Productivity hacks

It’s always crazy to me when we get to this time of year – many of us look at each other with disbelief as we grapple with the fact that time seems to fly by, totally under the radar, no less.

This year started out just like the next one will. 365 days of possibility…

What did you do?

As for me, I had the privilege of working with over 40 different business  owners at a very deep level this past year. They were generous enough to allow me to see the insides of their businesses – their numbers, customer lists, marketing systems, operations, culture and more. They allowed me to poke and prod while I tried to find the bottlenecks and the things preventing them from predictable and sustainable growth.

There were patterns.

Holy shit there were patterns.

When you see the same things happening over and over, it begins to become so blindingly obvious that there are very certain and specific things that will prevent a business from going from one level to another.

The interesting thing is that the patterns themselves are the same, just usually at a different magnitude. Think fractals.

Because of this, I picked up on a few very critical lessons this year.

I believe when these lessons are understood and acted upon, you will have faster, more predictable business growth. And, chances are, your business will be a hell of a lot more sustainable too. That’s always cool 😉

So, I wanted to share ONE of these key lessons with you today.

Here you go…succinctly put, the lesson is this:

“Those who succeed are those who implement in a calculated, organized and consistent manner.”  

There’s a lot of big talk out there. There’s A LOT LESS execution. BUT, it’s not because people don’t have the right intentions – they usually do, but intentions alone will not produce anything unless there is ACTION.

And, it can’t just be any action – it must be clear, deliberate and organized action.

Basically, on one side of things, you have people who take chaotic action without having clear goals, a plan or a way of measuring progress – these people waste enormous amounts of time and money. On the other side, there are others who are stuck and remain in a constant state of idea generation, paralysis or overwhelm – these people waste an incredible amount of time and money too.

In the end, either of these extremes will get you to the same destination; stress, frustration and lack of cash.

Somewhere in the middle of these extremes are a small group of people walking on a very fine line of planning, calculating, executing and measuring.

These are the people that make nearly ALL of the money.

Perry Marshall recently asked me to present on a webinar for him that he’s holding right after the New Year to talk about some productivity hacks that had helped me in 2015.

I said ok, and then I got to thinking…I honestly don’t think most people really understand productivity. Productivity usually seems to get relegated to discussions on personal time management, efficiency and generally just getting things done.

All of that is a big part of it, but I also feel like it misses the point.

I think it’s way more than that. In strictly business terms, productivity is a measure of how well you can convert time and other assets into MONEY. 

I remember reading ‘Art of the Deal’ years ago. In there, one of the things that Trump said that really stuck with me was that he goes to work and sees the janitor who cleans his office – he works around the same amount of hours and expends similar amounts of energy. Trump makes in one hour what this guy makes in one year.

Trump is more productive. He turns his time into more money.

I’ve been obsessed with this topic this entire year. It’s probably no small consequence that this has been my most productive year yet.

So, without further ado, I’d like to share with you three of the hacks that have massively helped me turn my time into more money. I hope they’re useful for you too.

1. Setup the conditions for success with a consistent, but FLEXIBLE morning routine

Each day is a new opportunity, and most people don’t take the time each morning to realize that. It might seem odd to say that having a morning routine is a productivity hack, but bear with me. It is.

If you’ve ever watched an NBA basketball player shoot a free throw, then you know they have a specific approach that they take to get them ready to make the shot. The same is true for professional golfers. They have a pre shot routine. This gets them into their peak mental state and allows them to set the tone for what happens next.

And, while you may not be a professional athlete, you can get yourself ready for your day by practicing your “pre-game” routine.

Ideally, this routine should allow you to focus not just on work related things, but focus on you as a whole person. We are, after all, human beings not human doings.

A good routine should cover the key areas of your life – Mental, Emotional,

Spiritual, and Physical.

You can have an ideal routine, but don’t let idealism get in the way of consistency. For example, in my ideal routine, I spend 20 minutes meditating.

