My Personal Organization System for Productivity & Time Management

My Personal Organization System for Productivity & Time Management

I constantly get people that ask me “Noah, how do you stay organized?”

This is also one of my favorite questions to ask when I interview someone as it speaks volumes on how a person lives their life.

Treo-650I must admit, my most productive and organized period in life was when I relied on my Treo 650. Most of you youngins have NO idea about dat life =)

Realize though, what works for me, may not work for you.

Everyone has their own way of staying organized:

  • My good buddy Neville writes 3 goals on a big piece of paper and then posts them online.
  • My business partner Chad doesn’t ever write down anything. Besides having a mind like the T-1000 (Terminator super computer), he just always remembers what to do. No f’ing clue how but he does it.
  • Anton, my good friend and biz buddy, used to use his moleskin on the daily but now uses a virtual list with Todoist.

I want to emphasize a few things before I show you my system.

1- No organizational system or software will fix you being a lazy ass. People buy millions of dollars of productivity books (they are always top 100 on Amazon), software, and coaching seminars, but at the end of the day YOU STILL HAVE TO DO WORK.

2- What works for me or Nev or Chad will not work for you. It’s up to you to figure out what gets you the maximum output.

Note: A favorite book about maximizing your output and engagement are Ultimate Sales Machine and Power of Full Engagement. Highly recommended.

Over the years in iterating on my own organization system, I’ve recognized a few things that have helped me maximize my output relative to time:

1- Stay humble so you aren’t too arrogant to try out something new.

2- Be open to recognizing what is actually working, so you can do more of that.

3- Ruthlessly kill any organization system that doesn’t actually help you.

That last one is the hardest of them all. Read it outloud again.

Ruthlessly kill any organization system that doesn’t actually help you.

It’s harder than it sounds. It’s the things you do daily, weekly or yearly that aren’t serving you but you still haven’t cut out of your life.

Now you should be in the right mindset Without further ado how I personally stay organized.

My life is based on Google Calendar. Almost everything I do is scheduled and planned ahead of time.

Here’s a picture of a typical week.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.45.53 AM

A few key things that help me stay productive:

1- I block out time for activities AHEAD of time. I do this on Sunday based on the things I want to get done for the week.

2- I put things on auto-repeating so it’s in my calendar. Notice handstand practice and gym life. E’ry day.

3- I use different colors for things cause colors are purdy.

4- I block out time on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for studying whatever I want and for an activity, because every time I do those I get great ideas and feel great.

5- I try to put things others are responsible for or I expect in calendar so I can get it out of my head and not have to remember it like “Brushy report” or doing Monday morning business operations.

6- One HUGE thing is on Sundays, I look at all the things in the upcoming week I DON’T want to do and remove them. Poof. Gone. It’s your life. One time. Remove anything religiously that does not help towards your main goals.

The second cornerstone of my organization system are my weekly check-ins.

I do this with anyone crucial to the Sumo company and with Adam Gilbert, which we do every Sunday.

For my Sunday check-ins, I HIGHLY recommend you get an accountability partner. Adam’s mine, don’t steal!

First thing I do is review the previous weeks categories. I email Adam on Sunday night and cc This will return my original email to my inbox on Sunday so I can do a recap of what I did or did not do. I’ll tell Adam what I did or didn’t do.

Then what I do is update for the upcoming week, a text doc that is in Dropbox called today.txt. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.55.34 AM

I break out my upcoming week in 3 categories: work, work-out (health) and personal. It’s up to you to determine what a great week looks like. Don’t add more than 3 to each category. I don’t buy into doing the hardest thing first. Sometimes you just need an easy win. Find what works for you but the main thing I do is not to list 500 things for the week. That’ll be overwhelming and likely not super meaningful in the results.

I’ll fill in the upcoming week and email that to Adam with the

Then I block out times for those activities in Google Calendar.

Okay, you are set for the week, but do you organize on a longer-term scale?

I break my organization into short, medium and long.
Short term - Anything done < 1 month

I use Remember The Milk for my basic check list. Why? Cause it’s stupid simple, I like having desktop, mobile, offline access and they were an early AppSumo partner. #loyalty There are literally 100s of To-do apps. Find the one that works for you.

I have a whiteboard on my wall, I use it for things I want to get done that week, grocery list, my main theme of the year (it’s Fierce) and letting my gf draw all over it. I like seeing themes and activities repeatedly. Helps me remember to get things done.

2016-03-09 11.02.31

During the day, I use a moleskine. I have it next to my desk. My MOST productive days are when I list out 3 things I want to get done in the moleskine BEFORE I open my laptop. Once the computer opens up, the brain turns off. Seriously. Think about it. I’ll also list some stupid shit on there like go to gym or talk to someone I already have scheduled. I want to feel progress and the little wins make me feel goooooood.

2016-03-14 17.57.26

The last thing on my short term stuff is using Have you ever gone back-n-forth trying to coordinate a meeting? Read this article by Paul Graham about maker vs manager’s schedule. The key thing that’s stuck with me is if you are in sales, you take the mtgs you can, when you can. But otherwise you need to structure your time for minimizing distractions and getting shit done.

So if someone wants to meet, I send them my link and I only allow 15 minute blocks to chat on Tues and Thur and only in the afternoon. Mornings and super late nights are my sweet spot and I protect them.
Medium Term - 1 month to 1 year

In the beginning of the year I write out my bucket list for the year. Same 3 categories as above: work, work-out and personal. I’ll save that list and put it on a sticky so I ALWAYS see it daily when I open my laptop.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.08.54 AM

I use Stickies (free and built into Mac) to have my yearly goals visible every day. I also add positive affirmations like the Drake quote to them:

“I signed up for greatness. This comes with it.” [click to tweet]

Another medium system I use is Notes on my iPhone and make sure they are synced to gmail as such:

2016-03-10 09.26.46

In here I’ll put rap lyrics for my music (yes!), business ideas from a lunch meeting, short term passcodes, my jokes list, new workout program ideas (Synthesis) and other more temporary thoughts I’ll transfer somewhere else or delete.

Another tool I’ve used for organizing is BetterSnapTool. Ever had a live chat with customer support but you want another screen open? BST makes it stupid easy for your to put 2 screens side by side. As well, makes it easy to make a window take up the whole screen just using your keyboard. Time saver!

I’ve gone back and forth but ultimately having 2 monitors makes me more productive. Imagine having 2 keyboards? It’s like that. Do it.
Longer Term

For anything I just want to brain dump I use Some of my favorite use cases are my bank information (router / account #), people in cities so I can look up who to hang with when I travel, recipes, passport photo, license info, workouts and other non-critical brain dump info go in Evernote.

For writing articles, journaling and thinking through things are written in MacJournal. I break things out by journal categories. I have OkDork articles, Sumo related articles, book reports, documenting support, etc.

Many times I’ll go into Focused Editing mode which helps me not get distracted and finish the writing I blocked out time to do. For every article I write publicly I’ll take it from MJ and move it to a Google Doc for group editing.


Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.19.49 AM

So that’s how I help run AppSumo, SumoMe, and get my personal things done.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to you. Find the organization system that works for you.

Stay organized,
Noah “tacos” Kagan

Ps. How do you stay organized? Leave a comment and I’ll send 2 people my favorite books on organization.

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133 responses to “My Personal Organization System for Productivity & Time Management”

March 21, 2019 at 3:40 pm

I can almost hear your literal voice, your writing truly gets the reader to know you without actually meeting you. I love your tips! Thanks for hitting that lazy point, many people don't realize that. As a budding blogger I am inspired.

Chris O
September 21, 2018 at 9:43 pm

I Love it. This is great!

Lisa R.
April 20, 2018 at 6:19 pm

One thing I've done for almost 5 decades is keep an index card file with a card for everyone I interact with professionally. I date every entry, note whom (in the family) I've spoken to and a few words that cover what we spoke about. Very much hoping to receive any material on organization!! Thanks!

Stormy Knight
April 4, 2018 at 10:19 am

I ended up coming to the calendar method through close to the same route as you did. There is simply a limitation on how much can be accomplished in a day and the calendar method makes that abundantly clear. Thanks for the fine points you bring up. I will be fine tuning my system later today. 😉

March 15, 2018 at 3:04 pm

This is really helpful. I appreciate your candid insight. Thanks!

David Hestrin
December 22, 2017 at 6:13 am

I haven't totally stayed organized, but I have some idea to continually become more and more organized. Decrease time spent doing things that matter less. Focus more on what matters. Not accumulate more stuff. Give things away. Set up a calendar. Take notes. Write to do lists and dream goals. Write down dreams in the morning and meditate.

cris chico
November 27, 2017 at 10:30 pm

I'm a big fan of the calendar ... i like color coding all money making activities GREEN.. a week without lots of GREEN is a bad week

September 5, 2018 at 5:33 am

Cool thought

April 23, 2017 at 9:16 am

In all seriousness I don't. I can't. Been struggling with this for ages.
Tried it all. Reading it all. Using it all. Not using it all too..

Doesn't it all come down to those goals. And so how can you get organised if you can't commit to goals? You can't...
You can try and stick to it - but you'll always be doubting and, distracting yourself. I guess accountability would be nice...

(Thanks for your shares mate.
Still appreciate em, even when they drive me nuts)

March 2, 2020 at 11:28 am

hey! ii’m the same and finally am seeking help from an “executive functioning” coach.

they help people who’s brains may be challenged with adult ADHD, dyslexia, ex function disorder... these could be issues within depression or possibly on their own and cause depression.

anyway not to label myself or others but knowing there is such a thing as a compromised executive function, which I didn’t even know what that was ha ha Ha... helps me to see that there are specific challenges of why I could never get systems in place

now I can get help after living all my life with this. I definitely outgrew the title “lazy“... as i struggled wondering why i have so many hopes and goals but can not get shit together.

Yuko Elvers
March 9, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Mehr davon bitte

Christiaan Oosterveen
January 2, 2017 at 6:29 am

I do a weekly review where I just ask myself one question: Did I live my life on my own terms? How much fun did I have?
Every week I schedule at least one action or daily habit for: Finance, Business, Health, Friends&Family, Romance, Contribution to community, Personal environment and Personal Development.

Next to this I am scaling my Accountability App big time! Love to support other people by achieving their goals. Growth is the best thing nature has created and I love to facilitate this!

Olga Convey
December 26, 2016 at 12:48 am

Terrific wisdom, Noah. Thank you for sharing. My tools to productivity: 1) open each email just once. Either reply to it, right away. Or delete it. I reserve a right to save few email for a later follow up if they require more thought or additional research, but only reserve this for 5-10% of incoming emails. I place them in a special folder and go though all of them at the end of the week. 2) Serb only 3-4 goals per day. Any more and I feel like a failure if I don't finish them. 3) Save morning time for more creative tasks. That is when my brain works the best. 4) Do reserve few hours a week for learning and reading. Thinking of development as part of a job helps allocate time for it. 5) Finally, at the end of each week, perform sober self reflection of what worked and what needs improvement next week. This helps me do things differently (and often better) next time.

Mansal Denton
September 20, 2016 at 7:39 am

Love the system. I use a little notecard instead of a moleskin, but similar concept. I used to use a whiteboard, but it got difficult to take with me etc. Now I have an index card and literally take it with me everywhere. Fierce, boyo!

Will Robins
August 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Time of Your Life by Anthony Robbins. Check it out during your daily learning. Worth it 1,00,000 times over. It is a bit long (wish he would reformat and condense) but it is one of the best "fix your stinking thinking" listen/reads ever. Productivity is not being busy. You want Maximum Effect for Minimum Dose. That doesn't mean minimum effort, it means 1 task that exceeds all other task. Check it out and let me know what you think.

July 27, 2016 at 5:08 am

I work on 3 projects a quarter. The last week of a quarter I decide what I will work on the next quarter. It’s OK, to generate new ideas, to do a brain dump in a Google Doc, even spend an hour or two doing research, but no actual WORK.

russell hamilton
April 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

Excellent reading

Three things:
1. You are correct. "You can't be a lazy Fuck"
2. I use a full sheet of paper to note main goals and a few stupid to do items. bring mom diapers and flowers
3. I use an online organizer.
Adding-become proficient at google calendar
email accountability partner

Joel Le Gendre
April 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Excellent post Noah, this was really encouraging and enlightening to me right in this very moment and season of life. Also a breath of fresh air that you were able to break it down to simple ideas and gave your own personal examples and descriptions to illustrate the real.

Bobby Huang
April 4, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Ohhh That Bribe - Great system, the calendar implementation requires discipline of making the calendar our boss, which I'm 90% there!

How I Finally Am Organized:

I create systems and implement them, I tweak them and make them into a habit. I take great ideas (like yours) and put them into my system.

Here is the system:

The goal of the system is to reduce burden of remembering things, and assigning times and prioritizing things in advance (similar to Noah).

Use Fantastical 2 because it shows me a calendar of my "Tasks" in reminders.

Use Siri and Reminders to track all of my To-Dos that are short notice and easily create reminders without having to type and while driving.

Set a time or location based reminders so I know what to do and when.

I set recurring reminders for stuff like working out, planning out emails, house tasks,

Using Rocket Fuel / Traction, I plan out my business in 10 year, 3 year, 1 year, quarterly and weekly.

Every week I have a level 10 meeting with key players for business #s and what needs to happen to reach our goals and what held us back and what we could do better. My week/month/quarter are all determined in these meetings and based upon laid out goals from my project management methodology.

I use GTD for in Trello for bigger project implementation & LogFrame to plan out projects (Strategic Project Management Made Simple).

To implement everything and make sure business happens. I do my "The One Thing" every morning from 6am to 10am.

Four hours of focused everyday, a big RED X when I complete it. It's all about habits and systems and making things work!

eli white
March 23, 2016 at 9:22 pm

hey there,

i took the challenge and scratched up a whole article in response... though its posted it on my blog as i have a load of pics & demos

check it out here

hope you consider me for the prizes xx

many thanks

March 22, 2016 at 7:54 pm

I love my Google calendar. I also use Wrike (

March 21, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Yo Noah! I stay organized with 2-4 iPhone notes daily, but never more than 10 overall. They're NOT synced to gmail to reduce email noise. Speaking into them with voice recorder is helpful. A "Quotes" Google doc is full of smart people with sources, organized by quote author last name. I use it for every blog post. I ALWAYS carry a leather bound journal for taking notes in public. It's too big for a pocket but comfy in a backpack. Writing and drawing in it has gotten me invited places and free drinks. It's unique, handcrafted leather, bigger than a moleskin, holds a pen, lets me switch out new journals and is almost indestructible: For perfectly fitting replacement journals, just search "Pentalic Sketch Book, Hardbound, 5-1/2-Inch by 8-Inch" on Amazon.

Amanda Holmes
March 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Love your blogs Noah. Thanks for the shoutout too 🙂

Ande Jorgenson
March 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Use 2Do app for android, gcal, written planner, and moleskin. They all have their purpose with a slight overlap so they're all connected.

March 17, 2016 at 3:24 pm simple it's GEnius!!!

March 17, 2016 at 9:04 am

Thanks for the great ideas. You've shown me how to use Google calendar more productively.

March 17, 2016 at 8:57 am

Thank you for this. Last year I had everything on my phone then someone gave me a passion planner this year. I being working on it so far but I have this feeling of missing my phone specially the reminders. I appreciate your blog and system. I also have an accountability partner, by the way thank you for adding that section. How you work with your accountability partner is awesome. Thanks you!

Kenny Fraser (@sunstonecomms)
March 17, 2016 at 2:13 am

Love this post and will definitely be trying some of it out. I have one key questions - a lot of To Do apps and the like are based on tasks ie stuff to get done. But life is a mix of stuff to do, stuff to think about and decisions to be made. I need my organising to take account of the last two and fixing times that say "Decide about...." just doesn't flow.

March 17, 2016 at 1:41 am

Really - Thanks for sharing, its is something I know I can get better at, but I keep on getting distracted by shiny objects from AppSumo 😉

Charles Bordet
March 17, 2016 at 1:37 am

My organization system is a Zoom In from the Big Picture to the Daily Grind.

1. I have written down my yearly goals in a Google Spreadsheet.
2. I break down my yearly goals into monthly goals, that sounds more achievable/realistic. I write them down on my white board.
This white board is separated into three columns. So, the first one is for monthy goals. I can see them every day.
3. Every Sunday, I zoom in my monthly goals to prepare the weekly tasks that I write in the second column.
4. Every night, I prepare the next day by breaking down the weekly tasks into tiny pieces that sounds easy to do (helps to fight procrastination).

That's it.

Applying to what I learn in "The Power of Full Engagement", I don't try to manage time, but I manage my energy in terms of tasks. I don't care about working X hours, I care about achieving my tasks.

January 26, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Just came across this article and your reply to it. Loved your use of the whiteboard and breaking down the year into months, into weeks and into the day!! brilliant. (and you should know that I am stealing your idea) 🙂

Colin Stuckert
March 16, 2016 at 11:22 pm

My dad always used to say "great minds think alike." I dunno why, but reading this made me think of that.

Those two restaurants are on my "go to very soon" list. Also MOTO in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to visit Per Se (Thomas Keller's place) in NYC... and it was good but I wasn't as impressed as I'd hope I'd be. Hoping French Laundry will be different.

I've recently made Wunderlist my go to list tool. It's working out pretty good so far. I've always struggled with rewriting/redesigning my productivity system... a form of Resistance, I know.

Something that's been helping me focus on one task and get into deep work mode is adding 2-3 big tasks to a sticky note (on mac) and dragging the size of the window so I can only see the first thing I'm going to work on and the rest is multiple spaced lines below. Then I work on that task/project until I'm either done or hit a stopping point.

I think iImplementing something like this + a list of your biggest projects/goals to focus on could be huge for some. And then read Cal Newport's book Deep Work.

Ralph Hua
March 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Hi Noah,

Thanks for sharing.

Same as you, I use Google Calendar to organise my days.
Some other ways are;

~Google Keep for frequently used information.
~Evernote for scribbles.
~iMac stickies for my big goals of the year.
~timer, or a stopwatch which you can download any app online, I set timer to get myself focus on the task at hand.
e.g. 1 hour for writing. during this hour, I have no music, no internet connection, no mobile phone, no toilet break, I have a glass of water.

March 16, 2016 at 7:17 pm

What I have been doing hasn't been good enough, so I spent the last hour setting up your system for my life. Substituted wunderslist and scrivener. I am pumped to begin producing things to share.

March 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

I use a combination of my iCal and a blank notebook for my entire life. Planners just don't work for me, no matter how fancy and pretty they are. Love iCal because if I need to move things around it's easy-peasy, and it syncs across all my devices so no matter where I am I have access to my calendar. I use the blank notebook to jot down things I need to do when I'm not near my laptop and then just transfer them over later.

March 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Oh! Do the 3 things thing first! Wondered why I fell off the rails! Good article

Robert Doucette
March 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Not so much a comment as a question. Can you recommend an organization/productivity method for someone with a long of time? I spent my corporate life using many time management methods, testing them, using them, throwing them out for another (OMG That sounds slutty). But in retirement, it is difficult to get serious about scheduling my day when there are no constraints. No due dates, no meetings, no boss. Unfortunately everything takes a lot longer than it used to. Even things I feel are important, like writing, are too easy to postpone for hours if not days. I would apprecaite some suggestions.

Lee J. Tyler
March 16, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Love all of these tips, Noah! And thank you for sharing. I love the iPhone notes/gmail hack and I'm setting this up today!

Robert Maisano
March 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Noah, great write up! What I've found to be an absolute GAME CHANGER for me has been to write down my 1-3 goals for the year. And mini- goals that work toward the major goals broken up by quarter (Q1-Q4) and then key daily habits that need to be repeated to ensure I follow through and succeed. All on 1 page.

Then I print it out and laminate it. And tape it to my shower wall so that I see this thing every single morning.

Immediate goals go to Evernote and I set their reminder functions to alert me about to later that week.

Tanya McGill Freeman
March 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

Ooohhh excellent insights here, Noah - thank you, sir! Love these. I have found that Boomerang for Gmail & the Fantastical calendar (since the sunsetting of Sunrise) have been my saving graces. LUV those tools. Another tool I've come to find helpful as it's given me some great insights about myself is the PeakTime app. It's by Ari Meisel & the folks at Less Doing. I use it daily to help me figure out when my daily "peak times" are throughout the day. That way I can try to focus on doing my genius work then, do it better & produce a lot more of it - now that is pure awesome! The last thing I'll mention has really been a game changer for me. It's an app called Hear and Now. It uses my iPhone's camera & flash to measure my starting pulse, then I do the guided deep breathing exercises (with or without music/relaxing sounds) followed by a post-measuring pulse test. It uses my bio-rhythms to let me know how much more relaxed I am & what I can do to become more calm & alert. AND, it's a totally free app! It's completely blown my mind, and no, I have no affiliation with them. I just think it's an incredibly innovative use of technology. Anyhoo, thanks again for all your awesome insights, Chief Taco Meister (aka Noah)!

March 16, 2016 at 10:04 am

My fav 3 organization techniques

#1 Eisenhower system - I divide my daily tasks into 4 groups: urgent+important, urgent+not important, not urgent + important, not important + not urgent. I put each task on a sticky note and have a physical board in the office so I don't have to go on my computer to view my next task.

#2 Three main objectives - Every morning I look at the aforementioned physical board and ask myself "Which 3 tasks today will move the needle".

#3 Trello everything - I use trello as an extension of my life. Trello works as a great inbox. If I come across a great idea I will quickly write down everything and review the trello card later, so I can get back to my 3 most important tasks. If I'm matched with a pretty girl on Tinder I will take 1min to create a card "Tinder match", get back to work and then text "Hey are you a tower? Because Eiffel for you ;)" in the evening (got to play the waiting game fellas).

Would love any feedback, suggestions or questions 🙂

Noah Kagan
March 21, 2016 at 11:44 pm

You get a book =)

Sending you one.

April 18, 2016 at 11:13 am

Unless you used to own/actively use the Treo 650, you can't really appreciate the ingenious way in which you started this post. Seeing the picture of the Treo made it impossible for me to shuffle past this post without first analyzing every word and every sentence. I swear that the Treo has always possessed some type of magical powers of which I tapped into into during my formative years.

With that being said, I have greatly benefited from your words of wisdom and for this, I am so thankful. Here's a screenshot I took that I thought you might get a kick out of, Noah. Enjoy!

March 16, 2016 at 9:44 am

#1 - Prayer. I ask God each day for wisdom about what to give attention to and help in doing so. This takes great discipline, but nothing makes a bigger difference.
#2 - Understand yourself. Knowing when I focus best, when I need breaks, etc. helps me schedule things in a way that maximizes my effectiveness.
#3 - Sleep. I'm almost 50 now, and I wish I took sleep more seriously the past 30 years. A well-rested mind is far more capable than one propped up by caffeine.
#4 - Daily review. At the end of each day (usually at night after the kids are down and I've tackled some more things), I reflect on the day, consider commitments for the next day, and update my to-do list. 5 minutes. Then in the morning, take 5 minutes to review and pray so I head into the day with a clear idea of what I want to get done.
#5 - Pomodoro. If you're not familiar with the technique, it is a timer that has you focus on one thing for a certain amount of time (~25 min), have a quick break (check email, grab a drink, move around, whatever), then move on to the next thing. For people like me who are either easily distracted or can get so focused they lose track of time, this is golden. I'm still trying to get into this, but I love how it can help me keep on track.
#6 - Trello. Like sticky notes on steroids, but really easy to use. Great for visually oriented folks who want to keep an eye on the big picture but still be able to drill down into details. It is team-oriented so my team can also have access to what they need to see.
#7 - Mind mapping. I use a personal dashboard mindmap that helps me see the big picture of life - work, family, hobbies, etc. - and then drill down. It's highly visual, which is a huge for me, and can link me to everything I need - Trello board, web resources, whatever.
#8 - Wunderlist. We all need a place to keep lists. I love Wunderlist. Works great on my computer & phone.

