The secrets behind the productivity of the most successful entrepreneurs aren’t magical at all.
Instead, they’re seemingly minuscule and slap-you-in-the-face obvious. The persistent act of nailing a bunch of tiny targets every time they pop up eventually equates to enormous wins.
That’s something to remember as we continue: Simplicity is a lifesaver.
De-clutter whenever you can.
Go minimalist so that you can save your complexity for things that actually beg for it.
It’s time to get your priorities and focus in line with that of an elite entrepreneur!
— KEEPING YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME 101 —
“Focusing is so hard. It’s like every time I try to – WOAH. Was that a squirrel? Out that window, just now, I swear I saw a squirrel. A GIANT one.”
*Sigh* Try to pay attention. At least until the end of this article.
Your phone could very well be your productivity’s mortal enemy.
As it stands right now, you don’t own your phone. It is not your possession, your tool. Whether or not you are willing to admit it, there is a daunting possibility that it might own you.
You’ve been made a fool by the very intelligence that has the word “smart” in its name.
The first step is admitting that you have a problem.
This pocket-sized marvel of technological advancement has single-handedly robbed you of countless hours of your existence that you will never get back, no matter how hard you try.
Un-addict yourself from your phone, in all its splendor and fearful might.
When was the last time you experienced 3 straight hours of unbroken focus?
Yeah, sit there and really think about it. No Gmail alerts, no Instagram likes, no heinous cellular tomfoolery whatsoever.
Even one slight vibration or flash of light can snap you out of focus. The devil on your shoulder that was helpfully trying to correct your typos a moment ago is now tugging on your earlobe and whispering slyly, “But what if it’s important?”
It takes a whopping chunk of energy to tune that voice out and stay locked into your work.
Even if you overcome the urge itself, you are using up a considerable portion of your mental faculties in doing so.
You can take matters into your own hands by switching your phone to “Do not disturb” mode. We know that sounds scary, but your jaw will drop when you get 8 hours of work done in 90 minutes.
Returning to your phone afterwards, you’ll realize what you missed: absolutely nothing.
How about placing your phone face down?
“Now, that’s downright absurd,” you protest. “How will I know when totally irrelevant, useless things happen that don’t pertain to my present situation whatsoever? Oh no! It’s the end of the world!”
Cry me a river. Now mute that thing once and for all.
Too much of a scaredy cat to mute it? Then conduct a monthly audit of your apps and notifications.
So you’re running a Facebook campaign and you want updates from it in real time. That’s fine and dandy. But in 3 weeks, when the ad is long dead, you need to rewire your notification settings so that they align with your current needs.
Conditions vary from month to month, and even day to day depending on the nature of your work. It is absolutely vital to recalibrate on a regular basis to ensure that every little vibration is expressly necessary to the mission at hand.
Oh, and you could always totally eliminate social apps from your phone altogether.
This seems radical to the phone addict, but is it? Think about the psychological reason behind aimlessly scrolling through social media. Most of the time, it’s solely because you have instant access in the palm of your hand.
Sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn in your lap, you will eat the entire thing without blinking.
Did you actually plan on devouring 3 gallons of buttery goodness?
No, it just kind of happened. And you didn’t even realize it until your fingernails scraped the bottom of the bowl and your tongue finished tracing the unpopped kernels for excess salt and oil. Mmmmm.
The odds are that, if you really are a serious buckle-down type of entrepreneur, you originally installed these apps for business purposes.
Your intention wasn’t to get sucked into a portal of meaningless updates from strangers.
To help prevent random daylight-burning noodling, drop those apps and run all of your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter interactions from your work computer instead.
It sounds limiting, but it’s actually liberating.
If you really, really, really need to keep the apps and the notifications (and you probably don’t), at least filter your contacts and their settings.
You are clearly too lazy or petrified or P.O.’ed at us to take any of the above measures, so please consider this one. Your current Facebook settings likely allow anyone on the entire planet to buzz your phone whenever they please.
By tinkering around with these settings, you can allow messages from certain contacts to show up in your inbox without all the fanfare.
Some of you might think that having Slack notifications on means that you are just being attentive at work.
Who do you think you’re fooling? You just love distractions and you can finally justify it.
When your annoying coworker sends you a GIF of a dog chasing its own tail, do you really need to minimize the spreadsheet you’re working on to check it right when it pops up in your chat?
NO. No, you don’t. Although it is a little cute…
Silence the less pressing conversations and only keep notifications activated for the ones that pertain to your current mission.
Now that your phone isn’t buzzing every two minutes, here comes the hardest part of all: Stop habitually checking it.
Would you just put it down and leave it alone for a moment? Having your face cemented to your phone screen gives off terrible vibes to those around you.
Not only is this a rude habit, but it could very well have a more long-lasting impact on the integrity of your business and personal relationships than you can perceive right now.
When you are spending time with people (or just plain being productive in general), checking your phone is literally clocking out of the present moment.
Trying to stand in the way of your own progress and network development? Go right ahead and unlock that sucker. Who knows, you might have gotten a buzz since 20 seconds ago.
It’s not like you’re going to miss out… Well, you are, but who cares?
There is no possible way you could keep up with every little thing that is happening in the world today. Media is frightfully over-saturated.
Watching, clicking, reading, and listening to every nugget on the net would squash your career and personal life into a shapeless pulp.
There’s simply too much out there to consume. Even if you dedicated a 55-hour lunch-less workweek to swallowing it all, you’d still be out of the loop. You might as well throw in the towel now and accept defeat.
