The Only Way To Keep Your Inbox Empty

The inbox is a never ending topic.  I’m convinced that I’ve finally found the only way to keep your inbox empty.  It’s so simple I almost can’t believe it works so well.

Inbox Zero

The inbox is an on-going debate.  The Today Show recently brought up the subject, so I thought I’d address it again.  It seems there are two classes of email users.  One class always has thousands in their inbox, the other has zero.

The Definitive Two Step Process to Stay On Top of Everything

Being successful in the workplace often means having the ability to stay on top of everything.  Most workers are completely overwhelmed by their workload.  The answer to their problems lies in their ability to quickly and efficiently process the onslaught of responsibilities coming at them.

Stay on top of everything

The other night over dinner, as she usually does, my wife asked how my day had gone.  “Surprisingly well” I answered.  I then went into ,probably too much, detail about why my day had gone so well.  “I’ve found a simple two step process to help me stay on top of everything” I told her.

As an executive and leader of my company, I can sometimes feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I often return home at the end of the day completely spent and feel like I achieved nothing.  I have goals and objectives for my company, but some days, it seems I spend all my time attending to the urgent things that pop up.

I find it impossible to stay on top of everything we have going on!

Many leaders can sympathize with this feeling.  Day after day we find ourselves emerged in urgent tasks and requests from employees.  By the end of the week we’ve achieved none of our business goals.  Worst yet, sometimes we find that we’ve forgotten all together what our goals were!

What has my workday go “surprisingly well” is a two step process I’ve developed to help me stay on top of everything.  This is how I do it:

1. Process everything twice daily

2. Track everything in real time

Of course the beauty is in the details.  Here is how I execute this two step process to ensure I stay on top of everything going on with my company.

Process In twice daily – I have an inbox, email inbox, and voicemail.  This comprises what I call “In.” I’ve downloaded Xobni to find out when I receive most of my emails.  I’ve scheduled my processing of in to occur right afterwards.  This ensures that, even though I only check email twice a day, I am responding to people quickly.

Gather your gear – I open my email, currently Mac Mail.  Then I grab my papers from my physical inbox.  Lastly I pull my phone near.  Finally, I launch Nozbe.  This is everything I need to complete the process.  Below is my stand up desk ready to “Process In.”

Stand up desk

Process Email – Here is a screenshot of how I clear my email inbox in less than 30 seconds.

Mail ActOn – I use this app to help me process my email inbox.  With just a few clicks of my keyboard, I can completely stay on top of everything in my inbox.  Using the hotkeys pictured below, I make 1 of 4 choices for every message.  I use only 4 so I can set my finger on the keys and very quickly make decision.  I typically clear my inbox in less than 30 seconds.

1. Trash it – these are emails I don’t absolutely need

2. @Action – these are emails I must take some form of action on personally

3. @Waiting For – these are emails that contain something I can delegate

4. Processed – these are all the emails that I want to save but don’t need to act on or delegate

acton

Enter Nozbe – I open Nozbe and Mac Mail in such a way that they split my computer screen.  I can then open my @waiting for folder.  I add all the new items and delegate them to employees.  Anything still in there that an employee has checked off of Nozbe, I delete or send to “Processed” if the email is still important.  I do the same process with @Action, but I don’t delegate these tasks, they’re mine.

Process Paper – Now expand Nozbe to full screen to limit distractions.  Pick up the first piece of paper and make a decision on it.

1. Trash it

2. Delegate it – Enter it into Nozbe and assign to the appropriate employee

3. Take it on – Enter it into Nozbe for yourself

4. File it – These are important items but require no action

Process Voicemail – I treat my VM the exact same way as my other inboxes.  To stay on top of everything, you have to have a central location for everything.

1. Trash it

2. Delegate it

3. Take it on

4. File it – I typically write down the pertinent information and stick it in the appropriate file.

The most critical aspect of performing “Knowledge Work” is to gather everything together in one place so you can keep track of it all and stay on top of everything that is going on at your company.  This two step process has made my work much more enjoyable.

The entire process takes less than 10 minutes each time.  The peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re able to stay on top of everything is sublime.  20 minutes a day is a small price to pay to become a super productive, organized, stress-free high performer.

Is 20 minutes a day worth it to you to be able to stay on top of everything?

How Massage Can Improve Your Productivity

 

This guest post is provided by the creative team at Pingup. Pingup is an online booking application that allows users to make appointments and book reservations at all types of businesses across the country, from San Francisco spas to Boston salons.

 

Everyone knows that getting a massage feels good, and on top of that can relieve the aches and pains brought on by the stresses of daily life. In this regard, many consider the act of getting a massage to be a way of pampering themselves or as an indulgence, a fun activity when they’re on vacation in a tropical climate. Although this is true, as massages can definitely fulfill some of our hedonistic desires, they are also beneficial in many other ways. One way that you may not have considered – improving your productivity.

