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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

How to be insanely productive (4 steps)

I've been running my own business for over three years now. Being your own boss is liberating.

It's also terrifying.

What you have to do next. When you do it. When you're done for the day. It's entirely up to you. There's no one handing you assignments or holding you accountable.

I've spent many afternoons on my couch, on my phone, playing chess. No one ever reprimanded me.

So after reading tons of self-help books, watching productivity YouTubers, and iterating my own systems...I'd like to share my simple weekly practice for getting all my tasks done in a stress-free manner.

I call it my Weekly Review (WR).

(If you don't want to read this article, I recorded a video where I share my screen and talk through this whole process step-by-step.)


My WR is just a checklist.

Let's run through it.

1) Capture.

Before getting anything done, we first have to know exactly what needs to get done.

Regardless of job and location, the average person has anywhere from 30-150 tasks per week.

Sending an email. Cleaning the bathroom. Returning a phone call. Anything.

It'd be ridiculous to remember everyone's phone number. So we let our phones grab and store that information.

But for some reason, we expect ourselves to remember every single task we need to get done. Then we naturally forget and fall behind.

Rather than let to-dos smash the ground or blow away, we can hold out a net and capture each and every one of them. It's as simple as writing down everything you need or want to get done.

I jot these down in my Apple Notes throughout the week.

  • "organize new questions for card game"

  • "reach out to designer for book illustrations"

  • "clean trunk of car"

Those are real examples of things I've captured in my notes this week.

Anyway, those are just the principles. There are three components of capturing in my WR.

  1. Projects

  2. Actions

  3. Waiting For

Projects are anything that require more than one Action.

"Build new website" is a project. "Choose name of new website" is an Action.

You shouldn't have more than 10 projects. That's too much for one human to handle.

My current projects are:

  • Finances

  • Coaching

  • Podcast

  • Book

  • Chores

  • Fun

  • Card Game

Notice how broad they are. Most of them are ongoing. I'll never 'complete' my finances.

But once I finish the book, for example, I'll be done with that Project.

Each Project is simply a collection of many different Actions. An Action is a single, actionable task.

Most people think they're lazy or stupid because they procrastinate their work. But most of the time, they just haven't broken down their Project into simple enough Actions. They don't know where to start or what the next step is. It feels daunting and confusing.

When I started freelancing, I built crappy websites for people. I was horrible at defining what I needed to work on.

Each day from 12-3 pm, my calendar would say "work on client's website."

Then at 12 (more like 12:45), I'd sit down at my laptop and think, What the hell does 'work on website' even mean? Where do I start??

Then I began breaking it down.

"Work on website" became "choose five pages for menu."

Home, Blog, Podcast, About Me, Contact.

Done! Now on to the next task.

Right now, think of your biggest and most complex Project. Now break it down into the three smallest steps you can take next to accomplishing it.

Don't worry, I'll wait......

Feels less scary, right?

So once I've confirmed all the Projects I'm working on, I ask myself, What are all the next Actions I know I need to take for this Project? Here's an example.

Project: Podcast.

Actions: edit ep. 18 audio, invite 'so and so,' ask 'guest' to share our episode, etc.

And finally, there's Waiting For.

This part of capturing gets slept on. Waiting For is an Action where you're waiting for someone else before it can be completed.

If someone tells me they want to come on my podcast, but they need to check with their manager first, I put that on my Waiting For list.

"Hear back from 'guest' about coming on" goes in my Waiting For. Then I pick a date. If I don't hear back from this potential guest by then, I reach back out to check in.

This system will make you the most proactive and up-to-date person in all the land.

2) Schedule.

Capture is the what. Schedule is the when.

A to-do list is just a bunch of words. You need to know when you're going to actually get those words finished.

So once you capture all your Projects, Actions, and Waiting place each of your Actions on a calendar.

I use Google Calendar because it's easy to use, color-coded, and integrates with just about anything.

In this step, "clean out trunk of car" becomes "At 10 am this Saturday, I'm taking an hour to clean out the trunk of my car."

On top of work items, the Schedule section of the WR is where you can place all the weekly habits you want.

I know I have to go to the gym three times a week. So one of my checkboxes in Schedule is "workouts." Once I choose at least three gym sessions on my calendar, I can check that box.

In the past, I've included "time in nature," "family phone call," and "jiujitsu class." Anything I've wanted to really force myself to do on a weekly basis.

What to go on more walks? Volunteer more at the dog shelter? Meditate more often?

Schedule it.

3) Respond.

"I'm so bad at staying in touch with people."

I hear this from most folks. It's not a coincidence.

We live in a hyper-advanced world where we are reachable 24/7. People can text us, email us, and stalk our social media.

Just like we aren't programmed to remember a hundred phone numbers...we aren't designed to keep in touch with a hundred people.

Step 3, Respond, is meant to bridge that gap a little.

First, I clear my email inbox.

There are three ways to deal with an email:

  1. respond

  2. save

  3. trash

Most emails should be deleted. Some deserve a genuine response. And a few need to be saved for reference later.

Nothing should just be sitting in your inbox because you don't know what to do with it. Put it in a reference folder, answer it, or throw it in the trash bin.

If you have 69,420 emails like a psycho...consider "email bankruptcy."

Message all your contacts that you're declaring email bankruptcy. Give them your new, untainted email address. Then delete your previously defiled email and forget it ever existed.

Or spend a Sunday morning at a cafe and relentlessly delete all your emails. If they've been sitting in your inbox for months (or years) your life is clearly fine without them.

Once my inbox is at zero, I turn on my phone and respond to every text I never answered over the week.

If it's something I want to respond to, I text back. If it's not a conversation I need to continue, I'll send a simple emoji. Thumbs-ups or sunglasses usually do the trick.

The second checkbox under Respond is to message my accountability partner.

It's just a short report from the previous week. I share all the creative work I did: how much I worked on my book, the content I put out, and an update on where I'm at and what I'm struggling with.

4) Reflect.

Two more checkboxes to go.

First, I do my Monday Instagram post. It's three things I learned last week: cool hacks, concepts I heard, or quotes that struck me. (Follow me on Insta to make all your dreams come true.)

And lastly, I fill out my Life Calendar.

It's a list of milestones and events that mean a lot to me, categorized by month and year. I can go back to my old Life Calendars and find the exact month I...

  • got my first paid coaching client

  • had that one lovely picnic with my girlfriend

  • got the idea to move to Argentina

I'm not sentimental and don't like owning lots of stuff. But memories and experiences are important to me so I store them as best I can.

That's it. Once every box is checked, I uncheck them all and start my week.


I begin each week by doing this Weekly Review Mondays at 9 am. It takes anywhere between one and two hours.

This means every single week of my life starts out organized, intentional, and in control. It prevents me from feeling behind, rushed, or unclear.

If you've made it this far you may be thinking about all the ways this system won't work for you.

That's fine. It probably won't.

But I bet there are a few aspects of my WR that you can steal and try on your own. It took me a year of trial and error to get this confident and secure in my system.

Maybe Monday mornings don't work for you. Maybe you don't have as many Projects to work on. Maybe you hate me and everything I stand for.

The most important thing is that you at least try something as opposed to leaving all your tasks and projects up to memory.

I'm always shocked when I set things up with grown adults and they miss a call because they have no scheduling or organizational system. I try not to judge but I can't help but think, Dude...get it together.

Give it a shot.

What resonates with you? What would you hate doing? How well do you organize your life now?

Email me and let me know.


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