Modern Productivity: Superhuman Focus In A Distracted World | Brad Merrill | Skillshare

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Modern Productivity: Superhuman Focus In A Distracted World

teacher avatar Brad Merrill, Media Entrepreneur

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome To The Course!


    • 2.

      [Mindset] How To Stay Motivated


    • 3.

      [Mindset] Discipline And The Power Of Habit


    • 4.

      [Mindset] The Difference Between Busy And Productive


    • 5.

      01 Distractions


    • 6.

      [Distractions] The Truth About Multitasking


    • 7.

      [Distractions] How Social Media Is KILLING Your Productivity (And What To Do About It)


    • 8.

      [Distractions] Taking Charge Of Your Time


    • 9.

      [Distractions] Eliminating Your Personal Procrastination Triggers


    • 10.

      [Distractions] Paralysis By Analysis


    • 11.

      [Distractions] How To Leverage Other People's Time To Get More Done


    • 12.

      Identifying Your Peak Hours (And The Magic Of The Morning)


    • 13.

      How To Become A Morning Person (In Less Than A Week!)


    • 14.

      [Planning] The Only Two Things You Need To Focus On To Achieve Your Goals


    • 15.

      [Planning] Conducting Annual And Quarterly Reviews


    • 16.

      [Planning] Using A Task Manager To Plan And Organize Your Work


    • 17.

      [Planning] Conducting A Weekly Review


    • 18.

      [Planning] Is "Time Blocking" Right For You?


    • 19.

      [Execution] Developing A Strong Work Ethic


    • 20.

      [Execution] How To Stop Procrastination In Its Tracks


    • 21.

      [Execution] How Deadlines Can Increase Your Efficiency


    • 22.

      [Execution] A Counterintuitive Strategy To Avoid Burnout And Focus Longer


    • 23.

      [Execution] Batching Similar Tasks


    • 24.

      [Execution] How Music Affects Your Productivity


    • 25.

      The Next Steps


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About This Class

We all have goals and ambitions, but most of us aren't on track to reach our goals because we're not taking the right action at the right time and with the right consistency.

In this course, we'll walk through a variety of strategies that you can implement to reclaim your focus, maximize your productivity, and achieve your goals.

If you're ready to stop procrastinating and start bringing your most ambitious goals to life, get yourself enrolled and give these methods a try. They've made a huge difference in my life, and I hope they'll do the same for you.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Brad Merrill

Media Entrepreneur


Brad Merrill is the CEO of Merrill Media, a modern holding company focused on building independent, scalable businesses at the intersection of technology and media. He is regarded as an expert in his field, teaching business and technology courses to more than 100,000 students and providing marketing training to a number of prominent startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Merrill considers himself a passionate creative: he loves creating articles, videos, websites, companies, workflows, and new ideas. He has been creating things on the web since 2007, working on dozens of projects and reaching tens of millions of people in the process.

In 2010, Merrill founded VentureBreak, which became a leading source of news about innovation for forward-thinking entrepreneurs, investo... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome To The Course!: Hello and welcome. My name's Brad Merrill, and I'm so excited that you decided to join me for this course. The fact that you're here tells me a couple of things. Number one, you have goals you want to accomplish. And number two. You're looking for a way to achieve those goals more quickly and efficiently, and that's fantastic because you are way ahead of the pack in that regard. We all have goals and ambitions, but most of us aren't on track to reach our goals because we're not taking the right action at the right time and with the right consistency. This course is a detailed blueprint designed to help you do just that. It's based on hundreds of hours of research as well as my own personal experience in building two successful media companies. We live in a world that's constantly distracted as you look around. Everybody seems to be chasing short term gratification over long term achievement, and it's not necessarily their fault. We have people and companies competing for our attention during every single moment of our waking lives. The result is a global economy where focus is infinitely more valuable than almost any other trait, certainly more than talent or intelligence, because focus is such a rare thing, and it drives substantial results in this course will walk through a variety of strategies that you can implement to reclaim your focus. Maximize your productivity and cliche as it may sound. Achieve anything you set your mind to. Now, before we go any further. I think any good student instructor relationship is built on honesty and transparency, So I'd like to make one thing super clear. This course will not change your life, and it will not magically make you more productive. What it will do is give you the tools and strategies you need to change your own life and make yourself more productive. I hope you understand the difference. The idea is, I'm going to supply as much actionable knowledge as I can in a format that hopefully makes it easy for you to implement. But you have to supply the action. So as you go through these lectures, make sure you're always thinking to yourself, How can I apply this information to my life? That's how you're going to see results. So with that in mind, let's take a look at some of the things will cover in this course will start by getting you into the right mindset, which will help ensure you don't end up losing steam. When things get difficult, we'll talk about how to stay motivated, how to develop strong self discipline and the difference between busy work and productive work. Then we'll take a hard look at some of modern life's biggest distractions, from social media to Netflix to email and will uncover the key to stopping procrastination in its tracks. Next, we'll talk about identifying your peak hours for productivity. As you'll see I'm a huge advocate of the early morning hours, so I'll share some of the benefits of waking up early. And for those who aren't morning people, I'll show you a simple method to help you become an early riser. In less than a week, one of the most important aspects of productivity is having an action plan. So we'll dedicate an entire Section two planning that includes everything from setting in reviewing long term goals to day to day task management and how those two levels can tie together seamlessly and finally will get to the actual work. We'll talk about how to develop a strong work ethic, along with a number of strategies to make you more efficient and productive in your day to day execution. This course covers a lot of ground, and as you'll see pretty quickly, I am not a fan of fluff or filler content. I approach my courses with the idea that every minute has to count. I think I'd be a huge hypocrite if I sat here and told you to stop wasting your time and then proceeded to waste your time with a bunch of nonsense that it really doesn't matter. So this is not a long 12 hour course or anything like that. It's relatively short, but I try to pack as much of value into each lecture as I can, giving you what's actually gonna be helpful in omitting things that aren't necessary in terms of actually using the course. I think the best approach is to first follow it from start to finish to get a bird's eye view of everything and then return to individual sections later based on where you are in your own journey. And if you have any questions along the way, please let me know because I would love to help you out. So once again, I want to thank you for joining me. I'm really glad you're here. And with all that out of the way, let's get straight into it. 2. [Mindset] How To Stay Motivated: A lot of times when productivity comes up in conversation, people say things like, Oh, I just don't have the motivation or How do you have so much motivation to do all these things? I want to address this Not because I think motivation is the key to everything it's not. And in fact, I think there are other, more important factors in this equation. But I do think it's good to have at least a baseline drive to keep you going, and for me, that's pretty easy. What I'm about to say is probably gonna make you uncomfortable, but understand. I say it with the best of intentions to hopefully inspire you to take action. Here it is. You're gonna die. That's it. One day you will be on your death bed looking back at your life, and it's gonna be one of two things. Either you'll be happy with the way you lived in what you were able to do, or you'll look back with regret and regret is the worst. I tried to design my entire life toe, optimize that moment because I don't wanna wake up when I'm 90 and regret whatever it is living on someone else's terms or not pursuing my dreams were not spending enough time with the people I care about. I just want to minimize regret. Obviously, hindsight is 2020 and all that, but really, it comes down to this. I know that I have a limited amount of time to do all the things that I want to do, and that gives everything a sense of urgency for me and that should apply to all of us. We all have a limited amount of time, but very few of us act like it. Most people live kind of passively and let life just happened to them. And then they have that moment when they're 90 and they look back and they realize they didn't do any of the things they wanted to do because they never embraced that sense of urgency and they lived like they had all the time in the world. I don't want to put myself in that position, and I don't think you do either. So for me, that's one aspect of motivation. That's probably the biggest one. The other thing I think is important is knowing your why in other words, what is the underlying purpose or driving force behind whatever it is you're trying to do. A lot of times, the random tasks day in and day out can be kind of monotonous, and it's helpful to step back from time to time and think about what you want out of life, what you want out of your career and how what you're doing now fits into that long term vision. Or perhaps more importantly, what could you be doing now that would fit into that vision? What we call purpose is usually an intersection of your talents, your passions, your skills and your deepest values. Once you've identified what that is, keep it in mind to keep you moving forward even when things get difficult. To me, that's a lot more powerful than watching, say, a motivational video on YouTube. Videos condemn finitely, get you fired up, and I hope this course Kitson fired up. But if you want consistent long term motivation that has to come from within, you have to want it for yourself, not because some guy on the Internet told you to want it. We'll talk about long term visions and goals and more depth later in the course, but I wanted to mention it now so you can have it in the back of your mind and start thinking. 3. [Mindset] Discipline And The Power Of Habit: before we go any further, we need to acknowledge on important truth. And that is, as you set out on this quest to maximize your productivity, you're not gonna be super motivated all the time. Motivation often comes in waves. You're really stoked and excited about life one day, and the next day you feel like you're not making any progress and you just want to stay in bed. That's normal. The solution is discipline. Discipline is continuing toe work, continuing to make progress out of habit. Even when you don't feel particularly motivated. Discipline trumps motivation every single time. This is arguably the number one variable that separates the world's most productive and successful figures from everybody else. Stephen King famously said. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work. That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's about habitual progress every day without fail, no matter what. This is a skill that's developed over time by learning to consciously change your patterns of behavior. Have you ever heard the phrase we are what we repeatedly do? It's true. I also love the way Gretchen Rubin puts it. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while, you don't achieve any goal by working on it when you feel like it. The way it gets done is through constant, relentless action every single day. Some people think productivity means doing a lot of things in a day. And, sure, productive people have the ability to do more things. But when you get down to it, productivity is more about doing the right things consistently, and that is the result of discipline. You might want to write this next part down because it's important, and I'm going to keep coming back to it. Momentum and inertia are the key determinants of consistent productivity. I'm going to say that one more time. Mo mentum and inertia are the key determinants of consistent productivity. Let me explain what I mean by this. Isaac Newton's first law of Motion states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted on by an outside force. That is inertia. And that law is justice. True in the realm of productivity, as it is in physics. Think about it. If you just sit there like a bump on a log, you're not achieving anything. You're not moving in a meaningful direction. But if you're in constant motion, if you're doing things every day that are moving you toward your goals, you're gonna keep moving in that direction indefinitely until you ultimately achieve them. And in fact, your momentum is actually gonna accelerate because seeing your own progress will add fuel to the fire and give you some of that internal motivation to keep moving. So how do you become a more disciplined person? Like I said, discipline is a skill. It's like a muscle that you have to exercise and develop over time. A lot of the principles will talk about in this course will help you develop stronger discipline. But if I had to give you one actionable tip that you can immediately apply toe all areas of your life to improve your discipline, it would be this. Choose solutions over distractions. So what does that mean? Well, as you know, life has an infinite supply of problems, and as long as you live, it's gonna be throwing problems right at your face. Some of those problems are expected, and as a result, they're pretty easy to deal with others air unexpected and a little more difficult to deal with. You don't get to choose which problems life sends your way, but you do get to choose how you react When people face problems, they react in one of two ways with a solution or with a distraction for easy problems. Most people automatically react with a solution, and that's the end of it. But when things get tough, it's very common to turn to distractions. Distractions are activities that make you forget about the problem, or at least dull the pain that the problem is causing you. These activities range widely from just zoning out on the couch, watching TV or playing video games all the way to things like alcohol and drug abuse. So there's a wide spectrum, but they all fundamentally come from the same place. Distractions temporarily take your mind off a problem without actually solving it. So every time you're faced with a problem, you have to choose whether to respond with a solution or a distraction, and these choices turn into habits every time you choose a solution, it becomes a little bit easier to choose a solution for future problems. Every time you choose a distraction, it becomes a little bit easier to choose a distraction for future problems. If you choose either one consistently enough, it becomes a habit either a good habit where you're always taking action to solve your problems or a bad habit where you're always using distractions toe hide from your responsibilities. So here's the actionable part. My challenge for you is to start making a conscious effort to choose solutions over distractions until it becomes a concrete habit. Now, if you're currently accustomed to choosing distractions, it's not gonna happen for you overnight. It does take some practice and repetition, but with time you will be on your way to a farm or disciplined and productive life. 4. [Mindset] The Difference Between Busy And Productive: I want to dedicate this lecture to clearing up a common misconception about productivity, and that is the idea that being productive and being busy are the same thing. They're actually quite different and independent of one another. You could be busy without being productive. You could be productive without being busy. You could be both productive and busy or you could be neither. We could go into detail on all those scenarios. But what's most important to understand is that being busy does not inherently make you productive. So many people fall into this trap where they make themselves super busy. They're always doing something, and on the surface it looks like they're incredibly productive. But then you look at the results and they just don't line up. These people are always moving, which is great, but they're either moving in the wrong direction or just running in place. Just because you're doing a lot of things does not mean you're actually making progress on your goals. So a couple of big differences between busy people and productive people, busy people are kind of scatterbrained and have lots of different goals. Productive people have priorities if you're trying to reach 10 different goals at once. You're not gonna make much progress on any of them. You're much better off prioritizing your goals and knocking them out one by one. Busy people also tend to say yes to everything productive people are more selective and aren't afraid to say no again. You have to have priorities, Steve Jobs once said. I'm is proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1000 things, and the same is true. With your own personal productivity, you have to prioritize and dedicate your energy to the most important things. The Peredo principle, also known as the 80 20 Rule, states that in many different areas of life, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. And it's actually fascinating how many different contexts that could be applied to in business. 80% of the revenue often comes from 20% of the clients, and on the other side, 80% of the headaches and problems often come from another 20% of the clients. The same goes for your actions in general, 20% of what you do is gonna account for 80% of your results. So the natural conclusion is that you should focus your efforts and double down on that 20% . Finally, don't try to do it all and don't try to be everything to everyone. The world's most productive and successful people are laser focused on being world class at just a few things. Once you figure out what those things are for you, you'll know exactly where to put your energy again. Productivity isn't necessarily about doing more things. It's about doing the right things consistently. 5. 01 Distractions: being productive in this modern world of ours comes with some unique challenges. Were living in a time in a generation with more distractions than any other in human history. Technology is amazing, and it's created some incredible opportunities, but it's also fundamentally rewiring our brains. It's making us more prone to distraction and short term gratification. Some of the power players in today's world don't want you to be focused, not because they have anything against you or your productivity, but because there's a lot of money in keeping you distracted. In this section, we're gonna talk about how you can reclaim your focus in doing that really comes down to using your willpower efficiently. You see, your willpower is a finite resource. It's like a battery. You start the day with a full tank, and every time you have to filter out distractions, resist temptation, make tough decisions or generally do something you don't like. Your willpower is depleted when you run out of willpower. You start giving into distractions and bad habits, and your productivity takes a nosedive. So a big part of becoming more disciplined and productive is learning to conserve your willpower, so it's not depleted as quickly, and that begins with ruthlessly eliminating distractions. Think about it. The fewer distractions you have around to tempt to you, the less will power it takes to resist them, right, because it doesn't take willpower to resist something that's not there. The marshmallow test is a great example. This is a popular study on delayed gratification, where Children were given a marshmallow and told that if they sit in wait for 15 minutes without eating it, they could have a second marshmallow where they can eat the first marshmallow at any time. But in that case, they don't get a 2nd 1 The Children who were most successful in fighting there temptation where those who used their willpower most efficiently, they close their eyes looked away, counted to 100. They basically did whatever they could to remove the marshmallow from their minds. The Children who failed were the ones who continued staring at the marshmallow and tried to overcome the challenge with nothing but pure will power. So what's the practical lesson here? It's very simple to the extent that you can remove distractions from your life and put yourself in a position where you don't have to make decisions in this section will talk about a few ways to do just that 6. [Distractions] The Truth About Multitasking: productive people are great. Multi taskers, right? After all, you can get twice as much done. If you do two things at once, right? Well, no. Multitasking is a myth. It doesn't exist. The human brain is incapable of processing to mentally demanding tasks at once. When you think you're multitasking, what you're actually doing is rapidly switching between two tasks, and there's this start and stop process going on in your brain. That's costing you time, energy and efficiency and preventing you from getting into that coveted state of flow. Now that's the current state of neuroscience research. But if you're not convinced, let me show you a test I read about in psychology today. They will cast away any doubts, grab a piece of paper and draw to horizontal lines. Now use a timer to time yourself, completing the following tasks on the first line. Right? The sentence. I am a great multi tasker on the second line, right out the numbers. 1 to 20 sequentially like this, this will probably take you around 20 seconds. Now let's try multitasking, draw two more lines, start a timer and do the same thing again. Except this time, write one letter on the top line than a number on the bottom line, then the next letter of the sentence than the next number in the sequence and so on. This is not that easy. In fact, your time is probably double orm or what it was the first time around, and on top of that, you're probably frustrated because you probably made some simple mistakes. Now, writing a sentence and writing a set of numbers are pretty basic tasks. And if you can't handle multitasking in that scenario, you definitely shouldn't be multitasking on more complex things. You'll see much better results from isolating a single task, completing it and then moving on to the next task. However, there is one exception where I think multitasking is viable and that is listening to an audiobook or podcast while doing something else that doesn't require significant mental energy like cooking dinner, driving to work or running on a treadmill. This can actually be a really efficient use of your time, because if you've got ah, 45 minute commute, for example, and you want to start reading more, you have 45 minutes right there. We can listen to an audiobook without even carving any extra time out of your day. But as soon as you sit down to do any mentally taxing work, you're gonna want to turn that audiobook off because you cannot effectively focus on both at the same time. Unfortunately, that's just the way the brain works. 7. [Distractions] How Social Media Is KILLING Your Productivity (And What To Do About It): What would you say is the single greatest obstacle to focus and productivity in the modern world? If your answer is social media, you're probably right. Every day, literally billions of people log into social media services to share content, keep up with friends and be entertained. Many of those people find that as they're checking their feeds, they just can't seem to look away. And that's no accident. In fact, social media companies are deliberately hijacking the reward systems of the brain and manipulating human behavior on a monumental scale. To put this into context, let's talk about the business model behind a social media service like Facebook. It's all based on something known in the marketing world as the attention economy. This describes the supply and demand of people's attention, which is the most important commodity in digital marketing. It's pretty simple, actually. The more attention a platform generates, the more effective its advertising becomes, allowing it to sell more ads and charge more. For those ads, more attention equals more revenue equals more profit, but attention is a finite resource. There are only so many people with Internet access, and those people only have so many hours in a day. We have to work, we have to sleep, and we have other things to do with our waking hours. Thin Look, A ads on Facebook, right? So the natural response by Facebook is an effort to increase the amount of time we spend on their platform. And they do that by making it psychologically addictive. The average person checks their phone more than 150 times a day, and that's really interesting to me because it doesn't feel like we're making 100 and 50 conscious choices to check our phones. Rather, it's a compulsive behavior. So why are we doing this? Well, there are multiple components in the 1st 1 is our natural craving for validation. Humans are highly social creatures. We want to feel accepted. We want to feel like we belong. We don't want to feel excluded. Most of the time. When we compulsively open up Facebook, instagram, Twitter, whatever it is, we're looking to see if anyone liked our stuff. Let's just be honest. Whether it's a photo, a status update, video doesn't matter. You identify with it, and you want to see if you're getting that social validation in the form of likes comments and reactions. Now the second component, social media, is addictive, largely for the same psychological reason that a slot machine in a casino is addictive. Intermittent variable rewards. When you pull the lever on the slot machine, you either get a prize or you get nothing, and it's randomized, so the rate of reward varies. You get nothing, you get nothing, you get nothing, and then you get a prize and then you get more nothing. And then maybe you get another price. It's random, and it encourages you to keep trying and trying and trying to get another prize. This works very, very well. So well, in fact, that slot machines make more money in the US than baseball movies and theme parks combined . And now, in the age of social media, billions of people have little slot machines in their pockets. As former Google designed ethicist Tristan Harris writes in his excellent essay on this topic, when we pull our phone out of our pocket, were playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got when we pulled a refresher email were playing a slot machine to see what new email we got when we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed were playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next when we swipe faces left to right on dating, apps like tinder were playing a slot machine to see if we got a match when we tap the number of red notifications were playing a slot machine to see what's underneath. This stuff is baked into the core designs of social media APs to keep people hooked. All the company has to do to make an addictive product is attached these rewards to various user actions. You know, when you open instagram and you have to wait a bit for it to load. That's intentional to It's not that the APP needs those three extra seconds to load the content. Usually it's just building your anticipation for that intermittent variable reward. Without the delay, it wouldn't feel quite so variable again. It's just like a slot machine going back to that natural craving we have for social validation. Social media is also very good at feeding that to us in regular doses if it'll make us spend more time on the platform. So Facebook has all these little actions that take very little effort for people to do. And those actions trigger a notification for you that gives you that reward, that feeling of validation. For example, when somebody likes your post, that takes them half a second and zero energy to do, and they'll probably forget that they even liked it before you see the notification. But to you it feels personal. It feels like you have this connection to that person and you get a little bit of a rush. And on the other side, the newsfeed is so intelligently tailored to you in your preferences that you're gonna be encouraged toe like a lot of the posts you see, thus triggering a notification for somebody else and giving them that same rush. Every time that happens, the person on the receiving end gets a little bit more hooked. I could go on and on with this stuff, but the point is, your social media APS are exploiting the reward systems in your brain toe, hijack your focus and keep you mindlessly scrolling and refreshing and chasing those variable rewards first long as possible. I don't know about you, but there have been so many times when I've gotten sucked into the Facebook rabbit hole and looked up to see that 20 minutes or half an hour or more had gone by when all I wanted to do was check a quick notification. And I spent all that time doing something that honestly wasn't all that enjoyable. And then I get this depressing feeling because I realized I'm not being intentional with my time. So clearly this compulsive behavior is not conducive to productivity or really a fulfilling life in general. Let me remind you again that this is your life. This is it. Your time is limited, your attention is limited, and I don't think it's fair to let some algorithm dictate how you spend it. So what can we do about this? Well, the first and probably most effective method is the nuclear option. Just quit completely. Eliminate social media from your life, either just for a certain period of time or indefinitely, and realize just how focused, productive and happy you could be without it, Easier said than done. I know, but the fact is, social media is not a necessity, and some people would have you believe at the end of the day. It's just entertainment. Now. You could argue that it's how you stay in touch with certain people, and that's perfectly valid. But like your Facebook news feed or your Twitter timeline, that's mostly just entertainment, and you are free to choose which forms of entertainment get your attention. So I have a serious recommendation for you. Take 30 days, even if you don't want to commit for the long haul, take 30 days of solid withdraw from social media and just see how you feel. See how your productivity responds. As a result, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised not only by your increased focus but by the extra time you didn't even realize you had. The other solution is a little less extreme and probably better suited for most people. Instead of quitting social media altogether, just quit the part that makes it problematic. The compulsive checking and scrolling and refreshing throughout the day. Schedule a time once a day when you allow yourself to indulge in all your social media APs for a specific amount of time, say 15 to 30 minutes. That way, you're not missing out on anything. You can still enjoy Facebook and Twitter and instagram, but during the day they're out of sight and out of mind. Doing one of these two things is essential for maximizing your productivity because, as we've seen, disciplined focus is one of the most valuable assets you could have. But that is fundamentally incompatible with compulsive social media habits. And just to be clear before we close out on this topic, I am not anti technology or anti social media by any means. I'm actually a total tech geek in an early adopter of many of these platforms. I just think it's important to be aware of how we're spending our time and to exercise control over our own habits. 8. [Distractions] Taking Charge Of Your Time: If you want to be the most productive version of yourself, you need to take charge of your time and stop living on other people's schedules. We all do this to some degree, and it usually comes from a good place. You want to be a good friend. You want to be a good colleague, so you feel an obligation to be available at all times whenever you get a message or an email 15 seconds later, you're working on a response. But every time you do that, you derail your focus and your work ultimately suffers because you know when you sit down to work on something and it takes a while to really get into it and get into your flow. Well, every time you get interrupted by a message or an email or somebody walking in the room to chat, you have to go through that whole process again. In fact, a productivity study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after an interruption. With that in mind, I recommend making yourself very difficult to reach during those key times when you really need to be on your game, turn off your phone or at least put it on. Do not disturb mode and keep it out of sight so you don't pick it up out of habit. It's much easier to do your best work when you know you won't be interrupted. When it comes to email. I like to check it about once a day. That's the beauty of a synchronous communication. You don't have to respond right away, and a response usually isn't expected right away, so you can schedule a block of time each day to review your email and reply as necessary and just knock it out all at once. Now, obviously, if you're expecting an important email that's gonna require action on your part, you'll have to check it more frequently. But in general, I found the best practice is to set aside half on hour or whatever it takes toward the middle or the end of the day and save all your email for that time. Also, another tip. To make email less of a nightmare, go on an email, cleanse and start un subscribing from all those newsletters I did this recently, and it was absolutely life altering. I was deep in email hell. For a long time I was on hundreds of lists, so I decided something needed to change. And for a couple weeks, whenever I got an unwanted newsletter email, I made it a habit to click the unsubscribe link instead of just deleting it. It actually didn't take long for my inbox to become somewhat manageable again, so I highly recommend giving that a try. But again, the main thing here is to start taking charge of your time and avoid constantly living on other people's schedules. 9. [Distractions] Eliminating Your Personal Procrastination Triggers: procrastination is something that takes work toe overcome. Remember, it's all about choosing solutions over distractions, right, and it's not gonna happen overnight. But one thing that can really give you a boost is eliminating your personal procrastination triggers your environment matters, and it plays a surprisingly big role in your productivity. So we need to optimize it as much as we can. Now this is different for everybody, so you really have to know yourself and your habits. But basically you want to create an environment for yourself where you can go to be reliably productive. Ideally, this should be a place where you only work, not somewhere where you also hang out and chill, and you want to optimize this environment by removing any potential triggers that could cause you to slip back into laziness and start procrastinating. It's just like the marshmallow test. The best way to conserve your willpower is by making sure there is no temptation to give into so keep things like TV's game consoles. Things like that is far aways. You can put your phone on, do not disturb and keep it out of sight and try to separate yourself from anyone who might walk in and interrupt you. If you're not able to create a place like that of your own, you can also go out to a coffee shop or a library or some other public place and treat that as your workspace. I actually do quite a bit of my work in those kinds of places, and it works very well for May, so I definitely recommend it now. If you're working on a computer, it doesn't matter what your surroundings are when you have the entire Internet and literally millions of distractions at your fingertips. This is where discipline really pays off. But you can also put some restrictions in place to keep you on task. I use a browser extension called Waste No Time, which allows you to set up a list of sites that are off limits while you're working. For example, Facebook, Twitter, reddit, YouTube, Netflix, things of that nature. And during your predetermined work hours, you won't be able to visit those sites. If you try, you'll get a screen that says, shouldn't you be working? It's definitely nice to have that push in the right direction, so to summarize, create an environment where you could be reliably productive. Or, if you can't do that, go out somewhere and make that your productive environment. Eliminate your personal procrastination, triggers and block any websites that may derail your focus. 10. [Distractions] Paralysis By Analysis: one of the most common types of procrastination is one that feels deceivingly productive. Research. Do you ever find yourself reading and learning so much about a topic that you get overwhelmed and don't actually implement anything you've learned? This phenomenon is known as information overload or paralysis by analysis. We live in this crazy world where we have literally the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips. There's so much information out there that you can end up burying yourself in tips and strategies and advice. And when it comes time to put it all into action, you're gonna feel stuck. Don't get me wrong. Educating yourself is important, but make sure you're using it as a solution and not as a distraction. Often we feel this false sense of accomplishment when all we've done is research. We haven't actually accomplished anything of value, and that false sense of accomplishment depletes our motivation toe work towards actual results. So, yes, educate yourself, always be learning new things, but also make sure you're applying what you learn. As soon as you finish this course, do something for me. Spend the next 30 days putting these principles into action. Don't go looking for another quick fix for instant productivity. It doesn't exist, and you're doing yourself a huge disservice if you're learning without applying that knowledge to your life. So again. Once you complete this course, dedicate the next 30 days to pure action, I think you'll be surprised by just how much you can achieve. 11. [Distractions] How To Leverage Other People's Time To Get More Done: We all have 24 hours in a day, But some of us managed to achieve farm or in those 24 hours than others. The most productive people are those who diligently optimize their time and prioritize the things they spend it on. In economics, there's a term called opportunity cost, which refers to a benefit a person could have received but gave up to take another course of action. It usually refers to money and investments, but it applies just as well to time. If you spend an hour on one thing, that's an hour you won't be able to spend on this other thing. It's a good idea to constantly analyze the opportunity cost of the way you spend your time . If you think your time would be better spent doing something else, stop what you're doing and do that other thing. But sometimes you may find that while the things you're doing aren't the most effective uses of your time, they still have to get done. For example, TVs, data entry tasks, calls to customer service lines, grocery shopping, all things that need to be done but are distracting you from your core objectives. The best way to get out of this trap is toe outsource or delegate these tasks to someone else. So, for instance, you could hire a virtual assistant to handle data entry and customer service calls and subscribe to a grocery delivery or pick up service so you don't have to spend an hour or more in the grocery store. Now, of course, these things cost money, and they may not always be viable, depending on your current situation. But the fact is, you have to assign value to your time. And if you can pay someone else to do certain things for less than the value of your time, it'll be well worth the investment when it comes to virtual assistance. It may not, Costas Muchas you think toe outsource some of your more trivial tasks. Of course, you could always hire someone directly, but you can also use services like fancy hands or magic for one off tasks or services like dessert, jewel or time, etcetera. If you prefer to have a dedicated virtual assistant, many large grocery stores offer a pick up service where you can place an order online and then just pick up your items, and that's usually very affordable to do. You can also look into delivery services like Amazon fresh if you're lucky enough to live in an area that has one. And if you like to cook, you can subscribe to something like Blue Apron, which delivers recipes with pre proportion fresh ingredients right to your door so you can cook gourmet meals without having to put so much time into the preparation. The main take away here is very simple. Do a cost benefit analysis of how you spend your time and see if it's worth offloading some of your more repetitive tasks so you can focus on what will bring the most value to your life. When you outsource all the minutia toe other people, you can dedicate 100% of your energy to the things that only you can dio, and that results in a significant competitive advantage 12. Identifying Your Peak Hours (And The Magic Of The Morning): can you increase your productivity just by working at a specific time? I say, yes. The question is, when is the ideal time for you to do your best work? Well, as you'll see, I'm a huge advocate of the early morning hours between 5 to 9, but it varies from person to person. Research has shown that some people have a natural predisposition to be night owls, and if that's you, you may find that 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. are your most productive hours of the day. Even so, I think the morning is at least worth a try for everyone. For what it's worth, I used to be a total night out. Go to sleep it three or four, wake up at 11 or 12 but I actually managed to completely flip my schedule around. Now I wake up at 5 a.m. every day, and I'm more productive than I've ever been. And I'm definitely not alone in my love for the early hours. Many of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and executives are awake and working long before dawn. Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 3 45 Shark tank investor Kevin O. Leary gets up at 5 45 Virgin Group founder Richard Branson also gets up at 5 45 General Motors CEO Mary Barra is in the office by 6 a.m. And Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, is also in the office at 6 a.m. Coffee in hand Again. Your peak hours may vary, but I do want to try to sell you on the morning because early risers clearly have some distinct competitive advantages. So what are those advantages? First of all, there are no distractions. It's so peaceful, everybody else's sleeping, which makes it the perfect time to enter the flow state. It's quiet, it's peaceful. You're not gonna be interrupted, and you can really get in the zone and get a lot of stuff done. The second benefit is very important. No ego depletion. Remember, your willpower is a finite resource, but your reserves air full first thing in the morning. Will power is the key to filtering distractions, resisting temptation, suppressing emotions, avoiding anger and aggression, implementing new behaviors and doing things we don't like as we go about our day. All of these things deplete our willpower again. It's like a battery When you wake up and grab your phone off the charger, it's at 100%. But as the day goes on and you keep using your phone, that number gradually drops. Same thing with your willpower. It starts the day strong and ends the day week, so the morning is the best time for those really intensive tasks that require a lot of focus and discipline. Every morning I start with my most important creative projects and work on those before anything else, because I know my willpower is just gonna decrease as the day goes on. The result is that for me, three super productive hours in the morning are worth about six or seven hours at any other time. The morning is also a great time for planning and reflection. Again, there are no distractions, so these precious few hours of solitude are the perfect time to sit and think, plan your day, plan for the future and reflect on life to see if you're on the right trajectory to reach your goals. This is also when I like to do my weekly monthly and quarterly reviews, which will talk about a little later in the course next, your early productivity sets the tone for the entire day. Remember that quotable mantra I gave you earlier? Mo Mentum and inertia are the key determinants of consistent productivity. When you lazily roll out of bed at 11 a.m. your morning is basically gone. You're tired, you feel sluggish, and those feelings are gonna carry over to the rest of your day. But if you wake up at five and knock out a big project, you'll be on track to accomplish even mawr in the afternoon. And finally, waking up early gives you a psychological advantage. There's something incredibly motivating about being awake before everyone else and doing things that other people aren't willing to do. If you wake up early, you could accomplish Maurin your 1st 3 hours than most people accomplish in their entire day. And then, if you do it consistently, those results just compound day after day after day. So those are some of the things that attract me to the early morning hours. Like I said, you have to find your own cadence and determine when you specifically work most effectively . But in my experience, I think the morning is a safe bet for most people, and I highly recommend trying it out, at least for a few weeks to see how you like it. 13. How To Become A Morning Person (In Less Than A Week!): So at this point, I may have sold you on some of the benefits of waking up early. But if you're not a morning person already, I know exactly what you're thinking. 5 a.m. is too early. You need your sleep. There's no way you could get yourself out of bed at that time. Blah, blah, blah. Well, like I said, I want you to give it a try. And in this lecture, I'm gonna show you how most people have this vague idea that they'd like to wake up early. But they don't have an effective strategy to make it happen. They just set an alarm for 5 a.m. They sleep right through it and they consider the whole thing a failure. I used to do the same thing. But after years of on and off trial and error, blogger Steve Pavlina taught me a very simple strategy that helped me to become a habitual early riser in less than a week. Seriously. So, first of all, let's acknowledge the two typical approaches to sleep. First, you have people who say you should go to bed and get up at the same times every day, which makes perfect sense in our modern world, where you need some degree of predictability in your schedule. And then you have people who think you should just listen to your body, go to bed when you're tired and get up when you naturally wake up. This is the biological approach. Our bodies should know how much rest we need, so we should listen to him right? It turns out neither of these approaches are ideal. If you sleep the same set hours every night, you may find yourself going to bed when you're not tired enough, so you just lie awake for hours trying to fall asleep. I've struggled with this a lot, and it's incredibly frustrating. And this method also assumes that you need the same amount of sleep every night, which isn't true. Your sleep needs actually vary from day to day. If you sleep based on what your body tells you, you'll probably sleep more than you need as much as 10 to 15 extra hours per week. And because your circadian rhythm may not line up perfectly with a 24 hour clock, your sleep times may start to drift and you could end up on a pretty weird schedule. In either case, you end up wasting a lot of time either lying in bed, trying to fall asleep or sleeping excessively. The solution is actually a simple combination of both approaches. Go to bed when you're too tired to stay up and then set an alarm to wake up at a fixed time every day. That way, you're always up at the same time, but you're free to go to bed at different times each night, depending on your body's varying needs. If you're too sleepy to read a book for more than a couple of pages, it's time for bed. If you're not sleepy, just stay up until you can't keep your eyes open. Very simple. Then, in the morning, when your alarm goes off, make it a habit to get out of bed without hesitation. The longer you wait to get up, the more likely you are to roll over and end up sleeping in seriously. This is so important, and this is really the key to becoming a morning person. Don't give the little voice in your head any chance whatsoever to change your mind. Just immediately jump out of bed, and that's really all there is to it. After a few days of using this method, waking up early started to feel natural to me. Something interesting you may notice, is that you'll probably end up sleeping less, but wake up feeling mawr well rested. That's because you're actually sleeping the entire time you're in bed rather than counting sheep for half the night. Now, I'm gonna be honest. The first day of doing this is gonna be rough because you're probably gonna go to bed really late that first night. But because you'll be tired, you'll naturally go to sleep earlier. The second night, and everything will start to fall into place after that. So to recap, go to bed on Lee. When you're too tired to stay up and set an alarm toe, wake up at a fixed time every morning. Just give it a try. Commit to at least a week and see how it goes. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised 14. [Planning] The Only Two Things You Need To Focus On To Achieve Your Goals: We've already covered a lot of ground in this course, mostly a variety of habits that you can implement to put yourself in a position to succeed . But we haven't talked much about actually doing the work, and that's what we're gonna begin to cover in this section. In the context of planning, when you set out to become your most productive self, it's so easy to get sidetracked by all the random Minou sha. But at the end of the day, there are only two things you really need to focus on. The first is the overall vision and goals that you have for your life. Earlier, we talked about knowing your why, and that's exactly what this is. A picture that moment, when you're 90 and looking back on your life and think about what memories and accomplishments will make your future self most proud. What do you want to do with your brief time on this planet? I know that's a big question, but you should really spend some time coming up with a good answer because it can then serve as a guide toe every other part of your life. At any moment, you can step back and take a bird's eye view to determine whether you're living in accordance with those long term goals and principles. And, of course, those can always evolve with you over time. They're not static by any means. The other thing you need to focus on is what's actionable the projects, the skills, the knowledge, the day to day tasks that are actually moving you toward your goals. These things can span anywhere from a few minutes to multiple years, but the distinction is they're all actionable and require you to do something. Ultimately, the some of your actionable tasks should equal your long term vision being achieved. I've found that this is a really good way to filter what matters and what doesn't. You have your main vision in your long term strategy, and then you have the actual work that needs to be done, and you can forget about all the random stuff in between. It doesn't matter. Just know what you're working toward. Know what actually needs to be done to get you there and focus all your effort on taking consistent action and moving in the right direction 15. [Planning] Conducting Annual And Quarterly Reviews: one of the most effective tools I've found to keep myself focused on my goals is an annual review. Now. You may have heard of annual reviews in the corporate sense in the context of business, but this is a review for your life. So your life is the company in. You are the CEO doing an annual review every year as a time to reflect on the previous year in terms of what's working and what's not working, and to loosely plan out the following year with all the various goals he want to accomplish . And just to be clear, this is very different from the resolutions that most people make and then end up breaking 20 days into the year. This is an action plan with measurable goals and a system of following through during the year. So if you implement the system I lay out for you in this lecture and in the rest of this section, and you actually take it seriously, I can all but guarantee that this year will be one of the most productive and fulfilling years of your life. So here's how it works. Toward the end of December, I block a few days off my schedule where I have no obligations whatsoever except doing my review. There's a lot of thinking work involved, and I want to make sure I'm super focused and not getting distracted by other things. So I just completely isolate myself for a few days. I know that may be easier said than done. Depending on your circumstances, I get it. But even if you have other things going on, you should still be able to find some time somewhere, maybe early in the morning, before everybody else wakes up. And if you have to accelerate this process a little bit, you can absolutely do that. So to do my annual review, I use a spreadsheet that have adopted from Chris Gill a bow. And if you haven't checked out his blogged Chris gill abo dot com, I highly recommend it, especially if you're interested in things like travel, entrepreneurship, unconventional living things of that nature. His work is absolutely brilliant. Ah, but this spreadsheet is the most effective way I've found to set goals and then check back in on those goals throughout the year, so I've completely adopted it and use it to guide my review every year. If you want a copy of the spreadsheet, it should be attached to this lecture s so you can go ahead and grab it there. Or you can visit the link on your screen to download it directly. It's a Microsoft Excel file, but if you don't have excel, you can do what I actually prefer, which is uploading it to Google drive and editing it in Google sheets. That way you can access it anywhere and from any device. The first step in the process before we even get to the spreadsheet is to spend some time reflecting on the year. Think back through everything that happened this year, everything and answer these two questions. What went well and what did not go well. Try to focus on things that are actually within your control, not just random occurrences that would have happened regardless. Spend a decent amount of time on this and write down 5 to 10 answers for each question. The interesting effect here is that you'll get to see a big picture view of the actual results of the year. You also probably realize just how long a year is because you have to think through all the different events that happened. And that's a good thing as we get into setting goals because you'll be a little more ambitious. It seems like people overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a year. So it's good to get that context of how long a year actually is. So now let's go back to that spreadsheet. The first thing you want to do here is defined some categories that are important to you. So these could be health, business, education, travel things of that nature. You can enter those into this area here and then also enter them as the corresponding headings down here. Now, from this point, the way I like to fill out this spreadsheet is by starting with this bottom section and working my way up. So for each category, come up with a handful of goals, maybe 3 to 5 that you want to achieve in the coming year. Now it's very important that these goals are measurable because when you review this later , you need to know, first of all, whether you've achieved them right and also how much progress you've made and how far you still have to go. So, for example, lose weight is not really a specific, measurable goal. But, say, losing a certain number of pounds or kilograms or reaching a certain body fat percentage. Things like that would be perfect. Like I said, shoot for around 3 to 5 specific goals for each category. If you need more room, you can always just insert another row like this down at the bottom. There's a spot for possible additional goals, which are basically low priority goals that may or may not materialize, but you at least want to put him on the table. The second column of the spreadsheet is for specific actions that you need to take to reach each particular goal. This part is crucial. It's what distinguishes this system from traditional resolutions. It's your plan of attack, a list of all the major tasks that add up to you reaching this goal. So if one of my goals was to create this course, I would list things like brainstorm ideas. Research outlined the course right, the course record it animated, edited, publish it and so on. If I wanted to run a marathon, I would specify how many times a week I need to train, and the mileage I need to cover those are the kinds of things he would put here. You don't have to detail it down to the day or anything like that. Just the major steps. In the third column, you can set a deadline, the date by which this goal should be wrapped up and in the bag that we can always see if you're on track to achieve it on time. Once you've done this for all the goals in each of your categories, you could move up to this section here. You want to summarize each of your categories with one overarching vision. Basically, this is just the most important thing you want to accomplish for each of your main categories, and you can set a deadline. Here is well at the very top. You can summarize your vision for the year with a purpose, a set of outcomes and a theme. The purpose is just a summary of your most important goals in activities This year, I will blank I will focus on blank the outcomes boxes where you can define your key performance indicators. The measurable outcomes that you want to see based on the goals you defined at the end of this year. Blank. And then we have the theme, which is my favorite part of this section. This is where you define your single most important focus, and you're single most important outcome for the year. This is the year of Blank and this time next year blank. So that's it for your first interaction with this spreadsheet, but you also want to return to it on a regular basis. I like to come back in at least glance at these goals about once a week. And then I also do a quarterly review over here in this section. So in this spring, you'll come back and assess the progress you've made on each of these goals from top to bottom and then do the same in the summer. In the fall, the final review should be the first thing you do during your next annual review. It's an opportunity to look back at last year's goals and see what you did or didn't accomplish. There's another sheet here called metrics. This is a simple way to track certain numbers that are important to your life and how they change from year to year. So some of the examples here are new countries visited charity, major projects, accomplished long term savings, Miles run, blog's readers, income streams. And these are all just examples. You'll want to replace them with metrics that makes sense to your life and then just come back at the end of each year is you're doing your review and see how things change. Now, as I mentioned, I do this review at the end of December, and I think that's the best time to do it because the year is winding down. It's a good time to look back at everything, and you still have a little bit of time to plan for the following year. But if you find yourself taking this course say in the middle of the year and you want to go ahead and do it, you don't wanna wait until December. I say Go for it. Just set your sights a little bit lower because you have less time and then do another one when December rolls around. By the way, you're also not limited to this particular format. I think the spreadsheet works really well for making edits and assessing your progress throughout the year, but you can definitely take these same principles and apply them to some other format that works better for you. 16. [Planning] Using A Task Manager To Plan And Organize Your Work: in this lecture, we're going to shift our focus from long term goals to short term, day to day tasks. This is the actual work that results in you, achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. If you take the time to do a thorough annual review and outlined the most important actions required for each of your goals, it becomes pretty easy to break those actions down into individual tasks. Then it's just a matter of completing those tasks. But in the meantime, it's important to keep all your tasks organized. Otherwise, you might end up overwhelmed and end up accomplishing very little. You see, our brains are wired to keep us constantly thinking about unfinished tasks. That's fine when you're just working on one thing. But if you've got dozens or even hundreds of tasks on your plate, it's gonna be pretty hard to focus. That's why I recommend getting everything out of your head and into a to do list or a task manager. That way, you're not gonna forget anything, and you can easily organize and prioritize, so you know where to focus your efforts and win. So I'd like to introduce you to the system that I use to manage all the various tasks in my life, both for work and for personal stuff. It's called to do ist and you can check it out at to do ist dot com To Do ist is one of the most robust task management app available. It's extremely simple and intuitive to use, but it also has a ton of advanced features that can help you organize everything in your life in a really streamlined, efficient way. And on top of that, it works on just about every platform you can think of. You can access it through the website where browser extension, and it offers native abs for Mac Windows, IOS and Android. Now there's a free version and a paid premium subscription. The free version gives you access to most of the features, and it's definitely enough to get started with. But if you want to give the premium version a try, they're usually coupon codes floating around the web. That will give you at least a couple months of premium for free. That way you can try it out and make sure it's right for you before you spend any money on it. But in the meantime, I just want to walk you through a basic to do ist set up. And by the way, if you're a little more old school, you can definitely create a similar workflow using just a simple notebook in a pen. But in our connected world, I think a system like to do ist is gonna be much more efficient for most people. So let's get started. I'm going to demonstrate this on the Web at to do its dot com, but the process should look exactly the same in all the to do list APS. The first thing you'll need to do is create an account, which is super simple. It should only take a few seconds, and once you've done that, you can go ahead and log in and you'll see the main to do ist interface. It's pretty empty right now, so let's go ahead and add our first task. You can either click this plus icon at the top or press Q on your keyboard to bring up the quick ad task window. Then just type the name of your task and click add task. You can also just hit Enter on your keyboard, and as you can see, it shows up right here. You can also add tasks with a specific due date and or do time. And one of my favorite features of to do list is its ability to understand due dates in natural language. So as soon as you enter the name of your task, you can enter a date right there in the same box, and to do list will schedule your task for that particular date. You can also be more specific and at a time, And if you want to create a recurring task, something you have to do on a regular basis, you could just type every Monday or every week or on the first of every month. And as you can see, it automatically highlights the text it recognizes as a date. And when you add the task, that text disappears from the title, and it just uses it as the scheduled date. If you prefer, you can also use this schedule box to select a date manually, but I found it's much quicker and easier just to type my dates and plain text, especially when I'm adding tasks on my phone. Sometimes, though, to do list will recognize a word or phrase as a date when it's actually just part of the title of your task. If that happens, just click on the highlighted word or phrase. It will remove the highlighting, and it won't use it to set a schedule. Ah, good policy for creating tasks is to make them clearly defined, manageable things that you could accomplish in an hour or less. If something is too big, like writing a book or starting a company, it's easy to put it off and ultimately, never get it done. Some better examples would be outlining the plot of your book or brainstorming a certain number of ideas for a company. When you have one big task that has multiple smaller steps to it, you can add those smaller steps as sub tasks under apparent task. Just dragon. Drop a task to the right underneath another task to make it a sub task. But sometimes you may have big, long term tasks with lots and lots of steps, and usually you want to add those two did ouest as projects instead of tasks. Projects are basically separate to do lists that help you organize your tasks thes air big categories that may or may not have a set in date. On the left side, you can see the default projects to do list gives you you have personal shopping work, errands and movies to watch. You can keep these or edit them or add your own. It's completely up to you to edit a project. Just click this little icon on the right side and select Edit project. You can also change the name you can change the associated color, and you can drag and drop projects to reorder them or create sub projects by dragging them to the right. Just like tasks. Many people use a couple of broad projects like work and personal, and then they also create projects for long term things that they're working on. So if you're a teacher or student, you could create a project for each of your classes. If you're a freelancer, you could create a project for each of your clients, and I would create a project for each of my courses that I'm working on. That's the general idea as you're getting started. It's a good idea to keep your project list as simple as possible, so you don't really have to think about where a task belongs. So create some projects that make sense for you and then start adding tasks that represent the concrete actions you need to take to reach your goals. You can add tasks to a project by viewing the project and clicking. Add task. Or, if you're not in the project view, you can just enter the name of the project with a pound sign, just like you're using a hash tag on social media. You'll notice it highlights the project name just like it does with dates. And when you add the task, it will go straight to that project. Now you may be wondering about this inbox section. This actually confused me a little bit when I first started using to do ist Thean Box is basically uncapped ago rised section. It acts as a default list kind of a catch off for tasks that don't have a project yet. So if you're in a hurry and you just need to drop a couple of tasks into to do ist, the in box is a good place to put them. You can always come back later and click to edit them. An Inter a project that way or simply dragon dropped them into the appropriate project like this. Below the inbox, you have two more views you can open today and next seven days. This is where you'll probably spend most of your time in to do. It's The Today view shows you all the tasks that air do today. In the next seven days. View shows you all the tasks do over the next week. The today view is great for day to day use because you can see at a glance all the tasks you need to be working on today across all your projects. And the next seven days is great for planning out your week in advance, which I like to do every Monday morning. Now, some tasks. They're going to be more important to you than others. And if you find you don't have enough time to finish everything for a particular day, you can still get your most important tasks checked off by prioritizing them accordingly. To do it gives us four priority options by default. Every task is considered Priority four, which is the lowest, but when you're adding a task. You can click this little flag to change the priority. You can also just type P one p two p three or p four into the task title. High priority tasks will show up at the top of your today view, so you can be sure to finish your most important work every day. If you run out of time one day and don't complete one or more tasks, it's pretty easy to reschedule them for later. You can either edit the task itself and enter a new due date or open the next seven days. View and simply Dragon dropped the task to another day, so that's a very quick overview of to Do ist. I highly recommend getting signed up and spending an hour or two playing around with it, experimenting and getting familiar with the interface. Then, as you plan out your goals, you can add your actionable tasks to to do ist to make sure you're making tangible progress every single day. 17. [Planning] Conducting A Weekly Review: so we talked about conducting annual and quarterly reviews, but I've found that it's a good strategy to review your progress and plan your next steps a little more frequently than that. A strategy that I really like that's been popularized by David Allen's Getting Things Done . Methodology is a weekly review Every Monday I set aside about 30 minutes first thing in the morning to look back on the previous week and plan out the week ahead. Doing this every week has really forced me to take inventory of my time and realize where I'm doing well and where I need to improve. And it's had a dramatic impact on my productivity. So what does a weekly review actually consist of? Well, you may want to adapt it to suit your particular needs and goals, but in general, these air the steps that I follow every week. First is process in boxes. This is about getting caught up. I go through my email inbox and just make sure that everything is organized as it should be . I clear out my to do list inbox by moving each of the tasks there into an appropriate project, and I give them an appropriate due date for email. I just weed through my inbox and clear out anything I don't need. And then for emails that require action on my part, I add those two to do ist as tasks so I can handle them later. The weekly review is not a time to actually do work like replying to emails and stuff. It's about organizing and planning, so you know when to do those things. Next. We have process loose paperwork. This may be more applicable to some people than others. For me, most of my work is digital, so I don't deal Ah whole lot with paperwork. But if you do, the idea is generally the same as clearing out your inbox is. Just get rid of anything you don't need and schedule anything that requires your action. Next is brain dump. This is an opportunity for me to get everything out of my head and into my task manager so it stops gnawing at my brain. So anything I can think of that I have to do or want to dio, I'll go ahead and add it to to do ist under the appropriate project and with the proper due date, if necessary. Review completed items from the past week. You confined this into du ist by clicking this icon at the top and then view all completed tasks. This is a good way to see how much you're actually getting done on a day to day basis. So I just like to look back and see if I'm doing well or if I've had an off week, and after doing this a few times, you'll definitely get a feel for what a typical week looks like for you. So that way, if you've had a particularly good week or particularly bad week, you can really tell at a glance review long term goals and assess progress. At this point, I actually open up my annual review spreadsheet and look over my goals for the year. This is a good time to reflect on whether I'm on track to meet those goals. Whether the things I'm doing are actually in line with my ambition, and if there any relevant tasks I could schedule for this week, I'll go ahead and add them to to do ist next. I take a few minutes to ask myself these questions. What went Well, what didn't go well, What should I stop doing? What should I start doing? And what should I continue doing for best results? I recommend writing these answers down or typing them out, and each week take a second to look over your answers from the previous week to make sure you're on the right track. So what I do is I have a recurring tasks set up for this into du ist. And each week, as I'm doing my weekly review, I'll just write a comment on that task, and that gives me an opportunity to quickly look at the comment I wrote last week. And then I can go ahead and enter this week's thoughts right underneath that. So it's really easy to do it that way. But you can again use any format you like and finally schedule priority tasks for the week ahead. This is where I actually plan my week and schedule concrete tasks for each day into Du ist . Now I don't try to plan each and every day, hour by hour. I just set 2 to 3 high priority tasks that I would like to accomplish for each day, so that's a weekly review. Like I said, you can feel free to customize this to meet your particular needs, and you can do it at whatever time works best for you. I like to do it on Monday mornings at the very beginning of the week. Some people prefer Friday afternoons. Is there kind of winding down for the week? It all comes down to what works best for you. In any case, if you start doing a regular weekly review to make sure you're always moving in the right direction, you should expect to see your productivity skyrocket. 18. [Planning] Is "Time Blocking" Right For You?: As you're planning your days, you may find it helpful to use a time blocking technique where you set a specific schedule for exactly what you want to work on, when and for how long. So every night before you go to bed, you would take a look at the tasks you have planned for the next day and block off sections of your calendar for each of the tasks you want a complete leaving a little extra time between them for transition. Then, when you're in one of those time blocks, you can only focus on the one thing that you defined as the priority for that particular stretch of time. So if you have an hour set aside for writing, the only thing you should be doing during that hour is writing. No distractions, no other tasks, just writing. Now I'm gonna be honest, rigid, down to the minute time. Blocking may be overkill for some people, but if you feel you need the structure of having specific times for specific actions every day, you should definitely give it a try because it may help you focus 19. [Execution] Developing A Strong Work Ethic: Let's talk about your work ethic. Are you working hard enough to achieve your goals? I encourage you to look in the mirror and really give some thought to this because the fact is, most people are not behaving to back up their own words. They talk a big game about where they're going to be in a year, two years, 10 years. But then you look at what they're doing to make those dreams happen, and it just doesn't map to the results they're looking for. If you have big goals, you have to be willing to put in the work. Unfortunately, there is no way around that. So in this lecture we'll talk about what it takes to develop a strong work ethic. But first we need to address the elephant in the room, and that is the toxic culture of workaholism that's been popularized by Silicon Valley and other start up hubs. Let me be absolutely clear on this Working Ah, 100 plus hours a week is not appropriate or healthy, and in many cases it could be hugely counterproductive. Look, I've worked plenty of 16 hour days. Sometimes you're working on a big project, and you get in the zone and the time just disappears. Sometimes you have a tight deadline. In those 16 hours or all, you have to get everything done. I get it. I've been there before. I'm sure I'll be there again. But generally there is no reason to be working 16 hours a day on any kind of consistent basis. You're setting yourself up for health problems. You're neglecting your sleep. You're sacrificing any kind of free time, whether that be with family or just by yourself to unwind. Ultimately, you're going to suffer from burnout, which is a very riel psychological effect of overworking. And your work itself is going to suffer because you're not gonna be focused, and your body is not gonna be in the right condition to do great work. Now, if you happen to be one of the few people who somehow managed to function on that kind of schedule and you want to do that, by all means go for it. But for most of us, 16 hour days are not appropriate or even necessary to achieve what we want to achieve. So with that disclaimer out of the way, I absolutely do believe in hard work. I just don't believe in overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion, right? It's just not necessary. So back to the topic at hand, the reality is nothing in life worth having comes easy. The first step to developing a strong work ethic is understanding and accepting that many goals require a substantial amount of hard work. You can't expect your big projects to just manifest out of thin air. If you want to see results, you have to put in the work and that work is your responsibility. That's another important thing to keep in mind. Nobody's coming to save you. Nobody's going to do the work for you or help you do it. You have to stand up and take action. All of the greats who have ever lived became great through nothing other than relentless hard work. And by the way, it's not about talent. Nobody's born with natural talent. That is a myth. You may have certain predispositions, but you don't become truly successful at anything without the work. It's kind of a cop out to look at somebody who's been waking up at five and working on perfecting their craft every single day, for years and years and years and say, Oh, I wish I was born with that much talent That's kind of an insult to the amount of work that that person put into becoming what they are today. So understand that hard work is absolutely essential to making your dreams a reality. The next thing I want you to do is compare how you feel when you procrastinate versus when you actually get down to business. Chances are, even when the work is tedious, you feel a sense of pride and satisfaction for having done it when you could have just sat around and watched Netflix, and by the way, the end result is great and all. But that's not even when I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the work itself. Once you spend 15 minutes or so getting into the zone, it can become almost euphoric. It's also a good idea to take inventory of your day in terms of how you spend your time. Remember we talked about this in the distraction section. You have to realize that you're probably spending multiple hours every day on things that don't matter and don't move you toward your goals watching TV, buying random stuff on Amazon, mindlessly scrolling down your Facebook feed. These are all things that you can remove from your schedule and replace with something that's actually gonna move the needle. And the nice thing is, it doesn't come at the expense of anything that actually adds value to your life. You don't have to give up family time. You don't have to give up your social life unless, of course, you're going out and stuff excessively. But what I'm saying is there are a lot of things in life that we spend loads of time on without even realizing that we're spending that much time. And if you can cut back on bad stuff, you'll have a lot more time to get things done without sacrificing the important things. 20. [Execution] How To Stop Procrastination In Its Tracks: in this lecture, I'm going to share with you my number one strategy for stopping procrastination in its tracks and doing your most important work, even when you don't feel like it. So here's the situation. You have some important tasks on your to do list. You know they need to get done. You know that doing them is the key to achieving your goals. And yet there you sit on the couch watching TV or doing whatever it is you do to distract yourself instead of doing the work. Why? Well, clearly, you're falling into that classic trap where you sit and wait for inspiration to strike rather than getting down to business. And the solution is almost deceptively simple. Just get started. Let me say that again. In case you missed it, just get started. Now I know what you're thinking. You want to know how to do the work, and my advice is to get started, not helpful at all, right? I could have just told you to do the work by doing the work, except they're not the same when I say just get started. I'm talking about the actual physical action of moving over to your desk or wherever you need to be in beginning the task at hand. You don't have to do the whole thing. Just do a tiny bit. Then, once you've done that tiny bed, I think you'll find that momentum takes over and carries you right through to the finish line. Remember, momentum and inertia are the key determinants of consistent productivity. What's interesting to me is that most people think action is a result of motivation when in reality the opposite is true. Motivation is a result of action, so you have to begin with the action. The more you do, the more motivated you'll be to doom. Or, as you watch your progress play out in front of you, you're gonna get psyched up to keep pushing forward. But if you're just sitting there like a lump, what do you think is gonna motivate you? If anything, you'll probably become less motivated because all you'll see is a lack of progress. So again, just get started. Used every bit of willpower. You have to take those first few steps and say, OK, I'm just gonna do a tiny bit right now, and if you have to keep telling yourself that I'm just going to do this. I'm just gonna finish this one thing. I'm just gonna make it toe lunch. And then after lunch, you just have to make it to dinner. And then after dinner, you just have to make it to the end of the day. Don't think about your work as a gigantic, unmanageable process. Just focus on the one or two steps that are directly in front of you and use your momentum to carry you beyond that. 21. [Execution] How Deadlines Can Increase Your Efficiency: If you know you're leaving for a trip one month from now an hour before you have to leave, you'll probably still be scrambling to finish packing and get everything ready. But if someone put a gun to your head and told you to pack everything you could possibly need in the next five minutes, could you do it? Of course you could. And that is the power of deadlines. Work is like a gas. It expands to fill its container. You could make it a lot smaller simply by putting it in a smaller container. So if you have a particular task that needs to be done in a week, it'll probably take you the whole week to get it done. But if you impose a strict deadline and say that task needs to be done two hours from now, guess what it will take you two hours. I remember in school, whenever I had a paper or a project Dio, I was the king of procrastination. I would put it off and put it off and put it off until I had just enough time to reasonably get it done. And then for those last like two hours I would be insanely productive because I knew I had to finish the paper on time. I think we've all been in some situation like that, right? So what I'm suggesting is that you impose your own deadlines and force yourself into that same state of urgency where you're productive because you have to be. Now, of course, there is a limit to this. You can't just set an arbitrary deadline for a huge task and magically get it done in five minutes. You have to be somewhat realistic, but I think there is value in limiting the time you can spend on certain things because it forces you to act. You don't have the option of goofing off for watching cat videos or doing other things because you only have so much time to work. You can use this tactic for individual tasks, but you can also use it to optimize your work day as a whole. For example, if you only allow yourself toe work until a specific time each day, for example, if you check out at 5 p.m. With no exceptions, you can create a sense of urgency to get all your work done by that time, and then you also have the benefit of getting to relax and enjoy yourself at the end of the day again, you don't have to work 16 hours a day if you use your time efficiently. Everybody wants to talk about how many hours they work, like it's a badge of honor. But it's not about the hours. It's about the results. You can work 12 hours. You can work 10 hours. You can work eight hours. It doesn't matter all that much. What matters is what you're actually doing in those hours and whether your work is resulting in real progress. So to summarize, be aware of how much time you're giving yourself to get things done both for individual tasks and your work day as a whole, set strict but realistic deadlines and then meet them. If you do this, I think you'll find yourself consistently getting mawr done in less time. 22. [Execution] A Counterintuitive Strategy To Avoid Burnout And Focus Longer: when you're doing mentally taxing work for long stretches of time, you can very easily start to experience burnout. You sit down to work, you're feeling energized and ready to go. But just a hour or two later, you notice you're making less and less progress, and you're just ready to be done for the day. I think we've all been there right, But there is a solution. Instead of working nonstop for hours on end, try breaking your work into intervals separated by short scheduled breaks. This is called the Pomodoro Technique. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 19 eighties when he started using his tomato shaped kitchen timer toe organize his work schedule. This technique is super simple and very easy to implement, and it works like this. First, decide on a task toe work on, then set a timer for 25 minutes, work on the task while the timer is running, and don't do anything else during that period of time. At the end of the 25 minutes, set the timer for five minutes and use that time to take a short break, get up and move a little bit. Do whatever you want to dio, but be ready to go again when the timer goes off, then go straight into another 25 minute session. Once you've done four work sessions or pa Maduro's as they're called, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. Whatever it takes to get you feeling recharged and ready for another 25 minutes session. It sounds counterintuitive, but breaking your work up like this will actually help you maintain your focus and flow for a longer period of time, and as a result, you'll get a lot more done throughout the day. Another benefit is that you can easily quantify your productivity by how many Pomodoro as you do in a day. And there's also the momentum factor. Once you've got five or six Pomodoro is under your belt, you're gonna want to keep going, and on top of that, it gives you the opportunity to stand up and move from time to time. Which is great for those of us who do most of our work sitting in a chair in front of a screen. So in terms of getting started with this method, it's pretty straightforward, since the only tool you need is a timer, so you can use the timer app on your smartphone or a physical kitchen timer or a website or app that's designed specifically for the Pomodoro technique. So, for example, if you want to use a website, you can try Marondera timer dot com or, if you prefer a desktop app, the one I personally use is called Toe Mighty, and it's available for free for Windows, Mac and Linux. And then there's also simple Pomodoro for android and focus timer for IOS. These are all basically the same idea. The automatically cycle between your 25 minute Pomodoro sessions and your short and long breaks. So give the Pomodoro technique a try. During your next work session, you may find that it's a total game changer for your focus and your productivity. 23. [Execution] Batching Similar Tasks: a good habit to get into when you have a wide variety of different tasks. Toe work on is to batch similar tasks. In other words, tasks that involve the same general activity or required the same effort level should be performed in a single time block together, this has a few distinct benefits. First, you can transition from one task to the next really fluently, because you don't have to change your mental state that much if you're continuing to do the same type of work. Another benefit is that you don't have to worry about those smaller, random tasks creeping into the rest of your day when you have other things to focus on. For example, I mentioned earlier that you should limit how often you check your email When you do check your email. I recommend just going through your whole inbox and knocking out a bunch of replies, one by one in a single session. The result is that you have a specific window of time when you do email, and you won't feel quite as compelled to squeeze in a reply here and there throughout the rest of the day, when you have other priorities and finally, batch ing out a bunch of quick, low energy tasks can give you some easy winds that result in that productive mo mentum that we keep talking about. It's a great way to ramp up to those high energy tasks and then attack them with confidence and excitement. 24. [Execution] How Music Affects Your Productivity: It's very common and often controversial. Question. How does music affect productivity doesn't make you more productive, or does it merely serve as a distraction? Well, it depends on a variety of factors, including the type of music you're listening to, the type of task you're working on and even your own personal preferences. The first thing to consider is the task itself and how immersive it is. In other words, how high is the creative demand? For example, writing an essay requires a good deal of creative effort. Answering emails or entering data into a spreadsheet does not for repetitive tasks that don't require much creative effort. Current research suggests that music is definitely helpful. For example, one series of experiments investigated the relationship between background music and efficiency when performing repetitive tasks. The results strongly support the notion that music can indeed increase productivity, at least when it comes to those low energy, repetitive tasks. Other research has found that music can be beneficial to people working in noisy environments not serving as a distraction but an escape from the distractions around them. Unfortunately, music is not always appropriate, with some studies suggesting that it could be detrimental to absorbing and retaining new information. It seems music demands too much of your attention to safely listen to it when you're trying to learn or analyze new information. The research is also clear that music with lyrics can be very distracting. If you're doing any kind of language related tasks like writing, however, lyrics can be great for repetitive tasks and creative work that doesn't involve language like design and software development. So when it comes to deep, immersive work, what type of music works best? Well, like I said, it definitely comes down to your preference. But the research does seem to suggest that some types of music are better suited to boosting productivity than others. For example, one study showed that classical music, specifically from the Baroque period, tends to increase efficiency and productivity. And that's obviously quite a popular choice. If you don't know where to start with Baroque music, I would suggest Vivaldi's Four Seasons, specifically winter from the Four Seasons. It's one of my personal favorites. Elektronik music can also be great, specifically ambient electronica music or chill out type stuff. Anything that's unobtrusive and a little repetitive can be great to give you a little bit of a boost. Interestingly, video game soundtracks could be amazing for productivity. Even if you're not a gamer. The reason is that game soundtracks are specifically designed to be unobtrusive. You don't want to have a soundtrack that distracts the player from the actual gameplay. You want to get them in the zone, which is the same type of thing we're looking for with productivity. For me personally, I'm a huge fan of a fascinating service called brain dot F M, which uses artificial intelligence to create ambient music that specifically intended toe. Alter your mental state and get you into that productive headspace. It's backed up by neuroscience research, and anecdotally, I can tell you it's significantly boosts my performance and focus every time I use it. I pay for the subscription because I feel that it makes that much of a difference for me. But they do offer a certain number of free sessions. If you go to the website again, it's brain dot f m, and you can make your own judgment as to whether it's worth paying for in your case. And finally, if you don't want to listen to music, but you want some kind of background noise. There are a lot of websites and APS out there that will play a variety of ambient sounds to create just the right environment for you to get things done. One of my favorites is noise Lee, which allows you to choose from different sounds like rain, thunderstorms, leaves ah, forest, floating water, seaside and you can even mix Sounds together for a totally custom experience. So anyway, you could definitely use this lecture as a guide. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to your personal preference. Whatever it is that helps you do your best work is what you should go with. 25. The Next Steps: all right. Congratulations. You've now completed the main course material, and it's time to start putting it all into action. Remember what I said at the beginning? This course cannot magically increase your productivity or change your life or anything like that. But the great thing is, you have the power to implement these strategies and start changing your own life for the better. I hope you take this opportunity seriously and start taking action right away again. I want this course to be a solution, not a distraction. If you have any questions that I might be able to answer, I would love to hear them. Just let me know and I'll get back to you as soon as I can before we part ways. I just want to say I really, really appreciate you joining me here. I know there are a lot of other things you could have spent this time on, so I really hope it's been worth it. And I wish you nothing but success and productivity and all that you do. Thanks again. And good luck