How Massage Can Improve Productivity

 

Do you ever feel stressed out at work? Of course you do; not only are there deadlines to meet and demanding bosses to please, but also anxiety-producing details from your personal life that can creep into your work day. All this stress is not only unhealthy; it can also detract from the quality of your work. One way to combat the negative influence of stress is to get a massage. Studies have shown that massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol in your body, thereby helping you to relax and focus on your daily tasks.

 

 

Another factor that can contribute in detracting from your job performance is lack of sleep. If you’ve ever spent the night trying to count sheep, only to walk into work the next day on five hours of sleep feeling like a zombie, then you know what I’m talking about. Massage can actually help you to get enough Zs, as it promotes healthy sleep patterns due to its positive effect on delta waves – the type of brain waves required for deep sleep.

 

 

One of the most debilitating factors on your productivity is illness. When you are struggling through a bout with the flu, you are either at home in bed accomplishing nothing other than regaining your health, or suffering through a miserable unproductive day at your desk. Unsurprisingly, massage can help with this as well. Remember how I told you earlier that getting a massage can help curb your production of the stress hormone cortisol? Well it turns out cortisol is doubly bad for us, as it destroys cells that ward off invading bugs. By going for a massage and decreasing the amount of cortisol in your body, you can ensure that your immune system is up to the challenge of keeping you in good health and on the path to productivity.

 

 

 

While people are certainly unproductive when they are sick, the same can be said about them when they are in a foul mood. In addition to all the things massage does for your body, it also can have a powerful effect on your mind. Studies have shown that massage can improve your overall mood, even if you are only going for a brief 15-minute session each week. This is a fact that is not lost on business owners, as many businesses have begun offering their employees massages during the day in order to improve both morale and performance.

 

 

 

In essence, massage can provide a multitude of benefits to your well-being. In addition to improving your overall health and mood, you can also expect to see an increase in your productivity and performance. If you are considering getting a massage for pleasure, make sure you are also thinking about all the ways it may be able to help you in your quest for productivity.

 

Have you thought of getting a massage to help improve your productivity?

 

 

 

Use This Morning Recipe For A Better Start To Your Day

A morning recipe is like an opening drive in a football game.  In Football, the opening drive is the most important drive of the game.  How you come out of the gate often dictates if you will win or lose.  The same is true about your morning ritual.  How you start your day, often dictates how successful you will be.  To ensure a successful day, every day, I’ve created this morning recipe.

morning-recipe

I call it a recipe because that’s really what it is.  There are key ingredients that must be combined in just the right portions to create the exact same results time and time again.

I credit this morning recipe as the cause of much of my success.  I’ve come to guard it from interruption and diversion.  If I follow the recipe, my day has a very high likelihood of ending well.  If something interrupts it or keeps me from getting it just right, my whole day can spiral downhill quickly.

Why is a morning recipe so vital?  Just like the opening drive of a football game, it sets the tone and creates a an aggressive confidence that can carry you through the rest of the game, or in this case, the rest of your day.

This same aggressive confidence can be yours every day if you know how to systematically create it.  This is exactly how I set myself up for a win every single morning.

My Morning Recipe for Success:

1. Get enough sleep the night before.  Waking up tired leads to grumpiness.  Grumpiness leads to a negative attitude.  A negative attitude will keep your momentum heading in the wrong direction.

2. Hydrate before bed.  The groggy feeling you experience when you wake up is often dehydration mistaken for tiredness.  I use a Nuun Active Hydration Tablet in 16 oz of water 1 hour before bet to ensure I wake up hydrated.  The effect is astonishing.

3. Wake up on time or earlier.  Being late will put you in a rush and make you feel a little depressed.  You have to avoid negativity like at all cost in the morning to ensure a positive start.

4. Consume 30 in 30.  Consume 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking.  This gives you the energy to create a good vibe of productivity.

5. Make the perfect cup of coffee.  Here is my recipe for the perfect cup of coffee.  It’s such an important part of your morning recipe that Apple invests thousands in the right coffee and coffee maker.

 

Jony Ive’s Secret Coffee Ritual http://t.co/EhPyGpdPOo

— Jayson Feltner (@JaysonFeltner) December 9, 2013

6. Play music that gets you going.  This ingredient in my morning recipe is the sugar to the cupcake.  It is both essential and enjoyable.  I play my “Contemporary Singer-Songwriter” playlist on Pandora.

7. Create a repeatable success structure.  For me, this part of my morning recipe looks like this.

8:00 to 8:30 – reading and coffee – I read my feedly, the WSJ, and USA Today.

8:30 to 9:00 – Process my email and inbox – I do this following the GTD method.

9:00 to 9:30 – Set others up for success – this is when add items for my team on Nozbe.  I’ll also meet with my direct reports and convey my expectations for the day.

8. Create a short list  of must do items.  After processing in and my email, I’ll have everything I need to do in my Nozbe.  Then I choose the top 3 items.  If these were the only items I accomplished all day, I’d have had a successful day.  I mark these as next actions.  Then I get started on the first item.

