4 Getting Things Done vs.

Zen To Done
4 Happiness of Productive People
4 Tips on Fighting Procrastination
4 Decluttering your Life and Work Space
4 2-minute Productivity Tricks
of the „Bible”
for productive
• David Allen • Oliver Starr • Leo Babauta • Alexander Kjerulf • James Mallinson • Nick Cernis • Gretchen Rubin • Steven Aitchison • Mark W. Shead •
• Marc C • Stephen Smith • Glen Stansberry • Chanpory Rith • Bret Kelly • Alex Shalman • Michael Ramm • John Kendrick • Michael Sliwinski and more...
The Art of Stress-free
Articles from the Best
Productivity Bloggers
talking about:
Exclusive Interview with David Allen
Sponsored by
#1 (November 2008) www.ProductiveMagazine.com
Welcome to the Social
Productivity Wisdom
f you’re reading this first, inaugural
issue of the Productive!Magazine,
chances are you’re just like me
– a busy professional who just
wants to have a happy, productive and
meaningful life.
Being overwhelmed by the amount
of stuff I had to do and the streams of
information I was receiving on a daily
basis, I needed a system to take control of
all this. More than a system, I needed a set
of practical tips that would help me take
control of my life and get more done. Most
of this has been delivered by the book
I read – “Getting Things Done and the Art
of Stress-free Productivity” by David Allen.
The book was still not enough. I needed
a tool and some practical tricks and
“cheats” that would really make me stay
productive every single day. As I didn’t find
the right tool on the market, I built one
using my company’s resources and called it
“Nozbe – Simply Get Things Done!”.
When my application quickly became
popular among productivity bloggers,
I discovered the wealth of information
provided by the GTD (Getting Things Done)
blog community. I read and bookmarked
many great articles with very useful tips
and tricks to help me “hack” my life.
This is when I found out that even
though my Nozbe tool was doing a great
job at helping people stay productive and
focused, my users needed more than just
this tool. I began preparing a “10-step
Simply Get Things Done course” which
started as a series of articles and ended up
as a series of videos viewed totally more
than 20,000 times on YouTube. I continued
the video path with the “2-minute
Productivity Show” video series and people
loved it. You’ll find out more about this
series at the end of this magazine.
When the idea of a downloadable PDF
magazine came up, I realized this would be
something many of us busy professionals
From the Editor
By Michael Sliwinski, Editor
have been asking for. Although I had
written several articles for the GTDtimes
blog to date, this time I decided to simply
turn to the “social productivity wisdom”
and invite the best productivity experts
to contribute to the magazine and let them
talk to you through their best articles and
blog posts. Based on my long history of
blog readership I decided to personally
invite the people I’ve come to know and
respect in the blogosphere and I’m really
happy they accepted my invitation.
Thanks to their great contributions, in
this first issue of the Productive!Magazine
you’ll find 15 great articles about different
approaches to getting things done (i.e.
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
“zen to done”), happiness, tips on fighting
procrastination, de-cluttering your life and
other useful “cheats” and “hacks” that will
definitely help you live a productive and
meaningful life.
All the included articles are real gems, but
one of them deserves an extra introduction.
This first issue of the Productive Magazine
will feature an exclusive interview with the
author of the “productivity bible” – David
Allen himself – the best-selling author of
the “Getting Things Done” book will talk
to Oliver Starr, the editor of the GTDtimes
blog (official David Allen Company blog)
about the whole phenomenon of the GTD
method and his new book, “Making it all
work” due to be released this December.
I met David personally on one of his
seminars (see photo) and we had a great
chat so I’m really happy he decided
to contribute to our magazine.
Michael Sliwinski is the founder of Nozbe – a web application
that helps thousands of busy professionals and companies get
their things done (also available for the mobile phone and
iPhone). He actively participates in the GTD community as
a blogger, a host of the “2-minute Productivity Show”,
a contributor to the GTDtimes blog and recently the
editor of the Productive!Magazine. Michael holds a
master degree in Business Economics and a bachelor in
Marketing and Management. He fluently speaks English,
German, Spanish and Polish.
Michael will be happy to hear your feedback, just email
him at: editor@productivemagazine.com
Without further ado, I encourage you
to read the interview with David Allen and
all the 17 great articles by their respective
contributors. Under each article there is
a short biography of each blogger and
a link to their blog as well as a the online
version of the article so you can add your
comments and join the live discussion on
their blogs.
Lastly, I’d like
to dedicate this
entire magazine
to the living memory
of Marc Orchant
– a great blogger,
my personal GTD guru and a close friend. At
age of 50, Marc passed away after suffering
a massive heart attack on 9
2007. I wouldn’t have achieved so much
in the GTD community without his help.
Thanks Marc – our prayers are with you!
Yours sincerely,
Michael Sliwinski
Editor, Productive!Magazine
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
Oliver Starr
GTD is really about
gaining control and
gaining perspective
Interview with David Allen
Leo Babauta
Zen To Done (ZTD):
The Ultimate Simple
Productivity System
Alexander Kjerulf
Top 10 reasons why
happiness at work is the
ultimate productivity
Nick Cernis
Happiness and the
End of the Working Week
Gretchen Rubin
Seven tips for making
yourself happier in the
next hour
James Mallinson
Having One Of Those
Days? Here’s How To
Deal With It
Steven Aitchison
The GOYA method for
Personal Development
Mark W. Shead
17 Things you Should
Stop Doing
Glen Stansberry
7 Idea Dumping Tips
Chanpory Rith
10 tips for keeping your
desk clean and tidy
Brett Kelly
14 Numbers Your Cell
Phone Can’t Live Without
Michael Ramm
Getting Things Done

Primer: Chapter 1
John Kendrick
The Five W’s of a Weekly
GTD Review
Michael Sliwinski
Learn Productivity Tips
and Tricks In 2 minutes!
of contents
Stephen Smith
3 Essential Tools for
Alex Shalman
Seven Questions That
Will Change Your Life
Chief Editor:
Michael Sliwinski
Technical Editor:
Maciej Budzich
Your Online tool for Getting Things Done
– available in your computer browser, mobile phone and
on your iPhone.
Marc Orchant (1957-2007)
The Productive!Magazine is dedicated
to the memory of a productivity guru,
great blogger and a very close friend,
Marc Orchant who passed away on 9
December 2007.
All articles are copyright © by their respective authors.
Productive!Magazine is copyright © by Michael Sliwinski.
Getting Things Done
and GTD
are the registered
trademarks of the David Allen Company.
Marc C
How To Work Less and
Still Impress
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
liver Starr: What was the original
impetus for writing your first
David Allen: It took me about 25
years. Really that’s how long it took me
to have enough life experience to put
GTD together, as well as to realize that
it (GTD) was as unique as it was and as
badly needed as it was. There really wasn’t
anything else out there like it.
Plus I’d been working with some of
the best and brightest business people
and other over-achievers on the planet
and I had become convinced due to their
productivity improvements while using the
system that it was pretty bullet proof.
In addition I had reconfigured my
business and put my name on the masthead
so part of my mission was to create a
website and was advised by my advisors to
create a book – write a bestselling book.
This was pretty intimidating for me
but I said well – maybe somebody needs
a manual for this and besides, a good
business book is a great business card. To a
large degree it was a large anticipation but
a low expectation exercise. Additionally I
wanted to see if I could put GTD in a box
such that people who were not around me
could get it, I also wanted to see if I could
even write a book and also if GTD would
be anything that would be recognized as
unique in the marketplace. I knew that
what I was doing was unique but I wasn’t
sure that the world or the marketplace
would recognize it as unique.
GTD is really about gaining
control and gaining perspective
GTD Ti mes I ntervi ew wi th Davi d Al l en for the Producti ve Magazi ne
Oliver Starr
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
OS: Have you been surprised by the
success of your first Book?
DA: Nicely so. It kind of depends; I’m of
two mindsets. My ego says “Why didn’t
the world catch it before this – it should
have sold 10,000,000 instead of 1,000,000.
On the other hand I think wow, I’m
surprised that anyone bought it. It is pretty
subtle stuff.
OS: Well your sales are pretty exceptional
considering how little you’ve done to
promote the book.
DA: Well it is a bit like the blog world,
in that if you create great content people
will tell people about it and over time it
will get popular. Business books can be
sleepers for years and then reach a tipping
point where they become popular.
In fact they were sort of preparing me
for that possibility but then we sold like
60,000 copies the first year, which for
business books is a best seller so they
kept it in hardback for an extra year before
going to paper to keep the higher margins.
So all that was good news but then
when it hit paper that made a really big
difference. As you know when people read
the book – if they get it – there’s this “ah
ha!” moment where people suddenly think
“everyone around me needs to know this
stuff ” a lot of business people want to get
ten copies to give to everyone they work
with and this is a lot easier physically and
financially when a book is a paperback.
OS: So, you’ve got a new book coming
out very soon. Tell me a little bit about
the key differences between the new
book, “Making it All Work” and your
original “Getting Things Done”. Why
would I want to buy both?
DA: Part of the focus of the new book is
why was the first book so successful. What
was it about the first book, “Getting Things
Done” that seemed to resonate, that had
no cultural bias of any sort in terms of
ringing universal bells out there? So part of
my reason for writing this was to find out
what that was true.
Another reason was that over ten years
of my own maturation has taken place and
during this time I’ve had lots and lots of
feedback and noticed that there wasn’t
anything I would change about Getting
Things Done but I realized that there were
deeper and deeper levels that needed to
be explored. So the new book is really
more about lifestyle as much as work style
as well as how the principals of GTD are
really about gaining control and gaining
When we go to do things we tend to
want to get organized and get focused.
Those are two admonishments, not one.
In the first book most people were so
blown away by just getting stuff out of
their heads and make lists and determine
next actions and organize by contexts –
if someone just did that at a 30% level it
totally changed their life but there’s so
much more to GTD than that.
You know for those that had ears to
hear you could probably find it in the first
book if you really took the time and looked
carefully but what I’m really doing with
the second book is just speeding up the
In a way it’s a good one-two punch.
There’s a lot of take this here, put this
here – very process oriented coaching
in the first book. Book two is really
spending a lot more time on the
prioritizing aspect. The criticism of
the first book – if there was one – was
“well David doesn’t really spend much
time on prioritization – he doesn’t care
much about priorities.” Well that really
isn’t true – if you look, the third chapter
addresses priorities – but going deeper
than that, it is such a complex issue,
there are so many aspects and variables
involved in prioritization that it needs its
own book.
The different factors that go into making
the correct choices instead of making
hoped-are correct choices. It’s one thing to
get control and perspective but then what?
So in the second book I go more into the
Horizons of Focus and the different factors
that go into making those choices.
OS: It seems like you put a fairly heavy
emphasis on this in your road map
seminars, too. I was lucky enough to
attend one of your Road Map seminars
and when you went into the Horizons of
Focus, for me the way that this related to
my life and my experience as an athlete
is what really hit home. So would it be
fair to say that your second book expands
more upon this sublime but critical aspect
of GTD?
DA: Yes. I haven’t been asked this
enough in interview yet to figure out a
really elegant way to say it – and maybe
you can help me with this – I think what
I’ve done is really figured out the essence
of time management. But you can’t manage
time so the mislabeling of the problem is
one of the reasons that no one ever came
up with a solution.
I think I’m one of the first guys to
ever define organization which means
“just parking stuff in a place depending
upon what it means to you”, and the
whole idea of setting priorities well –
I’ve got it as simple as I can get it and
no simpler.
I haven’t seen any situation in which
it won’t work so once you figure out
– what is the purpose of all that stuff?
