Manage your energy
The time of day when you do things is so important. For most people, the morning is the best time of the day to do critical thinking.
Carefully plan your time blocks around your daily energy levels. Here are some guidelines that work well for me:
- Tackle my hardest, most brain-intensive task in the morning
- Put off as many emails as I can until the afternoon (I’ll get to those during that afternoon slump)
- Avoid checking social media in the media (since it will disrupt your most productive time of day)
Time block your calendar with results
It’s no secret – I think time blocking is pretty much the best thing ever. When you time block, you aren’t leaving your day to chance. You’re not dictating what you work on next based on whatever email happens to be at the top of your inbox.
It’s critical that you put the result you want to achieve on your calendar, not just the general thing you want to work on. For example, instead of putting “work on a blog post” on my calendar, I would instead write “write and edit two blog posts.” These results are much more specific and clearly articulate what I’m supposed to produce during that time.
Take a 15-minute walk (not a 15-minute social media break)
Wait…I came here to learn how to produce more and you’re telling me to take a break?
If you’re zoning out or just can’t stay focused, take a short (fifteen minute) walking break or nature break.
The common mistake people (including myself) make is to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. But scrolling through social media is often not refreshing and not rejuvenating.
A step outside will refresh your mind and reset your mindset.
Bad weather? Get up from your chair and move around. Try walking around the floor of your office or house. (It’s not ideal, but it can work in a pinch.)
Take massive action (not small action or passive action)
To achieve a large goal, you will have to take massive action. Massive action is taking so many steps towards reaching your goal that it’s inevitable that you will reach your target.
Many people (myself included) get stuck in passive action or small action. Passive action is consuming books, podcasts, or blogs related to what you’re trying to do, but not actually taking any action. Small action is taking only a couple of steps towards your goal. At that point, most people decide “this isn’t working fast enough” so they give up and quit.
Both passive action and small action FEEL like you’re being productive. But in reality, you aren’t being productive. You’re never going to produce enough to achieve something big if you aren’t taking massive action.
To take massive action, you’ll need to do the following steps:
- Brain dump a list of tasks relating to the goal you have. Include everything you can possibly think of!
- If you aren’t sure how to do specific things, add tasks like “Figure out how to do X” in addition to a task that is “Do X.”
- Refer to this list when you time block. On your calendar put results from this list in each time block.
- Cross off completed items. (Seeing all the completed items will keep you motivated and show you how much action you’ve taken already!)
Don’t let fear stand in the way
When you create a big plan or set a lofty goal, you do this from your prefrontal cortex. But often fear kicks in right away. That fear is coming from the primitive portion of your brain.
Your brain can’t distinguish different types of fear, so you the same kind of fear/sweaty palms/heart racing reaction when you’re walking down a dark street or when you set an ambitious personal goal.
Often, when you set these ambitious goals, the fear kicks in right away. You think “I can’t possibly do that, that’s crazy.” So immediately you forget the goal, reduce the goal, or just don’t take it seriously.
For me, just knowing the fear is a primitive brain response has already made a huge difference in setting big goals.
The fear doesn’t mean that I’m not cut out for the goal.
The fear doesn’t mean to stop thinking so big.
The fear is just my primitive brain trying to protect. (And this primitive brain has kept humans alive up until this point, so that’s pretty great.)
When I feel fear, I take a moment to feel the vibration. And then I think from my prefrontal cortex, “I’m still going after this goal.”
Change your thoughts to produce different results
This is the toughest thing to do to produce a ton of results. But changing your mindset will have a bigger impact than optimizing your calendar.
Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School teaches the self-coaching model.
The model explains that
- Circumstances are neutral
- Your thoughts create your feelings
- Your feelings create your actions
- Your actions create your results
If you aren’t producing or getting the desired results in an area, reflect on what thoughts and feelings are behind those results. (More posts on this to come.)