Brian Barr
March 16, 2016 at 9:40 am

Great post, I especially liked the tip on putting obvious to-dos down to build positive momentum.

I'm still figuring out the best system, but one tool that I can speak very highly of is It syncs with my calendar and I send it to clients so they can schedule 40 minute meetings with me based on my calendar. It serves a similar purpose to but better for recurring use, like client appointments. It also has helped me remember to book time for important things in my calendar so that I have reserved time. Free version is great, premium packs a versatile punch.

Xccello (standalone Trello Mac app) has been a real blessing for me the past few days as I live inside Trello at work and it keeps me from having to keep a permanent tab open / makes it super easy to peak at without losing momentum.

For habit building, I found it's been easier to schedule things for convenient times of day and then move it. e.g. start going to the gym after work, then once I'm going as frequently as I'd like, move it to the morning.

Rod Hyatt
March 16, 2016 at 6:27 am

I live my life in 5 hour chunks. 5 hours study/research, 5 hours focused work, 5 hours social - community/family/friends/volunteer etc. with an hour segue between each for meals and ablutions. To help me focus, I timeblock using the Pomodoro method.

Matthew Warren
March 16, 2016 at 6:18 am

I think it’s great that you actually set aside time in your calendar for activities, reading up on what you want, exercising, etc. It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself with such a crazy schedule!

I also use a moleskine for lists- I have a list every day of what needs accomplished, and I carry that thing around with me everywhere. I agree- it really does feel good to be productive, and checking things off of a list gives that feeling of accomplishment.

I also use a Google Calendar- one for personal/family appointments and reminders, and one for work.

March 16, 2016 at 5:38 am

For career overview: Asana -> Project -> Task -> Subtasks.
For Calls / Meetings / Personal Excursions: Google Calendar
For weird quirk : A white board with a perfectly, I mean PERFECTLY, drawn calendar with different color text indicating content to be produced that day and content to be distributed that day (I am a content creator).

Love your work, Noah, thank you for your endless wisdom and taco support.

Hassan Mushaid
March 16, 2016 at 5:20 am

Agree, not every method is right for everyone. Your methodology looks too complicated for me but helps to know what other systems are out there which are worth experimenting with.

Trying the 10x Planner for now which is great so far and helps drive your long term goals deep into your brain.

Btw if you ever in Manchester, UK... hit me up.

Kostas Bariotis
March 16, 2016 at 3:31 am

I am a big fan of the Cult of Done Manifesto. The goal is to keep doing.

I use Trello to set up weekly goals. I have a backlog where I write down things I would like to do at some point and the prioritize them based on criticality. I pick a few of them at the beginning of every week. In the end, of the week, I check to see where I am if I am finished with them or I need more time. The goal is to GTD.

I use workflowly for general ideas and notes. It's very easy to organize it and search for things of the past.

Thanks for the article. Awesome piece!

March 15, 2016 at 11:17 pm

There is another tool called May be useful. I mainly use trello and while working on a task to keep the focus.

March 15, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Love the Post! Some really good info I will be using immediately.

I also love and use google calendar religiously, If its in calendar its out of my head.

Thanks Noah for the insight into your organised world!

Ty Wells
March 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I use Google Calendar; and my business journal to stay organized.

March 15, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Hi Noah, I use two physical diaries and for quick reminders or random things I use the notes app and the reminders app. For important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries I use google calendar. For the diaries one is a pocket diary which holds personal tasks and the bigger one I leave at work. I stay organised by using the last 20min of the day to organise my tasks for tomorrow and checking my diary at the start of the day for 15min and then referring back to it as the day progresses as required.

Brian Bowers
March 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm

Noah, thanks for sharing your system!

Like you, Google Calendar rules my life. Instead of ScheduleOnce, I use Hire Frederick to set up meetings via email. I can create my available meeting times, and it gives me the option of having a couple of different lengths of meetings. This is useful for me because I have a 30 minute time slot that I use for interviews, and a 15 minute time slot that I use for regular meetings. Hire Frederick automatically syncs with my Google Calendar, and I have a link set up in my email signature that I can just refer people to when it's time to set something up.

I also have a similar system set up for color coding different types of events in my Google Calendar, and recurring events. In addition, since I read Cal Newport's "Deep Work" (highly recommended to anyone who has not read it yet), I devote a block of time each day to focus intensely on a specific part of my job. This is set up as a recurring event with a series of protocols specific to that area listed in the Description of the event in Google Calendar. For example, every Tuesday and Thursday I work specifically on Outreach, every Wednesday I work on Marketing, etc. For the protocols, it's simply a list of things that I need to cover each time I do that work--for Outreach these include reviewing new resumes, setting appointments, making contract offers, answering any outstanding Outreach questions, etc. It really helps to keep me focused on doing the important work instead of reacting to thins without a plan.

For non-regular and personal tasks, I like Any.Do because I like a little flexibility and it makes it feel slightly less "set in stone" if it's not at a specific time in my Google Calendar. I still use the reminders feature, this also syncs up with the iPhone app. Any.Do has also become my brain dump for medium and long term tasks and goals, and I review it weekly. I use Evernote to store articles and bits of info I need to keep long-term. The Evernote Clipper plugin for Chrome is especially helpful because you can add articles directly into your Evernote while browsing the internet.

Finally, email--as with most people, this is a constant challenge for me. I use Gmail and have all of my various email accounts dump into my main Gmail account. I've used SaneBox for over a year now and it's been the most useful thing to help sort out the more important emails from the stuff that can wait. A newer tactic (that I wish I could remember who to credit) is using the multiple pane feature in Gmail along with Stars to do a quick email triage and sort to clear my inbox. Once you set this up, you'll have your main inbox panel in the left 2/3 of your Gmail screen, and the right 1/3 divided into up to four or five different panes that correspond to a different color Star that I've set up. When I go through my inbox, if there's any email that I can't answer on the spot, I add a Star to it (I have mine set up with yellow for my emails that need immediate responses, red for future reference, green for questions regarding Outreach, etc. You can set it up however you like). Once I add a colored Star, the email appears in the corresponding pane on the side. When I check my email, everything gets either a star or a response, and then I archive everything to clear my main inbox. My starred emails still appear in the panes on the right, so then I work through those as needed. It seems slightly counter-intuitive to break up your inbox into smaller chunks this way, but it really helps group up similar types of email and makes it easier to manage and respond to everything.

March 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Do more of what works. That's what I'm learning from your posts. Here's how I stay organized:

- Set up 1-3 most important tasks (MITs) for each day. I write them in Notepad.
- If I finished early those MITs, I'll check my "someday" list and do them.

March 15, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I personally use a similar system based on Google Calendar. However, to manage projects and other people I use Asana. Maybe not the best software out there but it is simple and keeps everything in one place.

March 15, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I use Things, an OSX/iOS app that's more or less made for the GTD system. What I love is that it has a built in tickler file, so I have some tasks repeat every day, others every week, and some come up just once on the day that I need to see them.

Evernote is for saving information that needs to be referenced later, and Workflowy is for writing, note taking, and brainstorming (outlines just make way more sense to me than mind maps).

Google calendar is only for appointments -- it would drive me crazy otherwise.

March 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Great post!!! love it! I found calendar is an effective way to stay productive, personally. I use excel... i can update the status and easy to search.

Dave K
March 15, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I just use a whiteboard for everything. I'm forced to finish things or it gets crowded. I actually use the same one as Noah. It's $20 at Ikea and one of the most useful things I've ever purchased.

Noah St. John
March 15, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for sharing your organization system, Noah.

My top organization tools are:

* Google Drive for keeping team members on the same page (literally)
* Google Calendar - I used to swear by pen-and-ink, but now I live by GCal
* Whatsapp for quick 1:1 meetings
* Then a simple Word doc of monthly, weekly and daily goals that I keep open on my desktop as I'm working. I start with the Biggest Rock and work my way down each day.

Hope to see you at another conference soon. I really enjoyed your talk at Underground.

Nicholas MacKaron
March 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

I picked up from a Jason Calacanis TWIST podcast, and now use it for everything. I'm with you 100% regarding short term, medium term, and long term, so here's what I do:

1. Short term: Running e-mail to-do list with things that I want to do, have to get done immediately, or items that are aligned with larger goals.
2. Medium term: Trello board for each program/group of goals including specific tasks that will help me stair step to annual goals and are evaluated on a monthly basis. This includes rankings to help me focus on what's deemed important at the time.
3. Long term: Typically reviewed once a year, or when there's a big change in program, market, etc. This is really simple (i.e. I have a short list of goals) and is focused on daily (again on a Trello board). I include something I want to accomplish work wise, personal finance wise, relationship wise, and health wise.

In addition to goal setting, I find it useful to dump information into a "learning" Trello board and my calendar, so I'm not constantly trying to remember strings of thought. For example, you mentioned "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo a while back, so it went on my reading list within my "Life Research" learning Trello board. The calendar is also shared among family members, so if the kids have a test coming up they put it on the calendar (realizing I'm going to bug them to see if they need any help studying as it approaches).

The biggest obstacle I have is organization is hard to adhere to as things get busy (especially if team members don't like being organized). Have any thoughts about how to interface with others who are organized in different ways?

Thanks for the great post; I will consider adding additional accountability and the Sunday wrap ideas to help keep me on track. I also like the idea of jettisoning things that aren't working!

John Schumaker
March 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Love the tactics! For me EVERYTHING is done through iPad Mini with most of my organization being driven by Reminders (huge help for things like bills, when to water lawn, take out trash, time supplements, etc.) and Notes. I keep multiple notes continually updated and backed up to iCloud. Some of them include random thoughts, books I want to read most right now, quotes I find that I like, and much more.

Thank you for the awesome chat!

March 15, 2016 at 3:28 pm

I have ditched EVERYTHING. I am now using a simple .doc file. I list there the few tasks I need to get done or 'else'. What's really important and urgent. I stopped using all kinds of apps and gimmicks, since it took me more time to update them than do the actual work. I try to work as little as possible to get the best results, so my tasks are few and crucial. have done this for almost half an year and it's really working great.

March 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm

V interesting post Noah - always good to see screenshots etc to take these concepts beyond being just theoretical.

My organisation is more or less covered by 3 things: Google Sheets, Google Keep, and Evernote

-- Google Sheets --
A list of weekly work tasks with an estimation of how long each will take to do. If there's too much in a week to do, then I question whether it's really necessary, or shift others around accordingly. These tasks are driven off (and fit into) broader goals and I find it leads to good practice of questioning each task's relative merit, when you have finite time.

-- Google Keep --
I use this solely for the reminder functionality. With a widget on your phone homescreen you can go from "Oh, mustn't forget that" to knowing you'll get a reminder about it on in less than 15 seconds. Awesome for housing those little things like buying milk, or remembering to write something up, especially when preoccupied with something else.

-- Evernote --
This is where long term stuff goes: interesting articles, personal admin, and travel journals. I also put in various business ideas/ lessons I've had, and periodically browse through to spark inspiration.

You're right that everyone is different - there's a classic trade off of sticking to a well-thought out plan for your life, and giving yourself flexibility to live in the moment!

ciaran cronin
March 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Hi Noah,
I use an excel sheet divided up into Richard Coveys Matrix quadrant, effective but not as good as what you do!

March 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Noah - what is - Fierce as Fuck?

mark preece
March 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Noah many txs for sharing. For me with the shift to digital its about changing emphasis of My Documents folder to your Browser file manager eg for Chrome, Bookmarks. That now is the main folder area that if disciplined, adds to efficiency.

March 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

This post was really timely because I am trying to make myself more organized, as well as my boss (I am her assistant/office manager). The rule about tossing out any system that doesn't serve you is a lot more critical than I realized, and I think it will create a much better mindset for finding that system that works for us/the company as a whole. Great read!

March 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Hey Noah, thanks a lot for being so transparent on your schedule. I like using Sunrise which it syncs automatically with Outlook. I also use my sticky notes on Windows desktop PC. For longer lists, I rely on Evernote which I can look it up from my PC or phone.

Michelle Silbernagel
March 15, 2016 at 2:11 pm

I create "buckets" for tasks, which I schedule on my calendar. Examples of buckets are "answer e-mails," "research podcast topics," "write post," "Read favorite newsletters," etc... Some days are devoted to one or two buckets. Some days have several buckets. I give Ben Greenfield credit for this system. I also love Workflowy -- how you can share "nodes" with others, assign tasks, delete, mark complete, and store information by subject. It's my external brain!

March 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Impressive detail and thanks for sharing.
I'm constantly fighting "Shiny New Tool" syndrome ...and losing

Harper Lee Hodges
March 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Dear Mr. Kagan,
I would like to be more organized. Right now I am sleeping a lot during the day taking cat naps and dictating my stories to my typist at night. She is so unorganized. I will tell her to read your article. She spends too much time watching cat videos and burning food. She needs a lot of help.
Love Harper Lee Hodges

March 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Definitely the winning comment 🙂

Pamela Hodges
March 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Well, it is obvious to me I need to "Kagan" my system. I write down three things I want to do everyday, but somedays all I get done is clean the seven litter boxes. The cats are happy but not me.

March 15, 2016 at 1:26 pm

I personally used a modified version of GTD. At work my projects are managed through service desk so unless it's big I leave it there. Otherwise I use Wunderlist for all my projects and lists. Anything long term or reference material I store in Evernote. Everything else is pretty much ran off iCal. I need to get better at blocking out time but that's difficult with 2 young kids.

March 15, 2016 at 1:15 pm

FIRST, I have a START, STOP, CONTINUE list. When I review this periodically, I feel I am more productive and stay on target to meet my goals. I stray when I don't review the list.

SECCOND, I have a To Do List (an old Franklin Planner method). Today's list is prioritized by A/B/C with sub-priorities 1/2/3. All the A's must be done today. If time permits I'll tackle the Bs, and then the Cs, and so on. Any that dont get done today are moved to tomorrow so I dont lose sight of them. Tomorrow's list is being built TODAY. So when tomorrow comes, I'm ready. Also, when others impose of my time, it goes on my list and worked into MY PRIORITIES. If I cannot fit it in today, then it goes on to one of the future dates.

Eileen Wilder
March 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

enormously helpful & a terrific reminder -- thank you for taking time to help us do what matters most!

March 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm

I write a list of things I am going to do and then on the back, things I can t do today but I want to be taken care of. I like the mental release and a lot of the time, those things get somehow taken care of.

March 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Many similarities to what I do, but you've given me a bit of inspiration to tweak how it handle a few things.

I add my three things to my Happy Planner, use Google Keep to keep quick notes and have EVERYTHING in my calendar.

Thing is I'm finding my KEEP getting overloaded, so I'm going to start using another notes apps that saves things into Gmail on my Android (nifty idea).

I also find if I don't have it in my calendar it doesn't get done and sits on my "task list" for way to long that it often become irrelevant.

I also use a Moleskine (with a fountain pen of course!), to capture thoughts and plans when my brain needs to map it out old school.

I also use Google Keep to pop up awesome quotes and notes I want to remind myself about to stay on track.

AND since my phone is usually sitting on it's charger while I'm working I can quickly call out "Ok Google" and have it make a note for me to follow up or remind me about something, even use it research stuff if I'm working on something and need to confirm some detail.


John Gannon
March 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm

If you get a lot of inbound requests to meet for informational interviews and the like, give the requestor your phone number and a specific window that they can always try to call you.

For me, I say it is weekdays 830a-845a (when I am walking to work) and 7p (when I am walking home). And I saw that's "typically" when I am free, not a guaranteed availability.

Only the super motivated folks (like 1 out of 100) will call you. (If there is a psychologist in the house, would love to hear why this happens). And, if you're busy for some reason no one can fault you for not picking up.

Maybe this would be different if I were a famous taco master like Noah (i.e. my phone would blow up) but for me it lets me be super accessible without messing with my schedule at all.

One more thing: Make it clear that they should not send you a calendar invite and that they should just call if they are free.

