Join us live each week at www.productivity.academy/live and get your questions answered by submitting them at anytime right here: www.productivity.academy/questions. You can watch the video for the past episode recorded on May 24th, 2017 above, or you can review the transcript below.
Hey everybody, welcome to this weeks Productivity Academy live broadcast. Got the Q and A going here every week, well, every week Wednesday at 10 AM. Gonna give people a minute here. I know some people have asked some questions. If you are watching this later, you can click on the link above in case you’re not able to make it. Ask your questions, I check those out ahead of time and I’ll go through them and you can either watch them here, or on the Productivity Academy YouTube channel. Feel free to join live if you’ve got questions while I’m talking. Just ask them and I can watch them on the screen and check them out. Realize I’m gonna go kind of crazy looking around and trying to figure out everything, but I promise over time it’s gonna get better.
One thing that I know I’ve talked about before, but something I’ve mentioned is this book Deep Work. I can across Cal Newport originally through a podcast called The Tropical MBA, which I really like, and there’s gonna be a post up on productivity.academy, the website later today or probably tomorrow with a short review of the book and kind of my thoughts on it and how I could apply it. I thought it was good enough I really wanted to share that with everybody so that if you read through that, you can see if this is something you might wanna take the time to read. Highly suggest you do, it’s only, let me see, it’s about 250 pages. It’s really good.
Basically, it not only explains why being able to perform extended periods of distraction free work is important and why and how that’s becoming more important, but you also get real world tactics for putting this into action. It’s kind of nice. It’s not just the theoretical it’s important to be able to really dive into stuff, but also goes into this is how you can make this happen.
Cal Newport is a professor, and so he has a profession and a job and a schedule that is very different from a lot of people, and he’s cognitive to that fact and talks about there’s many different ways you can set this up so that it works for you.
It’s interesting, if you haven’t or you’re not familiar with this, I just wanna read what his description of deep work is. He calls it “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” A good definition and there’s a lot that, that encompasses. Like I said, in the opening chapters of the book, he dives into what deep work is and why it’s important and why you should be interested in it, and I completely agree with that. It then goes into some of the practical aspects of how you can really apply this to your life.
In the intro to why it’s important, I’m not gonna cover all of his reasons, I think it’s pretty cool, but he talks about how distractions are becoming more and more prevalent, because in our lives, we’ve always got, and I use distractions loosely, I just mean it’s a distraction that takes you away from whatever you’re trying to do. Things like a phone call, or relationships, or just anything like that, and it’s not in the negative. A relationship isn’t a bad thing, but you’ve gotta deal with these outside people, whether it’s your boss or your family, those are things that may take your time away from what you’re trying to focus on.
Those are around all the time, but now the technological aspects of this are growing, you know, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, different ways of being reached, alerts, all this stuff, and so it’s being harder and harder to pull out from that. I really identify with that. I’ve noticed my attention span getting shorter and then the times that I do, say I’ve got two hours, I’m gonna really get this done, whatever that task is, and I go into it. Then, I find myself like 45 minutes later unconsciously, I’ll just click on email, I’m like oh my God, what am I doing, I didn’t even have an email I needed to check, and I find myself doing that. This has been a really good reminder that I need to take a step back and be better at being focused.
That’s really the second part of this. It takes practice. You can’t just turn it on. A lot of people, and myself included, think okay, well I’ll just get the time to focus and that’s it, be good to go. I know how to focus, right? Of course, and then you try it and realize wow, this is really difficult. There’s a lot more to the book than that, but I suggest you do that, and again, I’ll probably come back and pop the link in here to the review I wrote about it or just kind of a summary, and you can figure out if that’s gonna be something good for you.
Justin commented here, “Have you checked the Carl Peline on YouTube, cool he’s been helping a lot.” No, I’ll check that out. I’m not familiar with him, so I’ll definitely check that out. Thanks man.
Jess says, “My biggest distractions are relationships and related to my social needs mixed in with not being able to deal with being lonely without that human interaction.” Yeah, that’s tough, well it’s tough and good. I mean hey, you’re normal, congratulations, you like being around people, so that’s good. I think this ties in to this idea, because I was gonna say, I’m literally reading off of what I wrote earlier today, but for myself, I wanna be able to contribute more meaningfully. I also wanna have more time that I’m in control of for both work and play. To be honest, I wanna be super productive so that I can spend more time outside and reading. I love to travel with my fiance and I look forward to doing even more of that in the future. I better figure out a way to improve my working time so that I can do this.
