6 Steps to the Perfect, Productive Day – Everyday





Do you feel overwhelmed with too much to do in your day? Do you have such a long list there is no way it’s all getting done? No matter how much you accomplish, do you feel a little bit like a failure because there’s still so much you didn’t do?

Do you just feel like you don’t have all your ducks in a row?

I know I feel like this sometimes. It’s been getting me down.

I’m putting everything I have into my business and I’ve been going a little crazy. I want to create more content for helping people and organizations pursue their Passionate Purpose. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Create a 40 day email course – 40 Days to Finding and Pursuing Your Passionate Purpose – in written, audio, and video form
  • Film an online video course for individuals and businesses
  • Book more speaking engagements at seminars, conventions, colleges, and churches
  • Expand my personal coaching
  • Create a 365 day email encouragement program
  • Write an eBook of my most uplifting quotes
  • Write another book with new ideas, stories, and humor to help people take the next step in their journey
  • Develop an Internet marketing plan to promote my products
  • Increase my audience and email list subscribers
  • Do the research to make all of these things happen

Just writing all that down got me feeling overwhelmed again. The good news is it also got me super excited again. I love the idea that all my products will help people.

I’ve tried a lot of productivity systems. Some of them were so complicated and so much work that they just didn’t do it for me. I’ve devised a very simple, easy to implement system, that has led me to producing more meaningful work than at any other time in my life.

If you give these steps a try for a week, I bet you never go back to the old way. (Actually, even when you see how well it works for you, there will probably be times you backslide. It happens to all of us. Don’t give up. Give yourself some grace, and get back to doing what you know works for you.)

First, we need to challenge the idea that to be productive means doing everything as fast as possible and being accessible to everyone who needs us.

Ask yourself, are you trying to take on everything to please everyone and not doing your best work, or are you choosing the essential projects where your best effort makes a difference? Which would you rather do?

Step 1) Write it all down the night before. (I know you’ve heard this before, but stick with me.The way we’re going to do it, this will have you starting your days focused and excited.)

Pick a time every evening where you will spend 10-15 minutes planning the next day.  Make a list of everything you want to do tomorrow.

Step 2) Focus on what’s vital and acknowledge there will be tradeoffs.

Prioritize the tasks you want to do tomorrow. Look at your list and ask, what is the most important thing to do today that is in line with your Passionate Purpose? That will be task #1. Ask that question again to find task #2, and so on until you’ve completed the list.

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
–Gary Keller from The ONE Thing

Focusing on your most important thing is the key to a productive, rewarding day.

If you start to feel overwhelmed at anytime during the day, go back to your list and stay true. Or ask yourself anew, what’s the most important thing for me to do right now?

Step 3) Estimate how long each task will take. (This is what will keep you from setting yourself up for failure and over scheduling your day.)

Start with your most important task and estimate how long you think it will take to complete. Write that down next to the task. Do that for every task you listed. Add in 5-10 minute breaks every hour to refresh your mind and body. Schedule in two 30 minute blocks for something I’ll explain later.

When your time estimates equal an entire working day, you’re done. If you still have more things on your list, but no time left to do them, they must be put on the next day’s list. You must get clear on the fact that tradeoffs are necessary. That’s why we prioritized everything, remember? Don’t over schedule.

Step 4) Start your day in Concentrated Focus Time doing your most important thing.

Now it’s time to reap the rewards from last night’s planning. Start your day with two hours of Concentrated Focus Time. During this time you will only work on your most important task. You will need to explain this to your coworkers so they can support you in this. When they see how much more you’re getting done, you might even find some of them want to start doing it as well.

Start with 2 hours a day. Over time, you can expand it to 4 hours and then even 6 hours of your day. (Using this method you’ll do more in 6 hours than most people do in 8-1o hours.)

During these 2 hours there are no interruptions.

  • Close your door if you have one.
  • Put a “Deep in Concentrated Focus time” Post-it note up.
  • Close all email programs.
  • Mute all chimes, ringers, and pings.
  • Turn off visual alerts and social media messaging.
  • During your concentrated focus time this is all you do.
  • Nothing else is allowed to take up your focus and time.

Set a timer for one hour. Do nothing else except your most important thing. Then take a break to stretch, walk around the building or up and down the stairs, just clear your mind and think for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat the process. Do it for at least 2 hours of each morning.

As you complete your most important thing, move on to what next becomes your most important thing.

Step 5) Cluster your less important things, that still need to be done, to two times a day.

It would be great if you could just focus on your most important thing all day long. The reality is that we do have some other things we need to do each day as well. Remember how I had you schedule in two 30 minute blocks of time into your day? We are going to use those blocks to cluster some daily tasks.

Take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more.

What can you cluster during your day to prevent constant interruptions to your flow?

Schedule two times a day to handle these and don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time doing these.

Step 6) Do NOT start your day with email. (This is really part of step 5, but it’s so important I made it another step.)

You spent last night getting ready for today. You are ready to hit the ground running, working on your most important thing. You fire up the laptop, open your email program and…two hours later you still haven’t started on your most important thing. You just gave every one else the power to run your day and distract you from your most important thing. Why?

Instead, let everyone in your company know you are changing the way you handle your email. Set up an auto response, and the signature of your email, to say something like this:

In order to be as effective and efficient as possible, I only answer my email twice a day – after 10:30am and 4:45pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.

In very special circumstances, you may need to check your email 3 times a day. But if you’re telling me there is no way this will work for you, I have a question:

If you check your email three times a day, are you really telling me your customers and coworkers must have you returning emails more often than every three hours?

If that’s true, what can you do to change that? What training can you do for your co-workers? How can you delegate more and allow your coworkers to work more independently so they can get more done? What expectations can you set up with your customers so they understand what better quality – and quantity – of work for them you can get done when you focus instead of being tied to your email?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Goofing Off Is Good For You And Your Business


In a world of hyperfocus and constant busyness, how can goofing off be good for you? That’s just being lazy. I eat people who goof off for breakfast!

Hang on. This isn’t about goofing off all the time and just expecting great things to happen. It’s about giving your brain a break and allowing your subconscious mind and creativity to flourish.


We’ve all had it happen to us. Emma Seppala of Stanford just wrote a great article on how scientific research is proving it.

I’m lucky enough to know Dr. Harold Finch. He played a key role as a project director for the Apollo spacecraft program.

He was trying to figure out how to keep the astronauts safe from the dangers of the heat and cold extremes in space. Harold concentrated and focused on the problem. He came up with all kinds of ideas and none of them worked.

One day while he was taking a break and going to eat some great Kansas City barbecue – goofing off – he came up with the solution. The idea just popped into his head. It was brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s still used in space today.

As Harold was waiting on his lunch he was watching a chicken being cooked on a rotisserie. Hey, didn’t that keep the chicken from being burned on one side and uncooked on the other? Couldn’t we rotate the spacecraft so it would create an even temperature on all sides? Wouldn’t that protect the ship and the astronauts? The Barbecue Roll was born.

Goofing off works!

Here are some ideas on how to goof off with great results.

  • Spend some time focusing on your goal, problem, or project to prime your conscious and subconscious minds.
  • Schedule in 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so to purposefully unfocus.
  • Perform some stretching exercises
  • Do a mindless task and let your mind drift. I work mostly at home so I love to do the dishes, shave, or shower. It’s stuff I have to do anyway and it gives me time to just think in silence.
  • Take a walk. New research shows this really ramps up your creativity.
  • Drive in total silence on the way to and from work and just daydream.
  • Work at creating new experiences in your daily life to give you new ways to look at the same things. Take a different road to work. Eat at a new restaurant. Work with a different team. Visit a new place.

You never know when goofing off might give you a Barbeque Roll moment.

When Did We Decide Working Too Hard is Something to be Proud Of?


A new Bloomberg poll shows 27% of Americans think we have a lagging work ethic. I would qualify that belief to this: Some Americans have a lagging work ethic.

We have all seen the people who are doing just enough not to get fired, or the people who really don’t want to work at all.

I do worry that we now have a few generations who seem to think the good life is something they’re entitled to and not something you have to work for.

But there is also a danger if you go to the other extreme. When work becomes your idol and all you live for, that’s not good either.

When did we decide working too hard is something to be proud of?

I’m all for working hard and getting things done, but what about time for your family, friends, sleep, God, and relaxation? What about time to volunteer, think, read, and exercise?

Too much work will lead to you losing many of the things you hold dear. It will also lead to a reduction in the quality of your work and it could actually kill you.

Other than that, it sounds AWESOME!

My daughters really want to try out for a professional play in our city. But, when we looked at the practice schedule we told them no.

Rehearsal is from 5-10pm every weeknight. On the weekends, it’s from 8am-5pm. For three weeks. Wow.

Right now they leave the house at 7:15am and get home from school around 3:30pm. It would take 30-45 minutes just to get to rehearsal. They wouldn’t get home until around 10:45pm. They would still have homework to do. That doesn’t include piano practice, showering and getting ready to go to sleep.

That’s too much. They would not be able to give their best to the show or to their schoolwork. They would end up tired and miserable.

Sometimes it’s hard to say no to something we really want to do or something we feel we should do, but we need to give ourselves permission to say no.

It’s not a badge of honor to work yourself to death. It will actually end up hurting you, your quality of work, and the ones you love.

I’m going to spend some time this weekend rethinking how I spend my time each day. I’m going to prioritize what I need to do in all phases of my life.

If you decide to do the same, let me know what plan you came up with. I’m sincerely interested.

Better Than an Energy Drink


We all want to be energized and fired up to take on the day. So much so, that we may turn to coffee for a pick me up. For some, that’s not enough. Bring on the energy drinks!

But aren’t there days when you feel invigorated without having to slam an espresso? What’s happening on those days?

I bet you’re doing something you’re passionate about and that you love.

While I’m doing my radio show each day, I don’t feel tired. I feel super charged. I’m hyped. (Even when my show was four hours long, it didn’t wear me out.) It actually takes me a while to calm down once I’m off the air.

I have the same excited feeling when I’m giving a speech and playing guitar in my band.


Because I’m passionate about those things and I love doing them.

“Working on what you’re passionate about creates your energy. Working on what you hate destroys your energy.”

–Greg Knapp

When’s the last time this has happened to you? Isn’t it amazing that you can work harder and longer doing what you love – and still feel more energized and satisfied – then working shorter hours doing something you hate?

Yes, we all have to do things we don’t want to do. But, how often?

Is there a way you could do more of what your passionate about and less of what drains your energy? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Wouldn’t that help you and everyone who comes in contact with you?

Sure, Greg, and then I’ll ride a unicorn over a rainbow into a pot of gold.

I know it sounds impossible, but what if? How about this for a start?

1) Figure out what you love and what you don’t. Make a list of everything you do each day, for a week. Highlight all the activities you enjoy in green. Highlight all the activities you don’t enjoy in red.

Which type of activities are you spending most of your time on? If they aren’t the green ones, look out.

2) Now start looking for ways to minimize the red and maximize the green. Are there people who like what you dislike? Could you delegate to them? Could you group the things you dislike and do most of them once a week? Could you talk to your boss about where you do your best and see if that could be where you focus your time? Remember, it will help the company bottom line, too.

3) If none of that works, do you need to change jobs or careers to do more of what your passionate about?

4) Do this with your personal life as well.

Life is too short to spend most of your week doing things that suck the life force out of you.

The world needs your best work and that work is driven by your passions. Find them…and you can throw out the energy drinks.

Who Else Wants to Get More Done in Less Time?


You are working harder than ever. From the second the alarm clock goes off until your head hits the pillow at night you are working. It’s slowly killing you and you’re starting to notice that all that work isn’t doing as much as you thought it would.

It’s time to spend less time working to do more.

Ok, get the guys in the white coats. Greg’s really lost it this time.

Nope, never been more sane. I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to put out all the fires and be all things to all people, I let other people determine my priorities. You know what happens then? My most important tasks don’t get done.

When I decide my top three priorities and take them one at a time until they’re done, I get more important things done. That helps everyone more.

Here’s how you do it, depending on if you’re self-employed or you’re an employee.


1) Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done today would make the biggest difference to your business?

2) Do that until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for emails, phone calls, fires, etc. Then repeat the process.

3) Repeat steps one and two for your three priorities until you’re done for the day.

4) If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

5) Celebrate a great day! Go for a walk with your spouse. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

If you’re an employee:

1) Meet with your boss and ask him/her and work out what the companies goals are for you – short and long term. What does he expect from you? What are the top three most important things he expects you to get done?

You might think you know this already. Hey, you might. But, you also might be surprised just how different your ideas of what is important are from what your boss thinks.

2) Focus 80% of your time on those top three things your boss wants done. Do this in one-hour increments. Tell everyone, no interruptions during that time. Set a timer. You will be shocked what this type of focus will do.

3) As you show your boss how much important work you’re getting done, see if he will delegate some of your less important work to someone else. (You will be surprised how often the answer will be yes.)

4) Use the other 20% of your time to do the less important but necessary tasks of your job.

5) Win the office fantasy football pool. Whoo hoo! (Whoops, sorry, that’s my stuff again.)

Let me know how this works!

Working Too Many Hours Hurts Everyone

We tend to think that working long hours shows we have a strong work ethic. It’s proof we’re not lazy and it will lead to more success.

Some of us even get in competition with our buddies on how many hours we put in.

But research shows that too much work is actually counterproductive. It hurts your health and your productivity.

A new study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed a correlation with work hours and risk of stroke.

Compared to the “normal” 40-hour workweek, working from 41-48 hours increased your risk of stroke by 10%. If you worked up to 54 hours a week the risk jumped to 27%. The last group working over 55 hours a week saw risk of stroke increase by 33%.

The reason for this isn’t proven yet. The researches think it could be due to increased stress, longer periods sitting at your desk, or just the fact that you have less time to eat right, exercise and take care of yourself properly.

Meanwhile, a Stanford study shows that after you reach 50 hours a week your productivity takes a big hit. Push it past 56 hours and your work starts to downhill fast. When you reach 70 hours a week, you produce nothing worthwhile with all that extra time.

That study focused on munitions workers so it’s not exactly the same for most of us who do office work. However, many other studies show the diminishing returns from overwork and not enough sleep.

You can get away with it in short bursts for big projects, but if it becomes the norm, your quality of work – and your health – will suffer greatly.

Depending on the survey, around half of American workers now say they put in more than 50 hours a week.

It’s time to start asking ourselves what we – and our employers – get for that?

Is there a better way to work less, get more done and achieve more balance in our lives?


I’m going to give some ideas on that in my next post.