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Tools of Titans or Follies of Fools? Today’s the day. January 31, 2018

Posted by nicholas gill in best self, life coach, personal brand, productivity, Uncategorized.
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Today is the 31st January 2018. I’m two years into co-running my own business. It’s demanding but we have great clients and projects. I have a stable and demanding home life and a loving family. But I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Not so much that I can’t cope and need time out. But that I’m far too easily distracted. That I can’t focus. My mind flits everywhere all at once and I’m struggling to maintain focus and direction. Too much noise, not enough signal. I have plans but then don’t execute. I put off. Procrastinate. Write lists but get bored. I feel impatience rising. I can’t concentrate with general hub-bub.

Over the last year or so I’ve been listening and reading more and thinking, “that’s a great idea, I could try that.”

Sometimes I do and it works. Sometimes it stays in the Slack private message to myself or Evernote – the digital equivalents of the scraps of paper, overflowing drawers or scribbles in notebooks. I have those too. I’m currently carrying around three note books, a journal and a plastic wallet with stuff in. Because all have bits in that I need. Or I think I need. But haven’t sorted them out. My bag is like an old woman’s handbag in this respect.

I’ve been listening to podcasts for the last few months. I have a long drive, it helps. And I enjoy them. But then quickly forget.

And then last night I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ interview with Bozoma Saint-John – the new Chief Brand Officer at Uber. And it was interesting, very interesting. As 90% if Ferriss’ work is to me. But it wasn’t the stories about marketing but her experience of living on 10c bread rolls in New York City and the kindly Asian shopkeeper who took pity on her, giving out life advice and human warmth without expectation. And the thing that hit me was this:

 “Today’s the day!”

Everyday she would say this to Boz.

Relentless optimism in the face of adversity.

I’m drawn to the optimistic view. I was once knocked down in an appraisal because I see things through rose tinted glasses. It still smarts some 15 years later. I guess the point they were trying to make – badly – is that sometimes you need a balance but you know what? Forget that. I like being positive and optimistic. ‘Can do’ and ‘relentlessly optimistic’ are things I do. Things I like. I’m a positive, no. 3 type person. I struggle with any negativity or confrontation. Let’s make it happen.

“We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything.” 
– Bozoma Saint John

Today’s the day.

So I decided that today would be the day. Why wait till February 1? Why wait for the start of the week?

Start today. Because today’s the day.

And try out these things. Make the changes. Try the things that started to work and the you stopped. Try new things.

So I took inspiration from some of Ferriss’ interviewees and those that appear in Tools Of Titans and Tribe of Mentors and started. Today.


My first start was early. 5am early. Because early risers are more productive. Allegedly. Let’s try it. I’m pretty good at getting up. But then so are two of my three children. And this morning the smallest one beat me to the 5am alarm announcing that he’d wet his bed. 4.40am. At least I was awake. I was heading into London on the early train anyway.

I just don’t recall any of Ferriss’ interviewees or ‘titans’ having to deal with 4 year olds and wet mattresses. So instead of meditating or journaling, I was stripping sheets and loading washing machines and trying to get him to use his quiet voice. That’s why I’m going to call this series Tools Of Titans or Follies Of Fools?

For now, at least.

But today’s the day. So I get to London and I’ve achieved one thing.

My phone has been in airplane mode. All this time.

I get to Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue – my peaceful place in town – and while having a nice coffee I get my journal out. I’ve tried this before. But today’s the day. I like the premise. I bought the Best Self Journal. It’s lovely. Nice texture. Solid. Looks great. I struggle with a few things in it that I’m going to try and solve over the next weeks. More on that later but what I do enjoy is the focus on what are your top 3 things to achieve today – or as they say, “what will make today a win?”


3 things written. 1 done, 1 in progress, 1 yet to start. Better than the to do list that just gnaws away.

And then and only then do I turn the phone on.

More thoughts on that another time.

And I started a new Instagram account to do micro updates on this experiment.

I have lots of things I’d like to do better and improve. I’ll be sharing them here. Feel free to share your experiences.

Today’s the day.



Today was a good day Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

All others by me.





Distraction and the Internet April 17, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in distraction, internet, productivity, social media, Uncategorized, website, webtrate.
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65% of us get distracted by the Internet. Distracted form doing stuff by doing more stuff like emails, general web surfing and of course, social media. 53% also admitted that the reduction in productivity caused them dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

I can empathise. I’m far too easily distracted at present. I need to switch off. And now you can with Webtrate. Despite the site looking like it’s come from the 90s – deliberate given the context of what they’re trying t do I hope – you sign up and get a number of options to turn off all these distractions and focus. Anything from a simple timer to a complete lock down. Splendid.

Image source.

i almost did it September 16, 2013

Posted by nicholas gill in productivity, social media.
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I’ve tried to switch off from email and social before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. After changing a few holidays around due to work commitments this year,  I was determined to switch off from work this time round. And that also meant an opportunity for no tweeting, facebooking, checking gmail etc.

It’s a lot harder than it seems. I turned off the work email and realised that my weakest time is putting the kids to bed. When they’re in the little period between shutting their eyes and then properly in the land of nod. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, more usually about 10 – 20. Usually time to attempt the inbox zero challenge and catch up on the social firehose.

Easiest to not look at was Twitter. I went the whole week. No desire to check it. Next was work email. Turning it off stops the easy lapse. I only weakened by need rather than choice as I needed to extend my break due to unforseen circumstances. So had to quickly do this on the Sunday. In and out. 90+ unread a pleasant surprise and quick eyeball meant no horror stories on the return. Switched off. I did plop a few Instagram photos out. Mainly during the kids sleep time when I got frustrated playing Minion Rush (damn, it’s hard. I must be getting old).

I only Facebook’d a few times. To share our boy’s birthday and first day at school pictures.

It’s quite surprising how the urge to take a photo, tweet or update your status is subconsciously gnawing away at you. All the time. I didn’t miss Twitter at all. I think if it had not been a birthday/back to school occasion I would not have felt the need to Facebook either. And after two days I didn’t feel the constant need to check work email either. I only looked at the home email as we’re trying to move house and lots happening there.

As a result, I’m trying not to be always-on. I’m trying to do it in bite-size chunks as I get distracted too easily. I don’t need to turn the phone on in the morning and check. I find it more relaxing. We had our son’s birthday party at the weekend and I kept my phone firmly in my pocket. No tweets, no pictures, no status updates. Just an enjoyable afternoon out.

Image source.

organised me May 28, 2013

Posted by nicholas gill in app, productivity.
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Lists. In my notebook. On my phone. On my desktop. In emails. In various notebooks at home. Failing to get to inbox zero. Trying to wade through gmail and work email to find crap. Or poorly organised folders on my desktop.
Stuff. Lots going on. Busy at work. Ideas bubbling over. Have just moved house. Have just had another child. Interrupted sleep. Lots to do. Getting lost. Not doing things. Missing things. Forgetting things. Losing track.

So I’m trying to be more organised. Like this:

iCloud: using our calendar for home stuff. So my iPhone tells me when stuff is happening. House viewings, when kids are at pre-school, their various clubs and activities, doctor and immunisation check ups etc. Less hassle of checking between emails, texts, scraps and home diary.

Notes on iPhone: useful for sharing to do’s and lists across iPhone, iPad and iMac that we can both update.

Evernote: I’ve had Evernote for a while but not really indulged properly. Reading up, it strikes me you have to commit. So I have. Links, a few documents, stuff I always forget, documents I want to grab easily. As a result, I now have 0 emails in my inbox. Gmail is also empty. I know I could do more. I need to read up. It’s quite liberating.

