Using the “Right Tools”

It seems like everyone wants to find the perfect tool to be more productive.

So they go out of their way to try every new thing that comes along searching for something to fill their need.

The productive feeling is there, but the productivity isn’t.

More tools do not equal more productivity.

Instead, you need the right tools for you.

Tools are unique to a job or skill.

Sure you can use a shoe to pound a nail, but a hammer is really the right tool for the job.

Across the internet I see so many writers trying to convince you that they know what tools are best for you.

Do they really understand your needs or circumstances?

Sometimes the tools you have and already use are the best for your situation. You just need to know how to use them more effectively.

I can’t tell you what tools are right for you and your situation, but I can share the tools I use and how I work with them to be productive.

Sign up to learn what’s in my toolbox and to see how I use them to stay on top of all life throws at me.

How to Organize Loose Tasks

Everyone has “loose tasks.” You know, the ones that just don’t seem to fit into any project. They just hang there without a home. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how science says you should organize loose tasks.

Photo courtesy of Liz West via Flickr

Last week Michael Sliwinski, the founder of Nozbe, shared his plan for dealing with loose tasks.

Here are his thoughts:

According to neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin in his book The Organized Mind, Michael is on the right track.

The premise of his book is simple.

Everyone needs a junk drawer where they can put that random assortment of stuff that shows up in their life.

The caveat is…

You need to regularly review that drawer and see if there are any new categories or if anything in the drawer fits within an existing category.

I’d say there is a strong case that this junk drawer methodology can work with Nozbe and actually help you get more done.

First, let go of your perfectionism. Sometimes our systems have to be flexible.

In Nozbe, I have several different junk drawers for personal, work, etc.

For each group of projects (or label), I have a Miscellaneous project. Here’s what that looks like:

Every day I sort my Inbox in Nozbe.

Many of the tasks fit directly into another project. More than a few of those loose tasks do not, and they never will.

For those tasks that belong to a general category, I add them to the Misc project.

Then, as part of my weekly review, I categorize tasks as needed if I see a new project starting to form.

That’s it!

You can organize your loose tasks by being okay with a little imperfection. Let your Misc projects be your junk drawers.

Just remember to sort them regularly 😉

Question: How to do you organize your loose tasks? Leave your comment by clicking here.


All New Evernote iOS App

Today Evernote introduced a completely revamped version of its iOS app.

The actions you actually use are streamlined and even faster. Check out their video to see what’s new and how you can speed up your productivity.

Reach Your Reading Goal This Year with Overdrive

Always be learning. That’s one of my mottos. What can I say…I’m a teacher by trade. If you’re not formally in a classroom, reading is the best way to make sure you’re learning each and every day. And you must have a reading goal.

Every year I set a reading goal. Last year I set out to read 12 books. Here are a few of those books. This year that number is 24. Is that kind of reading goal achievable with four kids, three jobs, and too much to do (see what I did there)?

I’m here to tell you that it’s more than achievable if you use the tools at your disposal.

hands hand book reading

Last year I was able to reach and surpass my reading goal thanks to an app I found and my local library. And the best part, it’s completely FREE.

Here’s what you can do to reach your reading goal this year.

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Top 10 Posts of 2016 (Nozbe’s a Big Hit!)

This has been an incredible year. I have been blessed to share my writing with you and appreciate all your support.

Top 10 Posts of 2016

Below are the Top 10 Posts of 2016. As you can see, Nozbe seems to be popular ;-), but I figured as much.

If you missed one of these posts, now is a great chance to catch up before 2017 gets underway.

  1. Nozbe Email Integration
  2. Nozbe and Google Calendar
  3. The Only FOUR Apps You Need to be Productive
  4. Batching in Nozbe
  5. Stay Organized with Nozbe Project Labels & Colors
  6. 5 Steps for Choosing the Right Apps
  7. My 3 Favorite Updates in Nozbe 3.0
  8. What Does the Nozbe Ratio Actually Mean & What’s it Good for?
  9. Your Basic Nozbe Workflow
  10. Setting Up Nozbe Integrations

I can’t wait to share what I have in store for 2017.

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2016 Year in Review

So, here it is. My 2016 year in review aka my After Action Review.

Below is a quick summary of my goals, sustains, and improves for 2016 as well as a few plans for 2017.

Big Picture

In 2016 I tried something new. Instead of just charging ahead with smaller goals as they came up, I went through Michael Hyatt‘s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever and wrote more clearly defined goals. This year was the result of those plans and it was my best year yet.

Blog Goals

There were three big goals I wanted to accomplish with the site this year.

