Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works | Thomas Frank | Skillshare

Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works

Thomas Frank, YouTuber, Author, Entrepreneur

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10 Lessons (1h 5m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:48
    • 2. Manage Your Tasks

      10:22
    • 3. Set Up Your Calendar

      8:23
    • 4. Take Your Notes

      10:46
    • 5. Organize Your Digital Files

      10:19
    • 6. Organize Your Physical Files

      3:57
    • 7. Get Better at Email

      9:57
    • 8. Use Quick Capture

      4:46
    • 9. Schedule a Review Day

      3:32
    • 10. Final Thoughts

      1:27
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About This Class

Make 2020 your most productive year yet!

Transform your personal and professional life by creating a simple, customized productivity system with productivity expert and YouTuber Thomas Frank.

With over 1.2 million followers on YouTube, Thomas has crafted a career out of helping others get organized and improve their workflow with simple, straightforward techniques. Join Thomas as he shares his tried-and-true process for creating an end-to-end, personalized productivity system that works no matter how much you have going on in your life.

Key lessons include:

  • Task management essentials
  • Digital and physical file organization
  • How to take (and keep) notes
  • Email tips and tricks
  • Staying organized for the long haul

Whether you’re a freelancer aiming to streamline your project process, a grad student balancing a full-time job, or a hobbyist looking to carve out time for a passion project, this class is your ticket to crafting the life you want. In just one hour, you’ll have the tools you need to go after your dreams, achieve your goals, and be your most successful self yet!

P.S. Take your productivity further with my new class: Real Productivity: How to Build Habits that Last :)

