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!

7 Steps to Having More Time (Part 2, with link to Part 1)


Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? My last post was part 1 of 7 Steps to Having More Time. It covered the first 4 steps. Don’t miss them. Today we’ll cover steps 5-8 (But you said there were only 7 steps. Bonus step!)

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”-Thoreau

Step 5) Delegate:

Check your list of how you are currently spending your time again and look for the tasks that need to get done that you either don’t like to do, you aren’t good at doing, or just aren’t the best use of your time. How many of these tasks could you delegate to someone else?

Almost all of us could delegate more. Why don’t we? Is it because we think no one can do it as well as we can? Sometimes, that’s true. But, often that’s because we don’t invest the time to train someone to do it the way we want it done.

Have you ever tried to delegate something, spent a couple of minutes explaining what you want and then gotten upset when the results weren’t what you were hoping for? Well, you need to take responsibility for that. If you spend the time necessary to explain and train them so they are able to do the task better than you can (yes, I said better than you can – it’s possible) you will save so much more time from that point on. It’s an investment and it’s worth it.

You also have to let go of the idea that the way you do it is the only “right” way to do it. As long as the job gets done well, who cares if a different way was used to get there?

Another reason we don’t delegate as much as we should is we don’t have the staff to handle it.

Here are a couple options: If you work for someone else, go to your boss and explain how much more productive and profitable you can be for the company if she could help you delegate these tasks to someone better fitted for them. Offer to do this on a trial basis so she can see how much more productive you will be on the things that matter most. Once you prove yourself, she will have no problem letting you delegate more.

If you’re self-employed, why not outsource like the big boys do? There are a ton of outsourcing companies in and out of the United States that can do virtually anything you need done. I listed several of these in a previous post. I’ve used outsourcing for many different tasks and have been very pleased with the cost, quality, and speed of the work. I recommend using a company with many employees rather than one person. That way, if one person quits, gets fired, is on vacation, etc. your work still gets done.

Step 6) Negotiate:

If an offer, opportunity or request comes your way that doesn’t fit your strengths or the best use of your time, don’t immediately say yes to it. Take a little time and figure out the best way to handle it.

Could you simply say no?

Could you explain what part you could do really well and why you think Susan or Bob would be perfect to handle the other part of it?

Could you take on a different project in exchange for the one that doesn’t fit you?

When you explain how this negotiation will help everyone, you will be surprised how often your counteroffer is accepted.

[Tweet “You have all the time you need to do what you were born to do. Don’t waste it.” ]

Step 7) Spend 80% of your time doing what you do best and what you love to do.

Congratulations. You have cleared away so much from your life that you don’t really need to do. You still have the same 24 hours in every day, but now you have much more control over how you will use them. You can focus on what you do and like best.

Here’s a great way to plan out each workday:

In the evening prepare for your next day. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done tomorrow would make the biggest difference to your business? Decide on it.

Getting this one thing done would make your day a success. That’s what we’re looking for here. IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done? IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done?

The next day:

  • Do your most important thing 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 anything that requires your attention. Then repeat the process.
  • If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

Step 8) Celebrate a great day!

Go for a walk with your spouse. Read a book to your kids. Go out for dinner. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

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.

Who Wants to Work for Fear and Money?


Have I got a job for you! You will do what the boss tells you to, check with her before you do something on your own, and meet the numbers she tells you to meet or your fired. If you do all that, you will get to keep your job and get paid every two weeks.

Are you in?

Using the fear of losing your job and the reward of getting paid is how most businesses have been managing (controlling?) their employees for the last hundred years or so.

It works…kinda.

Depending on how badly you need the job, you put up with it. But for how long?

And what kind of work and life does that lead to?

A friend of mine had a “great” job at a big company. He was a team leader. He was earning good money. Even in this still struggling economy his job was “safe.”

And he couldn’t wait to leave.

The culture he was working in was destroying him. He felt like the company didn’t really care about him, his coworkers, his family, or even the idea of a life outside the office. It’s hard to put in your best effort for a company like that.

He was offered a job with the type of culture he was looking for and he took it. When he put in his two-week notice the company was upset. They didn’t want to lose him. They offered him a promotion and more money. They thought the old model of motivation still worked, they just had to push harder.


My friend took the other job. He’s super excited about the culture and is already happier, more engaged with his company, and ready to do his best work.

Gallup has done a lot of research on “employee engagement.” An engaged employee is someone who is emotionally and enthusiastically involved in the purpose of the company. He enjoys his work and looks for ways to create, innovate, and do more than is asked of him. It’s the kind of employee every business wants.

Bad news. Gallup’s numbers from 2015 show that only 35% of managers are engaged and only 30% of all employees are.

This old method of motivating employees leads to a bunch of disengaged, unhappy, ready to jump ship at a moments notice people.

Who wants to work in that type of environment? Nobody. It’s one of the reasons there is so much turnover in the workplace.

It also costs a company’s bottom line. Gallup estimates that employee disengagement costs American companies about $300 billion every year.


There is a better way.

The best organizations engage us by asking us to share in their purpose and share in the pleasure of:

  • Creating individual and team goals
  • Contributing something signifcant
  • Innovating
  • Making a difference
  • Working with people who support and encourage us
  • Working towards and achieving goals
  • Celebrating achievements and being rewarded for them
  • Helping us become an expert at what we do

Add in an understanding that your entire life is not the job and now you’ve got someone working with their heart and soul. Now you’ve got someone who will stick with you.

Questions for comments: How does your company engage its people? How could you improve that?

If You’re Waffling, The Answer is No


I was invited to attend an event, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.It would have been fun, the people involved were nice, and it might even have led to some business opportunities.

But, I had a speech I needed to finish writing on the same day and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it done if I said yes to the invitation.

Still, I felt bad about saying no.

What to do?

Do you ever feel like that?

I like what Derek Sivers says, “It’s either HECK YEAH! Or No.”

This event wasn’t a HECK YEAH! so I politely declined. I got my speech done and felt great.

We are all busy and we can’t do everything. We have to make decisions all day long on what we allow to take up our precious time.

This is a way to reclaim some of that time. When an opportunity comes along, give it the “HECK YEAH! Or No” test. If you’re not excited about the idea, don’t do it.



This leaves you more time to do what matters most.

There are countless opportunities for you in the world. If you spend your time on the ones that are just good, you won’t have time for the truly great ones that feed your Passionate Purpose.

Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes.

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.