Today I’m going talk about productivity. Specifically, how I stay productive.
Sometimes, when you have a laundry list of shitty to-dos, (I call them STDs), a lot of stuff just doesn’t end up getting done.
That’s why I usually aim to do just one to three things for the day— and usually before my workday actually starts.
Hopefully, you have the freedom to block out time for yourself where you can actually get the most important stuff done. I find for myself it’s best in the morning. For other people, it’s at night.
For example, Google “Michael Hyatt better week” and you should be able to find “How to Better Control Your Time by Designing Your Ideal Week.” Michael Hyatt (host of the weekly podcast This is Your Life) blocks out time from 5-5:30 a.m. That’s his quiet time, and it’s sacred. He reads, works out, goes through his email, and then he’s dressing up to go to work.
On Mondays, he has all his one-on-ones. On other days, he’s traveling, doing financial reviews, having ad hoc meetings, etc. The point is, it’s all blocked out after 5:30 a.m. because he already gave himself his quiet time. So, for the rest of the day, he’s very deliberate with his time.
If you aren’t that deliberate with your time, or if you aren’t in the habit of blocking out every hour of your workday, it may be useful to know just how much time you’re spending on any given activity. Try to track your time using a free tool like RescueTime.
It runs in the background and tracks which sites you’re on the most, what apps you use a lot, etc. I find myself using email a lot because I delegate a ton of stuff so that I can focus on important high-value tasks.
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That’s not to say that you should never block out time after work and just wing it. In fact, the more I work and the more I budget my time, the more I’m convinced that the key to happiness is about being very intentional with your down time.
Going back to Michael Hyatt, he always has date nights on Fridays with his wife, and he makes time for his kids and his friends in a very structured way. So not only is he very deliberate with his work time, he’s just as intentional with his leisure time.
That’s not Michael, by the way. 🙂
Most people who say that they’re too busy to do something are usually anything but busy—they’re just constantly overwhelmed because they’re not good at managing their time.
And because they’re not good at managing time, they’re unproductive and stressed out.
A huge part of entrepreneurship and business building is recognizing that if something is a priority, you’re going to have to make time for it and put it first. Even if you’re working a full-time job, you can still block out time in the evening to work on what you want.
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I’m not saying you should just become a workaholic. Everyone needs their down time, alone time, time with friends, etc. If you want to watch TV and be entertained—by all means. But if you want to be productive, then be productive. Block out time for whatever’s important to you and be disciplined about how you spend your time. That’s the best way to avoid getting distracted.
I use Evernote. For example, I need to plan out the live event for this month that I’m doing, which is going to be like a happy hour in Los Angeles with about 20 to 30 people. Then I have a dinner planned for next week with a group of entrepreneurs. Then I have a bunch of meetings today.
When I look at my Fridays, for example, my afternoon is completely blocked out, but for Michael Hyatt, he blocks out the whole day. I think that’s actually better to block out the whole day for thinking, for planning about you want to do the following week and figure out if you need to be adjusting your strategy or not.
My big goal for 2017 is finishing my book. Then I also plan to travel to Japan for three weeks in July and also hire a GM to help run Single Grain. I have a bunch of in-person events that I want to go to, there’s a bunch of conferences that I want to go to, and I want to throw some meetups, too.
Another thing I do is write in my five-minute journal at the very end of the day before I go to bed. One of the things I answer is: “What’s one thing that you can improve on?” Over and over, as I flipped through it for 2016, the recurring theme was patience. I tend to get things done quickly, so I want things done quickly. But I can’t expect everything to just happen quickly. If I actually reflect on the last year, looking at all the things that were accomplished, it’s actually pretty amazing, right?
Check out my Medium post called Crafting A Morning Ritual Combo That Works For YOU.
So, in order to be productive today, this month and this year, you have to block out the time for everything that’s a priority.
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Now I’m going to do a 360 and say that while a blocked-out calendar is the best way to be as productive as possible, you should still carve out some time for unexpected opportunities.
For example, Jacobo Lumbreras (listen to his podcast here) has a fantastic story about how he got started with his current business. After his U.S. startup failed, he was literally about to go to the airport to fly back to Spain and never return when Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Never Eat Alone, called him and said, “Hey, why don’t you come stay with me?”
Picking up that phone call changed his life.
How do you achieve your results? What’s some insane stuff that you can do to be more productive?
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post: