On yesterday’s post Ian Mcleary shared his 10 top productivity tips. Very useful:

1. Sort out my to-do list every morning
2. Start at 7 every morning.
3. Review my 99 day goals every week
4. Review my stats every week
5. Keep my CRM system up to date
6. Bring my laptop to meetings and be productive when waiting for people before meetings.
7. Do the GYM at least 3 times a week at lunchtime. The GYM helps me think and makes me more productive.
8. Avoid the laptop 1 day a week. You are more productive with 6 days work not 7.
9. Group my tasks by context, if I’m on the phone I try to do the phone calls all at once.
10. Make sure I’m doing 1 to 9 :-)

I’d say those are pretty good – although point 10 is blatant cheating.

Your Leading Thoughts

  • Dont’ worry about 10. What are your top 3 productivity tips?

Archived Comments

  • Anonymous

    1. Read something inspiring everyday
    2. Buy an iPad
    3. Know how to turn everything that turns on – off.

  • Anonymous

    Nice list Scott. How about 10 ways to be more disciplined to tackle your productivity 10?

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    1. Honour time;
    2. Honour people;
    3. Honour self.

  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    Lists are vital. They show progress & they help break things into manageable chunks. Still waiting for the dream (cloud based) productivity software. There are a few out there… but how many could handle items 1 through 5? and well?

  • http://flavors.me/berniejmitchell#_ Berniejmitchell

    I like to start really early in the morning and do work in work time.
    I only really committed to work in work time in my heart this year and the results have been great.
    Of course I still chase my tail lots! – I am not invincible – (well maybe just a bit.)
    Going running, especially first thing is essential, especially when you don’t want to! It really shakes the cobwebs out and you are probably more scared of getting out your comfort zone rather than getting wet.
    I have got life down to Basecamp & Capsule CRM and keep disciplined at keeping these up to date, keeping these up to date really helps with focus.
    What I would add to the list is this…
    At night I write down five important things for tomorrow on a post it note before I go to bed. It means I won’t forget them (douh!) Also it means I think about them as I sleep rather than lie awake!
    Also I am really into the idea of working within constraints to help you niche and focus!
    Glad I got that off my chest!

  • / Scott Gould

    LOL – bring em James!

  • / Scott Gould

    Only you could sum this up so well :-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Lists are good but I get too close to dying a thousand deaths by them when I feel I get overwhelmed by them.

    I think the real trick is in doing less – focussing.

    How was Leeds?

  • / Scott Gould

    Do you find those help you get focus and deal with all the little foxes that spoil the vine?

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks for these tips Bernie

    Which do you think makes the biggest difference? Which are the ones that create more work? (like GTD I find does create more work) and which are those which help you eliminate work?


  • Anonymous

    I think so.

    1. Reading something inspiring keeps the mind active, it gives you focus and direction.

    2. Using “Things” on the iPad has completely consolidated my mish-mash approach to task management up until now, and Evernote being always with me makes finding things much easier.

    3. Knowing how to turn things off is crucial. What I mean by this is knowing that things do have a Off button, and you can choose to press it. You change choose to tune out. And you should. We often forget that the world will not end if we don’t check in, tweet, email or text for a couple of hours, or even a couple of weeks. The more we learn to switch off for appropriate amounts of time, the more productive we are when things are turned on!

  • http://twitter.com/GemmaWent Red Cube Marketing

    Agree with James, Things is a lifesaver and having it sync from my mac to iphone is a key feature as I can update on the go (which is most of the time). And yes, I review it every morning and reset tasks depending on the unplanned stuff that inevitably appears.

    Scott, which CRM system are you using? Im currently reviewing options so any thoughts from you (or others here) would be great.

    I guess your ‘gym three times a week’ is similar to my horse riding every morning. I find this de-stresses and focuses me far more than anything else I did before I got the horse. Building these activities into your day (or week) are vital to health, well being and ability to deliver quality work.

  • Anelly

    There are also many tools that can improve your productivity and ease your tasks. Here is an interesting article about how self-motivation can help you to get things done. http://blog.cyclope-series.com/2010/05/self-motivation-%E2%80%93-the-best-cure-for-getting-things-done/

  • Anonymous

    The now expanded version of these thoughts here http://bit.ly/c1nzx7

  • / Scott Gould

    Nicely put.

    I certainly think focus is the key here. Lists help, but lists without focus don’t matter.

    Activities that sharpen our focus are what I’m interested in


  • / Scott Gould

    I used to use things but found it it clunky – Ive used RTM for the last two years because it updates ‘over the air’

    I don’t use a CRM, Gemma. I don’t have many clients so it’s not necessary.

    Ian’s gym and your horse riding is good. I need to build them into my life – need balance!


  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    Focus as you know, is an illusive elixir I love the taste of but am working on diligently to improve. Found myself purposefully telling myself off for getting stuck in an email checking loop. It’s like an infinite loop for the brain. Too much input, not enough do. Gonna try turning off email notifications actually (they’re tremendously distracting). Really like the look of the GMail priority mail thing too.

  • http://ivanhernandezonline.wordpress.com/ Ivan Hernandez

    Hi Scott,

    The three productivity tips I would share with you are:

    1. Think on paper. Any plan, decision, idea you have, put it on paper, do not try to do everything in your head.

    2. Any time you have decided to go for something or you have a new idea you wish to start, do not allow to pass more that 24 hrs before you do at least one thing connected to that idea/decision. Starting is always the hardest part, so by starting right away you will create the momentum needed to get the ball rolling.

    3. Before you actually do anything, you need to define and understand (a) WHAT is is that you really want, or in other words what is the result or outcome you are looking for; (b) WHY you want this; and (c) well, once you know WHAT and WHY, then you can come up with the HOW to do it, or how it is that you plan to accomplish this outcome.

