Are you completely overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do every single day?
Listen, I’ve been there.
I’m a husband. I’m a father. I’ve got three small kids. I run a law firm. I run two other online businesses and my to-do list is never ending.
It feels like I’m never going to get it all done, and maybe you can relate.
To be perfectly honest with you, there’s a lot of days where I don’t get it all done. I’m okay with that because I learned a long time ago that to-do lists are not something that you’re going to finish every single day, as much as you want to finish them every single day, it’s just not going to happen sometimes.
There are a variety of reasons for that.
There are days when you’re just not going to be productive.
Maybe it’s because your kids are stressing you out or perhaps you didn’t get a good night’s sleep the night before, or maybe the neighbor next door has been running the leaf-blower all morning and it’s just making her hard for you to focus or concentrate. True story.
Listen, these things happen and it is okay. This is life. This is what life is all about some days you’re just not going to be as productive as other days.
But what I found and what I want to share with you today is that it’s really important that you not look at your to-do list in a vacuum.
What do I mean by that?
It’s not about having or making every day be as productive as possible, which is what a lot of people think you should do that you: that every single day needs to be the most productive day of your life.
But that’s not the goal.
The goal is to move the needle from where you are right now, that’s down here to where you want to be, which is up here and make slow progress. Sometimes that progress is going to go all over the place. It doesn’t go like that.
Does that make sense?
When I first started my law firm 17 years ago, I prided myself in working 20 hour days and getting everything off my to-do list every single day, or at least quite a bit of things off my to-do list every single day.
I felt amazing. That was what invigorated me. I wanted to work on the business. I was still single and young and had a lot of energy and didn’t have to worry about kids or things like that. So, that’s what I wanted to do.
I think that in corporate America today, a lot of this go, go, `go mentality is still ever present and there are still industries where people are celebrated for working a gazillion hours a week.
I mean, heck, I come from a law firm background, so at law firms, when I first graduated from law school, a lot of the kids that to the top law schools, they were working 80-90 hours a week. That was what they were required to do and if they couldn’t hack, and if they couldn’t do that, and a lot of them couldn’t, they would burn out and they would be off to a different place in about a year or two.
I know a lot of people that started at those big firms in law school and within a year they were burnt out and done. Some of them don’t even practice law anymore and that’s just the crazy thing about it.
That go, go, go mentality I just referred to is not always the right way to be more productive.
There actually was a study published last year by John Pencavel of Stanford University, which indicated that employee output fell sharply after a 50-hour work week and actually fell off a cliff after about 55 hours.
So, if you’re out there and doing 70 hours of work, that extra 15 hours produced absolutely no material benefit for an employee who worked over those 55 hours. Think about that for a second.
What exactly is the solution? What do we do here if working too much does not make you productive and working too you’re not getting enough done? So where is the happy medium?
Well, I’ve come up with a solution that I think works for me and I think it’s probably also going to help you too.
Here are eight things that you can do to make 2022 your best, most productive, most getting as many things as possible done year ever.
Get in Shape
So number one thing that you can do to be more productive and get more things done is to get in shape, and this is common sense, right?
Eat more veggies, eat less processed food, exercise more, drink more water: all those things are going to help you get in better shape and be more productive on a daily basis because, honestly, you’re going to have more energy.
If you do little things like eat a soup and salad for lunch, as opposed to a greasy burger, or go for a 30 to 40 minute walk every single day. When you want to go grab a bag of chips for lunch or for a snack in the afternoon, instead grab a pear or a banana or an apple, or something like that. Grab a piece of fruit.
These things are going to have a tremendous impact on your health and your well-being and your long-term energy, so those are things to think about.
Get healthier. Make 2022 the year where you get in the best shape of your life.
Follow a Structured Morning Routine
All right, number two is not necessarily obvious, but it’s a pretty good indicator of success, and that is to follow a structured morning routine.
For years, I followed a structured morning routine and they were some of the most productive years of my life.
So what do I mean by structured morning routine?
I mean, do the same thing every single morning when you get you. Wake up at the same time every day. Follow the same routine. Drink a glass of water. Do some reading of educational material. Don’t go out and read the news on your phone. I mean, read something educational. Maybe journal a little bit about what you’ve learned. Meditate for five to 10 minutes and spend some moments of silence.
I don’t like to do that right away. Sometimes people like to meditate right away when they first wake up. I’m still so sleepy that if I meditate right away, I’m just going to fall back asleep, so don’t do that, but do some meditation. Maybe get your blood moving. Do some exercise. That might be a good time of day for you to get out and do a 30-40 minute walk or jog or something like that, whatever you need to do.
Get that all done and follow that same morning routine every single day. Another thing that I like to do is I like to go through my to-do list and pick out three to four activities that I’m really focused on that day.
Focus on Your To-Do List
Which really leads us into the third thing that you can do to be more productive is focus your to-do list.
Don’t have 30 or 40 or 50 things on your to-do list for a day. That makes it really hard to be productive.
Take that to-do list, compress it down to three or four items that you really want to get done, and do those things each day. Along those lines, make sure that you do whatever the hardest item is.
Like for me today, recording this video, I knew it was going to take some time; I knew I needed to script it out; I knew I needed to spend time recording this video; and I knew that would take me a little bit of time. It was going to take a couple hours, so this was the first thing on my to-do list to do for today.
Tomorrow, the first thing on my to-do list is going to be to edit it this video and get it published to YouTube.
So that’s what I’m talk about with making sure that you focus on your highest impact, but also the most difficult task that you have to do, do that first, and then focus on those three or four tasks throughout the rest of the day.
When you finish those tasks, maybe think about calling it a day. Just because you finish those tasks and there’s more time left in the day, it doesn’t mean you need to necessarily go onto another task.
Because remember, if you’re working more than about seven to eight hours per day, you’re probably working too much. So, just think about calling it a day. Get this task done that you need to do and call it a day.
Take Regular Breaks Throughout the Day
Now, number four, is to take regular breaks throughout the day.
The way I like to do this is I like to work for about 40-50 minutes and then take a break, go to the bathroom, grab another cup of coffee or a glass of water. Usually, in the afternoon I drink water and tea because there’s no caffeine. If I drink coffee in the afternoon, it tends to keep me up at night, which throws my sleep rhythm out of whack and that’s just not good for anybody.
So, work for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break, walk around, do whatever you need to do. Don’t use that time to just sit at your desk and do something else like check the email or going and read the news or something like that. But do get up, walk around get something to drink, go to the bathroom, whatever you need to do, but take those breaks.
Do that repeatedly throughout the day because if you just keep working, eventually what you’re going to find is that you get burned out.
Also, if you’re working and you find yourself starting to doze off or get sleepy, that might be a good indicator that you need to get up and walk around, stretch your legs and take some time to re-energize yourself. Or if you use a standup desk like I do, you might alternate from sitting down at the desk, to standing up at the desk, to sitting down at the desk. That might be another thing that you can do to keep you energized and keep the blood flowing as you go about your day.
Check Your Email Twice a Day
Now, this fifth one is not necessarily intuitive, but let me tell you, it has led me to some of the most productive years of my life, and that is I only check email two times per day. That’s just the way I’ve done it.
I mean, do I fall myself into the routine of sometimes checking email more than that? Yeah, it does happen. I’m only human, but I really try to structure my day so that I don’t check it until around 11 o’clock in the morning or noon before I go to lunch, and then I try and check it again towards the end of the day.
If you live in the inbox, it’s going to decrease your overall productivity because it’s going to take away from those three or four tasks that you really are supposed to focus on for the day. It’s going to sidetrack you because thing might come into your inbox and you might think, “Oh, I need to do that right now,” and that’s going to get you off track from the things that you actually need to do that you’ve planned ahead of time and said, “These are important things that I need to accomplish today.”
So, only check your email once or twice per day. Make sure you clear out that inbox every single day. an app that I use that I love is called Superhuman. It allows me to clear out my email inbox every single day.
If there’s emails that I don’t get to, I just basically reschedule them for the next day or for two weeks from now, or for whenever. But that way, I get in and the inbox is clear every single day and I feel great about that.
Schedule Out Your Days
The sixth thing that you can do to get more stuff done in 2022 is to block off your time and schedule out your days.
Now, a lot of times, what I will do is actually block off physical parts of my time, so I have parts of my days that are blocked off to creating content.I have parts of my days that are block off for client calls, for coaching calls, for different things like that, for legal work. All these things are blocked off on my calendar, so I know that I’m doing the highest value activity at the time when I am ready to do it, and not at just the whim of, “Oh, I feel like doing this right now.” No, I don’t do it that way.
I try not to block anything on my calendars on Fridays or Mondays. The reason I do that is because, honestly, things come up. Sometimes Friday afternoon, I feel like I don’t want to do more work anymore and I want to take some time off. I want to go pick the kids up from school or whatever.
