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Why Does Your To-Do List Keep Growing, No Matter How Hard You Work?

Distractions, procrastination, FOMO…getting things done is hard these days. We have ALL the digital tools but NONE of the results they’ve promised us.

That’s changing now! Join our new course Pillars of Productivity. 

What does it mean to be “productive”?

Productivity has gotten a bad rap. When you hear that word, you’re probably picturing someone hunched over their desk, grinding away endlessly at mind-numbing tasks from morning till night.

I don’t blame you! So much productivity content out there is just different ways of getting yourself to do things you hate doing. It’s become synonymous with hustle culture, never-ending busyness, and the opposite of what makes us come alive.

But I’m here to tell you: That is not what productivity is!

Productivity is NOT…

Productivity is…

Boring chores and drudgery

Your ability to take a vision in your head and manifest it in the real world, to make your ideas happen

Working harder and longer

Working efficiently, which means minimizing waste (think wasted time, effort, energy, potential, imagination, ideas, or relationships)

Random hacks and silver bullets

A system that you can rely on and that gives you the confidence to handle anything life throws at you

Always staying busy and beating yourself up for wasting time

Having the self-awareness to pause and recognize what’s going on so you never have to force yourself to do more than your body and mind allows

Ticking off all tasks on your to-do list

Creating the clarity and focus to work on the right priorities that create the life you want

Meet Your Instructor

Hi, I’m Tiago Forte

AUTHOR & CREATOR OF BUILDING A SECOND BRAIN

I’ve spent more than 10 years researching, teaching, coaching, and personally experimenting with new ways of organizing our digital lives and improving our productivity.

Creating a system for productivity was one of the most profoundly impactful things I ever did for myself. It’s given me a deep reservoir of confidence that I can handle whatever life throws at me.

I realized that anything life demands is just information, which can be broken up into manageable pieces (for example, content to consume, tasks to complete, appointments to schedule).

I feed these pieces into digital tools that are so much better at keeping track of them than my own brain ever could be – especially since I became a dad and can’t hold anything in my mind for longer than a minute (parents will know what I’m talking about).

Projects that seem overwhelming at first (an unexpected tax bill, finding the right pre-school, launching a new product) are now approachable, so I can tackle each piece until I arrive at the outcome.

The richness and variety of my life isn’t limited by my mental capacity – my system can handle anything!

My work has been featured in

What would having a system for productivity open up for you?

Whether you want to make a big vision happen, get your life together, or anything in between, with a system for productivity, you’ll be able to…

Make big promises to yourself and follow through, not because of perfect memory but because of your system, even if you have no idea yet how you’ll make it happen 

Manage multiple projects and roles you play in your life simultaneously, without having to stretch your mental and physical capacity to the breaking point

Gain the sense of determination to make progress on multiple fronts of your life and work in parallel, without the burden of multitasking 

Have more of what you want and less of what you don’t in life, pulling your ultimate vision for your future forward in time

Now, what does a system of productivity look like? Let me introduce you to…

Pillars of Productivity: The complete blueprint for modern, digital productivity

Think of your productivity system as a building you're constructing. There are four pillars at the corners of that building that hold it all together. 

Each pillar is a software program – an app – that fulfills a critical function in modern life: a digital calendar, a task manager (or digital to-do list), a digital notetaking app, and a read-later app. 

You can offload all the information coming at you (e.g., from emails and many other sources) to those four pillars and resurface it right when you need it.

The Weekly Review ties it all together. It’s your ritual to finish every week with a sense of completion, finality and fulfillment, and start the new week with clarity and purpose, not based on wishful thinking but on thoughtful preparation.

These tools are so powerful, but no one ever really taught us how to use them effectively. That’s exactly what this course is designed to do

From conquering your email inbox to managing your time to taming your to-do list to effective notetaking and content consumption…

You'll gain a set of powerful tools and habits so you can start every week with the focus you need to do your best work.

I finally created the course I wish existed when I started my career! I couldn't be more excited to share everything I've learned from a decade of my own painstaking trial and error to hopefully save you some of the frustration I’ve experienced.

Join Pillars of Productivity

Build your personalized system for productivity on your own time and at your own pace.

  • 8 lessons with comprehensive instructional videos including in-depth, hands-on demonstrations
  • Downloadable workbook with all action steps & checklists so you can easily put what you learn into practice immediately
  • Access to a vibrant online community where you can get your questions answered by peers and course staff
  • App recommendations and concrete guidelines to help you pick the right productivity tools
  • 7-day 100% money-back guarantee so you can try POP risk-free and decide if it's right for you
  • Access for the lifetime of the course including future updates

Here’s what you’ll be learning and doing in Pillars of Productivity

This course is not about passive learning; it's about active implementation! Every one of the eight lessons contains a hands-on instructional video alongside concrete action steps and recommendations for apps and other tools so you can apply what you learn immediately to your work and life.

We've also created a downloadable playbook that you can complete on your computer or print out on paper. It contains every single action step, checklist, and resource mentioned throughout the course all in one handy place.

1. Introduction
  • Get a full introduction to the four pillars of productivity and how they work together as part of an integrated workflow.
  • Start recognizing productivity as a customizable system, providing you with tools and methods to combat information overwhelm.
  • Discover the important distinction between the four main kinds of information in your digital life.
  • Learn Tiago’s three core guiding principles, both to succeed in this course as well as for your productivity in general.
  • Get introduced to the active learning approach of this course, involving video instructions, app recommendations, actionable checklists, a comprehensive playbook, community sharing, and additional resources.
2. Email: Getting to Inbox Zero
  • Make the crucial mindset shift that will free you from any guilt around your overflowing inbox.
  • Configure these seven settings in your email provider to streamline email processing once and for all.
  • Set up the four essential downstream systems so any incoming information can flow to the right place (instead of clogging up your inbox).
  • Master the practice of “email triage” that will get you to inbox zero consistently and in no time.
  • Start the habit of batch-processing your emails to free up the time and energy to do your best, most creative work OUTSIDE of your inbox.
3. Calendar: Managing Your Time
  • Find out why most people’s calendars are a mess and fail to create focus on the vital tasks that we strive for.
  • Start leveraging the full power of a digital calendar (you’ve been missing out if you’re still using a traditional paper calendar).
  • Get started with your digital calendar using our simple step-by-step setup guide.
  • Learn the four ground rules for getting the most out of your calendar.
4. Tasks: Taming Your To-Do List
  • Accept this one inevitable truth about your to-do list that will free you from guilt and shame.
  • Leverage the advantages of using a digital task manager over a paper to-do list.
  • Understand the concept of "open loops" that cause stress and anxiety and the solution that will create peace of mind.
  • Master the critical features of popular task management apps and make them work for you.
  • Try out new techniques for efficiently clearing your task inbox, ending to-do list overwhelm.
5. Notes: Taking Notes Effectively
  • Learn to differentiate between the two types of content that are coming at you so you immediately know how to handle each.
  • Discover the advantages of digital notetaking over traditional paper notes, allowing you to preserve and easily revisit the best out of the vast amount of knowledge you consume.
  • Find out how to efficiently capture and then organize your digital notes so you can always find the information that’s important to you right now.
  • Practice the fundamental features of your notetaking app, such as quickly capturing information from various sources and organizing it effectively to help you take action (we’ll provide a full demo).
6. Content: Using a Read-Later App
  • Rethink your habits so you can start consuming content intentionally rather than reactively.
  • Understand the benefits of a read-later app and why it should be an essential part of your productivity toolkit.
  • Get started with a read-later app following our step-by-step walkthrough and recommendations.
  • Discover Tiago’s best practices and guidelines for mindful content consumption to help you say goodbye to FOMO.
  • Learn how to decide what to consume at any given moment, creating a content filter in the form of a personalized checklist.
7. Weekly Review: Winning Every Week
  • Recognize the common misconception about Weekly Reviews that keep most people from developing this powerful habit.
  • Learn the four essential steps of a Weekly Review and a handy acronym to remember them, allowing you to process new information without having to make too many decisions.
  • Watch Tiago complete his own real-life Weekly Review following all the steps and rules of thumb he recommends.
  • Learn how to filter your to-do list and decide what you’ll be doing so you can start the upcoming week with clarity and a flexible gameplan to guide your actions.
  • Develop your own Weekly Review checklist, making it a tangible ritual that can be completed in a predictable time frame.
8. Next Steps
  • Recap what we’ve covered in the previous lessons to make sure you understand how everything works together.
  • Remind yourself of the crucial mindset shifts that will help you succeed on your quest for enhanced productivity.
  • Pick the concrete takeaways from this course that you'll adopt for yourself going forward.
  • Identify your main productivity bottleneck right now and choose the appropriate tools and strategies to address it.
  • Choose from among our recommended steps to continue your learning journey

Get reimbursed by your employer

Most large organizations, and many smaller ones, will reimburse tuition for professional development. We’ve created a proposal template that you can use to request reimbursement.

Click here to download a proposal template.

Is Pillars of Productivity right for you?

This course is for you if you…

  • Are sick of forgetting to do important things because you “tried to remember” them (don’t worry, it happens to all of us).
  • Can’t stand missing opportunities and sometimes even deadlines anymore because they got lost in an overflowing inbox and 47 open browser tabs.
  • Don’t want to feel like you’re always behind schedule and pressed for time every day, never quite able to catch up.
  • Are ready to stop the feeling of overwhelm caused by an ever-growing, never-ending to-do list where every task feels like an obligation. 
  • Are tired of getting left behind and overlooked when it comes to promotions, raises, or interesting opportunities in your organization.

If you caught yourself nodding your head to any the points above, then I absolutely can’t wait to share Pillars of Productivity with you.

We especially recommend this course for…

Join Pillars of Productivity

Build your personalized system for productivity on your own time and at your own pace.

  • 8 lessons with comprehensive instructional videos including in-depth, hands-on demonstrations
  • Downloadable workbook with all action steps & checklists so you can easily put what you learn into practice immediately
  • Access to a vibrant online community where you can get your questions answered by peers and course staff
  • App recommendations and concrete guidelines to help you pick the right productivity tools
  • 7-day 100% money-back guarantee so you can try POP risk-free and decide if it's right for you
  • Access for the lifetime of the course including future updates

Answers to your Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Pillars of Productivity and Building a Second Brain? 

Pillars of Productivity is focused on leveraging the essential digital tools (email, calendar, task manager, notetaking app, read-later app) that turn you into a capable, mindful professional who can handle anything life throws at them.

Building a Second Brain zooms in on the notetaking part and teaches you how to consistently turn the information you consume into creative output and concrete results, leveraging your notetaking app.

A Second Brain is your holistic ecosystem of digital tools, encompassing the material from both courses. It is a trusted place outside your head where you can collect and organize your most important ideas and insights and use them to do your best work.

How long will I have access to the material?

You’ll have access for the lifetime of the product.

How much time do I need to invest to benefit from Pillars of Productivity?

We’ve designed Pillars of Productivity to fit your schedule and pace.

While you can watch the video lessons in about two and a half hours, we highly recommend that you follow the action steps to put what you learn into practice.

What tools are used in Pillars of Productivity?

Pillars of Productivity is tool-agnostic, meaning our methodology will work in any software you prefer. The videos in the course will show you examples in different types of apps and we’ll give you concrete recommendations for free and paid tools to use in each lesson.

With that being said, you’re more than welcome to use any other tool that you feel works better for your needs.

I prefer a paper calendar/notebook/to-do list. Will I get value from the course? 

Pillars of Productivity is focused on leveraging digital tools for your productivity because we believe that digital tools provide many advantages over paper, for example:

  • Available on your mobile phone that most of us have with us everywhere we go
  • Sync data between your devices so you can see the same information on your phone, tablet, and computer
  • Link to associated information that is mostly in digital formats (e.g., a PDF, email, or website)
  • Easily searchable and reconfigurable
  • Data is always backed up and secure

That’s why we encourage you to choose digital tools over paper in our course. With that being said, you might also benefit from some of the methods and guidelines we teach in your paper-based workflow. 

English is not my first language or I have special needs. How can I get the most out of the course?

We’ve done our best to make this course as accessible as possible. Each video has captions so you can follow along more easily, and a complete transcript if you prefer reading. You can use the search function to find and review specific points within each video. We've also added chapters to each video so you can navigate directly to specific sections. This allows you to revisit key concepts or jump to topics that are most relevant to you.

Are there any prerequisites for this course?

There are no official prerequisites to take Pillars of Productivity. However, we do expect you to be reasonably comfortable with using a computer or smartphone.

What’s your refund policy?

Your satisfaction is our #1 goal, and we want the decision to join Pillars of Productivity to be 100% risk-free so you can focus on learning. If you decide the course didn’t deliver on its promise for any reason, submit a request within 7 days of your purchase to get a refund.

Do you offer discounts or scholarships?

We don’t offer discounts or scholarships. Instead, we offer Purchasing Power Parity Pricing. Based on your location, you might qualify for a reduced price for Pillars of Productivity.

If you do, you’ll automatically see a banner with a discount code on this page. Make sure to disable any VPN since this will block the banner from showing.

What kind of payment plans do you offer?

We’re happy to offer you “Buy now, pay later” options through Klarna and Afterpay/Clearpay, which enable you to pay for our courses in interest-free installments.

On our checkout pages, you’ll find these options under “Payment Methods".

Currently, “Buy now, pay later” is available in the United States only.

What if I lose motivation or life gets busy and I drop off?

This is one I’ve been thinking about for years. Part of the reason I waited so long to release a new course is because I’ve been seeking a good answer to it. 
Here are a few choices we made to maximize your likelihood of completion:

  • We made the course short, only about 2.5 hours’ worth of instructional videos, the length of a Hollywood film
  • We made our videos YouTube-quality, borrowing all the lessons we’ve learned about making engaging, informative content on our channel
  • We made the implementation steps as easy and clear as possible, and put them all in a workbook available in digital and printable formats
  • We made all the videos and course material available upfront, on demand, and across any device using Circle’s excellent mobile app, so you can fit it in whenever you have time
  • We added a discussion space, so you can see where your peers are getting stuck and what they’ve done to overcome it
  • We are offering a live masterclass in which I will be coaching you on specific challenges and obstacles you’ve encountered on the POP journey
Is POP for beginners or advanced practitioners of personal productivity?

Some of you pointed out that I recently published an article about the crucial difference between beginner and advanced advice, and how important it is to consume advice at your current level. So is POP a beginner course or an advanced one?

I’d say POP is about the “fundamental moves” of productivity, on top of which all other more sophisticated and specialized techniques are built. Martial artists have the straight punch, tennis players the forehand, and chefs their chef’s knife – as knowledge workers we have our to-do list, our calendar, and our notes.In that sense, this is a beginner-level course, in that we’re starting with the most basic, essential tools.

But the thing I’ve noticed about expertise is that it’s often about refining and perfecting the more fundamental moves, rather than adding on complex, fancy ones. The basketball player never stops working on their shooting technique. The golfer never stops refining their swing. Since everything is built out of these more basic parts, you can never really improve them enough.

So in that sense, even the most advanced productivity enthusiasts have a lot to gain from revisiting the fundamentals and rethinking how they use them.

Will I get value from POP if I’ve already learned Building a Second Brain or PARA?

Yes indeed! Each of our books and courses is designed to complement and build on the others. In the Building a Second Brain course and book, I zoomed in on digital notetaking, the core of our creative workflows and the missing piece in most people’s digital portfolios.

But I’ve always maintained that a Second Brain is not just about notetaking – it encompasses all the digital tools you use to produce, organize, and express yourself. Your notes app is like one lobe of your brain, carrying out a critical function. But that’s only one part!

In POP, I’m zooming out to look at the holistic system that is your Second Brain, and showing how all the parts can work together fluidly and intuitively just as your first brain does.

What makes this different from GTD or other productivity methods?

The Getting Things Done (or GTD) philosophy created by David Allen has been a major influence on me and on POP. But it’s now been over 20 years since Allen’s book was released, and there are many aspects of it that are outdated, irrelevant, or simply not applicable to the much faster-paced, more digital-centric, and cross-platform world we live in today.

I’ve borrowed a few key ideas from GTD, combined them with multiple other methodologies and my own discoveries, to offer an approach that is eminently practical and can be “installed” without a lot of theorizing. So to answer the question, POP is not different from other productivity methods – it distills the best of what they have to offer into a practical setup using working software.

Does POP apply to personal and household responsibilities, or just professional ones?

One of my strongest beliefs is that the separation between “work” and “life” is quickly eroding. You used to have two separate identities in these two domains, but that’s less and less the case, for a few reasons:

  • We use our mobile devices for both, meaning we’re faced with work info during off hours and vice versa
  • Remote and hybrid work environments blur the boundary and make mixing different kinds of information together inevitable
  • Work is more international, asynchronous, and fluid than ever before, which sometimes means being productive and communicating during small pockets of time at odd hours

I’ll be honest: this merging of worlds can be a bad thing if you don’t manage it right. It can mean working longer hours, never quite being able to relax, and finding every minute of your attention colonized by tasks. 

But I prefer the optimistic view: we can now be more aligned and authentic between our professional and personal worlds, and treat them as two important parts of a holistic picture that is our life. For our purposes, this means choosing digital tools that can encompass both work projects and personal projects, and help us manage both work responsibilities and life responsibilities.

I manage it all in one place, and I suggest you do too.

Does POP work for professionals in a corporate setting, or only entrepreneurs or freelancers?

My teaching and advice is definitely influenced by my profession as an independent creator. Many of my examples are creative projects or educational products that you might not be able to relate to. 

But I do believe that most of what I have to say applies equally well to corporate work, for a few reasons:

  • The world of free agents (freelancers, consultants, entrepreneurs) is often just a few years ahead of large organizations, which means what we are dealing with now is coming soon to your doorstep
  • An increasing percentage of the workforce is made up of independent contractors (now making up a majority of all employed people), which means that kind of career path may very well be in your future (or at least, more and more of the professionals you collaborate with will be)
  • When coming up with guiding principles, it’s helpful to start with a freeform canvas with minimal rules, and then adapt from there as you add in corporate restrictions and requirements

Most of what I teach in POP I used when I worked for a large company, and I use it today in the context of an international team at Forte Labs. 

Is this yet another productivity tool or system that requires a higher mental tax than what I get out of it?

I have a deep aversion to any belief system or philosophy that claims to be “all or nothing.” Even if they are effective in some situations, such extremist philosophies tend to be brittle, breaking under the slightest change in conditions. As I moved across 4 countries through my 20s, I encountered too many such changes to be able to maintain any such totalitarian system.

Instead, I came up with a “modular” approach to my productivity. I chose 4 apps that would be my core tools, each one chosen for its utter simplicity, reliability, and ease of use. If one failed, either because of a technical error or because the mental burden of maintaining it was too high, I would just switch to something easier. There were interconnections between these apps, but they were optional. If links broke, it wasn’t the end of the world.

What this modular approach allows me to do is, anytime life gets overwhelming or my bandwidth scarce, I can put any of my apps on pause and step away knowing everything I was working on and towards is frozen exactly in place. There have been many periods when I reverted to using only 3 core apps, or 2, or even 1, like a single lifeline when the seas of change were tossing me back and forth. This isn’t possible when you try to use a single app to do everything. And that modular approach is what I’ll be teaching you.

Will this course provide a “system” or just a group of “tips?”

This speaks to one of my beefs with many productivity courses: they just unload a grab bag of random “tips and tricks” on you, seemingly chosen at random, and leave you to sort through it all and decide what actually works. In contrast, I see my main job as curating and distilling the vast universe of productivity advice out there, into a bite-size package you can absorb in a few sittings.

And look – there are a lot of productivity tips that work in isolation. The mistake is thinking that by piling them all together, you’ll have a system. Each tip and trick adds its own mental burden, so what you really end up with is a house of cards – it holds together only until the slightest wind blows, revealing that there is no connective tissue.

Every single lesson in POP was chosen because it is necessary to the functioning of the whole. Every tactic makes all the other tactics more effective and functional. I’m not giving you a bunch of theory or good-sounding advice. I’m giving you the exact system I use every day.

How much of the system has to be in place to start producing significant results and benefits?

A question I asked myself as we began working on POP was, “Why should someone have to finish 100% of a course to receive value?” I know I rarely do. So I decided to structure the 4 pillars of POP in order of priority, from most to least important: your calendar is the first and most important pillar to master; then comes your task manager in second place. These tools are more important in the short term.

Only after you’ve figured out these “actionable” tools should you turn your attention to the remaining two: your digital notes app and read-later app. They will be more powerful in the long run, since they allow you to leverage the compounding power of your ideas and creativity. 

This ordering ensures this doesn’t become, as one of you put it, “another productivity white elephant on my digital shelf, collecting dust and guilt.” You’ll see results upfront, regardless of what level of skill you’re currently at, and then get introduced to new tools one by one if you have the time and headspace for them. 

If you drop off at any point, that’s ok! Just take some time to practice what you learned up to that point, seeing what benefits it brings you (or which parts aren’t needed), and the course will be ready for you when you return.

Can the lessons of POP be applied to mobile devices?

Absolutely! Everything I teach is platform-agnostic, meaning it will apply just as well to any software program, operating system, or kind of device. I’ve had to change platforms so many times over the years that I was forced to adopt a workflow that functioned seamlessly even as the underlying tools changed. I’ll teach you to do the same.

Join Pillars of Productivity

Build your personalized system for productivity on your own time and at your own pace.

  • 8 lessons with comprehensive instructional videos including in-depth, hands-on demonstrations
  • Downloadable workbook with all action steps & checklists so you can easily put what you learn into practice immediately
  • Access to a vibrant online community where you can get your questions answered by peers and course staff
  • App recommendations and concrete guidelines to help you pick the right productivity tools
  • 7-day 100% money-back guarantee so you can try POP risk-free and decide if it's right for you
  • Access for the lifetime of the course including future updates