AskPat 12 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? This is Pat Flynn, and welcome to Episode 12 of AskPat, where I answer your online business questions, every single day, five days a week. And really quick I want to give a shout-out to my buddy Chris Ducker.
Chris Ducker from ChrisDucker.com. One of my best friends. He's actually coming to the US in May this year and he's going to stay at my place with my family. We're going to hang out and we're also going to help with his book launch. He's coming out with a new book called Virtual Freedom. You can find it on Amazon right now if you go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/vf for Virtual Freedom. You can check out his book. You can pre-order it. I got 50 copies. Not only because I want to support my buddy, but because I'm going to be giving him them away eventually on SmartPassiveIncome.com. [Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase Virtual Freedom through this link.]
So, look out for that, but yes, you can pick up a copy right now. And the reason I mention Virtual Freedom in this episode today is because today's question is from Brad, and he asks about productivity. These are really popular episodes typically, because we all know we could be more productive and we want to know how we can be the most productive person we can. Brad asks about some of the projects I have going on and how I prioritize and manage my work. So, let's hear the question from Brad.
Brad: Brad Zomick from SkilledUp.com. I'm a big fan of your work and I have learned a lot from your posts and podcasts. My question is about productivity. At SkilledUp I run our blogs, email marketing, social media, and moving forward to want to experiment with podcast and in video. You've got Smart Passive Income and now FoodTruckr and I'm wondering how you get it all done. How do you prioritize your weekly and daily schedules? What are your major distractions and how do you cut through them? How much outsourcing are you doing and how do you delegate tasks? I'd appreciate it if you can share some of your productivity hacks with us. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work.
Pat Flynn: Brad, thank you for your questions. Productivity is always a hot topic and it's a topic that's near and dear to my heart, because I've been working on trying to be the most productive person I could be, primarily because of my kids. I've got two kids here at home and I choose to spend most of my time with them, which means the time I do have to work, I want and need to be incredibly focused and productive, because I don't want to waste my time. I feel like if I waste my time it's time I'm wasting from my kids, if that makes sense.
So, I've been working at being the most productive person that I can be. And I have to be honest with you, I'm still continuing to work on that. Every day is a different challenge and as the lives of my kids change and as just technology changes and as time goes by it's always a challenge. We're never going to land at a point where, “Okay, now we're the most productive person we can be.” We can always be more productive. So, I always try and experiment with new things to see how I can cut something down just a little bit, because those little things do add up, especially if you do things over and over and over again.
And I have to say, because I've talked to others about productivity before and what they do, the thing I've learned is this: we're all different. Everyone's most productive schedule or most productive lifestyle or best productivity hacks are unique to them. Everyone has different techniques, software, and hacks and combinations of all those things to be the most productive person they can be. So, before I share what I do, I encourage you, Brad, and everyone else out there, to understand that you have to find what works best for you, which means that you have to experiment yourself and try new things and keep track and be conscious about what's working and what's not.
As long as you know why you want to be productive, and don't say it so you can do more. I mean, why do you want to do more? What's the true underlying reason why you want to be more productive? You want to get more done, yes, but why? Once you know what that why is in your techniques and experiments and the software you use, it will all fall into place, and it will help you keep moving forward, because you're doing it for the right reasons. So, that's just something to keep in mind.
So, going back to your question, Brad, I'm so glad you mention prioritizing because I think that's the number one productivity tip really. So many people work and stay busy but they just work to stay busy. To feel like they're getting stuff done, when really they're not, because they might be working hard and making progress but not on exactly what they should or want to be working for or toward. When you know your priorities in your business you know that the work you're working on is exactly what you should be doing. That in itself is motivating. And of course, when you complete or get a big chunk of whatever it is you're doing for your priority done you know you're closer to your goals and can then move on to the next priority or next project.
There's no guessing. It's just, “Okay, this is what I need to do. Let's do it.” That's why prioritizing is incredibly important. This is what I need to learn about. Let's learn about it. Forget about everything else for now or at least put it aside. I need to focus on this next task and that's it. If there's something out there that's awesome but doesn't immediately help me with my next task, then I'll put it away for later. It'll still be awesome when I get back to it, but awesome doesn't necessarily mean it's going to help me right now. So, the question I have for you is, what is your next mission and what do you need to do to complete that mission?
I always ask myself that every day. What's my top priority and what can I do to conquer it. And if I don't, and here's another tip, if I don't know what to do or what's next, I ask for help. So, the first tip was understanding what your priorities are, and I'll tell you how I prioritize in a second, but the second tip I have for you is ask. I ask who I think can help me the most, because instead of beating around the bush or winding my way through things and fumbling, sometimes one person can just say, “Do this or check this resource out or here's a link for you.” Boom. I'm on the right track. Saved hours of work that way.
So, that's a huge tip it as well. Ask for help, don't be afraid to ask for help. That's something that in the beginning I struggled with so much, because I felt like I had to do everything on my own, and I tried to do everything on my own. And I eventually did, at least in the start, and do everything that I could do, but it took forever and I didn't didn't do it the best way possible because I just wanted to get it done eventually when I was doing something that I probably had no business doing, like HTML, CSS stuff in the beginning.
Anyway, as far as how to prioritize. First you have to understand everything you want to do, everything you have going on. Write all that down. Until you write all that stuff down there's no way you can prioritize. You might have an idea of what your top focus should be in your head, but when you lay it all out there on paper or maybe in a mind mapping program like MindMeister, which is what I use. I think there's one called Mindjet and FreeMind, I think. There's a bunch of mind mapping programs. They're great. But I use MindMeister. But until you write down what's in your brain, you have no idea really what your top priority is. You might think you have an idea, but there's all this other garbage in your head that's distracting you.
The beauty of writing stuff down on paper or putting it in a program is, yes, you can see what's going on in your brain, but you can also see what may be excessive. Stuff that you can knock out or stuff you can see that doesn't need to be there, which will free up your mind and space in your brain to again, focus on what you need to focus on. And I would say maybe 90 percent of the time, when you put what's in your brain, all of those different projects you're working on, or the different tasks that you need to do. When you put all that on paper, 90 percent of the time you can immediately start to organize by priority. It just happens. This thing right here, this is what I need to do. I need to do it now. Sometimes there's no way to know what that is until you see and are able to compare it with everything else on that paper or on that mind map that you created.
If you're having trouble with prioritization then here's a tip for you. Look at each of those things you write down, those projects and tasks, and ask yourself, “What happens if I don't do this?” For each one of those. Sometimes you ask yourself that, “What happens if I don't do this?” And sometimes it's like, “Well, if I don't do this not much will happen.” Boom. You've knocked something off your list or you've helped realize that this belongs on the bottom of your priorities. Or you might say, “Well, what happens if I don't do this?” Holy moly, this needs to be done right now. Out of all the things here that I'm seeing this is first, because if I don't do it, this happens, and then this happens. This is first. Boom. Go get it done.
Brad, you also asked about major distractions. I'll tell you, my kids are a major distraction. Now, don't get me wrong. I love my kids, but they don't sort of understand my work schedule. I'm not like, “Hey guys, two o'clock. Now you can come hang out and talk to me.” That's not going to work, especially for a one and a four year old. They don't get, “Oh, I need a couple hours of time to work.” They don't get that. So, what do I do? I don't work when the kids are up. Plain and simple. This is my schedule now. I do most of my work after 9 p.m. and it's actually 11:13 p.m. right now as I record this, because the kids are down and asleep and they won't interrupt me and it's awesome. Plus, I have the whole day to be motivated by them because, like I said earlier, they are my “why.” They are why I do what I do.
So, when they go down to sleep I'm like, “Sweet, I can finally get to work.” But I'm also like, “Sweet, so blessed I can have a day just like I did today. Let's get some more work done so I can keep living like this.” Of course, their schedule will change, once my son goes to school, followed by my daughter and then I'll have some time during the day and maybe get more done, we'll see. Being an entrepreneur and being extremely productive doesn't mean just working all the hacks. It also means being extremely flexible and understanding that there will be distractions and you have to learn to cope and you have to learn to adapt and make the best of what you've got.
So, yeah, kids are a distraction and I'm much better working when they're asleep than . . . I'm much better off working when they're asleep than forcing myself to work when they're up. Plus, I found that I work better at night anyway, right now at least. That's when I'm the most productive. Some of you out there, you might be morning people and your schedule will have to change and shift accordingly.
Another distraction I have is social media. Now, social media is a valuable tool and a valuable relationship builder for any business or blog, but it can also be a huge time suck. And I'm going to include YouTube in on this one as well, because with any of these platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and now, more recently, Instagram and Vine. Vine has really been a big one for me lately. I'm always like, “I can do another five second video. It's only five or six seconds and I can do another one, I can do another one, I can do another one.” It's like eating a bag of chips, just one is no good, but yeah.
Major distractions, those platforms. So, my hack there is, well, I know some people who use programs, such as for Mac there's a program called SelfControl. And on Windows there's one called Cold Turkey. You can find that one at GetColdTurkey.com, if you're using Windows. And these programs will block you, on your computer, from using specific applications and visiting specific websites. Very smart. But for me, I did a couple other things. In the past I used to have an alarm that would go off every hour. And when this alarm went off, the text on this alarm, this was on my iPhone, would read, “Are you doing what you should be doing right now?” And oftentimes I wouldn't. It would catch me. I would be on Facebook or Twitter or in some YouTube wormhole and over time, because of this alarm, I slowed down my misuse of my time and eventually stopped.
So, you could try that, because what happens is you don't want to catch yourself doing what you shouldn't be doing. Now I simply have a question I ask myself before I go onto these platforms. I ask myself, “Well, what am I gaining by doing this?” And then usually I won't proceed. Sometimes, if it's social media, I'll be like, “Okay. I just published a post. I'm here to share my article and interact with my audience for 15 minutes.” So, I've given myself permission to use those apps or be on those platforms, but a lot of times that simple question, “What am I gaining from this?” That will stop me in my tracks and keep me focused on what I need to focus on.
Now, the last thing I want to say as far as distractions, and I've talked about this a little bit just a second ago, is that there's so much awesome content being created out there. Podcast, blog post, videos, and it's all great. It's stuff I want to learn, but it's not stuff I need to learn right now, because it's not about my top priority or my primary focus. So, instead of reading those blog articles or listening to those podcasts—which when I do, I listen at 1.5x speed, which is another sort of tip. I use a tool called Evernote Clipper. I have Evernote, for one, and then I have this sort of side-by-side tool with it called Evernote Clipper, to save those articles or blog posts or podcasts into specific Evernote Folders about those topics.
So, for example, I've been seeing a lot of great content about infographics and also Pinterest lately on the web, but that's not my focus right now. So, maybe I'll look into that in the future but for right now I don't need that stuff. So, I'll use my Evernote web clipper to save those articles into a specific folder in Evernote and boom. They're there when I need them, just not right now, but later.
Now, before I go Brad, you asked about what to delegate in your business and I want to point all of you to an exercise that you can do. This is by Chris Ducker actually, again, the author of Virtual Freedom coming out April 1. This will get you to understand what you need to delegate, and this is a great exercise. So, what you do, and I'll point you to the link later. Actually, just go to Google and type in “Chris Ducker three lists to freedom.” That will get you into this post about this exercise where you literally write down tasks that you hate doing in your business; you write down tasks that you can't do and then you write down tasks that you shouldn't do. And Chris explains this more in a video in that post, but that will help you big time understand what you should be outsourcing or have other team members do.
And with that I just want to say thanks again Brad for the great question. I think a lot of people will benefit from you asking that. And so I'd love to send you, as I do everyone who gets their question featured here on the show, an AskPat t-shirt. So, it'll be sent your way very soon. And if you, the listener, have a question you'd like to ask me and potentially get featured on the show, head on over to AskPat.com. You can also subscribe to the show and iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud there as well, or on your own RSS feed podcast player of your choice.
And lastly, a quick shout-out again to my brother from another mother, Chris Ducker. His book Virtual Freedom. My Amazon link for that is SmartPassiveIncome.com/vf. You can pre-order it now. Chris, good luck to you in your launch. You have my full support. And thank you, the listener, for taking time to listen to this episode. And I'm going to leave you with a quote by Paul J. Meyer about productivity. He said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.” So make stuff happen, be productive, and remember why. Cheers and all the best.
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[Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]