  1. Post more consistently and on a regular schedule
  2. Become a Nozbe Ambassador
  3. Be more real with my writing to be less of a “Professor” or “Sage”

Summary

  1. I shared 35 posts this year almost doubling the amount of content on this site.
  2. This year I worked with the Nozbe team to become a Nozbe Ambassador and help more people streamline their own productivity systems.
  3. I’m getting more real every day and will keep working on this next year.

Sustains

  1. I wrote more consistently than ever before by creating a step-by-step process to manage ideas, drafting, and posting. I’ll have a post showing off my workflow soon.
  2. Stretching my comfort zone and reaching out to the Nozbe team halfway across Earth was a major win. I developed a plan of action, submitted articles for the Productive! Magazine, and am now featured on Nozbe’s site right next to Michael Hyatt.
  3. This year I wrote posts teaching people how to take real actions that can help productivity instead of just a giving them a bunch of productivity theory. Action beats theory every time.

Improves

  1. Although I almost doubled the amount of content on this site, I still need to be more consistent when it comes to posting and planning ahead. There were too many times this year that I was struggling at the last minute to get something out or even just completely missed a week.
  2. I drove hard to be a Nozbe Ambassador but didn’t have a plan for what to do afterward. I guess I keep learning that it’s important to “have a plan for after the plan.”
  3. Yes, I still come off too much like a professor in a lot of my writing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a teacher by trade or just that I have a difficult time opening up. I’ll be working on this again in 2017

Recommendations

  1. In 2017, I’m starting with a goal to publish one post per week. My workflow is set to have posts ready and scheduled in advance. If I get sick or want to take a day off with my family, the posts will already be there ready to go (that’s the plan anyway).
  2. I’m developing a Nozbe and productivity coaching program to help people in a one-on-one setting. My goal in 2017 is to personally work with no less than 12 readers to help them create personalized systems that work. Learn more and schedule your clarity call here if you want to be one of those 12.
  3. I’ve discovered that the best way to “be more real” is to talk to real people. That’s part of the reason for the coaching program. But, I’m also taking more to Twitter and Instagram to share some of the behind the scenes of my life. Opening up about what’s happening in real time will hopefully break down the barrier between me and you.

Annual Review Using the After Action Review Process

Every year is transformational in one way or another. If you really want to be productive, this is the time of year to reflect on 2016 and prepare for 2017. Each year you have a chance to learn lessons from the previous year.

AAR Process

Measuring each year’s successes and failures is key to knowing how to improve the next year. Every year I personally go through Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. But as an Army officer, I use the After Action Review (AAR) process as a guideline for reflection. Follow along below as I show you how to conduct an annual review using the AAR process.

Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever!

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How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever

Holy smokes! The year is almost over. I know many of you are making plans for 2017. Before you jump too far into planning, I want to share a quick story about why this year was way better than last year, and how you can make 2017 your best year ever.

how-to-make-2017-your-best-year-ever

If you look at the headlines, 2016 was a wreck. It started with a gorilla, had a knock-down-drag-out election season, and a whole load of messes in between. But if you look past the news, good things were happening all around in people’s everyday lives.

The year before, 2015, was a tough year for my family.

My wife was in school, we were expecting our fourth baby, I left for military training across the country for four months, and more. The baby was born while I was away and my wife toughed through school with a newborn on her lap while taking care of the other three kids at home.

Meeting my new little girl.

A photo posted by Robby Miles (@robbymiles) on

Once I got home from training, the school year was already three-week underway, not fun if you’re the teacher. I had to jump into teaching without any preparation.

The next few months flew by and I felt like I never saw the people I loved most.

I was strapped for time, working myself to death, getting no sleep with a newborn in the house, and on the edge of depression.

Have you ever been in a situation like this where you felt like no matter what you did or how hard you tried, the world was plotting against you and making things more difficult at every turn?

I was frustrated beyond belief. I’d long since dropped any focus on goal setting. I knew that 2016 could be better if I could only find the right tools to get me in control again.

In December, my buddy John Meese told me about some awesome training that Michael Hyatt was sharing. He shared the LifeScore Assessment and ultimately Michael’s flagship 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course.

Learn How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever!

Michael Hyatt always had great content, but I’d never purchased a “premium” priced online course before. I was totally skeptical that five twenty-minute videos and a workbook could change my life. But my wife and I wanted more for 2016.

When I first mentioned the course to my wife she loved the idea. But, the cost seemed ridiculously high to both of us. We bounced the idea back and forth for a few days missing out on Early Bird pricing and some super bonuses as we tried to figure out how to pay for it.

Finally, we spent the last $500 in credit we had. We decided to buy the VIP version of 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. We decided that if it wasn’t worth the cost, we’d just ask for the refund. There was nothing to lose and we were desperate to change our life.

The night we bought the course we watched the first video and worked through the workbook together.

As cliche as it sounds, we made a pact to make 2016 our best year ever!

As we sat on our bed talking about what we wanted 2016 to look like, we were hopeful but still discouraged. We knew the statistics that say that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

Each of us carefully crafted 8-10 goals and posted them on the wall to hold ourselves accountable. Took our “before” pictures for our health goals and were ready to make a difference. We still haven’t taken the “after” pictures. Some goals will happen next year.

Did everything go perfectly?

Absolutely not. To be totally honest we barely completed 50% of the goals we set last year. But the goals we did accomplish have completely changed our life.

The biggest thing Best Year Ever did for us was to change our attitude towards goal setting. We broke big goals down into bite-sized chunks we could actually accomplish.

More than that, we had something positive to keep our eyes on as we went through some tough months. We regularly ended our texts with #BYE. Though, often we meant it sarcastically when things especially sucked.

As we knocked out small wins, we built confidence that we were in charge of our life and could do more of what we want and actually see results.

With the VIP package, we were part of the exclusive Facebook group and got monthly coaching from Michael Hyatt. This was absolutely priceless.

We always watched each month’s videos with kids and got them involved and setting their own goals too. Our support network grew on Facebook and at home. And, the monthly pep-talks and check-ins kept us motivated when things got tough.

Learn How to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever!

Some of our big accomplishments were:

Reaching out to mentors and seizing opportunities we wouldn’t have noticed or acted on before.

I actually began working with John and MeeseWorks as technical support and a course creator.

My wife finished her degree and got a job in her field and earned a 16% raise in the first four months.

So proud of this lady 😘

A photo posted by Robby Miles (@robbymiles) on

We set reasonable schedules for the kids and got them on some awesome routines. Even better, we focused on spending some real quality time with them.

Cleared at least 20% of the clutter from our house.

I became a Nozbe Ambassador and am featured right next to Michael Hyatt on the Nozbe site.

I read at least one book per month (most people don’t even read one per year)

I know some of these might seem like small accomplishments to some, but each small accomplishment set our family on the path we’d always dreamed was possible.

We’re not to that dream-life we see for ourselves someday, but we are heading the right direction thanks to John’s recommendation of the Best Year Ever Course.

Today you have the opportunity to change your life.

If you’re frustrated with life and ready to give up like I was, stop everything and listen to me.

Things can and will be different in 2017 if you decide to take action now.

You could go through another year doing the same old thing and getting the same old results.

You could wish you were healthier.

You could want to spend more time with your kids.

You could even work yourself to death trying to provide for your family.

All these things are good (except working to death), but unless you have a plan and take action, this year will just be a repeat of last year. Is that what you really want?

Michael Hyatt just opened 2017 enrollment for his 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course.

Click below to learn more about this course and hear some other amazing transformation stories.

Act fast because Early Bird pricing ends December 8th at Midnight. After that, you can still purchase the course until December 15th, but it will cost more.

Click Here to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever!

Why It’s Important to Measure and Score Your Life

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about measuring and assessing progress. As the year winds down I’m constantly reminded of how I’m running out of time to accomplish my goals. You ever feel the same way when December starts sneaking up on you?

You’ve probably heard some old science professor in his white lab coat tell you, “What you don’t observe, you can’t measure, and what you can’t measure, you can’t understand.” He was totally right.

why-its-important-to-measure-and-score-your-life

In my classroom measuring progress means giving students assignments, quizzes, tests, and other assessments. Any teacher worth a darn helps students measure their progress by giving real-time feedback for improving a specific set of skills.

Remember the “Kill and Drill” when it came to math. It was a quick snapshot of how well you understood basic math facts. My kids still love beating their high score from last time.

It’s no different when it comes to the military. And not just the “Kill and Drill part.”

Every training event has measurable standards to rate soldiers on their ability to complete certain “warrior tasks” or “battle drills”.

As a leader, it’s my job to assess how well the troops are trained, areas to re-train, and how effective the planning was to begin with. I’m supposed to develop a clear picture of my unit’s overall readiness to complete our missions.

In business, I’ve seen the professor’s statement look more like, “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

It’s certainly true in school, the military, business, sports, and science. Look at anything in life where you want to get better, and you have to know the starting point.

But what about life?

How do you measure progress with your whole life?

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Why You Should Learn From the Best

There are a few ways to learn something new. You can try to do things on your own and hope for the best. Sometimes this works, but most of the time there are obstacles you never saw coming and you get bogged down never reaching your goal. Or, you can take a shortcut and learn from the best people who’ve gone before you.

Which one sounds like the better option?

Why You Should Learn From the Best

When it comes to learning from others, take time to learn from the best because they’ve been there and can help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. Here are three reasons why learning from the best will help you reach your goals.

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