Prioritization, personal productivity, time
management? I think what I did was just
nail what we all knew intuitively: sort of
the truth inside us, and I think that the
new book, Making it All Work, pulls this
all together in one coherent, set of best
Look: if you need control do these five
things, if you need perspective evaluate
these six horizons. There’s nothing I’ve
I’m one of the frst guys to ever defne
organization which means “just parking stuff in a
place depending upon what it means to you”
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
ever seen that can’t be corrected by one
of more of the principles inside of those
eleven modules.
OS: I had a friend that used to always
admonish people to step up the stairs,
not stare up the steps, and I’m continually
reminded of that when I look at what
you’ve done with GTD. Really you help
people take a lot of what’s overwhelming
them and break it down into manageable
DA: The interesting thing with all this
stuff is that if you go top down you never
get down [to the bottom] but if you go
bottom up and build toward the top from
the bottom where it’s nice and grounded,
if you know how to process your own in
basket and your own ideas and get clear
on that most mundane level and build up
from there, you’ll know how to get clear
on every level.
As you now, it’s a holistic model. You
don’t need to start anywhere; It’s not a
linear model it’s really “which part of the
model do you need to work on?” but you
can’t really ignore any of it.
Our approach is to start with what has
your attention, not what should have your
attention, because what should have your
attention can’t really be dealt with until
you’ve addressed what does have your
OS: As you know, I’m still very much
in the early stages of my GTD learning
process but I can really see what you
mean by that. Marc Orchant always used
to say – “if you have 10,000 things in
your email inbox then you have 10,000
different bosses all pulling at your
Of course I didn’t really believe him (and
I always had about 9,000 things in my
inbox) but once I was finally able to get
my inbox under control and even get it
to zero I saw the difference in my ability
to focus on the task at hand and not
get distracted. The flipside to that is
that now when my inbox starts to creep
towards having more than a few messages
in there that I haven’t processed yet I find
THAT to be a distraction!
DA: I’ll give you a scoop – this is
something I haven’t put into an essay or
anything, and it’s a big one.
You’ve heard of efficiency versus
effectiveness? That is doing the right
thing as opposed to doing the thing right.
Everyone pooh poos the doing the thing
right – “yeah but you want to be doing
the right thing”? The truth is that process
is harder to change and learn than your
focus. It’s easy to shift your focus on to the
right thing; it’s a pain in the ass to change
how you get that done!
You know that’s why I think GTD has hit
such a nerve. I focus more on the process
piece and this is what I think people find
so challenging to grow as well as to change
their behaviors to make that happen. See
if I make you highly efficient at getting
Everyone pooh poos
the doing the thing
right – “yeah but you
want to be doing the
right thing”?
I realized that there were deeper and deeper
levels that needed to be explored. So the new
book is really more about lifestyle as much as
work style
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
anything done, you can change your focus
on what you want to get done in an instant.
Now that’s a bit of a simplistic way to
say it since we’re all going to resist taking
on bigger things and challenging ourselves
and getting out of our comfort zone. You
know, all the venerable “golden goodie”
stuff about motivating and goal setting and
mission and purpose and vision. This doesn’t
denigrate the power of what all that’s about.
Again if I can get you to do well what you’re
doing well and now just shift your focus so
that you’re doing the right thing well, that’s
easier than somebody saying “I know how
to focus on the right thing but I don’t know
how to get anything done”.
OS: That’s really true. You know, because
of my background as a professional
athlete I see a lot of this stuff as it might
relate to sports or coaching an athlete at
a world-class level. This example is really
true: you can identify something that an
athlete is doing wrong and make them
aware of it but it’s much, much harder to
get them to fix it.
One of the things that I was curious about
is whether in your experience there’s a
personality type that tends to excel at
GTD or get more out of GTD than any
DA: No.
OS: It works across the board, huh?
Doesn’t matter if you’re a super high type
A or a type B – just works the same?
DA: You may be using the model
and GTD may be of interest to you for
various different reasons based upon your
personality but the model itself – anybody
that has to keep more than one thing that
they can’t finish with they think of it is
going to find GTD is universally applicable.
I don’t know what personality model
you are familiar with; Meyer’s Briggs, Right
Brain, Left Brain, which ever you want to
pick but let’s say you have your typically
anally retentive implementer type and
you have your crazy maker visionary right
brain type. The right brainers love GTD – in
fact I think that at the summit we’ll have a
right brainer workshop. All the actors and
writers and artists love GTD because one of
the things that GTD does is that it frees up
your psyche for creative thinking. It allows
you the freedom to be as spontaneous
and intuitive as you want to be as well as
facilitating that process.
Now the more anal retentive,
implementer types love GTD because it
gets those things done extremely well.
It lets them keep track of stuff and get
closure on stuff… Now the really, really
anal types think that GTD is too loose and
too right brain while the right brainers that
aren’t sophisticated enough to step of the
plate think GTD is much too anal.
The bottom line is that GTD is not really
a system, it’s a systematic approach and
that approach can be taken by anyone for
any reason.
OS: As you know, I was a little resistant
to trying GTD at first. I didn’t think
that I needed it because it’s sort of a
gift of mine that I can remember where
everything is and all my appointments
and it doesn’t take any energy – or rob me
of any creativity – or so I thought.
I always think I know everything until I
discover that I don’t. In the case of GTD
I’ve been truly surprised at the impact
that getting stuff out of my head has had
on my creativity and my ability produce
at the creative level. I’ve seen a really
dramatic increase – much greater than
I would have expected under even the
boldest prediction.
DA: I have another scoop for you that I
haven’t written about yet in much detail.
You know the people we’ve been touting
that the creative, artistic mind likes a
certain amount of mess around themselves
to create a certain amount of cognitive
dissonance. The resolution of that sort
takes them out of the box.
Similarly, I was talking to a fellow from
Cornell – a serious mathematician who is
now at Xerox and this guy said that we need
a GTD plug-in for the deep research types.
It seems that they want to create this same
cognitive dissonance – generate so much
data that they’re thinking is so clogged that
they have no choice but to think outside the
box to make any forward progress.
The truth is this is still actually the
same principle. As soon as you want to do
something that isn’t true – you create a little
bit of cognitive dissonance – this is what
brainstorming is – just what are all the “here to
there’s” now that I know what the “there” is.
For the deep research folks they don’t
even know what the “there” is. They’re
just trying to come up with solutions that
they don’t have problems for yet. Even so I
think it still maps to the GTD model.
You know people that like piles around
them? Are you a pile kind of guy? That’s
exactly what GTD is. When you are
doing your weekly review you are going
around to much more discrete much more
sophisticatedly managed piles, that are
created much more efficiently and are
themselves the endpoints of creative thinking.
If you read the Belgian paper that talks
about the ants leaving pheromones to
help them - well this isn’t that different
– it’s an extended mind. You want all
that stuff out of your mind. When you
think about what piles are for they are for
things that you still want to be thinking
about that you still want to be moving
forward on in some way that I still want
to be creative about…
In truth a really good GTD application
is that I have my piles set up in really
appropriate ways to turbo-charge my
thinking so that your mind kind just
graze…How elegant can piles get?
OS: I know we’re running long already so
I’ll try to wrap this up but I do have just
a few more questions; what is, you think
the single most common mistake you see
high performance people making?
DA: I don’t rely have an answer for
that. IF I did what would it be??? I’d say
it’s the neglect of the speed up by slowing
down factor. Unless you’ve already built in
the principles of
GTD are really about
gaining control and
gaining perspective.
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
the habit of stopping and taking a breath
– building in time to stop and reflect is
commonly missed. This is true, especially
of the younger high performance types
who don’t have to stop.
The other things are the ability to
say “no”. The ability to put things into
“someday, maybe”…
OS: Would you say that your thinking has
changed over the last ten years?
DA: Only that I’m even more confident
that it does work. No one says: “GTD
doesn’t work”. Some people say, “GTD
works, I just don’t work it.”
At its essence you might even say:
“First there is a labeler,
Then there is no labeler,
Then there is a labeler.
Because ultimately the labeler is really
OS: I was wondering, in your own
thinking what the goals were behind
starting GTD times and what you hope it
will accomplish?
DA: I think there’s been a great
universal adoption of GTD but at the
same time a certain lack of depth and
understanding so part of the goal was to
create a forum where the various idea and
thoughts, tips and techniques applications,
crazy ideas, whatever can support and
be synergistic of one another instead of
6000 voices crying in the wilderness not
to create a central thing that doesn’t try to
legislate what GTD is or where it’s going
but still keeps a central focus.
As GTDers were probably the largest
group of radical non-joiners that we could
band together – it’s sort of the same idea
that people who you really want at a party
are the ones that don’t have time to be
there but will show up and be willing to
just not have an agenda.
OS: Last question: You’ve got a big event
coming up in 2009 and I thought you
might want to talk about that a little bit..
DA: To some degree it’s build it and
they’ll come. It might be that this is the
only GTD summit if we come together
and realize that we’ve all got it together.
And we’re all glad we’re there but there’s
no reason to continue. On the other
hand there seems to be this magnetic
energy where people that are involved
with this who want to get together to
share best practices. So in a way this is
an opportunity to deepen what GTD is
and really I think a lot of the focus will be
not only what are the coolest ways to get
things done, but also, what are the cool
things to GET DONE? That’s not to try
to replace TED or any of the other great
works conferences that are out there, but
really just to explore the people that really
work this and have great practices and war
stores to share about how impactful this
can be as a way to reinforce that set of
best practices.
We’re still in the process of determining
what the most interesting way will be to
format the summit but the good news is
that people seem really excited that we’re
doing it.
I think that to some degree GTDers
are a bit eccentric so when you put 500
people who are nuts together then all of a
sudden you’re not nuts. You know there
are some people doing some really cool and
interesting things with GTD so at the end of
the day, I think if we put them all together
and create a forum for the open exchange
of ideas and stories and information it will
benefit everyone and will be a success.
I think the appeal is simply that people
that get into GTD do so because they want
to get better and as you have probably
heard me say, the better you get, the
better you better
get. Hopefully the
Summit is a way
to help people get
even better.
David Allen – interviewed by Oliver Starr
Oliver Starr is the Executive Editor of GTD Times. He’s also a
former professional cyclist, a biochemist and a serial entrepreneur
as well as reasonably well known blogger. His former blogs
include MobileCrunch.com (for the TechCrunch Network), the
Mobile Technology Weblog and the short lived Blognation.
Oliver is also an industry consultant providing services related to
mobile technology and marketing, blogger outreach and blog marketing and business
development. In addition to his work at GTDtimes you can read more of Oliver’s writing
at his personal Weblog StarrTrek.
Visit „GTD Times” blog
Visit Oliver’s Personal blog
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
Zen To Done
habit-change methods (the ones I talk
about on this site) to change their habits.
Solution: ZTD focuses on one habit at
a time. You don’t have to try to adopt
the entire system at once – it’s
overwhelming and it’s too hard to focus
on your habit changes if you do too
many at a time. Instead, focus on one at
a time, and adopt the system in phases.
Use proven habit-changing methods (30-
day challenge, commitment, rewards,
motivation hacks, etc.) to successfully
adopt each new habit.
2. GTD doesn’t focus enough on doing.
While it’s called Getting Things Done,
often what we end up doing most of the
time is Getting Things in Our Trusted
System. The book, while presenting an
excellent system, focuses more on the
capturing and processing stages than it
does on the actual doing stage.
Solution: ZTD focuses more on doing
– and how to actually complete your
tasks, in a simple, stress-free manner.
