Time Management for a Productive Life

What you are about to learn is the most powerful time management system I have ever used. What you now posses is a combination of all the best practices and systems I use to manage my time. You can have a great vision of your ideal lifestyle and business but if you can’t execute it’s all for nothing. If you don’t manage your time properly I can promise you one thing…

You will wake up one day in the future, years from now, and go “What the Hell Happened?”

The most powerful step you can take when it comes to managing your time is creating routines. These routines should be centered around “high leverage activities.” A routine is basically just something we do naturally that requires very little will power.

As humans, we have limited amounts of will power. The best way to channel that will power is into the creation of positive routines. If you want to achieve any goal in your life, create a routine out of the steps that are necessary to obtain it.

Once the high leverage routine is created, you’ll automatically do something that builds huge value in your life. Here’s the key point…

Starting a new routine usually isn’t easy and requires some will power in the beginning. Most of the time this feels uncomfortable. You need to get over the initial hump to get into the optimal routine state. Once you go through the same routine for at least 30 days it will start to feel weird if you DON’T go through it. This is the point you need to get to.

Keep in mind, it works both ways. Negative routines are easier to create, and harder to get out of. In order to differentiate what’s negative and positive, you need to know what your goals are. Once you understand EXACTLY what you’re looking to accomplish you can start using this simple recipe for success:

  • Get rid of as many routines as possible that center around negative activities that pull you away from your goals.
  • Create as many routines as possible centered around positive activities that move you closer to your goals.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. We’re all human. You have to decide which sacrifices you are willing to make to achieve your goals. This means deciding to keep or throw away some negative habits that hold you back from your goals. You should ask yourself:

“Is the short term, cheap thrill worth more than your long term success?”

One of the great indicators of success in individuals is the ability to delay gratification. Understand what you want to accomplish, and give yourself a greater chance of success by getting rid of burdens that hold you back and building routines that move you closer toward your goals.

All of the best time management principles in this system are based on creating routines. We’ll start with what I believe is the most powerful one of all:

1. The Morning Routine

When I get up in the morning I don’t even want to have to think. I’m groggy and not thinking clearly as it is. The last thing I need is any doubt in my mind of what needs to be accomplished. This chaos would cause me to drain valuable energy and set the rest of my day on a negative, downward spiral. Here’s my morning routine (This works for me, yours will obviously work best for you):

  1. Wake up
  2. Drink a large glass of water
  3. Read my daily affirmations
  4. Workout (Jog or Bodyweight Exercises)
  5. Shower/Hygiene
  6. Meal (Shake)
  7. Read/Meditate
  8. Leave for office

I do this 95% of the time. I have it down to a science. I am up and in my car in under 60 minutes. I am deadly serious about completing this routine. I have it to the point where there are

  • No distractions.
  • No day dreaming,
  • No phone calls
  • No interruptions from my employees or partners

It’s about one hour in the morning that is an absolute ROCK for me. I don’t even wake my wife up in the morning because her presence would throw me off. It’s a militant mindset, but brutally effective.

Guess what happens when I get to my office? A whole new routine begins. I look at everything like it’s a system:

  • You have a great morning routine, you have a great day.
  • You have a great day, you have a great week.
  • Great week, great month.
  • Great Year.
  • Great Decade.
  • Great Life.

It all stems from a stupid, simple, little system. Here’s the great thing about systems – Each point can be tweaked to optimize results.

As far as my morning routine goes, I really try to ramp it up. I put the water on my night stand the night before. I know exactly what I am going to wear the next day. My workout shoes are in the same exact place and so are the materials I use to make my breakfast shake. Each one of these things increases efficiency and makes me more productive.

If you’re thinking this is too regimented and potentially a horrible way to live – I get it. I used to hate boring, predictable routines. This is when I was unsuccessful. Then I realized they worked and made the decision to use them because I’d rather be successful. Now I actually enjoy the routines.

2. Blocks Of Time – The Rhythm Of Energy

I’m a big believer in Tony Schwartz’ approach to time and energy management. Definitely read his book “The Power of Full Engagement.” A big concept  he covers is the body running on different rhythms.

Our attention and energy is like a rhythm. We use it and then we need to replenish it. This is the underlying principle I build my entire work day around. As soon as I arrive at my office, I know exactly what I need to do.

In the morning I always focus on the most important things first. This is when my energy is at it’s peak level. In my business, it’s all about creating content and finding new ways to market. I focus my life on these things overall, but especially first thing in the morning. I know I’m always going to focus on these areas right away. I also know specifically what I need to do because part of my “end of work day” routine involved making a to do list for tomorrow and tying up any loose ends before I leave.

When I sit down at my desk in the morning I get started right away. I shut the door to my office and make sure nobody bothers me and I go to work.

The routine I use is very simple. I work in blocks of time. Then I relax to renew my energy. Here’s the breakdown:

I go 50 minutes on – then 10 off. During the ten off I may meditate, refill my water, hit the john, read, and just take deep breaths. Then I do another 50 minutes of busting my ass, and I follow that up with a 30 minute break where I have some type of meal.

So it’s 50 on , 10 off, 50 on, 30 off with meal. This is the basis I use for my entire day. In the afternoon I take a 20 minute nap. I have a really comfortable couch in my office and I crash on it to renew my energy. I do this all day, every day.

It’s all about living intentionally. I have a purpose. There’s a set of goals I’ve laid out that I need to accomplish. I need to do certain things to achieve them.

Most  people  live  life unintentionally.  Life  “happens to  them”.  Having  a  goal  isn’t enough. If there’s no execution laid out, you won’t get where you need to be.

The business I am in is great because it allows me to totally be strict to this. Some of my future endeavors will, without question, provide more unpredictability. I’ll just adapt the system to it.

3. Focus

Everything I’ve been talking about sounds pretty good right? I can tell you from experience it’s great and it works, but at the end of the day can you execute? Your ability to manage yourself comes down to one simple area: FOCUS.

When you arrive on the job and start your first 50 minute block, do you stay focused on what you need to get done or do you get distracted? I hate to be cliché but life in our world today runs at a crazy pace. One second you’re reading a business email and before you know it you’re looking at some ridiculous topic on Wikipedia and then your watching a video on YouTube.

Your ability to focus in on one task you need to do and actually execute is very important. The best way to avoid massive distractions is to create a great environment. You want to be totally honed in on what you need to do.

Multitasking is one of the most unproductive time wasters around. By focusing on the task at hand and not reading a text message, or checking an email, or browsing the web at the same time you will be much more effective and get way more out of the activity.

By putting yourself in the proper environment you drastically reduce the chances of you getting thrown off course. Ideally you want each block you work in to be dedicated to one specific or a few related tasks. Don’t try to talk to a customer on the phone or via email and build a new product in the same block.

You’ll want to close down all other distractions. Communicate to everyone else you are not to be bothered. I shut the door to my office and everyone knows not to disturb me. I shut my cell phone off and close every program on my computer than is not related to exactly what I’m doing.

At that point in time, nobody can get a hold of me. I know exactly what I need to do and I just execute. When the time is up, I wrap up what I’m doing and completely remove myself from it. When the next block starts I’m not thinking about the past block. I’m totally engaged in that moment.

I know that the most profitable way to spend my time is working on marketing my business. It’s the most high leverage activity I have at my disposal. Everything I’ve created in my business is totally centered around and supportive of me marketing the business. That’s how I get paid. I don’t want to deal with tech hassles, customer support, or any other operational issues. I only focus on what’s important. Try to design your environment based on what is important to you.

When  it comes to email, phone calls, and any other ancillary activity that I ABSOLUTELY have to personally handle – I dedicate a block of my time to handling this. Then I cut it clean, and don’t go back until the next scheduled session. Nothing is more unproductive than trying to work all day and interrupting yourself by checking for new messages.

You want to focus on high leverage activities ALL DAY because this will bring you closer to your goals much faster.

4. Getting Started

If you tried to implement everything I’ve shared with you in this article tomorrow I can guarantee you one thing… You’d never stick with it.

Just like health, business, or a great relationship, managing your time and yourself is a PROCESS. You’re not going to go from operating in an unorganized, haphazard fashion to a well oiled, efficient machine that would give a Marine Corps Drill Instructor a hard on overnight.

Trying to do this all at once would be a massive hit to the system. Here’s what I would recommend:

  • Start with a ONE new routine ASAP.
  • After you do it for 30 days straight implement a new one.
  • Start with your morning routine and build from there.
  • After you’ve done the morning routine for 30 days, start with a 50-10 50-30 set of blocks in the morning. Do it for another 30.
  • Repeat the process and continue on from there.

While you’re working on your new routines, don’t forget to tune up the old ones. Become as robotic as possible in your scheduling and as creative as possible in your work. Here are a few other recommendations…

5. Get Enough sleep

I once heard Trump say he sleeps like 3 or 4 hours a night. When I was young in the business I thought this was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. Bottom line, forget all the BS. You need to sleep. I’d much rather get a more productive 16 hours of my day, then feel like shit and get 20. Your life is much more productive, efficient, and fun when you sleep. So get enough of it.

6. Exercise

I know I’m getting cliché here, but this very powerful. I workout in the morning and it helps keep my energy levels elevated throughout the day. I also fall asleep faster at night. No reason to write a dissertation here about the value of exercise. You know it’s good for you. Start implementing it if you want to get maximum value from your life.

7. Eat Healthy

Again, no reason to go into depth about why it’s important to eat healthy. You understand why. I personally subscribe to the primal/paleo mentality of getting rid of everything ancient man didn’t eat. It’s worked for me. Find something that works for you.

The reason I’m bringing all of this up is not really because of health. Getting sleep, exercising, and eating healthy are a part of my business plan. I attribute a good amount of my success to having energy and feeling good. When I’m all banged up and hung over after a night of partying I don’t want to work. Same goes for being unhealthy.

Enacting all of these principles into your life will make your business run better. The recipe is really simple at the end of the day: Spend as much time as possible on high leverage activities that will pay dividends forever. From only working on profitable things to taking care of your body, if you listen to the advice in this article I know it will help you in a HUGE way. You’ll manage your time and yourself like few do. Consequently, you’ll live like few do. These principles have changed my life and I hope they do the same for you.

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