Episode 113 | April 24, 2018

Productivity Beyond Trying -Get More Out of Your Day the Smart Way with Mike Vardy


A Personal Note from Orion

Have you ever felt rushed, scattered, or overwhelmed?

Between apps buzzing, texts flying in and out, and email notifications, you are being pulled in several different directions. There are so many distractions!

I had to learn for myself how to handle my over-active mind by developing the skill of productivity.

This is my conclusion: knowing how to organize and prioritize = more freedom to do the things you love without guilt or stress.

This is why I bring you my personal secret weapon: Mike Vardy.

He is a productivity genius and the host of Productivityist podcast. He joins me this week on Stellar Life podcast to share about goal setting , organizing, and prioritizing your life. If you are struggling with all your to do’s, this episode will change your life! I promise!

In this Episode

  • [03:55] – Believe it or not, Mike used to struggle with organization and keeping things in perspective, and still finds it challenging.
  • [05:51] – How does Mike go about planning his year? In his answer, he talks about when his year starts and the concept of giving themes to each month.
  • [10:09] – Mike gives a specific example of how his monthly theme applies to the things he decides to do.
  • [15:02] – Orion points out that what Mike has been talking about is the difference between being task-oriented and goal-oriented.
  • [15:58] – Mike explores another way that themed days can be helpful, and explains that people have more control over their time than they think.
  • [20:50] – What are some examples of Mike’s themed months, weeks, and days, and what is the horizontal way of blocking time?
  • [24:58] – Mike gives an example: instead of saying “get fit” in January, your monthly theme might be decluttering, which would involve decluttering your pantry.
  • [26:17] – Weekly sprints override monthly themes, Mike explains, and talks about how this can function.
  • [28:50] – Mike talks about how he decides which day of his week has which theme, and shares a story about a request his wife made.
  • [31:17] – Mike digs into the topic of horizontal themes, which override daily themes.
  • [33:09] – For listeners who aren’t familiar with the framework by Dr. Michael Breus, Orion explains the context of the four animals that she and Mike have been talking about.
  • [37:05] – A real problem for lots of people is hyper-scheduling, where people put too much specificity (and not enough choice) into their calendars.
  • [38:58] – We hear about some of Mike’s favorite productivity apps and how he uses them, as well as how to “focus on the app within first.”
  • [44:07] – Mike offers a quick example of what Evernote is good for.
  • [46:04] – What does Mike do on the days when he doesn’t feel like doing anything?
  • [48:57] – Mike takes a moment to recommend The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, and talks about his own tendencies.
  • [52:55] – To foster desire, planning is part of it, but reflecting is another huge part, Mike points out.
  • [54:52] – What are Mike’s three top tips for living a stellar life? #1. Capture everything and regret nothing. #2. Give your days and time more definition. #3. Journal your life.

About Today’s Show

‏‏Hello and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. This is your host, Orion. I’m excited to introduce you to my friend–a dear friend of mine and my mentor when it comes to organizing and being productive and somebody that helped me greatly with organizing the way I conduct my business and organize my projects. I am forever grateful. Mike Vardy is the founder of Productivityist and the host of Productivityist podcast. He’s a three-time author whose books include The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want, The Productivityist Workbook, and Beyond Trying, and regularly contributes to outlets such as Lifehacker and The Huffington Post. I am so excited for you to hear this conversation, it’s gonna blow your mind, it’s gonna change your day, it’s gonna make you taller, smarter, more attractive, or maybe just more productive–so you can get so much more out of your day than you’re getting at right now. Because we live in an ADD world. There’s so many distractions, there is so many things that show up; like family emergency. Two days ago, I spent a whole night in the ER with my mom. Things like that, they shake you and it’s hard to go and like send her back and be really productive–by the way, my mom is fine–it’s all good. Don’t worry about it. What I’m trying to say is in a world where there’s so many distractions and apps that are calling you, and people that are texting you, and your email inbox, and all that, you gotta learn how to organize your time, how to guard your time, and how to get the most out of your time because you, my friend, your destiny is greatness. You can be so much more. You can achieve so much more. I know that you want it. I know it’s in your bones because you know that your potential is infinite. You can be so much and you can do so much. In order to be that person, you gotta learn how to be productive and wake up productive and with the mindset of prioritizing the things that you want to do. Without further ado, onto the show. Hey, Mike. Welcome to Stellar Life podcast.

‏‏Thanks for having me, Orion. I really appreciate it.

‏‏I’m so happy that you’re gonna be on because I’m sure you’re gonna help a lot of people.

