The Working With… Podcast
What Does a “Perfect” Productivity System Look Like?

What Does a “Perfect” Productivity System Look Like?

January 20, 2020

How should a great productivity system be working? That’s the question I’m answering this week in the Working With Podcast. 

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

The Carl Pullein Learning Centre 

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

Time And Life Mastery Course

 

Script

Episode 116

Hello and welcome to episode 116 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

My guess is if you are listening to this podcast you have some interest in productivity and time management. And for people like us (I certainly have an interest), there is a huge resource of material around that showcases how to set things up so you can become more productive and be more efficient with your time. 

But the question is, with all this advice around, what does an effective, efficient, well-managed productivity system look like? How does it really operate when it comes face to face with everyday life? 

Well, today, I will try to answer those questions.

But first, I just want to give you a heads up that if you enrol in either my Your Digital Life, Time and Life Mastery or Create Your Own Apple Productivity courses you can get my Complete Guide To Creating A Successful Life course completely FREE. That’s almost two hours of learning that will help you build momentum towards a life you love living and towards making progress every single day towards whatever you define as success. 

The Complete Guide To Creating A Successful Life normally costs over $100s, but for this month only you can get that course for free. So if you are serious about building a great system—a system that works for you—then now would be a fantastic time to pick up one of these courses and begin your journey today.

All the details are in the show notes.

Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Natalie. Natalie asks, Hi Carl, I’ve been following your YouTube channel and a lot of other productivity YouTubers as well and you all have different ways of organising and doing things. What I really want to know is what does a ‘perfect’ productivity or time management system look like?

Hi Natalie, thank you for sending in your fantastic question. It’s a question that got me thinking because in a sense you hit upon a very important point. There are a lot of different ways of creating a system, many will work well, a lot will not. The question to ask is how can I build a system that will work for me? 

So, to begin with, let’s ask why do we need a productivity and time management system in the first place? 

If we go back to the era before industrialisation, when we lived an agrarian life, we did not need anything more than a seasonal calendar. We certainly did not need a to-do list manager or a daily diary. Our work was determined by the seasons and the weather. We planted in the spring and we gathered in the autumn. In the summer we looked after our crops and in the winter we cleaned up and repaired our stuff. Very simple really.

Then came industrialisation, but even then the majority of us did not really need elaborate calendars or to-do lists. Factory work was simple. We turned up, went to our work station, did our work and then came home. 

We then became information workers. Now we no longer had a fixed job. Now we were managing information. This changed everything because suddenly nothing was fixed. We became much more reliant on other people for information. Computers needed information inputting and we needed to make sure we had the right information in the right place at the right time. 

Meetings were invented (well, I can’t imagine a farmer 200 years ago having a meeting to decide what to do next can you? It was obvious), water cooler chat and cc’d email. It all became so much more complex and this led to the birth of management consultants whose job it appears was to make things even more complex by creating processes and procedures and managing it all in an Excel file—which rather than reducing a worker’s workload all it did was increase it.

To combat this information overload, we created time management systems, desk diaries and so much more. The question is, did any of this really help us to become more productive and be able to focus on what was really important? I’m not so sure. 

So, to get back to your questions Natalie, what does, a ‘perfect’ productivity system look like in 2020. How can we manage all the inputs that come our way, get our work done and still have time and energy at the end of the day to spend it with the people we really care about?

Well, first up, you should make sure you have the five foundations balanced. That’s have enough sleep, eat the right kinds of foods, drink enough water, take regular exercise and make sure you have a plan for the day. Getting these five areas in balance will go along way towards keeping you energised throughout the day. 

But what kind of system is a perfect system anyway? 

The short answer is any system that works for you and achieves a balance between getting your work done and allowing you the time to do the things you want to do without causing stress or friction. 

Okay, now that we have a kind of working definition, how do we translate that into a system?

The basics of any system is you collect what needs to be done, you make a decision about what needs doing with those things, organise them so you are reminded of them when you need to be reminded of them and you have enough time each day to do the work that needs doing. Simple yes? Well, sort of.

It’s here where I see a lot of people overthinking and over complicating things. 

Really all you need is a way to organise your tasks. Now, for me, I like to organise my tasks into three areas. Active projects—that’s real projects I am currently working on. Routines—those everyday tasks that just need to be done. And my areas of focus—that’s the things I have identified as being important to me. 

My goals, life’s mission and my purpose will fall under my areas of focus. For example, I want to maintain a high level of physical fitness. I identify fitness as being a part of who I am. That’s an area of focus. However, if you look at my physical fitness area of focus you will find there’s hardly anything in there. Why? That’s because maintaining my physical fitness is just something I do. I do not need a task reminding me to workout. It’s scheduled on my calendar. It’s a non-negotiable part of my life. Having a task come up on my to-do list is pointless. I’m going to work out. That’s non-negotiable. 

Now, of course, there’s going to be little things that come up each day. A call you need to make, a follow up that needs doing and an email or two that requires a reply. It’s here where I see people struggling the most. Yet, if you maintain a simple system, you will just set aside some time each day to reply to messages, emails and phone calls. 

In my case, I set aside thirty to sixty minutes each day for communications. This involves replying to emails that need replies, answering questions on my YouTube channel and responding to questions on Twitter or Facebook. It also involves following up on clients and students. Because I have a set, dedicated period of time each day for this, I do not need to feel stressed or overwhelmed. I just go into my email, YouTube and Facebook dashboard and reply. The goal is to get to the bottom, but it’s not a problem if I don’t. As long as the most important, time-sensitive ones are responded to, I feel satisfied. 

And, don’t buy into the idea that you must reply to an email within the hour. This is ridiculous. Email is never urgent. Ever! If something was urgent, you would be contacted by phone or text message. And if you work with someone who does think email is urgent, you should gently educate them to better ways of communicating. 

Once you have a place to keep your tasks, projects and areas you want to focus on, all you need to do is to spend ten to fifteen minutes at the end of the day on what I used to call the Golden ten, but realise a better name is the “Focused Ten”. That’s the ten tasks you want to get completed tomorrow. I pick two objectives—the two tasks I will complete whatever happens—and eight other tasks that I will do whatever I can to complete, but it would not be the end of the world if I were unable to do. 

Now because my tasks are organised into active projects and areas of focus it is very easy to do a quick look through all my active projects and select my ten tasks. Most of the time these are already pre-selected because I always do a weekly review. Once a week, I review all my active projects and decide what I will work on the next week. 

And that’s really all there is to it. The stuff I collect each day gets processed at the end of the day into their respective projects or areas—or more often than not just get completed directly from my inbox. 

Once you do have a system in place the trick is to spend as little time as possible in there. You see, the more time you spend inside your ‘system’ the less time you spend doing the work. That is when you find you have less time for the things you want to spend time doing. So, keep things simple, don’t create complex hierarchies of projects, sub-projects and todos. Organise things in their natural places, give yourself some time at the end of each day to plan the next day—the ten things you want to focus on—and just get on and do your work. If you are interrupted by a request, add it to your inbox and get back to doing your work. 

And that’s really all there is to it. 

Hopefully, that’s given you some ideas, Natalie. If you want more information about this, you can take my FREE productivity course, the Collect, Organise and Do system. That will help you to set up a system for yourself. 

Thank you for the question, and thank you to all of you for listening. Don't forget, if you have a question you would like answering, then you can do so by emailing me— carl@carlpullein.com or DMing me on Twitter or Facebook. 

It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

How to Have An Abundance of Energy Every Day.

How to Have An Abundance of Energy Every Day.

January 13, 2020

Is it possible to create an environment where you have a huge amount of energy, enthusiasm and direction each day? Well, that’s the question I answer this week. 

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

The Carl Pullein Learning Centre 

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

The Obesity Code By Dr Jason Fung

 

Script

Episode 115

Hello and welcome to episode 115 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week it’s all about energy, positivity and sleep… Well, something like that. This week I’m answering a question all about maintaining high levels of energy throughout the day and how to make sure that happens every day. 

Now, before I get into the question, I’d just like to say that one of the best times of the year to review and refresh your systems is the beginning of the year. So, now’s a great time to retake the COD productivity course if you have already taken it and if you haven’t then go ahead and get yourself enrolled. It’s a completely FREE course and will provide you with the know-how and skills to create your own system—a system built for you that is easy to maintain and simple to use. 

Just by having a system in place is a great first step towards relieving stress and overwhelm, but it goes so much further than that because having a system also assists you in developing your goals and projects and when you build momentum in these areas you create the all-important “success momentum” and that just leads to better and better things. 

Details on how to enrol for free are in the show notes and I’d love to see you in the course creating your very own system and helping me to spread the word that we don’t have to live a life of stressed out and overwhelmed.

Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Jurgen. Jurgen asks, hi Carl, you always seem to have so much energy and I was wondering what you do to keep your energy levels up. 

Hi Jurgen, thank you for your question. This is something I have spent a lot of time researching over the last few years. The reason was that several years ago I committed myself to create a lot of content and to do that I knew would require a lot of energy. 

Before I share a few strategies with you, allow me to take you back a few years. 

Around 2009 I was quite a bit overweight, my diet was terrible. I was not exercising and I was having to wake up early to teach a 6:30 am class in a language institute in Korea and although I had the afternoons off, I was teaching again in the evenings until 9:30 pm. 

This meant I wasn't getting enough sleep, my diet was very bad—too much sugar and fattening foods—and, not surprisingly my energy levels were rock bottom. 

I knew something had to change if I was going to achieve the things I wanted to achieve. So I began researching and monitoring how I felt throughout the day. I noticed I began the day already tired, needing coffee just to function at a basic level. I was making excuses such as “I’m not a morning person” which resulted in a negative mental loop of “I hate mornings” which just reinforced this negative loop every morning. Obviously not a great way to start the day. 

My research led me to discover how the food I was eating—a lot of sugar and processed carbohydrates— my daily lack of sleep and being overweight created a huge drain on my energy resources as well as impacting my mood. When you feel heavy and lethargic, it’s hard to feel positive and energetic.

What I realised was ultimately it comes down to four foundations. Get enough sleep, eat the right foods, drink enough water and get enough regular exercise. That’s it. As long as you build these four foundations into your daily life, you will find you have an abundance of energy each day. 

Miss just one of these and your energy levels will drop significantly which impacts the performance at almost everything you do. You will feel frustrated and will start looking for excuses for why you feel the way you do. The reality is your decisions about what you ate, when you went to bed and how much water you drank were big contributors toward how you feel. There are no excuses because you can change the way you feel with just a few small adjustments to your daily life. 

So, if you want to begin every day with energy and feeling fresh and alive—and let's be honest who doesn't?—you need to make some small changes. And that is where the fifth foundation comes in... Planning. 

We don't get enough sleep because when we don't plan our own days we have no control over our days and that causes us to feel stress. When you are stressed you cannot sleep well. When you don’t get enough sleep, our will power and motivation drop and then we start craving refined carbohydrates such as cake, pastries and candy and because our will power is not at a high enough level we give in to the cravings and It becomes a vicious cycle and the only way to get out of the cycle is to start taking your planning serious. 

So, how can you pull yourself out of this vicious cycle of low energy, stress and overwhelm? 

Well, the first part is to make sure you get enough sleep. This one’s an easy adjustment to make because all it involves is a simple decision to go to bed at an early enough time to ensure you get whatever amount of sleep you need. I need 6 ½ hours, you may need more. 

If you are not sure how much sleep you need to do a test next weekend. Go to bed on Friday night without setting an alarm and see what time you wake up. It’s a simple test and as long as you are doing what you would normally do and are not suffering from any kind of illness or have consumed a little too much alcohol, this should give you a ball-park figure of how much sleep you need. 

The next step is the easiest to take and that is to invest in a good quality water bottle. One that you can carry around with you. A lack of water affects energy levels dramatically and you do not have to feel thirsty to become dehydrated. If you do start to feel thirsty, it means you are already dehydrated. I have a fantastic stainless steel Klean Kanteen Insulated water bottle on my desk as well as a smaller one I carry with me in my bag wherever I go. 

The great thing about carrying your own water bottle with you is that most offices and places you visit will have a water fountain where you can top up your water bottle without having to buy more water or plastic bottles. So having your own water bottle saves you money too! 

Perhaps the most difficult area to improve is our diets. Before reviewing and modifying your diet, I would recommend you read Dr Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code. (I’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you) It’s a fantastic book that you will find you cannot put down. It’s written in a style that anyone, regardless of whether they have a scientific background or not, will understand and the book will give you some great food choice advice.

Basically, if you want to feel incredibly energised, fresh and have amazing moods then cut our refined carbohydrates. That means, no white bread, rice, pastries or sugar and instead eat sweet and regular potatoes (non-fried of course), avocados, fresh fruit and vegetables and use olive oil and vinegar dressing. It’s surprising how easy it is to replace refined carbs once you start to look. 

Now, for me, I do enjoy a pizza and chocolate, so it’s perfectly okay to have a cheat day each week. For me, I cheat on Saturdays. I have pizza or rice and grilled bacon (a Korean dish called San Gyup Sal) and chocolate, But once finished I will do a 24 hour fast not eating again until 7 pm on a Sunday. And I should say, that’s a lot easier than you think. 

Next up is regular exercise. Now, this does not mean you have to become a gym rat or a marathon runner. All it means is you move enough to raise your heart rate and breathing for around twenty to thirty minutes four to five days a week. 

In addition, if you ban yourself from using escalators and lifts (err elevators for my American friends) for floors below the sixth floor you are going to give yourself a huge boost. That will stop you from getting the afternoon slump.

The final part of all this is the make sure you plan your sleeping, eating, drinking and exercise every week and make sure your sleep and exercise times become non-negotiable. Removing sugars, cookies and cakes, rice and other highly refined carbs from your cupboards and refrigerates will also help you be not giving you any temptations late at night. Using your calendar for bedtime and exercise time will help you considerably here because… What goes on your calendar gets done!

Anyone can have an abundance of energy and positivity if they really want it. If you want it, all you have to do is make a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle and very quickly you will notice a huge improvement in how you feel every day. 

My advice is if you have never done any of this before and your diet is not good you don’t exercise and you sleep badly, is start with one part first. Create a goal to change al these things over the next three months so by the time you hit the second quarter of 2020, you begin each day full of energy, vitality and positivity. I can promise you any discomfort you may feel initially will be easily outweighed by the way you begin to feel after just one week of this.

I hope that gives you some ideas, Jurgen and thank you for your question. 

Thank you also to you for listening. 

it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

How To Start The Year Off On The Right Foot

How To Start The Year Off On The Right Foot

January 6, 2020

So, 2020 has finally started and today most of you will be back at work and back into your daily routines, The question is, how can you make your planned 2020 changes stick now that your regular daily life is back?

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

The Carl Pullein Learning Centre 

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 114

Hello and welcome to episode 114 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week, I want to help you start the year off on the right foot. So, there is no question this week except for the question I ask which is, how can I make my new year plans and goals stick? 

It’s very easy to make plans for the new year while we are on a break, the difficulty comes when we return to our normal routines and our normal daily life. No matter how determined we might be to make this year the year we stick to our goals and plans for the new year, once we go back to our daily life, the same work, the same workplace, the same colleagues and bosses the same commute, it is so easy to slip back into the habits of old and before long find ourselves back where we were before the holidays or break and out carefully laid plans.

So how do you prevent this from happening?

Well, the first step is to anticipate possible areas of weakness. An example of this would be a smoker trying to give up. If you have always smoked a cigarette when you had a coffee, then temporarily stop drinking coffee. Instead, drink tea or another hot beverage. It’s the simple changes that will make all the difference in developing new habits. 

Another example would be if you wanted to replace mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds with reading a book or listening to a personal development podcast. The best way to do this is to remove the social media apps on your phone or tablet and replace them with your reading or podcast apps—in the exact same place. This way if you mindlessly tap on the area your social media apps used to be, you would open up your reading or podcast apps instead. That would normally be enough to bring you back on to your desired goal. 

If you do have social media addiction really bad, then I would suggest you set some time each day for social media. Give yourself thirty to sixty minutes each day dedicated to social media and stick to it. Remove all opportunities to look at social media outside of these times. 

To begin embedding new habits you may need to turn to your to-do list managers to help you here. One trick I have used that has worked in the past is to create daily recurring tasks that will pop up from time to time to remind me to do simple things. It could be a reminder to drink some water or to get up and move. You can create anything here. This also works for if you want to start the day with a morning ritual. This year, I want to start being more consistent with my morning routines. I have been experimenting over the last couple of years and finally developed a morning routine that works for me. From this week, I will dedicate my energy and attention to make sure I complete this every morning. 

For this, I will use a combination of my to-do list manager and calendar. This way every time I look at my to-do list or calendar I will be reminded of my intention to turn my morning routine into a habit. My intention is to do this every morning and not just weekdays and when I am at home. I want to deeply embed it so I do this routine every morning. So from the moment I wake up, I will begin my routine. This helps on those days when I am not waking up early or I am waking up earlier than usual. Wake up, drink a glass of water, get out of bed and begin my stretching exercises. Just follow the same pattern every morning until it is embedded. 

And that leads me to the next crucial part of this. Focus only on one area at a time. Let me give you a personal example of this. 

For me, my first priority this year is to remove sugar and refined carbohydrates from my diet completely. This might seem a simple objective at first, but this involves researching the foods I currently eat to make sure there are no hidden sugars or refined carbohydrates it also means I will have to resist temptations—these are all around us. For the first three months of 2020, this will be my sole health goal. I do not need to worry about my exercise as this is already baked into my daily routines, but I have been known to find it difficult to say no to adding sugar to my tea or coffee and to enjoying a pizza and a couple of bags of chocolate on weekends. Sugar has been a part of my life for a very long time, so I want to have the mental space to focus on eliminating it. Once not adding sugar to my tea and coffee, not eating chocolate and pizza on weekend has been baked into my daily life I can then look at my other health goals. 

The key is to do one thing at a time. Bake it in and then move on to the next goal.

You have to be patient, but it’s worth it. By focusing on one goal at a time you maximise your chances of success. Most people fail to achieve their goals because they focus on too many things and spread their focus too thin. Be patient. 

By putting all your energy and focus into achieving one goal at a time, you build what I like to call “success momentum”. That means the more successes you have the more energy and determination to succeed you experience. This is a self-propelling way to build up your successes.

It’s like when you lose your first 5 pounds or 5 kilograms. It gives you a real belief in yourself. That belief fuels you to push harder to succeed. But if you have multiple goals going on at the same time, you will succeed at some and fail at others and this prevents you from creating a “success momentum”. Without that success momentum, you start to lose faith and belief in yourself. 

Another reason to only focus on one goal at a time is when things don't go according to plan you need to put your focus onto fixing what is going wrong so you can get back on track quickly. If you are trying to focus on multiple goals at the same time and just one or two begin to go wrong, you will soon find yourself losing your enthusiasm for change and will quickly fall back into your old habits and routines. 

So, focus on one thing at a time. It simplifies things and helps maintain your focus. 

Now there are a few exceptions here—there always are—Let's say you have a health goal and a financial goal. The health goal is to get fit and lose weight (these two can be done together) and the financial goal is to put $250 away into a savings account every month. The savings goal is easy. Just add a task or a calendar event on a given day each month and put the money into your savings account. It’s one task per month goal. For something like this, you can add the two objectives. 

Another similar goal would be if you decided to spend one whole evening per week working on a hobby or a side business. Again, this is a one task per week goal that can be scheduled each week. There’s very little that can go wrong here and if it does—ie you skip your regular day—then you can easily rectify it by switching days. 

What you do not want to be doing is having more than one goal that involves daily focus and attention, that’s when things go wrong. For example, if you want to get fit and lose weight and spend more time with your friends. These goals potentially cause conflict. To get fit and lose weight you need to stay focused on not only what you eat but also how frequently you exercise. To spend more time with your friends and family, you will need to go out more often. Going out potentially involves dining out and drinking and a lot of time that is likely to take you away from your exercise time. 

Achieving your goals is easy if you take the long-term view. Remember, you do not have to do everything all at once. Life is not a sprint and to make lasting positive change is going to take time, probably longer than you expect. As long as you accept this and allow yourself time to bake in the necessary changes both lifestyle and routines to make sure you achieve your goals. 

I hope this episode has added some value and motivation to your plans for 2020. If want to learn more I shall be writing on my blog and posting videos on my YouTube channel to help you turn 2020 into the best year of your life.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

My Top 6 Tips For Better Productivity and Time Management

My Top 6 Tips For Better Productivity and Time Management

December 16, 2019

This week’s podcast is an end of year special. So sit back and let me see if I can teach you some productivity and time management wisdom. 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

6 Common Sense Time Management And Productivity Tips Anyone Can Use.

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

Create Your Own Apple Productivity System Course

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 113

Hello and welcome to episode 113 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This is the final episode of this year. The Working With Podcast is taking its annual break and will be back on 6th January.

 As a treat for the final episode of 2019 this week it’s all about productivity tips and tricks. All these tips I am going to share with you work. They are tried and tested and if you adapt them for your own way of life and ways of doing things you will see significant gains to your overall time management and productivity. The important thing is you adapt them. 

They are simple and logical but are not easy to implement. But I can promise if you do implement them you will improve.... a lot. 

Now before we get to this week’s question, don't forget if you are in the UK, you have the opportunity to join Kevin Blackburn and me in Scunthorpe for a day of planning, motivation and massive massive action. 

Saturday 28th December. Perfectly positioned between Christmas and the start of the new year. Will you join us? I cannot think of a better way to start the 2020s than making a commitment in front of likeminded people. 

Tickets are limited so get yours now. Ticket details are available in the show notes and from my website - Carl Pullein.com 

Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question is from many people. They have all asked if you could share some of your favourite tips and tricks to become better organised and more productive. Thank you to Richard, Sophie, Stephan, Alex, Duncan, and many more for asking this question. 

Yes, thank you, guys. Now I am going to share with you six tips I shared in a recent blog post called - 6 Common Sense Time Management And Productivity Tips Anyone Can Use. Hopefully, some of these will resonate with you. If you want to read the article, I will put a link in the show notes for you. 

The digital revolution has caused the demand on our time to grow incredibly over the last twenty years or so. —where once if we were not in our home or place of work our friends and colleagues could not reach us, now no matter where we are in the world (or universe!) we can be reached with the simple press of a button. 

Now, with that 24/7 access and all the wonderful things we can now do for entertainment and education, we find ourselves having difficulty finding time to do the most basic of things. Having breakfast or dinner with our family, spend an hour or so reading a book or go for a Sunday afternoon walk with our partner or friends. 

Because we are expected to be more accessible than we have ever been, leaving our mobile phone at home while we go out for a run or take a walk with our loved ones would be uncomfortable. Now, this is the way we lived just twenty to thirty years ago and we had no problems or issues. I would not go as far as to say we were more relaxed back then, I would say we enjoyed more of the time we had with the people we cared about because it was just them and us. There was no mobile phone or other electronic device beeping and buzzing for our attention.

So, to help us get some out time back so we can focus on the things we want to focus on, here are six tips and tricks anyone can use that will help you to regain more of your time so you can spend it doing the things you want to with the people you want to be with. 

Use your calendar

It does surprise me how many people are not using their calendars to manage their time each day. Your calendar shows you how much time you have each day and you see where you have gaps to do the things you love doing. Exercise, spending time with the people you care about, reading a book or taking a walk in the park. All these things can be scheduled on your calendar so when you receive a demand for your time you can make a decision based on whether the new demand for your time will be more important or fulfilling than the original one. 

Seriously, use your calendar to schedule your work and play. It will help you to get a better grasp on where you are spending your time and will help you to better allocate your time resource. 

Get better at saying no

This is hard. It’s the one that most people struggle with because we are wired to please people. Saying “no” to someone feels like we are letting them down and they will think badly of us. The truth is, if you say “yes” to a time demand and then you do not give your full commitment to it, you will let that person down a lot more than if you had said “no” in the first place. 

You don’t have to be impolite when saying “no”, you can do it gently. Developing a few strategies though that make it easier for you to say no to demands will ease your time pressures and put you in more control of what you do each day. 

My trick is to not commit immediately to a time demand. I always ask for time to review my calendar. Of course, I could check my calendar from my phone, but the truth is I want to see the full week in context before I commit to anything new. Once checked, I can then accept or decline the invitation with honesty. 

Spend a few minutes at the end of the day planning the next day

This one is huge. All you need is ten minutes at the end of the day to write out a few things you want to get done the next day. My Golden Ten method is designed to put you in control of your work. It’s just ten tasks per day that you want to want to focus on. These ten tasks do not include your regular routines, but they are the ten tasks you really want to complete and doing so would move your projects and goals forward. 

Now It does not matter where you do this. You can have an elaborate to-do list manager, you could use your calendar or just a simple piece of paper. All that matters is you make a plan for the things you want to do tomorrow. 

What this does is help you to stay focused on what is important to you. It also gives your mind a chance to prepare. When you begin the day with a purpose and a plan, you are more likely to get those things done than if you just turn up at work and allow your email to tell you what needs doing next. 

Here’s a bonus tip: Before you start the day, take a look at the list you made the day before and review it. Visualise yourself completing the list. This helps you to stay focused on what you have decided is important for the day. You can make this a part of your morning routine. It’s a fantastic way to get ‘primed’ for the day. 

Stop overcommitting yourself

Okay, truth time…. You do not have to do everything all at once. One of the reasons so many people feel stressed out and overwhelmed is because they are trying to complete all their projects in one go. Stop this madness. 

Firstly, you are never going to be able to do everything all at once anyway so stop trying and secondly, when you take that kind of pressure off yourself you get a lot more work done because you can focus on a few key parts that will move your projects further faster. It’s the old saying… “less is more”. It’s true. Try doing less each day and watch your productivity grow. 

Identify the things that will have the biggest impact on your work 

Far too often we spend our time doing trivial tasks that do not have a significant impact on our work but make us feel busy. Let me give you an example of this. Checking email is incredibly inefficient. Doing email is more productive. What’s the difference? Checking email is going through your inbox looking for important emails and ignoring the less important emails. Doing email is starting at the top of your inbox and dealing with each email as you go through it. 

Checking email leaves you with email still in your inbox that you will have to look at again later anyway. Doing email leaves you with an empty inbox and a list of emails that need action that you will do when you have time later. 

With practice, you soon learn to distinguish what tasks have the biggest impact on moving projects forward. While planning is important, spending too much time planning and thinking does not move projects forward. Action does. Making the phone call you have been putting off, sitting down and writing the report or preparing the slides for the presentation you have to do next week. Those tasks get things done. Thinking about them does not. Never confuse thinking about and planning as doing. It is not. Thinking and planning does not move things forward only doing does that. 

Of course, there is a time for planning and thinking, but that should never be used as an excuse for not taking action. 

 And finally, take a break!

We are not machines. We cannot work at a consistent level all day. We will go through peaks and troughs. For most people, they can stay focused and creative longer in the morning. After lunch, it becomes harder to focus and pushing yourself through to try and finish a report is wasting time and again rather inefficient. 

Instead, learn when you are at your most focused—for most people that will be in the morning, for some, that could be in the evening—then use your calendar to schedule the work that requires the most focus and concentration at the times you are at your best. 

Make sure every ninety-minutes or so, take a ten-minute break. Get up, move around. Try to get some fresh air and a different view. Staring at a screen all day will sap your creative juices quicker than anything else. Taking a break and getting outside will rejuvenate you. If like me you work from home, you can schedule dog walking or exercise time in the middle of the day. I find that’s a great way to break up the day and helps me t get a tremendous amount done each day. 

So there you go, six common-sense tips and tricks to help you become more productive with your time so you can spend more of your time doing the things you want to do and that have the biggest impact on your work and your wellbeing. 

Thank you to all of you for listening this year and a big thank you to all of you who have sent in questions. This podcast is built on your questions so please keep them coming in. If you have a question, just email it to carl@carlpullein.com. 

Have a wonderful end of year break and happy new year. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week. 

How To Build Achievable Goals in 2020

How To Build Achievable Goals in 2020

December 9, 2019

So, you have a lot of ideas about what you would like to accomplish in 2020. The question now is how do you turn those ideas into achievable goals? Well, that’s what we’ll be exploring in this week’s podcast. 

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

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The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 112

Hello and welcome to episode 112 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

Okay, I need to be honest with you here. I have been saving this week’s question for a while because now is the best time to answer this question. A few weeks ago I gave you a link to my annual planning sheet and that sheet asks six questions about what you want to change and what you want to achieve next year.

Well, hopefully, you have developed a long list of things because now we are in December and it’s time to go through that list and decide what you will do next year.

But, before we get to that question, for anyone living in the UK and would like the opportunity to spend a day with likeminded people planning and developing their goals and plans for 2020, I will be in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire on the 28th December along with Kevin Blackburn at the Life and Time mastery Workshop. You are all more than welcome to come and join us for some post-Christmas planning so you are not just ready to begin 2020 the way you want to, but you begin it with massive amounts of energy and motivation… Which of course is the best way to begin any year. 

Tickets are still available and if you want one, just head over to the registration page. Details for the event and ticket information are in the show notes. 

Okay, time for me now to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Maria. Maria asks, Hi Carl, a while ago you recommended we should write out all the things we would like to change about ourselves, the way we work and other things. I did that. What do I do next?

I’m glad you asked, Maria. This week I’ll show you how to turn those ideas into actionable goals. 

Now first up I need to stress the importance of “less is more”. A huge mistake people often make when planning their new year goals is they want to change and do too much too soon. Slow down. You have plenty of time and you do not need to do everything all in one year. I’ve found the perfect number is four meaningful goals each year. That works out at one goal per quarter. 

I know it’s very tempting to go for more. The problem is when you set yourself too many goals you dilute your effectiveness. It’s already difficult to focus on what we have to do each day, having multiple goals to work on at any one time as well is just going to add to that and you are setting yourself up for stressed out and overwhelm. 

So, going back to the list of ideas you have been working on. Now’s the time to review that list. What would you like to do and, more importantly, what can you do? 

Let’s take things you would like to change about yourself. Perhaps you no longer want to be a couch potato. You don't like coming home every evening, eating dinner and then just flopping down on the sofa and mindlessly watching TV. So what can you do to change that? This is a habit change and to change a habit like this requires a lot of effort and willpower. 

So, from 1st January you pre-plan something different. It could be a thirty-minute walk after dinner. It could be you go to a different room from where the TV is and read a book for thirty minutes. Whatever you do, you do what it takes to change that routine. The bigger the change you make, the more likely it is you will disrupt your habit of just collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day. 

A quick word of advice here—based on my experience. Don't schedule this change to take an hour. An hour is too much of a time commitment. I’ve found when you commit to doing a new activity for around twenty to thirty minutes each day it is much more likely you will do it. When you schedule an hour, you will resist. Your brain will not like committing one hour every day to doing something new. It will find all the excuses you need to not do it. Of course, if you want to do more than twenty minutes then keep going, but just commit yourself to twenty-minutes. Your brain will accept that time commitment much more easily. 

This twenty-minute rule applies to things like exercise too. If you schedule twenty-minutes exercise every evening five to six times a week you are much more likely to succeed than if you tell yourself you will go to the gym three or four times a week for an hour. Start small here. As you begin to get fitter you will feel more energetic and exercise will no longer be a painful experience you believe you have to do but rather become an enjoyable experience you want to do. When you start wanting to exercise that’s the time to up your game and join a gym or start running longer. 

Now for the longer-term goals. Things you want to change about the way you work for example. Let’s say you would like to apply for a promotion. The next step is to give yourself a period of time for discovery. You need to discover what additional skills you will need to do this new position, will you need extra qualifications? Have a talk with your boss or HR department about what you will need to do to demonstrate you can do the job you are wanting to move to. You will then need to create a plan for acquiring these skills and qualifications. For this, you will need a create a project. 

If you use a to-do list manager you can create that project there. But a simple notes app would do the trick. Most good notes apps have the ability to create tasks and checklists. Now write down all the tasks you will need to perform to achieve the goal. Breaking these down into small, clear actionable steps will keep things moving along nicely. 

Now another quick tip here is to make sure you load the beginning with quick wins. This helps to keep the momentum moving forward. The hardest part of any project is getting started. So if you load the beginning with quick wins you will keep your enthusiasm up and this keeps the energy high. 

Now, one important component of any goal is the “why” why are you doing this goal? A lot of people struggle with this because they feel embarrassed to say they want to lose weight so they can look “sexy” in the club or on the beach, for example. The reality is if you are not motivated by your why then you are not going to successfully complete the goal. Your “why” has to be just that. It needs to be your “why” and it does not matter what it is as long as it motivates you. 

It does not matter if you want to get promoted to earn more money to spend on yourself or to impress a girl or boy. You do not have to tell anyone why you are doing your goals. You do not have to have ‘noble’ “why”s. Your motivation for doing anything needs to be genuine and it needs to be yours. 

So whatever your “why” for a particular goal is, write it down in your project notes. There will be days when you do not want to do a task related to that goal and the time to review your “why” is when that happens, and trust me on this one it will happen. 

So, back to planning out your goals and plans for 2020, once you have decided on a list of four or five goals for the year and you have listed out the tasks you will need to perform to complete those goals you now should decide when you will start the goals. Starting everything all at once is a recipe for disaster. You need to be able to focus on one thing at a time. This is where using quarters to assign specific goals. 

Let’s say one of your goals is to get fit and lose some weight by the time of your summer holiday. That maybe six months away now, but the sooner you start that the sooner you can move on to other goals. And a get a fit and weight loss goal is an easy one to start with because that’s what I describe as a lifestyle goal. To succeed at losing weight you need to change the way you move and eat. Basically, move more and eat less. That’s something that, although difficult at first, is easy to maintain once you get over the initial discomfort of feeling hungry. 

Larger goals though may need some long term work. For example, a career change. For a goal like this, you may need to break it down to run over two or three years. In this case, what can you do this year to prepare the ground? 

I was talking to a language student of mine recently and she mentioned that two years ago she’d returned to Korea after studying in Canada for a year and when she came back she was determined to return to Canada within two years. Unfortunately, because she had not broken down the goal into steps, she was still two years away from returning. 

It’s very easy to not do the necessary groundwork for the longer-term goals, but sometimes you need a year to do just that. Build the foundations. The studying, the training or whatever it is you need to do. Make those important steps a part of your goal planning for the new year. 

Hopefully, that’s given you some ideas about how to plan out what you will accomplish in 2020. How you do it is, of course, entirely up to you. But my advice is don’t try and do too much. You have plenty of time and if you cannot do some things this year, remember you have next year, so don’t throw away your ideas sheet. That’s a great sheet to refer to next year. 

Good luck, Maria, and good luck to all of you too. 

Thank you for listening and it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

How To Get Back In Control After The Holidays.

How To Get Back In Control After The Holidays.

December 2, 2019

Are you returning to work after a holiday break? Are you looking forward to the backlog waiting for you? Didn't think so. This week’s podcast is all about handling overflowing inboxes. 

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

My Black Friday / Cyber Monday Offers Page

Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

Create Your Own Apple Productivity System Course

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 111

Hello and welcome to episode 111 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week’s question is a timely one for all of you returning back to work following the holidays. I know what it’s like having to catch up and deal with the backlog and try to get back into work when you can’t remember where you were when you left for the holidays. 

Now before we get into this week’s question, if you haven’t discovered yet, I am doing a huge Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale on my courses, coaching programmes and books. You can save yourself up to 40% and get yourself a programme or course that could be the stimulus to change things for you so you become better organised and more productive as well as being able to put in place a system that will drive you towards completing your goals and life’s vision. 

I’ve tried very hard this year to make these prices as low as possible because I want to be able to help as many of you as I can discover the amazing benefits of having a fantastic system in place that works for you and helps you to reduce stress and overwhelm so you can spend more of your time doing the things you love doing. That’s what it’s all about really. Helping you to do more of the things you enjoy doing without having to worry about anything else because you have it under control.

So check out my offers and see if there’s something there for you. I am here to help you in whatever way I can. 

Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question

This week’s question comes from Jane. Jane asks: Hi Carl do you have any tips and tricks for getting back to work after the holidays? Every year I come back to a mess and I really don’t want that to happen again this year. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you, Jane, for the question and I guess a lot of you are returning to work today after the Thanksgiving holiday. For many of you working only with US clients and customers, you should be okay. For others who have customers, suppliers and clients all over the world your return to work will mean a big backlog to deal with. 

Let’s deal with email first. This is the one that causes most problems after being away for holidays or business trips. Even though most people have been on holiday, your inboxes will still have been filling up. It’s likely you will return to work and could easily spend all day dealing with your email. Not the most productive way to start back. 

Now, before we go any further whatever you do do not “snooze” email. That's the silliest thing you could do. You’ve already seen the email, you know it’s coming back but now there’s little you can do with it until it does come back. You need control, so if you cannot make a decision about something right now, move it to an Action Required folder (or as I have an “action today” folder). This way, you retain control over what’s coming in and what’s going out. When you use features like snooze, all you’ve done is delayed the inevitable. You will have to make a decision about the email sooner or later. Sooner is always better than later. 

Keep in mind pretty much everyone is going to return to work with overflowing inboxes and most of those people will spend all morning, if not all day, dealing with it. This means there’s little pressure on you to reply to email. In fact, not replying to email straight away will probably get you some points for not adding to other people’s backlog. It also means you can process not do. That means begin at the top of your inbox, and make decisions about what each email means to you. It means not replying to email—even if it will only take two minutes—ten two-minute emails equals twenty minutes of doing. You’re not doing, you’re processing and the two are very different. 

As you go through your inbox, run a questions workflow like this... 

What is it? 

What do I have to do with it? 

If the answer is reply, then send it to an action folder. If it’s nothing then either delete or archive it and move on to the next email. When processing things like email, the focus needs to be on speed. The faster you process, the sooner you can get on to work that matters. Work that will move projects and goals forward. 

When you are dealing with a large backlog the goal is to get the backlog processed as quickly as possible so you can start doing work that matters. Having a backlog of email hanging around you will not help get things back under control. Only once you have made decisions about what something is and what you have to do about it will you be able to get on to work that matters without worrying about unknown stuff you still have to make decisions about. 

Now ideally, the first day back from a holiday, or business trip, you should give yourself some time to clear your backlog. Heading straight into work following a holiday is a guaranteed way to create stress and overwhelm in your life because you will have a lot of stuff in the back of your mind demanding attention. 

So whether your backlog is email, Slack or LinkedIn messages. Get them cleared first. That’s going to clear your mind and your inboxes. The ideal would be to do this way from your place of work, but I do understand this will not always be possible. If you do have to be at your place of work, then try and find a quiet place to deal with your backlog. You will thank yourself for that later. 

In an ideal world, you would take the first day back from any holiday or business trip off as a clearing day, but I know that will not always be possible. If nothing else, though you do need to block a couple of hours, if not the whole morning, to get yourself caught up. That’s key to getting back to work quickly and effortlessly. If you do have a reasonable amount of control over your calendar, then block the whole morning. Go incognito. If not, at least block off an hour or so to get back in touch with your projects, work and commitments. 

Once you have your backlog under control you need to go through all your active projects and areas of focus. This does not need to be a detailed look through, but you do need to get yourself back in touch with what is going on in your work life now the holidays are over. This is a kind of weekly planning session. 

Look at what’s coming due in the next week and month. What tasks and other stuff have you not made a decision about? What meetings do you have coming up and do you need to prepare anything for them? Get that done now. It’s about getting yourself back up to speed as quickly as possible so you can get back on doing the work that matters quickly.

I know all this sounds like a lot of additional work, and in a way it is, but if you so take these steps to get yourself back up to speed, you will ease yourself back in to work effortlessly and avoid any unexpected issues. Most of the surprises in our daily work come about because we do not stop for a look at what’s coming up. It does not take long, but the time you do spend doing it will be worth it. It’s about sharpening the saw to use a Stephen Covey analogy. 

Now I know by the time this podcast is published the Thanksgiving holidays will be over, but one for future reference is try to do a clean up before you go away too. I’ve always taken the day before I go on holiday or trip to clean up and to inform partners and students I will be away for a few days. This means when I plan the week before I go away, the last day before I leave for my trip is blocked off as much as possible so I can clean up. This means dealing with any outstanding emails, making sure there’s a reminder or next task in my projects and anything I need to know about when I return is clearly marked on my calendar or to-do list. 

It’s these little things that don’t take up too much time that gives you the clarity of mind to be able to go away for your trip or holiday save in the knowledge that there are no hidden issues waiting for you when you return. You want to be able to smoothly get back into your work so you can stay stress-free and keep overwhelm at bay. 

I hope that has given you some ideas, Jane. Thank you for your question and thank you to all of you for listening. Don’t forget, it if you have a question you would like answering on this podcast, then just email me at carl@carlpullein.com or DM me on Facebook or Twitter. 

It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

What To Do With All Your Ideas So They Are Not Forgotten.

What To Do With All Your Ideas So They Are Not Forgotten.

November 25, 2019

This week’s question is about developing your ideas so they either become a project or an area of focus.

 

Links:

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Get 2 FREE months of Skillshare Premium using this link

Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

Create Your Own Apple Productivity System Course

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 110

Hello and welcome to episode 109 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week it’s all about how to manage all your ideas, particularly if you are someone who has a lot of ideas. The question is what do you do with those ideas and how do you nor forget about them.

However, before we get to the answer, I’d like to remind you all of the upcoming Life and Time Mastery workshop in the UK on the 28 December. This workshop is all about helping you plan 2020 and I can’t think of a better time than just before the new year celebrations to spend a day with likeminded people who want to turn 2020 into the best year of their lives. 

I’ll be there to go through a number of strategies you can follow to not only decide what you would like to accomplish in 2020 but also show you ways you can turn those ideas into daily actionable steps. Plus, Kev Blackburn… THE Life Success Engineer will be kicking things off with his legendary lessons on turning your dreams into reality with his high energy, massive action session. 

This is a workshop not to be missed and it’s in a part of the UK that is easily accessible, just off the M62 in Scunthorpe. 

So, no matter where you are in the UK, come and join us in Scunthorpe for a day of discovery, planning and high energy inspiration with a group go incredible people. This is something you will never ever forget. PLUS…. There’s a good chance the mystery podcast voice will be making an appearance as well. Now there’s a reason to come and join if there ever was one. 

All the details for the event are in the show notes. 

Speaking of the mystery podcast voice, it’s now time for me t hand you over to her for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Nilesh. Nilesh asks… Hi Carl, I noticed that when I make plans for future I often forget about them and then after a few days I make new ones. It's really slowing down my growth and decreasing my productivity. Is there anything I can do about it?

Hi Nilesh, thank you for your question. I am sure this one will be very helpful to a lot of people. 

If you are adding tasks about future plans and then almost immediately forgetting you added them one of two things is likely to be happening. 

Firstly, you are not developing your ideas or plans outside your to-do list manager or secondly, you are not going over all your tasks, projects and areas of focus on a weekly basis. Or it could be a combination of both. 

Of course, it could be your ideas and plans are not important enough to you which means you will forget them very quickly anyway. 

Let’s deal with the first one—you are not developing your ideas properly. 

Now, what I mean by this is from the moment we have an idea, that’s all you have. An idea. All ideas need some form of development and some time to incubate. If you are adding ideas straight into your to-do list manager’s inbox and then turning them into a project without fleshing them out, you are going find a lot of those ideas will disappear inside your to-do list never to be seen again. 

Now, it’s okay to collect your ideas into your to-do list manager’s inbox, but before you turn it into a project or area of focus you should develop it first. That could be in a notes app or on a simple piece of paper. What is the outcome you want from this idea? Why do you want to do it? What's your motivation for wanting to do this project? And what steps or actions do you need to take to make this idea become reality? 

These questions and more need developing before you turn it into a fully-fledged project in your to-do list. It could be that once you have developed it, you decide you no longer want to do it. Which is another reason for not turning everything into a project immediately. If after developing your idea you have no motivation for doing it, it will sink to the bottom of your projects and die a slow death. 

Okay, so let’s assume you have fleshed out your idea and you decided it is something worth pursuing, what do you do next? Well, that means it’s time to move it to your to-do list manager. 

Now, I pull out the tasks when I develop my ideas and put them at the bottom of my development note. This just makes it a lot easier to send everything over to my to-do list manager once I have planned out my idea. I can copy and paste the full list of tasks straight to Todoist and Todoist will create tasks for each line. 

Another advantage of planning and fleshing out your ideas first is you get to see exactly what will be involved in doing the project. You can then make better decisions about what needs to happen next and more importantly when you will start the project. There have been many times when I had an idea and really really wanted to start it straight away. But after I had fleshed our my thoughts and ideas, I realised I really didn't have the time or resources available at that time to do it, so I was able to put the project into a holding area. 

To avoid forgetting about the project once you have it in your holding area, all you need do is add a review task to the top of your action list. Something like “review this idea” and add a date to that one task. 

I like to think of my holding area as something similar to how air traffic controllers ‘stack’ incoming flights in a ‘holding pattern’ before initiating the landing procedure. You cannot do all your projects at the same time, just like you cannot land all the planes at the same time. There has to be a sequence—a priority. Now those priorities depend on when a project is due, whether there is a genuine time sensitivity or the possibility of a missed opportunity if you do not start the project now. All of these factors need to be considered. And, of course, you can divert projects to another airport—or in our case delegate them to someone else. 