That said, as hard as I try, sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe I’m traveling or maybe something urgent happens early in the day. In these cases, when I have less time, I will still meditate, but maybe for just 2 minutes. The goal is to keep the consistency of the habit even if it needs to flex to accommodate changing circumstances.

All of the elements of my routine are flexible enough to accommodate change so that I can do it consistently. <== READ THIS AGAIN. It’s REALLY Important.

I can do my entire morning routine whether I have 3 hours or 10 minutes. I can go and lift weights at the gym for an hour or, if I’m short on time, I can do 50 burpees (gotta love those burpees!)…you get the idea.

I shoot for the most ideal version as often as I can, but allow myself to still get the consistency of doing my morning routine no matter what.

Perfection is the enemy of done.

2. Just get started

Each of us have things we procrastinate on, and in many cases, these are our most critical tasks. We want it to be perfect and exactly how we see it in our minds. It’s great that we have an awesome vision, but if that gets in the way of us starting or executing, then our big vision is actually holding us back.

If you have anything on your to-do list that is a big hairy monster, and has just been sitting there, then you can try this hack to see if it helps.

Pick one of the things you’ve been procrastinating on and set a timer for 10 minutes. You can work on ANYTHING for 10 minutes. And, if you can’t stomach working on it for 10 minutes, set the timer to 5. Shut off all email, silence your phone and turn off any type of notification – remember, it’s only for 10 minutes!! You’ll be ok!

Work on whatever you need to do for those 10 minutes with 100% focus. At the end of the 10 minutes, write down all of the other sub tasks that will need to be done to complete this bigger task.

From there, you can decide if you want to keep working on it, or if not, make an appointment with yourself for when you are actually going to work on it again.

Using this hack allows you to do a few things:

*Get moving, which is huge.

*Create a list of all the smaller things that may need to be done to support completing this project. In             many cases, we don’t do things because they’re not broken down into small enough pieces. Also, what           you wrote during your 10 minutes can be the beginning of a more well thought through plan.

*Use deliberate and complete focus to make progress. This is one of my favorite hacks. Any time I feel     stuck, I use this.

3. Have an information triage system

We all have a lot of incoming information and things that we would like to get done. It’s really important that we have a way of processing the incoming information so that we make deliberate decisions about what to do with it.

I used to be one of those people who had hundreds (if not thousands) of unread emails in my inbox, to-do lists in notebooks, notes on my whiteboard and then of course all the exciting ideas still floating around in my head.

When we operate like this, we waste time and let things fall through the cracks because we don’t know where something is supposed to go. The difference between being organized and disorganized is sometimes just having a place to put something.

Think of the utensil drawer in your kitchen…if you have a divider that separates your spoons, forks and knives, it’s way more organized than if everything is just dumped in there.

The key here is setting up the dividers that work for the information coming at you. I really only have a few high level “dividers”, and they are – “personal”, “business” (yes, this includes everything for my company including our clients), “things I want to read or watch in the future” and “shiny pennies” (this is my term for ideas I have that I think are cool but aren’t related to any key projects I’m currently working on).

I use Trello as the base of my system for capturing these things. You can create automation to make this really slick, but at a high level, these basic dividers are what you need to setup.

EVERYTHING that needs to be acted on now, or in the future, goes into one of these dividers.

Just like putting the forks away from the dishwasher – these things always go in the same place even if you’re not going to use it again for a while. After things are in these lists, I create a consistent time each day (or week) to “process” these lists and turn them into actions with due dates.

As an aside, if you want to see how I’ve set this up to be automated and put “Getting Shit Done” on autopilot, just email or message me. In fact, when I showed this to Russell Brunson a few weeks ago he told me he had never seen anything like it. I’m actually flying to Boise next week to implement my system for him!

So, there you have it…a few tips that have been super-useful for me this year.

When these have been applied in my business and in client’s businesses, the results have been profound because we’re able to implement consistently in an organized way.

I hope you’ve gotten a nugget or two out of this that will help you! If you have any questions or want some help applying these ideas in your business, just let me know!


Happy New Year and Best Wishes for an Insanely Profitable 2016!

James P. Friel

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