around than a PDA or notebook
discriminate among all the incoming stuff in your life, which again is part of its beauty. But the problem is that we put everything on our lists, and end up being overloaded. We try to do everything on our lists. This
computer. The simpler the tools, the
“It’s about the habits and the doing, not the system or the tools.”
better. When you get back to your home or office, empty your notes into your to-do list (a simple to-do list will work for now – context lists can come in a later habit). 2 process. Habit: make quick decisions
isn’t really a problem with GTD, but
on things in your inbox, do not put them
a problem with how we implement it.
The 10 Habits of ZTD
off. Letting stuff pile up is procrastinating
Each of these habits should be learned
on making decisions. Process your inboxes
Take as much stuff off your plate as
and practiced one at a time if possible, or
(email, physical, voicemail, notebook) at
possible, so you can focus on doing
2-3 at a time at the most. Focus on your
least once a day, and more frequently if
what’s important, and doing it well.
habit change for 30 days, then move on
needed. When you process, do it from the
to the next. The order listed below is just
top down, making a decision on each item,
a suggestion – you can adopt them in
as in GTD: do it (if it takes 2 minutes or
goals. GTD is purposely a bottom-up,
whatever order works best for you, and
less), trash it, delegate it, file it, or put it
runway-level system. While it does talk
you don’t need to adopt all 10 habits.
on your to-do list or calendar to do later.
about higher levels, it doesn’t really go
Experiment and find the ones that work best
into it much. As a result, GTD is more
with your working style. Habits 1-8 are the
focused on doing whatever comes at you
most essential, but I suggest you give Habits
Each week, list the Big Rocks that you want
rather than doing what you should be
9-10 serious consideration too. I will expand
to accomplish, and schedule them first.
doing – the important stuff.
on each of these 10 habits in future posts.
Each day, create a list of 1-3 MITs (basically
But it should be addressed. Solution: ZTD focuses on simplifying.
5. GTD doesn’t focus enough on your
3 plan. Habit: set MITs for week, day.
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magazine 9 routine. Habit: set and keep
your Big Rocks for the day) and be sure
system, in your outbox if you’re going
to accomplish them. Do your MITs early
to delegate it, or in the trash. Put things
routines. GTD is very unstructured,
in the day to get them out of the way and
where they belong, right away, instead of
which can be both a strength and
to ensure that they get done.
piling them up to sort later. This keeps your
a weakness. It’s a weakness for some
desk clear so you can focus on your work.
people because they need more
Don’t procrastinate – put things away.
structure. Try the habit of creating
4 do (focus). Habit: do one task at a time, without distractions. This is one of the most
routines to see if it works better for you. 7 review. Habit: review your system &
A morning routine (for example) could
a task (preferably one of your MITs) and
goals weekly. GTD’s weekly review is great,
include looking at your calendar, going
focus on it to the exclusion of all else. First,
and ZTD incorporates it almost exactly,
over your context lists, setting your
eliminate all distractions. Shut off email, cell
but with more of a focus on reviewing
MITs for the day, exercising, processing
phone, Internet if possible (otherwise just
your goals each week. This is already in
email and inboxes, and doing your first
close all unnecessary tabs), clutter on your
GTD, but isn’t emphasized. During your
MIT for the day. An evening routine
desk (if you follow habit 2, this should be
weekly review, you should go over each
could include processing your email
pretty easy). Then, set a timer if you like, or
of your yearly goals, see what progress
and inboxes (again), reviewing your day,
otherwise just focus on your task for as long
you made on them in the last week, and
writing in your journal, preparing for the
as possible. Don’t let yourself get distracted
what action steps you’re going to take
next day. Weekly routines could include
from it. If you get interrupted, write down
to move them forward in the coming week.
an errands day, a laundry day, financial
any request or incoming tasks/info on your
Once a month, set aside a little more time
day, your weekly review, family day, etc.
notepad, and get back to your task. Don’t
to do a monthly review of your goals, and
It’s up to you – set your own routines,
try to multi-task.
every year, you should do a yearly review
make them work for you.
important habits in ZTD. You must select
of your year’s goals and your life’s goals.
identify the big things you want to do for the week and for the day 5 simple trusted system. Habit: keep
10 find your passion. Habit: seek 8 simplify. Habit: reduce your goals &
work for which you’re passionate. This
tasks to essentials. One of the problems
could be your last habit, but at the same
with GTD is that it attempts to tackle all
time your most important. GTD is great
incoming tasks. But this can overload us,
for managing the tasks in your life, and
and leave us without the necessary focus
trying not to procrastinate on them. But
on the important tasks (MITs). So instead,
if you’re passionate about your work, you
ZTD asks you to review your task and
won’t procrastinate – you’ll love doing it,
simple lists, check daily. Basically the same
project lists, and see if you can simplify
and want to do more. The habit to form
as GTD – have context lists, such as@work,
them. Remove everything but the essential
here is to constantly seek things about
@phone, @home, @errands, @waiting,
projects and tasks, so you can focus on
which you’re passionate, and to see if
etc. ZTD suggests that you keep your
them. Simplify your commitments, and
you can make a career out of them when
lists as simple as possible. Don’t create
your incoming information stream. Be sure
you find them. Make your life’s work
a complicated system, and don’t keep trying
that your projects and tasks line up with
something you’re passionate about, not
out new tools. It’s a waste of time, as fun as
your yearly and life goals. Do this on a daily
something you dread doing, and your
it is. Either use a simple notebook or index
basis (briefly, on a small scale), during your
task list will almost seem like a list of
cards for your lists, or use the simplest list
weekly review, and your monthly review.
program possible. You don’t need a planner or a PDA or Outlook or a complicated system of tags. Just one list for each context, and a projects list that you review either daily or weekly. Linking actions to both projects and contexts is nice, but can get too complicated. Keep it simple, and focus
About Leo Babauta Leo Babauta lives in Guam and is married with six kids. He’s a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves writing Zen Habits - his blog that in a short year became one of the top blogs
on what you have to do right now, not on
on the Internet with 60K+ readers subscribed and counting. He’s
playing with your system or your tools.
also the author of two ebooks: „Handbook for Life” and „Zen to Done”.
6 organize. Habit: a place for everything.
Visit Leo’s blog - „Zen Habits”
All incoming stuff goes in your inbox. From
Visit this article’s online version
there, it goes on your context lists and
Read more about Leo’s Book: „Handbook for Life”
an action folder, or in a file in your filing
Read more about Leo’s Book: „Zen to Done”
10-Steps to Productivity according to Nozbe:
Follow these 10 easy steps here: www.Nozbe.com
magazine If you want to get more done at work, the productivity gurus out there will tell you that it’s all about having the right system. You need to prioritize your tasks, you must keep detailed logs of how you spend your time, todo-lists are of course essential, you must learn to structure your calendar and much, much more. But that’s not where you should start. You should start by liking what you do.
Top 10 reasons why
happiness at work is the ultimate productivity
booster Alexander Kjerulf
isa was falling behind at work. Every morning she woke up nervous about the workday ahead of her. Every evening she went home thinking of all
the tasks she hadn’t gotten around to. Lisa is a 35-year old engineer and project manager at a Danish IT company. With business booming, keeping up had become a struggle – she felt she had to run really fast, to just to stay in place. With her in-box overflowing and people all around her clamoring for assistance on their projects, she started to look at various productivity tools and systems and quickly settled on the one she’d use. As is typical for Lisa, once she’s decided to do something, she does it, and with new ways of tracking time, improved todo-lists and prioritizing her work, she did notice that she was getting more work done.
magazine But she still felt, that she could be more productive. While she was thinking about her next step, it struck her: Some of what she did, she hated doing. While she generally enjoyed her job, especially helping people plan their projects and advising them on the best ways to move forward, some of her tasks were administrative in nature. Tracking progress, updating various statics, generating reports, etc…. They didn’t take up that much of her time – but they were a lot less fun. Let’s face it: to Lisa, they were boring as hell. She talked to her boss about it, and they decided to give those tasks to a project secretary. This freed up a little time for Lisa, but mostly it allowed her to work on those parts of her job that she really liked. Consequently Lisa became a lot happier at work – and THAT’S when her productivity skyrocketed. Now she had the energy to connect with her people and the creativity to think up and implement new ideas. Instead of feeling stressed and harried, she was optimistic and positive. While her productivity system had definitely helped her get more done, the productivity boost she got from being happy at work was many times bigger. Lisa is now working way less hours – and getting much more done. And most importantly, she’s enjoying work a lot
around and consequently have better
relations at work. This translates into: • Better teamwork with your colleagues
The single most efficient way to increase your productivity is to be happy at work. No system, tool or methodology in the world can beat the productivity boost you get from really, really enjoying your work. I’m not knocking all the traditional
• Better employee relations if you’re a manager • More satisfied customers if you’re in a service job • Improved sales if you’re a sales person 2: Happy people are more creative
a carryover, an incubation effect, to the
productivity advice out there – it’s not that
If your productivity depends on being able
it’s bad or deficient. It’s just that when you
to come up with new ideas, you need to be
apply it in a job that basically doesn’t make
happy at work. Check out the research of
you happy, you’re trying to fix something
Teresa Amibile for proof. She says:
at a surface level when the problem goes much deeper. Here are the 10 most important reasons why happiness at work is the #1 productivity booster.
