Monday, November 19, 2018

✔️ Why we need deadlines

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” - Douglas Adams

The problem with running a software company which creates a product for many users, like more than half a million at the moment... is that we don’t have any fixed deadlines set by people who use Nozbe.

We need to create deadlines ourselves. Self-imposed deadlines.

And the problem with such deadlines is the fact that they seem fake. Artificial. Made up. Unnecessary.

Right? Wrong!

Why just not work without deadlines?

Because we're humans.

When there's no deadline we get lazy. We get perfectionist. We take all the time in the world to making our creation perfect. Or even better than perfect. We even might try to explore all of the alternatives before we decide on something.

When there are no deadlines we cannot hold each other accountable. Not to anyone, not even to ourselves.

When there are no deadlines we’re less likely to ship what we've created. And when we don't ship what we've created we're more likely to get demotivated...

We, the humans, need deadlines

Deadlines motivate us to get something out. To finally show it to the world. To get the feedback. The good, the bad and the ugly. And to iterate and ship again!

Just like Seth Godin asked:

“How do you make sure you ship on time and on budget? Well, when you run out of time, you ship. When you run out of budget, you ship.”

To be able to run out of time we need a deadline.

So we set one.

I'll share it with you soon. Meanwhile I'll let the deadline sink in. I'll let myself and my team digest it. And get excited. Because with this deadline we're committing ourselves to shipping something great for you.

And I really can't wait to share it with you... and to do that we have to now really meet this deadline!

Let's do this.

P.S. Special thanks to Michael Hyatt for his last episode about deadlines, which reminded me how important deadlines are to what we do.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

✔️ New habits before the year ends

This year a few things got out of hand for me - or let’s say they’re not where I want them to be. So I decided to do something about it now and instill/strengthen new habits until the end of this year.

New habits before the year ends

Taking on new habits is hard. Make them stick is even harder. That’s why Leo Babauta argues you should only try to introduce one habit at a time.

Well, I’m too inpatient for that.

Starting from November I’ve taken on 3 habits at a time. My excuse is that they’re all semi-related, so I’m hoping they’ll reinforce each other... but only time will tell.

I’m very much tempted to share these habits with the world right now... but according to Derek Sivers I should keep them to myself.

So I’ll be vague and I'll let you know a little... and report after 2 months how I’m doing.

  • Habit 1 has to do with eating and drinking
  • Habit 2 has to do with routines (see? related!)
  • Habit 3 has to do with writing (partially related...)

I’ve already started and I’ve seen some good progress. But November has only started so I’ve got a long way to go.

Wanna challenge me?

How about you challenging me? Let me know via Twitter which habit(s) you’re going to start introducing this month until the end of the year.

According to research it takes about 60 days to get the habits going... so we’ve got exactly the time need to make them stick.

What are you going to do?

Here’s to ending this year and starting 2019 with a slew of great new habits acquired!

Friday, February 2, 2018

✔️ 2017 review: a learning curve!

We’re already 1 month in 2018 but I haven’t still posted my yearly review... and yesterday we were celebrating 11 years of Nozbe so I decided to finally post my yearly review - again, I’m writing this more for myself as a way reflect on last year and to be able to get back to it, but if it serves you as an inspiration, be my guest! Here goes:

2017 review: a learning curve!

Before I start, here are my past yearly reviews: 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

2017 wasn’t as good as I hoped... in some ways...

It was a tough year. On one hand business-wise it was a learning curve for me and the revenue growth wasn’t as I expected... but on the other hand I learned a lot and I’m putting these learnings to work this year. Privately it was a very good year. Here are some highlights:

Thursday, February 1, 2018

✔️ Workflows that build regular habits and help me get stuff done quicker

Keystone habits are critical to a happy and productive life. We’ve been discussing this with my co-host on The Podcast for a while now. To build regular habits and to just reduce some barriers of entry I’m using an iOS app called "Workflow" and have created many workflows that help me get stuff one quicker. These are like recipes for a "digital cake" - my way of doing things quicker. Below I’m sharing a few of these and hope they’ll be useful for you, too. Feel free to copy them and adopt to your needs :-)

Workflows that build regular habits and help me get stuff done quicker

Workflow, Ulysses, Bear and Nozbe - apps for my daily habits

I use Ulysses to write my journal in and Bear to plan and track progress of each day. And Nozbe for my day-to-day task and project management as well as internal communication with my team.

Here are my habits and workflows that I use in combination with these apps:

Monday, November 20, 2017

✔ How wireless headphones improve my productivity... and take me into the future!

This article was inspired by questions from readers and my discussion with Radek in the 95th episode of “” In that episode, we were chatting about our new wireless headphones and discussing how they make us feel like we’re living in the future. On top of that, I also believe wireless headphones significantly improve productivity. So, if you’re still using wired headphones, then, to quote Steve Jobs: “you’re doing it wrong.” Read on to find out why.

Wireless headphones

Note: The following article appeared first in the September '17 issue of [iMagazine][iMagazine] - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.

Don’t be afraid of change. It’s an inevitable part of business and life...

We live in a world of technology, which is developing at a tremendous rate. Ten years ago, there weren’t any iPhones, and now the current iPhone 8, as tests show, it’s also faster than this year’s MacBook Pro. The world is changing so quickly that it's hard to keep up.

Change is also a vital part of my work. When I started Nozbe over 10 years ago, Steve Jobs had just unveiled the iPhone, and I believed I was building a web app for managing projects that would only work in a browser window on the desktop. It’s been only 10 years, but today we have apps for all major platforms, including the Apple Watch. And we’ve just released a version that works with Siri, so now you can add tasks using voice control – without even launching Nozbe. Everything is evolving at a rapid pace, but that’s precisely one of my favorite aspects of the IT industry. Change is inevitable. That’s why we have to constantly observe trends and buy the latest gadgets to understand how they can help our clients. I remember when, in September 2007, I was one of the first iPhone users in Poland. In May 2010, I had to get an iPad, and by May 2015, I needed to get my hands on an Apple Watch.

I’m not writing this to brag, rather to add some context to what I’m about to say about wireless headphones, because I remember when Apple did something, what many people considered “terrible”:

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, November 10, 2017

💡 Templates I use to review my day, week and quarter

Today is Friday (and we’re doing Fridays differently at Nozbe) and it’s time for my weekly review so before I start just that, I decided to post this short reference to my best NozbeHOW templates which I regularly use to perform my reviews - you can use these templates even if you don’t have a Nozbe acccount:

Templates I use to review my day, week and quarter

How I go about my day

This past week has been very productive for me because I stuck to my Unschedule calendar and Pomodoro Technique and especially I’ve used the "daily template" I wrote about on the Nozbe blog.

What I do: Every morning after I journal I open Nozbe and go to my templates and open my "Today" template to create a new project with today’s date as the name, like "10 Nov 2017" and I go about my day completing each 30min interval as another "pomodoro". At the end of the day I review this project and complete it.

Today template on

How I go about my Weekly Review

I’ve described the process in detail here but I basically create a new project from my template and give it a name like "45th weekly review" (where 45 is the number of the week in the year) and I go through the project:

Weekly Review template on

How I go about my Quarterly Off-site

According to advice from Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, a book I recommend and have read 3 times already, every 3 months I do a "quarterly off-site", meaning for a day I step back and analyze my last quarter and plan my next one. I discussed this concept with The Podcast my co-host on the 73rd episode of our show. Again I use a template for that - I create a project from this one:

Quarterly Off-site template on

Bonus - two additional templates for TGIF and Journaling

As I journal every day, once in the morning and once in the evening, I ask myself these questions:

Journaling template on

Again, today is Friday, or Thank Goodness It’s Friday here in my company, so here’s a rough schedule of today for everyone on my Nozbe team:

Thank Goodness It’s Friday template on

Hope you’ll find these templates helpful! Enjoy and share your ways of doing reviews and... Fridays!

Question: How do you preform your daily, weekly or quarterly review?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

✔️ My top 5 tricks to improve your productivity almost instantly

Today’s post will be very productive and practical. When I talk to people about time organization, they ask me for a few simple tips they can start using right away. That’s why, a few years ago, I decided to create the “10 Steps to Maximum Productivity” course. But, because we’re all looking for shortcuts, today I’ll focus on five key tips you can start applying today to see how they’ll improve your workflow. What’s more, they’re closely related to each other.

top 5 ways

Note: The following article appeared first in the May '17 issue of [iMagazine][iMagazine] - the leading lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts in Poland. I'm a regular contributor and write my monthly productivity column there.