Now to me, a review task does not necessarily mean I must start the project that day. All it means is I can decide if I want to start it. If I decide to start it, I will complete the decision task and date the first task that needs to be done. 

If I am not ready to start the project, I will re-date the reminder task for a future date - usually one month later. 

Developing ideas this way means there’s no way I can forget about an idea. There will always be a note in my notes app to back me up and I will have at the very least a review date in my task manager to ensure I am not forgetting anything important. 

On the other hand, it could be you are not going over your projects and areas of focus on a weekly level—the weekly review. If you are not looking at and reviewing everything in your to-do list manager at least once a week, of course, things will get forgotten and missed. There’s simply far too much going on in our world for us to remember everything. That’s why the weekly review is so important—even more so today. And if you are the kind of person who is always having new ideas, you do need a place to keep those ideas for future reference and or development and then review them, to decide whether something is still relevant. 

Just as air traffic controllers need to be aware of what they have on their radar screens, you too need to be aware of what you have in your holding area so accidents do not happen. Missed deadlines, incomplete projects and or missed opportunities. That’s where the weekly review comes in. It prevents those things from happening. 

The thing is, if something is important enough, you will find the time to work on it. If it is not important enough to you, you will procrastinate and not do anything about it. It’s the old “if it’s important enough you will find a way, if it is not you will find an excuse” situation. 

Another good reason for keeping your ideas in a notes app or notebook until you have fleshed them out is if the idea is something you are not really interested in doing, it will soon drop down the list of ideas in your notes. I regularly purge my ideas lists because a lot of ideas I have do not turn into projects. If I were to guess, the percentage of ideas I have that turn in to projects is less than twenty per cent. That means eighty per cent of my ideas will never get started.

Now, I do not delete those ideas, I archive them into a single note and review them every six to twelve months, or if I go through an ideas drought, I can pull up that note and see a list of all my past ideas. Often just going though those ideas can spark new, better ideas and I can develop those. Sometimes an old idea suddenly looks very attractive and I will start developing that then. No idea goes to waste and old ideas do not take up a lot of digital space. 

So here you go, Nilesh. I hope that has helped. Try not to overthink things, keep it simple and understand that you cannot do everything all at once. You need to prioritise and make sure that the projects you are working on right now are the projects that you really do want to work on right now. 

Thank you for your question and thank you to all of you for listening. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

How To Use Your Calendar To Maximise Your Productivity
Why (And How) You Should Be Planning 2020 Now

Why (And How) You Should Be Planning 2020 Now

November 11, 2019

Have you started planning what you want to accomplish next year? If not, this week’s episode is a special episode to help get you started with your planning.

 

Links:

 

Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website

 

Business Productivity Mastery Webinar Registration link

Get 2 FREE months of Skillshare Premium using this link

Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System

Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes

Create Your Own Apple Productivity System Course

The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page

 

Script

Episode 108

Hello and welcome to episode 108 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week’s episode is a little different in that there's no question and instead I want to talk to you about why you should be planning 2020 now. 

Now before I get to that, I’d like to invite all of you to join me and Kev Blackburn in a webinar later this week. It’s on Saturday 16th November and we are going to show you how to balance a full-time job with a side project. That could be a business or a hobby you want to develop 

All the details for the webinar are in the show notes and if you are following me on Facebook or Twitter I will be sharing the details there. 

Okay, why should you be planning 2020 now?

Well, one of the many reasons why so many people fail to accomplish their yearly plans and goals is because often they get to the end of the year, that break between Christmas and the new year and start to think they should be doing something about plans for next year. This neither gives you the time to really think about what you want nor does it allow your subconscious mind to develop creative ways of making them happen. 

Okay, before we go further, I have an annual planning sheet you can download for free from my website that can help you with this process. Just go to carlpullein.com and click on downloads from the menu at the top of the page. Everything on the downloads page is free. 

So, how do you go about planning for the new year? First brainstorm ideas. Now, this does not mean you sit down for an hour or two and think about what you want to do, what it means is creating a note in your notes app or a piece of paper and adding to it over the next week or two. Anything that comes to your mind—write it down. When you allow your subconscious mind to do the work for you you will find you come up with things you haven't thought about for years. Trust your subconscious. It rarely lets you down. 

So what areas of your life should you be thinking about? Well, first think about what you would like to change about yourself? Are you a “yes” person. Do you tend to say “yes” to new things a little too quickly? Are you a little lazy? Are you terrible at seeing plans through to the end? 

When we dig deep it can be surprising what we find that could do with changing. This is why giving yourself plenty of time to let these things bubble up to the top is important. 

Next up is lifestyle. What would you like to change about your lifestyle? Are you happy with the way you live? Would you like to move house? Change the way you travel to and from work? Change your daily routines? There’s a lot in the lifestyle section you could look at changing. Eating habits, social life, where you take your vacations. Put everything up for review. After all, the way you live your life is often the driver for your long-term success. If you spend all your free time vegetating on the sofa watching mind-numbing dramas, your health will suffer in the long-term and no matter what your plans are in the future you will never get chance to do them. 

How would you like to change the way you work? This is quite a general question but the idea is to get you to question the way you work today. Are you happy? Do you enjoy the work you do? Are you starting and finishing your work at reasonable times? Do you want to change that? There’s a lot here you can think about. 

The goal with the questions you ask about your work is to push you to do work that makes you proud. Work that leaves you feeling satisfied when you come home at the end of the day. The saddest thing for anyone is to be doing work that leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Often it is not about changing your work or job—that can be very difficult—often it is about changing the way you look at your work. 

I always found doing the daily admin boring and tedious. It was something I just did not enjoy doing. But, it is an essential part of the work I do. Student attendance records, feedback to the people who need feedback from coaching sessions. I always used to look at that part of my work as something not to look forward to. 

It was when I realised that the admin and paperwork was an essential way for me to grow my company. To be able to measure my performance as well as the performance of my students and coaching clients that I understood that this was another way I could help my students and clients even more and the admin allowed me to analyse where I could make improvements and grow my business. 

Now, this part of my work is something I look forward to doing. Writing the feedback is another way for me to help people and, for me, it is when I help people with their performance in life that I feel satisfied and happy with the work I do.

So, switching the way you look at your work could be all you need to change the way you feel about your work. Alternatively, it could be you want to change the type of work you do. If that’s the case, a question to ask is what do you have to do to do the career you want to pursue? Do you need to return to college? What extra training do you need? 

Next up comes the challenge section. What can you do next year that will push you and challenge you? What have you been putting off that you know you should do but for some reason—fear or just not knowing exactly what you should do—you have not done anything about? This year I chose to get my hernia fixed. My fear of surgery had prevented me from doing anything about it, but it was preventing me from exercising in a way I wanted to exercise. It was a very hard decision to make, and in the end, I was forced into it. But I went through with it. Not only have I now fixed my hernia, I have also learned that there is very little I need to be fearful of. 

Have you been putting off asking your partner to marry you? Have you always wanted to run a marathon but for one reason or another never committed yourself to do it? Challenging yourself is one way you can push yourself to grow. It also toughens you up mentally because once you realise you can do these things you have put off, you begin to realise you are capable of much more than you think you are. 

Then you should think about the goals you want to achieve next year. Goals are the driving force of your energy every day. Often once you have completed the other parts, your goals will reveal themselves. When you look over your list you will see obvious goals. Running that marathon, or getting the extra qualifications so you can pursue the career you have dreamed of can all be turned in to goals for next year. This is why the goals section of this process comes towards the end. 

One of my goals for next year is a fun goal which is to take a photo every day for a year and post it to Instagram. I have a new iPhone 11 Pro and that comes with an incredible camera. This means I can resume my hobby of photography. So, I have have been researching creative iphoneography techniques and I have relearned how Adobe Lightroom works. It’s a goal I am really looking forward to because not only will I have a record of my whole year, I will also be doing something to grow my creativity. 

Finally, there is your bucket list. We all have a bucket list of some sort. Either it is written down in a journal or in an app like your Notes app or just in your head. Either way, choosing something from this list turns it from a wishful list to a reality list. My bucket list item for next year is to go to Australia. So when my wife finishes her master's degree in August, we will head off to Australia to do Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within together and then spend a few days exploring Sydney. That’s going to be a trip of a lifetime!

So there you have it, the six areas you can spend some time over the next few weeks thinking about. Developing ideas and from around the middle of December turning them into actionable steps you can take from day one… That is 1st January. 

That’s how you turn a year into a successful year. By giving yourself enough time to think about what you would like to accomplish before the first day and developing those ideas into something concrete and actionable. It’s not hard, in fact, it’s a lot of fun. 

I hope you found this special episode useful. Remember it’s about collecting ideas, thinking about them and deciding what you will pursue next year. You don’t have to do everything you add to your list next year, there’s always 2021 and beyond. After all, most people overestimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years. Play the long game and you are much more likely to accomplish the things you want to accomplish.

Thank you for listening to this episode. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

How To Choose The Right Productivity Apps . The Definitive Answer.

How To Choose The Right Productivity Apps . The Definitive Answer.

November 4, 2019

Do you find you are still searching for that ‘perfect’ productivity app? Then this week’s episode is definitely one for you.

Links:

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Life & Time Mastery Workshop, Scunthorpe 28 December 2019

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Script

Episode 107

Hello and welcome to episode 107 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

This week we return to that polarising question of what app is right for you and how do you choose the right app or apps. 

But before we get to this week’s question, in case you missed it, my Create Your Own Apple Productivity course has now been updated for 2019. That means there’s a whole new section on the new Reminders app as well as updates for Notes and Calendar. 

If you are already enrolled in the course, this is a free update for you and if you are not, and you are quick, you can pick up this course for just $39.99 on the early-bird programme. But you will need to be quick as this discount will end very soon.

If you don’t want to invest in expensive productivity apps and want to just use the built-in apps that come with your iPhone, iPad and Mac, then this course is perfect for you as it will give you the know-how to build your own system using just the Apple productivity apps including Calendar, Notes, Reminders and iCloud. It’s all there in this course.

There’s a link to the full details of this course in the show notes to this podcast.

Ok, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.

This week’s question comes from Tim. Tim asks: Hi Carl, I've been looking for a really good to-do list manager for years and just cannot find the right one. Do you have any advice on finally finding the right app? 

Hi Tim, thank you for your question. My answer would be “no I don’t” and there’s a very good reason why. 

that's because the tools you use—whether that is a to-do list manager or notes app or calendar—really doesn't matter. What matters is your system or framework. 

You see no app will ever do the work for you. All a productivity app will do is show you what you need to see when you need to see it. Of course, you can add dates, times and tags, labels or contexts to narrow down the lists, but essentially all these tools will ever do is show you what you have to do. Doing the work is completely in your hands and that is not going to change anytime soon. 

So what it all comes down to is how you organise your lists. All you are going to get with different apps are just different ways to list things. You may get some different colours, some may show you your projects and tasks in a Kanban board style, others may show you your lists in a traditional list format but they are all essentially doing the same thing, they are showing you the tasks you inputted into the app. That’s because they are just lists. 

When you base your whole system on an app, if the app updates or, as in the recent case with Todoist, changes some of the features. If that happens, you can find your whole productivity system no longer works and then you are going to have problems.

This is why I preach building a system around COD—this is a stripped-down absolute basic System anyone can adopt—All you need to do is collect everything that has your attention into a trusted place. That could be a piece of paper you carry around with you in your pocket or it could be your phone’s built-in notes app. It really doesn't matter where you are collecting. All that matters is you are collecting and you trust you will look at what you collected every twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Having too many places to collect stuff can be overwhelming as you will have multiple places to look. 

This is why in the GTD world we seek the UCT—the Ubiquitous Collection Tool—that’s a tool you can carry with you everywhere you go. David Allen has his notetaker wallet, Richard Branson and Warren Buffett have their little pocket notebooks. It really doesn’t matter what you use. The only thing that matters is you collect everything into it and you process and organise what you collected every twenty-four to forty-eight hours. 

Organising what you collected does require something a little more structured. You want to be able to find what you collected when you need it quickly. It also needs to be accessible from all your devices these days. Travel itineraries, for example, are best when they are accessible on all your devices. Here again, though, you do not need anything too complex. 

When you organise everything you collected, complexity will be your enemy. Complexity will slow you down. Finding what you want, when you want it and as quickly as possible, that's the key. So a little thought about how you file stuff is important. 

Do you remember things by topic? By the people or team involved? Maybe you would prefer to see things organised by project or areas of focus. What’s vitally important here is that you organise your stuff by the way you naturally think. Not because someone else organises things that way. 

When you organise things by the way someone else does—because it looks cool or efficient—you are going to find yourself with difficulties. What works for one person is not necessarily going to work for you. This is why how you organise your stuff needs a lot of careful thought. 

A few years ago many in the Evernote world jumped on the Michael Hyatt’s way of tagging notes with symbols to indicate: what, when, who, reference and miscellaneous. You could see the beauty of this system very easily, but if you stepped back and thought about it you could also see the complexity involved and the issues you would have if you got a note that was not quite a “what” but also not quite a “who”. 

This system soon received a lot of criticism and eventually disappeared as the latest way to structure your notes. The thing is, this system worked for Michael. It would not necessarily work for anyone else and it didn’t.

Files are another thing too. I organise my files by date and tags. Apple has system-wide tagging which allows me to view my documents by tag. So, I categorise my work by the different businesses I run and my personal stuff. I have three main tags that represent these three areas of my life. It makes it much easier for me to find what I am looking for as well as file my work. But, I know this way of organising my files would not work for everyone else. 

You see there are so many factors involved. The type of work you do, how your brain organises things and what tools you have available. Your company’s security systems may not allow you to have work files on cloud-based servers accessible outside company property. 

Now, I think a lot of this comes down to an individual’s expectations. We see a super cool video on YouTube (and I might be guilty of causing this) and see how another person organises their projects, notes and tasks and think WOW! If I set up my system like that I will get a ton of work done. 

This is never going to be true. You see it doesn’t matter how super cool and organised your stuff is. If you are spending too much time inside your productivity apps reorganising, filing and fiddling with the settings you are not doing work. You’re not being productive at all. You are procrastinating and it’s the worst kind of procrastination because you are convincing yourself you are doing work when you are not doing work at all. You’re fiddling and that is pure procrastination. 

So, Tim, if you want to find the ‘perfect’ app, create the ‘perfect’ system first. The system comes first then the apps. In fact, if you create a great system, that system would work with any app. 

A great way to test your system is to test it out on paper first. If you can create a system and workflow that you can use using a simple notebook and pen, then you have a system that could work with almost any app. 

Fundamentally, you need to make sure you collect everything into a place you trust. This place should be something you have with you at all times. Today, that is usually a mobile phone or wallet. You need to give yourself time each day to process and organise what you collected in a way you can find quickly when you need it and you should be spending at least 90% of your time doing the work. 

When you get those basics right, then you have a system that will reduce your stress, massively increase your productivity and give you a lot more time to do the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with. It will do that because you will not have to spend much time in your apps playing around with settings, colours or anything else your apps allow you to do. 

I hope that has helped, Tim. Remember, get your system right and the apps will take care of themselves. 

Thank you for the question and thank you to all of you for listening. Don’t forget if you are in the Apple ecosystem, check out my Apple Productivity course. It might just be the ‘perfect’ system for you.

It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.