Billionaires, millionaires, and the middle class all have one thing in common: 24 hours in a day. So what is so different about exceptional performers? How do they seem to get 10x or 100x more productivity out of a single day?
Of course, it comes down to habits and routines. I’ve been trying to include a couple more obvious time management principles into my routine over the past few years. But yesterday I learned about a third concept in Boston at Dan Martell's intensive two-day workshop for fast growing software companies. What he shared blew my mind. Keep reading and you'll learn all three:
1. Repeat after me, "I will stop multi-tasking."
Seriously, give it up. Multi-tasking or "context switching" as my engineers call it, not only ruins productivity because there is a delay between and a ramp-up period between each activity, but it actually reduces the quality of all the work being completed. So what is the alternative? It's called batching.
2. Batch similar work together.
Block out an entire afternoon or day to write, train or make videos. Stop checking your email every five minutes, instead check it every few hours. Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week gives the idea of adding an auto-reply to your emails stating, "I only open email twice a day, so that I can be more productive."
People will respect you for it. I know what you’re thinking: "in my business, I need to respond immediately." Don't kid yourself, even if you are a doctor on call with a patient bleeding to death, you don't need to check your email every five minutes.
For true emergencies, people can always contact you on the phone. Some people take this to an even further extreme.
My new friend Soma Toth, co-founder of Recart in Budapest, shared with me yesterday that he changed the settings on his phone so he can only get calls from his partner, his doctor, his landlord and from his co-founder. Everything else is blocked.
He says he did it a year ago and that it has changed his level of focus 100%. You don't need to be that extreme, but stop checking your devices every five minutes, it is ruining your flow.
3. Pre-load your calendar with everything you'd like to accomplish this year.
You can load your calendar with all types of different activities: revenue generating, personal development and personal recreation. If you've read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the most enduring examples from that book is the mason jar.
If you fill it with sand first, you can't fit any rocks in. If you fill it with rocks, the sand, pebbles and then even water can fill in the gaps. The message: place your rocks first. Do the same thing with your calendar for 2019.
Take a couple of hours and start with the activities that generate the most revenue. Block those out in your calendar first. Next, block out your monthly, quarterly and annual planning session. After that, block out your personal time, family vacations, personal days you want to take off during each week.
Design the life you want, and once it is in your calendar you will do your best to live it. For example, I've blocked out time early each day to exercise and to blog and post to social media.
For years I've scheduled a date night every Friday with my wife, and now I'm adding focused time to be with my three kids each week into my calendar. I have always had success when I take a morning to reach out to my top contacts once each month- but I forget to do it most months.
Never again! Now it will be loaded into every month of the year so I don't forget and I have time blocked off for it. Important birthdays to remember? Lock them in with a reminder the week before.
Always wanted to travel to Europe with your spouse? Block it off now for September or whenever and you can even set up alerts to buy tickets when prices drop.
Will programming your life this way reduce spontaneity? Absolutely not, as Dan Martell shared, it gives you a blank canvas to work with. The most important things have been scheduled, so this will free up your mind to think great thoughts and build the life you've always wanted.
Stop using the excuse " I'm to busy" to prevent you from living the life you choose. Your calendar will never be set in stone. You can make changes on the fly, but you are now in control of your schedule, so there will be a much better chance you for you to accomplish your priorities without being distracted by the priorities of others.
Open your calendar, plug in the dates, take the time to put your rocks into place. It may be the most important planning you do all year.
Adrian Dayton is the Founder of Clearview Social, an internationally recognized speaker on social media for business development and author of multiple books and white papers including most recently the strategy guide, “10X Your Website Traffic.”