We jump back to our discussion about time as we pick up the second part of this two-part Money series. This time, Ken Courtright highlights the importance of creating momentum to take on big things by doing small tasks first, rather than exhaustively taking on the entire piece at once. He talks about managing time and productivity wisely, sharing great techniques and examples from successful people. Take your cue from dominoes and see that your smaller tasks will eventually knock over the larger ones.
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It’s Domino Time
This is part two of Our Time Is Money series of a two-part series. Our last podcast, Time Is Money hit home on the three methods or three approaches as to how to tackle what goes into your time. Number one was Anything and Everything Approach. That inevitably leads to people being efficiently ineffective. Method number two is Causal Management. That’s where you physically cause things to happen by finding out what your big rocks are and the most important things that only you can do that need to be done in the morning. The day can get away from you and you’ve got to get those things done. Causal management on a macro level says, “You put the big rocks in first.” Number three, we talked a little bit about the utopia of causal management is called Scheduled Creation.
This is when you discipline yourself to block off hours, maybe days. Sometimes, like I’ve done in the past writing a book, I’ll have to leave the country, so people know, “Ken is not touchable right now. He’s finishing a book.” That is the epitome of scheduled creation and those are the big rocks. The difference between phase two and phase three or method two and method three is, method two allows you to do a little bit of your big rocks but stay busy all day long and confusing activity with accomplishment. Number three, scheduled creation says, “You’re going to do the big rocks until they’re finished.” It’s a mindset shift. This show is going to be slanted towards the tips and techniques of time. We’re going to talk about the science behind human performance.
Here’s the goal. I’m going to try to explain why do we do what we do and why do we not do the things we know we should do? I’m going to hopefully provide it in a way that many of you reading can instantly become more productive. In a prior podcast, I spoke about the University of Yale dissecting a sixteen-year-old brain and how incredibly fast we have adapted to technology. I talked about how they do a dissection every 40 years. The sixteen-year-old brain after 40 years, twenty of which were under extreme technology changes, the brain looks and acts completely different. It’s more adaptable and it can multitask at a greater level. As great as that is, science is now showing us that with this great new computing power comes in incredibly great appetite for energy.
Did you guys know that Gary Keller, author of The One Thing reports that science now tells us that the human brain, although only 1/50 of our body mass, consumes 1/5 of our daily calories? That blows my mind. I don’t know about you but I cannot tell you how many times a day I’ve got to walk upstairs and walk away from the desk. I work in a basement office in our home and I will literally blurt out to my daughter, my wife or whoever’s around, “I simply can’t process anything right now.” Little did I know that, what I was stating was a matter of fact. It gets even better. Kevin Kruse showed the world in 2015 that the brain goes from full energy to complete fatigue in as little as 90 minutes, depending on what it’s working at. Going further that to ensure focus, entrepreneurs and heavy thinkers should snack on protein and complex carbs throughout the day.Doing everything and anything inevitably leads to people being efficiently ineffective. Click To Tweet
There’s a lot of people thinking about throwing away their five-hour energy drinks or their Monsters now that they understand how the brain works. Monster and five-hour energy do little into truly replenishing the absolute massive energy suck in our bodies, which is that eight pounds of gray matter between our ears. After interviewing seven billionaires and 239 entrepreneurs, Kruse goes on to tell us that the most successful people now schedule what he refers to as Solo Concentration Periods. If you guys remember a prior podcast where I explained that my good buddy Ron Fossum, an extraordinary businessman is the only person in the office on Fridays. Friday is Ron’s day. He sets it aside to think simply. As we all remember, the famous book is Think and Grow Rich. I do not think it is an accident that Ron runs the Smart Money Financial Group, one of the most successful private equity firms in the United States.
The bottom line is, Ron sets aside time to think simply. Kruse points out that the most successful people are setting aside time for solo concentration. He ‘s not talking about groups getting together to focus. This is solo concentration. We are now finding that as we are becoming almost a 100% digital-based society, we’re seeing more and more evidence that the ultra-successful are carrying around small notebooks with them at all times. I remember a while back. I want to say 2003-ish, hearing Dr. John Maxwell speak. Dr. Maxwell at one point occupied more shelf space in Barnes and Noble than any other author at that time. 90% of all of his books have the word leadership in the title. Dr. John Maxwell is a true stud. Dr. Maxwell was explaining that almost all of his books were written from spur of the moment intuition. No matter where he was, often in bed at 2:00 AM, he would pull out his small notebook and start writing.
Let’s talk about a few different calendar techniques that we can use to manage time and productivity. Some of the hottest things being discussed in the men’s group and the mastermind groups that I belong to is higher achievers are adding themes to their calendars. For instance, when I travel, I never book meetings the day before or the day after I return. These are known as buffer days. Buffer days are used for preparation and follow-up. With follow-up being a critical aspect of relationship-building without buffer days, I used to drop the ball continuously on my follow-ups. I cannot imagine how much business we have lost in many years because I only started adding buffer days when I travel. I cannot even imagine the amount of business I lost. I would get back. Instead of having a buffer day the next day back from work, I have 400 emails and five meetings. I would never follow up with the people I needed to follow up with. I probably looked incredibly unprofessional.
Along with buffer days, what we’re seeing in the masterminds and the men’s groups are a lot of focus days and planning days being blacked out in people’s and high achievers’ calendars. A buffer day in a planning day goes back to the days of IBM and the Hilton hotel chain. When they were in their hay days and when they were raining in the markets, their management would often schedule corporate planning retreats to get out of the office so they could plan and do the planning while focused, meaning no distractions from the office. This has become a lost art. It is now on a strong comeback for many high achievers. A onetime technique that not only has not gone away but is making a massive resurgence is the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of all results come from 20% of activities.
The Pareto Principle is gaining esteem worldwide because the world realizes how distracting it is to run a business. When you’re running a business, you’ve got your voicemails, emails, Skypes, you’re go-to meetings, and you’re this and that. It is distracting. Number one, to realize the 20% of your activities that produce 80% of your company’s results, first you have to realize it. You have to physically use causal management and jam them into the schedule with no distractions for hours or days. The Pareto Principle, because of this massive push against everybody with technology and sucking up our time. The Pareto Principle is proving more poignant as one of the greatest time management techniques of all time. It simply has to be forced into work, but it is a result yielder. There’s no question about it.
One of the best questions that I have read is the following question. It’s similar to Dr. Stephen Covey’s, “What is the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” I love that. I want to point out a small technique that I started using a while back. It is helping me chew through my to-do list to the point where my to-dos are flying off the to-do list. Meaning I’m getting to check them off much faster than I used to. I want you to picture this. In the old days, and I mentioned how I stack my to-do list on the previous podcast, I would stack my to-do’s vertically about 8 to 10 to-dos per column. If I have 30 things to do that day, I’d probably have four columns of eight, something like that.
I’d open it up in the morning. I’d stare at the daunting to-do list. I would often get what I call work constipation. I couldn’t quite make up my mind where to start. I would dilly dally, get an extra coffee, go outside and smell the flowers, whatever. Now what I do is, on the weekend, when I split my list up, instead of stacking them four columns of eight deep, I find out what are the two most important, the absolute must get done. Each one of the top two gets its column. The first column only has one thing in it. The second column only has one thing. I want to know, “If I get these done, what are the next two most important?” I’m going to stack them vertically. My first column has one, my second column has one, but my third column has two. I’m going to go right past those top four and I’m going to say, “What are the next three that are the most important and the most urgent?” I’m going to stack them three deep. The next column is 4, 5 and 6 deep.
With my new technique, it takes a lot of stress off of me. When I look at that first column and there’s only one thing on it, I can focus on that one thing. It’s usually the single most important thing of my day. I feel good when I crank that bad boy off and hit delete. I go to the next column, column two, I get it done and I hit delete. Now I’ve got a little bit of momentum. I literally can feel it. I go to the column with two and a little side technique I use is, in that first column that has two in the same column, I like to sneak in a couple of quick ones. Things that I can do in five minutes or less and now I have momentum. I feel like I’ve knocked out three of my six columns. It’s all pure psychology but at the same time, I’m feeling victory and I’m building momentum. Where in my previous method, if I were to do these, I’d only be halfway down my first column and it would feel that I’ve got such a long way to go. With this, it feels like I’d done a ton. With the momentum, I feel invincible during the day.
Now I want to finish with something that relates poignantly and it’s phenomenal. This comes from Lorne Whitehead. Who showed the world in 1983 in the American Journal of Physics that if you take dominoes, you can stack dominoes that they can topple over another domino that is 50% larger. If you have one domino that’s 1×2 inches, it’ll knock over a domino that’s a 1×3 inches and 50% bigger. That one can knock over a domino that’s 4.5 inches tall. Starting with a two-inch domino, geometric progression means the 23rd domino would be taller than the Eiffel tower and the 57th would almost touch the moon. You can learn to set your to-do list for the day, the week and even the month. Your smaller tasks will start leaning on and knocking over larger tasks. In turn, these use their momentum and inertia to blow you right past any goals you set for the day, week or month. This technique is powerful. I hope this helps. Take care.
- Time Is Money – previous episode
- The One Thing
- Kevin Kruse
- Think and Grow Rich
- Smart Money Financial Group