Productive Magazine #1

Page 1

• 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

meaningful life.

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.


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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

entire magazine

other useful “cheats” and “hacks” that will

to the living memory

definitely help you live a productive and

of Marc Orchant

meaningful life.

– 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

Yours sincerely,

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:


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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 Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich Sponsor: 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!


Sponsored by


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.

own book.

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

subtle stuff.

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

of GTD?

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

no simpler.

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


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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

any reason.

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

DA: No.

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


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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

even better.

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

will accomplish?

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

best practices.

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.

going it.

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 (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.


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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”


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10-Steps to Productivity according to Nozbe:

Follow these 10 easy steps here:

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.



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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

next day.

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,

over again.

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,

executives, managers

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

The upshot

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


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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

ever since.

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?

from above.

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

working lives.

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.

business today.

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.

on board?

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

developer from

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

productivity. He

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


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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.

Gretchen Rubin


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

serene mood.

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

Shit happens…

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.

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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

Quick Exercise

then GOYA.

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

Steven Aitchison

your couch?

You will soon begin to hear the little voices

39, is a personal

whenever you have to do something.

development blogger.

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

Visit this article’s online version


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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.

rush hour.


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

helping companies

Check Multiple Email Boxes – Get a

right, you can create a working version of

efficiently turn time

each 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

business practices.

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

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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.


Marc C

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

vital 20%.

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

Miami, Florida,

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

Florida’s College

your efforts must make someone

skills) can easily shrink a mountainous

of Engineering

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.

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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

records, etc.

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

“today’s” folder.

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

• Laptop.

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

small business

the shortest.

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,


My Organizer

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

• Software.

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

workflow practices.

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.

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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.


Glen Stansberry

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?

blogging network.

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

you can:

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

• Review

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,

• Process

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 yes:

if you’re ready to act on any of the

• Action & Tickler file


use a tickler file to supplement this.

– Do it


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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

Chanpory helms

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.

Visit this article’s online version


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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.

tree situations

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

software developer

instead of sifting frantically through the

neighbor’s dog’s brain made a wrong

from Southern

yellow pages!

turn at Albuquerque and now he thinks

California where

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

Visit this article’s online version


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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

is complete.

to analyze myself.

in the eyes?


What will I try to improve on next week?

2 3

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

son, boyfriend,

proud and that I consider my biggest

classmate, writer

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

4 5

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.

this week?

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

Visit this article’s online version



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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

two objectives:

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

your head.

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.

Visit this article’s online version

“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.


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The Five W’s of a Weekly GTD Review


John Kendrick

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

weekly review.

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

Done methodology.

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

you asked”.

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

1985, primarily

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

Visit this article’s online version


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Learn Productivity Tips and Tricks In 2 minutes!


hile reading the book

1 – The Famous 2-minute Rule

Michael Sliwinski

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

Stress-free Productivity”,

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:



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you like them – I’d be happy to receive your comments and feedback.

Release date: December 2008 Pre-order now!