Answering your productivity and self-development questions every week.
Some Uncommon Ways I Save Time Each Week.
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13:58This week, I am sharing a few ideas you can use to get some time back for the things you want time for. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin 7 Tricks That Save Me 16.3 Hours Per Week Email Mastery Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 289 | Script Hello, and welcome to episode 289 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. Do you ever wish you had more time each day? Not necessarily time for more work, but just time to do what you want. Many years ago, this is how I felt. I wished there was more time for doing the things I wanted. I looked at my heroes from the past—being able to come home from a hard day in the factory physically exhausting themselves, to spend the evenings in a garden shed inventing the future. People like Frank Whittle (inventor of the jet engine) and James Dyson, the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. I often wondered how they were able to do it. It then dawned on me that we are not able to make more time; that is fixed. People like Frank Whittle, James Dyson, Marie Curie and others had the same amount of time you and I do. However, what these people did was decide what they would and would not do with their time so they could maximise what they had doing the things they loved doing. Is that not possible for you? Could you decide what you will and will not do with your time? Are you currently doing some things that may not be conducive to what you really want to do? Well, this week’s question had me thinking more about this, and the results of that thinking are all in this podcast. So, to get us started, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Patrick. Patricks asks, Hi Carl, I’ve often wondered if you have any tips on making better use of your time. Is there anything you do that saves you time each day or week? Hi Patrick, thank you for your question. I must confess that your question was the inspiration behind the video I posted on YouTube last week on how I can save around 16 hours each week following a few simple practices. Now, I should point out that some of what I will talk about here may not work for you, how they work for me, but that does not mean they definitely won’t work for you. You can modify them so that do work. All I ask is you keep an open mind and see how you could adopt them into your life. First up. Always have a plan for the day. I know; I have spoken about this a lot. But it just saves you so much time. It stops you from being dragged off doing unimportant things and keeps you focused on what needs to be done. Now, I am not suggesting you plan out every minute of the day; that would be impractical and never works. Instead, what I am suggesting you plan out what must be done. The things that need to be done and tasks that will prevent bigger problems in the future. When you start the day, know what you will do and when you will do it. For example, today, I had a few calls this morning, so I kept my morning free for calls. This afternoon, this script was to be written. Now, it did not matter when precisely I would write this script; all I decided was I would write this script before taking my dog out for his walk. Beyond that, the only thing that was planned was an hour for responding to my emails and messages and more calls this evening. The problem you will have when you don’t have a plan is your day will be hijacked by fake urgencies and emergencies from other people. Fake because you will grab onto anything to avoid having nothing to do. Having a plan focuses you and ensures that what you do is relevant to your goals, projects and areas of focus. All this saves you time because what you do each day is moving the right things forward so they get done on time and without a lot of fuss. And you are not wasting time trying to decide what to do. The next tip is to reduce the number of channels you are contactable through. I found it amusing a few years ago when everyone was getting excited about apps like WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Messenger. At the time, I could not understand what all the fuss was about because we already had email, and text messaging was great. You could see what would happen when groups in these new apps were created. Instead of a conversation with one person, there were going to be conversations with numerous people, which meant a message thread would be constantly updating; to catch up with what was going on, you had to scroll back and read through everything. WOW! The time wasting that happens now because of these so-called marvellous inventions. The best tip I can give you is to avoid these groups as much as possible. I am proud to say I am not a part of any group—well, there is one. I still teach an English class, and the four students in that group and I have a group chat where we can communicate our absences. But that’s it. Sadly, companies have now jumped on this bandwagon and forced employees to be a part of a Teams or Slack group. Now bosses can constantly check in with you, asking for updates and requesting you do things. And, of course, because our boss expects us to be reading these messages instantly, we have to drop everything to confirm we have received the message and are working on it. If you want to be productive, being a part of all these channels of communication will destroy any chance. Aside from the attention switching cost, which can be high, it means you are losing as much as three to four hours a day just checking, confirming and replying to these messages. You need to find a way to remove yourself from these groups or have a set time each day for dealing with them. For instance, if you are part of a work group chat, perhaps you could check and deal with messages twice a day. Mid to late morning and mid to late afternoon. Don’t worry, your team and boss soon learn your patterns, and once they are used to it, they are unlikely to bother you. This is one of those that you may be saying to yourself that would be impossible for me. Perhaps, but have you tried? Have you considered a different way from the way things are working right now? Or are you happy losing as much as three to four hours a day? I will leave that one with you. Here’s one I began using around ten years ago that has saved me hours and hours. Eat the same thing every day. Now, I know with this one, most of you will immediately say, “NO WAY!” But I am going to say it and let you decide if it could work for you. Eat the same things every day. Okay, I better explain. First, I am not a foodie. Food doesn’t excite me, and I see it only as fuel. If you are a foodie and love trying new and exciting things, this tip will not work for you, and I would not suggest you change. However, here’s how it saves time. As I have been eating pretty much the same thing every day for the last ten years or so, I have learned the fastest and most efficient way to cook my meals. It is also easy to ensure I have all the ingredients in stock at home, and I know how long it takes to cook, eat and wash up afterwards. This means I can use meal times as stakes in the ground for my day. I do intermittent fasting, so my meal times are 11:00 AM for breakfast and 6:00 PM for dinner. So, I have a two-hour session of work in the morning before breakfast, and at 4:30 PM, I stop whatever I am working on for an hour to deal with my communications. After dinner, I have another ninety minutes of work before my evening calls begin. The biggest time saving here, though, is I do not need to waste time each day trying to decide what to eat or negotiating with my wife about what she wants. She’s more of a foodie and likes to prepare her own meals, and she eats at different times than me. She also does intermittent fasting, but because her mornings are always busy, her eating window is from 2 pm to 10 pm. We do eat together on Saturdays, though, and I will eat whatever we decide to eat that day. That’s my cheat day. Next up, use a scheduling service. This will save you so much time and put you in control of when you are available for meetings. Now, I know not all of you will be able to do this because your work calendar is controlled by other people. But, if you work with clients, this will be a huge time-saving for you. Scheduling services allow you to allocate slots of time when you are available for meetings, and your clients and colleagues can schedule times with you that are convenient for them as well as you. Using a scheduling service means you are not going back and forth trying to find a mutually convenient time; instead, the other person can choose a time, and it will be automatically booked on your calendar. And no, people do not find it rude. Everyone I work with finds it much more convenient because they get to choose and schedule a meeting with you when they are ready rather than wasting time either calling, messaging or emailing you. Now what about finding time for those side hobbies, the things you want time for? How do you find time for that? If you study people like Frank Whittle, Marie Currie or James Dyson, you will discover they made time for their hobbies. Now, for Marie Currie, there was no TV, and TV was a rare thing during Frank Whittle’s early life. In those days, people found their own entertainment. There are times in the day when you have complete control over what you do. I remember when I was watching a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube videos, and he preached you should use 11 PM to 1 AM as your development time—when you worked on your “side hustle”. Today, the word “side hustle” has gone out of fashion somewhat and in many ways, that’s probably a good thing. But as usual, when something goes out of fashion, we throw everything away when there may be some grains of value in it. For example, I use the late evening for studying. Sometimes I will read; other times, I will watch educational videos on YouTube. It depends on what I feel like learning. But for me, that study time is precious. It helps me to wind down at the end of the day, and while I am not doing this too late, usually around 10:30 pm to midnight, it still gives me some quiet time for things I am interested in. However, I like to watch some TV shows, and I reserve them for Saturday nights. This way, I have something to look forward to and can relax. So these are just a few of the less common ways you can save yourself time. There are a few more in my latest YouTube video; I’ll link to that in the show notes for you. But to give you a flavour, there are chunking similar tasks together, getting outside to do your thinking and decision making and finding the process, not the project. Hope these help, Patrick and thank you for sending in your question. Thank you to you, too, for listening, and it just remains for me now to wish you all a very, very productive week.
Why You Want To Be Building Processes, Not Projects.
12:43Are you still creating projects out of the work you regularly do? If so, you might be causing yourself more work than you really need. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin Email Mastery Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 288 | Script Hello, and welcome to episode 288 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 have an interesting question about why projects are bad, and processes are good. It’s something I discovered around five years ago, yet never realised I had switched away from creating projects for any multi-step job I had to do. When I look at what I do, for instance, writing a blog post is a process. I sit down at my desk, open my writing software and begin writing. Once the first draft is written around one hour later, I leave it for twenty-four hours before again sitting down and editing it. Once the edit is complete, I design the image and post the blog post. Job done. I have similar processes for my YouTube videos, this podcast and the newsletters I write. What I discovered around five years ago is if I treat everything that involved two or more steps as a project, it changed how I felt about the work. I felt there was a need to plan things out, create a list of tasks and choose a start date. All steps that are rendered obsolete when you have a process. With processes, all you need to know is when you are going to get on and do the work. Because you have a process, you already know what needs to be done, and you can get on and do it without the need for excessive planning and preparation. But it can be difficult to alter your way of thinking from project to process-based thinking, and that is what this week’s question is all about. So, with that said, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Linda. Linda asks, Hi Carl, I found your recent newsletter on projects versus processes interesting, but I am struggling to work out how to turn my work into projects. I work with clients, and they each have unique needs, which means I need to treat each one as a project. Do you have any advice that will help me to find the processes? Hi Linda, thank you for your question. Working with clients can be challenging when it comes to following a process. Each client likely needs individual attention, and each task related to the client could be unique. However, looking at it that way does create confusion. Fortunately, Your processes will begin from the moment of your first contact with your client. What do you do at the first contact with a client? For example, with my coaching clients, the process begins once I receive a completed questionnaire from the client. That questionnaire is placed in a special folder in my email until the first call. Twenty minutes before that call, I retrieve the questionnaire, copy and paste it into a new client note and then archive the original email. That begins the process. After that, things can go in multiple directions. But during all my coaching calls, I keep notes; if there is anything specific I need to do for the client, I will add it to the note. After the call, the note is flagged until I write my feedback, which I do as a chunk. I have a one-hour block each day for writing feedback, so I will see what I have committed myself to when I write the client’s feedback. I can then decide what needs to be done to complete that commitment. Building processes is not about having a single process. It’s about creating multiple processes for the work you regularly do. Now that may sound very complex or difficult, yet if you stop for a moment and think about it, you are already using processes for almost everything you do. I noticed when I wash my dishes after breakfast or dinner; I wash things in exactly the same way. I don’t stand there, trying to decide what to wash first. I begin with my bowl and then my cutlery, and then my glass. It’s the same when I prepare to go to bed. I brush my teeth and turn off all the lights before getting into bed. It’s the same process each day. The great thing about processes is they become automatic. You don’t think about each step involved in brushing your teeth. You just do it. And the same applies to your work processes. I don’t think about what to do when I have a new client. There’s a process I follow. Now, processes do not work for everything. A process is used for anything you may repeat frequently. It’s unlikely you will redecorate your bedroom frequently. Doing a job like that will be a project. But what would it be if you were a painter and decorator? In that case, you would have a process for decorating different types of rooms. When you begin painting a new room, you would follow the same process. Clear the furniture or cover it with dust sheets, wipe down the walls and set up your ladders, paint and brushes. (That’s a guess. I’m not a painter and decorator). I recently read about the former Ferrari Formula 1 team’s technical director when they were last dominant in the sport (2000 to 2007). His name was Ross Braun, and he developed a process for preparing the next year’s car. The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, would issue the technical directives for the following year at the end of March. Once he received them, he would use April to go through the new rules and regulations and then. there would be a day-long technical team meeting on the first Monday of May each year where they would discuss the new regulations and allocate team members to begin building the new car. By the end of that week, they had started the new car build. Each different department had a process for making whatever they were responsible for, be that the chassis, engine or aerodynamics. Nothing was considered a project. It was a process that was followed each year. Now, in Formula 1, the team’s objective is very clear. To build a car that wins. No team goes into building a new car with the thought of coming second or third. They build to win. Motivating team members isn’t particularly difficult. Every Monday, there was a team meeting to discuss progress and to see where Ross Brawn could help to move things forward. But ultimately, everything was a process. This quote from the book really nails it for me: “Develop and apply a set of rhythms and routines. Having established an integrated team and structure, Ross instituted rhythms and routines that ensured the completeness of the process of designing, manufacturing and racing cars. These routines constantly reinforced alignment around a shared vision.” That shared vision was to have a championship-winning car and driver. The great thing about building processes is once you have them, you can then isolate areas where things are not working as well as you would like them to. For example, I came up with my email management system through a series of refinements over a number of years. As the volume of emails increased, I found it increasingly difficult to stay on top of it. My old system, or process, for managing it no longer worked. I need to look at the process and see where I could make it better. Collecting email was not a problem. That was a part I had no control over, but I did realise that part of the problem with volume was I was too ready to give out my email address to anyone who asked for it. I soon realised that meant my email address was ending up in databases, and that was part of the problem. So, I created a new email address for all non-important occasions when I needed an email address and kept that as webmail only. Then I looked at how I was processing mail, and that led to my Inbox Zero 2.0 system. It was a refined version of Merlin Mann’s original Inbox Zero methodology. It works effortlessly now and has never let me down since I modified the process around ten years ago. A good friend of mine is a copywriter here in Korea. She’s a brilliant copywriter, and each new job that comes her way follows the same process. She takes notes in Apple Notes when she meets the client for the first time. She finds out what they want, the tone of the words and anything else relevant. Then it gets added to her list of work as a task in Reminders. The task is simple: “Work on new client’s job.” And she works through her jobs in chronological order. Working on the task means she opens Text Edit on her computer and does all her work there until she sends the first draft to the client. Her whole process works. She’s consistent and on time, and it’s made her life so easy. Her calendar is blocked out for focused work and meetings with clients, and she’s strict about what goes on it. It’s all process. Never a project. You see, the problem with projects is we waste so much time planning, organising and thinking about what we need to do. We feel obligated to write out what we think needs to happen, much of which does not need to be done anyway, and we then procrastinate about where and when to start. With processes, you already know where to start, so the only decision you need to make is when to start. There’s no procrastinating because you already know what the first step is. Plus, you also have a much better idea of how long something will take. Processes are naturally broken down into different components, and the more you run that process, the more you learn how long something will take. The best way to build processes is to track how you are doing different parts of your work. Where are the natural breaks? As I mentioned with writing my blog posts. There’s writing the first draft (approximately one hour), editing (around forty minutes), image selection, and posting another forty minutes. There are three key parts, so scheduling my work is easy now. I know I need around two-and-a-half hours. And that’s it. Keep things as simple as possible, and look for the natural components. Then build processes from there. I hope that has helped, Linda. Thank you for your question. And thank you to you, too, for listening. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very, very productive week.
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Why Is It So Confusing?
13:03Are you confused with all the time management and productivity advice floating around? I know I was, and all this information can and does cause inaction. This week I will show a way through the deluge of information. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin Email Mastery Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 287 | Script Hello, and welcome to episode 286 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. When I began my journey into the digital time management and productivity world in 2009, there was a lot of information on how to use the new technology emerging with smart phones. This evolution (or maybe revolution) in the world of productivity was exciting and blogs and podcasts were full of information on turning your digital devices into productivity powerhouses that promised to automate the work we were doing. The trouble is, back then, as now, much of that information was contradictory. Common ones are things like don’t check mail in the morning, (silly advice) and micro-manage your calendar (more silly advice). The reality is when it comes to productivity and managing your time it’s important to find a way that works for you. It’s about knowing when you are at your most focused and when you are easily distracted. Trying to squeeze yourself into the way other people work is not going to work for you and the way you work. So, with that said, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Michael. Michael asks: hi Carl, over the last year or so I’ve become so overwhelmed with my work and life. I was given more responsibilities at work and at the same time my wife gave birth to twin daughters that need a lot of attention. I began reading and watching content on getting better organised and being more productive and have just become so confused. Everyone is giving different advice. How would you build better habits and routines that would make you more productive? Hi Michael, great question. In many ways, I am lucky because my journey into becoming better at managing time and being more productive began in the late 1980s / early 90s. There were no blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels then. All we had were books and the occasional article in magazines and newspapers. This meant, while there were still contradictions, it also slowed us down and allowed us time to test ideas and concepts and give them enough time before attempting to try something else. And that is often the first big mistake people make. Not giving a concept or idea long enough to work. Change is hard. Changing behaviour is even harder and takes time. You are not going to get a new concept working in 24 hours, a week or even two or three months. You need to give anything new at least six months. You need to learn to use the system, develop the habits and muscle memory. And that means if you change an app, you put yourself under a moratorium for six months. You do not change it for six months. This has two benefits. It gives you time to really learn how to use the app and it causes you to hesitate before changing something. If you know that by changing your task manager means you are stuck with whatever you change to for six months, you will question yourself about whether the time and energy cost is worth it. Now watching and learning from others is actually a good idea. But, it’s not about copying their system and tools, it means seeing how they overcome similar problems to you. Not all people talking about productivity and time management have the same issues as you. I remember four or five years ago, I liked how Thomas Frank did his videos, but what he was teaching was how to manage time as a student. I was not a student, however, there were some ideas Thomas gave me about managing information that I did incorporate into my own file management system. I learned a lot of my time management concepts from people like Hyrum Smith, Stephen Covey, Brain Tracy, Jim Rohn, David Allen and Tony Robbins. These are the pioneers of modern day time management and productivity and you only need to look at the results they have achieved individually to see their systems and methods work. A lot of what you see on YouTube, for example, are videos on how other people manage their work and they make it look slick, efficient and beautiful. But that’s not always a system. That’s video editing. With the power of video editing you can make anything look fantastic. It does not mean it works in the real world. I saw a comment on one of my videos recently that made me smile because the person who wrote it has got it. The quote comes from the movie Maverick and it’s: "It's not the plane, it's the pilot." And when it comes to apps, it’s never the tool that causes the problem. It’s how you use the tool that does most of the damage. A hammer will put a nail into a hole very easily. Used incorrectly, though, the hammer can do a lot of damage—although a good beating on the cylinder head with a hammer did solve the problem my old Mitsubishi Colt used to have. One the earliest lessons I learned about time management and productivity was that the work won’t get done if all I do is rearrange lists and organise my stuff. The only way work gets done is if I do the work. All you need to know, when you begin the day, is what needs to be done today. Not, necessarily, what you would like to do today. Then, get on and do it. Now there are different strategies for doing your work. For instance, you may be more focused in a morning. If that’s so, you can take Brian Tracy’s concept of beginning the day with the hardest, most difficult task—the Eat The Frog concept. But, if you find yourself more focused in the afternoons, then you could schedule time in the afternoon for a couple of hours focused work. Find the time you are at your best and do your best work then. Let’s return to the heart of your question, Michael. How would I build better habits and routines to become more productive? I would first read three books. David Allen’s Getting Things Done because that will give you insights into task management and collecting your commitments and deciding what needs to be done. I would read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, because that will show you how to build habits that stick and also gives some fascinating insights into your own psychology. And finally, I would read Brian Tracy’s Eat The Frog as that will explain the importance of doing over everything else. Armed with the knowledge you will gain from those three books, you can then set about building a system that works for the way you work. The objective is to get the right things done each week and to eliminate the unnecessary. Rushing to do everything is not the best strategy because what you think may need doing now, often doesn’t need doing at all if you leave a couple of days—things have a habit of sorting themselves out (a lot more than you think) Right now, with your twin daughters, I would say that family is your number one priority. The question then is how can you maximise your time with your family? As that involves your daughters and wife, you want to be working with them and making sure you are there when they need you. It may mean you have to be very strict about when you do your work and when you are not at work. One thing I would not reject out of hand is working later in the evening. I remember reading about Michael Dell (of Dell computers). Back in the 1990s when he had a young family he would ensure he was home by 6pm every day to be with his family. His kids were usually in bed by 9:30pm and once they were asleep, he would spend an hour dealing with his emails and other matters before ending the day. It’s surprising how much work you can get done in the evening when things have settled down. I know I’ve done some of my best work later into the evening when everything quietens down. That was a trick I learned from Winston Churchill. He was a prolific writer as well as a politician and he would retire to his study at 10pm every evening to do work for two hours. It must have worked because over his lifetime Churchill published over forty books and they were not small books. His book on the Duke of Marlborough, for example, was over a million words long! However, if you are a morning person, perhaps getting a couple of hours in before your kids wake up would work. Tim Cook of Apple begins his work day at 4 AM and then goes to the gym at 6 AM. This is why reading about successful people and how they manage their time will give you ideas and insights. Try them. Remember, you won’t see results immediately, you are building habits and that takes time. Be patient. Much of what I do today is very different from what I did five years ago. For example, I didn’t journal. I have added that to my repertoire in the last four years. It’s habit I love doing now and I am still excited to start my day by writing in my journal. I learned about the importance of journaling by reading Ryan Holiday’s books on Stoicism and Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club. Ten years ago, I didn’t plan my day the night before, now it’s a habit and I cannot go to bed without knowing what two things I must get done the next day. (It took around six months to develop that habit). If I remember, I got that idea from reading about NLP—Neuro-linguistic Programming. That concept teaches you that you can get your subconscious brain to a lot of the hard work while you are sleeping by using something called “Intention Implementation”. So, what I do recommend is you read the three books above, study successful people and how they managed their work. Charles Darwin is a great example of structuring days. You can Google Charles Darwin’s daily routine. His daily walks and time spent with his rock—his wife, had a huge impact on his output. From these resources, you can develop your own habits and structures that may need modifying over time, but begin with what is important to you and build on that. Thank you, Michael for your question and thank you to you too for listening. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.
STOP! How To Remove Overwhelm.
13:58Do you feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do? Well, this week’s podcast is just for you. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin Email Mastery Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 286 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 286 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. The number one reason someone comes to me for help is because they feel stressed out and overwhelmed by everything they have to do. They have thousands of emails sitting in their inbox, hundreds of Slack or Teams messages asking for things and a long list of to-dos that never seems to shrink. It’s enough to make anyone scream out of sheer desperation. The good news is it’s not impossible to regain some control. The bad news is you will need to stop and step back a little. And often it’s that stopping and stepping back that people find most difficult. When you face an impossible situation, the temptation is to keep digging. The problem is what got into the situation you are trying to dig your way out of is precisely what you are continuing to do. Digging. You need to stop digging so you can look up and see what you are trying to accomplish and restart with a clearer direction. This week, I’m going to give you a roadmap you can follow to get yourself out of this hole so you are working towards a less overwhelming and clearer place. And that means, it’s time for me now to h and you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Enrique. (엔리캐), Enrique asks, hi Carl, I really need your help. I feel so overwhelmed and stressed because my list of tasks keep getting longer and longer and I never seem to be making it smaller. It feels for every five tasks I do, fifteen new ones get added. My boss is always sending me messages and asking for updates so I never have time to do any focused work. How can I stop all this from happening? Hi Enrique, thank you for your question. Firstly, fear not, there is a solution to this for you but you will need to do something a little uncomfortable. I need you to stop for a day or two. When anyone gets into a situation where far more is coming in than going out, continuing to do what you are currently doing is not going to solve the problem. The only way you will solve a problem like this is to stop and draw a line under it all, while you fix the underlying problem. If you don’t stop, you have no chance to break the vicious circle that has grown. You have to break the circle and to do that you need to press pause. Now, once you have stopped, you need to first look at the foundations of your system. Tasks and emails are different things so let’s look at your tasks first. How are you collecting, organising and doing your work—the principles of COD. Collecting everything is important, but it does not necessarily mean everything you collect needs to be done immediately or at all. A lot of what you collect can be done later. Quite a few of the tasks you collect may even be deleted because on reflection you realise you either do not have the time or resources to complete them or they do not need doing at all. Do not be afraid to delete these. If they are important, they will come back. The delete key is your friend. Organising is how you organise all the things you have decided do need to be done. There are only two questions here: what exactly needs to be done and when are you going to do it? When you do it will depend on a two factors. Deadlines and available time. Now, here you will come up again the time V Activity conundrum, where the time side of the equation is fixed and there is nothing you can do to change that—that’s the natural laws of time and physics. But, you do have complete control over the activity side. The activities you do in the time you have available. Now as an aside here, how long does a task take? For quite a few tasks it’ll be likely you will not know before you begin the task. And therein lies the answer… “before you begin the task”. Let’s say your boss asks you to prepare a report on a recent sales campaign you delivered. If you write in your task manager “Write report on recent sales campaign”, it will stress you. Unless you regularly write sales campaign reports you won’t know how it will take you and your brain will tell you “It’s going to take a long time”. That now means every time you see that task in your task list, you will convince yourself you have no time to write it today, so it gets rescheduled for tomorrow. You will not know how long this task will take until you start it. So, rather than writing the task as “write sales campaign report” you add an extra word: “start writing sales campaign report”. What you have now done is taken the emphasis away from completing the task, to just starting the task. How long does it take to start a task like this? A few minutes at most. You may only set up a Word document, give it a title and write the introduction, but it’s a start. Now, when you have finished, all you need do is change the task from “start writing sales campaign report” to “continue writing sales campaign report and schedule it for another day. The benefit of writing tasks like this is as you start and continue to write the report, you will quickly be able to anticipate how long the whole task will take and that will take a lot of the pressure off. If you were to spend thirty-minutes each day for five days on the task, you will have spent two-and-a-half hours on it. That’s a lot better than doing nothing because you kept rescheduling it. Let get back to the principles of COD. The doing part is where your calendar comes in to play. Based on what you have decided needs to be done today, where do you have the time to do it? It’s no good starting the day with thirty tasks you have convinced yourself need to be done today, yet have six hours of meetings. Your day’s destroyed before it starts. You need to be more strategic than that. In this situation you have two choices (and ONLY two choices). Either you cancel some of those meetings or you reschedule some of those tasks. I suppose you could do both as a third choice. This is where things can become uncomfortable because sometimes we have to let people down and that’s hard to do. However, people are a lot more accommodating that we imagine. If we have promised someone to get a piece of work to them by the end of the week, yet, by Wednesday we know that’s not going to happen, it’s far better to reach out and renegotiate the deadline. In 90% of cases, people are perfectly happy with the renegotiated deadline. What’s the worst that can happen if you do reach out? They could say no, I MUST have the work by Friday. Okay, now you have a hard deadline and you can renegotiate some of your other work instead. You may have to work an extra few hours that week to meet the deadline. As long as you are not working extra hours every day, that should not be a big issue. Now, that brings me on to your email, and messages. How much time do you need each day to stay on top of your email? When I ask people this question the reply is usually “it depends”. Yet, if you were to analyse it, you would find an average. For me, I need around forty-five minutes a day to respond to my actionable email. Some days, I only need twenty-five minutes, others I need an hour. With that information, I can now block that time out on my calendar. I have one hour each day set aside for communications. I rarely need to full hour, but it’s there if I do need it. Now with email, there’s a process for this. This process has worked for hundreds of years because it was devised when we received a lot of regular mail, and it’s only two steps. The first is to process what you received. This is, in effect filtering out the actionable from the non-actionable. You can do this by asking two questions: What is it? Is it actionable? If it’s actionable—ie you need to do something with it—it goes to an Action This Day folder. If it’s not actionable you only have two choices; delete or archive it and that will depend whether you may want to reference it later or not. Now, with your actionable email, you reverse the way the folder shows you the mail. You want it to show the oldest at the top. This means when you sit down to deal with your email, you begin at the top—it’s the oldest email there so in theory it is the most urgent—and work your way down the list. Because they are ordered oldest to newest, if you are unable to get to the bottom of your list for the day, it won’t be a problem because the ones you did not get to will be at the top of your list tomorrow. When you become consistent with this, you will find email is no longer a problem. In your case Enrique, one of the things you must do is to clear your inbox and that may take a morning or afternoon to do—it may even take you a whole day, but the only way you will ever get on top of it, is to stop, and clear that inbox. This may involve declaring email bankruptcy. With that you have a choice you can choose to do a hard bankruptcy—that involves deleting all mail older than ten days. The other choice is to do a soft email bankruptcy, which involves taking all mail older than ten days and moving them into a folder called “Old Inbox”. You can then process that over time. (Although, I find most people end up deleting that folder after a few months) If you want to earn more about managing email, you can join my Email Mastery course. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you. Now there are other things you can do Enrique, you do need to know what your core work and areas of focus are so you can ensure you are working on these. But if you want to get back in control of everything the place to start is to stop. Step back and put in place COD and some better email management practices. It will take time, but developing the processes and habits will soon have you in control and no longer feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do. I hope that has helped and than you for sending in you question. Thank you also to you too for listening. It just remains for now to wish you all a very very productive week.
What Not To Put In Your Task Manager.
14:00Podcast 285 This week, it’s all about what should and should not go on your To-Do list. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Ultimate Productivity Workshop The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 285 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 285 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. Do you have too many tasks in your task manager? It’s one thing committing to using one, it’s an entirely different thing ensuring the right kind of tasks are on your list. Get this part wrong and you are going to soon find yourself overwhelmed. I regularly see a common type of task on a to-do list that really should not be there, and I see quite a lot of tasks on a calendar that should be on a to-do list. I know, it sounds confusing, but once you learn this strategy, you will soon find your task list reduces and you feel a lot less anxious and overwhelmed. Now, before we get to the question and answer, let me just inform you that on Friday (that’s the 4th August for those of you in the US) My next Ultimate Productivity Workshop begins. That’s a 90 minute live workshop via Zoom where over the four Fridays of August, we cover how to get the most out of your calendar and task manager as well how to better manage your email and messages and finally in the fourth week, we cover planning. As part of this workshop you have access to my Mini-Course set—that’s four of my most popular mini-courses—AND you get to download the workshop itself so you can keep it for later reference (and also if you are unable to attend one or more sessions) Places are limited now, but there are a few still available. If you want to take your own time management and productivity to the next level, then get yourself signed up now and I’ll see you on Friday. More details on the workshop plus how to register are in the show notes. Okay, let me now hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Grace. Grace asks, Hi Carl, I began using Microsoft’s ToDo app last March and at first it really helped. But now, I find it’s become so overwhelming. I hate going in there because it reminds me how much I still have to do. Do you have any tips on making my ToDo better? Hi Grace, thank you for your question. This is something that happens to so many people. There’s the initial excitement of being able to put all the things we feel we have to do into a simple app, and to add dates to when we will do these tasks. And because at first we rarely put too much in there, our daily lists are not too bad. They are doable and if we do reschedule something, it doesn’t feel too bad because we got at least 80% of what was on the list done. It’s a great feeling, yes? However, over time, we add more and more stuff. We start to add things we don’t want to forget about such as an upcoming event, anniversary or birthday. We then start to fiddle with the projects area and start adding more and more and more. And eventually, we find ourself with an endless list of projects with a lot of unclear tasks telling to do something we cannot remember why we needed to do them in the first place. We also begin adding random dates to tasks in a vain attempt to prevent us from forgetting something. Of course, when those task appear on our today list we just reschedule them again because we’re now trying to keep our heads above the water and as these tasks are not urgent or they don’t have a clear deadline, they can be sacrificed today. And that, just kicks the problem down the road. Eventually, what most people do is blame the tool because that’s much easier than blaming the real culprit, and they go back to YouTube and watch their favourite YouTubers and see what they are reviewing now. And lo and behold, these people are talking about the latest new app that promises to make you more productive, more relaxed and do the work for you. So, it’s switch time and the the cycle is complete and ready to be repeated. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In my podcast from a couple of weeks ago, I talked about what David Allen taught me over a lunch we had back in 2016. That was the forget the tools and focus on developing your system. You see the problem is never the tools. You could very easily create your own digital task manager using Google Sheets, Excel of Apple Numbers. Sure, there’d be a bit of setting up work and some fine tuning, but it’s certainly doable and I know a lot of people who have done this perfectly fine. The problem is with your system and more specifically what you are collecting into your task manager. Let’s look at the different types of tasks commonly found in a task manager. There are the obvious ones like; “send document to Jenny” or “buy bracelet for Claire’s birthday”. These are clear and very specific. Then you will likely have your routines in there such as take the garbage out, do the laundry or complete my expense report. Hopefully, you will also have your areas of focus tasks in there. Tasks such as schedule this week’s exercise programme, send money to savings account and call parents. Now, the other types of tasks are often where the problems begin. These are tasks that involving decisions or thought. If you see a task such as “think about where to go for our summer holiday”, you’re in trouble. You see a task like this is not actionable. It’s not something you can actually do. It’s something you need to be away from your desk and in a place where you are better able to think. It’s also something that needs a bit of time to do. For a task like this, you would be better off creating a task such as “create list of possible places to go for our summer holiday” and move over to your note app to create the list. Similarly with your “decide” type tasks. Again, this is not really actionable. It’s something you need to contemplate and weigh the pros and cons of your options. Again, this should be in your notes app. Now, I know why these kind of activities are in task managers. It’s because people are afraid they will forget about them. And that’s a valid fear. However, there are two options you have here. The first is to create a recurring task in your task manager to remind you to review you thinking or decision list. The second is to use the all day event space in your calendar and add them there. In both cases you will not forget them. They will always be visible every time you open your notes or calendar. Now, what about time specific tasks. Tasks such as pick up Tommy from swimming class? These are not tasks, they are events and should be in your calendar. Watch out for these. We often add them to our task managers because it’s easier than adding them to our calendar. Sure, use your inbox to collect the item, but when you process your inbox, move it over to your calendar. Another way you can overwhelm your task manager is adding individual communication items in there. I frequently see people having ten to twenty tasks a day that begin reply to this email, or email that person. This is guaranteed way to overwhelm your system. Email replies should not need to be in a task manager. You already have a great tool for managing emails, and messages for that matter. Whether you use Gmail, Outlook or Apple mail, there’s a built in inbox, the same goes for Slack, Teams and Twist. Transfer items from those inboxes to another inbox, is simply duplicating and adding additional steps you do not need. Instead you can simply have a single task in your task manager reminding you to clear your email and messages. That will then trigger you to move over to your mail or message app and you can focus your attention there. Now if you take all or some of these tips, Grace, you are going to reduce the number of tasks in your task list immediately. However, there is one more tip. This tip will remove overwhelm and any anxiety you may have about the number of tasks you need to do each day. Sadly, 95% of you will not do it. Instead you will find an excuse. This tip is, give yourself five to ten minutes at the end of the day to review you tasks for tomorrow and make sure it is not overwhelming. Now you need to be realistic. You should check your calendar to make sure you have the time to complete what you have on your list and if not, trim down the list to a more realistic one. Like I said, most people will not do this, and so they begin the day overwhelmed and no idea where to start. When you do allow those five to ten minutes, when you start the day you know exactly what you will start with, you have a manageable list and you there’s no procrastination. It’s brilliantly simple, works every time, yet, sadly, not sexy. So, few people ever do it. Instead, it’s far easier to blame the tool, or your boss for giving you too much work. That might be true in some cases, but you will be a lot more focused and productive if you can add those five to ten minutes. So, Grace, I would recommend you go through your tasks in ToDo and look for tasks that require you to think or decide and move them to your notes app. I would also look for anything that is not clear. Tasks that say something like “call George”, that’s not an a task, it’s a statement that gives you no information. Call George about what? Make it clear. Unclear tasks require you to think and try and remember what it is you need to do. Remove that thought process and make it clear. Call George about next month’s offsite meeting” will prevent any hesitation and give you a much clearer idea how long it will take. And, remove all tasks that no longer need doing. It’s surprising how quickly these can accumulate. Clear them. Don’t worry about them because if they are important, they will come back and you can add them again. I hope that helps, Grace. Thank you for your question and thank you to you too for listening. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.