The short version: write things down, learn new apps and use them on all devices you have, remember about your weekly review and focus on priority zero. These are my top 5 tips, and here's more detail:

Friday, March 24, 2017

📖 Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - (audio) book of the week

One of the key ways we can improve our health and the overall state of our body is by sleeping more and better. Yes, not less. Not depriving ourselves from sleep, but rather by designing our life in such a way that sleep is a strategic part of it. That's why this week I want to recommend a book that made me feel really uneasy and helped me realize why sleeping is so important. This book forced me to change the way I approach sleep. Here's why:

Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: (Amazon|Audible)

Book review: Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success

(Note: I also discussed this book on the 87th episode of The Podcast with my co-host Radek, if you prefer the audio version with more comments)

Very few times when reading a book, the book would make me feel bad about myself while still encouraging me to keep reading. The last book like this was Essentialism. Now this book about sleeping made me realize I should not approach sleep like a "necessary evil" but as a strategic part of my day. And that there are so many things I need to fix to make sure I get a good night's sleep, here are a few that really stood out:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

✔️ №34 with Greg McKeown - the last (essential) issue of the Productive! Magazine

From the editor of the Productive! Magazine №34 with Greg McKeown: Do you know that this is the last time we meet here? This issue of Productive! Magazine marks the end of our series. All the archive editions will be certainly kept online so that you can always come back to your favorite articles and recommend them to the people who might need some inspiration or advice. In this post I'll explain why and how we're finishing off our magazine:

The last issue of the Productive! Magazine

That uncomfortable feeling - closing down the magazine after 8+ years...

You might be wondering why I decided to close down the publication. In brief: I want to focus on only the crucial projects of mine, meaning - those directly related to Nozbe. I’ve determined that I can't get distracted by doing the tasks that won't take me any closer to my main goals. I’ve always felt badly working on tasks like that. Whenever I got really involved with them, I felt guilty about not using my energy to accomplish the most important, company-related goals. And when I wasn't truly engaged, I was angry with myself for not doing my best. If you happen to know this feeling, try to follow my steps and become really selective about the stuff you decide to work on. If you don't have problems like that - congratulations! But I encourage you to analyze your projects in terms of your yearly goals anyway :-)

It's all about being honest...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

► Interview with Greg McKeown on Essentialism - Productive! Magazine's last interview (issue #34)

I've been a long-time fan of the book: Essentialism - the disciplined pursuit of less. I read the book twice and I wanted to have its author, Greg McKeown, as a cover interview for the Productive! Magazine - and just we've decided to shut down our magazine, we managed to get him on - which gives us the best farewell ever - we're focusing on what's essential for us (Nozbe) and appreciate what we had and experienced with the magazine, and closing the magazine down with a double-message of essentialism:

Greg McKeown

This interview is pretty long, but it's really worth watching it - we've covered lots of topics and really nailed down the Essentialism part

You can read more about the last issue of the Productive! Magazine on the Nozbe blog.

Thanks for being a part of the Productive! Magazine - I've been running it more than 8 years now but it was the time to finish it up with a blast and focus on other ways we can do to help people get more done.


Your editor-in-chief of the Productive! Magazine

  • Michael Sliwinski

P.S. After you've watched this video, make sure to check out my podcasts and the entire Productive! Show archive. I've done a few great interviews for this blog, check them out (Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, Leo Babauta, Brian Tracy...)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

✔️ A complete list of iPad apps that let me be #iPadOnly

This post will be really geeky, but you'll love it - an updated list of my productivity iPad Apps! Here's the backstory: a few years back I co-wrote a book iPadOnly - How to use only your iPad to work, play and everything in between where I recommended a set of apps that help me get everything done on the iPad. In the meantime I got my iPad Pro and I kept updating this blog with my impressions of iPad Pros and iPadOnly work and I've also posted a list of apps I use on my iPhone but as lots of people keep asking me about this, here's a list of the iPad apps I use now to get things done and make it my main productivity workhorse.

