I am the most unfocussed, laziest entrepreneur in the whole world.
No, this isn’t a self-effacing, falsely modest boast. It’s a fact.
- I’ve used an alarm clock on only a few occasions this year
- I rarely get out of bed before 10am
- I never spend more than 15 minutes on anything before I get distracted
- I never plan out my days – I’ve no idea what I’m doing from one day to the next
- I have a history of bad school reports, bad exam results, bad working relationships and bad hair (that last one’s not my fault)
If you read to the end of this article (and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t bother) you’ll find out how, in the last year, I have:
- Written 4 books (one a bestseller)
- Created 5 premium video courses
- Written 50 blog posts
- Posted 65 YouTube videos
- Written various guest blog articles, presentations and meaningless social media messages
And all this whilst getting divorced, selling a house, buying a flat, servicing my corporate clients for my design business and trying to be a dutiful family/community person.
“Productivity gurus” advocate strictness. This works for them but it may not be right for us:
Wake up at 3.30pm, two hours before you go to sleep, take a cold shower, self-flagellate and write 3,000 words before your raw seaweed and nettle breakfast. Don’t even think about enjoying yourself before your 5.30am bedtime.
I’m being facetious. I don’t have all the answers. I get a lot wrong. But I also get a lot of people saying “I don’t know how you do it, you’re so productive!”
Do the following to free up time and energy
I’m going to start with a lot of things I don’t do which gives me a lot of time and energy for everything else. Hang in there, I’ll get to the positive stuff later.
Stop having a go at yourself
Yes, we’d all love to follow our self-imposed rules to the letter. But, you’re human. You will err. If you sleep in, get annoyed, eat a burger or fail in some way then don’t worry.
It happens. It’s OK. Really.
Don’t watch the news
Bad things happen. History books can confirm this so we don’t need any more evidence that this is so.
Hearing that another bad thing has just happened is a stressful waste of your time and energies. If you can stop bad things happening, then stop them. Otherwise, constant visual confirmation of the existence of bad things will not help you or the people they happen to.
Don’t watch TV
So, the news is out. But so are game shows, soaps, reality TV, comedies, dramas, kid’s TV, etc., all TV. Especially adverts. It’s all a complete waste of time. Read a book when you’re incapable of doing anything else.
Don’t buy or read newspapers
Newspapers, like TV news, are more biassed opinions about bad things (why they’re bad, why the person writing the news is better than the bad people that do the bad things and why we should be frightened of other potential bad things and bad people that we don’t even know about yet). They serve other peoples’ agendas, not your own. Avoid the websites of newspapers and media companies for this reason.
Now that you have no opinions about the news, the bad things, the latest reality TV shows, etc., you’ll have nothing to say to anyone. Which brings me to my next point…
Lose your friends
Do you have “friends” that use you as a sounding board for their latest problems? Do you feel exhausted after talking to them? I know this is difficult advice to follow. But, get rid of the negative people from your life!
Don’t blame anyone or anything
Bad things will happen to you. Use the bad things as opportunities to exercise your problem-solving muscles, rather than wasting time and energy getting emotionally involved in the bad things.
Don’t judge people
I’m going to sound like a hypocrite here. As I said, I get it wrong all the time. But I know for a fact, judgment is the source of all your problems and wasted energy.
There’s no such thing as a bad person or a bad thing. Just temporary states in our lives that we judge as “bad”. So, whenever you find yourself seeing a large person and saying to yourself, “oh, I couldn’t never eat so much junk as s/he did!”, stop yourself, concentrate on your breathing and move on. You’ve eaten crap as well. But don’t have a go at yourself either.
And now that you’re not judging or blaming anyone or anything, you’ll have nothing to complain about. This is a huge time and energy win.
I used to complain a lot: when airlines lost my luggage, when solicitors over-charged me, when a website annoyed me. It was a complete waste of time. People say, “if you don’t complain nothing will improve”. Nothing has improved. People are still complaining as much now as they did when I was a kid. More, in fact.
Complaining is all about your ego. It’s revenge for a perceived bad thing. Revenge is wasted energy and counter-productive.
Don’t stay seated for longer than 20 minutes
Get up and walk around. Take breaks. Change your seating position. Straighten your back.
Use a laptop and work in as many different places as possible.
Don’t drink or take drugs (much)
Try not to drink during the week. At least go more days without alcohol than with. When you do drink, only drink two or three at the most (this is difficult if you meet young people in the evenings). Drink causes a less than perfect physical and mental state and hampers productivity even if you’re young and fit.
Drugs are mostly bad for you. If you do take them make sure it’s once in a blue moon and never, never, never make it a habit.
- Don’t stay on Facebook or links you’ve clicked on from Facebook for more than 5 minutes
- Don’t say “I’ll do this once I’ve done that” – you can always do this
- Don’t do stuff you don’t like to do
How I get things done
Now that I’ve got through all the ways I try to alleviate stress and free-up time. Here’s what I do to get things done.
Do one thing every week
Blogging is an incredibly useful practice as it improves your personal brand recognition as well as your writing. So it’s an important habit to keep up. I write a blog post every week. I would feel bad if I didn’t. This has helped me so much.
What enormously important task you could do every week that would really benefit you?
Do one thing every day
When I’m writing a Kindle book, I try to write 750 words everyday. I’d feel bad if I didn’t get at least 400 down. I’ll have a book done in a month (subject to a couple of read throughs and a professional copy check).
When I’m making a video course, I try to record a video everyday. Recording a video isn’t that hard; editing can be time-consuming. I outsource the initial editing and then add a few finishing touches afterwards. By the end of a month, I’ll have a video course ready to sell on Udemy.
What one thing could you do everyday that would lead to something amazing?
Identify the 20% of tasks you do that will give you the 80% of benefit
Writing that book, setting up that sales page, connecting with that influencer, creating that video course – these are the things you should be concentrating on. Do the things that’ll take your brand to the next level – not spending time on social media, posting your links in LinkedIn and Facebook groups you never spend time in, reading industry tittle-tattle.
Work out “the 20%” tasks which give you “the 80%” benefit. Don’t worry about client work, the work you have to do. You’ll do that.
What tasks could you do more of now that would take your business to the next level?
I try to outsource tasks that drive me crazy. The problem is that outsourcing drives me crazy.
I’ve been using oDesk and Elance for years. You get out what you put in. Write extremely detailed descriptions of the tasks you want completing. I even record the task on Screenflow. Never use the cheap candidates and see what previous work they’ve done and how they were rated.
What drives you crazy that you can outsource?
Do different things everyday
Walk a different way to work or a different way to the shops everyday. Work in different cafes everyday. Read a book that isn’t “your thing”. If someone invites you to an organ recital or the ballet or something you wouldn’t usually be interested in, go.
Mixing things up like this will stop you getting Alzheimer’s according to Super Brain by Rudolph E. Tanzi and Deepak Chopra and will make you more energized and productive.
What one thing do you habitually do the same way everyday that you could change and have fun doing it differently?
Instead of watching TV, you can read. Try to vary your reading as much as possible.
I’m struggling with this at the moment. I try to exercise at least three times a week. However, it may be better to do something everyday.
Whether it’s 20 minutes running, 30 minutes walking, yoga, tai chi or whatever you’re into – it’s quite enjoyable when you do it, it’s just so hard to get it done. Just do it. Start by changing your clothes. Change into your sports gear then you’ll feel pretty stupid if you don’t exercise.
You’re working towards personal freedom and helping people. You are an amazing success. Be grateful for it. Be grateful for anything.
Don’t worry about money. You’re not hungry. Money is just a number in a computer that you’ll care little for when you’re on your deathbed. What will you care about on your deathbed? Care about that now.
Whatever you do, make sure it makes you happy. If something seems like a bind then you’ll probably do a bad job, get tired and give up. I know, we’ve all got to do things we don’t want to do. But we can do everything we can to minimize the bad stuff. Break it up, outsource it, pretend you’re happy even if you aren’t.
Conduct your life as though you are successful and happy – it makes a huge difference if you do this. But it’s real subtle. Believe in your success and happiness without thinking about it. Try not to make it an ego thing.
Don’t get all puffed up when you see some success. Instead, humbly continue to provide better products and improve people’s lives.
Ignore my advice
I’ve read all the productivity books and bloggers and I do little that they suggest. So, if these books and bloggers resonate with you, it’s probably better to ignore me. I’m saying “do this” and “do that” but they’re just suggestions. Do what you think is best. And it’s probably better to ignore me anyway.
You can do it
I’m sure you can write that book, create that video course, earn a life-changing passive income – if you’re happy doing it then you are a success.
I positively, absolutely, genuinely believe in you. You are amazing. You are a success.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” ― Bruce Lee