    Actually, you just inspired me to make a post on these subject. I will let you know once is done :)

    All the best,


  • Anonymous

    Hi Ivan, let us all know when it’s done. Writing your idea down is a great idea. It’s also a good idea to write down any problem in your head because you put some structure to it and this helps solve the problem!

  • Anonymous

    Hi James, it’s a small world, I met you in London at a social media event earlier this year!

  • Anonymous

    So we did! Apologies for not noticing before!

  • http://ivanhernandezonline.wordpress.com/ Ivan Hernandez

    Hi Ian!

    Thanks for your message. I totally agree with your remarks about putting some structure. This is crucial, particularly when we talk about complex problems.

    Just wanted to let you know that I have just posted the video in my blog. Here is the link:


    Have a great day,


    P.S. I take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your tips, they are great! I share with you almost all of them, but definitely I will start implementing point 8 :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks for this Ivan!

  • http://twitter.com/mr_vpw therioman

    My tips…

    1. Switch Off. Leave it behind. I’ve been significantly more effective since I realised you don’t need to work 24/7/365 to do a good job. In fact you need to work LESS to do MORE.

    2. Use a paper to-do list, and a small notepad. I realise this goes against my normally very technology centric ways, and I generally do not like paper, but you really truely cannot in my view beat that for reliability and ease of jotting thoughts down. Technology just doesn’t do that bit well. But I’d not want to use paper/pen for anything other than notes and To-Do Lists

    3. If you’re an e-mail heavy person, don’t have it set to auto send/receive. Check your e-mail as/when you’re ready. In batches you’re more effective than the constant “bing bing bing” of new e-mail. I manage to keep my 300-600 per day direct e-mails (never mind all the not to me personally stuff) in perfect order very rapidly with this approach.

  • http://jdmeier.myopenid.com/ J.D. Meier

    I start with 3 stories that I want to use to drive my day … 3 outcomes that matter.
    These fit into my 3 stories that I use to drive my week … to help me see the forest from the trees.

    From there, I simply plug against the magic formular:
    – Am I working on the right things, at the right time, with the right energy, the right way?

  • / Scott Gould

    1. Agreed – hence away again at the moment! Switching off means that when you do switch on, you have some resources to actually use!

    2. I do weekly planning on paper, and then whenever I need to re-evaluate. Do you use it as your total to do list?

    3. I need to get better at this. At the moment I check as and when, although I don’t get as much email as you at all!

    Thanks for these insights Vince – seems everyone is saying similar things

  • / Scott Gould

    So you prioritise three essential tasks per day, yes?

  • http://mimosaplanet.com James M Cooper

    What has worked for me….

    1. Next Day Vital 2 Tasks: Basically, do the To Do list the night before, then number the Top 2 must do’s, everything else is rubbish.

    2. Eliminate: 80% of stuff can be just eliminated from the schedule / to do list, it just doesn’t add any real value. Focus on the stuff that delivers on goals, where is the true ROI and ROE (return on effort).

    3. Set Impossible Time Frames: Why do something in 1 hour, when 20 mins is doable. Hey, I’d love everything to be perfect, but then I’d never finish anything. Going from 95% to 98% could be as much as tripling the time required… and maybe you’d be the only one who would notice the difference of the extra 3%… let it go!

  • / Scott Gould

    Very good. Does this require you to be on the ball all day? What I mean is, I often have days when I am v productive, and then days when I am not…

  • http://mimosaplanet.com James M Cooper

    In theory yes, in practice the ball often gets dropped and it’s time to go. I’ve experimented with work patterns and outputs a little to see what produces better results; the standard 40hr 9-5, or 8-8 5days, did 80+ hrs a wk for a mth, and then even 8 hrs pwk total for 18 mths… what’s the conclusion? I’m probably not a fan of the word productive, I like ‘effective’… I don’t believe it’s semantics either. One thing I have found, if I’ve got something booked in the afternoon (whether it’s the gym, a meeting, to go snowboarding or sailing, whatever) then I have to finish important tasks when I’m first in the office, so I guess that helps to keep focused.

    Nice point on avoiding the laptop!

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks for clarifying James – I like the idea of booking activities to force you to finish on time! That might work for me…


  • http://www.comrz.com Markus Karlsson

    Top 3 Productivity Tips1) Minimise your Email Inbox Set up lots of rules on your email. Unsubscribe from all mailing lists and switch to Twitter / Google Reader for your incoming info streams (you can always ignore these and don’t have to do anything with them).2) Keep a To Do list and regularly check your ABCDEs: A = top priorities affecting many, B = top priorities affecting few (or one), C = non-urgent priorities, D = delegate, E = erase You can use anything for your To Do list, I now use Evernote as it works on all my devices and is always on me.3) Use Mindmaps whenever dealing with new concepts. Good mindmapping software such as Mindjet MindManager has a phenomenal impact on the productivity of pulling together projects and complex ideas.4) An extra one is to make sure you don’t overdo social media. Over indulging in Tweet / Post consumption is just as bad for your well being as over eating.

  • Anonymous

    Embrace those days as a time that you marched to the beat of a different drummer. The key is to not consider lack of completion as failure, but simply as a day you operated differently. Acknowledge it, move on, and press on. :-)

    P.S. Your brain is always operating in high speed. I have no doubt that those slow days are still very productive!

  • / Scott Gould

    Stephanie – good thoughts!

    I am learning now that if I get to the office and I’m not being as productive as normal, I instead do something else like setup meetings with people, or take time to do planning. This way I don’t waste it, you know?

    As you say, a different drum

  • / Scott Gould

    Markus – TOP tips there.

    I especially like your ABCDEs. This is what I do with the GTD system, although never seen it written down like this before. VERY Usrful :-)