Does being productive make us happy or does being happy make us productive? next day. 3: Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them
If people are in a good mood on a given
When you don’t like your job, every
day, they’re more likely to have creative
molehill looks like a mountain. It becomes
ideas that day, as well as the next day, even
difficult to fix any problem without
if we take into account their mood that
agonizing over it or complaining about it
first. When you’re happy at work and you
There seems to be a cognitive process
run into a snafu – you just fix it.
that gets set up when people are feeling 1: Happy people work better with others
good that leads to more flexible, fluent,
Happy people are a lot more fun to be
and original thinking, and there’s actually
4: Happy people have more energy Happy people have more energy and are
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Something that you loved doing. There’s a clear link between happiness at work and productivity. This only leaves the question of causation: Does being productive make us happy or does being happy make us productive? The answer is, of course, yes! The link goes both ways. therefore more efficient at everything they do. 5: Happy people are more optimistic
You should start by liking what you do.
Happy people have a more positive,
want to be more productive, the very best thing you can do is focus on being happy with what you do?
optimistic outlook, and as research shows
at work and thereby increasing your
(particularly Martin Seligman’s work in
So how do you get to be happy at work? There are two ways, really: 1. Get happy in the job you have. There
positive psychology), optimists are way more successful and productive. It’s the old
But the link is strongest from happiness to productivity – which means that it if you
9: Happy people worry less about
are about a million things you can
saying “Whether you believe you can or
making mistakes – and consequently
do to improve your work situation –
believe you can’t, you’re probably right” all
make fewer mistakes
provided you choose to do something,
When you’re happy at work the occasional
rather than wait for someone else
mistake doesn’t bother you much. You pick 6: Happy people are way more
to come along and do it for you.
yourself up, learn from it and move on.
2. Find a new job where you can be happy.
You also don’t mind admitting to others
If your current job is not fixable, don’t
Low motivation means low productivity,
that you screwed up – you simply take
wait – move on now!
and the only sustainable, reliable way to be
responsibility, apologize and fix it. This
motivated at work is to be happy and like
relaxed attitude means that less mistakes
what you do.
are made, and that you’re more likely to learn from them.
About Alexander Kjerulf
7: Happy people get sick less often Getting sick is a productivity killer and if
10: Happy people make better decisions Unhappy people operate in permanent
happy at work. No,
to contract a long list of diseases including
crisis mode. Their focus narrows, they
really, he does! He
ulcers, cancer and diabetes. You’re also
lose sight of the big picture, their survival
speaks and consults
more prone to workplace stress and
instincts kick in and they’re more likely
in businesses all over
to make short-term, here-and-now choices.
the world, showing
Conversely, happy people make better,
strain on the health of 21,290 female
more informed decisions and are better
and employees how to change workplaces
nurses in the US and found that the women
able to prioritize their work.
from dreary and stressful to more fun,
One study assessed the impact of job
most at risk of ill health were those who
energized and happy. And profitable! He
didn’t like their jobs. The impact on their
is the author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5, a
health was a great as that associated with
Think back to a situation where you
practical guide to making yourself and others
smoking and sedentary lifestyles.
felt that you were at peak performance.
happy at work. He also runs a blog called
A situation where your output was among
„Positive Sharing - Chief Happiness Officer”.
the highest and best it’s ever been. I’m
Visit Alex’s blog - „Positive Sharing”
When you’re happy and relaxed, you’re
willing to bet that you were working
Visit this article’s online version
much more open to learning new things
at something that made you happy.
Get Alex’s book: „Happy Hour is 9 to 5”
8: Happy people learn faster
Alex makes people
you don’t like your job you’re more prone
Happiness and the End of the Working Week Business is broken. Every morning across seven continents, 402 million people rise ahead of the Sun to drag themselves into that smog-filled, oil-fuelled nightmare called the morning commute. Nick Cernis
ounding their way along 16.2
to forget about the whole nasty affair, and
faces who actually give a damn about
miles of pavement, train track,
we’ve been practically pissing overtime
making your business a success. Then your
or gridlocked tarmac to arrive at
profit will come. Want proof? Just look at
their Official Place of Work, most
But let’s not blame him. Celestial
will sit down, throw six triple-espressos
accountants make mistakes too. Our
into throats scorched by artificial air, and
problem remains: this business we call
rub eyes zapped by fluorescent death rays
business is broken. So how do we fix it?
And what’s the big problem, anyway?
2) We’re commuting instead of computing The daily commute is killing us. It’s also putting a drain on the planet which is,
Those who succeed in wrenching themselves into what passes for the mortal realm are then forced to hunt down jobs to fill their day, an eight-hour stretch of meaningless meetings, the constant shrill of telephones, and having to listen to Suzie from Sales tell Sally that story about Sarah
present home-working as a solution to the problem of low morale, high stress and dwindling productivity
seducing Simon’s sister. Again.
The problem with problems
at worst, throttling it slowly and, at best,
Welcome to Crazytown. Population:
…is that they often come in threes.
terribly inconsiderate of us all.
Business became so broken, in fact, that it
Despite all the obvious warnings, like the
needed two friends just to prop it up at the
simple, cost-effective changes to the way
cubicle stress that ends in Godzilla-style
end of a long day. Here’s how the terrible
they operate, the vast majority of us could
office rampages, all of this is somehow
triplets shape up:
work remotely from home on our own
considered normal. Commuting is a fact of life, isn’t it? Or perhaps, like me, you
schedules using simple technology that 1) We’re championing profits instead of
find a dark humor in wasting our lives by
physically travelling to work in the Internet
Business is a numbers game. It’s
age. If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny.
The truth is, if businesses made some
already exists. (Don’t worry, I’m about to tell you how to make it happen.)
optimized for the bottom line. More often than not, people come second. Most
3) We’re selling hours instead of output The base unit of work is wrong. For
I blame the accountants
businesses are not providing us with an
years, we’ve been trading the hours from
So what went wrong? Many years ago,
environment that’s fit to stable us for our
nine to five for cash, whether we’ve actually
Earth’s Universal Accountant got sloppy
got any work to do in them or not. The result
updating the monthly work-life balance
The problem lies in the question that
sheet, forgot to carry a zero, and ended
drives them, often: “how can we make an
click of the inbox refresh button, and the
up with a half-eaten nuclear hot dog and
extra $10m this year?” My answer: who
clock watching committees that feature so
a basket full of toenail clippings from his
cares? The question should be this: “how
heavily in office life.
mother-in-law. Oh well, he thought. I’ll
can we create a company that people will
What’s worse, we’ve gotten so used
just brush it all under the carpet. Who’ll
fight to be a part of?” Solve that first and
to having to fill that prescribed time with
know? Then he rushed home to Cloud 17b
you’ll fill your company with smart, smiling
mostly meaningless twitchery that, when
is a series of invented chores, the clickedy-
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magazine handed that golden rolling pin called
have to. Tell employees that, if the trial
keen mind to make it work, but it’s worth
retirement and told to cook whatever we
works, you’ll make it permanent. Tell them
it. I recommend that you have a get-out
please, many go crazy with boredom. Then
that if it doesn’t, you’ll be going back to
plan. If your boss proves too stubborn to
we acquire the world’s largest kitchen tin
a regular five-day week. The results will
be flexible, or your colleagues misconstrue
and simply bake ourselves into a fruitcake-
surprise you. People will be happier and
working smarter for slacking off, it helps to
lined grave: an icing-topped end to an
more will get done.
have a plan B elsewhere.