3. GTD is too unstructured for many
people. This can be one of the brilliant
things about GTD – its lack of structure,
its in-the-moment decision making
about what to do next – but it can also
be a huge source of confusion for many
people. Some people need more structure
in their day, and GTD can be disorienting.
Different people have different styles.
Leo Babauta
hy “Zen To Done”? Well,
first off, my blog is called
Zen Habits, and “Habits
To Done” doesn’t sound
cool enough to me. I also thought of “Simple
To Done” but the acronym didn’t seem
right. Second, ZTD captures the essential
spirit of the new system: that of simplicity,
of a focus on doing, in the here and now,
instead of on planning and on the system.
If you’ve been having trouble with GTD,
as great as it is, ZTD might be just for you. It
focuses on the habit changes necessary for
GTD, in a more practical way, and it focuses
on doing, on simplifying, and on adding
a simple structure. Read on for more.
ZTD attempts to address five problems that
many people have with GTD. I should note
that GTD isn’t really flawed, and doesn’t
really need modification, but everyone is
different, and ZTD is a way to customize it
to better fit different personality types.
ZTD addresses five problems people
have with GTD:
1. GTD is a series of habit changes. This
is the main reason why people fall off
the GTD system – it’s a bunch of habit
changes that are attempted all at once. If
you’ve read Zen Habits long enough, you
know that focusing on one habit at a time
is best, and guarantees the most success.
In addition, GTDers don’t apply proven
I am a huge fan of GTD, as you probably know by now.
It’s one of the best productivity systems ever invented.
However, it’s not without its faws, and because of
that, I have a new productivity system for you: Zen To
Done (ZTD).

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Solution: ZTD offers a couple of habits
to address this: the plan habit, where you
simply plan your three MITs for the day
and your Big Rocks for the week, and the
routine habit, where you set daily and
weekly routines for yourself. These habits,
like all the habits of ZTD, are optional. If
they don’t work for you, don’t adopt them.
But for many people, they will compliment
the other great parts of GTD perfectly.
4. GTD tries to do too much, which ends
up stressing you out. GTD doesn’t
discriminate among all the incoming
stuff in your life, which again is part
of its beauty. But the problem is that
we put everything on our lists, and
end up being overloaded. We try
to do everything on our lists. This
isn’t really a problem with GTD, but
a problem with how we implement it.
But it should be addressed.
Solution: ZTD focuses on simplifying.
Take as much stuff off your plate as
possible, so you can focus on doing
what’s important, and doing it well.
5. GTD doesn’t focus enough on your
goals. GTD is purposely a bottom-up,
runway-level system. While it does talk
about higher levels, it doesn’t really go
into it much. As a result, GTD is more
focused on doing whatever comes at you
rather than doing what you should be
doing – the important stuff.
The Ultimate Simple
Productivity System
Solution: ZTD, as mentioned above,
asks you to identify the big things you
want to do for the week and for the
day. Another habit in ZTD is for you
to review your goals each week, as a way
of staying focused on them throughout
the year. GTD contains an element of
this, but ZTD extends it.
Again, GTD is a brilliant system, and
works very well. But ZTD takes some
of the problems that people have in
implementing it, and adapts it for real life.
The 10 Habits of ZTD
Each of these habits should be learned
and practiced one at a time if possible, or
2-3 at a time at the most. Focus on your
habit change for 30 days, then move on
to the next. The order listed below is just
a suggestion – you can adopt them in
whatever order works best for you, and
you don’t need to adopt all 10 habits.
Experiment and find the ones that work best
with your working style. Habits 1-8 are the
most essential, but I suggest you give Habits
9-10 serious consideration too. I will expand
on each of these 10 habits in future posts.
1 collect. Habit: ubiquitous capture.
Carry a small notebook (or whatever
capture tool works for you) and write
down any tasks, ideas, projects, or other
information that pop into your head. Get
it out of your head and onto paper, so you
don’t forget it. This is the same as GTD.
But ZTD asks you to pick a very simple,
portable, easy-to-use tool for capture –
a small notebook or small stack of index
cards are preferred (but not mandated),
simply because they are much easier to use
and carry around than a PDA or notebook
computer. The simpler the tools, the
better. When you get back to your home
or office, empty your notes into your to-do
list (a simple to-do list will work for now –
context lists can come in a later habit).
2 process. Habit: make quick decisions
on things in your inbox, do not put them
off. Letting stuff pile up is procrastinating
on making decisions. Process your inboxes
(email, physical, voicemail, notebook) at
least once a day, and more frequently if
needed. When you process, do it from the
top down, making a decision on each item,
as in GTD: do it (if it takes 2 minutes or
less), trash it, delegate it, file it, or put it
on your to-do list or calendar to do later.
3 plan. Habit: set MITs for week, day.
Each week, list the Big Rocks that you want
to accomplish, and schedule them first.
Each day, create a list of 1-3 MITs (basically
“It’s about the habits
and the doing, not the
system or the tools.”
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your Big Rocks for the day) and be sure
to accomplish them. Do your MITs early
in the day to get them out of the way and
to ensure that they get done.
4 do (focus). Habit: do one task at a time,
without distractions. This is one of the most
important habits in ZTD. You must select
a task (preferably one of your MITs) and
focus on it to the exclusion of all else. First,
eliminate all distractions. Shut off email, cell
phone, Internet if possible (otherwise just
close all unnecessary tabs), clutter on your
desk (if you follow habit 2, this should be
pretty easy). Then, set a timer if you like, or
otherwise just focus on your task for as long
as possible. Don’t let yourself get distracted
from it. If you get interrupted, write down
any request or incoming tasks/info on your
notepad, and get back to your task. Don’t
try to multi-task.
5 simple trusted system. Habit: keep
simple lists, check daily. Basically the same
as GTD – have context lists, such as@work,
@phone, @home, @errands, @waiting,
etc. ZTD suggests that you keep your
lists as simple as possible. Don’t create
a complicated system, and don’t keep trying
out new tools. It’s a waste of time, as fun as
it is. Either use a simple notebook or index
cards for your lists, or use the simplest list
program possible. You don’t need a planner
or a PDA or Outlook or a complicated
system of tags. Just one list for each context,
and a projects list that you review either
daily or weekly. Linking actions to both
projects and contexts is nice, but can get
too complicated. Keep it simple, and focus
on what you have to do right now, not on
playing with your system or your tools.
6 organize. Habit: a place for everything.
All incoming stuff goes in your inbox. From
there, it goes on your context lists and
an action folder, or in a file in your filing
system, in your outbox if you’re going
to delegate it, or in the trash. Put things
where they belong, right away, instead of
piling them up to sort later. This keeps your
desk clear so you can focus on your work.
Don’t procrastinate – put things away.
7 review. Habit: review your system &
goals weekly. GTD’s weekly review is great,
and ZTD incorporates it almost exactly,
but with more of a focus on reviewing
your goals each week. This is already in
GTD, but isn’t emphasized. During your
weekly review, you should go over each
of your yearly goals, see what progress
you made on them in the last week, and
what action steps you’re going to take
to move them forward in the coming week.
Once a month, set aside a little more time
to do a monthly review of your goals, and
every year, you should do a yearly review
of your year’s goals and your life’s goals.
8 simplify. Habit: reduce your goals &
tasks to essentials. One of the problems
with GTD is that it attempts to tackle all
incoming tasks. But this can overload us,
and leave us without the necessary focus
on the important tasks (MITs). So instead,
ZTD asks you to review your task and
project lists, and see if you can simplify
them. Remove everything but the essential
projects and tasks, so you can focus on
them. Simplify your commitments, and
your incoming information stream. Be sure
that your projects and tasks line up with
your yearly and life goals. Do this on a daily
basis (briefly, on a small scale), during your
weekly review, and your monthly review.
9 routine. Habit: set and keep
routines. GTD is very unstructured,
which can be both a strength and
a weakness. It’s a weakness for some
people because they need more
structure. Try the habit of creating
routines to see if it works better for you.
A morning routine (for example) could
include looking at your calendar, going
over your context lists, setting your
MITs for the day, exercising, processing
email and inboxes, and doing your first
MIT for the day. An evening routine
could include processing your email
and inboxes (again), reviewing your day,
writing in your journal, preparing for the
next day. Weekly routines could include
an errands day, a laundry day, financial
day, your weekly review, family day, etc.
It’s up to you – set your own routines,
make them work for you.
10 find your passion. Habit: seek
work for which you’re passionate. This
could be your last habit, but at the same
time your most important. GTD is great
for managing the tasks in your life, and
trying not to procrastinate on them. But
if you’re passionate about your work, you
won’t procrastinate – you’ll love doing it,
and want to do more. The habit to form
here is to constantly seek things about
which you’re passionate, and to see if
you can make a career out of them when
you find them. Make your life’s work
something you’re passionate about, not
something you dread doing, and your
task list will almost seem like a list of
identify the big things
you want to do for the
week and for the day
About Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta lives in Guam and is married with six kids. He’s a
writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves writing Zen
Habits - his blog that in a short year became one of the top blogs
on the Internet with 60K+ readers subscribed and counting. He’s
also the author of two ebooks: „Handbook
for Life” and „Zen to Done”.
Visit Leo’s blog - „Zen Habits”
Visit this article’s online version
Read more about Leo’s Book: „Handbook for Life”
Read more about Leo’s Book: „Zen to Done”
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10-Steps to Productivity
according to Nozbe:
Follow these 10 easy steps here: www.Nozbe.com
isa was falling behind at work. Every
morning she woke up nervous about
the workday ahead of her. Every
evening she went home thinking of all
the tasks she hadn’t gotten around to.
Lisa is a 35-year old engineer and project
manager at a Danish IT company. With
business booming, keeping up had become
a struggle – she felt she had to run really fast,
to just to stay in place.
With her in-box overflowing and people
all around her clamoring for assistance on
their projects, she started to look at various
productivity tools and systems and quickly
settled on the one she’d use. As is typical for
Lisa, once she’s decided to do something, she
does it, and with new ways of tracking time,
improved todo-lists and prioritizing her work,
she did notice that she was getting more work
Top 10
reasons why
at work is
the ultimate
Alexander Kjerulf
If you want to get more done
at work, the productivity gurus
out there will tell you that it’s all
about having the right system.
You need to prioritize your
tasks, you must keep detailed
logs of how you spend your
time, todo-lists are of course
essential, you must learn to
structure your calendar and
much, much more.
But that’s not where you should
start. You should start by liking
what you do.
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Does being
productive make
us happy or does
being happy make us
But she still felt, that she could be more
productive. While she was thinking about her
next step, it struck her: Some of what she did,
she hated doing.
While she generally enjoyed her job,
especially helping people plan their projects
and advising them on the best ways to move
forward, some of her tasks were administrative
in nature. Tracking progress, updating various
statics, generating reports, etc…. They didn’t
take up that much of her time – but they were
a lot less fun. Let’s face it: to Lisa, they were
boring as hell.
She talked to her boss about it, and they
decided to give those tasks to a project
secretary. This freed up a little time for
Lisa, but mostly it allowed her to work on
those parts of her job that she really liked.
Consequently Lisa became a lot happier at
work – and THAT’S when her productivity sky-
rocketed. Now she had the energy to connect
with her people and the creativity to think up
and implement new ideas. Instead of feeling
stressed and harried, she was optimistic and
While her productivity system had definitely
helped her get more done, the productivity
boost she got from being happy at work was
many times bigger. Lisa is now working way
less hours – and getting much more done. And
most importantly, she’s enjoying work a lot
The single most efficient way to increase
your productivity is to be happy at work. No
system, tool or methodology in the world
can beat the productivity boost you get
from really, really enjoying your work.
I’m not knocking all the traditional
productivity advice out there – it’s not that
it’s bad or deficient. It’s just that when you
apply it in a job that basically doesn’t make
you happy, you’re trying to fix something
at a surface level when the problem goes
much deeper.
Here are the 10 most important
reasons why happiness at work is the #1
productivity booster.
1: Happy people work better with others
Happy people are a lot more fun to be
around and consequently have better
relations at work. This translates into:
• Better teamwork with your colleagues
• Better employee relations if you’re
a manager
• More satisfied customers if you’re in
a service job
• Improved sales if you’re a sales person
2: Happy people are more creative
If your productivity depends on being able
to come up with new ideas, you need to be
happy at work. Check out the research of
Teresa Amibile for proof. She says:
If people are in a good mood on a given
day, they’re more likely to have creative
ideas that day, as well as the next day, even
if we take into account their mood that
next day.
There seems to be a cognitive process
that gets set up when people are feeling
good that leads to more flexible, fluent,
and original thinking, and there’s actually
a carryover, an incubation effect, to the
next day.
3: Happy people fix problems instead of
complaining about them
When you don’t like your job, every
molehill looks like a mountain. It becomes
difficult to fix any problem without
agonizing over it or complaining about it
first. When you’re happy at work and you
run into a snafu – you just fix it.
4: Happy people have more energy
Happy people have more energy and are
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therefore more efficient at everything they
5: Happy people are more optimistic
Happy people have a more positive,
optimistic outlook, and as research shows
(particularly Martin Seligman’s work in
positive psychology), optimists are way
more successful and productive. It’s the old
saying “Whether you believe you can or
believe you can’t, you’re probably right” all
over again.
6: Happy people are way more
Low motivation means low productivity,
and the only sustainable, reliable way to be
motivated at work is to be happy and like
what you do.
7: Happy people get sick less often
Getting sick is a productivity killer and if
you don’t like your job you’re more prone
to contract a long list of diseases including
ulcers, cancer and diabetes. You’re also
more prone to workplace stress and
One study assessed the impact of job
strain on the health of 21,290 female
nurses in the US and found that the women
most at risk of ill health were those who
didn’t like their jobs. The impact on their
health was a great as that associated with
smoking and sedentary lifestyles.
8: Happy people learn faster
When you’re happy and relaxed, you’re
much more open to learning new things
Alexander Kjerulf
Alex makes people
happy at work. No,
really, he does! He
speaks and consults
in businesses all over
the world, showing
executives, managers
and employees how to change workplaces
from dreary and stressful to more fun,
energized and happy. And profitable! He
is the author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5, a
practical guide to making yourself and others
happy at work. He also runs a blog called
„Positive Sharing - Chief Happiness Officer”.
Visit Alex’s blog - „Positive Sharing”
Visit this article’s online version
Get Alex’s book: „Happy Hour is 9 to 5”
at work and thereby increasing your
9: Happy people worry less about
making mistakes – and consequently
make fewer mistakes
When you’re happy at work the occasional
mistake doesn’t bother you much. You pick
yourself up, learn from it and move on.
You also don’t mind admitting to others
that you screwed up – you simply take
responsibility, apologize and fix it. This
relaxed attitude means that less mistakes
are made, and that you’re more likely
to learn from them.
10: Happy people make better decisions
Unhappy people operate in permanent
crisis mode. Their focus narrows, they
lose sight of the big picture, their survival
instincts kick in and they’re more likely
to make short-term, here-and-now choices.
Conversely, happy people make better,
more informed decisions and are better
able to prioritize their work.
The upshot
Think back to a situation where you
felt that you were at peak performance.
A situation where your output was among
the highest and best it’s ever been. I’m
willing to bet that you were working
at something that made you happy.
Something that you loved doing.
There’s a clear link between happiness
at work and productivity. This only leaves
the question of causation: Does being
productive make us happy or does being
happy make us productive? The answer is,
of course, yes! The link goes both ways.
But the link is strongest from happiness
to productivity – which means that it if you
want to be more productive, the very best
thing you can do is focus on being happy
with what you do?
So how do you get to be happy at work?
There are two ways, really:
1. Get happy in the job you have. There
are about a million things you can
do to improve your work situation –
provided you choose to do something,
rather than wait for someone else
to come along and do it for you.
2. Find a new job where you can be happy.
If your current job is not fixable, don’t
wait – move on now!
You should start by
liking what you do.

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faces who actually give a damn about
making your business a success. Then your
profit will come. Want proof? Just look at
2) We’re commuting instead of computing
The daily commute is killing us. It’s
also putting a drain on the planet which is,
at worst, throttling it slowly and, at best,
terribly inconsiderate of us all.
The truth is, if businesses made some
simple, cost-effective changes to the way
they operate, the vast majority of us could
work remotely from home on our own
schedules using simple technology that
already exists. (Don’t worry, I’m about to
tell you how to make it happen.)
3) We’re selling hours instead of output
The base unit of work is wrong. For
years, we’ve been trading the hours from
nine to five for cash, whether we’ve actually
got any work to do in them or not. The result
is a series of invented chores, the clickedy-
click of the inbox refresh button, and the
clock watching committees that feature so
heavily in office life.
What’s worse, we’ve gotten so used
to having to fill that prescribed time with
mostly meaningless twitchery that, when
Nick Cernis
Happiness and the End
of the Working Week
ounding their way along 16.2
miles of pavement, train track,
or gridlocked tarmac to arrive at
their Official Place of Work, most
will sit down, throw six triple-espressos
into throats scorched by artificial air, and
rub eyes zapped by fluorescent death rays
from above.
Those who succeed in wrenching
themselves into what passes for the mortal
realm are then forced to hunt down jobs
to fill their day, an eight-hour stretch of
meaningless meetings, the constant shrill
of telephones, and having to listen to Suzie
from Sales tell Sally that story about Sarah
seducing Simon’s sister. Again.
Welcome to Crazytown. Population:
Despite all the obvious warnings, like the
cubicle stress that ends in Godzilla-style
office rampages, all of this is somehow
considered normal. Commuting is a fact
of life, isn’t it? Or perhaps, like me, you
find a dark humor in wasting our lives by
physically travelling to work in the Internet
age. If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny.
I blame the accountants
So what went wrong? Many years ago,
Earth’s Universal Accountant got sloppy
updating the monthly work-life balance
sheet, forgot to carry a zero, and ended
up with a half-eaten nuclear hot dog and
a basket full of toenail clippings from his
mother-in-law. Oh well, he thought. I’ll
just brush it all under the carpet. Who’ll
know? Then he rushed home to Cloud 17b
to forget about the whole nasty affair, and
we’ve been practically pissing overtime
ever since.
But let’s not blame him. Celestial
accountants make mistakes too. Our
problem remains: this business we call
business is broken. So how do we fix it?
And what’s the big problem, anyway?
The problem with problems
…is that they often come in threes.
Business became so broken, in fact, that it
needed two friends just to prop it up at the
end of a long day. Here’s how the terrible
triplets shape up:
1) We’re championing profits instead of
Business is a numbers game. It’s
optimized for the bottom line. More often
than not, people come second. Most
businesses are not providing us with an
environment that’s fit to stable us for our
working lives.
The problem lies in the question that
drives them, often: “how can we make an
extra $10m this year?” My answer: who
cares? The question should be this: “how
can we create a company that people will
fight to be a part of?” Solve that first and
you’ll fill your company with smart, smiling
Business is broken. Every morning across seven continents, 402 million people rise ahead
of the Sun to drag themselves into that smog-flled, oil-fuelled nightmare called the morning
present home-working as a solution to the
problem of low morale, high stress and
dwindling productivity
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handed that golden rolling pin called
retirement and told to cook whatever we
please, many go crazy with boredom. Then
we acquire the world’s largest kitchen tin
and simply bake ourselves into a fruitcake-
lined grave: an icing-topped end to an
otherwise bittersweet life.
The solution is simple: work smarter
Doom and gloom take a back seat from
here on. It’s time for some positive
thinking! We need a simple change in our
working habits that’s easy to implement
and optimized for people, health, families,
communities and the environment.
A change that takes advantage of the
Internet age while enhancing our quality of
life and without affecting our bottom lines.
Too much to ask for? I think not.
Here are my simple solutions:
The solution for employers
Want your employees to be passionate
about their jobs? Want to make your life
easier too? Then start optimizing for
happiness today by rolling out my easy
four-phase plan to a healthier, happier
Phase 1: Change the working environment
The first thing to do is to create a working
environment to be proud of. Building an
enjoyable office environment is cheaper
than you think. I’ll be running some fun
ideas on how to create a great office at
work or at home soon.
Phase 2: End the working week
Forget about 9-5. Stop buying your
employees’ lives and buy their ideas and
output instead. Trust them to manage their
own workload in the hours they choose,
regardless of whether it fills the day or not.
Do the same yourself! It’ll do wonders for
your health and your sanity. (N.B. If you
currently bill by the hour, billing by the task
instead will help make this work better.)
Phase 3: Have a work from home day
Test out working from home for one day
a week for a month. Make sure you give
people everything they need to work from
home (including you!). Hire laptops if you
have to. Tell employees that, if the trial
works, you’ll make it permanent. Tell them
that if it doesn’t, you’ll be going back to
a regular five-day week. The results will
surprise you. People will be happier and
more will get done.
Phase 4: Offer an option to work from
home full time
Reward those who’ve shown that they can
be more productive from home with the
option to do it full time. (If you can’t trust
any of your staff to do that, why the hell
did you hire them in the first place?) And,
whatever you do, don’t cut their pay.
Be bold. Be successful. Be
respected. Optimize for happiness in your
business today.
The solution for employees
Phase 1: Get people talking
Send people this magazine and show them
this article. Make people aware that there’s
a very real and obtainable alternative to
the daily commute and 9-5 slog. When
you go to phase 2, you want people to be
aware of the options.
Phase 2: Push for a work from home day
Call a quick, informal meeting with your
boss, set a short agenda with a simple
goal (one work from home day a month,
staggered across the company if needs be?),
come out with some actionable results (like
a calendar date for the first trial day, and the
name of the person who’s responsible for
spreading the word). Then follow-up in two
weeks to make sure things are moving.
Phase 3: Prove you can be trusted
When given the chance to work from home
for a day, for goodness’ sake, don’t screw
it up. This is what you’ve been fighting for.
Yes, it’s possible to work less and still get
the same done (that was the whole point),
but don’t piss this chance away. Prove you
can be trusted.
Phase 4: Have a get out plan
I will warn you now. Being the one to
suggest flexible working hours and
championing the work-from-home lifestyle
could backfire. It takes a brave heart and a
keen mind to make it work, but it’s worth
it. I recommend that you have a get-out
plan. If your boss proves too stubborn to
be flexible, or your colleagues misconstrue
working smarter for slacking off, it helps to
have a plan B elsewhere.
To avoid these kind of problems, I
suggest two things: a) champion the work
from home lifestyle for everyone (and
not just yourself) and b) take Tim Ferriss’
advice — present home-working as a
solution to the problem of low morale,
high stress and dwindling productivity.
Exceptions to the rule
Naturally, remote working isn’t for
everyone. And it’s not for every business,
if only because a three-course candlelit
dinner with wine isn’t as satisfying once
it’s been through your fax machine, and
brain surgery isn’t much fun when you’re
forced to self-operate from instructions
sent by email.
The difference between an exception
and an excuse is simple: deep down, you
always know when you’re lying to yourself.
If you think of yourself as an exception
just because it’s easier not to take action,
perhaps it’s time to fight to make a
positive change in your life or company.
Take action today!