I've dubbed this the "Call Me, Maybe?" hack! 🙂

Rohi Shetty
March 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for this wonderful post, Noah.
I use combination of computer and paper to plan my daily and weekly goals and I review daily and weekly - I use the plan-act-review loop to stay on the ball.
My latest idea is to complete my morning ritual - exercise, meditation and freewriting / mind mapping before I turn on the computer.
And yes, I absolutely LOVE reading stuff about productivity and time management. 🙂
My accountability buddy is my friend, Abizer - I email him at the end of each day.
I do make changes to my system - I may try Google Calendar and use different colors.

Jeremiah Boehner
March 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I use a big piece of butcher paper with my daily/week goals and activities on them. I also have a point system that rewards me for good behavior, (going the bym, Eating in, Hitting Quota) and punishes me for bad behavior (drinking too much, sleeping in, etc). I also use my google calendar pretty religiously as well but not as much as you do.

Nick Walter
March 15, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I follow a morning checklist that gets my day started right. Almost anytime I follow this checklist to a T, I have a great day. I sometimes tweak the checklist but it usually looks like this:

-Drink a glass of Water (great of helping you wake up)
-Look at the calendar for the day
-Walk to the grocery store for a doughnut
-Clean the house
-Start working

March 15, 2016 at 12:47 pm

These are some fantastic suggestions, Noah. Thanks for sharing. I really like how you break out your short, medium, and long term goals which helps you stay focused on all of your goals at once. Your results also show for themselves.

I take a slightly different approach. My main goal for this approach is to help me make sure I take care of the little items in my day-to-day to hit my bigger ticket items. This includes myself but also making sure the people I connect with get my undivided attention.

I use Evernote to track what I'm up to. As long as I review the entire system at least once a week This method has been useful for me. I am open to other suggestions on improvements.

Habits Notebook (Check items off the list daily)
These are routines I know I need to continue every day to make sure I continue to reach for my long term goals and be prepared for the day in general

Morning Routine
weekly Meal Routine with foods pre-written out for the week
After work routine
Guitar Practice Routine
Before Bed Routine

Sparse Routines Notebook (Use lists only when needed)
Things I have to do often but not often enough that I would ever remember from memory -I tend to lose little things-

The stuff to pack before a work trip
the stuff I need to pack before I go home on a work trip
My music items list before I go to a session
My music items list before I leave a session
Routine Reports for work that need a linear process to complete
small projects editing checklist (things I need to review before I send off to stakeholder)

Non-Habits Notebook (Use certain lists daily, otherwise, a weekly check-in Sunday is fine)
The goal of this notebook is to have a clear head and to focus on things that are important in the moment

My Intray any item or thought that goes into my head that I can't take care of in 2 minutes - 48-hour turnaround MAX for this list
My Next Action Items List specific action steps that I need to do for the day
Deferred List things that I need to revisit in 2 weeks
Someday/Maybe List Ideas that I don't have a plan for but may be useful in the future
Project Masters list A list of all of the current projects I'm working on
Default meals
Book List
Entertainment List
Random Thoughts/Ideas List (3 weeks to keep a random idea until it needs to be actionable)
Grocery List

Calendar (utilize whenever ever a time-based item is needed)
Anything that needs to be scheduled as an appointment whether it's with someone else or myself. Some examples include:

- meetings with coworkers, dinner/lunch plans, my accountability partner, etc.
- meetings with myself to go over strategy work, to go over personal development ideas and then turn those meetings into items that break down into my system

Rufus Casey
March 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Before opening computer.... Each morning I write on paper three big projects and three ish items that would move those forward. Then I add a few things I Must Do Today, check calendar for today's agenda, and assign times for those Must Do items.

Each morning then starts with customer outreach, usually at 8am, and usually via phonecalls. I hate receiving phone calls, but at this point, I find it super valuable cos they almost always pickup at that time of day. Sometime 7.45am, but I'm sure that wouldn't work in most industries. The phonecall is usually just a "hello, you expressed interest, lets setup a demo next week, how's Thursday afternoon?"
For random stuff through out the day, I'll record things to remember as a to-do item in ToDoIst, then assign to a poorer category or delete when I look through those items on Friday afternoon.
The rest of Friday is blocked out for learning. That might be studying or reading, usually a new business book or rereading an old one, more more recently its Lynda videos with time sped up, or rewatching content from Dane Maxwells The Foundation, which I took last year and am nearly releasing my first SaaS.
I have a weekly Mastermind on Thursdays where we do a stand-up, and hold each other accountable for what we're planning on getting some this coming week. Items on next week's agenda must be specific, have a deadline, such as "Create 5 email sequence for cold leads."

For longer term, I don not have a system for staying on track, but am exploring techniques. So far all I have is a MRR goal of $40K but I need to put more thought in there and break it into smaller chunks....
Thanks Noah

Joe Preston
March 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

This is an awesome system, actually. Calendarizing everything is a good idea, but I am a job-holding american again, so other people's priorities and schedule just play hell with that. I use Todoist religiously, successfully in that I don't blow off tasks 10-100 anymore. However, it does not promote fopcusing on big goals.

Jay Jensen
March 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Holy shit Noah! You're one organized dude. You just made me realize how unorganized I really am. Thanks for the post and hopefully getting my shit together!

March 15, 2016 at 12:24 pm

You're spot on about lazy people being lazy... I can sometimes/often be that lazy person. It doesn't matter what apps I use, Evernote, Wunderlist, Things, Todoist, etc. If I'm being lazy then I'm being lazy. Although, the tasks I seem to continuously push from day to day or week to week are probably distractions, or tasks that have little impact. Might as well dump them, right?

One thing you mentioned that makes total sense is having multiple mediums for short, medium, and long-term goals. That's a trick I'll play with for a while and see how it fits.

Peter Koehler
March 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for sharing Noah - good stuff.

Here's a summary of my systems:

Monday morning - I create a master list of all tasks for week. I do this by:

1. Thinking and sitting what will add most value to the company,
2. Looking at old to-do lists from past two weeks, and adding things I haven't done which are still relevant.
3. Going through my inbox, and adding anything that requires action on my part.

Usually this list ends up being 20-40 things depending on the week. I used to use Trello, but now I just write it down in a big graphed notebook.

Then, every morning (Mon-Fri) I go to the master list, and select the top 3 unchecked items. I write those 3 items on a new page for that day, and then I try my very best to do them, before I do email or any other items.

Tools I use to keep my mind and inbox clear, and help me focus:

-SaneBox for Gmail - So clutch. Hundreds of emails a week skip the inbox and then I batch them all at once a couple times a week).
-Boomerang for Gmail - Love it. Schedule so many emails. Some more than a year out.
-Focus App - to block any distracting websites from 9-5. This way when I need a distraction I go for a walk or something, which is way better.
-Airplane Mode. When I really gotsta focus.

I also work away from the office one day a week, and make sure I schedule no meetings or calls on that day, so that I can get into some real deep work flow. I stick to this about 3 out of every 4 weeks. My goal is 4 out of out 4.

Finally - Once a year I do an annual review - landing from 6 hours to 2 days. Alone, focused, revisit my life priorities and make sure the way I am spending my time aligns.

I have gotten way better at being consistent with all these habits, but still miss and give into the resistance maybe 25% of the time. But improvement compounds. Even 1% a year.

April 18, 2016 at 4:28 am

Articles like these put the consumer in the driver seat-very imtoaprnt.

Marvin Towler
March 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I utilize the G.P.S, 411 and "Time Blocking" techniques outlined in the book The ONE Thing Thing. I also use Google Calendar and carry an old school reporters notebook in my pocket/

Jennifer L
March 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Thanks! Some new ideas for me here. I also use a number of tools to stay organized. A small notebook for jotting things down quickly that come to mind and for daily tasks. I also use Google Calendar for scheduling items, I wholeheartedly agree that blocking out time for everything is essential. In my last position I blocked out time for lunch every day, otherwise it would be scheduled over! For organizing my writing I love Scrivener, it's awesome for reducing the number of files on the computer and a great way to organize lots of information in one place. I'm still switching around trying to find a good to-do list type app, I've tried Trello and others but they don't stick for some reason. I feel like my system is almost there but needs a little work in that area. Thanks again!