To me, that’s kind of the same idea with what you’re talking about, at least the second half of that. You want to take things up a notch so that you can enjoy these social interactions without feeling like you’re slacking on your work or you’re not achieving what you could be, so part of it is just identifying and being okay with that. You need social interactions. If you’re skipping out of work or you’re leaving work and you’re like, okay, I didn’t do that one thing but I’ll just ignore it and go do some … Maybe then, you need to take a look at how can I organize my systems to better cope with this so that I can then leave work or leave it behind and say okay now I’m gonna go do this other thing, which is really important to my life, which is having that social interaction.
Then distractions in relationships, I mean that’s a really broad one too. I know I just mentioned it earlier, but that depends what it is. Is it you get wrapped up with somebody you’re dating or is it literally you’re working at home or in the office and people are distracting you, so there’s different ways to deal with that. A lot of that can be helping people realize that your time is really important for the following reason. If you are able to focus, and you’ve got to stick to this, so if this is the other side, your time is really important you’re able to focus then you’re gonna be able to focus more attention on them after you complete whatever it is you’re working on.
The flip side of that is you then have to be better about being present, you know, when you’re done working, you’re done. Part of this book kind of addresses that too. I can’t recommend it enough, really enjoyed it. It did take me a couple weeks to get through, but I think it’s really worth it.
Justin said, “Really, the dating aspect, but it goes into not prioritizing myself over others.” I guess it’s more of a time thing. You could try setting some sort of time blocks. This is not a great analogy, and I realize this, but this could be for somebody too who’s like I watch too much TV, and I understand that, that could be an issue. I go home and I sit on my butt and I watch six hours of TV a night. Maybe you set some sort of thing like if you’re dating somebody new, you’re only gonna spend three nights a week out with them. Again, I’m totally just making up numbers, but you set yourself some boundaries and you stick to it. You do your very best to do that and over time you get better about that. You could even explain it to them and I think most people would respect that, especially if it comes from a place of hey, I’m trying to do X, Y, and Z to make my life better and to make whatever happen. Then, somebody who has a problem with that, you might wanna second guess why you’re hanging out with them.
Yeah man, I think that really works, so I think that’s a good idea, again it’s tough, I know it’s so east to say oh yeah, I met someone awesome, I’m just gonna see them three days a week. That’s not what I did with my fiance, and I’m not sure I could do it, but I think it’s important to, even if you can’t do it right away, to try to set that limit and then it’s kinda like the aim high, so even if you don’t make it all the way, you’re still gonna end up in a good place.
I had two more I’m gonna touch on briefly. What are some ways you stay focused and productive without getting burnt out? My quick tip for this one, because this is something I do is I take breaks. It’s part of setting those limits and staying focused so I’ll really go all out, but then I’ll set a timer. For myself it’s 30 minutes and I’m thinking about extending that to 45 or 60, but I’m also thinking about how I can balance that because you wanna have enough time that you can really get some good things done, but for me, I wanna stand up. It’s about clearing my head and then kinda being healthy. I don’t wanna sit here for four hours. That’s not good, so I’m trying to balance that.
I would say try to set a timer and then find something else to do, like go shoot a basketball, go do the laundry. If you’re at work, go walk around the building, get some water. I find that really helps, just some sort of movement is generally a good idea and just something that isn’t … Don’t go from one type of work to another. You’re just task switching at that point. Take five minutes and clear your head.
Last question today was, how do you stay organized when running a business? These videos might not be the best example, there’s stuff all over, but for me the most important part of this has been staying up to date, and that encompasses a whole lot. Processes and procedures are paramount, but then trying your best again to keep those up to date and staying on top of those, creating new ones, reviewing them, things like that. It’s generally not about 100%, it’s that 80/20 rule. You do the very best you can and because you’re trying to do that, things are generally going to get better. If you’re too busy, you hire somebody. You get an outsource, you get a VA, you get an assistant, or you get a full-time employee.
You’ve got to be in charge of that. Again, it’s tough if you’re running the business though, you’re running the business, you are responsible for it. I would say check out a book like Work The System by Sam Carpenter about process and how important that is and life changing that can be. That’s a little bit more on the side of getting processes together and how important they can be and he does go into his details on how he does it. Then as far as staying organized with that, I would say it’s got to be regular. You just keep doing it. A little general, I mean if there’s specific questions on that, that’s a really good one to dive into. I guess the one word summary there is process.
All right, that’s gonna wrap it up. I think that’s about it for today. I’m wearing this, I’m gonna head out for a run, so this is how I stay focused and productive without getting burnt out. I get up early, I get a lot done in the morning, I try to stay pretty focused throughout the morning and then come about 11 AM, I’m out the door and it’s a beautiful day outside so, I’m gonna go enjoy it.
Thanks everybody for watching and I’ll see you next week.