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Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on productivity.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I think the biggest misunderstanding about productivity is that it's about getting more work done, or putting in more hours. That's not what it's about. It's about what you want to do with your life and how well you can do it. Hey everybody. My name is Thomas Frank. I am a YouTuber. I'm also the founder of a website called collegeinfogeek.com which helps both college and high school students do better in school. I'm also the host of the College Info Geek Podcast. I am what you might describe as a productivity nerd. In today's class, we are going to be building what I like to call a productivity system. Essentially, a productivity system is a collection of apps and tools that help you get, for lack of a better term, ideas out of your head and into an external system that you trust and that will remind you to use those ideas when you need to use them. The great thing is, once you have this system set up, you're going to be able to start using it immediately. This is something that you can put into action right away. So, over the course of this class, we're going to go over how to set up and manage a to-do lists, a calendar, a note-taking system, also a file management system, both digitally and physically, and we're going to cover a couple of meta skills including what I like to call Quick Capture, and also the idea of a review day which helps to cut down on what I like to call entropy or chaos in your system. So, whether you're a freelancer or you're a professional working in a large corporation, or you're still a student, the fundamentals we're going to talk about are applicable to you no matter who you are. As you set this system up and continue to tweak it for your own personal needs, you're going to find that you only have to make small changes to make things work for you. All of us want to have a multifaceted life where we have athletic goals, and professional goals, we have personal goals, and managing these requires a well thought out productivity system. I am really excited that you've decided to take this class. Let's get into it. 2. Manage Your Tasks: This section of the course is about task management. Now, what exactly is task management? Seems like a pretty obvious question, but it does have a little bit of nuance. So, a task is basically just something that you need to get done, and usually task has a due date. But I do make a delineation between tasks and events, because a lot of people like to put task on their calendar. I view the calendar as reserved for things that are going to happen at a very specific time, and not before that time, whereas a task is something you have the option of getting done anytime between now and whenever it's due. The awesome part about task management is, it really doesn't differ a whole lot, based on whether you're a student, or a freelancer, or a business owner, or a professional. Really, you're just entering the details of what you need to get done into your system, and then you're making sure that you do it on time. If you start as a student perhaps, and you move into the professional world a couple of years, you're going to find that your process doesn't change a whole lot. So, when it comes to task management there are a few common problems that people tend to experience, that make them sort of fall off the bandwagon, and stop using their system. The primary one in my mind is not trusting the system 100 percent. So, maybe you put a few tasks in here and there, and you use the system for those, but then you try to remember other tasks, just in your brain, or you write them down on a sticky note and you throw them on your fridge. This can work for a while, but over time if you're not trusting that system 100 percent, then you are not using that system, and you're probably going to stop using it altogether, which leads to it containing tasks that you forget about and don't get done. The next problem that I see is the slow decay of the system due to what I like to call entropy or chaos. Every single productivity system that anybody has ever built can become a victim of chaos if it is not properly maintained. You're going to have tasks that just didn't get done but never got checked off, or their updates to tasks that you've never actually went in and reflected in your system, and eventually you realize that your task management system is no longer a reflection of what you need to get done in your life, which leads right back to problem number one, not trusting the system and abandon it. Finally, unless it is properly designed, your todoist in your task management system can start to feel very overwhelming. You wake up in the morning, you login to todoist or whatever tool you're using, and you see all of these tasks facing you, and then that analysis paralysis hits, you don't know what to do, or you feel overwhelmed and your body just wants to shut down. So, I actually have an interesting hack for dealing with this. I use todoist as my main task manager, but I also have what I like to call a daily task list, and I make this every single day, either in Evernote. I have a specific to-do notebook where I'll just make a daily checklist or in a paper notebook, and that is what I look at when I'm going through my day, and I check things off, and then once my day is over. That piece of paper or that note is basically dead to me, because once the day's over I have used that to go in and make corresponding changes within the master to do system within todoist, to make sure that is still a good reflection of what I need to get done. But I also want to go through a few key elements, what I think makes a task management system great instead of just okay. Primarily, it needs to be easy to enter tasks. The more [inaudible] it is to enter a task, the more you have to click a bunch of menus and drop-downs, and all kinds of stuff to set the dates and reminders, and projects, the more friction there is and the less you're going to want to do it. Additionally, it also needs to be easily dividable into different sections, because all of us have multifaceted lives. If you're a student, you have different classes, probably five or six of them. If you're a professional, you probably have different projects you're working on at any given time, and all of us have grocery lists and errands, and all sorts of personal things that we need to take care of. We don't want all of those things mixed up, because sometimes we want to go and look at, say what's due in one particular class for the rest of the semester, or what one particular project looks like. But lastly there also needs to be views to see what is coming up today, what's coming up this week, and possibly what's coming up in the next two weeks globally, across the entire span of your life. So, now let's see what this actually looks like in practice. I'm going to use todoist as my demo here, since it's the app that I use, but whatever app you've chosen to use, a lot of this is going to look very similar. So, let's start going through the process of actually setting this app. I'm actually using my own personal todoist account here. So, there's already some things that I've set up, but as an example, I've created several different projects for courses that I took when I was a college student. So, I've got HD FS 276, Management 370, and what I'm going to do is, I want to create a project just called classes, because I don't want to see these all on my sidebar. I want to be a little bit more organized. So, I can just drag classes up here, and then it using this little six.icon next to every class, I can just drag them in, and denting them, and that will put them within the classes folder. What this allows you to do is, click through your classes and see this is what I've got coming up in say MIS 432. This is what I've got coming up in Magic 210, which was definitely a class that I took in college. This is what I got coming up in Nunchuks 403. Also a class I totally took in college. My college was awesome. This just sort of allows me to compartmentalize things in my head. But we also have the today and next seven days views. So, these individual projects are great for overall planning, but when you're trying to see what do I have coming up today? What do I have coming up in the next seven days? What do I actually got to do right now, that's where the today and next seven days views become very very useful. So, I can see today, I got to master the flossing dance and I got to learn fireball. That's all that I need to do today. Now, I might go over to Evernote or a piece of paper, write that down on my daily list, and I'm good to go. I can get out of todoist for the day. Now, one thing that I want to add when it comes to the topic of these views here is, to answer the question, what if you want to see what's coming up maybe in the next 14 days? Because next seven days, that's useful. But what if you really want to be up and up, and what's coming up in two weeks or three weeks? That is where something called filters comes in handy. So, essentially filters lets you do a custom search or a custom query using any kind of data or labels or projects that you want with the todoist to create a custom list for yourself. So, I've gotten here, and I created one called due in the next two weeks, and I can actually show you how I did that. So, let's say we want to see what's coming up in three weeks instead of two weeks. I'm going to go ahead and call this filter, "Due Within Three Weeks," and for the query we're just going to put 21 days. Now, I have a filter where I can see everything that's coming up in the next three weeks. What if you have a task that you do quite often, that has a lot of different steps? It's not very fun to re-create a checklist for yourself every single time, but if you just put like one line item, and you try to remember every single step, you're probably going to forget at least something. For example, every single week I have to put it on a YouTube video and uploading that video has a lot of different steps. I need to set a title, I need to do keyword research for the description, set tags. If I were to try to do everything from memory I would forget something every week. So, I've made a templates folder, and within content creation I have a video editing workflow, and a video publishing workflow project which I can just go through every single time, and if I want to, I can click this little three dot icon over here, hit "Export as a Template", and save it as a template. So, I'll just call it Video workflow. But I don't just want to save this template to my desktop, because that's a bad location. So, I'm going to go into apps here, and I'm going to make a folder called Todoist, and then maybe I'll even make a folder in there called templates, just to be extra organized. I'll call that video editing workflow in there, and I can save it. So now, if I come into maybe content, because I like to create these categories for my projects, I come into videos and I'm going to make a new project. I'm going to call it Skillshare Video. Let's categorize that, just to be organized. Now, I don't have any tasks in here, and I could just start adding tasks manually, but I could also go to import template, select it from my computer, find our apps todoist and templates, and bring that right in, and all of the tasks that I need to do are automatically imported. So, for any very complex process where you want to make sure you get everything done but you don't want to manually create your checklist, this is a really nice feature. Now, one more quick feature about todoist before I move on to the action section of this video, I want to talk about recurring tasks. So, this is great for things like paying your taxes, things that come once a year, or maybe things that you need to do once a week, like cleaning your apartment. So, within our todoist, my girlfriend and I have a shared project called chores, and there are recurring tasks for basically every aspect of cleaning up our apartment within that project. So, we don't forget to say vacuum under the couch. We don't forget to change the litter box. So, enough about the particular features of this app. It is time to put this part of the course into action. Whatever app you've chosen to use, whether it's todoist, or whether it's something else, as simple as a pen and paper system or Bullet Journal or Microsoft to do Wonder List, go and get that system set up, start building some projects to represent the different areas of your life, and get familiar with the method in which you're going to have to enter tasks. If you are using todoist, you might want to familiarize yourself with some of their natural language processing options, and in fact there is a page on their website where you can see exactly what symbols you might want to use, or what little shortcuts you can use to get tasks into your system with as much detail as you want, very very quickly and with very little friction. Once you've got that done, the next part is to simply make it a part of your daily routine to look at that today section, to look at that next seven days section, or whatever sort of time period you want to look out in terms of planning. So that way, every single day when you wake up, you know what you got to get done today and what's coming up in the future, so nothing blindsides you. So, now that your task management system is set up to your liking. It is time for us to move on to the next step in the system, which is your calendar. 3. Set Up Your Calendar: Okay. We have now moved on to the second part of building our system which is setting up a calendar. As I talked about in our previous video, calendars differ from task management systems because they are a record of specific events that are coming up in your life, that have specific times at which they start and stop. A calendar could be good for entering in your class schedule if you're a student perhaps, or maybe exams when they are coming up. Or if you're professional, maybe your work schedule. You could also have things like your workout schedule or times at which you're going to hangout with friends, basically anything that you want to remember when and where it's happening, that's going to want to go on your calendar. So, there's actually a lot of interplay between your task management system and your calendar system. How it works for me is that I'll wake up every single morning and I'll spend time creating my daily task list and Evernote or on paper. When I'm doing that, I'm referencing both Todoist, my task management system, but I'm also referencing my calendar, and I'll write down the events that I have to do at the top of that paper, on top of that list. Then, given those events, I can start to build out the rest of my day, and I can make intelligent decisions about how much time I have and what tasks I'll be able to get done within the gaps between events. Now, personally, my calendar looks a little sparser these days than it used to, because most of my work is done when I want to do it as long as I hit the deadlines. But there are going to be a lot of you out there who have maybe a tasking class schedule or you're a freelancer professional who has a lot of different client meetings you have to get to. So, for you, there's going to be a lot more emphasis on making sure you can fit your work in-between events on your calendar. One tip that I can give you that's going to be very helpful is to look for long periods of time where you don't have anything to do and to dedicate those periods of time to your very in-depth focused and mentally taxing work. Then if you have maybe shorter periods of time, that's where you can put little five-minute tasks, and you can try to batch those together. It's all about leaving long stretches of time open for the really important work, and then just trying to crunch everything else together, and as efficient little time block as possible. Now, it is at this point in the course that I'm going to introduce a concept that I like to call life buckets. Again, it's another weird made-up word that I like to use. You can use whatever word for it you want. But essentially, what we're trying to represent here is the idea that your life has many different facets or different projects that you're part of if you will. There are your classes, there's your work, there are your events that you do with friends, there maybe doctor's appointments and errands, there are vacations. Within my calendar, I like to represent these different buckets with different colored calendars. So, I can actually look at my calendar and see a visual representation of what's going on in my life within all of those buckets. The way that I achieved this with Google Calendar, which is my app of choice, is by making multiple calendars within my account, giving them descriptive names like classes, campus events, exams, and work, and then making sure each of those calendars has a specific color. The other advantage to using different calendars for each of these life buckets is that, if you want to, you can turn some of them off, and you can just see like I can turn work off, I could turn exams off, I can turn campus events off, and I can see here is what my class schedule looks like this semester, and you could use that for planning purposes. Maybe this seems way too chaotic and way too busy for your liking, and you want to start making it a little bit more compact or a little bit lighter next semester. I just really like the flexibility of being able to turn things off and on. So, let's dig into a couple of different tips that I have for actually adding events to your calendar. First and foremost, if you have events that are going to happen often, then you're going to want to use the recurring event function. So, for example, I'm going to put another class on here, just as a demonstration. Let's say we have a 4.00 pm class, and we're going to call it COM SCI 101, which is a class that I took in college. So, the classes, but I want to go to more options because it's not just happening from 4:00 to 5:00, Monday, the fifth of November. So, if you go to this repeat option here, you can go to Custom, and at least in my college, I had Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes, and then Tuesday, Thursday classes. So, I'm going to want to do a custom reoccurrence, and select the dates that it's going to happen on and then select an end date, which for me would be the end of the semester. So, let's just say May 24th. Hit Done, and while we're here, while we're actually in the event details section, let's add some helpful details for our future selves. Now, I don't know about you, but when I was in college, I didn't always remember where my classes were, the exact classroom, maybe for the first week of school. So, I would put may be a location. Let's just say this is in Gerdin 101, which is a building that I had in college. Down in the description section, one thing that I found very helpful to do, and I'm not going to be able to demonstrate it here because I don't have a link handy, but I actually went to my college's website and I found the PDF documents of the floor maps of every building that I had to go into. So, I would put a link to that PDF within the description here. Maybe also put the professor's name, Professor Johnson, just so I have relevant details right with my calendar right at my fingertips. So, when I'm trying to get to class or I'm trying to remember who teaches the class, I have all the information available, and that can be a lot less stressed and spent a lot less time trying to dig it up from emails or from my file system or from my note-taking system. It's all there in a context that makes sense to me and it's very convenient for me right now. Now, another advanced thing that I'd like to do is create a hidden calendars for things that I don't always need to see but occasionally want to reference. So, for example, I had a gym with a basketball court that wasn't always available, and I like to go play basketball during the winter, so I wanted to know when are court hours. I couldn't go to that gym's website every single time and look up if the court is available or not, but that seems inconvenient for me. So, instead, I just went and created a calendar. I called it Court Hours, and now I can go in and create that basketball schedule here. So, I'm not going to make every single event because it would waste your time and mine. I'm just going to make one. We'll call it Court hours or Court Open, and I'm going to set that to my court hours calendar. Now, usually, I will have this calendar off, because it is not something that I actively have to go do on Wednesday at 11:00 AM. But if I want to go play basketball and I want to see if that courts open, then I can basically make that calendar visible for a couple of seconds, check to see if it is currently open and then turn it back off. Now, one more thing that you may also want to do with your calendar is setup automatic reminders for events. So, instead of having to check your calendar all the time to make sure that you're going to be on time for things, within Google Calendar, and again this works for basically any calendar app, via Apple Calendars or Outlook Calendars. It's not going to work for a paper calendar. So, sorry for those of you using an analog system, but for any digital calendar, you can very easily set up reminders, and within Google Calendar, you can do notifications on the app, whether using iPhone or Android or even Windows phone, or you can do email notifications. Those are a little less useful, but I do find email notifications useful sometimes when say, I have a trip coming up and I want to get like a 24 hour notification instead of like 30 minute notification. Now, one final tip that I want to share before we get into the action portion of this video is just to let you know that if you do use Gmail along with Google Calendar, something pretty cool happens where if you get an email that contains an event, say you book a flight, it will automatically add the times for that flight to your calendar, and this is something that I find very convenient. Every time I book a flight for travel, I'll look at my calendar and it's already on there, I didn't have to enter that in, that's a pretty smart feature. So, it is now time for you to build this part of the system and the process is pretty simple here. All you need to do is choose your calendar app of choice, be it a Google calendar or iCal or whatever you want to use, and then start building separate calendars within the app to represent your life buckets. From there you may want to use recurring events to build out your schedule, make sure you're adding in new events in as they come to your attention, and then crucially make sure that you are checking your calendar every single day, or using that Reminders function to make sure that you're not letting anything slip through the cracks. Now, that your calendar is fully set up and functional, it is time to move on to the third part of our system, which is your note-taking system. 4. Take Your Notes: All right. We are making progress. Okay, your task management system all set up, you get your calendar ready to go. We are now moving on to the note-taking system, and I know what some of you are already thinking. Do I actually need a note-taking system? I'm not a student anymore. I'm a professional. I don't need a notebook. That's for third graders. I think everyone needs a note-taking system because, again, as David Allen once said so eloquently, "Your brain is for having ideas not for holding them." You need a place that is external, that is secure, that is safe, and that is well organized for you to store the software license key to that piece of software you're going to have to update in a couple of years, or the instructions for that DIY coffee table that your girlfriend really wants you to build, or those bad rap lyrics that I know you have been writing in your free time, or maybe all of the system details for the new IT job that you just got hired for. You don't want to forget those, your passwords, all your logins and file paths. You need a place where all of these can be stored. While your brain could technically hold all this information, especially if you mastered crazy memory techniques, like the Mind Palace from Sherlock, it shouldn't do that. Leave all that to the note-taking system. I see it this way. You don't have to know everything. There are certain things that you should know, but with a lot of other things, you just need to know the path that you need to take to quickly learn that information or reference it. For me, at least, a well-designed, well-organized note-taking system gives me those quick paths to all the details in my life, everything that I might need to recall in the future. Now, before we dig into all the fun details, the app I'm going to be sharing with you today, let's talk about a few common pitfalls people usually run into when it comes to building their note-taking system. First and foremost, which is a lack of organization. When a note-taking system doesn't have anything to categorize or delineate your notes, then it becomes very difficult to find things when you need to reference them later. So, you're going to want to make sure things are organized well. Another problem people run into is a very similar problem to what I mentioned back in the task management video when it becomes difficult or full of friction to enter a note into your system, then it's likely you're not going to do it or you're going to do it in easier system, like a sticky note on your desktop or just throwing pieces of paper all over the place on your desk, which my mom loves to do, and that works for her, but it probably isn't going to work for you. So, let's make sure that we set this up in a way that is as friction-less as possible, but also well-organized, so it's easy to find anything you're looking for quickly. The app that I choose to use for my note-taking system and I've been using for about 10 years at this point, maybe a little bit less than 10, but quite a long time is Evernote. There are a lot of alternatives to Evernote out there. I do want to make that very clear, so you don't have to use Evernote. There is Microsoft OneNote which is quite similar and freer. Evernote does have a free option. Microsoft OneNote is very free. There's also Notion. There's Apple Notes, all kinds of different systems out there, and many of them have a lot of the same features. So, really my recommendation of Evernote comes from my personal experience and the fact that it happens to work the way my brain wants it to work better than any system I've tested. So, with that being said, we're going to start building this system in a very similar way to how we built our calendar system, and that's by using the life buckets concept. Again, your life is multifaceted. You have classes if you're a student. You have projects, if you're a professional and you also have lots of individual thoughts and ideas that you probably want to get into a concrete external system, like lyrics or workout details. So, within Evernote, I've basically built a system that lays out all of my life buckets and makes things very easy to find when I need to find them. Within Evernote, I've actually used one of their features called Notebook stacks to make this even more organized than it would otherwise be if it was just a big list of notebooks. So, I'm going to show you my Notebook stacks here. We've got one called Personal where I've got things like my accomplishment journal, my daily writing, which is just like a daily note kind of how that I've been building, notes about buying a home in the future, maybe lyrics that I didn't write myself. I didn't write those, you wrote them, you put them, how did they get there? Recipes, all kinds of stuff like that, and we also have classes. So, what I've done here, I'm done with college, but I've gone in and recreated a part of the system that I use when I was in college just for you guys to sort of reference if you're in college yourself or high school. I had a classes notebook where all classes from previous semesters were put, so I could still reference those notes if I needed to, but I also had a notebook stack for current classes, so that current semester's course load was all kept here, and that way, I could very easily get to it and make sure everything was organized, and I knew where everything was for the classes I was actually going to. Now, Evernote is basically designed like Outlook or like an email program. You've got your notebooks and your notebook stacks on with tags and recent notes and shortcuts on the left side of the UI, you have your notes in a middle column, and in the right column is totally dedicated to the note editor. This is one of the reasons why I love Evernote so much. It allows me to see exactly where I currently am within the overall hierarchy of my note-taking system. Some people work really well with Google Docs or with Microsoft Word or the note-taking system where they have a very separate file system and a separate editor, but I love having everything just laid out in front of me. I love being able to jump to the search bar, or use my navigation tree to get to something else really, really quickly, open it up, put it side-by-side. I just love that kind of stuff. So, obviously, the main thing you're going to be doing with your note-taking system is taking notes, but you don't have to limit it to notes that you physically take, especially if you're using an app like Evernote that has multiple capabilities. For example, Evernote has a WebClipper extension for Google Chrome where you can actually save the contents of a webpage, or something that I do quite often is, I will literally copy and paste the contents of emails that I get, for say travel details, and I will put them right into Evernote. So, for example, here I have all the details for the hotel that I booked for this very trip to New York City in Evernote. In that way, I can reference it very easily if I need to. That you also might find instances where it's very useful to come back to a previous note and add more detail. To give you an example of that, I'm going to show you my After Effects notes here. One thing that I do a lot is animate my videos in After Effects, but After Effects is incredibly detailed and complicated program with lots of keyboard shortcuts and literal programming formulas that you can put into layers to make them do certain things. My brain is not good enough to remember all those things easily enough for me to not have to reference them again and again and again. Every time I come across something like the shortcut for centering an anchor point or the shortcut for trimming a layer down, like you would in a video editing program. I've just written those down. Over time, I've memorized a lot of them through repeated usage, but a lot of these things I don't use frequently enough to actually memorize. Another good thing to pay attention to is the way in which you title your notes. This may not be something that is absolutely crucial, but whenever I'm titling a note, I'm trying to think ahead in time, and I'm trying to think about what future me may end up using as a search term to find that note in the future. Now, with a good organizational system, this may not be an issue because you'll have a nice logical tree to go down into to find it, and you shouldn't have too many options once you hit the bottom of that tree. In the case you do need a search for something, like say, this health insurance informational email that I got. I posted this into Evernote and I remember titling this like Kaiser Permanente, that's my health insurance company, but I also put, "Health Insurance Welcome Info Email," because I knew that I may just search for health insurance email in the future. So, I'm trying to think ahead and just brainstorm some of the very generic common terms that future me may have used when he isn't completely refreshed about all the details of the subject. Another thing that might be useful to do which we're going to reference in one of the later videos in this course is having a inbox folder or inbox and notebook. This would just be a notebook where it's like your default position for putting anything and everything. This is going back to that idea of reducing friction when it comes to entering notes into your system. If you're on the go and you really need to enter something quickly, you don't want to have to pull the app up, and then find exactly the notebook that you want to put something in, and then give it a title and all that. You may just wander right whatever's in your head right now and then move on with your life. So, by putting it in inbox and making inbox your default notebook within Evernote, or whatever system you're using, you can do that and then have a time later on where you sit down, and you process everything in that inbox. Maybe you don't, maybe you just use the search function to define random things in there. You could also be diligent and you could categorize everything that you want to categorize later on. One extra tip about note creation I would like to share with you here is a tip about templating. So, you may not always need a note template. Sometimes you just need a blank piece of paper or a blank blinking cursor with which you can start writing, but sometimes you can benefit from a little bit of structure in your notes. So, what I've gone and done is I've actually made a notebook for templates and a very good example of a template here is a video research template that I like to use when I'm creating new video topics for my YouTube channel. I may have title ideas that I want to get down. I may have keyword ideas that I want to write out here. I have lots of notes, research, and links, and also details about any sponsors that may be sponsoring my videos. I like having all this information separate and categorized and easy to find, so I just have this template here. All I do is I copy it and then I paste it into a new note which gives me a starting point for being a lot more organized in my research and writing process. So, that brings us to the actions that I'm going to want you to take to get this part of your system built and ready to go. First of which is to simply sign up for whatever note-taking app or service you want to use, whether it's Evernote or OneNote or Notion, or whether it is getting a paper notebook and setting up like a bullet journal or setting up some system that works well for you. From there, you're going to want to create that categorization. Create those life buckets, so you have an organized quick path to all the different facets of your life. Last, but not least, start taking notes and if you do choose to use that inbox method, make sure you also have a process set up for going in later and processing those notes, giving them their categorizations, giving them their labels and details and titles, so your note-taking system like your task management system does not fall victim to that entropy problem that we talked about earlier. Now, that you have your second brain, as I like to call it set up, we're going to move on to, I guess you can call it your third brain, which is your file organization system. 5. Organize Your Digital Files: The construction of your second brain is complete, but why stop there, three brains are better than two and we are going to construct now a third one in the form of a well organized file management system. This is going to be split into two different videos. The first of which being a digital file organization video which we're going to go through right now and then we're going to follow that up with a physical file organization video as well. Now, the most important thing in my mind when it comes to the organization of your digital files is that you have access to them wherever you are. Back when I was in high school this was inconvenient to basically meant saving the files that I was working on to a flash drive and then remembering to put whatever removable media I had saved my files onto into my backpack which I inevitably I forgot to do sometimes meaning that, sometimes the paper that I need to turn in or print was on my computer at home completely stuck and out of my reach. But, luckily today, that doesn't need to be the case because there are cloud storage systems that allow you to have access to your files basically wherever you are whether it's on your laptop or your cell phone or from a computer browser if you log into their web interface. This is important for reasons beyond just having convenient access to your files. This is also a matter of making sure that you have access to your files for the rest of your life and don't have them get destroyed because, say your laptop broke or your house burned down or something else horrible happened. If you have all of your files only on one device, then the safety of those files which could be a product of hundreds or thousands of hours of your work is the safety of this one physical device and this can easily be tossed out the window or I could easily sit on or something stupid like that. But, because everything is backed up in Google Drive, if this thing goes out the window or melts down or whatever happens to it, it doesn't really matter. I'm out the hardware and that's terrible, but it's not the end of the world because I'll still have access to all those files. Now, let me take a quick moment just to explain what exactly Cloud sync and cloud backup mean. By installing the Dropbox program on your computer or the Google Drive program or whatever it is, you're going to be syncing folders and files that are saved locally on your computer to the cloud and to any other device that you have their software installed on and you're going to be able to access those files again through their cloud servers with your mobile device. So, you can see that all my files are actually saved onto my laptop here. So, they are literally on the hard drive, but if I go over to the Dropbox web browser and I click into the same exact folder, is I'm going to find those same exact files. They are essentially backed up everywhere and the software knows that whenever you make a change to a file somewhere, it needs to update that file everywhere that that file is saved. So, just to make this clear, when I'm looking at this file over here on my desktop, I can see that it is saved on my local computer here. But, if I go over to the web browser, I can find that exact same file and it's right here and I can actually view it right in the Dropbox web browser too. So, in the examples you're going to see in this video, I'm going to be using Dropbox because that's what I used as a student, that was my first cloud backup service that I ever signed up for, but I actually recommend Google drive these days simply because their pricing is better. For two bucks a month you can get a 100 gigabytes over with drive whereas the only option past the two gigabyte free tier on Dropbox is paying $10 a month for one terabyte and I don't think a whole lot of people need more than a 100 gigabytes. So, I just think it's better price-wise. What I think is the most fundamental concept in file organization is to set it up like a tree. Essentially, I'm talking about a structure of folders that imitates a tree like a genealogy tree or an evolutionary biology tree, you're going to have a trunk and from that trunk you're going to have branches stemming out. We're going to go back to that life buckets concept. So, the trunk of the tree is going to be the root folder of your cloud management system. So, if it's Dropbox, it's going to be the Dropbox folder or that Dropbox puts on your computer or if it's Google Drive, it's going to be that root Google Drive folder and you should strive to keep everything that matters to you within that folder, nothing should exist outside of it. That way, everything is synced to the cloud and it's all available wherever you are. So, within the root of the tree here my Dropbox, you can see that I have several folders. I've got a folder for college and within that I've got folders for all the years I was in college. I've got a folder for "College Info Geek" which is everything having to do with my blog, there are folders for learning, anything that I was into, I mean a folder for that. We can kind of see here how we're building this tree structure. So, college is a main branch off of that root there and then from there we start branching down and getting even more specific. So, let's say we have junior here, within the junior in your folder I have a specific folder for every class that I took, such as MIS 432 as an example. Within here, anything that was a general hallmark that needed a file like not notes, but like a picture that we uploaded or a spreadsheet that we created, that was all in this folder. But, we went even deeper when it came to big projects. So, we did have a final group project in that class and we made sure to create a specific folder for that project. I do want to show you one more example of how I organize my work documents now as a YouTuber and I think this may be a little bit more relevant for those of you who are trying to apply this to a more professional context. So, we're switching over to Google Drive here which is where I keep all of my current professional folders. I have a folder called content within Google Drive and then I've got a folder called "Graphics". So, all thumbnails, all podcasts shared images, all article featured images, that needs to go on graphics. So, let's go to graphics and then we can go to video share images and I give every video a number based on the order in which it released on my YouTube channel. This kind of goes to an organizational system that I use for video planning. So, we've got all these videos share image folders and the most recent video that I did was one on self discipline. So, within here, I can find the thumbnail that I created for that video and the Photoshop document that I created as well in case I'd go in there and make changes to it. Now, the reason that I have split everything out into graphics and videos and scripts, you may be thinking like, why not just have one folder for every video project and keep the script and all the graphics and all the files and everything in there. That would make sense if you were say a solo prenuer, you're doing everything yourself. I work with a team which means I have to share folders with many different people and my graphic designer has no need for her computer to get filled up with tons of video project files and proxy files. So, we've created a system that works for us where we've kind of made the root of the content folder be based on the type of content and the person on the team who would work with that content. So, the sharing structure makes sense. That being said, I do have one little extra tip for you when it comes to making it easier to navigate these file systems and it's to use what is called a different names on many different systems, but while it was called shortcuts. But basically, whenever you have a very frequently accessed folder, it's just wasted time navigating through the tree to get to it. So, use that favorite system. For example here, let's say that, I'm using this MIS 435 folder quite often. I'm just going to go ahead and drag that folder into my favorites here. So, now I can just click it and I'm instantly into it. Same with Windows, if you using a Windows computer you can easily drag a folder to that sidebar which is called quick access there and if you are using the Google Drive web interface, you can go ahead and right click a folder and then just hit star. What that's going to do is add that folder to this starred section here which is basically just the exact same things your quick access. Now, another question that might come up for you is, "What is the difference between my note taking system and my digital file organization system?" The answer really isn't clear cut. It kind of comes down to personal preference. What do you want to keep in folders and what do you want to keep in a system like Evernote? So, for the most part, if I am writing down things, if I'm taking notes, if I'm entering data into my system, I'm usually using a note taking system like Evernote, but if I need to download a spreadsheet or if I need to download a document that somebody emailed me, usually I'm keeping that my file organization system. The other thing to note is that, if you're using a system like Evernote, there aren't a whole lot of levels that you can drill down into if you're using the notebook system, whereas with your file organization system, you can go as many levels deep as you want and you can successfully inception somebody with those levels. You can't do that in Evernote. So, that brings us to the actions for this particular video which are pretty simple. Number one, go out and sign up for whatever Cloud backup service that you want to use, whether it be Google Drive, which is what I recommend because their pricing is better than anyone else's that I have seen or whether it's Box or Dropbox or SpiderOak or whatever you want to use, make sure you're signed up for it, make sure that, that folder is synced to your computer and then start building out that tree based hierarchy within that root folder there. You don't want to be saving things outside of that root folder. Remember, if you save something outside of it, you don't have access anywhere, but that local device. On that note I do have one final tip for you here. This is kind of an advanced tip and this is not something that I think you should put into action right away, but it is a little seed that I want to plant in your mind for later thought which is that, you may want to look into having a secondary remote backup service for all of your files. This is something that helps me sleep at night. Say, for some reason, you delete all of your files in Google Drive and then your hand slips and you go into the trash and empty the trash as well, everything's gone. If you have a secondary backup system, you still have access to all those files and folders, but if you didn't have it then, they're all gone for good. Personally, I use another cloud backup service called backblaze and I pay for them because they have unlimited cloud backup service which means, I can back up all of my video footage for YouTube videos that would never fit into Google Drive. But, I also have peace of mind knowing that my files are backed up into drive and they're also backed up into that place. It's called double redundancy and I think that it's pretty useful. Now, that we've gotten through all of that, you have everything you need for building your digital system and we're now going to move over to the physical side. 6. Organize Your Physical Files: So, we've covered digital file organization, and that leaves just one more piece of the file organization puzzle to be put together, which is the physical portion of it. Now, when it comes to physical file organization, the pitfall that I see people running into the most is, like with many other things, a lack of organization. They have piles of papers just shoved everywhere, they're in drawers. People don't really know where their physical documents are kept. While we can talk about the solution to that problem, which I'll allude to by pointing at this thing right here, before we get into that, I want to ask the question or pose it to you, what actually needs to be physical in your life? For me, the answer is not a whole lot. I mean, maybe your birth certificate, or that newspaper clipping that you were in in 11th grade, or maybe your mint condition copy of action comics number one. Yeah, you want to keep those in a real world, but for everything else, you just need access to the information on those sheets of paper. So, what I'm going to suggest is to digitize what you can and get rid of the paper versions. That way, it's not sitting around your house cluttering things up. Now, when it comes to digitization, you have quite a few options including using an app like Evernote, which has a built-in document scanner to just scan your documents right into it, or you could also use an app like Scanbot to automatically send your files to Google Drive, or Dropbox, so that they're in your file organization system digitally instead of your note-taking system. But, for the documents and mint condition comics that do need to remain in the real world, how do you organize them? For me, the answer is twofold. One, you want a stationary at-home file organization system, and then to complement that, you want a portable one as well. So, for your stationary at-home system, I'm going to recommend a simple hanging folder drawer. You get this at basically any department store, Walmart, Target, anything similar to that. It's basically just like a cube. It could be plastic. It can be fabric like this. They often fit into drawers that you can build, and then they have hanging folders. So, all of your documents can go into a folder like this. You can use the labels that come with them if you want to label things, so you know exactly where they go, or you can just memorize the positions of them, if you don't have very many documents like I do. Then, to complement this stationary system, you're also going to want some portable system to organize anything that you get where you're on the go. I've got two different options for you. If you don't happen to get a lot of papers like you're a professional, or a freelancer, and almost everything comes to you via email or electronically, then just keep a single folder in your backpack, or your briefcase, your work bag. This is the one that I use, and I have very few documents in there right now. But, if you're a student, especially if you're in high school, or in college, you're getting lots and lots of paper handouts, what I recommend getting is an accordion folder. These as well as this thing, you can get a pretty much any department store, and it just opens up, and fans out, and gives you several different pockets along with little labeled tabs that you can easily use to organize all of your different files. When you get home each day, you might find that there are papers in here that you don't really need to have access to on the go anymore, so maybe you're going to digitize those, or maybe you're going to transfer them to your at-home system. Now, one thing you might be asking yourself is, "Tom, If I have this accordion folder with all of these nice divisions here, why do I need this? I could just take this wherever I want to go." If you want to live a life of danger and intrigue and mystery, then go ahead and be my guest. But, I would not be keeping my birth certificate and something in my backpack which could be easily stolen or left at a coffee shop because of my own bone-headedness. So, anything really important that I want to keep physically that I don't really need if I'm going somewhere, I want to keep at home in a stationary file storage system. All right. So, that takes care of everything related to file organization that we need to talk about, so now, we are going to move on to the next section of the course, which is managing your communication systems. 7. Get Better at Email: All right. We are now entering the back half of the course. We have created our task management and calendar systems, we've gotten clear on note-taking, and you now have a well-organized file system in both the digital and physical spaces. So, now, it's time to talk about optimizing your communication systems or to put that in simpler terms, to get better at email. Now, why talk about email? Nobody likes email. Email as a terrible hydra that never ends and you never stop fighting, but that is exactly why we have to talk about it. Email is one of the primary ways that people communicate with each other, especially in the professional world, and it's also a way that people often send documents back and forth. So, having a well organized inboxes and full of 1,000 unread messages is very important for having a productivity system where nothing slips through the cracks. That brings us to the main pitfall that people fall into when it comes to managing their email, which is that they don't manage it very well, they don't archive things, they leave stuff in the inbox, and they end up with this giant mess that they can't find anything, and every time they open it it just seemed so overwhelming, they want to close it immediately. This is why there are things like email forgiveness day, where people literally take a day out of the year to say I'm sorry for not responding to you for three months, but I just couldn't bring myself to open that email inbox. Well, what we want to do is make it so that you never feel that you can't bring yourself to open your email inbox. It should be easy. It should be pretty clean almost all the time. So, a rule that I try to live by and I think is very useful for you to live by it as well is, don't touch a message unless you intend to do something with it. By do something with it, I either mean answer it or turn it into a task, or archive it for later, or delete it. Don't open it, read it casually, and tell yourself I'm going to come back to that. That is how you get that inbox full of a bunch of unread, bunch of reads but a lot of stress. All right. So, when it comes to processing email, you have several different options here. One of the ones I mentioned earlier was archiving. I think that anything you don't need to keep like spam, newsletters, that should be deleted. In fact, it should be deleted, and it should also potentially be filtered out or unsubscribe from if it's a newsletter you don't care about. But if it's something that you may need access to in the future, then you're going to want to archive it. With Gmail, you get 15 gigabytes of free space which is enough for almost every email you're ever going to receive from now until you are 100 years old. So, don't feel bad about archiving emails, they really don't take a whole lot of space. You want to make sure you have access to the information within them just in case you need it. All right. So, the next concept that we are going to talk about and the one that I think I've been leading to is something that is called inbox zero. This is something that I definitely didn't make up. A lot of productivity people love to talk about inbox zero. Basically, the idea here is that when you go into process email, you should have an action for every single one. So, first step, when you go into your email, it shouldn't be while you're in the elevator waiting to get up to your office and you only have 30 seconds. There should be like a specific time of day when you sit down and you deliberately tell yourself I am now processing email. It's not for waiting in the cab, it's not for the elevator, it's not for just randomly going to, you should be living your life at those times. So, if you've done that, and you've deliberately set up a decent period of time to process your email, you should be able to take some form of action on everything in your inbox. If you do this regularly, you shouldn't have too much in your inbox to start with. Now, one final tip that I want to leave you with here and this is more a tip in how you conduct yourself in responses than on processing email itself. But when you're applying to an email, try to anticipate the follow-up questions that the other person might ask. So, for example, if somebody emails you and they're saying, "Hey I want to set up a meeting, do you have time available this week?" You might say, yes. But if all you say is yes, then you're just creating a bunch of work for them, because now they have to say, "Okay. What days are you available? What times you available?" This could spawn an email chain that's a mile long. So, instead, anticipate what they may ask based on your original answers. You might say, "Yes. I'm available Monday from 10 to four p.m. and I'm available Thursday, from eight to one p.m. But you can go further than that, what if you suggested the meeting time yourself? So, say "I'm available these times." By default, I'm going to suggest Monday at one p.m. but other times work for me within those windows as well. Now, you've given the other person the ability to set that meeting up with just one final reply, either yes, your suggested time works, or that doesn't work for me, let's do Thursday at eight a.m, you said you had that available. Then you're done, that thread is done, the meeting is on your calendar, and you can go do whatever you want. Now, I've gone ahead and set up a brand new email account, forwarded it in myself a bunch of messages to give you an example here. The first thing that you're going to notice here is that I'm using Gmail. So, like I talked about earlier in the course, I recommend Google Calendar as your calendar and that's because it syncs so well with Gmail, and they're both free. But again, you could use any email system that you want. In fact, I actually run my Gmail through an app called Front because I'm managing a team, and that actually lets my teammates answer emails for me, and they can have conversations with me to ask me how to handle certain things. But if you're a solo person, you don't need something like that, Gmail is perfectly adequate and in fact very powerful. So, here is an example email here. This is something that I'm going to archive, but I realized this is somebody reaching out to me because I think they want to interview me for a political documentary, except they don't want to interview me, they want to interview the other Thomas Frank that's famous for writing political books, and usually people get confused. I try to be nice and I try to respond to them and tell them, "Hey, it's for the other Thomas Frank." So again, touch it only once then get it out of your inbox. So, this one I could respond to very very easily, but let's say I don't want to. What I want to share with you here is something called the To-Do list for Gmail extension. So, if you're using To-Do list, this is actually a really nice feature because you can add it to Google Chrome which I'm going do now. Then, if I hit this button up here which gets added to my Gmail interface, I'm able to add this email as a task into To-Do list. This window is basically just a mini version of To-Do list. So, it's pretty much full feature when it comes to adding your task. Now, it's going to grab the subject line from the email, and that's going be the default name of the task, but this isn't very descriptive. When I'm adding tasks to my task management system, I want to be descriptive, and I want to be deliberate about writing down the action I need to take. So, I'm going to go ahead and just rename this to respond to Greg about Thomas Frank mix up, and we'll put it for tomorrow. We can use that natural language processing to easily just put tomorrow on there instead of going over here and clicking and much of things add task. Now, it's there on my to do list, and now I can easily archive this if I want to, and we have taken care of that one. Now, if I want to come back later and finish that task, all I got to look for is Greg, there it is and I can respond to it very easily, but I've gotten it out of my inbox on the first time that I touched it. So, the next thing that I want to talk about is labeling. When I was in college, I thought that it was crucial to label every single message. But especially if you're using Gmail, this really isn't that necessary because Gmail has Google Search built into it. So, the search engine is pretty darn powerful and you're going to be able to find almost anything you've archived, and I think that labeling everything is a waste of time. That being said, I do think labels are useful for certain instances such as this one. I've got an invoice here from somebody that works for me. This is something that I want to give a label to because I want to have a nice organized folder of every invoice and receipt that I received for my business, just in case I ever need to reference it all as a group in the future. So, I'm going to check this and I'm going to give it a label. We don't have any labels yet that aren't the default ones, I'm going to go and create a new one, just going to call it receipts, and now I've got receipts here. If I go under receipts, I can see that email there. That's pretty useful for certain collections of emails that you may want to have access to in the future as a group, but again don't do it for every single email because search is usually good enough. The other thing that I want to talk about is creating filters. So, sometimes you may get emails that have a very similar feel to them or similar information, and you may want to set up an automated rule that will do something with those emails every single time. So, for example, we have a receipt here from Grace Street. This is a restaurant that I went to on a business trip, so I want to make sure that this gets the receipt tag. Now, I could give it the receipt tag, but what if I go to this restaurant again. It's in New York City, I go to New York City for business a lot. This may come into my inbox in the future, and I'm going to have to repeat this action, and I don't want to do that. So, what I'm going do is grab this subject line or I could grab the email address from who it's from, or any kind of piece of information that I think is going to be relevant and repeated, and I can go over and hit filter messages like these. So, I'm going to remove the from, and what I'm going do is just have the subject be this. I'm going to search for it, we have that, cool. So, we can see that search works, so now I'm going to go ahead and make sure I create that filter. So, let's paste that subject there, create filter. I want to always apply the label receipt, and I don't even need to see it. So, I'm going to also automatically skip the inbox and archive it, create that filter. Now, anytime a message like that comes in the future, I'm not going to see it again, but I can rest assured that it's going to be in my inbox so I can reference it later if I need to. So, when it comes to specific actions for this part of the course, I'm guessing you already have an email address. So, really, just start creating a few intelligent labels for things that are not easily searched or things that you want to have nicely bundled together if you need to look at them as a group. Beyond that, work on getting down to inbox zero and staying there. Remember, only touch each email once. Create a task out of it, delete it, filter it, archive it, or answer it. So, now that we have talked about how to optimize your email, we're going move on to the next part of the course which is something I like to call Quick Capture. 