Ankurman Shrestha
March 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Noah - Thanks for sharing. I've applied your short, medium, and long term goals reverse engineering strategy you shared on your webinar you did with Neville. Q1 is closing out strong.

In terms of organization, nothing new here (Google Calendar, Schedule ahead of time, GTD 5 min rule, Accountability Partner on tasks with lower intrinsic motivation, Taking one daily actions on the projects that connect to my higher purpose) except may be this that I am yet to see in people's schedule..

I 'Worry' for an hour every Saturday before my hot yoga class. Kind of what Marcus Aurelius talks about thinking objectively. This way it's easier to slap myself out of any worrying thoughts during week days.

March 15, 2016 at 12:10 pm

I've become a ton more organized and productive after adopting this principle: if you spend a lot of time with it, consider paying for it.

I've since shelled out money for a great calendar app (Fantastical 2), email client (Airmail) and writing tool (iA Writer). I spend >80% of my time planning, emailing or writing, so it makes sense to have nothing but amazing and reliable tools for these tasks.

Don't get me wrong. Free software is great and I use a ton of it. But for critical stuff, I'm willing to pay for something that's being supported, updated and babied by a dedicated team.

Victor Cruz
March 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

I really like the idea to have dedicated thinking time and weekly checkins. I've been developing an organization system for myself and this email had perfect timing. I've also established an email rapport with two high-level mentors (a CEO and an assistant commissioner), who I choose because 1. I liked their style and 2. they had actionable information about systems to share. I'll let them know about your two favorite books.

Nathan Lynch
March 15, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Write goals twice a day. Then schedule everything. It's very important to write everything down in this aspect. I have to write everything down. That's the key for me.

Tyler Lindell
March 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

Everything is in the cloud for me. I can run my life and business from any device nearly anywhere in the world.

In gmail, I have categories (trash, reference, someday, delegate, open project, next action, victories).

I brain dump to gmail with each item a new email with the content in the subject line so I don't have to open emails to see what they are about.

All todos go there, all reminders, photos of paperwork and mail, everything. I never need to remember where stuff is and I have zero paper clutter.

I can always go back and search for paperwork, ideas, conversations, completed todos.

If there are items that need to happen on a time schedule, it goes into google calendar.

All phone calls/texts go through google voice and filter to my email with transcribed voicemail so I can always come back to phone calls and text messages sent to me.

Any documents, policies, procedures that are created and/or sent to customers/vendors are in google drive. Anyone on my team can collaborate, share, ask questions, revisit, make notes on those documents at any time and we have a record of revisions since the beginning of the document.

April 18, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Toohudcwn! That's a really cool way of putting it!

March 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

Great system. Here's mine:

* HiTask: I can register time spent in each task. Every month I get a report and I can actually know why I got the results I am having.
* Evernote: Personal passwords, bookmarks, tips, etc.
* Wunderlist:Personal tasks (I don't like to mix it with work tasks).
* Google Calendar: For ALL my work and personal meetings.
* Thunderbird for email: LOVE all the extensions I can use to organize my email.
* Toshl Finance: To track my expenses.
* MyFItnessPal: Track my diet and exercise (12 kg less in 3 months!)
* Google Doc: Register 3 main goals for the week. Then I color only the ones I did at the end of the week. I will be looking for an accountability partner 😉

Hope it helps!

March 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

Ok, here's my system in as much of a nutshell as possible.

Every Sunday is my maintenance day. This is my day to do as many chores and productivity tasks as possible. Every Sunday I:
- Do laundry
- Do grocery shopping
- Prep meals for the week
- Clean/tidy my office
- Review accomplishments
- Read articles I've saved up throughout the week
- Review my projects and define next steps
- Review my "waiting for" list
- Clear out all my inboxes
- Review my hot spots
- Define outcomes and todo tasks for week ahead

I also use Trello for basically my entire life.

I have several boards, they go a little something like this:

Goals 2016: In this board, I have a list for my goals for the year, a list for goals for this month, and list for goals accomplished (so I'll drag accomplishments to this list as they happen) and a dreamline list. This my list for things I'd like to have happen in my lifetime... such as owning a Tesla or teaching a class at Harvard.

Weekly To Do: I have a list for each day of the week, in logical order (Sun-Sat) and a list for "Someday". Every Sunday, which is my Maintenance Day, I'll add items to my todo for each day of the week. I'll limit each day to 3 high value tasks.

Waiting For: This board contains lists of everything I'm waiting on. This is my brain dump so I can stop worrying about that package from Amazon or phone call I'm waiting for someone to return. It also allows me to follow up and anything I'm waiting for.

Hot Spots: This is all about me. I have a list for Mind, Body, Emotions, Career, Finance, Relationships, Fun. This is where I create lists under each category of things that are important to me. Under Finance I'd put my mortgage, under Career I'd put all the projects and businesses I manage, under Body I'd put Muay Thai, sleeping 8 hours a night and low-carb diet. I can add notes to each of these items or just reflect on any of them every week to see which I'm neglecting and need to spend more time working on, or which I'm likely spending too much money on.

Projects: I also have a board for each project. So, a board for each business I manage and every course/book I'm creating. Under each board I'll create a list for Activities, Projects and Backlog. Here's where I'll brain dump things I'm working on, things I need to do frequently (activities) and things I need to eventually get to.

Idea Dump: Lastly, I have a board where I can just dump random stuff that might not fit anywhere else. Cool event I heard over the radio? Put it in here to look up later. Cool idea for a new business? Throw it in here.

March 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Hey Corey, Sounds super organized and helpful. Can you share a picture of how you set up these boards?

Andreas Giermaier
March 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

Hi Noah. First of all thank you for your insights into your daily routines. I gotta read it again thorrowly would also be great as Video oder Audio 🙂
But for my tipps: As I am a wuite creative personality type, I Need to Focus from time to time, so what helps me is to for example go to library to do "Computer work" (writing Thesis or so)
and when i am at home i at least dont follow thoughts (like in Meditation) thinking "okay good idea I will do this afterwards" I might make a note (if it SEEMS urgendt) but still finish the work scheduled
So greeting from Austria, would love reading your NEW book 🙂

March 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

That's great but now I'm more curious of how this article would look like 3 years and 1 year BEFORE you were successful and fully organized.

That will be really helpful to see to compare where I am now and project forward, rather than seeing an unrealistic organizational strategy (yours, seems easy but I'm sure it's after years of practice and discipline) that is not 1 week away but hopefully within a year...

Kyle Reed
March 15, 2016 at 11:48 am

Thanks for sharing your process Noah. I love reading about this stuff. Going to try out

Here is my process:

I hate anything on a computer to keep me organized. My brain just doesn't function that way. I have to have pen and my moleskin. It's the only way I stay focused.

Each Monday morning I write out the following statement: "at the end of the week I want to..."
And then I write 3 things under that which I want to accomplish by Friday.

Under those 3 things I write out a section called Close the Loop (learned from Todd Henry). These are the task I don't really want to do, but know I need to (book travel, clean office, change oil in jeep, send email to a certain person, stuff like that).

From there I write out the statement: Am I happy to do what I get to do today? If there are more than 3 no's in a row I change something to make me say yes.

I also keep track of my day but recording what i have done every 2 hours. So I have a full notebook of exactly what I did for those 2 hours. My biggest temptation there is to lie to myself and pretend like I was working harder, but the notebook never lies and I am fully honest with my work. I review this notebook at the end of the week and work on pruning my time and becoming more productive based off of what I did that week.

Lastly, I use whiteboard paint on my desk and write down all I want to accomplish that week.
I then move about my day checking stuff off the list.

This is what works for me and I am constantly working to get better at my productivity and accomplishing what is needed to get stuff done.

March 15, 2016 at 11:47 am

Hi Noah! I also use Notes on iPhone religiously. It's just always there. Also have used Trello for more business related stuff. And finally, timeboxing is crucial. If you have an Apple Watch, check out Silo Focus (pomodoro technique for your wrist)!

