LifeDev Helping Creative People Create Sun, 30 Aug 2020 19:07:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 145399285 How I Manage My Morning Routine with a To-Do List Sun, 30 Aug 2020 18:30:35 +0000 Let your phone remember the steps so you can have a relaxing morning

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Morning routines are key to mentally and physically preparing for your work day. You already have one. It might be unintentional, ending with hunting for your keys to leave the house.

Or it could be intentional, setting up an environment to put you in a good mood to greet your day. I prefer the intentional kind of morning routine, and to make it stick, I’ve implemented it in my to-do list.

My morning routine is influenced by the AE Rituals course I took and reviewed. It includes everything I need to do before I can feel totally ready for the day.

This routine (or ritual) is in a to-do list that gives me notifications on my phone. To-do lists that can have recurring tasks are great at reminding you to step through your routine each morning. I’ve tried a few systems and settled on OmniFocus a few years ago. I find it to be the perfect system for home life organization.

The image above is my actual morning routine for the last couple years. If I follow those exact steps in that approximate order, I’m ready to leave the house or sit down and work. It takes me about 90 minutes on a normal day, and I can compress it to 60 minutes if I have an early meeting.

Your routine will be different. It might include exercise but skip meditation. Or whatever, you get the idea. The only guideline is that it should be no more than 90 minutes.

Setting Up a Morning Routine in Your To-Do List

First thing you need to do is open your to-do list and make a new task. That could be in Remember the Milk, Todoist or Toodledo – they all have recurring task capabilities.

Create subtasks for the items you want in your first draft of your morning routine.

Set the recurrence on the task to daily, and set a time by which you want to be finished.

That’s it! Check your to-do list on your phone first thing in the morning (not social media!) and prepare for a great day.

Using OmniFocus for Your Morning Routine

OmniFocus is a more complex system, so I’ll show you a few screenshots of how mine is set up.

First, create a Project for the routine to live in. As you can see, I have a Folder for all my routines. Then each routine is a Project.

list of morning routine items in OmniFocus

Set the Project’s recurrence to daily. You can set days of the week, but I recommend keeping the same routine all seven days. Try it both ways and see what you think.

Check the box for “Complete when completing last action.”

Click to enlarge image

You can see I’ve set the review for every 6 weeks because my routine if working well for me. Review often at first and tune your routine until you love it.

Not sure what to put in your morning routine? Check out 13 Ways to Have the Best Morning Ever.

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Stay Current While Avoiding the News Sun, 31 May 2020 16:49:47 +0000 The news makes you feel bad, and that kills your productivity. Here's what to do instead.

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Watching TV news makes you feel bad, and that state persists after you turn it off. Being in a bad mood is one of the main causes of procrastination.

Checking the online newsfeeds constantly isn’t any better. I don’t like feeling bad, so I stopped watching and checking the news completely. I was afraid I would be out of touch with the world, but that just hasn’t happened.

Friends, family and coworkers will keep you informed about important events. As a practitioner of productivity practices like GTD, you know you don’t need the play-by-play of everything going on every hour. You just need the highlights.

Watching and reading the news doesn’t just put you in a bad mood while you’re taking it in. There’s little to no action you can take based on news. Learning about events that you can’t control takes away mental energy that you could be using on things within your control. 

What should you do instead? Practice selective ignorance using what Tim Ferriss calls “the low-information diet” in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. There are three main points to adopting a low-information diet.

1. Go on a one-week media fast. 

No news sites, Twitter, Facebook newsfeed, TV news or non-fiction books for one week. This breaks the habit of checking newsfeeds constantly. You’ll have to disable your news alerts on your phone and desktop to accomplish this. 

The News Feed Eradicator for Facebook Chrome plugin makes Facebook safe to reach out to friends without getting sucked in. But you should give Facebook a rest, while you’re at it. A recent study shows it will free up on average an hour a day AND increase your sense of well-being.

2. Ask “will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?”

Reading facts when you don’t need them is info-tainment. It’s not actionable, and you’ll need to re-read the information again when you’re ready to use it.

3. Don’t finish everything you start.

Diligent people especially struggle with what I call completionism. There is no shame in not finishing a book or article. The moment you start doubting the value of what you’re reading, take stock. Do you really need it? Is there a better source available? The most productive people have mastered the art of quitting.

How to keep up with current events without the news

So now you’ve cut out the unnecessary. How do you stay informed? This is what has worked for me.

  1. Curate a short list of current events podcasts, and only listen when the topic interests you. Don’t fall into the trap of completionism. There is no reward for listening to every podcast in a stream.
  2. Ask people around you what’s happening. This is a good conversation starter, and you get to learn what they think is important. People are always asking me “Did you see the news?” My answer is usually “No, what happened?” Then they get to tell me all about it. It’s a win-win – they get to talk about what is important to them, and you get to skip all the irrelevant details.

When I’m not reacting to every story, I have more time and energy to be productive. Try it for a week and see if you feel more relaxed and less rushed for time.

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Maintaining A Good Team Dynamic When Your Team Goes Remote Sun, 17 May 2020 16:16:15 +0000 Remote work can leave teams feeling disconnected. Here's what you can do as a manager to keep your team engaged.

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Good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members better.

There cannot be a better time to show how good you are as a leader than now. During this time of COVID-19 crisis, when teams have been confined to working remotely due to circumstance rather than choice, using the right tools and technology is a simple way to keep the work flowing.

But what about team dynamics? The biggest struggle that managers and leaders have to face is in maintaining the same level of enthusiasm and energy while working remotely that they do when working from the office.

So, how can they do this? Well, here are some ideas that can help:

  1. Effective delegation

Working in a team means that everyone’s contribution matters to achieve the goal. Everyone in the team needs to understand that they need each other to deliver the results. However, as a leader, you need to ensure that they know what is expected of them. This is where effective delegation becomes the key.

As a leader, you need to make your team members know what they are supposed to work on and when they are supposed to deliver their tasks. As the saying by Bob Proctor goes “accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the results.” You need to keep everyone in the team accountable.

A great way to achieve this is by assigning clearly defined tasks. And setting realistic deadlines for every task. This way everyone knows what they are supposed to do and how much time they have to do their job.

  1. Responsibility sharing

Being a leader in such circumstances could eventually mean that you have more on your plate than the regular days. While on one hand, you have to manage that the work continues to move smoothly, on the other hand, you also need to ensure that the employees are in their right frame of mind and have all the right resources available to work from home.

Add to this, the added responsibility of making team members who are completely new to remote work understand the dynamics of working remotely.

This is where looking up to your senior team members in the team can be a great idea. Share responsibilities between senior and junior team members to look after each other. By doing this you are not only mitigating the challenges of remote work but also doing a wonderful team bonding exercise.

  1. Communication and Feedback

Clear communication is the key to maintaining a productive team, especially when you are confined to remote work because of circumstances rather than choice. As you no longer have the liberty of non-verbal communication, it becomes important to establish a reliable communication channel accessible to everyone.

Make sure that you have frequent team discussions, be it using audio or video communication tools. Having an open channel of communication where you are accessible for the team works great in such a scenario. You can arrange for daily morning briefings via video conferencing and evening round up so that everyone is on the same page.

Also, make feedback sharing part of your communication. Let the employees also share what they are going through, the challenges they are facing and more so that communication becomes effective and not just a one-way process.

  1. Setting the Right Expectations

Working too much is one of the biggest downfalls of remote working. If you don’t create a line between when to work and when not, things can get pretty chaotic. After all, when you are running your personal and professional life under the same roof, switching off can be really hard.

What managers can do to avoid this from happening is to set expectations. Stick to a schedule and assign tasks according to the working number of hours for each team member. As mentioned in the previous point, wrap up things with a daily check-in so that everyone gets a clear message that ‘that’s all for today.’

Not setting the right expectations could lead to frustration in the employees, and excessive work can eventually lead to burnout. When there’s so much going around already, you cannot afford to lose a key resource to such problems that can easily be avoided. Can you?

  1. Virtual Reporting

Whether you are working in-house or remotely, the only way to ensure that things are not slipping through cracks is to have a concise reporting system in place. While team-meetings are an easy way to do this when you are working under the same roof, it can become quite difficult to do so when you are working from home.

This is where virtual reporting comes into the picture. Using a project management tool or an online reporting system is the way to go for this. With the help of such marketing tools, you can track project and resource progress, and get to know things are happening. This can be a great way to plan and delegate tasks according to the workload of team members, without having to ask individual team members.

  1. Showing Gratitude

Gratitude always goes a long way in maintaining a happy team. When everyone in the team knows that they are valued, they will put their best effort to achieve desired results.

At such a time, when everyone is worried about the pandemic, showing gratitude towards your team members must be the first thing on your agenda. Recognize everyone’s contribution and thank them.

You can start this by doing simple things like setting aside a few minutes in your weekly meeting to appreciate everyone’s efforts. Or better, starting an impromptu video call with your team to appreciate their efforts and contribution. Let it come as a pleasant surprise for everyone, and see how they respond to it.

While every team is different, there are certain aspects of team dynamics that apply to all. The ideas shared above work on those aspects to bring your team together and maintain them in a happy and productive mood as they switch to remote work.

Author headshotAuthor Bio: Vartika Kashyap is the CMO at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

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How to Set Quarterly Goals Sun, 22 Sep 2019 17:44:49 +0000 A 5 step process to set and achieve your quarterly goals.

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So you’re convinced that quarterly goals are the way to make measurable progress toward your objectives in life.

Now how do you decide what those goals should be?

And what are the keys to writing goals you’ll accomplish each quarter?

Here are five steps to choosing, writing and pursuing quarterly goals.

1. Gather ideas

I don’t pull my goal ideas out of thin air. I do a journaling exercise to get clarity on where I am and want to go. I also have a mindmap of life areas so I have a visual overview of what needs attention.

Another approach is to list out your biggest pain points currently. You could tackle a big, disorganized mess that keeps you from concentrating. Or you could improve your diet so you have more energy.

You might have five or more ideas at this point. But everything we know about new goals and habits tells us that we have to start small.

2. Narrow it down

Start with one goal. The most productive people pick a max of 3 things to work on. They know there is overhead for goal seeking, and we have a hard time focusing on more than three things. 

You could pick one thing from an area of your life each quarter to create balance (e.g., health, finances, relationships). You could also create them according to your different roles (parent, boss, developer, artist).

The key to narrowing down your goals is to understand how much you can achieve in one quarter. Think about when you will be working toward the goal: on your work time, a few hours a week, or a few minutes a day.

Depending on the time you have available, you could: launch a new website, establish a workout ritual, or pack lunches 80% of the time.

Consider what else is going on during this quarter. Do you have a big vacation coming up or are you expecting a disruptive life event? Reduce the number and scope of goals accordingly.

The sweet spot for quarterly goals is ambitious enough that you must get started now, and clear enough that you know how to take action.

3. Get specific

Where do you want to be on this goal in three months? Write that down, and include how you will measure the success of the goal.

For example, I want to keep in touch with my 10 favorite friends and relatives. By the end of the quarter, I want to have contacted each person at least once. For those who live nearby, I want to make the effort to meet up in person. I can measure that by writing down my 10 people, and marking them off as I go.

Now consider whether the goal depends on your action only.  Meaning that you can achieve it without depending on other people or circumstances.

I can’t control whether someone will have time to hang out with me, but I can control whether I reach out and try to arrange a time.

You know you can work out three times per week. You don’t know for sure how many pounds you can lose or gain.

You know how many sales calls you can make. You don’t know how many people will say yes.

4. Write your goals down

People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. One good place to write your goals is a goal planner.

In addition to inside a journal or a file on your computer, you could also put your goals on sticky notes where you’ll see them daily.

5. Review Your Goals Daily

Look at your goals every morning if you can, or at the very least once a week. Put it on your calendar or in your to-do system and make it a habit. Make sure you prioritize taking a step toward one of your goals before doing other, less important work.

You’ll want to check in periodically to make sure you’re on track. Remember, quarterly goals should be ambitious enough that you have to take some action in week one. Weekly review time is a good opportunity to see how you did for the last week and see if you need to adjust course.

Celebrate small wins along the way to stay motivated. In just 13 weeks, you’ll make more progress than you thought possible.

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Habitify Review – a Detailed Look at the Habit Tracker App Sat, 03 Aug 2019 16:00:20 +0000 What to look for in a habit tracking app and my review of Habitify after using it for a couple months.

The post Habitify Review – a Detailed Look at the Habit Tracker App appeared first on LifeDev.

running habit

The productivity world can’t stop talking about good habits. I can tell you from my own experience that a foundation of a few good habits makes it easy to be productive each day. It can be tricky to form habits, and that’s where habit trackers come in.

Habit trackers like Habitify remind you when to complete your daily goals until they become ingrained habits. These apps reward you by showing your progress. The reminders plus the reinforcement make it easy to learn new habits.

I’ve used Habitify for a couple months now. I’m impressed with how easy it is to use and how well it makes me stick to my goals.

Things to consider before choosing a habit tracker

Number of habits to track

In the excitement of making positive life changes, it’s easy to take on too much. It’s best to start with one habit when you’re new to building good habits. Once you master that, you can add one more, and so on.

Consider how many habits you can track with the system you’re considering. Three is enough to get started.

Available tracking frequencies

What type of habits are you working on? An ideal habit tracker can accommodate not just once-a-day habits. There should be options for multiple times a day and for a number of days per week.

Longer time periods (like a few times per month) aren’t habits. You can use a calendar to remind you of those types of tasks.

Design and notifications

An interface that’s intuitive and free from distractions is going to reduce the friction in the habit tracking process. When looking at a habit tracking solutions, consider whether it has the right number of features. If there are too many bells and whistles, they will just distract or annoy.

Consider whether the tracker can remind you at the right times to do your habits and record the results. Configure the notifications for your device so that they use pleasant sounds and pop up at the right times.

Stats and graphs

The aggregated data is what will keep you interested and checking the app to see your progress. More ways of viewing the data is usually better. Focus on the visualizations that can change your behavior. For instance, a day-of-the-week trend shows you what days you’re most likely to complete your habits. You could commit to doing your habits earlier in the day or earlier in the week if you notice your willpower draining over the course of the week.

Platforms and data portability

Does the tracker support Android, iOS and web? I prefer apps that are flexible, in case I change platforms in the future.

If you’re all about the quantified self, you might want the ability to export your tracking data.

Cost and privacy

Free is nice, but consider how the app makes money. Apps cost money to make, support and market. If the app is always free, consider that the developer may be selling data about your activity.

The privacy policy is usually a good indicator of what’s happening with your data. Yeah it’s a bit nerdy, but hey, that’s me in a nutshell.

Also consider whether you can lock the app itself. Sometimes you want someone to have access to your phone but not to specific apps.

A bit off topic, but if you’re concerned about privacy, never use the social login option (e.g., login with your Facebook account). Always make an account using your email instead.

Disclosure: Links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link, which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. I only recommend products I’ve actually used and found valuable.

Habitify Review

My first impression of Habitify was that it was easy and intuitive to start using it. You just download it for free and start adding a few habits, no account required.

When you see it, you’ll immediately notice it has an elegantly simple color scheme and design.

Habitify is fairly flexible. It tracks habits with different frequencies, such as daily or twice a week.

You can get daily or time of day reminders to complete your habits for the day. The notifications were just right for me on the defaults. I get a reminder at 7am of which habits are available that day. In the evening, I get a reminder to log which ones I completed.

The best feature of this app is the charts. They show daily, weekly, and monthly performance. I found this motivating in the short term, and I look forward to seeing the long term trends. With the paid version of the app, you get a yearly view, too. This is great for inclusion in your annual review.

There are even more charts, like hour of the day and day of the week trends. You can look at these for clues to increase your success rate.

Who is Habitify for?

People with smartphones who want to build good habits! If you have a paper tracker that’s working for you, maybe you don’t need an app. I switched from paper to electronic tracking to try Habitify, and I haven’t been tempted to switch back. Paper tracking looks cool, but it didn’t give the kind of detailed feedback I wanted.

Pros of Habitify

  • Multi-platform (Android, iOS and web)
  • Intuitive interface makes it easy to get started
  • Habit archiving (paid version only) lets you put habits away and bring them out again later
  • Many charts to show different perspectives on your data
  • Data export capability (paid version only)


  • To track a habit you want to perform more than once a day, you have to create separate habits. That uses up your habit allotment in the free version, and you can’t visualize the data as one habit.
  • Some charts are not very useful. I don’t find the overall completion rate useful because some of my habits are by the times per week. I can comply 100% with my goal, but it doesn’t show 100% for the day unless I do all of the habits every day.

Features and benefits

Habitify is available for Android on the Google Play Store and iPhone on the Apple App Store.

The free version tracks up to 3 habits. That’s the perfect amount for getting started.

tracking 3 habits at once

You can track the same habit at different times of day.

The monthly calendar view is the best way to view the spread of habits you don’t do every day. Access it by tapping the name of the habit in the Journal view.

monthly view in habitify

They’ve recently introduced a web app, which looks the same as the mobile app. The web version makes it easier to use the Habitify Community.

The user community is available from the website or right within the app. Community members have experience and ideas to share. You can get tech support or help with your habits.

Habitify Premium Features and Cost

You can pay as you go, but the best deal is the $39.99 one-time payment for a lifetime of Habitify Premium.

Either way you pay, you get these extra features that aren’t available in the free version:

  • Unlimited habits
  • Skip a habit to keep your record through illness or vacation
  • Archive habits as you master them
  • Yearly calendar
  • Dark mode
  • Data export for analysis
  • Privacy lock (TouchID or FaceID)
  • Habit notes for journaling observations on your habits
  • Unlimited reminder to help you with habits that you struggle with

Alternative habit tracker apps

  • Way of Life for iOS and Android. My partner has been using Way of Life for over a year now and seems to like it. You get clear green/red (pass/fail) indicators for your habits. For when you need tough love.
  • Done for iOS. The main strength of this habit tracker is that it easily tracks things you want to do multiple times a day. You can track progress throughout the day on things like how many glasses of water you’ve had. This could work well in combination with Habitify.

Conclusions – Should you buy Habitify?

So should you pay for a habit tracker? If you’re just starting out and have never intentionally created a new habit, then start with a free version. But for everyone else, yes, I think it’s worth the money. Here’s why.

Think about the kinds of positive habits you’ll be able to start with the help of Habitify. Healthy actions like regular exercise, drinking enough water, or abstaining from alcohol. Think about the healthcare costs of an unhealthy lifestyle.

When you choose to add healthy habits, you’re saving yourself tens of thousands of dollars later. What’s a few dollars for an app compared to that?

Feature photo by Gemilang Sinuyudhan on Unsplash.

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Browser Profiles – A Productivity Toggle Switch Sun, 19 May 2019 17:33:59 +0000 How do you start your work day? Do you need a few minutes to check news and socials before you really get started? Then a glance at email is next, right? 10am comes around pretty quick, and you haven’t done anything meaningful. The trick is to get into a productive context that snaps your attention where […]

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How do you start your work day? Do you need a few minutes to check news and socials before you really get started? Then a glance at email is next, right? 10am comes around pretty quick, and you haven’t done anything meaningful.

The trick is to get into a productive context that snaps your attention where you want it to go. The browser is the first place you go, so set it up to lead you straight to productivity.

I do that with Chrome profiles.

Chrome profiles can have unique plugins, pinned tabs and bookmarks. I have one profile for regular web browsing and another profile for working. You can see my productive browser setup in my previous post.

Get creative and test out what works for you. Here are some ideas:

Productivity Profile

Use the bookmarks bar to show only work links. Put your to do list link in the most visible spot. Be honest, you don’t need a Reddit bookmark tempting you.

Pinned tabs can be even more compelling to get you straight into the productive context. To pin a tab, right-click on a tab, and choose “Pin Tab.” Your calendar and your to do list are good candidates. Pinned tabs always load, even when you restart your browser.

Set up the extensions in the productive profile to keep you focused and get your work done faster. I love OneTab, which lets me collapse all my tabs and save them for later so I have a clean window. Do you get interrupted by coworkers sending you articles to read? Try the Instapaper plugin to send them to your account to read later.

Web Browsing Profile

Here’s your chance to have fun. Social site links, trashy internet news, and deal sites can all go in your bookmarks.

Curate a row of social posting extensions.

Pin YouTube and your favorite forum.

Now close that window.

Next time your brain is done but the clock says half past four, click the profile icon and switch over to the fun profile.

Share in the comments any browser customizations that help you stay productive.

Feature photo by sergey Svechnikov on Unsplash

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Hit the Esc button on boredom at work Wed, 08 May 2019 04:07:14 +0000 What to do when bored at work – 9 ways to overcome boredom

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Whether you are working from an office or at home, at some point you get to that part of the day when time stops. All of the buzz from the excitement from the beginning vanishes. You’re left sitting at your desk wondering if you turned the oven off…when was the last time you called your mother…will Jon and Daenerys rule over the Seven Kingdoms…and when will you go to Bora Bora like you always wanted to.

These are all very valid questions that need an answer, but you must remember that even if Cersei wins, you still have obligations at your workplace.

What to do when you’re bored at work

Here are a couple of things you could do to either ward off boredom or to manage your time and workflow better and prevent boredom completely.

1. Find your triggers

Boredom hits when you’re not productive. This is why you need to pinpoint and make a list of things that are making you less productive and that are causing boredom. Surely this won’t be a short list, however, it will help in the long run. It is one of the most important steps in ”recovering” from this ”symptom”.

The next time you turn to some of the numerous distractions you’ve pinpointed, whether it be a phone call, an e-invite or a gossipy Slack chat with your co-worker, be sure to write it down and track time to see just how much you waste on them daily.

This way you will know the exact distractions and just how much time they are taking, while at the same time killing your focus and making you bored and unproductive.

2. Make a list of tasks for the day

It’s like the previous advice, but this time you write down the tasks you need to complete on a certain day. When you have your workday planned out as precisely as possible, you will have no time to get bored.

Depending on your preference, you can arrange your tasks to alternate between the difficult and easy ones. This way you can make your work more dynamic. You get boosts of confidence by completing short and easy tasks between those which need more focus and willpower.

The other approach is to write down and organize your tasks according to their importance. The ones that are close to the deadline should be first on your list. After completing the first, you should feel like a heavy burden has been lifted and other tasks should be done in a jiffy.

But, you still need to be careful!

Oftentimes, after doing the most difficult assignment, there will be resistance towards completing other tasks. That’s why it is crucial to have your list in front of you to remind you of ALL of them. It is quite pleasing to tick off the ones that are done. As you see the list becoming smaller and smaller, you start feeling happier and happier.

No matter which way you organize your day, the important thing is to have it organized and to leave as little room as possible for boredom to creep in.

3. Use a website blocker

While we are tied to our mundane jobs, we might glance at Instagram, or Reddit, or Facebook. You suddenly notice the clock and, oh my, it’s already five o’clock and you haven’t done anything yet!

It’s a tricky business, being so close to all these fabulous social media platforms and web magazines and not browse them. That’s why you can help yourself by activating a website blocker. There won’t be any more temptations guiding you away from your schedule and responsibilities.

4. Take breaks

Sitting at your desk all day with your eyes glued to the computer screen does not give a good result. You then start to feel uneasiness and mental tiredness that tends to turn to boredom. Go outside to breathe in some fresh air, eat something healthy, and maybe stretch a little. You can even meditate if you work from home or if you have a quiet corner at work. It’s good for our mind as well for our body to relax a little.

A good rest can do wonders for the brain. After a short rest, mind clearing, and oxygen boost, you’ll feel ready to take on any tasks and challenges.


5. Don’t let boring phone calls distract you

It’s a good thing we have caller ID. That way you know which phone calls are work-related and of great significance and which are from relatives asking if they can bring their cat with them.

In case you find yourself stuck in an endless conversation, try to cut to the chase or just sent them to voicemail. You can have shorter calls by paraphrasing: try making a few short notes on the specific topic, keeping your sentences precise and clear so there won’t be a need for another call.

6. Don’t read all emails

Reading all emails as you receive them is a sure way to lose your will to live. Your inbox can be filled with messages which you don’t need to open right away, often never. Emails from all sorts of subscriptions, articles, travel guides and recipes, promotions, and countless others. Even those work-related can overwhelm you, so you need a smart system to deal with it.

To avoid getting bored by reading them all, categorize your emails by importance and urgency. That way you can answer right away only to the urgent and important ones, while others can wait for a more suitable time.

A system called the Eisenhower Matrix can be useful for determining which emails should preoccupy your attention and which ones shouldn’t.

Source: Wikipedia CC

Also, by making your responses short and clear, you are saving yourself and other people a lot of time. There should be no more than five sentences, which should also be short. The points should be clear and the closing should be pleasant.

Don’t bore other people with long and wordy emails just like you don’t want to get bored by reading those yourself. After drafting your message, read through it to make sure the recipient knows exactly what you need them to do.

7. Streamline meetings

Without a plan and timetable meetings can lose cohesion and turn into random ramblings that get tiresome and boring fast.

While planning a meeting, make an agenda with the main points. This way it’s less likely that the conversation will change its course. The agenda should be planned a few days prior to the meeting. You should take in consideration who would attend the meeting and the meeting objective. Set the time limit for each topic. It’s not necessary to stick to it blindly, but it’s reassuring to have a plan.

If you’re an employee, give your managers some constructive feedback if the meetings take too much time and get off track.

Also, if you are working from home or if you are a freelancer, apply the same principals to your Skype meetings with clients. It’s the same thing.

8. Get healthier

Exercising is good for your physical as well for your mental health. Exercising has an anti-age effect on the body and brain cells. It also makes you energized, thus making it easier to conquer the difficulties you face at your workplace that make you bored.

When we exercise, our body gets more prepared for everyday activities and gets tired way less. When you have more energy you will have more desire to work and boredom will stop being an issue for you.

And don’t forget your breakfast! Find those ten minutes in the morning because they pay off. Breakfast gives you the energy to start your day. Stick to high protein food such as eggs or yogurt. They give you long lasting energy.

9. Get bored in your free time

I know, it’s a tough thing to plan, but give it a try. Leave your schedule open on some afternoons and evenings for doing absolutely nothing. Lay on your sofa, read books, watch Netflix and chill. Or just chill with some music in the background.

These are just some of the tips for what to do when bored at work. But, in the end, we are all unique human beings and we all find other things or situations boring. Is there something that you find particularly boring during your workday and do you have a system for dealing with it? Let us know in the comments.

About the author: Marko Maric is a marketer and a blogger. He frequently covers topics on business, marketing, and productivity. Marko currently works at Clockify where he’s trying to make the world a more productive place. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmaric for more tips and ramblings.

Feature photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

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6 Ways to Help You See Your Projects Through Sat, 06 Apr 2019 16:19:45 +0000 Many people fail to finish what they started. Here’s what you can do to finish off your projects.

The post 6 Ways to Help You See Your Projects Through appeared first on LifeDev.


Many people fail to finish what they started. Here’s what you can do to finish off yours.

Imagine yourself running a marathon. You had a good start compared to other competitors. Halfway through the race, you saw a beautiful garden of tulips. “I have a considerable lead. I run faster than the others too. I’ll just take a break.”

Not long after, you find yourself walking farther and farther from the race track. Other runners have already passed you by. But you are too busy chasing butterflies and grasshoppers to notice.

You lost sight of the finish line.

You got distracted.

Learning to finish what you started is one of the biggest and most impactful lessons in life and in business. A backlog of initiatives, tasks, and projects will not get you closer to success. Do you have a habit of not finishing what you started? Perhaps, the tips below can help.

How to Finish What You Start

1. Decide to finish what you start

“Begin with the end in mind.”

This quote from Stephen Covey will always be among my favorites. It highlights the importance of having a clear vision of the end goal in your mind before even starting a project. I suggest that you write down your goal and place it somewhere where you can see it regularly (maybe on your bathroom mirror?). This will serve as your daily reminder of the things you want to achieve. If you have already started your project, take a minute and write down the vision you had before.

Review these goals regularly and then, decide to finish them. Tell yourself that no matter what, these lingering tasks will no longer linger. Commit to yourself that you will change your behavior so you can finish what you started. This could mean saying no to other tasks so you’ll have enough time and energy for projects that matter most.

2. Divide a big project into smaller milestones

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” – Henry Ford

It’s easy to back down when you are faced with a big, daunting task. Dividing your project into smaller, more manageable milestones helps you avoid stress and beat procrastination. People who fail to finish what they started often comment that they feel overwhelmed. Below are some steps on how you can break tasks down to make them less intimidating:

  • Have a look at the big picture. Review your end goal in tip number 1.
  • Examine different parts of your project. Figure out each step you need to make to finish it.
  • Rank each step accordingly. What should you do first, second, third, fourth, etc.?
  • Create a timeline for each milestone. Having a deadline creates a sense of urgency and will help stay focused all throughout.
  • Have a plan. Put the time and resources you need to finish each task. Stick with this plan throughout the entire project. Remember, a plan is only good if you see it through.

3. Budget your time and energy

Putting your big project aside, you still have your entire life to deal with. So, how do you make sure that you have enough time and energy to complete each task

After you’ve made a list of small tasks that you need to do, your next step should be to create an outline detailing how much resources (time, effort, money, etc.) you need to complete each one.

Integrate this timeline to your to-do list. Plan your day around your tasks to make sure that it doesn’t get pushed around. Also, don’t forget to give yourself some buffer just in case things don’t go as you expected.

People who underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to complete a project often fail. Time and energy are finite resources. So, make sure you manage yourself appropriately.

4. Things don’t have to be perfect

How many times have you delayed or derailed a project because you want to get it right? Don’t get me wrong, perfectionism is a good motivation. However, it’s a double-edged sword. Perfectionism can also prevent you from getting things done.

If you find yourself stalled and spending more time than needed on a task because it doesn’t feel right, put it aside first and move on to the next. You can always come back to it later with a fresh perspective. And when you do, you’ll notice that what you are fretting on is not that much of a big deal.

Another helpful tip is to constantly refer back to tip #1 and #2 to remind you that the objective is to finish the project. You can always do the polishing later.

5. Reward yourself for finishing off small tasks

Rewarding yourself for each milestone you complete will keep you motivated. One of the reasons why many people fail to finish what they started is because it’s hard to put in consistent effort when you don’t see immediate results. You don’t have to wait for the completion of the entire project before you start patting yourself on the back. Here are some things you can do:

  • Enjoy a hot bath
  • Watch a movie
  • Eat out for dinner
  • Go on a hike
  • Enjoy a local attraction
  • Night out
  • Buy a new book
  • Watch sports
  • Pamper yourself
  • Get a massage

6. If things are not really working out, don’t force it.

I love this quote from Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. Maybe something more important came up. Or you lost complete interest on the goal. These things do happen and they are normal. People change. Every day, we get new ideas, find new interests, and discover new passions.

Is it a waste of effort? Many will say yes. But no, it’s not when you take with you some lessons from the experience. Before dropping a project consider this question first:

Are the benefits of completing the project still worth the efforts and future resources that you will spend on it?

If after careful and thorough consideration, the answer is no, then drop it. Don’t get tempted to push yourself to go on. Given that you already lost interest in it in the first place, continuing on will be like pushing a car uphill.

It’s not worth it. Move on the next project and do better.

Bonus: Sounds to Help You Focus When Working on a Task

Can music really help you finish what you started? Researchers from the University of Illinois found out that listening to music at work increases productivity by 6.3% over a control group. So, I guess, it helps! I, for one, love listening to music when working.

Below are some types of music (and where to find them) that’ll help you get pumped up when juggling a task:

1. Classical Music

Do you love Mozart? Baroque classical music like Bach’s Concerto #3 and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are getting a lot of attention because of their mind-boosting effects. Experts say that listening to classical music increases brain wave activity which is linked directly with memory and productivity. Plus, it sparks creativity and reduces stress levels!

Here’s a good selection of Classical Music that you can try.

2. Ambient /Nature Music

Ambient music provides you with a great way to relax. It helps relieve stress and is not too distracting when you are at work. Here’s a playlist that you can try if you are in the lookout for a calming forest ambiance. Prefer the waves? Here’s one for you.

3. White Noise / Background Sounds

The key to focusing in a noisy place, like a coffee shop or open office, is masking the sounds with white noise. Noisli is my go-to for soothing sounds like rain or the sounds of being on a train. I use the browser plugin for quick access.

Counter-intuitively, to block out people talking around you, add layers of chatter on top so your brain stops trying to listen to the words. Coffitivity takes you straight into a productive, creative mood.

4. Video Game Music

Epic video game music is full of intensity. And maybe that’s all you need to keep you going! After all, it’s crucial that you dodge that attack and defeat hordes of enemies! Here’s one to keep the adrenaline flowing!

Are you ready to finish off the project you started weeks, months, or years ago? Great! To recap, keep these tips in mind:

  • Commit to finishing it!
  • Divide your project into smaller tasks
  • Budget your time and energy
  • Don’t worry if it’s not perfect
  • Reward yourself after completing every small task
  • Boost your productivity with classical, ambient, or epic video game music!


Norberts Erts is the co-founder of HR software company CakeHR, that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide. He keeps a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them. Connect with Norberts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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90X Goal Planner Review – Reach Your Next Goal in 90 Days Sat, 26 Jan 2019 17:37:31 +0000 Hands-on review of the 90X Goal Planner

The post 90X Goal Planner Review – Reach Your Next Goal in 90 Days appeared first on LifeDev.


I’m intrigued by the many new goal journals becoming available. What a brilliant idea to embed productivity principles right into a planner!

Following my successful experience with the SELF Journal, I wanted to explore the other options. The design of the 90X Goal Planner caught my eye.

Before I get into my review, let me quickly go over goal journals and how they’re different from old school planners.

Goal Planners

Typical planners have lots of lined spaces to enter your appointments and to-dos. It’s up to you to plan what goals you want to set. You have to decide for yourself when to do the activities that will get you there.

Goal planners are workbooks that step you through the process of setting and getting goals. We aren’t born knowing how to accomplish large goals or projects. Most people have to study books and blogs to learn about that. Then they use trial and error to figure out what works. Goal planners shortcut all of that by showing you what to do.

The most popular goal planners span about one quarter – 90-100 days. That’s not surprising, since quarterly planning is probably the most effective time horizon.

The goal planners I’ve worked with are based on scientifically sound productivity principles. The creators of these planners are experts in productivity. They’ve incorporated everything you need to set up achievable goals and then line up the actions to get there.

Disclosure: Links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link, which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. I only recommend products I’ve actually used and found valuable.

90X Goal Planner Review

The 90x Goal Planner is a substantial hard bound book with thick pages. Everything about it feels high quality.

The structure of the setup leads you through setting goals. There’s a weekly cadence of reaffirming those goals, AND what you’ll do to work toward those goals.

No goal journal is perfect. In the 90x Planner, the use of five lofty example goals could look discouraging if you’re just starting out. So that’s the only modification I did in setting up my 90x Planner – I set up two challenging but achievable goals. That way I can focus my energies and not get overwhelmed.

One great thing I’ve noticed in using the 90x Planner is that when you restate your goals each week and how you’ll achieve them, it wipes the slate clean from the previous week. If I didn’t hit my target, it felt good to start fresh the next week.

The Hardware

The 90X Goal Planner is about 8.5” tall, 5.75” wide (closed), and 1” thick. It has a good heft to it.

90X uses smooth, thick paper in a sewn binding. What I like about the binding is that the pages lay open.

The paper is thick enough for most pens and highlighters. I only saw significant bleed-through with Sharpies. No surprise there!

There is one satin bookmark, an elastic band to keep it closed, and a pocket inside the back cover.

The edges of the pages have a progress indicator that reminds you how far along you are in your goal progress. I liked that it emphasized the sense of urgency to work on my goals.

Who the 90X Planner is for

Entrepreneurs who direct their own work schedules will be the most aligned with this planner’s methodology. There is nothing about the 90x Planner that assumes you work 9 to 5.

You can start on any day of the week or the month because it’s numbered by days of your goal timeline. That makes the planner quite flexible. It also emphasizes that you have three segments of 30 days to work toward your goal and so it marks off the passage of time.

I found it strange to have what looks like a month calendar but with no dates, so I wrote in the important dates for my goal milestones.

The other aspect of this planner that makes me think it would be good for entrepreneurs is the fact that there are places for five goals. For personal goal setting, I would never recommend more than three goals at once. And that’s if you’re really phoning it in at your day job.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, could pursue 3-5 goals at once because those goals could be a combination of personal and business goals. It’s a lot to keep track of, but it would be possible.

90X recently added a slimmer three-goal version of their goal planner called the Action Planner.

People with a lot of energy to pursue multiple goals would enjoy the 90X Goal Planner. The goal suggestions in the 90X Planner are quite ambitious. The quotes throughout this journal are Gary V. style – high energy and no excuses. Like this quote from Mark Cuban: “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”



  • You don’t need any prior experience with setting goals or with productivity practices.
  • Lay-flat binding encourages you to leave it open to refer to it multiple times a day.
  • Undated pages let you start on any day.
  • Detailed example pages and videos make setup easy.


  • The 30 day overviews don’t align to months.
  • The suggestion of five goals could be overwhelming.

Features and Benefits

Based on Trusted Productivity Principles

The goal planning process asks you to talk about why you want to achieve each goal. Writing down your reason creates an emotional connection and commitment to the state you want to reach.

The real strength of the 90x Planner is in the execution. Restating my goals and how I would get them each week gave me a fresh start. I completely missed my weekly goal one time because life happened. Instead of feeling demoralized, I was encouraged because I got to start over the next week.

The daily “5 Actions Toward Your Goals” area is the most powerful part of the daily page. It makes you stop and remember each day that you have an opportunity to take the next small steps toward your goals.

Facebook Group

90X has a Facebook group you can request to join. There you can find extra goodies [insert pic] and members requesting advice and responding. This group isn’t as mature as the one for the SELF Journal. The 90X Facebook group does appear to be positive and supportive. You can find an accountability partner or mentor from the group.

The written examples in the front of the planner were detailed enough to get started. If you like more explanation, there are videos available on I recommend signing up there to see the training portal.

Once you’re in the portal, you can access paid coaching and a mastermind, as well.

Alternative Goal-Getting Journals

SELF Journal, which I used and liked, has many similarities to the 90X Goal Planner. It has a full spread for each day. While the 90X has the weekly check-in pages before each week, the SELF Journal has all the weekly planning pages in the front.

Another popular alternative to the 90X Goal Journal is the Productivity Planner from Intelligent Change. I have not used this one, but the main difference appears to be that the Productivity Planner incorporates pomodoro tracking.

A newer option, which I also have not tried, is the Freedom Journal from John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire. It’s a little more expensive than the 90X. It breaks down your 100 day goal into 10-day sprints. It includes a gratitude prompt every day and frequent check-ins.

Conclusions – is the 90x Planner worth it?

I’m glad I bought the 90x Goal Planner. It showed me a few new tricks for setting and achieving goals. The overall quality of the planner is fantastic.

As long as you’re not turned off by the aggressively motivational style, this planner should work for you. I would be surprised if anyone said it wasn’t effective.

If you’re not an entrepreneur, consider the pared-down three-goal version of this planner, the Action Planner.

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Productivity for Entrepreneurs – Link Roundup December 2018 Sat, 08 Dec 2018 18:18:03 +0000 Timeless advice for entrepreneur productivity

The post Productivity for Entrepreneurs – Link Roundup December 2018 appeared first on LifeDev.

finding your way

It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur. There are countless sources of information on how to be productive. I’ve rounded up just a few that really stood out this month.

Follow Up Boss published a list of ways to manage your time better. It does a great job of explaining how to make sure you’re working on actions that give you the most leverage. I especially agree with the advice that you should know your best hours to work.

Zapier’s blog has an article about making difficult decisions that I found really insightful. One key takeaway for me was to think long term when making decisions. Importantly, it also talks about committing to your decision to avoid the what-ifs.

Taylor Pearson posted on Medium about how to overcome the fear of failure – a topic especially relevant for new entrepreneurs. He shows how to reframe your thinking from worker to investor. From there, you can build systems to get quick feedback from your efforts.

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