By having at least one of these items checked off before 10:30 in the morning, I’ve set myself up with an opening drive touchdown.

Creating a repeatable morning recipe that leads to success ensures you’ll have a successful and productive day every day.  I’ve tried winging it and found my results sporadic.  Creating a morning recipe like this has had an incredible impact on my success and productivity since I’ve implemented it.

Try this recipe today and let me know how it works for you?

How To Find Time To Follow Your Passion

When I began blogging in 2011 I never dreamed it would be so fulfilling.  For me, writing has become my creative release.  My friends read my blog and wonder “where do find the time to follow your passion?”

follow your passion

I’ll be perfectly honest.  Finding the time to follow your passion is not easy.  For years I’ve struggled to find the time to write.

My world has recently been turned upside down.  Despite it all, I still maintain my blog and write frequently.  The truth is, you don’t have to struggle to find time to follow your passion.  You can begin today by following a few simple rules.

Prioritize – In everything you do consider whether or not what you’re doing helps you to follow your passion.  It is surprising how often I find myself on social media when I could easily be writing.  The problem is, I let the world tell me how I should spend my time.  If you’re going to follow your passion, you’re going to have to tell the world how you choose to spend your time.

Use Tools – When I began blogging I was inexperience and frankly naive.  I didn’t know the first thing about WordPress or the world of blogging.  If you’re going to follow your passion, you’re going to have to make it easy on yourself.  To do that, you need to research the tools of the trade.  Look to the leaders in your area of interest and see what they do.  Bloggers should look at Michael Hyatt’s Toolbox and Tim Ferriss’s “How To Build A High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself.”

Create A Team – Kenny Chesney loves singing and performing for crowds.  Unfortunately, that requires him to travel.  I bet he doesn’t like arranging travel.  But someone out there does, and that is who he has arranging his travel for him.  If you’d like to follow your passion you’re going to need a team to do the things that are necessary but not interesting to you.  I have a web developer, an editor, and a Virtual Assistant who handle the aspects of blogging that I do not enjoy.

Focus On The Fun StuffDelegate everything you can to free yourself up to focus on the things you enjoy.  To truly follow your passion, you’ll have to get rid of everything else.  I like to look at Michael Hyatt’s latest ideal week.  Here I see a guy who’s built a huge platform but spends his days doing only the things he loves, the content creation!  This is how you should craft your schedule if you’re going to follow your passion.

Nothing is more impressive than a person who is fully engulfed and in love with what they’re doing.  Living a life where you follow your passion can be amazing and inspiring.  Following these few rules will get you to the life you’ve always dreamed of faster.

What would you do today if you were to completely follow your passion?

What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Over the last few months life has seemed to flip upside down.  I’m essentially homeless, our company is growing, my wife is back in the workforce, and I’m an active part of 6 different companies.  On top of all that, I’m starting a fun new project.  I’m feeling overwhelmed to say the least.

Feeling Overwhelmed

The pressures of the world have forced me into a corner I can not escape without a fight.  Perhaps many of you are also feeling overwhelmed.  You have bills to pay, children to take to soccer practice, long hours at the office, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Trust me, you’re not alone.  As Andy Andrews, author of The Noticer likes to say, “We’re all either in a crisis coming out of a crisis or headed into a crisis”.  In order to pull yourself from this mess and survive the storm with your wits intact, you have to be smart.

I’ve developed a routine that I follow every time I sense that I’m going to start feeling overwhelmed.  This routine has bailed me out time and time and again.  I guarantee it will save you as well.

Pray – Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, the first thing I do is pray.  I do this for several reasons.  Prayer helps you find true north again and center your thoughts where they should be. Prayer also gives you a chance to verbalize your crisis and think it through.  You’ll come out with a clear mind and a better understanding of your problems.

Seek Wisdom – I often lean toward the bible here but you can find wisdom in many places.  The odds that what you’re going through has never happened before are slim.  You’re not the first person to be feeling overwhelmed.  What does God say about this situation?  The Bible is full of wisdom and guidance. Learn to lean on it.

Go to the well – Retreat into your happy place when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  The default for any achiever is to get moving and start trying harder to fix the mess.  Unfortunately, bad situations are a lot like quick sand.  The more you toil, the quicker you sink.  Remove yourself from the situations and get a clearer picture of what is important and what is not.

Prioritize – I always apply the 4 F’s of life when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Faith, Family, Fitness and Finance.  These are the four cornerstones of life.  Prioritize them in that exact order.  Organize the tasks you must do by these four areas.

Sleep – You’re mind doesn’t worry so much when you’re asleep.  Moreover, stress can have a huge impact on your body.  When life becomes difficult and you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to find the time to get a good night’s sleep.  You’ll be more refreshed and alert to take on the challenges before you.

Life has a knack for spinning out of control and leaving a wake of disaster.  Don’t let it take control of you.  Learn to navigate the rough waters in your life by following this simple routine when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What in your life is leaving you feeling overwhelmed right now?

Why I’m Scrapping My Excel To Do List for Nozbe

Years ago in college I finally caved in and realized a to do list might not be as evil as my middle school English teacher made it sound. So I began to use an excel to do list to track what needed to be done each day. A few years ago I switched to Nozbe and I haven’t looked back.

excel_to_do_list_nozbe

David Allen wrote a book that I’ve used for years as my go to guide on getting things done. The book is aptly named Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  At first, I tried to use my excel to do list to track everything I needed to do. I soon found excel too bulky and rigid.

That is when I found Nozbe. One time through “processing in” and I was hooked. My excel to do list was out the window. Nozbe is the perfect companion to high productivity individuals and anyone looking to implement GTD. It is a must have for leaders and a leadership tool I use daily.

Mobile – I have Nozbe downloaded on my iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and my Office PC. In a pinch, I access it on the web as well. It syncs across all my devices so no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I have my to do list with me.

Project Driven – In Nozbe everything is driven by each project you have. It allows me to seperate things I have to do at work, on my blog, and at home. This enables me to focus on what needs to be done now, where I am.

Next Actions – With every to do, there is an action that must first be accomplished. Doing the next physical action to mark something off your to do list is how you get the productivity ball rolling. Nozbe aligns this next action at the top of each project. I can look at a project and instantly know exactly what I need to do at that very instant.

Context – Context tracking in Nozbe is something I never could achieve with my excel to do list. By clumping things together by context I can “bulk process” items together. Have a phone call to make? Why not sit down and make all your phone calls in one sitting? Context tracking also allows me to remember what I’ve assigned to my employees. For instance, my awesome VA Wendy has her own context. When I send something to her to do, I track it in her context. This way I always remember what I’m waiting for from her, or most often, what she’s waiting for from me.

Intregation – Something Nozbe will do that an Excel to do list is incapable of is integrating with other softwares. When I make a note in Evernote, it can autosync to a project in Nozbe. I can also email to do items to myself. Additionally, Nozbe just announced integration with Google Calendar! The integration is seamingly endless.

Knowledge work hinges on a leader’s capability to recognize what needs to be done next. An Excel to do list just falls short of the functionality today’s leaders need. If you’re curious to try out Nozbe, you can download the free software by clicking on the box in the right sidebar, or you can use this link: Download Nozbe Free. 

What is your default To Do List?

How To Shave 10 Hours Off Your Week And Find More Family Time

Almost everyone I know would like to have more time with his or her families. This is why we all enjoy vacations and why books like The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris are so popular. Most folks however, can’t up and retire, nor can they get by with only four hours of work a week.

Practical Ways to Shave 10 Hours

But, what if you could shave 10 hours off of your week every single week? What if you could spend 520 more hours with your family? That’s equivalent to 13 weeks of vacation! This isn’t such a far-fetched idea. In fact, it is very simple to do. Here are several places where you can create more family time in your day:

  1. Stop mowing your lawn (2hr/wk) – Redesign your lawn to be maintenance free. There are many options – Xerscape, turf, and even robot lawn mowers. Of course, you could always hire a lawn service to help you shave 10 hours off your week.
  2. Stop doing laundry (2hr/wk) – The last time I timed myself folding and putting away laundry, I averaged 20 minutes a load. On average, my family has five loads a week. Include the 20 minutes spent sorting it; I’d waste two hours a week doing laundry. Instead, find a laundry service in your area. Some even pick-up and drop-off.
  3. Stop cooking (5hr/wk) – Thirty minutes of food prep plus thirty minutes of cleaning dishes kills an hour a day for whoever is doing the work. Multiply that by five times a week, as much as seven, and you can quickly shave 10 hours off your week.
  4. Don’t Eat Out (5hr/wk) – I find that the average restaurant takes me 15 minutes to get from my front door to a table. Add 20 minutes for all the waiting you do between ordering your drinks, reading the menu, ordering food, and waiting for food. Another five minutes can be added for that annoying time when you’re finished and waiting for the check. Another 15 minutes back home; you’ve spent an hour not actually eating. Instead, pick food up on your way home, and then eat as a family.
  5. Hire a Cleaner (3hr/wk) – The size of your family and home will make this number fluctuate, but I’d bet three hours of cleaning your house per week is probably a fair estimate. Ask your friends for a recommendation or you can use websites like Care.com. They provide background checks to make sure you won’t be swindled.
  6. Stop Watching TV (14hr/wk) – According to this survey, the average person watches 2.8 hours of TV a day. This wastes 14 hours of your work week, when time with family is most hard to come by. Set down the remote and quickly shave 10 hours or more off you week. Plus, TV provides almost zero enrichment for your life.
  7. Outsource Labor (4hr/wk) – How much time do you spend driving to the grocery store, shopping, then driving home? Add in the same thing for the dry cleaners, the post office, and other errands. Outsource this to folks like TaskRabbit or Needto.  These are great sites to help you shave 10 hours off your week in other areas also.  You can often find someone to do your shopping for $20. Consider the $5 in gas you’re saving and you just spent $15 for an extra 2 hours with your family. That’s a great investment.

