I work for doctor turned YouTuber, Ali Abdaal. The work isn’t what I’d call difficult, but there is a lot of it. On top of working for Ali, I’m a freelance web designer and SEO specialist. As if that wasn’t enough, I’m also a partner in a couple of other businesses. And finally, I have 3 children and various hobbies outside of work. If you’d like to know more about me, you can check out my About Me page. All that makes for a pretty busy life.

In this article, I want to go over how I’m able to balance everything and stay organised whilst working for Ali Abdaal.

What I do for Ali Abdaal

Firstly, if you’re not familiar with Ali Abdaal, you should definitely take a look at his website and YouTube channel (after reading my article of course). The TL;DR of it is that he’s a content creator with 4 million YouTube subscribers (at the time of writing). He also employs a team of 12 people, including me.

So, what do I do for Ali Abdaal? Quite a bit actually. As a company, we don’t really do job titles in the traditional sense, but when asked, Ali will usually say something like ‘Dan is my website admin, executive assistant, the head of legal, finance and HR’. That’s quite a variety of things that fall under my remit. So without going into over-sharing mode, let’s break that down a tiny bit more.

Website Admin

This one’s pretty straightforward but takes up the bulk of my time with Ali Abdaal. I look after his website. The website used to get around 50,000 page views a week. I spent some time converting it from Ghost to WordPress, optimised a bunch of content and the site itself, and doubled the traffic. If now get’s over 110,000 page views a week.

To keep the momentum up, I’m working on a content strategy to keep fresh posts going out, the website updated, and running at its best. As well as figuring out how we can best serve the audience and convert a portion of them into Ali’s other ‘products’.

Ali Abdaal’s EA (or Executive Assistant)

So second to the website, I’m also Ali’s EA. A post formally held by Elizabeth Filips (who’s since moved on to bigger and better things). What does being Ali Abdaal’s EA look like? Well, it involves hitting inbox zero on a number of email accounts, flagging anything interesting, or needing his input. Managing his calendar, booking events, and generally ensuring he is where he is supposed to be, at the time he’s supposed to be there.

In reality, this doesn’t take as much time as you might think. Ali is pretty self-sufficient and only really calls on me when things need more planning, and research or he just doesn’t have the time to do it himself. It’s quite varied and does mean I get to book exciting events, plan trips (unfortunately not for me), and interact with some cool people.

Head of Legal, Finance and HR

Rolling this all up into one thing. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time, though there are times in the month where there’s more to do than others. Being the head of legal, finance, and HR for Ali Abdaal pretty much boils down to being the one that works on anything requiring legal input (be that contracts, liaising with solicitors, trademarks, etc). Finance is similar to legal but with accountants. It involves receipt tracking, bookkeeping, invoicing, liaising with the accountants, paying our taxes, etc.

Finally, we have HR. This used to take more time when we had a team of 20+, but now there are only 12 of us, it’s much simpler. It’s all about employment contracts, managing payroll, pensions, perks, and benefits, company policies, and that sort of stuff. I have a background in managing people, so this all comes fairly naturally. I hardly spend any time at all doing what you might imagine a regular head of human resources might do.

Other Stuff I Do At Ali Abdaal Ltd

There’s a bunch of other stuff I do over at Ali Abdaal Ltd. It mostly involves supporting the team in whatever way I can or whatever way they need at the time. That might mean helping with queries, getting involved with PTYA, or any number of other things.

If you’d like to learn more about what the entire team does, Ali actually recently uploaded a video explaining why he has a team of 12 people. The video also attracted one of my all-time favorite YouTube comments…

And quotes like this…

Dan is amazing and looks after all that kind of stuff.
Ali Abdaal

What I Do Outside of Working for Ali Abdaal

There’s quite a bit there about what I do with Ali. I can’t help but feel that could have been an article in its own right. So let’s speed things up a little. Outside of working for Ali Abdaal, I’m a freelance web designer and SEO specialist. I have clients all around world, some of whom I’ve worked with for over a decade now. I have some other business interests too, including a website hosting company I work with. And I’m in the process of setting up a new business which will hopefully become the main income source.

Aside from all that, I have hobbies which include sea rowing, kayaking, mountain biking, and walking/mountain climbing. All this, and I have 3 children.

How I Stay Organised

Broadly speaking, I keep all these plates spinning by utilising 3 things. A solid to-do list, my calendar, knowledge management, and open communication. I use these 3 things in everything I do, be it working with Ali Abdaal, my other work, social events, hobbies, or family stuff.

My To-do List

I’m not writing these in order of importance, but if I were, this one would still probably be at the top. Having a solid system for items that just need to get done is so important. Like really important. I personally use Todoist. It’s a great balance of functionality, availability, and clear design. It’s a winner in my book (and I’ve tried hundreds of to-do list apps).

Virtually everything I need to do, or want to do, goes in Todoist. It’s my go-to input. So if I need to buy something on the school run, it’s on Todoist. If I need to speak to Ali Abdaal about something, it’s in Todoist. Everything goes in there. Having such a simple information input is amazing. No switching between apps or devices just to remind myself to do something.

The other great thing about Todoist is the calendar sync feature. I can unlock my phone, click the + icon next to the Todoist widget (Android for the win) and type something like “Call Ali Abdaal re latest directors account spreadsheet on Monday, 11 am”. The app will take this and add it to my to-do list, assigning a reminder on the date and time I wrote, AND add it to my calendar automatically. That’s pretty powerful. Not only is it on my to-do list, but I’m getting a reminder at the right time (or earlier if you want to change the settings) and it’s adding a block to my calendar for the event. Unfortunately, it’s not quite smart enough to pick up potential event clashes, but I can live with that.

To-do List Availability

The other important thing about a to-do list, and another thing Todoist excels at, is how available it is. I learned the hard way that my to-do list needs to be everywhere I am. I can access my to-do list on my mobile (including offline mode so no internet is needed for capturing inputs), my computer, laptop, tablet, browser, and even my watch. Having it this accessible means no matter where I am or what I’m doing, if I need to input something, I can do it.

The final thing that I think is really important with a to-do list (and again, Todoist makes it so easy to do this), is organisation. By simply adding a ‘#aliabdaal’ to the end of any input, the task is automatically labelled as something that I need to do for Ali Abdaal. Equally if I add a ‘#danderton’ or ‘#personal’ or a number of others, the task is labelled and organised for me. The reminders and all that still work the same regardless of labels, but doing this means if I just want to see what I have to do for Ali, I can filter by label and see just that. The same for anything else. Leaving the ‘inbox’ section relatively clear. Thich helps to not feel overwhelmed when your list is as big as mine would be if it wasn’t filtered.

My Calendar

Next on the list is my calendar. Now the reality here is, you don’t need a fancy app. I use Google Calendar. It’s simple, easy on the eyes, functional, and integrates with my to-do list. That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution for everyone else. There are a few tricks I use to keep my calendar organised.

First off, I use calendar blocking. Keeping it short, this is where you block out time for everything… yes, everything. That way, you always know exactly where you need to be and what you need to do. My to-do list helps with this by automatically adding stuff to my calendar.

Second, I use multiple calendars. I have one for my work with Ali Abdaal (linked to my work email), another for my business stuff (linked to my business email) and another for private stuff. I share these calendars with each other, so events from one show on the other. This massively helps when scheduling things or people invite you to events (the Free / Busy options transfer too). It also means no matter what calendar I’m looking at, everything is there BUT I have the option to turn it off. So if I’m work focused, I can turn everything else off, and bring it back again with a single click when I need it. No switching calendars, windows, or apps.

This is what an average week looks like in my calendar. Sometimes I leave empty gaps to allow people to book in meetings on my booking system, during that time, I usually work on my to-do list (pro productivity tip)

I also keep a tidy calendar. I spend time making it look nice, ideally with nothing overlapping. Why? Because if you like the way it looks, you’re more likely to use it. And it just makes it so much easier to use. Again, another key feature of my calendar that I’m sure helps keep me organised is the fact that it’s always available. I can access it from any device I’m using. And because the calendars are all shared with each other, I only need to look at one to know what’s happening that day.

Knowledge Management System

As you might imagine, doing so much stuff means there’s a lot of knowledge that needs to be retained. This is stuff like client and contact information, project progress, invoice tracking, or generally anything else that I need to try and remember. The simple fact of the matter is, I can’t remember everything. And I bet you can’t either. So we write stuff down.

Storing information and knowing exactly where to find it is key to getting stuff done quickly. I certainly wouldn’t be nearly as efficient with working with Ali Abdaal if I didn’t have a way to store and search for information. I use multiple tools for this, depending on what the information is.


The first tool, and probably the handiest, is Notion. I adopted this app out of necessity rather than choice. It’s what Ali Abdaal and the team have been using for years. So I picked it up too. It has its shortcomings, and there are some things that other apps do way better (offline access anyone?). But it’s pretty powerful.

I’m not an expert on Notion, but the basics are all you really need to use this app. My setup is pretty simple. I have a couple of different databases, but nothing fancy at all. Each database is for a different area of work and a different set of knowledge. For example, I have a ‘How To’ database. It contains exactly what you might expect, simple how-to instructions for various things. In theory, anytime I think I might need to remember how to do something, it gets a page in this database detailing it.

I have another database for meeting notes. I use this in conjunction with written notes. Depending on the meeting, I might take digital or written notes. But eventually, they all end up in this Notion database. That includes Ali Abdaal meetings, client meetings, and committee meetings. They all go in the same place, with a tag for the area to help with filtering. This means I still retain a central area for any meeting information I’ve attended.

Notion Alternatives

Notion is not for everyone. It isn’t the simplest tool to use and can take a little learning. I use it because it’s what Ali Abdaal uses and it made sense to keep things simple and in one tool. If you have the choice and don’t need all the features of Notion. There are lots of free, simpler alternatives you could try, including:

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Loop
  • Evernote

Perfex CRM

Perfex CRM is a bit more niche. It’s a CRM and project management tool that I’ve been using for years. It’s an amazing bit of self-hosted software that has lots of powerful features. It integrates with my payment processors and calendar too. This is where I retain information about my clients, the projects I’m working on with them, and all my billing information. The bonus here is that it means I don’t need additional tools for raising and managing invoices. It’s all built-in.

I take this a step further than most. To keep similar types of information all in the same place, I have myself set up as a client. This way I can manage my own personal projects in the same way I manage client projects, including tracking my time if I need to (that feature is built in too). With the exception of billing, I manage my personal projects in the same way I manage client work. So Perfex CRM is perfect for it. And again, this keeps all project-related information in one place.

It’s worth noting that I don’t use Perfex CRM for any work I do with Ali Abdaal. His business uses ClickUp for project and task management. ClickUp is a great option, but it doesn’t have some of the features Perfex does such as a CRM and invoice and expense management.

Note Apps, Pen and Paper

The final tool in my arsenal is Google Keep and a notebook and pen. Again, this is all about being able to capture information quickly and on the fly. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I either have a notebook and pen or a device that can use Google Keep. This means if I need to capture some information, I can do it without friction.

Generally, I don’t retain information in Google Keep or on paper. I use these as input only and always plan to offload that information into either Notion or Perfex CRM, where it can be tidied up, organised, and filtered. It’s all about keeping similar information together. And there’s no search function for a notebook. This might feel like doubling the effort, capturing notes and then writing them again somewhere else. You’d be right, it is, at least initially. However the added effort is quickly paid back when you go looking for something. Working this way means I don’t have to think about where the information is, I always know.

Rounding Up

Hopefully, all that has given some insight into how I manage to get so much done and stay organised while working for Ali Abdaal and everything else I do. And hopefully, you spotted some common trends:

  • Everything is always available. I always have an input method for everything
  • Everything is grouped together. Be it Ali related or just personal
  • Everything is organised and planned, with time allocated

You might be thinking that even with all this in place, it can’t be possible to do everything. You’d be 100% correct. It’s not. I say no to so many things and literally cannot do everything I want to do. But it’s about making time for what really matters. Saying no to lots of stuff drives the discipline to do the things I want or need to do – I know I’ve potentially said no to something more interesting or fun in favor of doing this other thing, so I’m going to do this other thing in the most fun way I can and give it my all.

As a side note from the article. The featured image was generated by AI.