A complete list of iPad apps that let me be #iPadOnly

Bonus: experiment with app layout

Before we move on to the list of apps, as you can see on the screenshot of my iPad above, I've decided to experiment a little with my app layout recently. I just hated it that I had apps on different screens and was very often tempted to get distracted when I wanted to write something but opened the Twitter app as it was just "on the way" to my writing app... so I started using folders as my "focused environments" and group my apps together. These groups give me a few benefits, like:

  • groups are focused on "jobs to be done" so I can concentrate on what I need to do, like writing, reading, etc.
  • groups create order so I don't install too many apps on my iPad and don't bloat it
  • groups fit on one screen, so at a glance I basically see all the apps I've got
  • groups leave some empty space so I can use a nice inspiring background - a photo of San Sebastián I took when I was on vacation with my family :-)

OK, here's the list of all of my apps from these groups:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

📖 Peak by Anders Ericsson - (audio) book of the week

As I rediscovered reading books 7 years ago through audiobooks and dramatically increased the number of books I've been reading these past years, every now and then I stumble upon a book that's worth recommending to others through this blog - and Peak by Anders Ericsson totally changed the way I approach learning now. Here's why:

Peak by Anders Ericsson - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: Audible | Amazon

Book review: Peak by Anders Ericsson - Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

The premise of the book is very simple. Talent is overrated. It hardly exists. You are not born with the skills, you acquire and develop them through practice. And not just any kind of practice - through "deliberate practice" which leverages the adptability of our brain.

This reminds me of the famous scene from the movie "Taken":

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Yes, you acquire skills - and it takes more than a long career to get them - it takes a special kind of practice:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

🖇 My company, Nozbe celebrates 10 years! [on: Nozbe Blog]

On the Nozbe Blog Today is a big milestone for me personally and professionally. My company, Nozbe just turned 10. To celebrate it with our customers, we've got a special promo which is great for both new customers and celebrates people who stuck with us the most. We even got 102 people who've been using Nozbe all these 10 years! We've come a long way since 2007... Check out these few quotes or get the entire thing:

My company, Nozbe celebrates 10 years!

A few gems NOT mentioned on Nozbe blog, but available for my readers here:

"Personally, I coded Nozbe entirely myself in PHP+MySQL+Prototype.JS out of a rented 1-bedroom apartment in Warsaw where I lived with my wife. 10 years in we have a team of developers working on apps for all the major platforms but I still work from home - this time it's my own house with the same wife and three daughters :-)"

"I wrote the first version of Nozbe in pure PHP+MySQL as a weekend project back in 2005 inspired by the book by David Allen: "Getting Things Done". In 2006 I kept rewriting the code with JavaScript, Web2.0 style, because it was a fun technology playground. In 2007 I decided to launch Nozbe as a small beta and announced it in the GTD-aficionados circles. Thanks to the word of mouth and press (ZdNet, Lifehacker) I got 5000 users in first three months. Today we're at 400,000 users."

"The name Nozbe was invented by me and my buddy Wiktor when we were in college in 1999 and we wanted to launch a web-based reminder service. We were playing with the phrase: To Be Naturally Organized and after trial and error found Be-oz, N-oz-be, so in the end Nozbe which we thought was cool - 5 letter word with a Z in the middle, doesn't mean anything and the .com domain was available. Eventually we launched the service and shut it down after 2 years. But I kept paying for the domain so when I was launching my project/task management web app, the word Nozbe and the theme of being organized fit perfectly so I used it again. 10 years in and people still ask me where the name came from :-)"

Jump to to the source and read more and celebrate 10 years with me and Nozbe »

Monday, January 30, 2017

✔ 2016 review: not bad at all!

It's almost the end of January so I'm pretty late with my 2016 review but... I really needed to write it all down if not for you, then at least for myself. I'be done reviews of 2015, 2014 and 2013 and these served me well so now it's time to take a look at last year, the 2016, here goes:

2016 of Michael Sliwinski

2016 in a nutshell

Overall 2016 wasn't that bad for me. It's been actually pretty good. Personally my third daughter was born and she's been amazing, I'm still a fit amateur triathlete and business wise we've had some growth and significant product developments. I can't complain.

On the other hand, geo-politically it wasn't that good, the government in my home country is destroying the stable democracy we used to have, UK wants to do a Brexit and the USA decided to choose a self-indulgent liar as a president. Some people call 2016 the "Windows Vista" of all years. It wasn't that bad for me so if you're curious to know more, read on - hope this inspires you: