My Struggle With Productivity

February 17, 2015 — 2 Comments

I struggle with productivity. I joke that I have the attention span of a walnut, but it’s kind of true. A lot of entrepreneurs I know experience the same thing, but this isn’t some cool exclusive club that we want to be a member of. I’ve spent the last 20 years thinking that I will always struggle to focus on one task for longer than an hour. This very recently changed because I listened when I asked the right person for the right advice.

A friend and mentor of mine, Dan Martell recently posted a video tip for people like me that basically goes like this: get up early, hit the gym, and then try to break at least one big rock before lunch. This will give you a tangible sense of accomplishment. If you accomplish nothing else for the rest of the day at least you will know that by noon that day, you got a lot done.

This sort of worked. There was one problem I experience with this strategy: as soon as I hit the gym, my brain is already fully activated and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Also, I really enjoy going the gym – it felt like a reward before I deserved one! I haven’t accomplished anything today and yet here I am at the gym. I’m also making notes and scheduling meetings between sets because of the brain thing I mentioned. Then, when I get home, I end up somewhat distracted while I get ready for the rest of the day. The result: I end up rushed trying to break the big rock before noon and my workout wasn’t really what it could have been.

One slight pivot on this schedule and a tweet from Dan changed everything:

Now, I get up and start working by 6:00 am and I DO NOT look at my inbox until 11:00 am. In my life I have never accomplished so much in a day. I’ll admit, it took a lot not to look at my inbox. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Boom Beach. But, I did it.

Repetition produces habits and this is already feeling like a great habit. The satisfaction I get from knowing that by 11:00 am I have accomplished more than what I would normally struggled to accomplish in an entire day is an incredible feeling.

So, here is what my day looks like now: I work as mentioned from 6:00 am until 11:00 am. The next two hours are for me – I hit the gym and have a great lunch and answer some emails. After 1:00 I normally have a few meetings in the afternoon (either face to face or video), and then spend the rest of the day following up on all the stuff that lands in my inbox.

If you struggle with productivity like I do, I strongly suggest you give this schedule a try. I know it’s not for everyone. I’m working from home in the morning and not every employer is comfortable with employees working remotely (even though they should be). Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you. Would love to hear any tips or tweaks to the schedule.

Dan, thank you very much. So far you are winning the best advice for 2015 contest that I just invented right now.

Last week I experienced something rare: a “first”. Specifically, I had my first good shopping experience at Future Shop. Why I have decided to write about it is because Future Shop so routinely delivers the absolute worst experience EVER that I feel motivated to share the story.

Last weekend, on Sunday at around 3:30 pm, my girlfriend declares that she wishes we could watch the SAG Awards that evening on TV. We cut the chord from cable about two years ago and rely on Netflix, Streamnation, and Amazon Instant Video for our viewing enjoyment. I’ll admit it, we miss live TV. Often.

We were (are) deep into a Netflix Friends rerun k-hole. Season 6 & 7 are basically Chandler trying to be the best boyfriend of all time, so I felt slightly more inspired than normal to grant this wish.

Within two hours, while she was out, I had live HDTV setup. Enter Future Shop:

A quick Google search for an HDTV antenna produced a results page showing the RCA HDTV TV Antenna CANT1650 on sale for $48.99.

The thought of driving to the Future Shop at Yonge & Dundas, finding and paying for parking, and trying to find a salesperson to help me was seriously killing the hopes of this project making it past Google search results. Things changed when I noticed something in the bottom right hand corner.

Future Shop successfully geo-targeted my location and gave me three location options where I could pick up the item if I chose to reserve it. One was a location out on Keele (with free parking) that was actually closer than Yonge.

Click > Enter email > OK > Drive.

I walked in, stepped to the right a couple of feet, told them my name, confirmed the item they were holding up was what I wanted, and paid. This took under a minute. IN A FUTURE SHOP!

For Future Shop’s sake let’s pretend the story ends there and I just get back in my car and go home. Let’s pretend I didn’t stupidly decide to walk into the store and ask three different sales associates about outdoor surveillance cameras that I need to solve an infuriating kitty litter caper I’m dealing with (long story) and that these three guys didn’t just monosyllabically grunt at me the way I’m unfortunately used to. Didn’t happen.

It took me about 30 minutes to setup the antenna and snake the cable through the wall. Success! Btw, who knew you could get HDTV over the air for free? It’s pretty incredible.

So, Future Shop, thank you for my first really good experience shopping at your store.

FYI, the SAG Awards were horrifically boring.

Facebook buying Oculus is a good thing.

Facebook Inc. is a public company now. Facebook the platform is just one thing that Facebook the public corporation does. The same way that search is one thing that Google does.

Google also does driverless cars, and maps the world, and makes thermostats. The same way Facebook also does mobile data compression, pictures and now virtual reality.

All companies need resources to grow and scale fast; especially young ones like Oculus. Being acquired by a very well funded parent company is a great way achieve this. I couldn’t think of a better funded and more focused partner, and one possessing such incredible problem solving skills than Facebook.

This is a good move for Oculus. Good luck. Move fast.