You need to set some standards and stick to them. Cut out everything that does not pertain to your life and work, sticking with only relevant pieces of information.
Whatever you do, avoid the trap of living for someone else’s mission by constantly keeping up with other people and losing sight of yourself. Stay grounded and collected by centering your energy on your own personal mission.
Cut to the chase and try using your phone as it was meant to be used.
Imagine that. Using a phone… to make a phone call. What year is it, 1761?
Spoken conversation is more efficient than typing or texting, hands down. In the amount of time it took you to type, re-type, edit, and spell-check that email, you could have had the entire discussion over the phone three times in all sorts of different goofy accents.
Many people have an email conversation over the course of several days or weeks, sending one or two messages a day. Would you just pick up your godforsaken phone and call the guy already?
Can you please, focus on one thing at a time.
Forget the bubonic plague. Forget mad cow disease. Forget… shingles. Whatever those were. Multitasking is the current epidemic, and I’m diagnosing you right now. Dr. StartupBro in the BUILDING. *Air horns*
The very act of multitasking could be the biggest obstacle between you and your hyper-productive higher self.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
The shiny objects on the sideline are excellent distractions, but you can’t fall for that old trick. It doesn’t matter if they seem like easy ventures, or even lucrative ones.
Focus on the exact thing that you want to do, and do it well. The other opportunities will sniff you out and come knocking when you have established that foundation.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Give one project at a time your complete attention, and watch excellence pour out of your every motion.
— GETTING YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT 101 —
“I frequently find myself getting super backed up. I just don’t have enough time for it all, you know? I’m too busy.”
Saying you’re “too busy” is a comfortable, hammock-esque safety net that keeps you from having to swallow your pride and mail all of those newsletters yourself.
You need to be careful, though. When using that excuse, be conscious of this: Are you actually too swamped, or is it that you aren’t willing to make time for it?
If someone were to say, “My car is totaled. Can you drive me to and from work for the next month? I’ll give you a million dollars for your trouble,” you’d probably freaking make it happen.
As for deciding what is worth your time, ask yourself the following questions.
Their answers should paint a pretty clear picture of how important the subject is.
- Does this align with my compass?
- Whether it’s God, money, acclaim, your family, success, your mission in life, your intuition, or some parrot named Captain Rainbow that steers your ship, check in with that navigational system. If an obligation or opportunity seems to fall in line with that, you are lookin’ good, sailor. (Not trying to make a pass at you or anything. I’m not exactly emotionally available right now.)
- Does this solve problems or create value?
- When you solve problems, you automatically create value. The two concepts are nearly synonymous. Answer questions, meet needs, and you will experience a dramatic inflation of value.
- Is this a big door in a small market?
- Making a tidal wave in a small pond is where the money is. Conversely, if you are cannonballing into the Atlantic, it would be surprising if anyone noticed at all. I know we started with a door metaphor, but the water thing works way better.
- Can this be easily integrated into my business model?
- Your video game store doesn’t need a shoe aisle. I don’t care how much you like them. I don’t care how well you think they’ll sell. The two things just don’t mix. That’s an orange-juice-and-toothpaste level combo right there.
- Will this attract more business?
- This is obvious. You can refer to the ripple effect, or the butterfly effect, but some small steps can have tremendous repercussions (possibly career-changing ones) later on down the road.
- How does this pan out in the long term?
- Do NOT get caught up chasing short-term success. Literally everyone loses and stumbles and starves to death in the first lap. Play the long game and shoot for that stability, because that’s where the grand prize lives. Keep things in perspective and you should be in the clear, hombre.
- Is the juice worth the squeeze?
- Remember that manpower, energy, and mental effort are figurative forms of currency. Spending too much of these things on what would be a comparatively unworthy ROI is a telltale sign of something that doesn’t deserve to be on your to-do list in the first place.
Doing a weekly reassessment of your priorities keeps you from getting stuck in a rut.
Some things are done for money’s sake, and money’s sake alone.
Others are more of a fulfillment endeavor, and that’s fine as well.
Your priorities will change depending on your immediate goals, so adjust as often as necessary.
Also, did we mention how important making a physical to-do list is? Oops. Well, it’s important.
We get it. You think you’re smart. You think your bulging brain has superhuman capabilities. You’re that hot-shot waitress that doesn’t write down any of the orders for a 14-top table because she can “remember it all.”
No one is saying that you’re not smart, but we are kind of urging you to get the list out of your head and onto a piece of paper.
Don’t waste any of your precious mental juju keeping track of a laundry list of tasks that are competing for your attention.
You will either a) forget stuff or b) remember everything, but in doing so, keep a corner of your brain wholly occupied with keeping track of it all.
Besides, there’s something magical about visualizing tasks in plain text that helps you categorize them in order of importance.
The easiest approach to take is the “First things first” filter.
TOP PRIORITY: Makes you cash money right now.
MID-LEVEL PRIORITY: Retains the cash money that you already have.
WHO CARES HONESTLY: The world will not end if this waits ‘til next week.
All in all, the “secrets” aren’t so elusive.
Success-inducing habits and world-changing levels of productivity aren’t only available to a privileged, elite few.
Other people might have more money than you, more connections than you, or tastier catered lunches than you, but that doesn’t matter.
Because you know the secrets.
If you need more productivity tips and hacks make sure to check out the entire 5 part productivity series…
Or better yet, just download the entire e-book that covers everything.
It’s free. You’re welcome.