Tyler Lindell
March 15, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Oh man! Time boxing is a big key to getting shit done, good call

Sheldon Mills
March 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

Hands down the most "productive" habit that has worked for me, is to decide what top 2-3 things I want to accomplish that day BEFORE (just like you said) I open my computer. The goal is to do the work that moves you toward your own success. Everyone has a to do list that is a mile long the second they open up their email. Ticking off check boxes does nothing for me. I have to purposely quiet playing the wrong game, and focus on the 2-3 things that will actually move me toward my "Wins."

Thomas Stocklein
March 15, 2016 at 11:40 am

Great post, Noah! Check out Wunderlist. I like how it let's you check off completed items on your to do list.

March 15, 2016 at 11:40 am

I tried loads of stuff -- Todoist, RememberTheMilk, etc. What works best for me is just to have ONE daily goal, and I consider it a good day if I achieve it. Then I allow myself to goof off on FB or binge watch on Youtube.

I find the Momentum extension the best tool for this "ONE daily goal"purpose. What many people don't know is that at the bottom right hand corner of the screen, you can click on "Todo" to add your sub-tasks.

This feature is very useful but it's not really noticeable at first glance because of the background.

Noah Kagan
March 21, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Just like Oprah says. YOU GET A BOOK!

=) Noah

Mickey Hadick
March 15, 2016 at 11:38 am

How much time do you invest on Sunday to prepare for the coming week?

Laura Summers
March 15, 2016 at 11:38 am

This is great. And interesting how many of us use Sunday evening for planning. I do that too. It's quite controversial but I use my inbox as a to-do list too. If it's in the in-box it needs sorting out. It does mean everything gets read/deleted - but also means I unsubscribe from anything irrelevant - and don't forget a thing...

Linda Ursin
March 15, 2016 at 11:38 am

I use:
- Google Calendar for my schedule and reminders
- Trello for planning and checklists
- ColorNote on my phone for shopping lists and taking notes on the go
- Google Drive/Docs, Evernote, and my web server for files and notes, documents and other files I need to have available anywhere
- Fiken for bookkeeping
Those were the ones I could remember right now 🙂

March 15, 2016 at 11:31 am

Great post.

March 15, 2016 at 11:29 am

This is so helpful! Currently I've got a legal pad that stays on my desk with two columns Work/Personal and a brain dump of tasks in each. Every day I prioritize 3-5 to knock off the list. Other than that I live by Google calendar. This info will be useful for optimizing the longer term projects.

Josh Haroldson
March 15, 2016 at 11:27 am

I can attest to the power of Schedule Once. My wife and I host a podcast where we interview interesting couples. That means we're trying to coordinate 4 calendars between 4 crazy busy people. ScheduleOnce is literally worth its weight in gold to us. We've even started using it for when people are looking to book our time.

Plus the other side benefit is that it is forcing me to start using a calendar, which is something I've always resisted. However, this time there is a real tangible benefit for why I needed to start and that has really helped to build the habit.

March 15, 2016 at 11:27 am

Moleskine -- fill in the following week's activities on Saturday night. Reinforce with Google Calendar and

March 15, 2016 at 11:25 am

I was feeling quite overwhelmed because I had so much shit all around my home office. I was at costco and stumbled onto the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Amazing. Basically she says to get rid of everything that you don't love and things you buy have an instant purpose and if you don't use it then get rid of it. For example, I have a book on photoshop when I was trying to learn it. But I never got around to it, I missed the time when that was relevant so its time to move on and get rid of the book. Keeps my space clean and decluttered helps me feel more in control and be more productive.

Secondly, I made a whiteboard with three circles. The big top circle is labeled "today". I write three things I want to get done for the day. The second smaller circle is labeled "this week" and outlines the most important things of the week. The final circle at the bottom is my year goal. The idea is today's progress will lead to the week's progress and help fulfill my year's goals. Thanks to Steve Chandler for that idea.

Lastly, I like writing things down on paper but once it's down the paper is usually expendable. I review my papers and type out any important points on google docs.

I need to stop having so many tabs open on my laptop I waste a lot of time looking for the one that I want...any ideas on tab management?

Zach H
March 15, 2016 at 11:24 am

I tend to make a list at the end of the day of what needs to happen the following day while transferring long term goals to the next day's page. This helps me keep long term goals at the forefront by writing them daily.

Brian K Pulliam
March 15, 2016 at 11:23 am

When effectiveness is my goal, I use a Kanban board with post-it notes (con: needs a wall). I prefer the physical nature of a wall compared to an online board.

When happiness is my goal (family, relationships), I organize as little as possible. Super important to make time for things that make you happy, but I have remind myself to stay present in those happy moments.

Cody Lister
March 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

Never thought I'd see you update the blog again. Awesome post, Noah. Enjoy French Laundry. Guess you'll want to check out Per Se next...

March 15, 2016 at 11:20 am

For some reason, Google calendar don't get the rep they should as productivity tools, maybe cause they are free?

Anyway, I similarly use Google calendar and emails (to myself) to stay organized. Sounds crazy and stupid to most other people, but who cares if it works.

Everything from work to personal is on my Google calendar, if it's not there it doesn't exist.

I wrap up everything that I haven't done each Monday and rearrange them in the new week. When I have postponed too many times a boring task, I just do it so I don't have to rearrange it again.

I tried many tools before and they all failed for me, although they sounded good on paper.

P.S. Nice to have a new post on OkDork 😀

Mac Senour
March 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

I found that I had to many ideas. To many projects and I would get distracted by a new idea before I finished the last one. So I made a rule, not a system, a rule.

I work on 3 projects a quarter. The last week of a quarter I decide what I will work on the next quarter. It's OK, to generate new ideas, to do a brain dump in a Google Doc, even spend an hour or two doing research, but no actual WORK.

I set also the priority. I have a main project, and two seconds. When I'm stuck on the main one, or just need a break, I work on one of the other two, in priority.

This quarter: My site:, learning guitar, learning to draw.

Next quarter the projects may stay the same, but I might switch up drawing with guitar.

Lyle Foxman
March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

Less is more. Tim Ferris Trello Board has been a big help for me

Lyle Foxman
March 15, 2016 at 11:15 am

I have been using Trello for almost everything lately. I also changed to a basic system of organizing my calendar day similar to Casey Neistat I learned it's all about momentum.

March 15, 2016 at 11:12 am

But what is your emcee name?

March 15, 2016 at 5:42 am

I stay organized by thinking as little as possible. I try to do most of my daily tasks at the same time each day and week. So Monday thru Friday I wake up, do some reading, walk the dog, swing the kettlebell, eat breakfast, get to work, clear out the overnight emails, eat one of the five lunches I made on Sunday, and then the afternoon is meant for dealing with the random stuff that lands on my desk. Lots of times, odd things get in the way (if the dog is sick, then I can readjust) and I deal with them, but keeping things consistent helps me a great deal.

March 15, 2016 at 3:20 am

I'm mostly based on GTD by David Allen.

Google Calendar for appointments and stuff that has to be delivered that day religiously.

Contextual list of things to do in my moleskine. (I need to look away from a monitor)

A project list where I put my ... Projects. From that list I plan all my to-do.

A list of stuff that I am waiting for. I love this.

A list of things I would like to do.

Basically, everything in a moleskine.

Bottom rule: never think about what should I do, just do it.

Ankesh Kothari
March 15, 2016 at 1:32 am

Excellent post Noah. Thanks for writing it.

How do I stay organized?

* Have annual goals divided into: Health, Wisdom, Wealth, Happiness.
* Any given month, pick one main goal and three other goals from the list above.
* Every Sunday, plan the week based on monthly goals and other urgent things that crop up.
* But always do the important work before the urgent work. Start everyday with a task that helps with monthly goals.
* Don't do emails and other social stuff before first task of the day is done.
* Schedule "chaos" time. You don't know what will go wrong or what will take more time. So leave space in the schedule to help with chaos.

March 15, 2016 at 7:35 am

This is awesome. Thanks man! Also, nice post Noah 😉

March 23, 2016 at 2:07 am

Great advice under Noah's great article! I liked the "schedule chaos time". Thanks, man!

May 12, 2016 at 4:25 am

Nice summary of how to stay organised. Thanks Noah as well. Really good post. It is always quite hard for me to stay organised. What short advise could you give me to start the habit and stay organised?