Not Doing A Weekly Planning Session? This For You.
14:08Is what you want to get accomplished this week realistic, or are you setting yourself up for disappointment? That’s what we are looking at this week. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 284 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 284 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. What do you want to get accomplished this week? What are the “big rocks” you want to deal with so you end the week knowing you have got what needed to be done, done? If you don’t know, your week is already destroyed. It’s destroyed because if you don’t know what you want to get completed that week, then someone else will tell you what to do. And that means you are working on other people’s agenda and benevolently helping them to achieve their goals. But where does that leave you? When it comes to promotion opportunities who’s going to get the promotion? You who are running around dealing with everyone else’s issues and work and as a consequence not getting much done. Or the person who is getting their tasks completed on time and consistently moving things forward each week? Ultimately, all this comes down to making a decision. Will you spend thirty minutes or so at the end of the week looking ahead and establishing some objectives for the following week or not? Only you can make that decision or find an excuse. Either way, on this issue, only you can make that choice. And so, this naturally leads to me handing you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Julie. Julie asks, hi Carl, I know weekly planning is important, and I try to do it, but when I get to the end of the week, I am just so relieved the week is over and the last thing I want to do is think about the next week. I know this is impacting my career prospects and was wondering if there is something I can do that will motivate me to do something about planning the week. Hi Julie, thank you for your question. Firstly Julie, this is an area I know so many people struggle with. I think everyone knows the advantages and importance of having some kind of plan for the week, yet it can be hard to motivate ourselves to spend a little time looking ahead and deciding what needs to get done the following week. However, before we can get to the planning stage there is something very important that needs addressing. That is asking yourself what can you realistically get done the following week. I suspect most people don’t do, or stop doing a weekly plan, because they very rarely, if ever, accomplish anything they plan anyway. If you spent an hour or two (and yes, some people do waste that much time planning the week) and then never get close to completing that plan, what’s the point? Why bother in the first place? This is why you do not want to be spending hours and hours on a weekly plan. It’s a waste of time. You see, there are far too many unknowns. You have no idea how many emails you will get on Tuesday morning, let alone what your boss with ask you to do via WhatsApp or Slack on Monday afternoon. In a way, this is the missing piece of planning a week that almost everyone overlooks. All the unknowns that will be thrown at you throughout the week. It’s these that have an enormous impact on what you can and cannot get done in a week. I recently learned that author Jeffrey Archer disappears to Marbella from 27th December to around the first week of February to completely focus on his writing. During those five to six weeks he does nothing else but write. He effectively removes himself from the possibility of distractions in order to get his work done. It’s this that allows him the confidence to know that he will complete his first draft in those few weeks. It’s unlikely you have the luxury to be able to disappear and remove all possibility of distraction to focus on your work, which means you also lose the confidence to know with almost complete certainty what you will be able to accomplish in a given week. But that’s okay because you don’t need to know with absolute confidence what you can accomplish in a week. All you need to know is what you want to get accomplished in a week. Now, this begins with knowing what your core work is—that is the work you are employed to do—the absolute basics. For me, that means writing a blog post, two newsletters. The script for this podcast and recording two YouTube videos. I also have between fifteen and twenty hours of meetings each week and I need around an hour a day to deal with my communications. In total, I need around thirty three hours each week to complete my non-negotiable work. Now, let’s say I want to work on some projects too, if I were to work a forty-hour week I still have seven hours to play with. That’s an hour a day on average for project work and to deal with the unexpected. I’ve found that’s more than enough to keep things moving forward. Sure, from time I need more time to deal with an emergency or to unstick a project. But that doesn’t happen every week, so on average when I begin each week, I know as long as I have a plan to cover my core work and get that done, I have enough time. However, if you do not have a plan, you introduce the biggest problem. Uncertainty. How much time are you losing each day trying to decide what to do? Should you do this or should you do that? Perhaps you should make a start on that thing, but then you had better finish this thing off first. No wait! You’d better check your email—there might be something important in there! How many times a day do you have that conversation with yourself? It’s conversations like that that demonstrates clearly the disadvantages of not knowing what you want to get done that week. When you know that Project A needs to be moved forward this week, that conversation does not happen. You know you need to move it forward, so you open up your project notes and get started. If you’ve done a plan for the week you know what you want to do. It could be you want to get the design proofs off to your boss for approval, or it might be to send out a tender to five contractors. If you’ve done a plan for the week you know precisely what you want to get done and there’s no uncertainty or hesitation. The only decision you need to make is when will you sit down and do the work. And making decision is considerably easier than trying to decide what to do in the first place. Deicing what to do in the moment is hard. It’s what I would describe as a pressure decision. With no plan you are rushed into making a decision based on very limited information. It’s like trying to make a decision about which direction to go in the bottom of foggy valley. When you do a weekly plan, that’s your chance to clamber up the highest peak of the valley and look ahead with clear blue skies. You can see all around you, where the dangers are, which direction to go and where you currently are. It’s a much clearer view than what you get at the bottom of the valley where the fog is settled. The resistance to planning the week can be attributed to many things. The idea you don’t want to think about work at the end of the week, or the thought it’s going to take you two or three hours to do it properly. And that understandable. After all, if you’ve read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done or read an article about the weekly review, it’s likely you think two or three hours is normal. But it’s not. Sure the first time you do plan the week it could take you two or three hours (or more), but that’s just the first time you do it. You’re unsure, you’re don’t where to start to where to look. And of course, you will be slow. Let’s be honest, when you took your first steps in from of your parents, I bet you didn’t walk across the room particularly fast did you? No. You stubbed, fell down and walked very steadily. It’s the same with weekly planning the first and second ones will be slow. But by the time you do your third one you will have cut the time down significantly and the more times you complete one, the faster you will get. To give you a reference point. My weekly planning takes on average thirty minutes. I know were to look, I know what to look for and I know how to add dates to the things that need to be done the following week. And now, when should you do the weekly planning. Okay, so I did a lot of research into this a couple of years ago. I’ve also experimented on myself. What I’ve found is the best time to do your weekly planning is Saturday morning. Now for those of you who have strict rules about work and personal life and have just spat out a mouthful of your coffee, hear me out. Why Saturday morning? Well, the first thing is you’re not not going to be tired. That excuse is squashed. You can sleep an extra hour wake up slowly and gently—well, you can if you don’t have a young family. More importantly, though, you get it done early so you can then enjoy the weekend without sudden anxiety attacks about what you think you must get done next week. You prevent that from happening because you will already have cleared your mind and can then relax and actually enjoy the weekend without worrying about what you may or may not need to get done the following week. Saturday morning is also a time when the week just gone by is still fresh in your mind and you are not going to be disturbed. Now, all you are asking for is thirty minutes. That’s a small sacrifice for a weekend free of anxiety and worry isn’t it? This is why I don’t recommend doing your planning on a Sunday evening. That leaves you at the mercy of worrying thoughts about the week ahead all weekend. That’s not going to give you a pleasant weekend and it’s very difficult to pick yourself up off the sofa and go power up your computer and start planning the week after a lovely, relaxing weekend. No, get it done early so you can relax and enjoy the weekend free from thoughts about work and horrors that may reveal themselves to you at 8:30am on Monday morning. So there you go, Julie. I hope that helps and gives you a little motivation for doing a weekly planning session. Enjoy it, put on some of your favourite music, make yourself a lovely cup of tea and smile. You know you are doing the right thing. Thank you for your question and thank you to you too for listening. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.
The Life Changing Tip David Allen Gave Me.
13:35This week’s question is all about what is important in your time management and productivity system. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Planning Course The Time Blocking Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The Time And Life Mastery Course The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 283 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 283 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. With the constant influx of new productivity tools it can be difficult to settle on a set of tools because you are worried that you might be missing the boat or there could be something out there that is better than what you are using now and could, in theory, make you even better at managing your time and being more productive. But wait, do all these new tools really offer you the opportunity to improve your time management or productivity? Have you considered the time cost penalty of switching and then learning the new way to find what you need and organise everything? The truth is not what you may think and it’s something I learned several years ago. Once I did, my productivity shot through the roof. I was better organised and I quickly discovered I had more time to do the things I loved doing. Which was a bit of a shock. So that brings me to this week’s question, it’s also a question I frequently get on YouTube comments, and I thought it would be a good idea to share my discoveries with you so you can make your own decision. So, let me now hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question come from Kevin. Kevin asks, Hi Carl, I’ve always wondered why you don’t use apps like Notion and Obsidian. I notice a lot productivity YouTubers use these apps, but you seem to stick with the same apps. Is there a reason you don’t check these apps out? Hi Kevin, thank you for your question. To answer your question directly, the reason I don’t switch my apps is because David Allen told me not to. Now, for those of your who don’t know, David Allen wrote the “bible” of time management and productivity: Getting Things Done and he is considered the Godfather of today’s productivity systems. Back in 2016, David visited Korea and I reached out to him and I got to meet him. We had lunch together, and we inevitably talked productivity. The conversation soon got onto tools and I asked him if he really does still use eProductivity—an app that was an offshoot of the old Lotus Notes. He confirmed he did. Now at that time, I was still on my productivity tools journey. I don’t think I stuck with a task manager for longer than three of four months before I was searching around for a new one to “play with”. I was curious, and asked him if he’d ever considered using something else—something that was available on his iPhone or iPad as as well as his computer. (eProductivity was only available on a computer) and he said: Why? I was a bit stuck there, but he added why would he change something that works? Something that he’d learned to use inside out and could pretty much use with his eyes closed. He also pointed out that eProductivity was reliable, it didn’t rely on syncing (which back in 2016 was not particularly reliable for anything) and he couldn’t remember the last time it crashed. As our conversation continued, David elaborated on his system. He carried with him a leather wallet that contained a little note pad and pen. If he thought of something he’d write it down on the notepad and when he got back to his office (or hotel room) he would tear out the notes and add them to his inbox (or traveling inbox if he was on a business trip). Later when he had time he would transfer those notes to eProductivity. This gave him an opportunity to filter out the stuff that didn’t need any action and decide whether something was a note or a task. That process wasn’t something he’d developed overnight. It took twenty years or more. Refining and developing the so called muscle memory to automatically add something to the note pad when anything came up isn’t something you will develop over a few weeks or months. It takes years. But more importantly, the method David Allen had created for himself ensured he was always asking the right questions about something. If you’ve read the Getting things Done book, he writes about these questions. They are: What is it? Is it actionable? If so, what needs to happen? It was during our conversation, I told him of my dilemma at that time which was Todoist or OmniFocus? David answered, “pick one and stick with it.” It was that that revolutionised my productivity. “Pick one and stick with it” has been my mantra since then. This is why I still use Todoist and Evernote to this day. Everything David told me, happened. My productivity went through the roof. I was no longer searching around looking for something better, I was focused on, forgive the pun, getting things done. Suddenly, I was able watch a little TV in evenings instead of reading about new productivity tools. I started having longer and better conversations with my wife because I wasn’t distracted playing around with another new toy. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that from around late 2016 early 2017, I was able to run two businesses, produce two YouTube videos a week and write a blog post as well as start this podcast. None of that would have been possible if I were still searching and looking for new and better tools. You the see the time cost involved in switching your tools every few months is ridiculous. There’s the searching around and watching countless YouTube videos. Then there’s the switch cost, where you move everything across and organise things how you want it (which ironically is rarely different from the way you organised it before) and finally, the biggest time suck of all, learning to use the new app. That can take weeks, if not months to get up to the speed you were at using your previous app. Oh, and there’s all that researching trying to figure out how to do something you were able to do in your previous app, which you now discover is not available in your new app. Do I want to go through all that again? No thank you. Now, that’s not to say there are no reasons for changing your tools. Evernote is a classic example. A few years ago they changed their app considerably when Evernote changed to Evernote 10. The early versions were horrible and everything I’d learned in the previous eight years changed and I was faced with relearning how to use Evernote. I was very tempted to change to Apple Notes at that time. I didn’t because I know the penalties of changing and I’m glad I didn’t. Evernote 10 is now reliable and robust and I’ve had three years to learn how to use Evernote 10. But, had Evernote not solved those initial problems, I would have changed. I need my tools to work so I can work. I don’t want to spend time in the day trying to figure out how to fix a broken app. The more I research productive people, the more I see tools are not important. Recently, I researched author Jeffrey Archer. He began writing his books in the 1970s and wrote them by hand. He still does today. In interviews, he talks about having a system that works, so why change it. John Grisham writes his books in Word—there are loads of new writing apps that are possibly better than Word, yet he knows Word, it works, so why change it? For him, Word is a part of his writing process, and over 50 books later, why change that system? For me, Todoist and Evernote are all a part of my process. Todoist tells me what I need to work on, Evernote contains my notes on whatever I am working on, whether that is a YouTube video, this podcast, a blog post or a course. It’s seamless, it works and can all be done in less than two seconds. Why would I want to change that? A client of mine is a screenwriter and he’s been using Final Draft for over twenty years. Can you imagine how quick he is getting down to writing his scripts? I worked with a copywriter who had used Apple’s built in Text Edit app for fifteen years and would not contemplate using anything else to do her work because as a simple text file her work was transferable to any computer system or app. The brilliance was in the simplicity of her system. I’ve worked with photographers who can do incredible magic with Adobe’s Lightroom at lighten speed because they’ve used it every day for over ten years. It all comes down to what you want. Is it the thrill of playing with something new? There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need need to be honest about it. You do not want to be fooling yourself in to believing that the next new app will make you more productive. It won’t. What will make you more productive is the system you put in place. Going back to Jeffrey Archer, his writing system is simple. He disappears on the 27th December to his house in Mallorca, where for the next five weeks he will follow the same process each day, By the 2nd or 3rd February, he has a completed first draft of his next book. All handwritten on a large bundle of paper. That’s how you become more productive. Focus on your process for doing your work. Whether you are a salesperson, an interior designer, a doctor or a software developer. Pick tools that will work for you for many years to come and focus on doing your work not the tools. The simpler your system, the better and faster you will be. All you need is a calendar, a task manager and notes app for your productivity tools. These days, I would advise these are all available on each of the devices you have, so you have everything you need with you at all times. Pick tools that work for you and stick with them. By sticking with them, your system will develop, grow and adjust and that pushes you towards focusing on your work—which is the secret to becoming more productive and better with managing your time. Thank you Kevin for your question and it just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.
Managing The Demands Of Others.
14:13This week, what can you do when the demands of others prevent you from doing your work. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Planning Course The Time Blocking Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The Time And Life Mastery Course The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 282 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 282 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. Do you have a boss or a customer that expects you to be available 24/7? Perhaps, your boss always wants to know where you are and what you are doing or they rely on you to get them information because they are too lazy, or unable, to look up the information themselves. These demands and distractions are a common intrusion and do prevent you from getting on with your work. It could be you are being invited to meetings you have little to contribute to but feel you must attend because your boss sent the invitation. And on the other side, there are clients and customers who expect you to drop everything in order to serve them. It’s these interferences into our carefully curated schedules that cause a lot of our time management and productivity issues. You are willing, but outside forces prevent you from getting on with your most important work. What can you do? Well, that’s the issue in this week’s question. Now, before I hand you over to the Mystery Podcast voice, I’d just like to mention that My Ultimate Productivity Workshop is returning in August. For the four Friday evenings in August I invite you to settle in for a ninety-minute intimate workshop with myself where we cover your calendar, task manager, communications and the daily and weekly planning sessions. In all, this workshop will give you the know-how to build your own, personalised productivity system—a system that will grow with you over many years. And not only that, when you register for the workshop, you get free access to my mini-course bundle as this will be important for getting the most out of the workshop. I hope you can join me, and if you are unable to attend one or more of the sessions, do not fear, you can email me any questions and I will answer them in the session and you can get the recording of the session almost immediately after the session ends. Anyway, back to this week’s podcast question and that means it’s time for me to hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from George. George asks, Hi Carl, I’ve tried to implement a lot of what you teach but always come up with a problem. My manager expects me to answer her questions immediately and that stops me from being able to focus on my core work or use time blocking. How have you overcome managers like this in the past? Hi George, thank you for your question. You are not alone. This is a pernicious problem I see with a lot of companies these days. And it’s not just micro-managing bosses, but can also be caused by demanding customers and clients who expect you to be available whenever they have a question. Fortunately, I have experienced these types before, and over the years developed a number of strategies to prevent the interruptions and demands. I’m surprised this is still happening. I am frequently reminded that companies these days are more considerate about their employee needs and welfare, yet at the same time, old-fashioned managers who feel they need to know what each of their direct reports are doing and where they are are still employed. If you are a manager who needs to know what their team are doing at all times, then you have a trust issue. Either you are unable to trust your team, or you are employing the wrong people. Either way, the problem is with you. If you want your team to flourish, grow and produce the results you employed them to produce, you need to let them free and get on with it. Trust they will do their part of the work. Now, in your case, George, you have identified the problem, which is a great start. From that start, you can now begin to come up with some ideas that may reduce the interference from your boss. The first step, and the one that has always worked for me, is to have a sit down conversation with your manager. Ask her what she expects of you, where she feels you are not performing and what you can do to change that. Never point the finger at your boss, let her tell you what she expects and where she would like to see improvements. The first things she tells you will not be the real problem. The real problem will be the second and third issues. We all feel uncomfortable criticising other people, so we tend to begin with the gentler, less negative issues. Push her to continue, ask questions about why she feel that way and listen carefully to what she tells you. This approach will be uncomfortable for you too. Nobody likes to hear criticism, particularly if you pride yourself on being organised and productive. You do not have to accept all the criticisms. A lot will not be fair or true. But it is important for you to listen. The final few items will not be real issues. We add them to pad out our criticisms, and to make the list, if you like, appear bigger than it really is. Once you know where your boss feels there are issues, suggest remedies. Think about how you can change things so these issues disappear. Use the If I… Will you.. Approach. This means when you make a concession, (If I…) you ask for a concession in return (will you…) For instance: If I commit to updating the CRM system at the end of each day, will you allow me to focus on my work from 10:00am to 12:00pm without disturbing me? Now you may find you have to negotiate a little. For example, if your boss does not want you to ’disappear’ for two hours each morning, try one hour. Once your boss begins to see results, she will concede more trust to you. She will give you greater freedom to organise your own schedule. But, it takes time and the onus is on you as much as it is with your boss. Now, to a related matter. What about clients and customers. How do you deal with their demands? This is an expectations issue and one that can be easily resolved through good, clear communication. When I worked in law, the barristers we worked with (that’s legal counsel in the UK, not coffee brewers) made it very clear they were in court between 10:30am and 12:30pm and between 2:00pm and 4:30pm each day. We knew we could not contact them between those times. We were the client for these barristers, yet I never remember any barrister not telling us when they would be available. I suspect it was part of their legal training to make sure clients were informed when they were not available. That has always appeared to be a common sense approach to me, it just made sense. Yet so many people when working with customers and clients cause themselves problems by promising the world knowing deep down they could never keep that promise. It’s far better, when starting a new relationship with a client or anyone else related to your work, for that matter, to inform them of your availability up front. Tell them the best way to contact you and when. Explain there will be times you are unavailable and what you and they can do in those situations. I live on the opposite side of the world to the majority of my clients, which means I am between 17 and 8 hours ahead. When it’s 10pm at night for me, it’s 9am in New York, 2pm in London and 6am in LA. To overcome any communication issues, I inform all my clients to email me any questions and promise to respond within 24 hours. In order to comply with my own ‘rules’, I need to allocate an hour of my day to dealing with communications. That’s blocked off in my calendar and so I know when it’s 4:30pm, it’s time to sit down and respond to my messages. This means whenever a client wakes up, they will see my reply in their inbox waiting for them. It’s not sustainable to be always available at a moment’s notice for your boss or customers. That’s how things get missed, backlogs build and ultimately your performance at your job will suffer. You need to find time to focus on your important work. Abraham Lincoln is attributed as saying” Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It makes sense, yes? You are going to be more productive chopping down trees if your axe is sharp. Well, I’ve noticed that the most successful people in business do something similar with their time. Stella Rimington, the former head of the UK’s Security Service would arrive in her office at 7:00am each day in order to get two hours deep focused work done before the day began. She would read the overnight intelligence reports and use the time to prepare for her work day. Time Cook at Apple, does something similar. He also arrives in the office early (some say 6:30am other claim it’s 7:30am) and uses the time before the work day begins to get a grip on the day and to ensure he has everything prepared. Now, if you work purely for the financial compensation, this will not work. For you, working an extra two hours or ninety minutes each day would be sacrilege. But if you are developing a career, using your employment to learn and grow yourself, then this is something worth considering. Perhaps begin your day thirty or sixty minutes earlier and use that time for focused work. It gets you ahead of the day, it means you have time to process all the information needed to make the most of your day and you are not going to be disturbed. It’s surprising how much you can get done in just a couple of hours early in the morning. So there you go, George, a few ideas you can use to take control of your day. The most powerful one is to have that conversation with your boss. Reset expectations and use the “If I… Will you…” approach. Tell everyone when and when you are not available. You can even put that into your email signature. Demanding bosses can be ‘controlled’, just like customers and clients can be controlled. I don’t mean control in a dark and evil way, I just mean in terms of their expectations. Don’t make promises you cannot keep, and be ruthless in the way you apply your rules. It will be uncomfortable at first, but you will be surprised by the amount of respect you receive and the results you start to get. Thank you for your question, George and than you to you too for listening. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.
Breaking Tasks Down And Timing Tasks
12:47This week’s question is all about breaking tasks down into manageable chunks and how to organise your academic studies. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Planning Course The Time Blocking Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The Time And Life Mastery Course The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 281 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 281 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. An area I find most people struggle with is breaking bigger tasks down into manageable chunks. How do you determine something like “write report on Quarter 1 Marketing campaign” when you may not know where to start? While it might be clear what needs to be done, it may not be clear how long something like this would take. In many ways this comes about because we are not prioritising correctly. If your number one task for the day is to complete a report, or write a paper for your professor, why would an email or message become more important. You have no idea what or how many emails and messages you will get each day, you only know you will get some, but email and messages can never be your priority for the day. They don’t move things forward for you. They might help other people, but if your number one priority is the report, why change your plan? Anyway, before we go any further, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Meghan. Meghan asks, Hi Carl, thank you for your recent podcasts on core work. One area I struggle with is knowing how long a task will take. Should I be allocating time for each task or just doing what I can. Additionally, how would a Ph.D student define their core work? Thank you Meghan for your question. Let me begin with the second part of your question first. What is the core work of a Ph.D student? This is going to relate to your chosen topic. What are you studying? The vast majority of your work here is going to be researching, taking notes and perhaps conducting studies. This is primarily likely to involve a lot of reading. So how much reading do you feel you need to do each week? This needs time allocating to and that’s where you calendar comes in. Let’s imagine you want to spend four hours a day reading. How will you break that down? If you were an early bird—someone who likes to start their day early, you may choose 6am to 8am as your reading time. You could then perhaps set aside a further two hours later in the afternoon. That would still leave you with plenty of time for dealing with communications, socialising and meeting with your professor. If you are not an early bird and prefer doing your reading later in the day you can schedule it for late evening, Working on any studies you are conducting or papers you are writing should also be scheduled in your calendar. With these two activities your calendar will tell you your writing and reading blocks and that’s all they say. You task manager and notes will indicate what you will read or write. Now, onto establishing how long a task should take you. That’s going to be very different most of the time. However, it’s not really about how long you should spend doing a task, it’s more about how much time you have available to spend on that task. Let me give you a personal example from this podcast. It takes me around two hours to write the script for this podcast. Some days I can write it faster, other days I may need more time. Every Tuesday morning, I have a two hour writing block in my calendar and for the most part I can get this script written. However, this week, I was only able to schedule an hour on Tuesday morning, which meant the script was only half done. I then needed to find another hour later in the week to finish it off. When looking at my calendar, I discovered that the only time I had available was Saturday evening. Now that raises a question. Do I use time I generally protect for other things, or do I allocate an hour to writing the script? Well, as I need to record and publish the podcast on Sunday afternoon and Sunday morning I have a lot of meetings, the only time I had was Saturday. The decision was made. I could of course have decided not to publish a podcast this week, but I see this podcast as part of my core work and therefore non-negotiable. So, the decision was easy, block an hour off on Saturday evening. The truth is that doesn’t happen very often, so it’s not like I have to regularly write this script in my rest time, but if it must be done, it must be done. Now, for the first part of your question, Meghan. How do you determine how long a task will take? For most of you a lot of what you do will be predictable. A simple example, would be doing a weekly grocery shop. I know, for instance, I need an hour for this. Similarly, taking my dog for a walk will be an hour. You will also find a lot of the work you do is part of a process. If you were a graphic designer, perhaps much of your work would be sending concepts and ideas to your clients and awaiting their approval. If you been designing for a long time you will likely know how long a piece of work will take. I know, for instance, I need an hour to write my weekly blog post. It’s not an exact science, some days I can write it in forty minutes, other days I need ninety minutes. On average, though, it takes around an hour. I watched an interesting talk by Jeffrey Archer. Jeffrey Archer is a prolific author having written over forty books in the last forty years. He has an interesting schedule for doing his work. He will wake up at 5:30am, and begin writing at 6AM. He writes for two hours (by hand, not keyboard) and then take a two hour break. Then from 10am to 12pm he will write some more before taking another two hour break. He will do another two hour session from 2 til 4 and finally between 6pm and 8pm he will read through what he had written for that day. The interesting thing here is he is not counting the amount of words he writes. That depends on the flow. Somedays he will write a lot, other days it will be a struggle. The key for him is he follows the process each day. He knows, after forty books, it will take him around 1,000 hours to write a book and see it on the bookshelves. I know after nearly 800 blog posts that a blog post from first draft to publication takes two hours. Notice that Jeffrey Archer gets six hours of writing in each day and has plenty of time in the breaks to make phone calls, write emails and deal with other administration tasks. He’s focused on the 1,000 hours over six months, not worrying about how many words he will write each day. So, what about you, if you have a task to do when does it need to be finished by? Imagine you have a task to do and you need to deliver it by the end of the week. The best day to start is today. First task, look at what needs to be done. Do you need to do some research? If so, how much time can you dedicate to the research? Perhaps you can only do two hours. That’s fine, block research time off in your calendar. How much time will you need to prepare the finished task? If its a written piece or a presentation, how long do you need? If you leave that to Thursday, you are going to find yourself in trouble. My advice is to start writing it no later than Wednesday. It’s likely you will only know how much time you need when you begin the work. I find if I am designing a workshop for a company, I only know how long it will take once I develop the outline. Once I have that I can anticipate how much time I need. There’s always going to be something in the work you do that will give you an indication how long something will take. Let’s imagine you have a difficult customer. When you first learn of the problem, you will have no idea how long you will need to resolve the problem. You will not know that, until you speak to the customer. So, speak with the customer at the earliest opportunity. From that conversation, you will now have some idea about what needs to be done and how long it will take. If you delay having that conversation, all you will be doing is guessing. And, worse, your brain will be warning you that you need a lot of time. It’s likely you won’t need a lot of time, but our brain is not logical, it panics until you can give it something solid to work with. So, make the call or open your notes and make a decision on what you will do first and when you will do it. However, the only way you will learn how long something will take is to develop a process for doing your work. It’s through processes that you will learn how long something will take. When I was teaching English, I used to do seminars for companies in different aspects of English communication. The first time I put together a seminar, I didn’t know how long it would take. The first one took me around twenty hours, the second and subsequent ones took on average sixteen. Once I knew that, I could plan out my preparation time and refine things. I also focused on the process for building the seminar, so I was able to break down the components parts and make those more streamlined and gave me a better understanding how long each part would take. It also taught me I needed a minimum of two weeks to prepare the seminar. It was possible to do it in a week, but that would mean working longer hours than I wanted to. I ended up with a process that took sixteen hours spread out over two weeks. And that’s what I would suggest you do with the work you are doing. Track what you do, how long each part takes and look for ways to naturally break it down. You an then use your calendar to spread out the different parts so they get done. I hope that has helped, Meghan. Thank you for your question. And thank you to you too for listening. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.
