Monday, November 13, 2017

✔️ The new 2 hour rule - stop procrastinating and get your scariest tasks done!

I’m half way editing my new 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity book and reviewing it brings back memories of learning the basic productivity principles... like the famous “2 minute rule” introduced by David Allen in his “Getting Things Done” book (Amazon|Audible). The rule says that if you have a small task that can realistically be done in less than 2 minutes, do it now. Don’t put it on your task list, just do it. Well, today I want to introduce you to a new rule regarding the BIG tasks - a 2 hour rule - meaning, if you’ve got a scary task which you’re afraid to do because it requires lots of thinking and you’re afraid it’s going to take you a day or two... just turn off all distractions and block off 2 hours of your time - and you’ll be amazed at the results! By the end of these 2 hours you’ll have the task usually completed! Here’s my “scientific” proof:

The new 2 hour rule - stop procrastinating and get your scariest tasks done!

How I procrastinated on a few tasks recently

Before I get to my point, a personal story. As the CEO of Nozbe, I wear many “hats”, meaning I get to be a product visionary, which I love... a marketing manager, which I like... and a manager of my company, which I don’t like as much... but I still have to do it. Recently I had quite a few big tasks regarding the company management - some legal issues, some employee-related issues... and other tasks which I’d consider necessary but boooooring. That’s why I was doing everything to avoid doing these tasks. I was old-school procrastinating on them. But these tasks had to be done. And I had to do them... and they kept creeping up on me during each weekly review... and I kept postponing them...

Friday, December 9, 2016

☑️ My template for doing a Weekly Review

Weekly review is one of the keys to a better productivity and better life. The term was coined by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done and the idea is to perform a regular, weekly review of your life. It's a meeting we should schedule with ourselves to go through everything that happened last week, analyze it, learn from it, then clean up to plan and prepare for next week. Sounds easy, right? Well, it's not that easy but today to make things easier for you I've prepared my definite template for a great weekly review:

Weekly Review on

Weekly Review at

Weekly review is hard because we literally have to force oursevles to do it. We just don't have the time, right? I've been struggling with it, I've been escaping to a cafe to do it. I've gone through different approaches and I explained why it's important in the Step 8 of my 10-step Productivity Course. Before this template I published two simpler ones on #publicNozbe and on but the one I'm linking to today is my most definite one:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

✔ My way of project management and planning

Some time ago I wrote about how I deal with my "Inboxes" and offered a set of extra tips and tricks from my "10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course". Today, to keep you going, I would like to focus on the other part of the productivity jigsaw: the projects.

Note: The following article appeared fist in the March issue of iMagazine - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.


OK, but what are we calling "projects"?

According to a definition that comes from "Getting Things Done" book by David Allen, project is "any commitment that takes more than one step to complete." This is a great description, however it could be more flexible. Let's see an example: writing this blog post might be a task ("write a blog about projects") as well as a project with several tasks ("prepare the post structure", "write the post", "choose a photo", etc.)

I find myself needing to find a different solution, where sometimes I group a couple of really easy tasks into one big task consisting of several small steps... and in different circumstances I prefer to create a separate project with a number of tasks. I think it all comes down to complexity of what you're set out to accomplish...

Here's how I approach projects:

Monday, August 11, 2014

✔ Next Actions and Holidays: How vacation planning apps can teach you to get organized...

We're half way through the Summer and I'm going on a vacation next week so today I'm going to write about "next actions" and holidays... inspired by my step 3 of my "10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity Video Course". Let's start with your actual next action: planning your holiday :)

Next Actions and Holidays

The holiday should be an inspiration for work

I go on holidays because I want to relax, recharge my batteries and get inspired... I want to have some rest from everyday routine in order to get back to it later with more motivation and power. To make it possible, the apps that help me have a good time and not forget about anything should make me reflect on the work-related tasks. Here's how they work for me:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Jason Fried thinks about GTD

Yesterday we published Productive! Magazine #8 and this one is with my software/business guru - Jason Fried of 37signals

If you haven't, I encourage you to grab your copy of the PDF magazine (it's free). The iPad version (also free) is coming next week.

If you missed my video interview with Jason, make sure to check it out (there is a 6:30 min version and a very "short and sweet" 1-min version).

On design:
"I don't have a background in design... I studied business, but always loved design"

On making software:
"I'm more like an editor - when I set someone on a right track - they write something, they design something, I look at it, tweak it, to make sure it's good, to make it better... and then we launch it"

On typical day:
"the thing that is typical for me is an inbox that has about 130 emails every day..."

On business:
"you really have to be careful, especially when you love your business. You can love people and you can love the business... and then you're in love with two things"

"If you have a bookshelf, you have to fill it with books. If you have a Getting-Things-Done-like system, you have to fill it with tasks - so sometimes you create more work for yourself than you actually need."

On his book - Rework:
"We didn't set out to write a book, we set out to share... and then over 10 years of sharing we looked back and saw that hey, we have a book here"

On building great things:
"To create something great, you have to cut it in half... keep shortening it... and really figure out what really needs to be there"

On his role in 37signals:
"I want to build the team a little bit more, I want to continue to learn, I want the team to get better - for me it's really great to see everyone getting better all of the time..."

Apart from my interview with Jason there are also some really cool articles that hopefully will inspire you to get things done!

If you think someone else will also like the magazine, make sure to send it over to them. Thanks for spreading the word!
I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mindmapping for Weekly Review and brainstorming

A few months ago I posted my GTD (Getting Things Done) Weekly Review routine and recently I even posted it as a #publicNozbe project for you to enjoy and use every week. Got some really nice feedback from my readers and Twitter followers with a recurring question: how do I use Mindmaps in my weekly review? Well, here's how...

Mindmapping is cool for "brainstorming"

I have identified several roles for me (inspired by Anthony Robbins' Rapid Planning Method) and I align my goals around these roles. Tony Robbins actually encourages you to name your roles in a cool, inspiring sort of way so I do it like this and I really love it. Here are the roles I have in my business life:

- Productivity Expert - I'm the guy who runs Productive! Magazine and all the related stuff and I want to be good in this
- Ueber Blogger - I need to be great at writing and blogging here on my blog as well as in Productive! Firm and other places
- Hugo Boss (don't laugh) - I'm running a small company so I have some goals around being a good boss for my team
- BizDev PRO - I need to develop my business and build cool products (especially Nozbe) and excel in this
- Bestselling Author - I'm writing two books on startups and productivity and at some point in time I'd like to publish them with success
- Language Guru - I speak Polish (my mother tongue), English, Spanish and German. I'm trying to re-learn my Russian and I'm learning Japanese now. Loving it.

Mindmapping gives me a big picture

Every week when I do my weekly review, I go through my roles to see how my goals around these roles are aligned. If I'm going forward, backwards or if I'm standing still. It gives me time to reflect on my projects and actions in Nozbe and if they are going in the right direction. I do this before I go to Nozbe and review my projects and actions.

Mind maps are so cool because I can collapse/expand certain areas of a map (roles, goals) and see the bigger or smaller picture. It's great and helps me have a clear view and kick in the 10k-50k level thinking - it just gives me perspective - that's why it's so important in my life to use a mindmap.

I don't use mindmapping for tasks

It's strictly roles and goals (sometimes interim goals also known as "sub-goals") but that's it. That's as specific as I go in a mindmap. Out of these goals the projects and actions in Nozbe emerge and I put them in my Nozbe account.

I know folks that use mindmaps for projects and actions but I've found it to be too cumbersome for me - too many branches of the mindmap to click to get to some certain actions and too many distractions along the way. I'd rather review my goals in the mindmap once a week and then put appropriate actions to Nozbe and get them done there. It all makes more sense to me.

Which software to use for mindmapping?

There is a bunch of cool software for that. When I was on my TabletPC I was using Mindmanager from Mindjet (available for Mac and Windows). Now I use Xmind which is free (and cross-platform) and also has really cool keyboard shortcuts (which can be re-defined my way) - this helps me browse my mindmap and add stuff without using the mouse. You can also use a cloud-based Mindmeister, which is great, too. I'm sure there is more but these are the ones I tried.

Good luck mind-mapping and weekly reviewing!

Hope with this blog post you'll be on the right track and get the Weekly Review done every week. One of my Japanese friends and a very cool blogger once said: "Weekly Review takes 2 hours this week... and saves me lots of hours next week, so it's always worth the effort". Good luck!

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interview with Michael Hyatt for Productive Magazine 7 - Show #31

In the 7th issue of our free monthly Productive! Magazine (out next week) we'll talk to Michael Hyatt - the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and blogger at - about social media, productivity, responsiveness, professional success, work/life balance and health... the complete interview is in the magazine - here's the teaser trailer with some great advice by Michael Hyatt:


Watch and comment on YouTube

Question: Are you responsive? How is your Work/Life balance?

If you have enjoyed this episode of the Productive! Show, please subscribe:

Subscribe to VIDEO podcast | Get VIDEO from iTunes

Subscribe to AUDIO podcast | Get AUDIO from iTunes

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mike Vardy interviews David Allen about GTD

One of our regular contributors, Mike Vardy (the one who's behind all the humorist articles about eventualism in our magazine) just interviewed David Allen of GTD (Getting Things Done) fame (and who's on the cover of our first issue of Productive! Magazine). Mike Vardy is the host of WorkAwesome podcast so make sure to check out this new episode and subscribe to his podcast: WorkAwesome Podcast with GTD David Allen

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eat that frog! Brian Tracy's take on procrastination - audiobook of the week

I keep on listening to these great audiobooks and today I decided to dive into the book I "read" a few months ago - it's Brian Tracy's take on procrastination:

Get this book on: Audible Amazon

It's an excellent motivational book. Brian really knows how to convince you to eat that frog in the morning... meaning - to start off a day with the most important task, even though it might taste like a frog in the beginning.

The importance of big tasks

Brian is not the only one to bring this about. Leo Babauta is highlighting this in his Zen To Done approach (learn more about Leo in Productive Magazine #4) where he talks about three big rocks you need to take on every day.

Why should we eat "that frog"?

Completion, accomplishment, power. These are the most important senses we get from tackling the "big rocks" or eating 'that frog". When you start off a day, you'll be overwhelmed by lots of tasks that come by, lots of fires to put out and lots of people to talk to and deal with... and if you don't watch out, you'll spend the day dealing with these issues as they go... and feel like you haven't accomplished a thing that day.

Discover your frogs for tomorrow... today!

Plan this - decide what needs to be done tomorrow - and plan to do it. Don't overwhelm yourself. Decide on max three frogs. The next day start with the ugliest frog and go from there... or start with the mid-ugly frog, than go to the ugliest one and finish it off with the one that's "more eatable".

How to find these frogs?

Read the book (or listen to Brian via audio) and you'll find the motivation you need to literally eat that frog and have a great and productive day... every day. Good luck.

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting Weekly Review done... after 2 months

Last Thursday I did my long-overdue weekly review... after not doing one for close to 2 months. There, I've said it. I've been procrastinating my weekly review mostly due to our move to a new country (we moved across the Europe in September due to my wife's new job) and it was a very hectic time for us... and I needed my review so badly. I managed to get some half-reviews every now and then (that's how I managed to still get a lot done in the meantime) but it was finally time to do a proper review and take a deep breath. Here's how I did it:
Weekly Review is not that scary

Weekly Review is just that - a review of what you've done last week and what you're planning to do next week. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't have to take a whole day. It usually takes about 1 hour, maybe a little more, but it's just a review. Don't be afraid. It's not as spooky as we make it to be.

Embrace your backlog

I was afraid to do my weekly review for so much time as I had a backlog of emails, stuff to do, projects, etc. We were moving to a new country with lots of stuff to take care of, and I couldn't get my routine in place... and this even more withheld me from doing my Weekly Review. Bad thinking. Finally I embraced my backlog and included it in my review... and it helped. Once I did that, getting with inbox and REPLY folder in Mail to zero was easier and assessing my projects became clearer.

We are always busy - there is never a good time for a weekly review.

That's right. We are busy, I was too busy for a review... but without it I'd be running in wrong directions. Luckily I was doing mini-reviews every now and then... but without a proper review I'd be totally going wrong direction sooner than later. Just make a decision and schedule this 2-hour meeting with yourself. Even in your busy schedule you'll find the time. You really have to.

Divide it into small, actionable steps.

Weekly review is just that - a new project that you have to complete every week. Divide it into small steps and you'll get it done. One step at a time. Here are my steps for a good weekly review. I plan to follow them every week now:
My Weekly Review consists of two parts - preparation (1) and action (2)

PART 1 - First I need to prepare myself for the weekly review and I do it like this:

1. Clear physical inbox - I have a regular inbox tray where I put my receipts, snail mail and physical notes - and I empty it every day practically (I even empty my inbox after travel fairly quickly),so this takes me about 15 minutes to empty my current inbox before the review.

2. Inbox Zero + REPLY without fires, meaning, I need to have my Email inbox at ZERO (no biggie, I have it at zero every day) but then I don't need to have my REPLY folder at zero, I just need to make sure there are no fires there. It takes me about 30 minutes to scan and decide if I've responded to enough emails and I'm ready for the review.

3. Review Mindmap - I keep a mind map of all my life (the 50k level and below), meaning I have all my business and private roles there and the paths I'm going in these roles. I have all my strategic decisions for NozbeProductive! Firm and other projects there and every week I review it to make sure I know where I'm going.

If some direction changes, I update the mind map and if it's irrelevant I update it, too. This mind map review helps me decide my actions for next week (as well as assess last week's actions). I also review my past week's calendar to make sure nothing sleeps my mind.

PART 2 - Then I need to start getting the Weekly Review really done:

4. Re-arrange and revisit Nozbe Projects - I'm going through Nozbe projects (all of them) and checking if everything is there that needs to be. I'm removing all of my Next Actions and deciding on them once again. It takes me 30-45 minutes (depending if I did my Weelkly Review last week :-)

5. Clear Nozbe inbox - Every week I have around 10-20 actions in my Nozbe inbox so I decide on them quickly (move to a project, do, kill...) I prefer to first re-arrange projects (step 4) and later do the Inbox to make sure the actions go to good projects already.

6. Add stuff to where it should go - meaning - I need to add new stuff to my projects, add new actions based on my last week accomplishments and make sure my mind is empty and there is no action/deadline/calendar or meeting on my mind.

7. There it is. Time for a prayer and thanking the Lord. If you're not a faithful person, just relax and take a 5 minute of deep breaths, but I'm a practicing Roman-Catholic Christian and I believe in God and I'm really happy to thank him for everything he's done for me and for the love he gives me. I'm thanking for the good and the bad and for God being there in my life. And for letting me do my Weekly Review and feel better and more confident about where I'm going.

That's it. There's my weekly review and now that I've done the big one after such a long time, I'll try to stick to doing it really weekly. Follow me on Twitter where I'll be reporting my updates.

How is your Weekly Review coming along? What are your magical steps to get it done?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Me & Productivity on International Television BBC

When I got an email from LJ Rich, a very lively BBC presenter that she was doing a piece on productivity and that she was a Nozbe user, I was eager to go to London and talk to her. And I did, and now I made my first real appearance on television (yes, any television) and it's the BBC News International!

Here are several takeaways from my first public TV appearance:

1) It was fun, really fun thing to do

I was happy to visit London's BBC HQ and meet with LJ to do the interview. She's great and it's fun to be there in the recording studio talking with someone who's hidden in the darkness... and all flash lights are directed towards you.

Later LJ gave me a private tour of the BBC building and it was even more fun :-)

2) Most of what you say gets cut out, but that's OK

We had a close to 15 minute talk and as you can see from the clip, only a couple of sentences made it to the final cut. That's all right, that's how TV works and that's what makes these programs watchable and entertaining. I need to be more thorough with editing my own clips for the Productive Show!

3) I was humbled, I mean really humbled

Being featured as a productivity expert next to a famous University Professor and David Allen was unbelievable to me... I'm humbled and I'm so happy LJ included me in this piece. It was great to be mentioned along with these great guys.

I'm doing it all the other way round... again.

When I launched Nozbe three and a half years ago, I launched it in English for the American market... even though English is not my mother tongue. It took me more than three years to launch Nozbe in Polish.

Now with this TV appearance (being the first one ever for me) I got to appear on the International television first... and I've never been on national television here in my country. And let's see how many years it'll take me to appear here, if ever.

Again, thanks LJ for the opportunity - it was a blast and I'd be happy to do it again.

Anyway, I like doing things the other way round... it's more fun this way anyhow, don't you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't be like waiters memorizing orders

It's summer time so we are going out more often than usual (especially when the weather is nice). Because of that we are visiting various cafeterias and restaurants. What I recently found out is that some waiters are trying to show off how cool they are and instead of writing down what we want to order, they are trying to memorize everything... and almost every time it's a bad idea.
Whenever a waiter is trying to memorize the order I notice 5 types of feelings get involved:

1. Insecurity

I'm always asking: "Are you sure you don't want to write that down?", they assure me it's fine but I don't feel secure about their response and I'm afraid I'll be getting a wrong thing - not a feeling (and first impression) you want your customer to feel, now do you? I just don't trust this waiter.

2. Disappointment

Almost every time the waiter gets the order wrong. One time I didn't get a Cappuccino but Espresso, the other time I didn't get my beer with my meal ... and I have a lot more examples I can quote here. As a customer, I'm really disappointed.

3. Embarrassment

And the waiter is embarrassed. Their previous self esteem is gone with the wind and they are apologizing deeply for mixing the plates or forgetting something.... and having to come over several times to make sure that they got the order right. Not an image you want to project to your customer.

4. Anger

When the waiter gets several things wrong I'm starting to get really angry. I came here for a simple dinner/lunch/dessert and it was supposed to be a great experience now that I'm going out with my friends, but I'm getting angry instead. And believe me, as a business owner I can tell you - angry customers are something you should avoid at all costs.

5. Overall dissatisfaction

That's it. I'm totally dissatisfied. I hate this restaurant/cafe/bar and I just want to go home. I'm not in a mood of doing anything else this evening. Of course I'm exaggerating, but the bitter taste of a bad customer service stays with me the whole evening. And all because the waiter wanted to show off. Was it really worth it?

Don't be that waiter!

The main idea in David Allen's "Getting Things Done" book was to free your mind from memorizing stuff. Put it all into your trusted system and make sure you can retrieve it quickly and easily. David is so right in this regard!

I still sometimes catch myself saying "I can remember that" and I always regret it afterwards. Trust your system and not your head - and make sure you write stuff down. You'll later be glad you did.

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Productive Magazine #4 video intro: Working from home -

Two days ago we published (in a "virtual" way, in a free PDF format) the fourth issue of the Productive Magazine of which I am a proud editor. As I explained in one of my previous posts, I recorded a video where I walk you through the magazine:

In case you haven't already, get your own free copy of the Productive Magazine - it's a quick read (20 pages, articles by the best productivity bloggers on the Internet) and weights only 1.9 MB.

Question: Did you read this issue and the past issues? Any comments? Suggestions? What would you want to see/read in the next one?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Never give up. Just do it. Nike.

When I was a young boy I always wanted to own a pair of cool Nike shoes. They were very expensive in my country. My parents preferred to invest in my education and believed I'll get by with cheaper footwear. Why did I want the Nike shoes?
The logo and slogan I'd never forget.

The Nike company had this great "woooosh" logo and the slogan (or sales headline) of:

"Never Give Up. Just Do It."

I loved it. Sweet and to the point. Very motivating, very encouraging and incredibly inspiring. Amazing.

Shoes' sales pitch became my lifetime motto.

Yesterday when I posted on my Productive! Show web site the latest video featuring the #4 issue of the Productive! Magazine, Max, one of the viewers commented that all of my endeavors with this blog, the magazine and the video show are somehow imperfect and not professional, yet he enjoys them all the same.

He said he was inspired by the fact that I simply get these stuff done and out... and learn along the way.

I love just doing it. I try not to give up.

This is me. I just love my job of running Nozbe. Blogging here, editing the magazine and recording the video show. I learn along the way and I learn as I go. Enjoying each step of the way.

And yes, I own Nike shoes, too :-)

A friend recently asked me how I managed to wake up so early in the morning and get so much done? "I prepare what I have to do next day and I'm really excited about it... so I simply can't sleep longer!". He replied in a sad voice: "Right, I forgot, you're the one who actually loves his job..."

Question: Do you love what you do? What is your life motto? Inspire me!
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Readership: Switch, Blogging, Electricity and Evernote

On Fridays I tend to let you know what caught my attention throughout the week and this time we've got a book, an end of blogging, a tale of the lack of electricity and an ad for a perfect GTD setup:

Sorry for this, but I couldn't help it. It's a great day for me - Evernote officially announced Nozbe integrates with them. It's great on many lavels - it's great a bigger player like them is dedicating their time and resources to developing strong partnerships.

Second, the most important reason is that now we all have a perfect GTD (Getting Things Done) setup:
- Evernote for capturing data
- Nozbe for processing and managing tasks and reference materials

Read the announcement on the Evernote's Noteworthy blog and Nozbe's GTD blog

More cool articles found this week:

Michael reviews and gives away a book that I'm currently "reading" on my iPhone as an audiobook. It's a fantastic and mind-blowing book. Totally recommend. Will review on this blog soon too.

Wow, almost a week without power... I'm not sure how David makes it happen. I know I wouldn't. Check his post and description how he pulled this off...

One of my business and programming gurus is taking his blog and writing down. He doesn't believe that after 10 years it still makes sense to build his personal brand. I'm disappointed. I'm not sure I agree with his rationale behind this.

Questions: Did you read Rework or Switch? Reading? How did you like them? Would you survive one week without power? Ever tried Evernote and Nozbe together?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.