You may not be able to completely outsource your life – and who would want to? But you can certainly find a few more hours in a day if you’re intentional about it. Take an inventory of time wasters you engage in every day, and then get rid of them to shave 10 hours or more off your week!

What other activities are you doing that you could eliminate?

Outsourcing Labor To Become Super-Dad

Outsourcing labor has come to be a taboo phrase. The fact is, outsourcing labor is quite the opposite. In a world that is often too fast-paced where leaders feel overworked, outsourcing labor can be your key to becoming a super-dad, just in time for Father’s Day.

Outsourcing Labor To Become Super Dad

“Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow, and in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a friendship die, ’cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast, time is short, the music won’t last.”
This is my favorite quotation from David L. Weatherford’s poem “Slow Dance.”

Everyone can relate to Weatherford’s poem. Too often we are so preoccupied be getting things done that we don’t notice the things that are passing us by and the people our To Do Lists are hurting.

Your life could be much more fulfilling if you didn’t have all these small nagging tasks to get done every day. Trust me, I know your feeling. But there is help, a cure. The cure is called “Outsourcing Labor.”

Outsourcing labor and other tasks opens margin in your life. If can provide you with the much needed time to watch your son’s practice, play with the dog, and talk with your wife. Embrace the idea of outsourcing labor and never say “we’ll do it tomorrow” again.

Tips for outsourcing labor:

1. Catalog – Take note for one week of everything that’s taking time away from you enjoying your life. This will help you identify areas that you can outsource and areas that must remain in house.
2. Automation – Robots have come a long way since C3PO. I currently own an iRobot Roomba 770 Vacuum Cleaning Robot, Cube Hard Floor cleaner, and soon will own a robotic lawn mower. These litte guys eliminate 2 hours of work I must do each week.
3. Re-design – Are there areas where you can restructure the things that are taking up your time? For instance, how much time do you waste preparing meals and cleaning afterwards? I suggest finding a healthy place to pick up from. Last night I had a steak, steamed vegetables, and a salad for dinner. I picked it up on my way home. It cost me 5 minutes as apposed to the 1 hour or more I would have spent preparing, cooking, and cleaning.
4. Service Companies – Do you ever take your clothes to the dry cleaners? This is a form of outsourcing labor, but enriches the economy and provides for the propietors. Find other areas where you can do this. Many laundry companies offer laundry services. For $40 I can save 4 hours a week by not doing my own laundry.
5. Help Sole-Proprietors – Thanks to sites like Craigslist, Care.com, and others, it is simple to find good help. Need a your car washed? I bet you can find someone who will do it right in your driveway. And for tasks like running to the post office, grocery shopping, and even picking up your drycleaning, try TaskRabbit.com or Needto.com.

The possibilities for buying time via outsourcing labor are almost endless. When you outsource labor it is a win-win for both parties. You can buy more time with your loved ones while providing a living for others. My only caution, don’t give up the opportunity for family time. I prefer to pick up food, because we can still eat as a family at our own table, no distractions. Except now, I have no dishes to clean so I can go right outside with my son and play in the yard.

How many hours of family time could you find in an given week?

Using Philips GoLITE To Become A Morning Person

Enter Grok, the primitive cave man living waking up at sunrise somewhere with the dinosaurs.  The early light of the morning passes between the edges of the cave entrance and the rock covering he uses as a door.  This is his version of the Philips GoLITE.  Grok quickly rises, stretches, then sets out for his morning hunt.

Philips GoLITE

George Lois, the original Mad Man, though he was way more impressive in real life, claims to have only slept 3 hours a night!  As a business leader, I have always been envious.  For me, my mornings have always consisted of exactly three things, oversleeping, grogginess, and wasteful procrastination.  I wanted to find the secret to waking up at sunrise.

I used to wake at 7:40 am, arrive at the office around 8:15 am, and actually start working around 9:30 am.  Then I discovered the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device.  The GoLITE does for us nocturnal animals what the sun did for Grok.

I won’t get too scientific here but there are certain chemicals released into the body the instant sunlight hits our eyes.  The same is true when we are in darkness.  The body is programmed to make itself tired when the sun goes down, and energized when the sun comes up.

We humans have destroyed this program and overwritten it with Venti Lattes, flourecent lights, window shades, and even our computer screens beaming light into our eyes just before bed.  No wonder people struggle to become early risers.  For those who wish to be an early riser, there is the Philips GoLITE.

Often referenced by Tim Ferriss and Michael Hyatt, two guys I follow closely, I decided to try one.  What could I lose, I had tried just about everything else on the market.  To my astonishment, the Phillip’s GoLITE works!

Why I use the Philips GoLITE everyday:

Mimic The Sun – The blue of the GoLITE mimics the blue of the sky exposing you to more sunlight.  We are meant to be out in the sunlight all day.  This exposure helps our body notice the sunset and make us tired.  Unfortunatly, with the modern office, it just isn’t practical.

Wake Early – The Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device is your answer to that annoying alarm clock you’ve learned to ignore.  Rather than jolting you from your sleep, the Philips GoLITE will trigger the natural human waking experience leaving your refreshed and energized.  I use it in the mornings while I read.  By the time I arrive to the office, at 8am now, I’m wide awake and productive.

Stay Energized – The Philips GoLite also sits next to my computer on my desk.  Around Allied Equipment, the coffee begins flowing again at 3pm for an afternoon pick me up.  Not for me however, I have the sun on my desk to provide all the natural energy I need without the 6pm crash.

The Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device has become an critical component of my energy ritual.  To truly harness a high level of energy and productivity, you must be intentional about it.  I have a whole ritual, from the foods I consume to the Philips GoLITE, and physical activity, that creates the ideal energy level to fuel my day.  Grok would be proud.

Becoming James Bond – Insane Focus

It is almost certainly always a matter of life and death. Resurection is his specialty, but this time I’m not sure he’ll survive. He does survive, of course, as James Bond always does.

James Bond Focus

I admire his level of focus and drive. James Bond is playing in the background as I write most nights. The purpose is two-fold. The movies provide a short mind break that is full of cinematic creativity. The second purpose is inspiration. How can you watch James Bond being James Bond without secretly feeling like your own little 007?

In true benchmarking style, I of course find things in James Bond that interest me. How does he achieve such a high level of awesome? How can I become a secret agent capable of achieving insane results with such style and class?

I’ve set out to boil down what makes James Bond so interesting to men around the world. All the gun fighting and Vesper Martinis aside, how can the average Joe become a low level James Bond? What makes Bond Bond, is his level of focus. Here is how to achieve James Bond style focus.

  1. Disregard Consequences – Would you jump on a moving train? I wouldn’t either, but James Bond would, and does. His mind is set on his target and he will literally do whatever it takes to obtain that target. We too can provide this level of focus to achieving our goals by becoming more like James Bond.
  2. Live It – James Bond doesn’t pretend to be or wish he were James Bond like you and I do, he is James Bond. If you want to be a writer, don’t wish you were a writer, BE A WRITER.
  3. Avoid Waste – Which Bond film was it where he did the laundry and mowed the yard? James Bond lives his lifestyle 100% of the time. If you want to be something, you must be it 100% of the time and avoid everything else. If you want to be a writer, do everything a writer does, nothing else.
  4. Design Your Tasks – James Bond does everything he needs to be James Bond. He exercises because he must be in shape to relentlessly pursue his target. His life literally depends on it. You should do all the tasks you must do to become what you want to be as if your life depended on it. Because your life actually does depend on it. If you’re going to live the life you want, you must do everything that is required of you to obtain that life.

When we watch a Bond Film, what we admire is not the tuxedos and fancy cocktails. What we like is that we see a complete character. We see someone who is James Bond to his core. He never deviates from that character. We see what we can become if we’ll only apply ourselves. We see awesome.

What would life look like if you were the character you wanted to be?

Mastering Biphasic Sleep – My Current Schedule and Tips

This is my how-to guide for mastering biphasic sleep and achieving more with less sleep.  I recently wrote about my biphasic sleep schedule and why I adopted it.  This is the in-depth guide to how I hacked sleep and woke up on the other side feeling more refreshed and energized.

Mastering Biphasic Sleep

Often imitated, rarely duplicated, people who have mastered a biphasic sleep schedule are sleeping less and being more productive.  However, the journey isn’t easy.  I failed twice before.  This is what I’ve learned.

Offset Your Nap – Do not nap halfway through your day.  The first time I failed I tried sleeping after lunch.  This only works if you prefer to wake up super early and go to bed early.  You want to take your nap roughly four to five hours before your core sleep, not halfway through your day.

Less Is More – Biphasic sleep is not 8 hours just chopped up, it is only 6.5 hours total.  The second time I failed, I was sleeping 1.5 hours at my nap.  This is the average time for a full REM cycle so I assumed it was a good idea, I was wrong.  In order to adopt a biphasic sleep cycle you must train your body to go directly into a deep sleep.  Limit yourself to no more than 20 minutes of sleep at your nap.

Fall Asleep – Find a method for falling asleep quickly.  I used to imagine that listening to the same song every night would induce sleep.  I was right.  Unfortunately, the earplugs are annoying.  Now I count backwards from 100.  I find the more I focus the quicker I fall asleep.

Eat Before Bed – The tired feeling you feel in the mornings is often not tiredness at all, it is hunger.  Your body hasn’t eaten in six hours; it is dehydrated and low on glycogen.  Eat a meal that is high in good fats, low GI carbs, and glycogen from sugar.  My go to meal just before bed is a piece of toast with melted cheese and applesauce on it.  I also drink a glass of water.  This helps me wake up because my body is still fueled.

Fill The Void – Find something to do with your new time or you’ll just spend it sleeping.  I write my blog.  As I write it is 12:32 am.  I am in a Yerbe Mate and Wine infused mellow groove.  While most people would be tired and eager for bed, I’m having fun and enjoying my newfound time thanks to mastering biphasic sleep.

Here is my current schedule:

Wake at 7:30 am – This works because I must be at work by 8am.  I planned this so I wouldn’t be able to sleep in during the break-in period, which lasts about two weeks.

Nap at 8:30 pm, sometimes closer to 9 pm – I take my nap when my son goes to sleep.  To help him fall asleep I like to be quiet.  Twenty minutes of sleep is perfect.   I like to down a glass of Yerbe Mate before hitting the sack.  It helps to keep me from wanting to oversleep.

8:50 pm – I’m up but not working.  I like to do something fun for a little while.  This is often time with my wife.

10 pm – 11 pm – This is when I typically begin blogging or go for a run.  I also like to fill the void by working out if I missed the day’s session.

1:30am – Bedtime.  I used the counting trick again.  The more I do it, the more effective it becomes.

Mastering biphasic sleep is no easy task.  The first couple of weeks are exhausting as your body becomes accustomed to the new schedule.  However, this list and my previous post should help you to master biphasic sleep and become a sleep ninja.

What could you do with an extra hour and a half per day?

How To Achieve Creativity On Demand

A few weeks ago I made a significant change in my life.  I’ve always been a proponent of morning writing because that is when my creativity is at its highest.  Unfortunately, I found my mornings too busy to write and had no choice but to cultivate the creative process later in the day.

Cultivating Creativity

The more writers and artists I meet, the more frequently I find out that the creativity well often runs dry even for the greatest talents.  The difference between failures and achievers is often the ability to synthetically cultivate creativity on demand.   You can’t wait for inspiration to find you.  You must often create you own inspiration.

As my days grew crazier and I began my biphasic sleep schedule, I knew I’d have to force the creative process.  I adopted a Tim Ferriss approach to creative release.  A concoction of well-timed creativity drugs follows.

Yerba Mate – I wrote a post about Yerba Mate in the past.  It’s just cool.  Imagine drinking five coffees and taking a muscle relaxer.  The caffeine in Yerba Mate is absorbed through the muscle tissues causing an increase in energy with a mellowing effect that allows you to still focus.

Music – I’m a big fan of Pandora.  Big is an understatement; I’m a huge fan.  I pay for Pandora One.  I listen to stations I’ve created but also stations others are in control of.  As I write this, I’m listening to a Tim Ferriss created station.  Writing at midnight requires less native flutes and more Linkin Park.  You can listen to the same thing I listen to by clicking on the Pandora Stations to the right.

A Movie – Right now I’m watching Skyfall for the umpteenth time.  The movie plays on mute in front of me creating a mental break when I need it. I’ll look up when I’m at a loss and let my mind wonder for a moment.  I feel the cinematography of a creative film helps my mind mimic the art it is absorbing.

Stand Up – I use my stand up desk at work or at home any time I need more energy.  Standing helps my blood flow and creates a sense of urgency.  When I am standing, my body is more active and my mind follows suit.

Sleep – Sleeping allows your mind to organize the information that has been piled into it all day.  At the end of a long day, the last thing I want to do is attempt to spur an outpouring of ideas.  Thanks to my biphasic sleep schedule, I sleep for 20 minutes just before writing.  This allows my mind to organize my thoughts and opesn up much needed bandwidth.

Glucose – Without getting too scientific here, the brain is the largest consumer of glucose in our bodies.  I consume glucose in the form of pasta, potatoes or whole grain breads two to three hours before writing.  Consuming fats will delay how quickly this glucose is created so stay away from high fat foods before you write.

The best writers in the world appear to posses an endless stream of innovative ideas.  The truth is, they’ve honed their creative process so that creativity peaks at just the moment they need it most.  Follow these few steps and you too can cultivate the creative process on demand.

How could you benefit by timing your creativity for when you need it most?

Organize Your Outlook Email Using Folders

The first time I learned that Outlook had folders that I could use to organize my email, my mind melted.  I’m a neat freak so folders excite me.  When my wife first met me she thought I might be gay because I was thin, neat, and single.  I can’t help it, I was born that way… neat I mean.

organize your email using folder

Finding a way to organize your email can be a learning process.  Email is the single largest disrupter and time waster in the modern day paperless office.  Unless you can effectively manage your inbox, your inbox will manage you.

 

Rewind 2 years and the scene is all too familiar.  1,409 items in my inbox, most of them I don’t need or will never use.  They are left to fill my inbox the same way old sweatshirts fill my closet.  I never wear them, but I think one day I might.

 

The To-Do list is staring at me and it makes me feel uncomfortable because the items on it are going to take some real effort.  Unfortunately, my default effort level is the same level I exude watching my favorite Seinfeld episode, very little.  But since I’m at work and work should be done, I open Outlook and spend 2 very busy hours accomplishing nothing.

 

Fast-forward to today, my inbox is empty and for the first time ever, Outlook has become a productivity tool.  The system I follow I suggest you follow to organize your email using folders is based on my Paperless Office approach.

 

  1. Create Projects – Michael Hyatt advises against this but I find it the only way to organize your email using folders.  In his post he uses just one folder, “Processed” for everything.  Might as well call it “inbox” and save a step.  No, you must create a folder for every ACTIVE project you have.
  2. GTD – Apply the Getting Things Done method to your email.  I check my email only twice daily.  When I do, I take one of three actions for each email.  If I can complete the task in less than 2 minutes, I do.  Then I file the message in the appropriate folder.  If I can’t do it in 2 minutes, I flag it and make an action item in Nozbe.  Everything else, I delete.
  3. Storage – No matter how much of a minimalist you think you are, you will have emails that you just can’t delete, but don’t really need.  This is where the “Processed” folder would fit.  Drop the things you just can’t make yourself delete into this and use the search feature to find it later.
  4. Activities – Create a folder for items that don’t fit a project but interest you.  This for me is updates from blogs, authors, industry newsletters, ect. Basically all these are interesting but should be reserved for free time.  I circle back and browse them when I have time.  I purge the folder monthly.
  5. Waiting For – Every email that I send to someone else and am waiting for them to reply, I put in my waiting for folder, even if the item applies to a project.  When they complete the task, I then move both emails to the project folder.
  6. Delete – When a project is completed I delete every email in the folder that isn’t critical.  The messages then go into the project folder on the server or my Dropbox.  Just like with my Paperless Office process, this closing of the project creates a good opportunity to reflect.

 

Outlook can be your biggest friend or your biggest foe, the choice is yours.  Organize your email using folders to achieve a zen-like email relationship and stop wasting time.  Below are a few more articles I’ve written on becoming an email ninja, and one on fitness, just incase you’re single.

Minimize Your Lost Time With Outlook

Using a Calendar To Conquer the World

Run a 5K This Weekend

 

How is your relationship with Email?

 

How To Use Dropbox For Leaders

A few months ago I began looking for an easy way to share my resources with others across multiple devices.  I learned how to use Dropbox and I haven’t looked back.  Dropbox allows me to lead my team virtually while keeping our ideas, files, media, and work centrally located.

dropbox

I thought I’d share my workflow and best practices with you since I’ve become such a big fan of Dropbox. I used to think Dropbox was just for the trendy or for creatives. I’ve used the service many times when sharing files with my web team, video producers, ad agency, ect. Never before have I used Dropbox as a leadership tool until now.

Dropbox is simple to install on multiple devices and even simpler to set up. Additionally, it is easy for your colleagues to download and use. I have found Dropbox to be an invaluable tool that allows me to share work and resources. Dropbox allows me to:

  1. Sync with my EA – I send Wendy documents to work on, artwork for my blog and most recently images and clips that she used to help create an incredible video that will be showcased in the lobby of Allied Equipment.
  2. Sync with my Business Partners – We use Dropbox to store documents and work sent to us by our vendors. Additionally, everything we send out is stored in Dropbox. This gives each partner an instant look at the current status of our work, keeping us all on the same page. This is critical since none of us work within 500 miles of the others.
  3. Share my Devices – My work goes with me where I go. Dropbox has been the only real file management tool that has enabled me to leave the office and work where ever I want. I use my iPad to read over contracts at home and pull media from my home computer for a posts I’m working on. Then I can access them all on my workstation at the office.

I’ve learned to follow a few rules for using Dropbox as a leader;

  1. Divide Folders – Create your personal folders and shared folders separately. This way you know that the documents in your folders will only be changed by you. Additionally, you know anything in the shared folder is subject to being edited by others and thus is always the latest copy.
  2. Share Folders Individually – I like to create a folder for each project but give different people access to individual documents not the entire folder. This way you can have multiple employees working on the same project at one time while keeping responsibilities divided. This helps your team divide and conquer.
  3. Recycle Documents – To save space, have others remove files when they work on them, then upload the newest version when edited. Dropbox is a free service up to 2GB. To prevent your colleagues from having to purchase an upgrade, load a file to the system and have them remove it to work on it. This serves two purposes. It lowers the amount of space you are using and allows you to know when they commence and finish their work.

Dropbox has quickly become a household name because of the flexibility it affords individuals who want to access information on multiple devices.  This multi-device access can also help teams become more productive and cohesive.  The ability to adopt new technology that brings teams together virtually is key to achieving success as a modern day leader.

How does your team share information effectively?