8. Use Quick Capture: At this point, the skeleton of your productivity system is now set up, and you could ostensibly start using it and basically end the course here. But, I want you to stick around for a couple more videos, because we have a couple of meta skills that I think are important to master if you want to keep using your productivity system efficiently over the long term. The first concept we're going to talk about here is something I like to call Quick Capture. It's the idea of reducing the friction involved in getting information into your system. Because a productivity system, with all of its folders and hierarchical trees and labels and projects, it creates this double edged sword. Once information is in it, it's very easy to find that information, it's very easy to keep things organized and navigate through the system. But, that makes it a pain to input that information in the first place. If you're on the run and a client emails you something and you have to put it into your system, you don't want to be dealing with the process of going through all these folders and finding the exact right notebook or the exact white label to apply. So, quick capture is just a set of practices for in the moment, reducing that friction and then coming back later and maybe processing that information a little bit further and getting it really organized when you have more time. Now, this is a concept where I can give you a couple of examples, but what I want to do is challenge you to start thinking of other ways that you could reduce the friction involved when getting information into your system with regards to your particular system and your particular work. But, the first example that I want to show you is a concept that I like to call the Daily Note. This is basically the idea of having one note in your note-taking system where you record all the events of the day, basically everything that happens. That way, you can open Evernote or whatever app you're using right to it. I like to put daily notes right in the inbox because the inbox is the default notebook in Evernote. So, I might write things down and it could be literally anything. I could be making bullet lists with a bunch of random characters in there. I could be doing basically whatever I want and there could be all kinds of different disparate notes and different disparate types of information within that daily note. The key is, when you end the day, you end it by taking five minutes to just copy all the stuff out of that note and put it where it's supposed to go. This isn't something you have to do, but I found it useful at times when I'm really stressed, maybe when I'm traveling and I really just don't want to take the time to navigate all my folders and notebooks because I'm in a cab or on a plane or walking down the street trying to get things into my system. Another application of this concept is finding ways to scan physical documents into your digital system faster. Now, if you're using Evernote like I am, there is a digital scanning tool right within the app. But I like using an app called Scanbot a little bit more. The reason I use Scanbot is that you can define a default notebook that all scans are going to go to. Personally, I just use Scanbot for business receipts. So, I can easily scan a document, and in fact, the app will actually find the outlines of the document and take the picture automatically. Once I hit "Okay", it's going to send that receipt to Evernote and I had never have to do anything and it's super quick and super automated. Just to give you one more fun example, at home, I have an Amazon Echo and as it turns out, Amazon Echo has a to-do list feature right inside their app. But, you can also hook that up to several external to-do services including to-do list. So, my girlfriend and I have a shared list in to-do lists called our shopping list. We have that list bound to our echo app, which basically means that when we're in the kitchen and we run out of something like we've run out of eggs or something, we can tell the echo hey put this on my shopping list and not only is that going to go onto the echo shopping within that app, it's also going to go onto our to-do list which is shared, which means that whichever of us goes to the store, both of us are able to open that app, see what's on the list, check things off, we're always in sync. Just for extra fun, I will share one final tip here. I get a lot of ideas in the shower and it's kind of hard to write down those ideas in the shower and I guess you could maybe yell at siri if you can yell your phone loud enough. But, they also sell these waterproof shower notebooks that just suction cup to the wall of your shower and on more than one occasion, I have had an idea or maybe the entire script or outline for a video pops into my head while I'm in the shower, and I frantically scrawled that outline down under the shower notebook. So, it has saved me more than once, and it's pretty cheap. Anyway, in terms of action steps for this video, there are a whole ton. Number one, start thinking about ways you can remove steps and the processes that you go through to get stuff into your productivity system and maybe start experimenting with apps like Scanbot as well. Now, that you've got those ideas kicking around in your head, we're going to move on to the final concept in this course which is the idea of the review day. 9. Schedule a Review Day: All right. We have arrived at the final concept I want to share with you in this course, which is the idea of doing a review day. This is essentially taking one day per week, or maybe once a month if you'd like, to reset your system back to its intended state, so that way you are trusting at 100 percent and you're actually using it. As a mentioned quite a few times during this course, now all productivity systems tend to fall victim to what I like to call entropy or chaos. You have tasks that you never checked off, or you have stuff sitting in your quick access that you no longer need access to, you've got every no documents that are in the wrong places. A review day basically keeps the hydra at bay. It keeps that entropy from getting too crazy so that way you actually keep using your productivity system over the long term. Really, it doesn't have to take that long. Now, I recommend doing a review day on Sunday. This gives you the ability to, number one, reset your productivity system back to its intended state, but also look at the coming week and see what's coming ahead. It's a good planning day and a good planning day is also a good review day. So, in terms of things you may want to actually do on review day, number one, you may want to look at your task management system and see if there's anything in there that didn't get checked off or that needs to be updated. So, for example, I have an overdue task for bringing the Blue Flower to the top of the Mountain, to the temple up there. I did do that but I was so exhausted after doing that and finding Ross how Google and all the ninjas, I didn't check it off on my task management list. So I'm just going to go ahead and check that off and now everything is back to how it should be, or for another example, in my quick access, I've got that MIS 435 folder but that project is actually done and I don't want that quick access to be ganged up by a bunch of folders. I don't really need to be using that often, so I'm going to go ahead and remove that as well. Then, going back to my task management system that maybe I actually have lists that I don't need entirely. So I'm going to go ahead and look through all of my lists here, and I realized, you know what? I actually already went to Iowa. So, this Iowa trip list, I don't actually need that anymore. I'm going to go ahead and delete that. Basically you want to look through your task management system, your calendar maybe to a lesser degree, your note-taking system, and your file management system, and just make sure am I adhering to my organizational structure? Have I added the labels that need to be added to everything? Have I checked off all tasks that are actually done or have I updated them if they have new information on due dates? After you've practiced doing this for a few weeks, it's going to become basically automatic and by using this process regularly, you're going to ensure that your productivity system remains a pretty much one-to-one external representation of your mind, so that way your mind can trust it. In terms of action steps for this video, really the only thing I would ask you to do is, put something on your calendar possibly for Sundays but really it could be whatever day of the week that you want to review your system. Make sure everything is the way that it should be. Now, if you are doing this every single week, it really isn't going to take a whole lot of time, but life is imperfect, we are imperfect, things happen, and there are inevitably going to be times where you haven't reviewed your system for a few weeks or possibly a few months. In those cases, I like to frame it as, not doing a review day, but doing a reset, and maybe doing a reset takes the better part of a day because you've gotta go through a whole lot of stuff that is full of entropy. That's not a whole lot of fun, but remember, once you've got it set back to the way that it's intended to be, it's going to remove stress from your life on a daily basis going forward. So, if you do happen to fall off the horse for a bit, if things get messy, just grit your teeth and do that reset because it's going to be super beneficial going forward. 10. Final Thoughts: Well, that's it. You have reached the end of the course. We have now gone through every step of the process involved in building your productivity system and got over those two very important meta skills in the quick capture and the review day. What I want to leave you with now is something that I tell people when it comes to any sort of implementation about productivity, about systems, about really anything, and that's in all things start small. If you feel overwhelmed by the fact that there are basically seven or eight different action items here, start with one. In fact, there's a very good reason why I started the course with the task management video, and that's because you can go, sign up for your task management system of choice, and then just make a list of all the other action items to do possibly later, maybe one or day, for the next seven days. That way, you're keeping things light and doable. Beyond that, I just want to say thank you for taking this course and sticking with me till the end, and hopefully it really does help you build that strong well-organized productivity system. If you'd like, you can go and take screenshots of certain elements of your system, that you're particularly proud of and share them down to the projects section below, and get down to the discussion forum as well. If you have questions, definitely ask them. If you have tips for me or tips for other people taking this course, and how they can improve their own systems, maybe you have an idea that I didn't think of, share that below, and help people improve the way that they process their lives. Thanks again for watching, and I'm going to walk away now.