Easily Do: I’ve been looking up smart assistants for some time. Easily Do takes care of a lot of things automatically such as letting you schedule Happy Birthday posts on Facebook to be delivered on the day. I know, sounds really dim doesn’t it? But checking the Birthday notification has become a daily habit. It also brings you popular and important posts. I probably need to stay away from Facebook to see how valuable this is as I’ve seen most of them by the time it tells me about them. It sends a text when I’m on my way home. I just hit “Do It”. Easy. The receipt filing is sweet. It could be better integrated to Twitter though as that appears to do nothing right now. Same with Linked In. I tweeted them to ask if they were planning on developing a To Do list addition to the service. this would make it really useful to me. I haven’t heard back. If they could also incorporate a digest of Twitter feeds and incorporate some kind of Virtual Assistant into it then it really would be a great app. As is, I’m not so ingrained that I couldn’t swap – recommendations requested?

Any.Do: I’ve tried a few reminder/task apps recently and this one not only looks super cool but is really easy. I like the daily reminder to “take a few moments” to plan the day. The aesthetics and usability make it really easy to like and use. I disliked the way a few of the other apps appear suited to hardcore project manager types, I just want to try and get things done.

Magnetic shopping & meal planner: Bits of paper can work. This one especially. Left hand side, every day of the week with space to put meals in. On the right, a shopping lists with various sections. With a pencil holder (and pencil) and a magnetic stripe so it sticks to your fridge. It’s amazing. It makes shopping a breeze rather than a random list that means you criss-cross the shop and take forever. Yes, I know we could save time doing online shopping and for the best part of two years we have done that. But we live near a Waitrose now. And it’s quite nice to go in there. Even the kids prefer it to Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

I’m sure there’s more. I’ll keep this post updated. Do let me know any recommendations.

email étiquette – five sentences or fewer April 22, 2013

Posted by nicholas gill in email, productivity.
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Q: Why is this email five sentences or less?
A: http://five.sentenc.es

We all suffer from email overload. There’s been lots written about how it kills productivity and ruins holidays.

While zero inbox and zero tolerance policy is not for everyone, Five Sentences is a gentle introduction and a step on the rung to better email etiquette. It’s not a tool or a plug-in or anything; just a state of mind. A personal statement of intent to make email less hassle and more productive (all told in five sentences).

take 2 bottles into the shower? September 19, 2012

Posted by nicholas gill in apple, innergie, product review, productivity.
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Well… no bottles of shampoo. And no showers (one for another day). But chargers. The bane of a commuters life. I have many. I have to carry the bastards wherever I go. Every day. Because I know I will run out of juice when I really need it. Especially for my iPhone which I’m convinced has an inbuilt knowledge of when I will need it most and pack up at just the wrong moment. So I have chargers everywhere. And any iPhone user will know the cord is pathetically short. So unless you have a plug outlet on top of your desk, your phone resides on the floor as it charges and increases the likelihood of you stomping on it, rolling your chair on it, your colleagues doing the same, forgetting it completely and the rather stupid look of bending down to read and answer text messages or calls when it’s charging.

So I was overjoyed to get my hands on the Innergie Pocketcell. I can break free of plugs and if the “20% battery life left” red bar of death pops up, I know I’ll be ok. It looks neat. It won’t last that way in my backpack I’m sure. But the cool 3-in-1 Apple, micro USB and mini USB and a regular USB at the end charges pretty much any device you may have and flips back around to be stuck in a regular Apple plug or your laptop to recharge the Pocketcell when it needs it. Which presumably is not nearly enough as my iPhone which can be charged fully twice from the Pocketcell. I’m liking it already. One less thing to carry. It’s even convinced me to leave the Macbook plug at home as I seem to carry it like a security blanket. I have a plug at work. I could always take that if I need to go off site for any period of time.

Here’s a nice video of the Innergie products. It is ace.

Thank you to Jenny @ Adrenalin for supplying the product. I have not been paid to say any of this.

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