I had a talk recently and I was asked during a group discussion how do you describe what you do?
This has been something I’ve been working on with a great speaker, presenter and business coach Laurie Richards. Laurie has made herself very valuable to her clients as an insightful communication problem solver. One of her many talents and skills is that she helps them discover a powerful “what I do” statement (those are my words not her’s).
I tell you that, to tell you this. Back to the group I was working with. I replied. When companies and associations needs orchestrated solutions in the area of leadership, productivity and human optimization so that their people can become the best versions of themselves they contact me for proven, reliable techniques that their people can apply immediately and get results.
What happens in their heads is this… Problem (lack of productivity) + (Eric’s) Reliable techniques = Immediate results (Their people are now getting things done)
This almost always prompts another question. That question is what is the number one thing I can do to optimize myself? (to be my best, more productive, a better leader, etc…)
I always reply back just one thing? Meaning there are many things that need to be done to optimize a human. They say oh yeah, I’m sure there are many but what’s the number one things I can do? I say sleep. Sleep more and sleep better. With a puzzled look they alway reply… sleep? Sleep really!? I say yep. You asked for the one thing and that’s it. If you try and work with the granular things when you don’t have the 800 pound gorilla in the room handled none of the small stuff will count. It’s like diet advice. If you have a potato chip problem and over eat them all the time. My advice is don’t buy the chips. Problem solved.
I’m not suggesting something I don’t practice or observe. I do this with my sleep. I am obsessed with getting awesome sleep and I prioritize it. An example of this is… I have alarms set to stop caffeine. I have another alarm set to stop working, shut down my laptop, electronic devices, phone and relax. Another for me to put my blue blocker glasses on. Doing things that stimulate you such as caffeine, strenuous exercise, arguments, TV shows, movies, news and thinking about stressors is like buying and eating the chips. The whole bag of chips. Waiting to just get tired and thinking about going to bed is still having the potato chips. Have an alarm (better yet an evening routine) to stop doing things that keep us awake and get ready to sleep is on par with not buying the chips.
Set an alarm.
Don’t buy the chips
Set yourself you for success by focusing on the big ROI things first.
After you do that. We should talk. It’s then time to work on the hundreds of other strategies that can and will make you a better optimized human.
The way I present productivity is NOT about how to do more.
The idea of hustle, grind, take on more and I’ll sleep when I’m dead mentality is not going get you where you want to be long term simply because it’s not sustainable. I promote making the best version of yourself by doing less. Starting with less commitments.
If you are sitting in a keynote talk or a seminar I have orchestrated you’ll hear me say…
Productivity is not about doing more it’s about doing less and focusing on the right things.
That leads to a discussion on what are the right things.
There are only 2 things you need to do in order to do well in life:
– Honor every commitment you make — big or small
– Only commit to a minimum-minimum number of things.
Be absolutely obsessive about those two things, and everything else will fall into place.
Full disclosure, I didn’t always subscribe to this practice. Running 120 miles a week, running a speaking business, putting on races and owning a retail store. Feel my pain, yes but all were my choices. All my commitments but that’s my point. I said yes to all of those and more. However, once I shifted away from more, more and more to this new way of looking at my productivity, obligations, needs, wants and adopted this practice at an obsessive, militant level. I was able to make massive life changing outcomes. My business, fitness, health and relationships changed for the better.
This is not to say that you should try to do the fewest number of things possible, be a slacker, a flake, and be lazy. In fact, just the opposite. When you commit to some outcome, you should do everything possible that you can to ensure you bring it about. My message is always don’t over commit.
Some tools you’ll need to have on this low commitment diet:
-The ability to say NO. This is a must. Look at it like this. Saying no to things gives you an opportunity (and time) to say yes to the really good stuff.
-Stop being a people pleaser. Become a person that other people want to be around by the way you act, communicate and behave. Don’t do things for the sole purpose of making them like you. Attract people, don’t force people.
-Get better at making decisions and avoid making decisions is a decision fatigued state. Limit daily (big and monumental) decisions to two or three and make them within 2-4 hours of getting up in the morning.
-Identify and maximize high energy and high focus times and fill those times with meaningful, productive work. This is key because it helps you ID your highest payoff items and gets them in the right slots to make them happen. Then block off the hours before work and mark your quitting time on your schedule. This leaves other open blocks in your day to do lower level energy and focus task level work. Once 65% of your day is filled up…STOP taking on other commitments. Just say NO. Thanks Nancy.
-Work has specific obligations we must deliver on. Focus on the meaningful work. Work that makes a difference. Work that moves you towards completing a project. To help you with this do an 80/20 analysis. This law states that 20% of your efforts (should) give you 80% of your results. Personally, pay careful attention to what you like to do and don’t like to do. Only say yes to the things you like to do. My new motto is if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a hell no! Life is way short to be doing things we don’t like or want to do.
For help on this DM me or check out my TIME. ENERGY. FOCUS. Ebook and Video Course.
My article appeared here in Construction Executive Magazine.
I test a lot of productivity, habit and human optimization apps.
I have to because I am constantly asked at my seminars and keynotes “what app do you recommend” for this or that? I try to always have a recommendation to offer. I even have a PDF document that contains my current and top recommendations. However, I recently discovered something about my app choice and usage. Personally I have migrated back to most of the native (IOS) apps. If I don’t use a native app I noticed that my chalices were always for the simple app.
Simple is where the freedom is
I pondered why and how I choose the apps for may daily productivity and what I kept coming back to was simple! Simple is fast. Simple is not over complicated. Simple is reliable. Simple doesn’t require a lot of brain power thus not creating decision fatigue. Simple is all I require to get the job done.
Stop giving yourself decision fatigue by going simple
Let me share some of my thinking here with you so that you can make an informed decision on if simple will work for you in the app department.
As a productivity expert speaking and writing on the subject of getting more done I have to tell you everything you can do to reduce decision fatigue is essential to your productivity success. We make 25,000-65,000 decisions a day. These decisions start as soon as we wake up. Snooze? No! I mean yes, I’m tired. Brown shoes or black? Oatmeal or avocado toast? Should I take Warm Springs road to work or the I-215? Some of these decisions seem trivial, but be warned: brown shoes or black shoes takes just as much out of the decision making allowance as making a decision on $100,000,000 project. Yep, true story.
This is why simple easy-to-use apps are key in not giving you decision fatigue. If the app is over complicated, just the act of adding an item to a to-do list can be taxing. I counted how many decisions I had to make to add a task to a very popular to-do app. Eight! It took eight decisions just to enter a simple task. I don’t know about you but I need all of the brain power I can recruit for higher cognitive pursuits. So, how many decisions is it to enter it into a “simple” app? None! Hit the plus sign and type, done! Want to save an article to read later? I tested a very elaborate app that boasts tons of features. It’s an app that is made for this sort of curation. It took 9 taps just to send it to the app. Two more click to specify the destination location. I switched to using Instapaper and in two clicks I have it sent, saved and ready to read as soon as I open the app.
Try it out see if simple works for you.
Below is a list of simple apps to test. Kick the tires see if you notice the reduced trouble and decisions to execute just using the basic functions of these apps.
Reminders (Apple IOS)
Notes (Apple IOS)
Pen and paper (Yep, going old school)
Reader and content curator: