I gave a talk to a group of fellow non-profit fundraising professionals at the Kalamazoo Public Library yesterday. The experience was very rewarding for a number of reasons – not the least of which being that it gave me an incentive to get down on paper my system for productivity. The talked included a list of 21 habits I’ve established which provide maximum energy and focus.
- The Ideal You – A Visualization and Journaling Exercise
- Ingredients (tools needed to implement the habits and techniques)
- The 21 Habits of Energy & Productivity
- The 10 Beliefs of Empowerment
- FEAR Itself – The Top 5 Fears that Inhibit Success and How to Conquer Them (from my 20-page ebook, FEAR Itself)
- 8 Steps to the Phoning Process w/ Sample Scripting
- 8 Steps to the Meeting
- How to Persuade
First of all, I regret talking so much, or at least not asking for more feedback and letting us discuss things after certain topics. I felt a bit guilty for dominating the time and using it all to do all the talking. I think since it was my first talk in a while and I didn’t know how long it would take, I was worried I wouldn’t finish or that I’d forget things and would kick myself later for not mentioning. So, if you were at the talk, I am sorry for not making it more of a roundtable and planning out action questions for us to discuss as we went through. I’ll make a point to do that from now on.
Some things I Forgot – “Example Weight”
In general, I was happy with the way the talk came out. I felt I did a good job remembering almost all of the important info although I regretted getting off track at one point and not telling the story of how I got 40 referrals from one client. Also, there were a few other stories I could have told that would have probably added valuable “example weight” and by that I mean it is usually the examples we remember which help us to in turn remember the principles behind them. If a speaker or author doesn’t share examples, they are just sharing beliefs not facts, and that opens the window for readers to doubt.
On Omitting Explanations of the Habits
I regretted not going through and explaining WHY I use each habit, because I definitely expect those that were there to scan them and rule out many of them as unnecessary in their particular case (even though they aren’t) simply because I didn’t explain the WHY or the mechanics of the result of the habit. I’ve outlined them below.
21. Stacking Habits
Possibly the most important habit and I put it last on my list?? A mistake I am correcting now. Stacking Habits means deciding to let one habit be a reminder or a signal that it’s time to do another habit too. For example, in order to remember to wash your face or improve the health of your skin, stack the habits of rinsing your face when you wash your hands. You’ve already established the habit of washing your hands after you go to the bathroom (an action that occurs without a reminder) now stack on another action that should occur at the same frequency. Another example that has worked well for me is to stack the habit of making a bowl of vegetables for grazing during the workday on top of my habit of booting my computer. As soon as I log in and am waiting for my computer to boot up, I decided instead of being idle and staring off into space thinking about random things to go get my energy needs ready so it’s easier to make a good decision on what I eat later.
I have stacked my habit of turning off my alarm clock that is buzzing really loud with chugging water. Each time I do one I do the other, so the self-regulate. Try to think of habits you can stack this is absolutely KEY!
1. 6:00 Club – Get up at 6AM
I would have said that one of the books I read, perhaps it was GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) said to always trade 2 hours of evening time for an hour of morning time. Frank Bettger, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, was the one who originally suggested the habit and said it was absolutely key for his productivity. It is true, the norm is to look at the clock to determine what we should do, this makes hardly any sense however, because the priority of our projects and tasks don’t change based on the clock. There are deadlines such as having dinner ready on time or running an errand or something that we have to do, but putting watching TV in as the action item simply because it is after 5pm and “work” is done is nonsensical. You might think TV helps you “wind down” but it doesn’t it is just an escape and excuse. If you are tired from work you don’t need to wind down, you need to sleep. If you aren’t tired then you ought to work or exercise to get tired so you can sleep. Winding down would mean you are energized and need to calm down. Really what people should say is that they want to escape from the stress of their day and not think. TV makes you think though. You think about what is going on and your mind wanders to thoughts about how you might apply what you are watching to your own life, etc. If you want to “not think” you ought to just meditate because that is what meditation is – it’s letting your mind be empty for once. This can be achieved a number of ways, but for instance picturing one thing in your mind and focusing on having deep consistent breaths.
Philosophy of Aging & How These Habits Maximize Energy (Applies to Habits 4,5,6, and 13)
I would have liked to mention the basic Philosophy of Aging – that we age due to the toxins we carry around in our body. As such, a cornerstone of good health is eating antioxidants and going to the bathroom often as well as getting more than 8 hours of sleep to repair and restore. It is the repairing and restoring that actually makes us stronger, the workout is destroying the muscles so that our body will repair. Since this could have turned into an entire other talk very easily…
5. Food Log: Using LoseIt and NutritionData sites as well as Taking a Picture of Each Meal Before You Eat
I would have liked to show a screen shot of nutritiondata.com diet analysis tool as well as how LoseIt allows single click meal loading. I think by highlighting those in say 30 seconds or so, my success rate for getting the audience to utilize them would have gone up over 500%.
6. Warm up / Stretching in the Morning
I would like to have shared some study data and support for why it’s important to get the blood flowing in the morning and talked about the anti-aging effects of stretching. This is one of the most important morning activities.
7. Time Log: Toggl and RescueTime
I would have liked to have screen shots and explained these apps so the audience could have seen why they are awesome. This is also true for all of the apps: Goal Reminder, Alarm Clock Plus, Mint.com, Evernote. Again this probably would have been 50% of the value of my talk.
Keeping track by logging your activities not only gives you a useful record to show others (especially good for job interviews) it also holds you accountable and rewards you for using your time well. Just being able to look at your pie chart and see your stats is enough incentive to keep doing well with your time. Mint.com provides this same incentive for money.
18. Empathize with the Future You: Prep your future Arrivals
This went totally unexplained. On the surface, the concept is pretty basic: prepare for tomorrow ahead of time, but to really understand why a deeper look is required.
Years ago, I would have said I didn’t need to prep everything ahead of time, there is no difference between cleaning something up at night or in the morning or filing something away is pointless if I’m just going to take it back out tomorrow, or laying out my clothes for tomorrow is pointless because I can just get them out when I’m putting them on. This seems true on first glance, but WRONG, it isn’t. The biggest difference is that by laying out your clothes you are visualizing your morning going smoothly and seeing your intentions. You naturally catch snags you would have run into in the morning as well, i.e. crap I don’t have clean black socks, or crap where are my keys, wallet, phone, oh yeah I have to drop off the dry cleaning tomorrow – is that all together? You set out all the things you need so you don’t fall behind and arrive late.
Philosophy of Being ON TIME
Being LATE is a concept I’ve totally changed my philosophy on. That’s another paragraph or chapter for another book, but for now suffice it to say that in a way, THE GAME OF LIFE all boils down to being ON TIME. Everything in a sense is on a clock: not just important meetings and conversations, grocery shopping (food is consumed as a function of time, so you should never run out of anything; buy it BEFORE you need it, but also and most importantly bills and retirement. Getting ahead is really apt phrase. One of the worst epidemics of our culture is letting LIFE push us through life. We procrastinate and avoid work until we are forced to deal with it. Why not get it done ahead of time because no matter when you do your work you are only going to do so much in order to retire. Take mini retirements as Tim Ferriss recommends if you don’t like the idea of putting “too much time” into work. Being LATE is a sign you are disorganized and THE GAME OF LIFE is beating you. By getting ahead in TIME, you will be ON TIME, and be getting ahead in MONEY too.