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To Achieve Extreme Productivity, Don’t Be A Goldfish

To Achieve Extreme Productivity, Don’t Be A Goldfish

It’s safe to say that I’m a busy guy.

Between running a company with multiple businesses under its umbrella, serving as a partner in a venture investment fund, writing for Forbes, publishing books, doing TV appearances, and raising a young family, my daily schedule is typically packed.

One of the most common questions I’m asked by readers of this blog or entrepreneurs I work with is “How do you manage to get so much done?”

It’s a fair question, and one that I’m always more than happy to answer.

The first thing I always tell people is that there’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Anyone can be busy, but it takes strategy and planning to be productive.

Over the years I’ve developed three strategies that have enabled me to get more done than I ever thought possible. They’ve worked for me, and I’m confident that they’ll work for any entrepreneur seeking to achieve extreme levels of productivity.

#1) Don’t be a goldfish

Now, I’m not sure if it’s biologically accurate, but there’s an old saying that goldfish grow to the size of the tank it lives in. The larger the tank, the larger the goldfish.

The same principle applies to our lives. The more room we allow ourselves for any given task, the longer that task takes. I’ve seen it happen in my company more times than I care to recount. If you give a project to a person who isn’t particularly busy, they tend to stretch it out as much as possible.

The key to not becoming a goldfish is to impose strict deadlines and requirements on yourself for every task you undertake. You have to treat everything as though you’re under the proverbial gun. This makes it significantly easier to clear things off your to-do list with ruthless efficiency.

#2) Embrace essentialism

Now, if you want to avoid becoming a goldfish, you must embrace some form of essentialism. The concept of essentialism can be traced back to the works of Aristotle and Plato and holds that a given entity has a few core traits that define its very existence. There can be many additional traits, but there are always a few that define the core of the entity in question.

Essentialism can and should be applied to every task you encounter. For me, nothing is worse than needing to write an article or develop a presentation, only to find yourself staring at a blank screen, paralyzed by the depth of the topic at hand.

When I feel overwhelmed by a task, my natural response is to procrastinate. Procrastination, in turn, leads to stress, anxiety, and feelings of being completely overwhelmed.

I’ve learned that the solution to this is to analyze the task, identify its essence, and develop a plan to address it accordingly. When you apply an essentialist framework to tasks, you’ll quickly find that the anxiety surrounding its perceived complexity melts away.

This practice takes discipline, to be sure, and it often requires a degree of explanation when a task is ultimately completed. The reason for this is simple: people often ask for what they think they want, rather than what they actually want.

It sounds like a matter of semantics, and it is to a certain extent. However, if we take requests or tasks at face value, we often end up spending the bulk of our time working on aspects that don’t really matter. Applying an essentialist framework, however, helps you get to the heart of the issue and ultimately deliver a better and more efficient solution.

#3) Remember that what stands in the way, becomes the way

Now, you’ll still run into challenges that can halt your productivity in its tracks. We all encounter such obstacles in our lives, but they don’t have limit you. In fact, such obstacles can actually make you more productive.

I’ve made no secret of my love of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism in the past. In fact, I keep a copy of Epictetus’ classic treatise The Enchiridion on my desk in my office as a constant reminder. It influences my outlook on productivity in essential ways.

For those of you who may not be familiar, Stoicism reminds us that life and everything in it is impermanent. Focusing on our circumstances or pinning our happiness on the attainment of possessions is a surefire recipe for disappointment.

The beauty of Stoicism is that it reminds us that we alone are in control of our emotions and reactions, and possess the ability to turn the obstacles we face into opportunities.

As I work through my intense workload, I find myself returning time after time to a quote from Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, and Stoic philosopher.

“Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

We would all be well served to remember that what stands in our way, becomes the way. When it comes to productivity, we must run headlong into our challenges and tackle our most dreaded tasks. We have to embrace them, relish the process, and attack them with a ferocity that robs them of their power over us.

You’re capable of more than you realize

The secret to extreme productivity is to cultivate the proper mindset. The first step is to avoid becoming a goldfish and apply constraints to the projects you take on.

The second is to embrace essentialism, identifying and pursuing the core elements and underlying purpose of the task at hand.

The third, and perhaps most important, step is to adopt the Stoic philosophy that “what stands in the way, becomes the way.”

These three strategies have worked wonders for me, and I’m confident that they’ll be helpful for anyone who has the desire to achieve a state of extreme productivity.

 

Originally posted on Forbes.com by Chris Myers

11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently

11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently

When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge—there are only 24 hours in a day.

Yet some people seem to have twice the time; they have an uncanny ability to get things done. Even when juggling multiple projects, they reach their goals without fail.

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose. –Thomas Edison”

We all want to get more out of life. There’s arguably no better way to accomplish this than by finding ways to do more with the precious time you’ve been given.

It feels incredible when you leave the office after an ultra-productive day. It’s a workplace high that’s hard to beat.

With the right approach, you can make this happen every day.

You don’t need to work longer or push yourself harder—you just need to work smarter.

Ultra-productive people know this. As they move through their days they rely on productivity hacks that make them far more efficient. They squeeze every drop out of every hour without expending any extra effort.

The best thing about these hacks is they’re easy to implement. So easy that you can begin using them today.

Give them a read, give them a whirl, and watch your productivity soar.

1. They Never Touch Things Twice

Productive people never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it or delete it.

2. They Get Ready for Tomorrow Before They Leave the Office

Productive people end each day by preparing for the next. This practice accomplishes two things: it helps you solidify what you’ve accomplished today, and it ensures you’ll have a productive tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great way to end your workday.

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. –Benjamin Franklin”

3. They Eat Frogs

“Eating a frog” is the best antidote for procrastination, and ultra-productive people start each morning with this tasty treat. In other words, they do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on their to-do list before they do anything else. After that, they’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires them.

4. They Fight The Tyranny Of The Urgent

The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact.

If you succumb to the tyranny of the urgent, you can find yourself going days, or even weeks, without touching the important stuff. Productive people are good at spotting when putting out fires is getting in the way of their performance, and they’re willing to ignore or delegate the things that get in the way of real forward momentum.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. –William Penn”

5. They Stick to the Schedule During Meetings

Meetings are the biggest time waster there is. Ultra-productive people know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. –Michael Altshuler”

6. They Say No

No is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, they avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.

7. They Only Check E-mail At Designated Times

Ultra-productive people don’t allow e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. They set alerts for their most important vendors and their best customers, and they save the rest until they reach a stopping point. Some people even set up an autoresponder that lets senders know when they’ll be checking their e-mail again.

8. They Don’t Multitask

Ultra-productive people know that multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

9. They Go off The Grid

Don’t be afraid to go off grid when you need to. Give one trusted person a number to call in case of emergency, and let that person be your filter. Everything has to go through them, and anything they don’t clear has to wait. This strategy is a bulletproof way to complete high-priority projects.

“One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week. –Charles Richards”

10. They Delegate

Ultra-productive people accept the fact that they’re not the only smart, talented person in their organization. They trust people to do their jobs so that they can focus on their own.

11. They Put Technology to Work for Them

Technology catches a lot of flak for being a distraction, but it can also help you focus. Ultra-productive people put technology to work for them. Beyond setting up filters in their e-mail accounts so that messages are sorted and prioritized as they come in, they use apps like IFTTT, which sets up contingencies on your smart phone and alerts you when something important happens. This way, when your stock hits a certain price or you have an email from your best customer, you’ll know it. There’s no need to be constantly checking your phone for status updates.

Bringing It All Together

We’re all searching for ways to be more efficient and productive. I hope these strategies help you to find that extra edge.

 

 

Originally posted on TalentSmart.com by Travis Bradberry, PhD

10 perfect gifts for the entrepreneur in your life

10 perfect gifts for the entrepreneur in your life

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. If you have an entrepreneur in your life, forget sexy lingerie, chocolates, flowers, and diamond necklaces. Nothing says, “I love you,” like a gift that says, “I support your crazy business venture despite sleepless nights, too much takeout, and not enough coffee left over in the morning.”

Even if you’re your own Valentine, this is a perfect opportunity to reward yourself for all that hard work (with a gift that will help you do more hard work).

We’ve handpicked 10 go-to Valentine’s Day gifts for aspiring business owners and established entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level.

1. Productivity Planner

 

Productivity Planner
Image source

It’s tough for entrepreneurs to stay self-motivated — even when they’re really passionate about their work.

They still have to make their own schedules, hold themselves accountable, and handle any urgent problems that arise. And they have to do all of this while Netflix is just a browser tab away. The struggle!

That’s where the Productivity Planner can help. Designed by Intelligent Change, this notebook uses productivity hacks — like the Pomodoro technique — to help people stay on task and make the most of their time.

You can record your daily and weekly goals, give yourself productivity ratings, document your wins, and use built-in time-tracking techniques to beat procrastination once and for all (or at least until tomorrow).

2. “I turn coffee into money” mug

coffee into money

Your Valentine isn’t just an entrepreneur; they’re an alchemist.

That’s right. They can turn coffee into money, and they want the world to know it. Remind them of their power each morning — or afternoon, and probably night — with this I Turn Coffee Into Money mug.

Hey, if alcohol can be liquid courage, coffee can be liquid money, right?

3. Content Inc.

content inc cover

 

Build an audience, and you can sell anything you want. Just look at The Chicken Whisperer®.

Yes, that’s a real thing.

Entrepreneur Andy Schneider turned his hobby of raising chickens into a podcast with over 20,000 weekly listeners. From there, he built a full-fledged business with a popular book, quarterly magazine, and radio show.

This is just one of the niche success stories included in the book Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. The author is Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of Content Marketing Institute.

To help entrepreneurs build their audiences, Pulizzi lays out his six-step plan, including how to find your sweet spot, grow a subscriber list, and monetize your products to already-engaged followers.

4. MOO business cards

MOO business cards

You can’t feel like a real business owner until you have a real business card. Just ask Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

Everything may be going digital, but this staple of the traditional workforce still remains relevant. And companies like MOO are giving these cards a modern upgrade with their swanky design templates.

Even if your entrepreneur is already decked out with their own cards, they might want a fresh set for the new year. Or they might want some stickers, postcards, and notecards to help spread their brand far and wide.

You can use a MOO gift card to give them the head start they need. With templates like “Now Swatch This,” “Dot Luck,” and “Just My Type,” there’s plenty of inspiration (and puns) to go around.

5. KopywritingKourse

Kopywriting Kourse

 

Don’t be fooled by the funny spelling in the name. This course is all about great copy. And you need great copy for almost every aspect of your business: emails, videos, sales pages, product pages, content marketing… the list goes on.

To help you out, KopywritingKourse uses templates and techniques learned from over 250,000,000 emails, millions of dollars in sales, and 20 industries. It’s even taught in bite-sized lessons so busy entrepreneurs can learn while they’re on-the-go.

6. Waterproof notepad

Notes

 

Everyone knows your best ideas don’t come at your desk or during meetings. They come in the shower — where you can’t bring your phone, or your laptop, or even a piece of paper.

So you hurriedly scrub the shampoo out of your hair. And you repeat your ideas over to yourself in hopes that you won’t forget them. Then you turn off the water, jump out of the shower, run across your home — dripping wet — and try to get your ideas down in time.

That’s why your entrepreneur needs this waterproof notepad called My Aqua Notes — if only to prevent from slipping on those trails of water they leave from the bathroom to their laptop.

7. Tile

Tile
Image source

“Honey, where’s my wallet?”

“Have you seen my phone?”

“Did you take my keys?”

“Is my laptop in that bag?”

It’s not that entrepreneurs are a disorganized bunch by nature. They’re just juggling so many ideas at one time, they end up misplacing things. We all do it. And then we waste valuable time trying to locate them.

That’s why Tile was invented — to help people keep track of the things they always lose. All you have to do is put the bluetooth tracker tile on your favorite items and use the app when you can’t find something.

8. Zero to Launch

alt text here

 

If your S.O. has been talking about starting an online business for months (or even years), Zero to Launch is exactly what they need.

Through video lessons, interviews, worksheets, and tutorials, this comprehensive course guides you every step of the way — from finding your big idea to turning it into a profitable company. And it’s already been tested with over 30,000 entrepreneurs in more than 50 industries.

9. The Startup Playbook

StartUp Playbook

 

You know what’s helpful when starting a business? Peeking into the playbooks of multimillion dollar founders, and discovering the lessons they learned while building their companies.

That’s what entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author David S. Kidder offers in The Startup Playbook.

Kidder sat down with 40 different founders, including the minds behind TED Talks, LinkedIn, Etsy, AOL, and PayPal. And he picked their brains about how they got their big ideas, overcame obstacles, and started making money.

Together, these founders prove that the path to success isn’t quick and easy — but it can be a bit less bumpy with their wisdom on hand.

10. This Michael Scott poster

alt text here

 

You don’t have to be a fan of The Office to enjoy this poster. You just have to be a fan of winning — and taking credit for other people’s success. (Just kidding. Don’t do that. Michael Scott is not a good businessman. Just a funny dude.)

And this Valentine’s Day, you and your entrepreneur can both be winners: You with any of these amazing gifts, and them with the inspiration they need to take their boldest, riskiest, and most rewarding shots year-round.

 

BY AMANDA WALGROVE on GrowthLab

9 Things Ultra Productive People Do Every Day

9 Things Ultra Productive People Do Every Day

When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge — there are only 24 hours in a day. Yet some people seem to have twice the time; they have an uncanny ability to get things done. Even when juggling multiple projects, they reach their goals without fail.

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”  — Thomas Edison

We all want to get more out of life. There’s arguably no better way to accomplish this than by finding ways to do more with the precious time you’ve been given.

It feels incredible when you leave the office after an ultra-productive day. It’s a workplace high that’s hard to beat. With the right approach, you can make this happen every day. You don’t need to work longer or push yourself harder — you just need to work smarter.

Ultra-productive people know this. As they move through their days they rely on productivity hacks that make them far more efficient. They squeeze every drop out of every hour without expending any extra effort.

The best thing about these hacks is they’re easy to implement. So easy that you can begin using them today. Give them a read, give them a whirl and watch your productivity soar.

1. They fight the tyranny of the urgent. The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact.

If you succumb to the tyranny of the urgent, you can find yourself going days, or even weeks, without touching the important stuff. Productive people are good at spotting when putting out fires is getting in the way of their performance, and they’re willing to ignore or delegate the things that get in the way of real forward momentum.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”  — William Penn

2. They never touch things twice. Productive people never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it or delete it.

3. They eat frogs. “Eating a frog” is the best antidote for procrastination, and ultra-productive people start each morning with this tasty treat. In other words, they do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on their to-do list before they do anything else. After that, they’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires them.

4. They don’t multitask. Ultra-productive people know that multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

5. They get ready for tomorrow before they leave the office. Productive people end each day by preparing for the next. This practice accomplishes two things: it helps you solidify what you’ve accomplished today, and it ensures you’ll have a productive tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great way to end your workday.

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” — Benjamin Franklin

6. They stick to the schedule during meetings. Meetings are the biggest time waster there is. Ultra-productive people know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” — Michael Altshuler

7. They say no. “No” is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, they avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.

8. They only check email at designated times. Ultra-productive people don’t allow e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. They set alerts for their most important vendors and their best customers, and they save the rest until they reach a stopping point. Some people even set up an autoresponder that lets senders know when they’ll be checking their e-mail again

“One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” — Charles Richards

9. They put technology to work for them. Technology catches a lot of flak for being a distraction, but it can also help you focus. Ultra-productive people put technology to work for them. Beyond setting up filters in their e-mail accounts so that messages are sorted and prioritized as they come in, they set up contingencies on their smart phones that alert them when something important happens. This way, when your stock hits a certain price or you have an email from your best customer, you’ll know it. There’s no need to be constantly checking your phone for status updates.

Bringing It All Together

We’re all searching for ways to be more efficient and productive. I hope these strategies help you to find that extra edge.

originally posted by Travis Bradberry on Entrepreneur

Want to Be Super Successful? Do Any 1 of These 10 Things

Want to Be Super Successful? Do Any 1 of These 10 Things

We all have the same amount of time. That’s why people who are more productive — and successful — use their time more effectively. And that’s why my Inc. colleague Chris Winfield is such a great resource for entrepreneurs. Here’s Chris:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle is credited with saying these 15 famous words, though they’re actually an interpretation of a passage from Aristotle’s writings by historian Will Durant. And for most of my life, I didn’t believe them. I fought against cultivating good habits and routines because I didn’t want to feel like I had to live my life by other people’s rules. I wanted to be my own person and do my own thing. Besides, keeping a routine was hard work. Know what I discovered? Having no routine or structure is so much more draining mentally, physically, and emotionally than any routine could ever be! By not doing the things I knew would make me better — habits like exercising, meditating, and creating gratitude lists — I deprived my body and mind of the energy that these types of positive activities create. I felt tired, inside and out. And to make matters worse, my dreams and goals were slipping away. A few years ago, I decided to take a different path: to listen to this advice and actually work on creating excellence in my life by establishing a positive daily routine. Now that I’ve created and stuck to my own daily practice (I call it my “Best Day Ever”), not only do I get more accomplished than I’ve ever thought possible but I also feel 100 times better while doing it!

Why You Need a Routine

First, you may need to be convinced about the benefits of creating a routine. Establishing a positive daily routine is both a self-investment and a way to do your best for the rest of the world. It also provides additional benefits like giving you structure, building forward-moving habits, and creating momentum that will carry you on the days when you feel like you don’t have the strength to carry yourself. Following a daily routine can help you establish priorities, limit procrastination, keep track of goals, and even make you healthier. It lowers your reliance on willpower and motivation because, as Tynan, the author of Superhuman by Habit, says, habits are “action[s] that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.” Today, I have more drive, motivation, and passion, which makes reaching my goals easier and more fulfilling. I have more physical and mental energy to make it through my days — even the really tough ones (which still show up). I feel happier and more satisfied with the quality and depth of my life. I admit it, though; it isn’t always easy to create good habits. As Brian Tracy says, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with.” Here’s something really important to remember: What works for someone else might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to pick the activities that resonate most with you, the ones that push you to become the best you that you are capable of being, and to keep doing those things. Don’t be afraid to try new habits and see how they work for you. If they leave you feeling energized and inspired, keep doing them, and if they don’t, keep trying new ones until you find ones that do. The key is to create regular and consistent daily patterns that will take you where you want to go in life, helping you maximize yourself on every level possible. Now, let’s get into some of the things you can do in your daily routine to reach higher mental levels — like more brain power and clarity!

Optimize Your Mind

A successful daily routine helps you achieve laser-like focus from the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you close your eyes and drift off to dreamland at night. Here are some ways to get it.

1. Get positive: Start the day with a mantra.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking helps manage stress and even improves your health.

“Today is going to be the best day ever!”

I start every single day saying that simple sentence (out loud) as soon as I get out of bed. And yes, I even tell myself this on mornings that have followed nights that were too short or mornings when I wake up feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

Why?

These nine words put me in the right mindset for the day ahead.

What makes a day good or bad isn’t the events that occur but rather your response to them. As Jim Rohn once said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

I want to put my mind in a good state right away, because left unchecked it will try to tell me the things that are wrong. Through positive thinking, I can overcome that.

Ben Franklin used to ask himself this question every morning: “What good shall I do today?”

Pick a phrase or question that resonates with you. It could be as simple as smiling and saying “thank you” out loud, acknowledging that you have been gifted with another day.

2. Be proactive: Don’t check your email first!

When you wake up in the morning, do you immediately check your email or social-media accounts? If so, you’re starting your day off in a reactive instead of a proactive mode.

As Jocelyn K. Glei writes in Manage Your Day-to-Day, “The trouble with this approach is it means spending the best part of the day on other people’s priorities.”

For instance, if you receive an email asking for work-related documents, you might be compelled to provide them immediately, even though you may have had plans to work on marketing your own business. Or if you open up Facebook and see one of your friends in a crisis, that becomes your focus and potentially keeps you from concentrating on your own issues or concerns.

Start your days focused on you and you will be in a much better state of mind to help others and get more accomplished all day.

3. Mentally prepare: Visualize your success.

Some of the world’s greatest athletes use visualization to help prepare themselves mentally to excel in their sport. Aaron Rodgers, considered by many to be the best quarterback in the NFL, talked about the power of visualization in an interview with USA Today:

“In the sixth grade, a coach taught us about the importance of visualization. When I’m in a meeting, watching a film, or laying in bed before I go to sleep, I always visualize making those plays. A lot of those plays I had made in the game, I had thought about them. As I had laid on the couch, I had visualized them.”

Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, suggests that you practice visualization 10 minutes a day to “harness the power of your subconscious mind.”

Simply close your eyes and imagine yourself excelling and being the best you. Put yourself in situations where you shine, visualizing the best possible outcome. Include as much detail in your visualizations as possible, using all of your senses and making your “training” even more powerful.

For people who have trouble closing their eyes and “seeing anything,” use a pen and paper and write out how you want your day to unfold. Be as specific as possible, and be sure to keep it positive.

The purpose of all of this is to pass command from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind wants to believe what you tell it (good or bad), and it will do whatever it takes to turn those commands into reality.

4. Read a book, even if just one page at a time.

Reading books offers many science-based benefits. Reading can boost your intelligence, increase your brainpower (for up to five days, according to research conducted by Emory University), and even strengthen your ability to empathize with other people. Reading has also been found to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by more than double — all this while helping you feel more relaxed at the same time!

Joshua Becker, bestselling author of Simplify, has made it a goal to read a book a week, because reading makes him a better leader, increases his worldview and knowledge base, and reinforces his self-discipline.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to find the time to read an entire book. I mean, who has hours and hours a day or week to just sit and read?

That’s why I commit to reading just one chapter each day of a book of my choice. I’m in the process of reading a couple different books right now, so I just pick up the one that speaks to me the most that day and I sit and read a chapter of it. If I want to read more, I do.

By breaking the big process (reading a whole book!) into something manageable (one chapter) I am able to read about 50 books each year.

5. Make yourself accountable: Find a partner or mentor.

I have a mentor and I call him every day. Even if all I do is leave him a message, this one simple task holds me accountable. It also forces me to keep myself (and my mind) moving in a positive direction.

If you don’t currently have a mentor, then think about how you could go about getting one. Or at least find someone you trust who can be your accountability partner, someone to hold you to your word. Eric “the Hip-Hop Preacher” Thomas believes that accountability partners are crucial for success, and that his accountability partners changed his life:

“The day you find someone just as passionate about your goal to hold you accountable will be the day you make your first permanent step towards success,” he says.

“Making a commitment to your accountability partner about your goal will make the milestone realistically attainable.”

Thomas recommends making a list of three people whom you trust and respect. Have a conversation with each of them and discuss exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. After the conversation, decide which of these individuals will serve best as an accountability partner for the specific milestone you are trying to reach.

One quick suggestion: Make sure it’s a win-win situation for them as well. In the words of author Ryan Holiday:

“Bring something to the table. Anything. Quid pro quo. Even if it’s just energy. Even if it’s just thanks. You cannot ask and ask and not expect to give anything in return. The bigger the payoff you can offer, the longer they’ll take you under their wing. Figure out what you can offer and actually give it. Here’s a freebie: Find articles and books that relate to their field and pass on a recommendation and then they won’t have to waste their time searching.”

6. Write: Prime yourself for creativity.

Spending time writing every day helps you become a better communicator, improves your ability to recall important information, and enhances your creativity. Write in a diary format and you also have the added benefit of greater self-understanding.

One of the first things I do every morning is write Morning Pages, a practice devised by Julia Cameron that clears my mind and helps to clarify what I want out of life. To do your own Morning Pages, simply sit down and write three pages. They can be about anything you want them to be. Just write each and every day.

I also write down 10 ideas, a concept I learned from James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself. The point of this exercise is to work your brain and get your creative juices flowing. They can be big ideas (how to cure cancer) or small ones (ways get your cat to quit scratching the furniture).

They say that everyone has at least one million-dollar idea in his or her lifetime. You may just find yours on this list!

7. Make a daily to-do list.

One great way to be fully prepared for the day ahead is to make a to-do list, just like Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank; Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams; and Jim McCann, founder and CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.

I plan up to six tasks that I want to complete during the day on mine, and the reason this works is twofold.

First, it helps me plan my day in a way that allows me to get the most out of it, versus just performing random tasks and hoping that they move you forward. Second, creating a to-do list keeps me on task. I know exactly what I want to get done and when, which makes it more likely that I’ll do it.

Keep your daily to-do list small, so that it’s manageable and not overwhelming. A great “hack” to make sure you keep your lists simple is using a Post-It Note. The dimensions of a Post-It Note are perfect (typically 3 x 3) because the size constraint will force you to only write down the most important things that you have to do each day.

You can’t fit more than six items on a Post-It Note (unless you cheat and write really small — but you won’t do this, right?) and these should be your MITs (most important tasks).

Plus, when you’re able to cross items off this list, it inspires you to keep going and accomplish even more.

8. Take regular breaks throughout the day.

While all of these tips are meant to help you forge ahead, sometimes you just need to step back and give your mind a break.

Taking regular breaks keeps you from getting bored and losing focus, increasing your brain’s function at the same time. It also forces you to reevaluate what you’re working on, ensuring that you’re going in the right direction.

I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique to be invaluable at helping me keep my energy levels high and “forcing” me to take regular breaks. This revolutionary time management system is deceptively simple to learn, but life-changing when applied correctly. Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works:

  1. Choose a task (just one task at a time)
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  3. Work on your task until the timer rings, then put a checkmark on a tracker
  4. Take a five-minute break — you just completed your first Pomodoro!
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 three more times, followed by a 15-minute break.

By utilizing this technique, I am now able to get 40 hours of work done in just 16.7 hours, all the while keeping my energy levels more stable and eliminating burnout (for the most part).

Speaking of breaks, while you’re decompressing and giving your mind a chance to switch gears, why not close your eyes and catch some Z’s?

According to the National Sleep Foundation a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help to improve your mood, alertness, and even performance. Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, and Salvador Dali were all regular nappers.

9. Break your day into chunks.

Breaking your day into chunks helps you be the best you, as too much time spent doing one thing can cause you to lose focus, and interest. And if you’re working on something you don’t really want to do, it makes it easier because you only have to do it for a short while.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, is a master of this, as he sets his daily schedule in a way that doesn’t keep him on the same task for very long. Here’s what a “typical” day looked like for Tim a few years back:

  • 10 a.m.: Breakfast
  • 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Radio interviews and idea generation
  • 12: Work out
  • 12:30: Lunch
  • 1:00 to 5: Writing (but not for the entire time)
  • 5:30: Dinner
  • 6:30 to 8.30: Jiu-jitsu training
  • 9: Dinner
  • 10: Ice bath and shower
  • 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.: Relax

Some important takeaways from Tim:

  • No two days are ever really the same.
  • Spend as much time as possible doing what you want by maximizing output in minimal time — this is the goal each day.
  • How you use time and trade it for experience is what really matters.

Now, look at your own day, figure out how you can break it into chunks, and determine what you need to do to spend your time doing what you want to do (as much as possible).

10. Theme your workdays (and week).

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, managed both companies at the same time without getting overwhelmed. He did this by setting aside different tasks for different days of the week. Here’s what it looked like:

Monday: Management

Tuesday: Products

Wednesday: Marketing and growth

Thursday: Developers and partnerships

Friday: Company culture and recruiting

Saturday: Day off

Sunday: Reflection and strategy

Even if you can’t set aside full days to deal with certain issues, you can probably block off certain hours of the day to handle them (going back to breaking your day into chunks).

This can give you the time you need to make headway in those particular areas…without putting your brain on overload.

 

Originally posted on Dec 13, 2016

By Jeff Haden Contributing editor, Inc.
4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Take Labor Day Off

4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Take Labor Day Off

For most people, Labor Day is a time to kick back, relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. But for many entrepreneurs, it is just another work day. While burning the midnight oil is often an necessity to get your startup launched and keep it trucking along, a little R&R can not only help recharge your batteries but research has shown it can help boost your productivity. But entrepreneurs should take labor day off
One internal study conducted by accounting firm Ernst & Young in 2006 showed for every ten hours of vacation an employee took, their end-of-the-year job performance rating got boosted 8 percent. In 2011, travel site Expedia found 52 percent of employees feel better about their jobs and more productive after vacation. Another study conducted by Harvard stated sleep deprivation cost U.S. businesses $63.2 billion a year due to loss in productivity
So, before you decided to skip a friend’s BBQ or nix the idea of getting away for the day, here are four reasons you give yourself a break on Labor Day and take Labor Day off.
Reconnect with people.
There are more people in your life besides work colleagues. Yet, being an entrepreneur makes it much tougher to maintain friendships outside your startup. The busier you are, the easier it gets to tell yourself you’ll call someone later. Let Labor Day be a time to reclaim friendships you have pushed to the backburner and an occasion to surround yourself with loved ones. Just make sure you do it completely detached from work.
Set an example.
Labor Day is the best time to hop on the bandwagon and turn off your phone, switch on the grill and enjoy a day disconnected from the instant access and connectivity that powers your startup. If anyone calls you with business on the brain, the straight to voicemail hint might just remind them that it’s actually Labor Day. As an entrepreneur, you should try build the Labor Day brand. Encourage others entrepreneurs to remove themselves from work and enjoy their surroundings.
You’ll remember what carefree feels like.
Remember when you were a kid zipping around your neighborhood on a bike without a care in the world? Let this Labor Day be a time to reclaim your sense of adventure. Having fun not only helps you relax, but it can help clear your head, which can help ignite creativity. Who knows, maybe you’ll come back to work with a whole new approach to a problem that has been bothering you.
Need to hit reset.
Building your business or brainstorming something new is great, but the only way to recharge after a few 12-hour days is to dedicate some time to refocusing your perspective. Any entrepreneur will suffer from tunnel vision after they’ve been crunching on a project for a week, and you’ll probably notice a giant dip in your productivity. The only way to fix it is to save yourself some eyestrain and go to a quiet, disconnected place. Doing so, you’ll return refreshed and ready to tackle issues.
by Matthew Toren – Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

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