Make sure you time block your days and follow that schedule pretty rigidly. So don’t just let yourself be interrupted by text messages or phone calls whenever you want. Make sure you block a time to return phone calls, to schedule your calls to do the actual will work.
You will find that you are so much more productive when you do it this way and you adhere to that schedule. That’s the other component.
You got to make the schedule, but then you’ve got to follow the schedule. So if you make an appointment with yourself and say, “I’m going to write a blog post on Tuesday at 10 o’clock in the morning,” make sure you’re sitting down at your desk and you’re writing that blog post at Tuesday at 10 o’clock in the morning.
Take More Time Off
The seventh thing you can do to be more productive in 2022 is to actually take more time off.
When you take time to yourself, be it a long weekend, be it a shorter work week, you allow yourself to think more about what you have to do.
So when you go for that walk in the morning for 30 to 40 minutes, what I like to do is I like to listen to some educational material, or sometimes I just like to think about what I’m doing for my work: what my overall goals are, what I’m working on in the business.
When you take time off and you get away from work for a little bit, it allows you to really focus on and think about what it is that you’re trying to do with your business. It plants ideas in your head of other things that you can do to take your business to the next level.
So I would encourage you to think about taking some time off, be it an alternative work week. Like I said, I like to block off Fridays or Mondays to basically not have any work and I can do what comes in that I feel comfortable with.
But some of you might actually get to the point where you’re working Monday through Thursday, and then you take Friday off completely. A lot of people do that and it’s becoming more and more accepted in today’s world, especially for people who are self-employed.
So, the other way to think about that is that when you take more time off, it actually gives you more energy, so that when you’re actually working, you’re going to be more productive.
So like I said before, there was that study out of Stanford that said if you worked longer than 55 hours a week, it just was wasted time. Well, if you work less time, then you’re actually allowing yourself to be more energized and be more productive during the time that you actually are working.
Every hour you go where you work longer and longer each week, there’s diminished returns and how much you’re able to get done with that time, if that makes sense.
The other thing I would say about this is, and this might be hard for some people to do, but I would encourage you to take at least, at least, two weeks’ vacation per year.
For a lot of you, four to six weeks vacation would be preferable. Some of you just might not be able to do that financially, or maybe you’re still working at a job for someone else and that’s not something that’s feasible or possible. But if you can, try and take a good week or two every single six months, so that it really gives you that space, that time, to clear your head and really think about what you’re trying to do with your business.
Again, last month, me and my family, we went and went to Costa Rica for two weeks and I didn’t do any work.
I mean, I took photos, took some videos, things like that, but I did not check email for the most part, I did not do any legal work while I was there, I did not do any coaching calls. I didn’t do anything like that while I was there.
It was just time for me to decompress, enjoy time with my family, and really just enjoy life. That’s what this is all about anyway, right, is living an abundant life.
So take some time to yourself, plan out at least a one week vacation. If you’re not going to go somewhere, make it a staycation and just do stuff around where you live. You don’t have to go plan an extravagant vacation. Or you don’t have to go to Costa Rica or wherever. You don’t have to do that, but just make sure you take a week where you can just disconnect from all your work, from email, from everything you’re working on and take some time to yourself. It’s going to do wonders for your mental health and for your productivity.
Get Eight Hours of Sleep Every Night
The last one, number eight is get eight hours of sleep per night and that’s pretty simple.
Studies have show own that most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night to be productive. Anything less than that and you’re really going to falter during the day. It increases your risk of heart disease and other health-related problems. If you’re not sleeping enough each night, it’s going to make you more stressed because you’re are going to feel not as productive during the day.
So it’s really important that you make sure that you’re getting at least eight hours of productive sleep every night, I would say seven to eight hours of productive sleep every single night, so that you can show up as your best self every single morning.
My question to you right now is, which of these things that I suggested do you plan to incorporate into your life to make 2022 the best year ever for you and for your family?
Is this the year you’re going to get in the best shape of your life? Is this the year where you’re going to focus on really planning out your day and getting into a good morning routine? Or is this the year where you’re going to stop living in your email inbox every minute of every day?
Let me know what it is that you plan to do to make 2022 the most productive year ever for you and for your life because isn’t it time that you changed the trajectory of your life and started living in true abundance?
Thank you so much for watching today, folks. I will see you in the next video, right over here.