Many people overcomplicate productivity.
They invest in expensive programs and planners, set up complicated systems, and at the end of the day, they set themselves up for failure.
And when we fail, if we feel like we wasted a day or didn’t get everything done that we would have liked to, we can often fall into a negative thought pattern that leads to depression.
Beyond this, the thoughts of what we should have done stay trapped in our minds.
This tends to increase anxiety, interrupt our sleep, and in turn, translates to more lack of productivity the next day.
So one of the biggest factors in getting you to live a happier, healthier, and freer life, ironically, is by disciplining yourself to get those most important tasks in your life done in a timely and efficient manner.
But knowing this, where do most people go wrong?
It starts by understanding this: we chronically overestimate the amount of stuff we can do in a 24 hour period.
Essentially, we stuff so much into our workdays that we get overwhelmed and overwhelm leads to procrastination.
Generally, when you find yourself mindlessly scrolling on social media when you should be working, it’s not because you’d rather be looking at Instagram.
It’s because you just don’t know what to do at that moment.
So the biggest factor in avoiding procrastination is to make it as clear as possible what you’re going to be working on.
So what I want to do here in this episode is to give you a few best practices that you can implement right here and right now after you listen to this show to help you avoid procrastination and get more done in your day.
I’ll also include photographs of my daily planner in the show notes so you can see what I’m talking about.
You don’t need an expensive planner, just get yourself a notebook. It can be a green monster, like those we used in the Corps, or it can be a moleskin.
- Planning – You need to set time aside to plan your months, your weeks, and your days.
- On the last Sunday of every month, I plan the month ahead. I just number the days on a single page, and I use it as a radar. Any big events or deadlines I have for that month, I note there next to the number corresponding with the date.
- Each week, on Sunday, I plan out the next 6 days. I do this by making six boxes on a page. Then I separate my tasks based on the day. For example, I Mondays are my writing days, that’s when I draft out episodes for the podcast, Tuesdays are the days when I record my solo episodes, I use Wednesdays to write out show notes, Thursdays I work on building new products, and on Fridays and Saturdays I handle podcast planning and calls with clients. Separating tasks like this keeps me from overloading too much in any given day.
- Each night before I finish work, I plan the next day by writing out the tasks I need to accomplish. I work in two blocks of time. In the early morning, I’ll work on my hardest tasks – creative work that I need to do for the show. Then at 11AM each day, I put on my workout clothes, train for an hour, and then I return to work. In the afternoons, I handle tasks that take less brain power, like phone calls and administrative tasks like posting videos or blogs. One very important thing that I do each day is I make it a point to connect with one important person from my network each day. That’s normally a note, an email, or a call just to check on them to see how they’re doing.
- Calendar, once everything is written in my journal, I put everything into my mobile calender and I stick to the schedule there.
- Flexibility – One big thing we all know is that any plan, even the best of them, are subject to change. Inevitably there’s going to be something that comes up like an emergency or a fire you’ve got to put out. What’s important here is that you don’t get discouraged. So when I’m setting up my calendar for the day, I ensure that I include buffer time. This is time for transition from one task to another where I can catch up. I make sure that I have at least an hour of buffer time at the end of each day to close open loops.
- Solo hour – one thing I learned as a squad leader in the Marine Corps was to be up at least an hour before any of my Marines. That gave me time to get myself straight, get my gear ready, and think. When my Marines finally got up, I could then be present to advise them and lead. I do the same thing today. I wake up at least an hour before anyone in my house is up. My clients aren’t awake, no one is trying to get in touch with me, and this gives me time to meditate, read, pray, and get my mind ready for the day ahead.
- Finally, when I’m working on something, I do everything possible to get rid of all distractions. I avoid social media unless it’s a scheduled slot for me to interact or post. I turn my phone on airplane mode, and I run an app called Brain FM that plays focus music to help me concentrate, be more creative, and calm my nerves.
Above all, the absolute key to success with this process is this: prioritizing your life. One thing we do as human beings too much is going after shiny objects that distract us from what we truly want to do. If you’re going after several different big goals, then your focus won’t be where it should be. Pick one main focus each month when it comes to your goals and focus on that.