The future is yesterday, folks. The cruise
ship to a happier, smarter working life is
already sailing for tens of market-leading
companies filled with the smiling faces of
people who love their jobs. Why not jump
on board?
Nick Cernis
Nick Cernis is a
writer and web
developer from
the UK with a
passion for paper
productivity. He
writes at „Put Things Off ”.
Visit Nicks’s blog – „Put Things Off ”
Visit this article’s online version

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emotions—turns out that just going
through the motion of happiness brightens
your mood. And if you’re smiling, other
people will perceive you as being friendlier
and more approachable.
Some people worry that wanting to be
happier is a selfish goal. To the contrary.
Studies show that happier people are
more sociable, likeable, healthy, and
productive—and they’re more inclined to
help other people. So in working to boost
your own happiness, you’re benefiting
others as well.
Feel happier yet?
Gretchen Rubin
Seven tips for making yourself
happier in the next hour
Boost your energy: stand up and
pace while you talk on the phone or,
even better, take a brisk ten-minute walk
outside. Research shows that when people
move faster, their metabolism speeds up,
and the activity and sunlight are good for
your focus, your mood, and the retention
of information. Plus, because of “emotional
contagion,” if you act energetic, you’ll help
the people around you feel energetic, too.
Reach out to friends: make a lunch
date or send an email to a friend you
haven’t seen in a while. Having warm, close
bonds with other people is one of the keys
to happiness, so take the time to stay in
touch. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out
that socializing boosts the moods not only
of extroverts, but also of introverts.
Rid yourself of a nagging task: answer
a difficult email, purchase something
you need, or call to make that dentist’s
appointment. Crossing an irksome chore
off your to-do list will give you a big
rush of energy and cheer, and you’ll be
surprised that you procrastinated for so
Create a calmer environment: clear
some physical and mental space
around your desk by sorting papers,
pitching junk, stowing supplies, sending
out quick responses, filing, or even just
making your piles neater. A large stack
of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but
often just a few minutes of work can make
a sizeable dent. Try to get in the habit of
using the “one minute rule”—i.e., never
postpone any task that can be completed
in less than one minute. An uncluttered
environment will contribute to a more
serene mood.
Lay the groundwork for some future
fun: order a book you’ve been wanting
to read (not something you think you
should read) or plan a weekend excursion
to a museum, hiking trail, sporting event,
gardening store, movie theater—whatever
sounds like fun. Studies show that
having fun on a regular basis is a pillar of
happiness, and anticipation is an important
part of that pleasure. Try to involve friends
or family, as well; people enjoy almost all
activities more when they’re with other
people than when they’re alone.
Do a good deed: make an email
introduction of two people who
could help each other, or set up a blind
date, or shoot someone a piece of useful
information or gratifying praise. Do good,
feel good—this really works. Also, although
we often believe that we act because of the
way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of
the way we act. When you act in a friendly
way, you’ll strengthen your feelings of
friendliness for other people.
Act happy: put a smile on your face
right now, and keep smiling. Research
shows that even an artificially induced
smile has a positive influence on your
You can make yourself happier – and this doesn’t have to be a long-term ambition. You can
start right now. In the next hour, check off as many of the following items as possible. Each
of these accomplishments will lift your mood, as will the mere fact that you’ve tackled and
achieved some concrete goals.
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin
started out as a
lawyer. At Yale Law
School, was editor-
in-chief of the Yale
Law Journal. She had
a great experience
in law, but realized that what she really
wanted to do was to write. Since making
the switch, she’s published four books.
She’s currently working on The Happiness
Project which will hit the shelves in late
Visit Gretchen’s blog
– „The Happiness Project”
Visit this article’s online version

Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
Treat yourself and move on
Rationalizing and being proactive will help
you to smooth out the whole unpleasantness
but if it fixed your entire day you wouldn’t
be having one of those days in the first place.
Take lessons from the experience and try
and get through the rest of the day. Treat
yourself by going for retail therapy, having a
nice meal or watching a film, if it helps. Then
get to sleep. You will almost certainly feel
much better the next day.
Don’t live in a bubble
A boxer will never be successful if he just
runs around the ring avoiding his opponent’s
blows. Likewise you will never get anywhere
if you are not willing to take the knocks and
blows that life will all to readily dish out. You
may feel like hiding in your shell when the
day turns against you, but resist that urge,
it’s not an habit you want to slip into. Shake
it off and get back in the fight.
James Mallinson
Having One Of Those Days?
Here’s How To Deal With It
aybe you feel everybody
is on your back or your
computer is constantly
breaking down when you
need to finish a report. Perhaps all your
current work isn’t satisfactory, the deadline
is getting closer and you just can’t seem
to get focused. Without really thinking
about it we put it all down to fate or
being unlucky and then we typically end
up feeling sorry for ourselves. That can
then spiral and affect the rest of our day.
However, it need not be this way.
Take a breather
Get away from it all. Disconnect the phone,
turn off the computer. Heck, lock yourself
in a cupboard if you can’t get away from
work. Give yourself a chance to clear your
head and gain some perspective. You
can’t get hold of your day if you don’t give
yourself a chance to regain control. One
or two unfortunate events will affect your
mood which can ultimately cause things to
spiral if you don’t take a step back
Work out what the problem is
What makes you think you are having one
of those days? Was it the moody customer
who shouted at you? Have you been
inundated with work because two of your
staff are off sick? Having one of those days
will put you in a bad mood. It’s important
to know exactly what the cause is so you
can do something about it.
Shit happens…
There is a logical, rational reason for
everything. You might not directly cause
it but it’s there all the same. If a customer
gives you a hard time because another
department didn’t do its job properly,
that’s unfortunate. But these things do
happen. If you’re dwelling on it while
hiding in the cupboard, tell yourself you
were just in the wrong place at the wrong
…but could I have done something
about it?
Things happen that ruin our day which
are out of our control, but there also
things that, in hindsight, we could have
influenced or can yet gain some control
over. Could you perhaps have dealt with
the rude customer a little better? Can you
defer or delegate the workload till the
absent staff return? Take the lessons from
the experience now so it doesn’t mess up
another day in the future.
We all have one of those days from time to time. But what do we mean when we say that?
Typically one or more bad things happen that put you in an unhappy mood. Here is a handy
guide to getting your day back on track.
Take the lessons from
the experience now
so it doesn’t mess
up another day in the
James Mallinson
James Mallinson comes from the UK and
is an aspiring author. He started Organize
IT nearly two years ago after he began
dabbling in productivity, and wanted to
share his tips and experience.
Visit James’s blog – „Organize-IT”
Visit this article’s online version

Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
mean this. When you switch the voices
and use the SOYA voice for the GOYA voice
i.e. MR T voice is now the GOYA voice
and Mickey Mouse on Helium is the SOYA
voice you will see an amazing difference
in your productivity, you exercise routine,
everything you need the GOYA voice for.
Another exercise for today. To try this
method out try hearing the new GOYA
voice telling you what to do whenever
you are procrastinating about something.
Obviously, it doesn’t have to be MR T’s
voice but you want a commanding voice,
have a little fun with it. Eventually the
voice will be your own voice and you begin
to do things you have been putting off.
List a few things you could do today
and listen to the voice and GOYA and do
Steven Aitchison
The GOYA method
for Personal Development
Get Off Your Ass!
To do something, anything, you have to
take action, to take action you have to get
off your ass first and make a start. That’s
what this article is about.
I don’t want to hear whines, excuses, or
anything else just read this through and
then GOYA.
Getting to the stage of SOYA
A lot of us will have gotten to the stage of
SOYA (Sitting On Your Ass) at some point
in our lives. Indeed it’s good to have a
bit SOYA time but too much can lead to a
permanent state of SOYA and your ass gets
flatter with all the sitting, the only exercise
you get is flicking the remote and eating
those packets of cheese and onion crisps.
For those of you who don’t think you’re
at the SOYA stage of life answer these
1. Is your Ass permanently flat?
2. Does it take you about half an hour
before you can walk properly getting off
your couch?
3. Do you make old man noises when you
get off the couch?
4. Do you make old man noises when you
go to sit on the couch?
5. Do you have some goals that involve
If you answered yes to any of the
questions above it’s time for some GOYA.
GOYA in action
There are at least two voices inside you at
any one time. One voice saying ‘take the
easy option just turn the TV on and SOYA’
and the other, less dominant voice, saying
‘come on, I need some GOYA time’.
The trick to getting off your ass is
making the GOYA voice more dominant
than the SOYA voice.
Quick Exercise
I want you to think back to a time,
recently, where you were in two minds to
go and do something but instead elected
to stay in bed or sit on the couch and
watch TV. For example, you need to get up
and tidy the house but instead you stayed
in bed or watched TV or read your book.
What did the little GOYA voice sound like
inside your head, if you can’t remember
listen for it next time. The SOYA voice
sounds like MR T ‘Sit on your ass fool, ain’t
nobody gonna clean the house’ and the
GOYA voice sounds like Mickey Mouse on
Helium ‘Oh shucks, that’s a shame coz the
house needs a good clean’.
Listening for the SOYA and GOYA voice
You will soon begin to hear the little voices
whenever you have to do something.
Recognizing them is the first stage and
when you hear them, it will be a revelation.
Now when I say hear them you don’t
literally hear them you hear them in your
head. You might not think they are there
but they definitely are. Any time you have
to do something they are there.
The next stage is switching the voices
around. This can be tricky at first but when
you do it once it becomes very easy all the
other times and you will see a dramatic
difference in your life. Now I know I am
being a bit tongue in cheek here but I do
We’re heading towards the end of 2008 and some of you will be looking over this year and
thinking about what you have achieved so far. For some nothing much will have happened for
others their whole life will have changed. Personal development begins in your head and GOYA
method will help a lot for those who still want to do something with the rest of 2008.
About Steven
Steven Aitchison
39, is a personal
development blogger.
He currently works
with the homeless
dealing with issues
such as drug
addiction, and alcoholism. He has a degree
in Psychology and has been a counsellor to
alcoholics. Also an affiliate marketer and
writer he has penned 3 books on personal
development and making money online.
Visit Steven’s blog
– „Change Your Thoughts”
Visit this article’s online version
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
is anything new. With a newsreader you’ll
know whenever something new is posted.
Removing Spyware – Use a
computer or web browser that
doesn’t get infected.
Wasting Time in the Car –
Subscribe to podcasts and get a
connector for your MP3 player in your car.
Spend your time learning instead of just
sitting there driving.
Getting Lost in the Car – If you
spend a lot of time driving to
unfamiliar areas, go ahead and invest in a
GPS with routing capabilities. That way you
can spend your time focusing on your work
instead of honing your navigation skills.
Clubbing Baby Seals – Just in case
this applies to you, this would be a
good thing to stop as well.
Mark W. Shead
17 Things
you Should Stop Doing
ake a look at the list and see
if there is anything you can
change to help make you
more productive. If you have
any suggestions please add them in the
Manually Depositing a Paycheck –
That is what direct deposit is for. If you
spend 15 minutes every two weeks dealing
with depositing your paycheck that is 65
hours over the next 10 years. Put this time
to better use.
Writing Checks for Bills – That is
what the bill pay service from your
bank is for. Use this time for something
Partially Filling Up with Gas – Yes it
might go down 3 cents next week, but
how much is your time really worth.
Looking for your Keys or Cellphone
– Always put them in the same place
(hook by the door, etc).
Unpacking your Laptop Power
Adaptor – If you go from work to
home with your laptop, get an extra
adaptor for each work area so you don’t
have to unpack and crawl under the desk
each time.
Check Multiple Email Boxes – Get a
program that will show you all your
email in one place or filter by individual
accounts. Apple Mail and several other
products do this.
Watching Commercials – Use Tivo to
skip them. Use Netflix and just skip
television all together. Buy the shows you
want to watch off iTunes. If you had a
friend who spent 20% to 30% of your time
trying to sell you things you didn’t really
need, would you put up with it? (If you
have a friend in network marketing, you
may have already experienced this.)
Losing Telephone Numbers – Your
cell phone should sync with your
computer. We are past the days where a
phone only held 25 numbers. If someone
calls, take the few seconds to record
their name in your phone, so it will be
transferred next time you sync your
Commuting to College – Take your
classes online. Spend your commute
time studying instead of driving.
Commuting Through Heavy
Traffic — Talk to your boss about
working from home–even for just a few
days a week. Shift your schedule to miss
rush hour.
Dialing into Voice Mail – Get
your voicemail setup to send you
messages as email attachments that way
you only have to check one mailbox.
Backing Up to CDs or Disks – Get
an external hard drive. It will be
fast enough that maybe you’ll go ahead
and backup more often. Plus if you do it
right, you can create a working version of
your entire computer on the hard drive. If
you laptop is stolen you can start working
from your last backup with all your
programs and settings just as they were.
Visiting Lots of Blogs – Use a
news reader like Google Reader or
NewsFire. Most people don’t realize how
much time they waste looking at the same
sites over and over again to see if there
This is a list of 17 things you shouldn’t be doing any more because they waste time. Old habits
die hard and it can be diffcult to shift yourself from an old familiar way of doing something to a
new better way.
Mark W. Shead
Mark Shead works
as a consultant
helping companies
efficiently turn time
into money using
technology and good
business practices.
Productivity501 is the website where
he publishes regular tips for personal
productivity and development.
Visit Mark’s blog – „Productivity501”
Visit this article’s online version
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
6. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your
results come from just 20% of your
efforts. If you can identify and focus on
the 20% that matters most, you can be
more productive (and impressive) without
increasing your workload. Try to automate
or delegate the less productive 80%
whenever possible. When random emails
and phone calls start pushing you off
course, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule
and make an immediate course correction.
If an emergency arises and you absolutely
need to eliminate something from your
schedule, make sure it’s not part of the
vital 20%.
How To Work Less and Still Impress
he answer to the question is:
YES! With the right combination
of skills, tactics and tools, you
can work less and still impress.
The list below is not comprehensive, but
leads in the right direction, providing six
basic strategies geared for increasing your
impressiveness without increasing your
1. Learn Skills Few People Know
Find a niche function (or two) that’s
currently in high demand and master it. If
very few people can perform this needed
function, your effective value to others will
skyrocket into the stratosphere. You will
become the “go to guy”. Even if it’s only a
temporary gig, you will be able to make a
significant impact in a short timeframe. And
if you play your cards right, you will find
yourself doing less actual work and getting
10 times more credit for your efforts.
2. Provide Value from Within a Black Box
Mystery is a huge proponent of
impressiveness. In order to achieve
the ultimate level of impressiveness
your efforts must make someone
think, “Wow! How does he/she do
that?” They can easily see your inputs
and your results, but aren’t 100% sure
how you got from point A to point B.
In other words, you have to provide
(or innovate) tangible value without
disclosing the specifics of the mastery.
Human beings are curious creatures.
If you can give them something they
want while simultaneously stimulating
their curiosity, you will always be more
impressive than the guy who cranks out
the most widgets.
3. Focus More on Less
A jack of all trades may do very well in life,
but supreme impressiveness is achieved
via specialization. Elite expertise attracts
attention much faster than a run of the
mill juggling act. This is because gradual
increases in skill level have an exponential
effect on the public opinion of overall
impressiveness. Think in terms of Karate:
A black belt seems far more impressive
than a brown belt. But does a brown belt
really seem any more impressive than a red
belt? The bottom line: Society elevates
experts high onto a pedestal. Focus on
mastering your trade.
4. Only Use Quality Tools
Trying to cut through a thick piece of
fresh lumber with an old, dull handsaw
would be a pretty foolish endeavor. You
would have to work extremely hard to
make the even the slightest impact. If
the tools in your toolbox don’t fit the
requirements of the job, find someone
who has the right tools and barter with
them, hire them, invite them into the
process. Possessing the right tools (and
skills) can easily shrink a mountainous
task into a molehill.
5. Always Under-Sell to Over-Deliver
The crooked salesman constantly over-sells
the capabilities of his product. He sets the
bar so high that the product ends up falling
short of his client’s expectations. If you want
to boost your impressiveness, do the exact
opposite. Slightly under-sell your capabilities
(or product, service, deadline, etc.) so that
you’re always able to over-deliver. It will
seem to others like you’re habitually going
above and beyond the call of duty.
Is it possible to work less and still impress your boss, wife, husband and friends? In other words,
is it possible to do less and accomplish more? Everyone seeks the answer to this question. We
all want to generate the greatest noticeable impact with the least amount of effort, as quick as
possible. It’s the way of the modern knowledge worker. We strive to work smarter, not harder.
Marc C
Marc was born in
Miami, Florida,
graduated from the
University of Central
Florida’s College
of Engineering
with a B.S. in
Information Systems Technology.
He works as “Information Assurance
Manager” (computer security) and spends
a good deal of his free time reading
personal development books and blogs.
Computer security is his job and personal
development is his passion. He’s also a big
fitness buff. He works out 4 days a week.
Visit Marc’s blog
– „Marc and Angel Hack a Life”
Visit this article’s online version
Marc C
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
My Organizer
I picked up a nice leather planner that
zips closed for $10 at Target. It is now
a mini-briefcase that I use to carry my
essentials. Number one of course is the
Circa organizer that holds my DIY Calendar
pages that I designed.
I keep a Pilot .5mm G2 in the pen
loop, and a PaperMate .5mm Mega Lead
mechanical pencil loose inside. I tuck a
few blank 3×5 cards into the front pocket,
along with some business cards. Toss in a
pad of 3×3 Post-Its and I am ready to go.
These are the most essential tools for
my personal productivity practice.
Stephen Smith
3 Essential Tools
for Productivity
First, my workspace in my home office.
This is where I manage all of my activities
for the blogging enterprise as well as my
day job for BigCorp.
This is a very simple and effective set-up.
Everything that I need on a daily basis is
available close by. You may also notice that
I have arranged the desk according to the
“F-shape” principle that I featured in the
design of my planner pages. From the top
left across I have placed:
• Note cards and the usual office supplies.
• Pen-holder.
• Desk lamp.
• Laptop.
From the bottom left:
• In-box.
• Open task information.
• Clear desk blotter with frequently-called
numbers and notes
To the right of the desk:
• Bookshelf with reference and tracking
• The Book of Days
• Software.
• The printer.
• The Tickler File.
The Tickler File
This tool consists of 43 Folders numbered
1-31 for the current month and 12
more for the months of January through
I use these files for paper items that I
need to process at specific times but the
items do not need to go in my organizer
right now. In the same file are the
Reference folders for frequently-accessed
information such as billing records, work
records, etc.
The typical workflow for the Tickler file is:
1. Each morning, while the coffee is
brewing, I check the contents of
“today’s” folder.
2. I sync any time-specific items with my
paper calendar,
3. Complete the items that are date-
specific but will not physically fit into
my calendar (which I refuse to stuff with
notes and loose papers),
4. Any non-time-specific items then go into
the In-box on my desk for processing.
5. Items are processed in order of the
amount of time required, starting with
the shortest.
6. Anything that does not get completed,
or needs to go in the organizer, is
forwarded to its proper place.
7. When “today’s” folder is empty, it goes
to the back of the line, becoming in
effect an empty folder in next month’s
Part of the beauty of this system is that if
something comes up and I cannot process
the items in the Tickler File for a day or
two, it is ready right where I left off. This
gives me almost instant access to date-
specific items that need to be processed
with high priority.
Today I would like to share a description of some of the tools
I use for my own productivity practice.
Anything that does
not get completed,
or needs to go in
the organizer, is
forwarded to its
proper place.
Stephen Smith
Stephen is a
small business
Consultant and
public speaker that
uses the power
of the internet to leverage your success.
Productivity in Context is a web magazine
focused on Productivity and tools for
organizing. Make this your headquarters
for improving your life and work through
increased mindfulness, education, and
workflow practices.
Visit Stephen’s blog
– „Productivity in Context”
Visit this article’s online version
Sponsored by #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
6. Organize your thoughts
Once your ideas have stopped coming, be
sure to organize them more coherently
once you’re done. Once you’ve got them
organized, break them into actionable steps
( another component to GTD). You’ll quickly
realize what needs to be done next to
implement your ideas, in what order, etc.
For me, notecards are my weapon of
choice. I always keep a few handy, and I
organize my ideas into ideas. If a project has
more than one thought to it, I assign its own
card. If it’s something simple like a future
post title, I put it on the “catch-all” notecard
that holds just quick ideas. Later I’ll take the
day’s cards and process them further.
7. Know when to stop
Don’t force the issue, man! You could hurt
yourself if you’re not careful. If the well of
ideas has run dry, pumping it more won’t
help. Don’t worry, there will be other
times of plenty in terms of ideas. Ironically
enough, this article was a product of 3 idea
dumps, spread over a couple of weeks.
7 Idea Dumping Tips
t seems like whenever I really need
a great idea, they are nowhere to be
found. Yet when I’m doing something
completely unrelated and seemingly
unimportant, I’ll be floating in ideas.
It’s more like my brain all of the sudden
opens up and throws out a flurry of ideas,
a proverbial diarrhea of the brain. Except
with a good connotation, (unlike most
comparisons to bowel movements). So I’ve
decided to call this process Idea Dumping
to kind of fuse Brainstorming and, well…
the bowel thing. So if you haven’t already
quit reading this article, here are my 7 tips
for effective Idea Dumping.
1. ALWAYS carry paper
It almost always never fails. I’ll have a great
idea, I’ll think about it for a while, and
never remember it again. Why? I didn’t
write it down. Half of having a good idea
is actually writing it down. Writing it down
gives you freedom to let your mind explore
it even more, because it doesn’t have to
work on actually remembering it. If paper
isn’t your thing, use a voice recorder, your
cell phone’s voicemail, a pda, a rock and
chisel… anything so that you can file it
somewhere other than your brain.
2. Be descriptive when writing it down
There have also been times where I’ve
written an idea down quickly, and then
looked at it later and had no idea I was
talking about. The more descriptive you
are, the better you can get back into your
train of thinking when you wrote it down,
like picking up where you left off. Also,
being more descriptive frees up your
brain’s resources to develop the idea even
3. Plan for not planning on it
One problem with the way we typically
brainstorm is this: it’s unnatural. We bang
our heads against the wall while chanting
“think, think”. If you’re like me, your brain
doesn’t like to be told what to do.
I’ve found that the best way to allow your mind
to form ideas is when I’m doing something
else. You have to be ready at anytime to jot
something down. I know this point is a lot like
#1, but I can’t stress it enough.
4. Good environments matter
Allow yourself time to let your mind breathe
and relax. I’ve found that the best times
to have idea dumps are when you’re in an
aesthetically pleasing environment, or at
least one where you’re enjoying yourself. A
lot of times the ideas start coming when I’m
running, or talking a walk in nice weather.
You may find yourself partial to different
situations. It really doesn’t matter, just
so long as what you’re doing somewhat
automated and your mind can freely wander
wherever it wants. In short; you’re giving
yourself time to daydream.
5. Think big picture down
Ok, so I realize that there will be times
when you’ll actually have good ideas
when you are forced into brainstorming
on a certain problem. A good strategy for
finding solutions to a specific problem is
always thinking top down. In David Allen’s
Getting Things Done, you should always
start with asking yourself why you’re doing
it. Why are you trying to find the solution?
Why is it important? It sounds mind-
numbingly simple, but it really helps you
focus your thinking on the problem, rather
than going off on tangents.
Idea dumping is a lot like brainstorming. (I happen to be an expert on idea dumping because
I just made the term up 5 minutes ago.). Brainstorming to me is more of a process where you
have a problem, and you try and fnd a solution to it, with the end goal in mind. It’s a great
concept in theory–except it never happens that way for me.
Glen Stansberry
About Glen
Glen Stansberry is
a web developer
and blogger out of
Lawrence, KS. He is
the co-founder of
LifeRemix, a lifestyle
blogging network.
Glen is also the owner of LifeDev, a blog
that helps creative people get stuff done.
Visit Glen’s blog – „LifeDev”
Visit this article’s online version
Sponsored by www.Nozbe.com #01/2008 www.ProductiveMagazine.com
– Do it
If it takes less than two minutes, just
do it.
– Delegate it
If you’re not the right person to do it,
then send it to someone who can.
– Defer it
If it takes more than two minutes to do,
but it in your Action or Tickler file. Or if
it’s project-related, put it in your current
projects file rack.
• Organize
If the file has no action for you to do,
you can:
– Trash it, recycle it, or shred it, if you
don’t need it.
– Put it in the Incubate tray if you’re not
ready to deal with it.
– Archive in your filing cabinet for later.
• Review
The most important part of the system
is setting up reviews for you to process
your Inbox and organize your files:
– Daily
Process your Inbox as often as you like
throughout the day, but do it at least
twice a day: once around noon and again
at day’s end. You must empty it at the
end of the day, so that your inbox is nice
and fresh in the morning.
– Weekly
At the end of the week, move completed
projects into your filing cabinet. Go
through your Incubate tray and decide
if you’re ready to act on any of the
Chanpory Rith
10 tips for keeping
your desk clean and tidy
ruth is, I’m just lazy. When I
started wasting more and more
time looking for lost items
instead of being a brilliant
creative person, I knew I had to do
something. I got my desk organized, and
have been miraculously keeping it clean for
the past three months.
Here’s how:
1. Use a system to manage paper
Most of the clutter on my desk is paper.
In one of my recent posts, I wrote
about a system for organizing files on
the computer. The same system can be
modified to work with physical files:
Setup: A place for everything
First, you’ll need a few items:
• Inbox
This is a standard stackable letter tray.
Put documents that don’t yet have a
place in here. This may be items like
memos, print-outs, and random things
placed on your desk by random people.
• Incubate box
On top of your Inbox tray, stack another
letter tray to put items that are “on
hold”. These are items you aren’t yet
ready to do or complete in here. They
may be articles you’re thinking of
reading, sketches for potential projects,
and information about events you might
• Action & Tickler file
For this, Merlin Mann of 43 Folders
recommends an A-Z accordion file. Put
papers requiring an action that takes
more than 2 minutes in here. This may
be items such as forms to fill out and
documents to proofread. You can also
use a tickler file to supplement this.
• Current projects rack
For this, use a file rack or small file box
to hold folders for active projects. Create
one folder per project.
• Filing cabinet
Put completed projects, general
reference items, and anything else
you might want to look at again in a
filing cabinet. Use simple flat folders
organized from A-Z, instead of hanging
• Dump boxes (trash can, recycling bin,
I avoided throwing away paper because
I didn’t have access to a trash can, felt
guilty about tossing recyclable paper, or
was afraid of throwing away confidential
materials. Having a trash can, recycling
bin, and shredder for each of these
situations eliminates these hesitancies.
Usage: Process, Organize, Review
You’re now all set and ready to clean your
desk. The steps below are adapted from
David Allen’s GTD system:
• Process
Put all papers on your desk in your Inbox
tray. If it doesn’t fit, just put it next to
it for now. Go through each file one by
one. Ask yourself: can I act on this file?
If yes:
A messy desk is a sign of creativity and imagination. This is the excuse I gave myself for the
mountain of papers, knickknacks, and San Pellegrino bottles normally piled on my desk at work.

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files, following the steps you would to
process your Inbox. Take items in your
recycling bin to the main recycling bin in
the office.
– Monthly
At the end of the month, go through
your filing cabinet and prune any files
you don’t think you’ll ever need again.
2. Banish Post-it notes
Stop using Post-its to remind yourself
of important information. They’re just
too easy to lose and they’re ugly when
plastered all over your monitor. Instead,
keep a little notebook on your desk to
write down reminder notes.
3. Trash those printouts
After printing a file and completing the
action associated with it, throw it away.
You already have a copy of it on your
computer, so you don’t keep it lying
around on your desk.
4. Keep blank file folders and a label
maker at your desk
The reason while you don’t file is because
it’s so tedious to find folders and label
them. With a stack of blank folders and
label maker within reach, you have no
5. Ritualize your reviews
Schedule time in iCal or other calendaring
program to clean your desk at the end of
each day. After two or three weeks, the
habit will stick.
6. Throw away pens
Why do you need so many pens? Throw
them all out except for two or three. If it
doesn’t have a cap, toss it.
7. Say no to schwag
Yes, it’s hard to resist the ugly free crap
at conferences and internal office events,
but avoid taking them just because
they’re free. This includes all those cheap
pens, stickers, free magazines, brochures,
postcards, and anything else that will
likely end up littered on your desk. If you
need a reminder of a particular vendor,
take your PDA or notebook with you
and write the company’s name and URL
8. Take your books home
Take home any books you don’t use on a
regular basis for work. You’ll have more
space to work, and if you have to leave
your job for any reason (heaven forbid),
you’ll have fewer heavy items to pack.
9. Eat away from your desk
Eating at your desk encourages trash like
paper bags, cups, and utensils to stick
around your desk. I’ve been guilty of this
and have the crumbs in my keyboard to
prove it. To prevent this, eat somewhere
else. Preferably, out of the office.
Doing this also allows you a mental
break from work where you can enjoy
your meal without phone or computer
10. Limit photo frames on your desk
Pictures of loved ones remind us of what’s
important in our lives. More than three
on your desk, however, is a distraction.
Instead, use Flickr to store photos which
you can view in a slideshow during a
Chanpory Rith
Chanpory helms
LifeClever, a blog
dedicated to design
advice, productivity
tips, and life hacks.
During the day,
he’s an interaction
designer for Dubberly Design Office in
San Francisco. When not feeling modest,
he likes to brag about his interaction and
branding work for Macworld, PC World,
Symantec, Adobe, Yahoo!, and Four
Seasons Hotel. Chanpory is a graduate
of the California College of the Arts and
Oakland Technical High School.
Visit Chanpory’s blog - „Life Clever”
Visit this article’s online version
Eating at your desk encourages trash like paper
bags, cups, and utensils to stick around your desk.
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Interstate and managed to wet your
pants in the process. Shoot for a direct
line or cell phone.
11. Your Next-Door Neighbor - Hear about
a house fire on the news? Give old Ted
next door a ring and have him poke his
head out to make sure your house is
still standing (and offer to return the
12. Tow Truck Company - Preferably one
that will drive long distances if need
be. Other than that, this one needs no
13. Car Insurance Carrier/Broker - The first
people you should call if you’re in an
accident (unless somebody is hurt, then
you call them second). They’ll tell you
want to write down and if you need the
police. Another number you don’t want
to go fishing through your Costanza
Wallet for if you can help it.
14. Pizza/Chinese/All-Night Take-out Food
- Because once you find a good place
that’s open late, that’s a number you
keep and call often.
Brett Kelly
14 Numbers Your Cell Phone Can’t Live Without
hankfully, those days have ended.
Everybody and their freakin’
mother has a cell phone these
days - and why wouldn’t they?
They’re ridiculously cheap to acquire and use
(relative to just a few years ago) and even
the freebie models come with more features
than a stock install of Windows 95™.
But, alas, there are a great many people
walking around with their new iPhone
waiting patiently in their pocket or purse
that aren’t properly equipped to deal
with a serious (or borderline emergency)
situation! This is why I’ve compiled this
list - these are all numbers that are in the
phonebook of my RAZR as I write this - and
I’ve had to call many of them, especially
being a parent of small children.
So, if your cell phone has no other
numbers stored in its memory, make sure
it has these numbers:
1. Local Fire Department - Because you
may need them and it may not be
enough of an emergency to call 911.
Very good for those pesky cat-stuck-in-
tree situations
2. Local Police Department or Law
Enforcement - Same reason as above.
3. Nearby Hospital(s) - These are great
when a loved one isn’t home hours
after they said they’d be. A lot easier to
have them preloaded into your phone
instead of sifting frantically through the
yellow pages!
4. ICE (In Case of Emergency) - If you’re
ever in an accident and are incapacitated
or killed, the authorities who find you
will likely look for this entry in your cell
phone numbers (and call it). A spouse or
relative capable of making decisions on
your behalf would be best here.
5. Taxi Company Dispatch - Just in case you
find yourself stuck on the side of the road
(or maybe you’ve had a few drinks). This
is especially helpful in the latter situation
since you won’t have to sheepishly ask
the bartender to call you a cab.
6. Water and Power Department - In case
your water or power ever get shut off
and you’d like to know why (especially
if it’s the power and your regular
phones don’t work).
7. Doctor and/or Pediatrician - Another
one for your parents. When little
Junior suddenly breaks out in hives and
you’d like to speak to somebody (but
don’t want to spend the cheddar on
the emergency room just yet), this is
another one that’s good to have. Also,
these can be very difficult to locate in
a time of stress, so record it next time
you have the chance.
8. Poison Control - So, you think you little
Timmy might’ve just ingested two big
mouthfuls of Pine-Sol? Not sure if you
should take him to the hospital or use
his sweat to clean the floor? These
people generally answer very quickly
and are very helpful - a must for the
9. Animal Control - This isn’t just for
mountain lions and wild boar who show
up on your back stoop. Maybe your
neighbor’s dog’s brain made a wrong
turn at Albuquerque and now he thinks
little Maddy is a kabob of some sort.
You’ll obviously want the tranquilizer-
toting folks in coats to come down and
diffuse the situation, pronto.
10. Coworker or Boss - Because you don’t
want to call the company switchboard
to tell them you ran out of gas on the
Not so long ago, cell phones were reserved for society’s wealthy and privileged. Yes, carrying
around that small suitcase only for the pleasure of spending $.50/minute to call your stock
broker or nail salon - that’s what separated the haves from the have-nots.
Brett Kelly
Brett Kelly is a
software developer
from Southern
California where
he lives with his
lovely wife and two
children. He drinks
coffee and has a Mac.
Visit Brett’s blog – „Cranking Widgets”
Visit this article’s online version

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hard day at the gym could mean that I’ve
let myself get out of shape, or I’m over
working myself. I can make adjustments for
the following week and plan accordingly.
What things will you discover yourself if
you stare these seven hard questions dead
in the eyes?
Alex Shalman
Seven Questions That
Will Change Your Life
ow else am I supposed to
make improvements, if I don’t
know where I’ve gone wrong
in the past? Many people try
to ignore past errors, but then history
repeats itself, as we all know.
Here are some questions that I find
useful to use for self reflection. The
format that I use is that of a weekly self
assessment and reflection journal. Try
it yourself, ask yourself the following
questions Sunday night, when your week
is complete.
What will I try to improve on next
What was I most proud of this week?
