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We either dominate and control it, or have it dominate and control us. We feel at ease with time, or we feel as if we never have enough of it.
In this episode of the Work On Your Game podcast, Dre Baldwin shows you how you can get the most out of your days, productivity-wise and maximize every hour.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Days
What are my best tips for productivity?
Many people deal with this challenge of being more productive. There are only 24 hours in a day, and there is only so much energy we can muster to be awake before the universe demands that we sleep, eat, and drink water — and, if at all possible, we’d like to spend our time socially with the important people in our lives.
How do we get the most out of a day?
How do we maximize the 24 hours that we have?
How do we get the most out of the things that need to get done?
I have 4 tips that will:
- Help you maximize your productivity
- Get the most out of your 24 hours; and
- Get the best out of the finite physical energy we have each day.
Tip #1 Go and Find Your To-Do List.
If it’s written down on paper, go grab it.
You might be looking or working on it right now.
If your to-do list is in a digital format,
go to the file or wherever you keep it and find it.
Next, follow this step very closely:
- Destroy your to-do list.
- If it was written on a piece of paper, rip it up into a bunch of pieces of paper, throw it up in the air like money, and let it rain down on you.
- If it’s in a digital format, delete that file or select all and delete everything in there.
The reason why we get rid of to-do lists is that to-do lists can be infinite, and they only keep growing as days go by with things on that list left undone.
Have you ever completely done everything on your to-do list and had your mind saying, “Hey, there’s absolutely nothing left for me to do right now.”
I don’t know if it’s happened to you, but I know that it has never happened to me.
A to-do list can only get longer, and the problem with this is that the days don’t get longer. If you’re measuring your day against your to-do list, you will never win. Why? It’s because you will always have more things to do than you will have hours in a day.
After you completely eliminate your to-do list, pull up the calendar app on your device or get your physical calendar. and schedule out every single minute and hour of your day.
- Sleeping from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM
- Eating breakfast for 30 minutes
- The 2 hours that you need to spend with your wife and kids
- Your nine-to-five job
- Phone calls that you need to make
Put that all in the schedule.
If there are things that you can do at the same time, you have to make sure that you put those in the schedule as well.
As you do this, you’re going to give your mind some clarity and you’re going to lift a lot of weight off of your mental, because your mind now has a clearly defined path of exactly what it’s going to do every day.
When you think of the most successful person you’ve heard of or you know (Donald Trump, Bill Gates, P. Diddy. Mark Cuban), do you think they have a notepad with a long to-do list of 80 things-to-do that day when they wake up in the morning?
I don’t think so. They don’t have a to-do list.
Instead, they rely on a Personal Assistant who handles their daily schedules and whose job it is to make sure that they stay on schedule.
Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re not ready to hire an assistant or you don’t have that much going on where you need to hire somebody to tell you where you’re supposed to be. In that case, your calendar is going to become your Virtual Assistant and will tell you exactly what you need to do; So that when one of your friends calls you and says,
“Hey, Jeff, can you do this today? Can we get this done this afternoon?”
All you’re going to do is say, “Hold on, let me look at my calendar.”
If there is no room in your calendar or you can’t make room in your calendar, you’re going to say “No”, which is the easiest and the hardest word to say in the English language.
You do not have space in your calendar because you have other things to do.
If you have a long to-do list with 85 things on it and there’s nothing in your calendar and somebody calls you and says, “Hey, can you do this?”
You will have a moment of confusion because you have no basis. There’s no strategy for you to get through this to-do list. But by using a calendar, you’re going to start strategizing the way that you use your time. It begins by scheduling exactly what you’re going to do every single minute of every single day.
Can your schedule change or can you move things around?
Are you going to get everything on your to-do list is done in one day?
The only solution to this is to move some things and learn how to prioritize other tasks. When you only have 24 hours in a day, you are forced to prioritize what is important and what needs to get done today with what is not important that you could push to tomorrow or on any other day. You’re going to start working in the same way that a CEO works, which is by having their entire week scheduled out.
You can’t call Mark Cuban and say,
“Hey, Mark, let’s do this in two days at this time.”
Mark will say, “Let me check my schedule and see what it is that I’m doing” because his day was already scheduled out.
He doesn’t say, “You want to do that? Okay, let me look at my to-do list and see where I can add you on my to-do list.”
He doesn’t do that, does he?
Tip #2 Wake Up Early
“Early” is relative in the same way that hard work is relative. If you were working with a personal trainer who tells you that you need to work hard, the “hard work” that he is talking about is relative to what you’re used to doing. If you used to put 125 effort, hard work means you’re doing it at least 126 or higher. If you’re used to putting out an effort that’s 85, hard work for you is at least an 86 or higher. It’s all relative.
In that sense, getting up early would mean getting up earlier than when you’re getting up now. Let’s start with five minutes earlier. What are you going to do with those five minutes?
- You can think about what you’re going to do on that day with five minutes.
- You could take that five minutes to meditate, write down your goals and what you should be doing every single day.
- You can drink a liter of water
- You can play with your dog
- You can write a nice letter to someone you love and send it to them via email or a text.
- You can read a blog post
- You can read a chapter out of a book that you’ve been having dust away on your shelf for months because you haven’t taken out the time to read while you’ve been attacking the 95 item to-do list.
You can take that 5, 30, or even 60 extra minutes to do something that will help you in your day – either some things on your to-do list or something that’s going to help give you clarity, not only for the day but for your life. If you write a chapter in a book or a paragraph every single day for 365 days straight, you will have finished writing a book by the end of the year. Over the next 10 years, you’ll have 10 books published. How would you feel to have that done just by writing a paragraph a day for five minutes?
You know what happens as you start writing or as you get into it? You’re going to say,
“Let me get up a bit earlier and write two paragraphs, a chapter or two”
This can work with anything. You don’t have to have the aspiration of writing books. This can be with anything that you want to do. Take that time and do something productive that will compound on top of each other.
Tip #3 Batch Similar Activities.
If you have things that are, for example, related to a task like responding to emails, respond to all the emails at once in one setting. If you need to set aside an hour to address your inbox, which might have 80 emails in it: set aside that hour and knock out all 80 emails. Once you have worked for exactly one hour, the calendar will buzz with the next thing that you need to get done, then you’re going on to the next thing. There is no extra time. You have one hour to get it done and it should be done. If that person doesn’t reply to your email within that hour for you to see it, they have to wait until the next day or the next time that you have it on the schedule to look at your inbox.
Any and all tasks that you need to do that are related to each other should be batched together so you can knock them all out at once. If you have to get some things done in your car, do all of those activities in the same time period; If you have some things that you need to do with your kids, schedule those things altogether.
Tip #4 Give Yourself Time Limits
When you schedule things out in your calendar, you have to set a specific time limit. Why? It’s because you only have 24 hours in a day and at some point, the day has to end; You have to go to bed, eat dinner, go to work, go to the bathroom or take a shower. When you’re using your calendar, you have limits; When you’re using the to-do list, there is no limit.
Have you ever had a day where you had 10 things on your to-do list and you think to yourself, “I can get all this done tomorrow.”?
But when you start doing it, the day ends with you having finished only task #3. You ended up spending the entire day doing item #3 and, although you get it done, you have 7 other things that you have not even started on. This was because you gave yourself no limits on how much time you had to get things done. This is known as the Parkinson’s goal, where a task will expand or contract based on the amount of time given to get it done.
Have you ever been in a situation where you procrastinated or dragged your feet whole doing something that you knew you needed to get done, because you knew you had time to get it done but then, all of a sudden, something happens that crowds in on you and then there’s a pressure on you where you need to finish the task ASAP, and some way, you miraculously come up with the energy, time, money and effort to get it done within the allotted time?
When we give ourselves time limits on getting things done, we get things done.
When we don’t give ourselves a time limit to get things done, we procrastinate; We take almost forever to finish a task because we drag our feet; Most of the time, we don’t get things done at all when we don’t give ourselves these time limits. Thus, you MUST start giving yourself time limits to get things done.
The concept of setting time limits does not necessarily mean setting a timer to do email responses, go to the gym, or spend time with your kids.
How about you give yourself time limits for your life?
What if you said something like,
- “Within the next 90 days, I have to find a new job”
- “Within the next six months, I’m going to put an information product online and put myself in business as an entrepreneur”
- “Over the next five years, I have to get my dream job?”
- “Over the next two years, I have to put myself in a position where I look in the mirror and I have an eight pack and I feel comfortable walking on the beach with no shirt on.”
What if you put yourself in that position where you force yourself to get things done by setting limits not only on a day-to-day basis. This is more tactical. It involves doing things minute-by-minute, or moment-by-moment.
What if you strategically gave yourself limits on every single thing you wanted to achieve in your life and you actually stuck with those limits?
What if you forced yourself to adhere to the limits that you gave yourself in the same way that your boss will give you a time frame and say,
“Hey, have those papers on my desk by Friday at 4:00 PM.”?
When your boss gives you that limit, you get it done because you know there’ll be consequences if you don’t do that.
The reason we don’t get things done ourselves is because we don’t give ourselves these consequences. We don’t hold ourselves accountable for the things that we say we’re going to do, but we allow other people to hold us accountable. Why do we not hold ourselves accountable when the person you have to deal with more than anybody else is yourself?
By holding yourself accountable for the things that you say you’re going to do, you will see your productivity, quality of life, and the results you get in life go through the damn roof. The number one way that you’re going to start doing this is by giving yourself a finite time limit to get things done.
If you get things done WHENEVER you know what it turns into?
The last five letters in that word: NEVER.
The 4 tips that you’re going to use to get more out of your day are:
- Kill your “To-do list” and start using a calendar.
Don’t write out a to-do list because they can go on forever. A calendar sets limits and shows you what you have to work with: 24 hours in a day.
- Get up earlier every day.
Early is relative to the time that you are used to getting up right now.
- Batch similar activities and do them all at once.
If it’s all emails, group everything together and do it at once so you can knock them all out.
- Give yourself time limits.
Give yourself a limit to how much time you have to spend in order to get anything done; This works for both your day to day tasks and, also, in your overall life.
Focus on how much time you have to get this done and not on how much time you want to have. You should work on it as if you were in jail, where they say,
“Listen, you got 60 minutes to eat that lunch and after 60 minutes we will take the food off the table, whether you ate it or not.”
You don’t have a choice but to finish eating. When you give yourself limits, and they’re real, you will get it done because you don’t have a choice.