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One of the most frustrating complaints from people just starting out growing their business to leaders of Fortune 500 companies is that there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.

As a society, we are more distracted and overwhelmed by tasks more than ever.

In fact, so much so, that many leading self development thinkers and business leaders are listing productivity and time management as a skill that’s just as valuable as actually creating product creation and selling it.

That being said, I’ve gone through many productivity courses and listened a large number of productivity consultants and came up with a 9 step formula I want to share with you.

This program is easy to follow, and is going to drastically increase productivity in your business and life, too.

 

Step 1. Get Rid of Your To-Do List Now

The first step starts with throwing away your to do list.

That’s right, get rid of it.

Your Mac sticky notes, white board list, and ‘post-its’ are making you stressed out and actually less productive.

How?

To-do lists, when created like 99% of business owners and employees make them, take something that is a dynamic process and makes it a static one.

There is a certain amount of time set to each task you need to perform on your to-do list. Not ever task can be accomplished at the same time and in the same amount of time.

Running to the store for light-bulbs and working on your book are two totally different tasks each with it’s own set amount of time it takes to accomplish it and when it can actually be accomplished.

Chances are, your to-do list contains things that you actually can’t accomplish that hour, day, or even that month. They may involve waiting to hear back from someone, or accomplishing a whole different task to get started.

Looking and thinking about tasks you are waiting on other people to resolve or are not resolvable in that moment create open loops in your mind. These loops allow you to continually waste energy thinking about them and lose focus on the activities you could be doing now. All without being able to do them in that moment you’re thinking about them!

This is called the Zeigarnick effect, and creates cognitive dissonance in our minds which leads to less productivity.

The solution?

Instead, follow the advice of productivity coach Ari Meisel and start scheduling your to-do list with a program like Followup.cc.

Divide up your tasks into manageable chunks or goals you can actually accomplish, then schedule them to appear at at time when you can do them. Followup.cc allows you to send an email to yourself and it will appear at the time you set it to arrive.

So, if you’re at work, but are thinking about how you need to stop at get food for dinner, schedule that thought or task with Followup.cc when you actually leave work!

Then you can stop thinking about it and focus on tasks you can actually accomplish while you’re at the office.

Scheduling tasks in the future is not procrastination.

Procrastination is putting off a task to your future self to deal with, while scheduling is a systematic, calculated process for choosing to work on something at a different time.

Step 2. Start Monitoring What You’re Actually Spending Time On.

To drive more traffic to your site or improve your site’s conversions, you need to run analytics to see whats working and what’s not.

The same goes for time management and productivity. You need to be tracking what you’re actually doing to see where you need to improve.

You can start this by simple creating a time journal, and track what your focusing your energy and time on during the day.

Better yet, is to use a .csv template of a time calendar and fill in what you were doing at each part of the day. You find some from this site here.

However, if you’re not detailed enough, you might skip over and account for valuable time you wasted on the computer looking at Facebook when you thought you were actually getting work done.

You can also use an app called Rescue Time, to track what your doing during the day and on your computer. This is one of the best productivity tools for tracking time today, and is usually including in many productivity apps and roundups.

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If you want to dive even further, here are some more resources and reviews of time tracking apps to help you figure out where your time is really going.

http://fieldguide.gizmodo.com/7-apps-and-sites-to-track-your-time-in-2015-1677057680

http://www.fastcompany.com/3024249/10-time-tracking-apps-that-will-make-you-more-productive-in-2014

Now, you don’t need to do this every day for the rest of your life, but do this for a week or at least a few days to ‘audit’ yourself and see where you’re actually putting in the most energy during the day.

Step 3. Organize Your Tasks Into High Value-to Low Value

Once you’ve written down or figured out where you’re actually spending your time during the day, you need to organize these into high dollar value, medium dollar value, low dollar value, and negative dollar value tasks in what Eben Pagan calls the ‘productivity pyramid’.

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List your tasks and things you do during the day, and assign a dollar value to them. This doesn’t have to be exact, but an estimate. How much money do you make over the course of a year or lifetime from each task you do?

Chances are, things like product creation and development, branding, strategic direction planning of your business will yield you the highest value per hour put in.

Stuff like answering customer questions, designing a blog image, uploading images are toward the bottom.

Things like eating junk food, procrastinating, playing video games have 0 or negative value on your business and making money from them.

What we want to do from this is figure out the biggest high-lifetime value activities we do, and make sure we prioritize these and spend the most time on them since they are making us the most money.

If you’re not sure what your highest value activities are, ask yourself this: If I could pick 3 activities that would give my business the more leverage, what would they be? Write these down and list their outcomes over the course of a year next to them.

Now, you are probably start seeing patterns of what you’re spending the most time on, and what dollar value they actually give you per year.

Step 4. Find Alignment and Combine Your Unique Talents with Your High Value Activities

After taking a look at your high value and medium value activities, there may be some that you love working on and others you don’t.

To have the maximum productivity possible, we need to be focusing on activities that will grow our business, but come easy to us and allow us to focus quality energy on them for hours.

As business expert Gary Vaynerchuk says, most people will waste time trying to tick all the boxes and learn the skills that come easily to those who are successful instead of leveraging the talents that come to them naturally.

So for example, if you’ve listed product creation and copywriting as things that are high value and will drastically take your business to the next level and you love product creation but hate copywriting, choose to use your energy creating products and hire or outsource the copywriter to someone else who is competent in that.

That way you’re not wasting time trying to perform a skill or task you don’t want to or are not good at and instead, maximizing the high value ones you are good at.

To come into alignment with yourself, you’re going to have to take a step back from your business and ask yourself what you really like doing or ask your friends to do an ‘audit’ of you and your personally to see where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Step 5. Start Outsourcing Low Value, or Tasks That Don’t Align with Your Strengths

Next, you need to save time by outsourcing the low value tasks or tasks that you simply aren’t great at and therefore, free up time to work on more high value tasks and ones that can create more leverage for your business.

These days, you can outsource just about everything.

You don’t need to have a lot of cash-flow freed up to being hiring outsources or virtual assistant to being taking care of things. You can start freeing up tasks for just a few dollars per hour through outsourcing sites like Odesk.com, Freelancer.com, elance.com and others.

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Chris Ducker blogs a lot about the steps to hire your first virtual assistant to help free up time for you at http://chrisducker.com.

Do you really need to be uploading all the audio files for your Podcasts or designing everyone of your blog images? Or can you pay a freelancer a little bit a week to free up the time to do more higher value activities during the time you would have been wasting playing in Photoshop?

This isn’t necessarily about hiring a whole new employee, unless you have the resources to do that and think it’s a smart move for your business.

You should outsource daily life tasks as well, like errands and bill pay.

TaskRabbit can help you completely get rid of time sucking errands and you should start scheduling your bills to be paid automatically via a wire or auto payment system. You can always hire something or go back through for an hour to make sure you don’t need to dispute any charges.

Start getting rid of the most time sucking, low value activities you can now.

Step 6. Eliminate Distractions and Multitasking ASAP

Focus is an essential part of productivity so it helps to define exactly what focus is and learn how to maximize it.

Focus is broken up into two parts. The quality of focus you have, and the quantity of it.

To have a good quantity of focus, we need to be focusing on one thing at a time and for a sustained period of time. Multitasking is the opposite of good focus, in which we are breaking up our focus by jumping to multiple projects or activities quickly.

The quality of focus is how well we can focus on what we are putting this energy into.

To maximize productivity we need to combine these and be able to have a high level of focus on use it on just one high valued thing.

Distractions may be the biggest time robbers and money robbers there are today in business.

When you can focus on one thing for an extended period of time, you get much more done and more accomplished than switching quickly from task-to-task.

Think of it this way…

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You could drive from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia through one or two major roads or you can take back roads where you stop and start constantly that weave up and down. You would lose many more hours taking back roads instead of cruising down one major turnpike road. Also, many of the back streets will distract you with interesting diners, places to visit, etc.

Our brains are wired to be distracted, and companies like Facebook, Youtube, and others are spending literally billions of dollars to take advantage of this and make money.

We naturally want to go check on our Facebook Newsfeed or click on that well crafted headline to read a click-bait article.

That being said, you MUST, chuck your time into uninterrupted 40-50 minutes blocks to work on one high value thing at a time.

Turn off your phone, email, and use apps to block or lock Facebook for a certain period of time.

Even train your family and employees to know that you need to not be interrupted for 50 hour periods of time that you’re going to be working.

Step 7. Create a Morning Success Ritual and Stick To it

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So now you’ve figured out where your time is going, defined high value activities you need to be focused on, cut on distractions in 40-50 minute intervals during the day to make that happen.

Now, you need a method to make sure this happens effectively everyday and you form these productivity exercises into long lasting habits.

When we wake up, we instantly start thinking and worrying about tasks and projects emails, put on us by other people and what we need to do for them instead of what we need to do for ourselves.

What about spending some time on us and focusing on the major goals and desires we have?

Creating a morning ritual is essential because the first things you do set the context for the rest of the day.

Ever hear on ESPN how so many coaches when asked what the key to a successful game is answer with “have a strong first quarter “or “come out and play strong”?
You need to set the context or frame you judge everything for the rest of the day by creating a morning ritual.

By setting the context for the rest of the day, you will make smart, good decisions throughout it. By making good, smart decisions during the day, you set yourself up for a good week. A few good weeks will lead to a productive and successful year.

If your ‘inner game’ isn’t sound (or your internal thinking and behavior), your ‘outer game’ (or how you run your business and decision making) won’t be either because you’re not thinking about or making good decisions based on your long-term vision and goals.

An overwhelming about of successful athletes, business leaders, politicians, etc. all have a morning ritual they do to ensure success throughout their day.

So, what should be in your morning ritual?

Well, there is no established one morning ritual routine that fits everyone so you need to do some research and thinking to see what works for you.

For instance, Tony Robbins talks about how he jumps in a jacuzzi, then freezing cold water to jump-start his nervous system for the day. Then uses cyrotherapy to lower his temperature using nitrogen to -2 -3 Fahrenheit to reset to help his body recover after doing long, intense work on stage.

This is something that works personally for Tony, though, and might not be for you.

Some things to consider include…

  • Meditation. People from Tim Ferriss to Jerry Seinfield all use meditation as part of their ritual. This doesn’t have to be something in which you try to perfectly clear your mind or do chanting, but something as simple as a breathing exercise to calm your mind and stimulate focus. Here are a list of apps and program to help get started with meditation: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#2
  • Focus and define the big tasks you want to accomplish. Think of the one big thing that will make everything else fall into place and define how you’re going to accomplish it before starting anything else.
  • Drink water and Exercise. 70% of our body is made up of water and research has shown that many times we can wake up dehydrated. Include drinking a tall glass of water to help hydrate your cells and get rid of waste. Also, consider implementing a exercise routine in your morning ritual, too. This will not only help your health long term, but help stimulate your muscles and body.

There much more including saying affirmations, showering, eating a high-protein breakfast, praying, and others.

Start outlining your morning routine and get it into a habit.

So there You Go, an Easy to Follow and Clear 7 Part Productivity Formula to Drastically Increase Your Productivity in Your Business and Life.

What did you think of these tips? Is there something you want to add or already have success with? Let me know what you think is best to stay productive below.

 

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