What was my biggest accomplishment
this week?
What have I done to get closer to my
life goals this week?
What was hard for me this week, and
What was my biggest waste of time
this week?
What did I do this week that made me
By answering these questions for myself
in my writing journal, or journal diary as
it is sometimes called, I force myself to
take a hard look at myself. I may spend
months or years treading water, not
getting anywhere, if I didn’t take this time
to analyze myself.
For me a week is enough time to pull
myself back if I’ve gotten too far off-
course. If I’ve stopped exercising for a
week, I would be ashamed of myself, and
my weekly review would get me to the
gym first thing Monday morning.
By recording things that made me
proud and that I consider my biggest
accomplishments, I can emulate them in
the future. The benefit for me is that these
are the things that make me feel good and
are likely taking me towards my life goals.
I record the activities that I’ve found to
be hard during the week. Maybe it was a
test, or a work out at the gym. I can then
analyze where I went wrong, or right. A
test being hard could mean that I wasn’t
prepared enough, or it was meant to be
a challenging critical thinking exam. A
Self refection should be more than a minor consideration if you’re serious about personal
growth. I can testify that it’s worked wonders for me, for grounding myself and evaluating my
life’s progress.
Alex Shalman
Alex Shalman is a
23 year old student,
son, boyfriend,
classmate, writer
and friend that lives
in New Jersey, USA.
Some of his interests
include reading everything he can get his
hands on, from personal development
books, to books about fitness, nutrition,
productivity, psychology, and relationships.
Visit Alex’s blog
– „Practical Personal Development”
Visit this article’s online version
Many people try to ignore past errors, but then
history repeats itself

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you dump them out of your “psychic RAM,”
you free yourself from having to remember
everything that you have to do in your life.
Since you have it in your trusted system,
you are allowed to focus your mind on
whatever task is at hand, whether it is
emptying the dishwasher, or restructuring
your corporate pay scale. Your mind has
a horrible reminder system. It does never
reminds you that you need an air filter
when you walk down the aisle at the store.
You remember that when you see dust
bunnies falling from your vent…but you
cannot do anything about it then. The new
air filters are at the store that you just left.
The techniques that are implemented in
Getting Things Done
are not revolutionary.
Everyone makes lists of things to do,
and uses calendars for appointments.
Revolution comes with the change in
mindset to think about the next action
that you need to do to accomplish your
goal. Getting Things Done
lays out the
path to your own personal organizational
revolution. Enjoy the ride
Michael Ramm
Getting Things Done
Primer: Chapter 1
Chapter 1: A New Practice for a New
David Allen opens his bestselling book
Getting Things Done
with a bold statement:
“It’s possible for a person to have an
overwhelming number of things to do and still
function productively with a clear head and a
positive sense of relaxed control.” (page 3)
What follows is a summation of how
David Allen (DA) sees the evolution of work
since the days of the assembly line men and
women. He states the work has evolved
into something that is not confined to ‘8am
to 5pm Monday through Friday’. Work is
something that every one of us is doing
every minute of every day of every year.
This constant barrage of having to be “at
work” is starting to put a strain on us, and
the way that we try to organize our time.
There were a number of successful systems
that touted total organizational nirvana, but
mostly they were glorified calendars and
to-do lists. People relied too much on the
“system” they were using, and not actually
getting things done.
But now there is a new system that
forces you to think about your “work” in a
whole new light.
Getting Things Done
) is based on
two objectives:
1. Capture everything that you need to get
done in a “trusted system” outside of
your head.
2. Create “next actions” for every single
input in your life.
Using this system, to the fullest, will clear
your mind of all that is troubling you about
individual tasks and projects in your life.
“It is a condition of working, doing,
and being in which the mind is clear and
constructive things are happening.” (page 10)
Everything that we do needs to be
captured in a trusted system. There are
innumerable ways to do this (watch this
site for discussions on them). The point is
that the commitment must not be in your
head. If it is in your head, then you will
most likely forget it…I usually do. Write
it down somewhere that you will look at
on a regular basis. Then decide what the
end result of the commitment is going
to be, and figure out what the next step
(or action) to finishing that commitment
should be. After you come up with your
‘next action’ (NA), you need to write that
NA in your trusted system also.
Allen reiterates that EVERY input in your
life should be documented and recorded
into your trusted system. That includes,
but is not limited to, email, phone calls,
voice mails, meeting with bosses (corporate
and household) and direct reports…
EVERYTHING. Allen makes no distinctions
between personal and professional lives. In
both, things still need to get done.
When talking about “stuff ”, Allen
defines ”stuff ” as “anything you have
allowed into your psychological and
physical world that doesn’t belong
where it is, but for which you haven’t
determined the desired outcome and the
next action step”. (page 17) He states that
most organizational models do a good
job keeping track of the first part of the
definition, but do nothing to help the
second part. It is mastery of this second
part that is at the heart of Getting Things
. Managing your actions will lead to
the elimination of your “stuff ”. When you
break down anything that you do into a
smaller ‘next action’ toward completion of
the goal, it makes the task at hand seem
easier to accomplish.
Allen then begins to stress the
importance of having all of your actions
and next actions out of your head. When
We decided that for our frst series of posts, we would both re-read GTD® and write a Primer
for those who are not as familiar with the system as we are. For now, we are going to go
chapter by chapter. But we may change that up, or combine chapters.
Michael Ramm
Michael Ramm runs „Black Belt Productivity”
with Jason Echols. Michael Ramm is the
Information Technology Manager for a small
municipality in Central Alabama. His former
boss introduced him to GTD in March 2005,
and he is on his 4th reading of GTD.
Visit Michael and Jason’s blog
– „Black Belt Productivity”
Visit this article’s online version
Note: This article is the first chapter out of
the Getting Things Done
Primer series.

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for the next week, confident that I haven’t
forgotten anything. I get the weekend off,
because I did my most important work on
Friday – I completed and checked off my
weekly review.
You did remember that there was an “H”
tacked on to those Five W’s didn’t you?
OK, here’s ten hows to execute an effective
weekly review.
1. Schedule a weekly review every week.
2. Keep to your schedule and DO the
weekly review.
3. Review every active project and every
4. Delete tasks that are no longer
5. Create new tasks as needed.
6. Modify contexts and dates as needed.
7. Review your “waiting for” context.
8. Archive completed and on hold projects.
9. Check off your weekly review as DONE.
10. Go home and have some FUN.
John Kendrick
The Five W’s of a Weekly GTD Review
efore retiring from police work
more than a decade ago, I was
taught to use the Five W’s of
interrogation to get the full story,
or as Joe Friday used to say, “I want the
facts mam, just the facts.” You probably
remember these important fact finding
questions from your grammar school days,
or for some, journalism school.
I was recently replying to a blog post
asking how its readers perform a weekly
review, when it occurred to me that our
weekly GTD planning session should be
answering these same questions as we
seek to refine our GTD, Getting Things
Done methodology.
The answer to this question should be easy.
You know who, don’t you? Well its often
easier to answer this question than it is
to get “YOU” to do it, right? How about we
use GTD to get it done. Schedule a recurring
weekly task, with an appropriate context
and make sure YOU do it each week. It is the
non-negotiable of any effective GTD.
During a weekly review, I set aside time
to go through every project and look at each
task in the project to determine if the task
is still relevant and actionable (if not I delete
it), is the context still accurate, and should
the task be moved to the next action list. If
a dated action has slipped, I’ll update it with
a more appropriate date, or remove the date
altogether if it has lost its relevance.
This is also the time I close projects that are
completed or put projects on hold that contain
tasks that are not actionable at this time.
I also use this time to look over every
task in my “Waiting For” context, though
I also do this several times a week to stay
on top of things that others have promised
to do, and send reminders as appropriate.
The where is unimportant as far as
geography goes. It could be at work, at
home, in a coffee shop or a library. What is
important, is the atmosphere in which you
conduct your weekly review. It should be
free of distractions, provide access to your
entire GTD system, and afford an hour or two
(depending on the number of active projects)
of focused uninterrupted work and planning.
I have Friday of each week scheduled as a time
for my weekly review, as a recurring task in my
GTD of course. This is a great time because
you have just finished all of your work for
the week, but if you need to send reminders
or contact someone they are still at work.
You can reflect on what you’ve accomplished
during the week, and in doing so do a better
job of planning for next week’s work.
There are times when I feel like I need
an additional review during the week,
but instead of using work time, I will
occasionally review all of my projects
when I have some down time waiting for
something or someone, at home, in the car
(not while driving), etc. and I usually use
iNozbe from my iPhone for this review.
As a friend of mine used to say, “I’m glad
you asked”.
The answer lies in the tag line to David
Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, The
Art of Stress-Free Productivity (emphasis
added). While I have heard this often,
I have also personally experienced the
stress relief and liberating results of
consistent and thoughtful weekly reviews.
And while many more reasons could
be cited, this is easily THE why for me.
Having completed my weekly review, I can
go home for the weekend, have fun, and
rest easy knowing that everything is ready
John Kendrick
John is a retired
police officer since
1997 after 24 years
of service, and have
been working in the
IT industry since
1985, primarily
as a corporate and government software
trainer. He currently manages a computer
training center for a large local government
maintaining five training labs with 70
Windows workstations, and is responsible
for the technology training of approximately
10,000 active and retired employees.
Visit John Kendrick’s blog:
John Kendrick Online
Visit this article’s online version
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Setting up the inboxes is nice, but in
order for them to really work for you, they
need to be emptied on a regular basis. In
this video I’m showing some basic do’s and
don’ts when emptying inboxes.
4 – A life outside of Email
Is Email ruling your life? Are you
depending on Email and feel it’s
overwhelming you with so many emails
coming in? Here are my tips showing you
how you can get a life outside of email.
5 – Processing to Zero
Not all the messages need to be
responded to, however all the messages
need to be processed. What’s the
difference? Learn in this video.
Since the interest in the videos is
growing, I decided to publish new video
every Wednesday on the Nozbe blog. Hope
you like them – I’d be happy to receive
your comments and feedback.
Michael Sliwinski
Learn Productivity
Tips and Tricks In 2 minutes!
hile reading the book
by David Allen “Getting
Things Done – the Art of
Stress-free Productivity”,
I couldn’t escape many “a-ha” moments
when I realized what David is saying is just
pure common sense and most of it I already
knew but never cared to put into practice.
One of these “obvious discoveries” I’ve
made is the “2-minute rule” which says:
“If an action will take less than two
minutes, it should be done at the moment
it is defined.” (David Allen)
When I realized how powerful this rule
is, I started searching for 2-minute actions
during my busy day and found out that there
are really many of them! When you know
something takes less than two minutes – you
just don’t have any excuse for not doing it.
While reading many articles by the
productivity bloggers, I jotted down my
favorite tips and “hacks” to keep them in
mind for the future and maybe later share
them with my Nozbe community. Then I
realized these small pieces of advice can be
presented in a form of a video series.
This is how the idea of the “2-minute
Productivity Show” came to life.
I just thought – if I can squeeze some
great tips and tricks into a short video that
would last only two minutes – my users will
watch it. After all, it’s just two minutes!
To date I’ve recorded one introductory
video and 5 episodes of the series. Let me
briefly introduce them to you:
1 – The Famous 2-minute Rule
In this episode we’re discussing the
two-minute rule by David Allen. I’m also
showing you how a small two-minute timer
can help you determine your two-minute
2 – The INBOX and my inboxes
Here I’m sharing with viewers how many
inboxes I have set up and how I’m using
them to make sure I capture all the ideas
and information worth processing.
3 – How to EMPTY your INBOX
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Release date: December 2008
Pre-order now!