Phase 4: Offer an option to work from
suggest two things: a) champion the work
otherwise bittersweet life.
To avoid these kind of problems, I
The solution is simple: work smarter
home full time
from home lifestyle for everyone (and
Doom and gloom take a back seat from
Reward those who’ve shown that they can
not just yourself) and b) take Tim Ferriss’
here on. It’s time for some positive
be more productive from home with the
advice — present home-working as a
thinking! We need a simple change in our
option to do it full time. (If you can’t trust
solution to the problem of low morale,
working habits that’s easy to implement
any of your staff to do that, why the hell
high stress and dwindling productivity.
and optimized for people, health, families,
did you hire them in the first place?) And,
communities and the environment.
whatever you do, don’t cut their pay.
A change that takes advantage of the
Be bold. Be successful. Be
Exceptions to the rule Naturally, remote working isn’t for
Internet age while enhancing our quality of
respected. Optimize for happiness in your
everyone. And it’s not for every business,
life and without affecting our bottom lines.
if only because a three-course candlelit
Too much to ask for? I think not. Here are my simple solutions:
dinner with wine isn’t as satisfying once
The solution for employees
it’s been through your fax machine, and
Phase 1: Get people talking
brain surgery isn’t much fun when you’re
The solution for employers
Send people this magazine and show them
forced to self-operate from instructions
Want your employees to be passionate
this article. Make people aware that there’s
sent by email.
about their jobs? Want to make your life
a very real and obtainable alternative to
The difference between an exception
easier too? Then start optimizing for
the daily commute and 9-5 slog. When
and an excuse is simple: deep down, you
happiness today by rolling out my easy
you go to phase 2, you want people to be
always know when you’re lying to yourself.
four-phase plan to a healthier, happier
aware of the options.
If you think of yourself as an exception
just because it’s easier not to take action, Phase 2: Push for a work from home day
perhaps it’s time to fight to make a
Phase 1: Change the working environment
Call a quick, informal meeting with your
positive change in your life or company.
The first thing to do is to create a working
boss, set a short agenda with a simple
environment to be proud of. Building an
goal (one work from home day a month,
Take action today!
enjoyable office environment is cheaper
staggered across the company if needs be?),
The future is yesterday, folks. The cruise
than you think. I’ll be running some fun
come out with some actionable results (like
ship to a happier, smarter working life is
ideas on how to create a great office at
a calendar date for the first trial day, and the
already sailing for tens of market-leading
work or at home soon.
name of the person who’s responsible for
companies filled with the smiling faces of
spreading the word). Then follow-up in two
people who love their jobs. Why not jump
weeks to make sure things are moving.
Phase 2: End the working week Forget about 9-5. Stop buying your employees’ lives and buy their ideas and
Phase 3: Prove you can be trusted
output instead. Trust them to manage their
When given the chance to work from home
own workload in the hours they choose,
for a day, for goodness’ sake, don’t screw
regardless of whether it fills the day or not.
it up. This is what you’ve been fighting for.
Do the same yourself! It’ll do wonders for
Yes, it’s possible to work less and still get
Nick Cernis is a
your health and your sanity. (N.B. If you
the same done (that was the whole point),
writer and web
currently bill by the hour, billing by the task
but don’t piss this chance away. Prove you
instead will help make this work better.)
can be trusted.
the UK with a
About Nick Cernis
passion for paper
Phase 3: Have a work from home day
Phase 4: Have a get out plan
Test out working from home for one day
I will warn you now. Being the one to
writes at „Put Things Off ”.
a week for a month. Make sure you give
suggest flexible working hours and
people everything they need to work from
championing the work-from-home lifestyle
Visit Nicks’s blog – „Put Things Off ”
home (including you!). Hire laptops if you
could backfire. It takes a brave heart and a
Visit this article’s online version
Seven tips for making yourself happier in the next hour You can make yourself happier – and this doesn’t have to be a long-term ambition. You can start right now. In the next hour, check off as many of the following items as possible. Each of these accomplishments will lift your mood, as will the mere fact that you’ve tackled and achieved some concrete goals.
Boost your energy: stand up and
a sizeable dent. Try to get in the habit of
emotions—turns out that just going
pace while you talk on the phone or,
using the “one minute rule”—i.e., never
through the motion of happiness brightens
even better, take a brisk ten-minute walk
postpone any task that can be completed
your mood. And if you’re smiling, other
outside. Research shows that when people
in less than one minute. An uncluttered
people will perceive you as being friendlier
move faster, their metabolism speeds up,
environment will contribute to a more
and more approachable.
and the activity and sunlight are good for
your focus, your mood, and the retention of information. Plus, because of “emotional contagion,” if you act energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too.
Some people worry that wanting to be
Lay the groundwork for some future
happier is a selfish goal. To the contrary.
fun: order a book you’ve been wanting
Studies show that happier people are
to read (not something you think you
more sociable, likeable, healthy, and
should read) or plan a weekend excursion
productive—and they’re more inclined to
Reach out to friends: make a lunch
to a museum, hiking trail, sporting event,
help other people. So in working to boost
date or send an email to a friend you
gardening store, movie theater—whatever
your own happiness, you’re benefiting
haven’t seen in a while. Having warm, close
sounds like fun. Studies show that
others as well.
bonds with other people is one of the keys
having fun on a regular basis is a pillar of
to happiness, so take the time to stay in
happiness, and anticipation is an important
touch. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out
part of that pleasure. Try to involve friends
that socializing boosts the moods not only
or family, as well; people enjoy almost all
of extroverts, but also of introverts.
activities more when they’re with other
Rid yourself of a nagging task: answer a difficult email, purchase something
you need, or call to make that dentist’s
Feel happier yet?
About Gretchen Rubin
people than when they’re alone. Gretchen Rubin
Do a good deed: make an email
started out as a
introduction of two people who
lawyer. At Yale Law
could help each other, or set up a blind
School, was editor-
off your to-do list will give you a big
date, or shoot someone a piece of useful
in-chief of the Yale
rush of energy and cheer, and you’ll be
information or gratifying praise. Do good,
Law Journal. She had
surprised that you procrastinated for so
feel good—this really works. Also, although
a great experience
we often believe that we act because of the
in law, but realized that what she really
appointment. Crossing an irksome chore
way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of
wanted to do was to write. Since making
Create a calmer environment: clear
the way we act. When you act in a friendly
the switch, she’s published four books.
some physical and mental space
way, you’ll strengthen your feelings of
She’s currently working on The Happiness
friendliness for other people.
Project which will hit the shelves in late
around your desk by sorting papers, pitching junk, stowing supplies, sending out quick responses, filing, or even just making your piles neater. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make
Act happy: put a smile on your face right now, and keep smiling. Research
Visit Gretchen’s blog
shows that even an artificially induced
– „The Happiness Project”
smile has a positive influence on your
Visit this article’s online version
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Having One Of Those Days? Here’s How To Deal With It We all have one of those days from time to time. But what do we mean when we say that? Typically one or more bad things happen that put you in an unhappy mood. Here is a handy guide to getting your day back on track. James Mallinson
aybe you feel everybody
Treat yourself and move on
is on your back or your
There is a logical, rational reason for
Rationalizing and being proactive will help
computer is constantly
everything. You might not directly cause
you to smooth out the whole unpleasantness
breaking down when you
it but it’s there all the same. If a customer
but if it fixed your entire day you wouldn’t
need to finish a report. Perhaps all your
gives you a hard time because another
be having one of those days in the first place.
current work isn’t satisfactory, the deadline
department didn’t do its job properly,
Take lessons from the experience and try
is getting closer and you just can’t seem
that’s unfortunate. But these things do
and get through the rest of the day. Treat
to get focused. Without really thinking
happen. If you’re dwelling on it while
yourself by going for retail therapy, having a
about it we put it all down to fate or
hiding in the cupboard, tell yourself you
nice meal or watching a film, if it helps. Then
being unlucky and then we typically end
were just in the wrong place at the wrong
get to sleep. You will almost certainly feel
up feeling sorry for ourselves. That can
much better the next day.
then spiral and affect the rest of our day. However, it need not be this way.
Take a breather Get away from it all. Disconnect the phone, turn off the computer. Heck, lock yourself in a cupboard if you can’t get away from work. Give yourself a chance to clear your head and gain some perspective. You can’t get hold of your day if you don’t give
Take the lessons from the experience now so it doesn’t mess up another day in the future.
yourself a chance to regain control. One
Don’t live in a bubble A boxer will never be successful if he just runs around the ring avoiding his opponent’s blows. Likewise you will never get anywhere if you are not willing to take the knocks and blows that life will all to readily dish out. You may feel like hiding in your shell when the day turns against you, but resist that urge, it’s not an habit you want to slip into. Shake it off and get back in the fight.
or two unfortunate events will affect your mood which can ultimately cause things to
…but could I have done something
spiral if you don’t take a step back
about it? Things happen that ruin our day which
About James Mallinson
Work out what the problem is
are out of our control, but there also
What makes you think you are having one
things that, in hindsight, we could have
James Mallinson comes from the UK and
of those days? Was it the moody customer
influenced or can yet gain some control
is an aspiring author. He started Organize
who shouted at you? Have you been
over. Could you perhaps have dealt with
IT nearly two years ago after he began
inundated with work because two of your
the rude customer a little better? Can you
dabbling in productivity, and wanted to
staff are off sick? Having one of those days
defer or delegate the workload till the
share his tips and experience.
will put you in a bad mood. It’s important
absent staff return? Take the lessons from
to know exactly what the cause is so you
the experience now so it doesn’t mess up
Visit James’s blog – „Organize-IT”
can do something about it.
another day in the future.
Visit this article’s online version
The GOYA method for Personal Development We’re heading towards the end of 2008 and some of you will be looking over this year and thinking about what you have achieved so far. For some nothing much will have happened for others their whole life will have changed. Personal development begins in your head and GOYA method will help a lot for those who still want to do something with the rest of 2008. Steven Aitchison Get Off Your Ass!
and the other, less dominant voice, saying
mean this. When you switch the voices
To do something, anything, you have to
‘come on, I need some GOYA time’.
and use the SOYA voice for the GOYA voice
take action, to take action you have to get
i.e. MR T voice is now the GOYA voice
The trick to getting off your ass is
off your ass first and make a start. That’s
making the GOYA voice more dominant
and Mickey Mouse on Helium is the SOYA
what this article is about.
than the SOYA voice.
voice you will see an amazing difference in your productivity, you exercise routine,
I don’t want to hear whines, excuses, or anything else just read this through and
I want you to think back to a time,
everything you need the GOYA voice for. Another exercise for today. To try this
recently, where you were in two minds to
method out try hearing the new GOYA
Getting to the stage of SOYA
go and do something but instead elected
voice telling you what to do whenever
A lot of us will have gotten to the stage of
to stay in bed or sit on the couch and
you are procrastinating about something.
SOYA (Sitting On Your Ass) at some point
watch TV. For example, you need to get up
Obviously, it doesn’t have to be MR T’s
in our lives. Indeed it’s good to have a
and tidy the house but instead you stayed
voice but you want a commanding voice,
bit SOYA time but too much can lead to a
in bed or watched TV or read your book.
have a little fun with it. Eventually the
permanent state of SOYA and your ass gets
What did the little GOYA voice sound like
voice will be your own voice and you begin
flatter with all the sitting, the only exercise
inside your head, if you can’t remember
to do things you have been putting off.
you get is flicking the remote and eating
listen for it next time. The SOYA voice
those packets of cheese and onion crisps.
sounds like MR T ‘Sit on your ass fool, ain’t
and listen to the voice and GOYA and do
nobody gonna clean the house’ and the
For those of you who don’t think you’re
List a few things you could do today
at the SOYA stage of life answer these
GOYA voice sounds like Mickey Mouse on
Helium ‘Oh shucks, that’s a shame coz the
1. Is your Ass permanently flat?
house needs a good clean’.
About Steven Aitchison
2. Does it take you about half an hour before you can walk properly getting off
Listening for the SOYA and GOYA voice
You will soon begin to hear the little voices
39, is a personal
whenever you have to do something.
Recognizing them is the first stage and
He currently works
when you hear them, it will be a revelation.
with the homeless
Now when I say hear them you don’t
dealing with issues
literally hear them you hear them in your
such as drug
head. You might not think they are there
addiction, and alcoholism. He has a degree
but they definitely are. Any time you have
in Psychology and has been a counsellor to
to do something they are there.
alcoholics. Also an affiliate marketer and
3. Do you make old man noises when you get off the couch? 4. Do you make old man noises when you go to sit on the couch? 5. Do you have some goals that involve GOYA? If you answered yes to any of the questions above it’s time for some GOYA.
The next stage is switching the voices around. This can be tricky at first but when
writer he has penned 3 books on personal development and making money online.
GOYA in action
you do it once it becomes very easy all the
There are at least two voices inside you at
other times and you will see a dramatic
Visit Steven’s blog
any one time. One voice saying ‘take the
difference in your life. Now I know I am
– „Change Your Thoughts”
easy option just turn the TV on and SOYA’
being a bit tongue in cheek here but I do
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17 Things you Should Stop Doing This is a list of 17 things you shouldn’t be doing any more because they waste time. Old habits die hard and it can be difficult to shift yourself from an old familiar way of doing something to a new better way. Mark W. Shead
ake a look at the list and see
trying to sell you things you didn’t really
is anything new. With a newsreader you’ll
if there is anything you can
need, would you put up with it? (If you
know whenever something new is posted.
change to help make you
have a friend in network marketing, you
more productive. If you have
may have already experienced this.)
any suggestions please add them in the comments.
cell phone should sync with your
Manually Depositing a Paycheck – That is what direct deposit is for. If you
computer. We are past the days where a phone only held 25 numbers. If someone
Removing Spyware – Use a computer or web browser that
doesn’t get infected.
Wasting Time in the Car – Subscribe to podcasts and get a
connector for your MP3 player in your car.
spend 15 minutes every two weeks dealing
calls, take the few seconds to record
Spend your time learning instead of just
with depositing your paycheck that is 65
their name in your phone, so it will be
sitting there driving.
hours over the next 10 years. Put this time
transferred next time you sync your
to better use.
Writing Checks for Bills – That is what the bill pay service from your
bank is for. Use this time for something
Commuting to College – Take your classes online. Spend your commute
time studying instead of driving.
Commuting Through Heavy
Partially Filling Up with Gas – Yes it might go down 3 cents next week, but
how much is your time really worth.
Looking for your Keys or Cellphone – Always put them in the same place
(hook by the door, etc).
Traffic — Talk to your boss about
working from home–even for just a few days a week. Shift your schedule to miss
Adaptor – If you go from work to
home with your laptop, get an extra adaptor for each work area so you don’t have to unpack and crawl under the desk
Getting Lost in the Car – If you spend a lot of time driving to
unfamiliar areas, go ahead and invest in a GPS with routing capabilities. That way you can spend your time focusing on your work instead of honing your navigation skills.
Clubbing Baby Seals – Just in case this applies to you, this would be a
good thing to stop as well.
Dialing into Voice Mail – Get your voicemail setup to send you
Unpacking your Laptop Power
messages as email attachments that way you only have to check one mailbox.
About Mark W. Shead
Backing Up to CDs or Disks – Get an external hard drive. It will be
Mark Shead works
fast enough that maybe you’ll go ahead
as a consultant
and backup more often. Plus if you do it
Check Multiple Email Boxes – Get a
right, you can create a working version of
efficiently turn time
program that will show you all your
your entire computer on the hard drive. If
into money using
email in one place or filter by individual
you laptop is stolen you can start working
technology and good
accounts. Apple Mail and several other
from your last backup with all your
products do this.
programs and settings just as they were.
Productivity501 is the website where
Watching Commercials – Use Tivo to skip them. Use Netflix and just skip
television all together. Buy the shows you
Losing Telephone Numbers – Your
Visiting Lots of Blogs – Use a
he publishes regular tips for personal
news reader like Google Reader or
productivity and development.
NewsFire. Most people don’t realize how
want to watch off iTunes. If you had a
much time they waste looking at the same
Visit Mark’s blog – „Productivity501”
friend who spent 20% to 30% of your time
sites over and over again to see if there
Visit this article’s online version
How To Work Less and Still Impress Is it possible to work less and still impress your boss, wife, husband and friends? In other words, is it possible to do less and accomplish more? Everyone seeks the answer to this question. We all want to generate the greatest noticeable impact with the least amount of effort, as quick as possible. It’s the way of the modern knowledge worker. We strive to work smarter, not harder.
he answer to the question is:
3. Focus More on Less
6. Follow the 80/20 Rule
YES! With the right combination
A jack of all trades may do very well in life,
The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your
of skills, tactics and tools, you
but supreme impressiveness is achieved
results come from just 20% of your
can work less and still impress.
via specialization. Elite expertise attracts
efforts. If you can identify and focus on
attention much faster than a run of the
the 20% that matters most, you can be
leads in the right direction, providing six
mill juggling act. This is because gradual
more productive (and impressive) without
basic strategies geared for increasing your
increases in skill level have an exponential
increasing your workload. Try to automate
impressiveness without increasing your
effect on the public opinion of overall
or delegate the less productive 80%
impressiveness. Think in terms of Karate:
whenever possible. When random emails
A black belt seems far more impressive
and phone calls start pushing you off
1. Learn Skills Few People Know
than a brown belt. But does a brown belt
course, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule
Find a niche function (or two) that’s
really seem any more impressive than a red
and make an immediate course correction.
currently in high demand and master it. If
belt? The bottom line: Society elevates
If an emergency arises and you absolutely
very few people can perform this needed
experts high onto a pedestal. Focus on
need to eliminate something from your
function, your effective value to others will
mastering your trade.
schedule, make sure it’s not part of the
The list below is not comprehensive, but
skyrocket into the stratosphere. You will become the “go to guy”. Even if it’s only a
4. Only Use Quality Tools
temporary gig, you will be able to make a
Trying to cut through a thick piece of
significant impact in a short timeframe. And
fresh lumber with an old, dull handsaw
if you play your cards right, you will find
would be a pretty foolish endeavor. You
yourself doing less actual work and getting
would have to work extremely hard to
10 times more credit for your efforts.
make the even the slightest impact. If
About Marc C
the tools in your toolbox don’t fit the
Marc was born in
2. Provide Value from Within a Black Box
requirements of the job, find someone
Mystery is a huge proponent of
who has the right tools and barter with
graduated from the
impressiveness. In order to achieve
them, hire them, invite them into the
University of Central
the ultimate level of impressiveness
process. Possessing the right tools (and
your efforts must make someone
skills) can easily shrink a mountainous
think, “Wow! How does he/she do
task into a molehill.
with a B.S. in Information Systems Technology.
that?” They can easily see your inputs and your results, but aren’t 100% sure
5. Always Under-Sell to Over-Deliver
He works as “Information Assurance
how you got from point A to point B.
The crooked salesman constantly over-sells
Manager” (computer security) and spends
In other words, you have to provide
the capabilities of his product. He sets the
a good deal of his free time reading
(or innovate) tangible value without
bar so high that the product ends up falling
personal development books and blogs.
disclosing the specifics of the mastery.
short of his client’s expectations. If you want
Computer security is his job and personal
Human beings are curious creatures.
to boost your impressiveness, do the exact
development is his passion. He’s also a big
If you can give them something they
opposite. Slightly under-sell your capabilities
fitness buff. He works out 4 days a week.
want while simultaneously stimulating
(or product, service, deadline, etc.) so that
their curiosity, you will always be more
you’re always able to over-deliver. It will
Visit Marc’s blog
impressive than the guy who cranks out
seem to others like you’re habitually going
– „Marc and Angel Hack a Life”
the most widgets.
above and beyond the call of duty.
Visit this article’s online version
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3 Essential Tools for Productivity Today I would like to share a description of some of the tools I use for my own productivity practice. Stephen Smith
I use these files for paper items that I need to process at specific times but the
I picked up a nice leather planner that
This is where I manage all of my activities
items do not need to go in my organizer
zips closed for $10 at Target. It is now
for the blogging enterprise as well as my
right now. In the same file are the
a mini-briefcase that I use to carry my
day job for BigCorp.
Reference folders for frequently-accessed
essentials. Number one of course is the
information such as billing records, work
Circa organizer that holds my DIY Calendar
pages that I designed.
This is a very simple and effective set-up. Everything that I need on a daily basis is available close by. You may also notice that I have arranged the desk according to the
The typical workflow for the Tickler file is: 1. Each morning, while the coffee is
I keep a Pilot .5mm G2 in the pen loop, and a PaperMate .5mm Mega Lead
“F-shape” principle that I featured in the
brewing, I check the contents of
mechanical pencil loose inside. I tuck a
design of my planner pages. From the top
few blank 3×5 cards into the front pocket,
2. I sync any time-specific items with my
left across I have placed: • Note cards and the usual office supplies. • Pen-holder.
paper calendar, 3. Complete the items that are date-
• Desk lamp.
specific but will not physically fit into
my calendar (which I refuse to stuff with notes and loose papers), 4. Any non-time-specific items then go into
From the bottom left: • In-box.
along with some business cards. Toss in a pad of 3×3 Post-Its and I am ready to go. These are the most essential tools for my personal productivity practice.
About Stephen Smith
the In-box on my desk for processing.
• Open task information.
5. Items are processed in order of the
• Clear desk blotter with frequently-called numbers and notes To the right of the desk: • Bookshelf with reference and tracking
Conversation Consultant and
or needs to go in the organizer, is
public speaker that
forwarded to its proper place.
uses the power
7. When “today’s” folder is empty, it goes
Stephen is a
amount of time required, starting with 6. Anything that does not get completed,
First, my workspace in my home office.
of the internet to leverage your success.
• The Book of Days
to the back of the line, becoming in
Productivity in Context is a web magazine
effect an empty folder in next month’s
focused on Productivity and tools for
• The printer.
organizing. Make this your headquarters
• The Tickler File.
Part of the beauty of this system is that if
for improving your life and work through
something comes up and I cannot process
increased mindfulness, education, and
The Tickler File
the items in the Tickler File for a day or
This tool consists of 43 Folders numbered
two, it is ready right where I left off. This
1-31 for the current month and 12
gives me almost instant access to date-
Visit Stephen’s blog
more for the months of January through
specific items that need to be processed
– „Productivity in Context”
with high priority.
Visit this article’s online version
7 Idea Dumping Tips Idea dumping is a lot like brainstorming. (I happen to be an expert on idea dumping because I just made the term up 5 minutes ago.). Brainstorming to me is more of a process where you have a problem, and you try and find a solution to it, with the end goal in mind. It’s a great concept in theory–except it never happens that way for me.
t seems like whenever I really need
3. Plan for not planning on it
6. Organize your thoughts
a great idea, they are nowhere to be
One problem with the way we typically
Once your ideas have stopped coming, be
found. Yet when I’m doing something
brainstorm is this: it’s unnatural. We bang
sure to organize them more coherently
completely unrelated and seemingly
our heads against the wall while chanting
once you’re done. Once you’ve got them
“think, think”. If you’re like me, your brain
organized, break them into actionable steps
unimportant, I’ll be floating in ideas.
doesn’t like to be told what to do.
( another component to GTD). You’ll quickly
opens up and throws out a flurry of ideas,
It’s more like my brain all of the sudden
I’ve found that the best way to allow your mind
realize what needs to be done next to
a proverbial diarrhea of the brain. Except
to form ideas is when I’m doing something
implement your ideas, in what order, etc.
with a good connotation, (unlike most
else. You have to be ready at anytime to jot
comparisons to bowel movements). So I’ve
something down. I know this point is a lot like
choice. I always keep a few handy, and I
decided to call this process Idea Dumping
#1, but I can’t stress it enough.
organize my ideas into ideas. If a project has
For me, notecards are my weapon of
more than one thought to it, I assign its own
to kind of fuse Brainstorming and, well… the bowel thing. So if you haven’t already
4. Good environments matter
card. If it’s something simple like a future
quit reading this article, here are my 7 tips
Allow yourself time to let your mind breathe
post title, I put it on the “catch-all” notecard
for effective Idea Dumping.
and relax. I’ve found that the best times
that holds just quick ideas. Later I’ll take the
to have idea dumps are when you’re in an
day’s cards and process them further.
1. ALWAYS carry paper
aesthetically pleasing environment, or at
It almost always never fails. I’ll have a great
least one where you’re enjoying yourself. A
7. Know when to stop
idea, I’ll think about it for a while, and
lot of times the ideas start coming when I’m
Don’t force the issue, man! You could hurt
never remember it again. Why? I didn’t
running, or talking a walk in nice weather.
yourself if you’re not careful. If the well of
write it down. Half of having a good idea
You may find yourself partial to different
ideas has run dry, pumping it more won’t
is actually writing it down. Writing it down
situations. It really doesn’t matter, just
help. Don’t worry, there will be other
gives you freedom to let your mind explore
so long as what you’re doing somewhat
times of plenty in terms of ideas. Ironically
it even more, because it doesn’t have to
automated and your mind can freely wander
enough, this article was a product of 3 idea
work on actually remembering it. If paper
wherever it wants. In short; you’re giving
dumps, spread over a couple of weeks.
isn’t your thing, use a voice recorder, your
yourself time to daydream.
cell phone’s voicemail, a pda, a rock and chisel… anything so that you can file it
5. Think big picture down
somewhere other than your brain.
Ok, so I realize that there will be times
About Glen Stansberry
when you’ll actually have good ideas
2. Be descriptive when writing it down
when you are forced into brainstorming
Glen Stansberry is
There have also been times where I’ve
on a certain problem. A good strategy for
a web developer
written an idea down quickly, and then
finding solutions to a specific problem is
and blogger out of
looked at it later and had no idea I was
always thinking top down. In David Allen’s
Lawrence, KS. He is
talking about. The more descriptive you
Getting Things Done, you should always
the co-founder of
are, the better you can get back into your
start with asking yourself why you’re doing
LifeRemix, a lifestyle
train of thinking when you wrote it down,
it. Why are you trying to find the solution?
like picking up where you left off. Also,
Why is it important? It sounds mind-
Glen is also the owner of LifeDev, a blog
being more descriptive frees up your
numbingly simple, but it really helps you
that helps creative people get stuff done.
brain’s resources to develop the idea even
focus your thinking on the problem, rather
Visit Glen’s blog – „LifeDev”
than going off on tangents.
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10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy A messy desk is a sign of creativity and imagination. This is the excuse I gave myself for the mountain of papers, knickknacks, and San Pellegrino bottles normally piled on my desk at work. Chanpory Rith
ruth is, I’m just lazy. When I
papers requiring an action that takes
started wasting more and more
more than 2 minutes in here. This may
time looking for lost items
be items such as forms to fill out and
instead of being a brilliant
documents to proofread. You can also
creative person, I knew I had to do something. I got my desk organized, and
• Current projects rack
If it takes less than two minutes, just do it. – Delegate it If you’re not the right person to do it, then send it to someone who can. – Defer it
have been miraculously keeping it clean for
For this, use a file rack or small file box
the past three months.
to hold folders for active projects. Create
If it takes more than two minutes to do,
one folder per project.
but it in your Action or Tickler file. Or if
Here’s how: 1. Use a system to manage paper
• Filing cabinet
it’s project-related, put it in your current
Most of the clutter on my desk is paper.
Put completed projects, general
In one of my recent posts, I wrote
reference items, and anything else
about a system for organizing files on
you might want to look at again in a
If the file has no action for you to do,
the computer. The same system can be
filing cabinet. Use simple flat folders
modified to work with physical files:
organized from A-Z, instead of hanging
Setup: A place for everything
folders. • Dump boxes (trash can, recycling bin,
First, you’ll need a few items: • Inbox
projects file rack. • Organize
– Trash it, recycle it, or shred it, if you don’t need it. – Put it in the Incubate tray if you’re not ready to deal with it.
This is a standard stackable letter tray.
I avoided throwing away paper because
– Archive in your filing cabinet for later.
Put documents that don’t yet have a
I didn’t have access to a trash can, felt
place in here. This may be items like
guilty about tossing recyclable paper, or
The most important part of the system
memos, print-outs, and random things
was afraid of throwing away confidential
is setting up reviews for you to process
placed on your desk by random people.
materials. Having a trash can, recycling
your Inbox and organize your files:
• Incubate box
bin, and shredder for each of these
On top of your Inbox tray, stack another
situations eliminates these hesitancies.
– Daily Process your Inbox as often as you like
letter tray to put items that are “on
Usage: Process, Organize, Review
throughout the day, but do it at least
hold”. These are items you aren’t yet
You’re now all set and ready to clean your
twice a day: once around noon and again
ready to do or complete in here. They
desk. The steps below are adapted from
at day’s end. You must empty it at the
may be articles you’re thinking of
David Allen’s GTD system:
end of the day, so that your inbox is nice
reading, sketches for potential projects,
and fresh in the morning. – Weekly
and information about events you might
Put all papers on your desk in your Inbox
tray. If it doesn’t fit, just put it next to
At the end of the week, move completed
it for now. Go through each file one by
projects into your filing cabinet. Go
For this, Merlin Mann of 43 Folders
one. Ask yourself: can I act on this file?
through your Incubate tray and decide
recommends an A-Z accordion file. Put
if you’re ready to act on any of the
• Action & Tickler file
use a tickler file to supplement this.
– Do it
Eating at your desk encourages trash like paper bags, cups, and utensils to stick around your desk. files, following the steps you would to
each day. After two or three weeks, the
Doing this also allows you a mental
process your Inbox. Take items in your
habit will stick.
break from work where you can enjoy
recycling bin to the main recycling bin in the office. – Monthly
your meal without phone or computer 6. Throw away pens
Why do you need so many pens? Throw
At the end of the month, go through
them all out except for two or three. If it
10. Limit photo frames on your desk
your filing cabinet and prune any files
doesn’t have a cap, toss it.
Pictures of loved ones remind us of what’s
you don’t think you’ll ever need again.
important in our lives. More than three 7. Say no to schwag
on your desk, however, is a distraction.
2. Banish Post-it notes
Yes, it’s hard to resist the ugly free crap
Instead, use Flickr to store photos which
Stop using Post-its to remind yourself
at conferences and internal office events,
you can view in a slideshow during a
of important information. They’re just
but avoid taking them just because
too easy to lose and they’re ugly when
they’re free. This includes all those cheap
plastered all over your monitor. Instead,
pens, stickers, free magazines, brochures,
keep a little notebook on your desk to
postcards, and anything else that will
write down reminder notes.
likely end up littered on your desk. If you
About Chanpory Rith
need a reminder of a particular vendor, 3. Trash those printouts
take your PDA or notebook with you
After printing a file and completing the
and write the company’s name and URL
LifeClever, a blog
action associated with it, throw it away.
dedicated to design advice, productivity
You already have a copy of it on your computer, so you don’t keep it lying
8. Take your books home
tips, and life hacks.
around on your desk.
Take home any books you don’t use on a
During the day,
regular basis for work. You’ll have more
he’s an interaction
4. Keep blank file folders and a label
space to work, and if you have to leave
designer for Dubberly Design Office in
maker at your desk
your job for any reason (heaven forbid),
San Francisco. When not feeling modest,
The reason while you don’t file is because
you’ll have fewer heavy items to pack.
he likes to brag about his interaction and
it’s so tedious to find folders and label
branding work for Macworld, PC World,
them. With a stack of blank folders and
9. Eat away from your desk
Symantec, Adobe, Yahoo!, and Four
label maker within reach, you have no
Eating at your desk encourages trash like
Seasons Hotel. Chanpory is a graduate
paper bags, cups, and utensils to stick
of the California College of the Arts and
around your desk. I’ve been guilty of this
Oakland Technical High School.
5. Ritualize your reviews
and have the crumbs in my keyboard to
Schedule time in iCal or other calendaring
prove it. To prevent this, eat somewhere
Visit Chanpory’s blog - „Life Clever”
program to clean your desk at the end of
else. Preferably, out of the office.
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14 Numbers Your Cell Phone Can’t Live Without Not so long ago, cell phones were reserved for society’s wealthy and privileged. Yes, carrying around that small suitcase only for the pleasure of spending $.50/minute to call your stock broker or nail salon - that’s what separated the haves from the have-nots. Brett Kelly
hankfully, those days have ended.
find yourself stuck on the side of the road
mother has a cell phone these
(or maybe you’ve had a few drinks). This
days - and why wouldn’t they?
is especially helpful in the latter situation
They’re ridiculously cheap to acquire and use (relative to just a few years ago) and even the freebie models come with more features than a stock install of Windows 95™. But, alas, there are a great many people
Interstate and managed to wet your pants in the process. Shoot for a direct line or cell phone. 11. Your Next-Door Neighbor - Hear about
since you won’t have to sheepishly ask
a house fire on the news? Give old Ted
the bartender to call you a cab.
next door a ring and have him poke his
6. Water and Power Department - In case your water or power ever get shut off and you’d like to know why (especially
walking around with their new iPhone
if it’s the power and your regular
waiting patiently in their pocket or purse
phones don’t work).
that aren’t properly equipped to deal
7. Doctor and/or Pediatrician - Another
head out to make sure your house is still standing (and offer to return the favor). 12. Tow Truck Company - Preferably one that will drive long distances if need be. Other than that, this one needs no explanation.
with a serious (or borderline emergency)
one for your parents. When little
situation! This is why I’ve compiled this
Junior suddenly breaks out in hives and
list - these are all numbers that are in the
you’d like to speak to somebody (but
people you should call if you’re in an
phonebook of my RAZR as I write this - and
don’t want to spend the cheddar on
accident (unless somebody is hurt, then
I’ve had to call many of them, especially
the emergency room just yet), this is
you call them second). They’ll tell you
being a parent of small children.
another one that’s good to have. Also,
want to write down and if you need the
these can be very difficult to locate in
police. Another number you don’t want
a time of stress, so record it next time
to go fishing through your Costanza
So, if your cell phone has no other numbers stored in its memory, make sure it has these numbers:
you have the chance.
13. Car Insurance Carrier/Broker - The first
Wallet for if you can help it. 14. Pizza/Chinese/All-Night Take-out Food
1. Local Fire Department - Because you
8. Poison Control - So, you think you little
may need them and it may not be
Timmy might’ve just ingested two big
- Because once you find a good place
enough of an emergency to call 911.
mouthfuls of Pine-Sol? Not sure if you
that’s open late, that’s a number you
Very good for those pesky cat-stuck-in-
should take him to the hospital or use
keep and call often.
his sweat to clean the floor? These
2. Local Police Department or Law Enforcement - Same reason as above. 3. Nearby Hospital(s) - These are great when a loved one isn’t home hours
people generally answer very quickly and are very helpful - a must for the parents.
About Brett Kelly
9. Animal Control - This isn’t just for
after they said they’d be. A lot easier to
mountain lions and wild boar who show
Brett Kelly is a
have them preloaded into your phone
up on your back stoop. Maybe your
instead of sifting frantically through the
neighbor’s dog’s brain made a wrong
turn at Albuquerque and now he thinks
little Maddy is a kabob of some sort.
he lives with his
ever in an accident and are incapacitated
You’ll obviously want the tranquilizer-
lovely wife and two
or killed, the authorities who find you
toting folks in coats to come down and
children. He drinks
will likely look for this entry in your cell
diffuse the situation, pronto.
coffee and has a Mac.
4. ICE (In Case of Emergency) - If you’re
phone numbers (and call it). A spouse or
5. Taxi Company Dispatch - Just in case you
Everybody and their freakin’
10. Coworker or Boss - Because you don’t
relative capable of making decisions on
want to call the company switchboard
Visit Brett’s blog – „Cranking Widgets”
your behalf would be best here.
to tell them you ran out of gas on the
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Seven Questions That Will Change Your Life Self reflection should be more than a minor consideration if you’re serious about personal growth. I can testify that it’s worked wonders for me, for grounding myself and evaluating my life’s progress. Alex Shalman
ow else am I supposed to make improvements, if I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong in the past? Many people try
Many people try to ignore past errors, but then history repeats itself
to ignore past errors, but then history repeats itself, as we all know. Here are some questions that I find
By answering these questions for myself
hard day at the gym could mean that I’ve
useful to use for self reflection. The
in my writing journal, or journal diary as
let myself get out of shape, or I’m over
format that I use is that of a weekly self
it is sometimes called, I force myself to
working myself. I can make adjustments for
assessment and reflection journal. Try
take a hard look at myself. I may spend
the following week and plan accordingly.
it yourself, ask yourself the following
months or years treading water, not
questions Sunday night, when your week
getting anywhere, if I didn’t take this time
you stare these seven hard questions dead
to analyze myself.
in the eyes?
What will I try to improve on next week?
What was I most proud of this week? What was my biggest accomplishment this week?
What things will you discover yourself if
For me a week is enough time to pull myself back if I’ve gotten too far offcourse. If I’ve stopped exercising for a
About Alex Shalman
week, I would be ashamed of myself, and my weekly review would get me to the
Alex Shalman is a
gym first thing Monday morning.
23 year old student,
By recording things that made me
proud and that I consider my biggest
What have I done to get closer to my
accomplishments, I can emulate them in
and friend that lives
life goals this week?
the future. The benefit for me is that these
in New Jersey, USA.
are the things that make me feel good and
Some of his interests
are likely taking me towards my life goals.
include reading everything he can get his
What was hard for me this week, and why?
I record the activities that I’ve found to
hands on, from personal development
be hard during the week. Maybe it was a
books, to books about fitness, nutrition,
What was my biggest waste of time
test, or a work out at the gym. I can then
productivity, psychology, and relationships.
analyze where I went wrong, or right. A
test being hard could mean that I wasn’t
Visit Alex’s blog
What did I do this week that made me
prepared enough, or it was meant to be
– „Practical Personal Development”
a challenging critical thinking exam. A
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Getting Things Done® Primer: Chapter 1 We decided that for our first series of posts, we would both re-read GTD® and write a Primer for those who are not as familiar with the system as we are. For now, we are going to go chapter by chapter. But we may change that up, or combine chapters. Michael Ramm Chapter 1: A New Practice for a New
innumerable ways to do this (watch this
you dump them out of your “psychic RAM,”
site for discussions on them). The point is
you free yourself from having to remember
David Allen opens his bestselling book
that the commitment must not be in your
everything that you have to do in your life.
Getting Things Done® with a bold statement:
head. If it is in your head, then you will
Since you have it in your trusted system,
most likely forget it…I usually do. Write
you are allowed to focus your mind on
overwhelming number of things to do and still
it down somewhere that you will look at
whatever task is at hand, whether it is
function productively with a clear head and a
on a regular basis. Then decide what the
emptying the dishwasher, or restructuring
positive sense of relaxed control.” (page 3)
end result of the commitment is going
your corporate pay scale. Your mind has
to be, and figure out what the next step
a horrible reminder system. It does never
David Allen (DA) sees the evolution of work
(or action) to finishing that commitment
reminds you that you need an air filter
since the days of the assembly line men and
should be. After you come up with your
when you walk down the aisle at the store.
women. He states the work has evolved
‘next action’ (NA), you need to write that
You remember that when you see dust
into something that is not confined to ‘8am
NA in your trusted system also.
bunnies falling from your vent…but you
“It’s possible for a person to have an
What follows is a summation of how
to 5pm Monday through Friday’. Work is
cannot do anything about it then. The new air filters are at the store that you just left.
life should be documented and recorded
every minute of every day of every year.
into your trusted system. That includes,
The techniques that are implemented in
This constant barrage of having to be “at
but is not limited to, email, phone calls,
Getting Things Done® are not revolutionary.
work” is starting to put a strain on us, and
voice mails, meeting with bosses (corporate
Everyone makes lists of things to do,
the way that we try to organize our time.
and household) and direct reports…
and uses calendars for appointments.
There were a number of successful systems
EVERYTHING. Allen makes no distinctions
Revolution comes with the change in
that touted total organizational nirvana, but
between personal and professional lives. In
mindset to think about the next action
mostly they were glorified calendars and
both, things still need to get done.
that you need to do to accomplish your goal. Getting Things Done® lays out the
to-do lists. People relied too much on the
When talking about “stuff ”, Allen
“system” they were using, and not actually
defines ”stuff ” as “anything you have
path to your own personal organizational
getting things done.
allowed into your psychological and
revolution. Enjoy the ride
But now there is a new system that
physical world that doesn’t belong
forces you to think about your “work” in a
where it is, but for which you haven’t
whole new light.
determined the desired outcome and the
Getting Things Done (GTD ) is based on ®
next action step”. (page 17) He states that
About Michael Ramm
most organizational models do a good
1. Capture everything that you need to get
job keeping track of the first part of the
Michael Ramm runs „Black Belt Productivity”
done in a “trusted system” outside of
definition, but do nothing to help the
with Jason Echols. Michael Ramm is the
second part. It is mastery of this second
Information Technology Manager for a small
part that is at the heart of Getting Things
municipality in Central Alabama. His former
input in your life.
Done . Managing your actions will lead to
boss introduced him to GTD in March 2005,
Using this system, to the fullest, will clear
the elimination of your “stuff ”. When you
and he is on his 4th reading of GTD.
2. Create “next actions” for every single
your mind of all that is troubling you about
break down anything that you do into a
individual tasks and projects in your life.
smaller ‘next action’ toward completion of
Visit Michael and Jason’s blog
the goal, it makes the task at hand seem
– „Black Belt Productivity”
easier to accomplish.
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“It is a condition of working, doing, and being in which the mind is clear and constructive things are happening.” (page 10)
Allen reiterates that EVERY input in your
something that every one of us is doing
Allen then begins to stress the
Everything that we do needs to be
importance of having all of your actions
Note: This article is the first chapter out of
captured in a trusted system. There are
and next actions out of your head. When
the Getting Things Done® Primer series.
The Five W’s of a Weekly GTD Review
efore retiring from police work
for the next week, confident that I haven’t
more than a decade ago, I was
The where is unimportant as far as
forgotten anything. I get the weekend off,
taught to use the Five W’s of
geography goes. It could be at work, at
because I did my most important work on
interrogation to get the full story,
home, in a coffee shop or a library. What is
Friday – I completed and checked off my
or as Joe Friday used to say, “I want the
important, is the atmosphere in which you
facts mam, just the facts.” You probably
conduct your weekly review. It should be
remember these important fact finding
free of distractions, provide access to your
questions from your grammar school days,
entire GTD system, and afford an hour or two
You did remember that there was an “H”
or for some, journalism school.
(depending on the number of active projects)
tacked on to those Five W’s didn’t you?
of focused uninterrupted work and planning.
OK, here’s ten hows to execute an effective weekly review.
I was recently replying to a blog post asking how its readers perform a weekly
review, when it occurred to me that our
I have Friday of each week scheduled as a time
1. Schedule a weekly review every week.
weekly GTD planning session should be
for my weekly review, as a recurring task in my
2. Keep to your schedule and DO the
answering these same questions as we
GTD of course. This is a great time because
seek to refine our GTD, Getting Things
you have just finished all of your work for
the week, but if you need to send reminders or contact someone they are still at work.
weekly review. 3. Review every active project and every task. 4. Delete tasks that are no longer
You can reflect on what you’ve accomplished
The answer to this question should be easy.
during the week, and in doing so do a better
5. Create new tasks as needed.
You know who, don’t you? Well its often
job of planning for next week’s work.
6. Modify contexts and dates as needed. 7. Review your “waiting for” context.
easier to answer this question than it is to get “YOU” to do it, right? How about we
There are times when I feel like I need
8. Archive completed and on hold projects.
use GTD to get it done. Schedule a recurring
an additional review during the week,
9. Check off your weekly review as DONE.
weekly task, with an appropriate context
but instead of using work time, I will
10. Go home and have some FUN.
and make sure YOU do it each week. It is the
occasionally review all of my projects
non-negotiable of any effective GTD.
when I have some down time waiting for something or someone, at home, in the car
(not while driving), etc. and I usually use
During a weekly review, I set aside time
iNozbe from my iPhone for this review.
About John Kendrick John is a retired
to go through every project and look at each task in the project to determine if the task
police officer since
is still relevant and actionable (if not I delete
As a friend of mine used to say, “I’m glad
1997 after 24 years
it), is the context still accurate, and should
of service, and have been working in the
the task be moved to the next action list. If a dated action has slipped, I’ll update it with
The answer lies in the tag line to David
IT industry since
a more appropriate date, or remove the date
Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, The
altogether if it has lost its relevance.
Art of Stress-Free Productivity (emphasis
as a corporate and government software
added). While I have heard this often,
trainer. I currently manage a computer
I have also personally experienced the
training center for a large local government
completed or put projects on hold that contain
stress relief and liberating results of
maintaining five training labs with 70
tasks that are not actionable at this time.
consistent and thoughtful weekly reviews.
Windows workstations, and responsible for
This is also the time I close projects that are
the technology training of approximately I also use this time to look over every
And while many more reasons could
10,000 active and retired employees.
task in my “Waiting For” context, though
be cited, this is easily THE why for me.
I also do this several times a week to stay
Having completed my weekly review, I can
Visit John Kendrick’s blog:
on top of things that others have promised
go home for the weekend, have fun, and
John Kendrick Online
to do, and send reminders as appropriate.
rest easy knowing that everything is ready
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Learn Productivity Tips and Tricks In 2 minutes!
hile reading the book
1 – The Famous 2-minute Rule
Setting up the inboxes is nice, but in
by David Allen “Getting
order for them to really work for you, they
Things Done – the Art of
need to be emptied on a regular basis. In
this video I’m showing some basic do’s and don’ts when emptying inboxes.
I couldn’t escape many “a-ha” moments when I realized what David is saying is just
4 – A life outside of Email
pure common sense and most of it I already knew but never cared to put into practice. One of these “obvious discoveries” I’ve made is the “2-minute rule” which says: “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment
In this episode we’re discussing the two-minute rule by David Allen. I’m also
it is defined.” (David Allen) When I realized how powerful this rule
showing you how a small two-minute timer
is, I started searching for 2-minute actions
can help you determine your two-minute
during my busy day and found out that there
are really many of them! When you know something takes less than two minutes – you
2 – The INBOX and my inboxes
Is Email ruling your life? Are you depending on Email and feel it’s
just don’t have any excuse for not doing it.
overwhelming you with so many emails
While reading many articles by the productivity bloggers, I jotted down my
coming in? Here are my tips showing you
favorite tips and “hacks” to keep them in
how you can get a life outside of email.
mind for the future and maybe later share
5 – Processing to Zero
them with my Nozbe community. Then I realized these small pieces of advice can be presented in a form of a video series. This is how the idea of the “2-minute Productivity Show” came to life. I just thought – if I can squeeze some
Here I’m sharing with viewers how many
great tips and tricks into a short video that
inboxes I have set up and how I’m using
would last only two minutes – my users will
them to make sure I capture all the ideas
watch it. After all, it’s just two minutes!
and information worth processing.
3 – How to EMPTY your INBOX Not all the messages need to be responded to, however all the messages need to be processed. What’s the difference? Learn in this video. Since the interest in the videos is growing, I decided to publish new video every Wednesday on the Nozbe blog. Hope To date I’ve recorded one introductory video and 5 episodes of the series. Let me briefly introduce them to you:
you like them – I’d be happy to receive your comments and feedback.
Release date: December 2008 Pre-order now!