How To Stay Motivated.
12:44This week, how do you motivate yourself when you are just not in the mood to do any work? You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin The Planning Course The Time Blocking Course The Working With… Weekly Newsletter The Time And Life Mastery Course The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Episode 280 | Script Hello and welcome to episode 280 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. How often do you wake up in the morning with a long list of to-dos and just want to crawl back under your duvet? Or come back from lunch, look at your desk and just go “naw, just not in the mood”? If it’s more times that you would like, you are not alone. If you are a living human being, it’s going to happen. You are going to have good days and bad. It’s perfectly normal and not something you should beat yourself up about. However, sometimes that lack of motivation to do the work, can be untimely. You may have a deadline, an urgent matter to deal with or some preparation for a meeting to complete. What can you do in these circumstances? Well, that’s the topic of this week’s podcast. And so, to get things started, let me hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Mohammed, Mohammed asks, Hi Carl, how do you stay so motivated each day? I really struggle with this. When I get up in the morning, I feel demotivated and just don’t want to get up. Do you have any suggestions on how to wake up feeling more motivated? Hi Mohammed, thank you for your question. There are a number ways you can wake up feeling more motivated and energised for the day. One simple trick is to make sure you get enough sleep. We all need between six and eight hours of sleep each night although we differ on the optimum number—for example, I discovered I needed seven hours, twenty minutes, not the six I thought I needed, I’ve learnt if I sleep less than seven hours, I will not have a very productive day and will likely need to take a nap sometime in the early afternoon. You can discover your optimum daily sleep hours by doing a simple test. For one week, sleep with no alarm and track how many hours you sleep. At the end of the seven days, total up the number of hours you slept and divide it by seven. That will give you the number of hours you actually need, rather than guessing the number. Once you know your optimum number of sleep hours, set yourself a going to bed time (thirty minutes before you need to be asleep) and stick to it. I know this may require you to change a few things. If you are in the habit of scrolling social media or watching TV late at night, you may need to adjust the amount of time you spend doing these things. But I can assure you once you dial in your sleep patterns, you will soon find yourself waking up feeling a lot better than you likely do right now. While sleep is not going to affect your motivation, it will ensure you have the energy to get through the day. Now, what about motivation. This has everything to do with your mindset about the work you do. If you see your work purely in monetary terms, you are going to feel demotivated. Money as has been discovered is a poor long-term motivator. Sure if someone offered you a lot of money to do something, it’s probable you will do it as long as it does not conflict with your personal values—after all the saying “everyone has their price” is largely true. But is it the money that motivates you or what you think you could do with the money? As Daniel Pink discovered several years ago, there’s an amount of money you need to earn to live and anything above that figure will not motivate you. Daniel Pink set that amount at around $70,000 per year. Beyond that, because it does not affect your ability to eat, have a roof over your head or the financial ability to take a holiday once or twice a year, money no longer provides an incentive. (Although we think it does) It might be nice to buy an expensive watch or to own a luxury beach-side villa in the Mediterranean, but your needs—food, and shelter are taken care of and material things are not going to motivate you when it comes to getting up in the morning to do your work. I’m currently reading about Robert Maxwell. In case you do not know, Robert Maxwell was the chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers in the 1980s and early 1990s. (If you are listening in the US, Maxwell also bought the New York Daily News) Maxwell, it turns out was a crook. He was stealing money from not only his public companies, he also stole his employees pension funds and owed multiple banks many millions of dollars when he died in 1991. Maxwell didn’t steal all this money because he wanted more material things. He already had a helicopter, private jet, a yacht and multiple homes. He stole this money because he desperately wanted to maintain his identity and reputation. His self image prevented him from being able to cut back his excesses and it ultimately destroyed him and many thousands of Mirror Group employees’ pensions. Maxwell’s motivation each day was his need to maintain his empire and his image as a high-flying successful business giant. It ultimately failed and he was soon exposed for the person he was. However, beyond narcissism—which can be a very powerful motivator, What does motivate people is the sense we are doing something worthwhile. And that is controlled by what we want to accomplish in life. My first job was cleaning the changing areas in a hotel health club. It was three hours a day six days a week and I loved it. It was not the work that I loved, that was hard, but I saw it as an education. I was given autonomy on what I cleaned and when and that allowed me to feel I was in control. I took pride in ensuring the showers were spotless when I had finished. That the floors were clean and the towels were neatly stacked in each changing room. I learned about systems and processes for getting my work done and it began my fascination with how to accomplish my work in the most efficient way. All my early jobs taught me valuable lessons. I saw each one as an education and valuable experience. Working in hotels taught me the importance of standards. Selling cars taught me about the art of selling, working in law taught me about integrity and professionalism. No matter what work you do, whether you love it or hate it, it is giving you an education. You don’t become the CEO directly out of university, you have to learn through experience, make mistakes and understand the intricacies and nuances of managing people. You don’t become a surgeon straight out of medical school. You have to do your shifts in the emergency rooms, do the rounds and learn from your peers. When you begin the day, you have a new opportunity to learn something and move your career forward. You also have the choice to go into to work and complain about how much you hate it, come home, scroll through social media looking at people doing what you want to do and feeling jealous and thinking about how unfair life is. You also have the choice to go into work and instead of hating what you do, look for ways to improve it. It wasn’t pleasant scrubbing walls in the showers, but I learned how to do it better and even today, I use what I learned when I clean my bathroom. Weirdly, I feel a sense of pride in my abilities to clean a bathroom and make a bed (another thing I learned working in hotels) What else can you do to motivate yourself to get up in the morning? One trick that works is to have a morning routine you love doing. Something you look forward to doing. For instance, making my morning coffee, writing my journal and cleaning my email inbox is pure joy for me. I look forward to sitting down with my coffee and writing whatever’s in my mind into my journal. I also enjoy clearing my email inbox. I have no idea what will be in there. There could be problems, kind comments, newsletters and spam. Each day is different. I also gamify it by timing how fast I can clear my inbox. I especially enjoy the days where I have 100+ emails to process. Learning those in less than 25 minutes always makes me smile. What would you love doing in a morning that will take less than forty-five minutes? Experiment, and see what excites you. Another way to avoid that dread of a new day is to ensure you have a plan for the day before you go to bed. This is a psychological trick you can use that will motivate you in a morning called “implementation intention”. Your plan for the day gives you the intention to get it done. Writing these out in a journal in a morning reinforces it. For instance, I could have begun today by planning to write this podcast script. I would have make sure that was flagged in my task manger before I finished the previous day and when I wrote my journal I would write it out again. Be careful here, if you write more than two or three things you will fail. There are too many unknowns that could come at you in the day, so limiting it to two tasks makes it doable no matter what is thrown at you. Finally, what are your long term goals. Where do you want to be in five, ten or twenty years time? If you don’t know what’s the point of getting up in a morning? You don’t have to have lofty expansive goals, it could be you want to learn something new such as photography, or graphic design. Perhaps you would like to learn to swim or play golf. Having something to aim for gives you purpose and purpose gives you motivation and motivation gives you energy. So there you go, Mohammed. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, you have the right mindset for your work or studies, that you have a plan for the day and you have something long-term to aim for. It surprising how these can transform your life and make getting up in the morning something you are excited about. Thank you for your question and than you to you too for listening. It just remains for me to wish you all a very very productive week.