‏‏Yeah, I’m excited. My thing whenever I go on a podcast, we never do anything, it’s really to bring what I can to the table and if someone can take away one thing from our conversation today, and apply it and get better at crafting their time, then that’s a win.

‏‏I have to say, you’ve been such a blessing in my life because of everything that I’ve learned from you.

‏‏Thank you.

‏‏Totally helped me. It seems like some people know how to organize naturally but some people that are more of–like me, I’m very creative. I think about 10 different things at once. Organization for me is a little tougher.

‏‏Yeah, yeah. You know what the funny thing is? I’m a creative too. I really did struggle with organizing and keeping things in perspective and making sure I wasn’t over committing. It’s still something that I find challenging which is why I have to have a framework. It’s why I must put this kind of thing in place. If anything, it’s kind of interesting because I did comedy, I did acting, I’m a writer. All that stuff that’s been a part of my being since I was young but because I have so many ideas, and so many things I wanna do, and things that I feel that I need to do because if I don’t do them now I feel like I’m not fulfilled. By putting this framework in place–and initially it was somebody else’s framework–I just started to gravitate towards other people’s productivity philosophies. If you spend a lot of time studying something, you start to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, and maybe you start to carve out or craft out what you wanna do. In essence, I take that as a compliment that you find that I’m really organized that it was just naturally it’s come to me but it hasn’t. I literally had to build something that would allow me to–even David Allen, he says the reason they’re getting things done is because he’s lazy and he wanted something that would just allow him to kind of move forward and make progress on things that would otherwise just lay stagnant. Because I’m creative, because I have all these different ideas, because I wanna move a whole bunch of things forward–and nobody can do that en masse–by building a framework and putting one in place, it’s helped me. My goal is to take that framework and say, “Hey, would you like to give it a try?” I’ve done that with you and with countless other people both through one-to-one coaching and through just conversations like this.

If you spend a lot of time studying something, you start to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Click To Tweet

‏‏Yes. You’re extraordinary. I’ve heard you speak and I got coaching from you and you’re so good. Let’s start with planning your year, planning for three months, planning for a month. How do you about planning your year?

‏‏For me the year is kind of one those things where I don’t look at the year in terms of January to December. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t think I’ve ever really been that kind of person. Again, I followed the fold when it came to that. “Oh, January is when you get a new calendar so therefore it must be the start of the year.” But there’s so many other things that can play a factor in that. Your energy levels–I find that January I’m at my lowest energy level. I live in Victoria BC, Canada. From November until May, it’s gray. If the sun comes out, it’s a celebration. January, you’ve just gone through this crazy holiday season. If you’re in America, you’ve got Thanksgiving for that. You’ve almost like six weeks of just hecticity–shopping, eating food that you would probably not normally eat at any other time of year–but it’s just maybe there’s some gluttony going on there. You’re dealing with family and all that stuff which can be both a blessing and maybe challenging at the same time. Then on the 26th of December, you’re basically given five days to come up with something phenomenal that you’re gonna tackle for the following 365 days. The problem with that is that you make unrealistic expectations of yourself. You see all of the other people doing it through whether you’re looking at social media or the news or whatever. You say, “You know what, I’m going to get fit in 2018 or 2019,” or whatever year it is. But the problem with that is you’re not taking into account the flow of the months, of the seasons, and all that stuff. For me, I actually don’t start my year until September. I do that to mirror the school year for my kids because where I live, my kids are out of school in July and August, so those are kind of low ebb times. Then when they go back to school in September, we’re ramping up for them. It’s just natural that we ramp up for my company and my work as well. When I do that, I don’t make resolutions per se, if anything, my resolution is to be resolute with the things that I do set out to do. What I’ll do is in August which is my month that I consider my planning month which is a monthly theme, is I will actually set out monthly themes. I’ll say, “Hey, okay. What do I want my overarching focus to be in September? What do I want it to be in January? What do I want it to be in April?” You’re familiar with Tony Robbins’ work, I know you are, is that the basic human needs. One is certainty and one is uncertainty. Well, I work backwards from my certainties. I know that in December it is a very, very hectic month because of the holidays but I also know it’s the time of year where people are thinking about what they wanna do in the “Gregorian New Year.” That’s where I might be focusing on outreach or something like that for a professional theme but maybe for a personal theme, I’ll be focusing on relationships. How do I reach out to people that maybe I haven’t reached out before? Things like that. I will develop both personal and professional themes for up to 12 months of the year. The great thing about time crafting–and we’ve discussed this privately before–is that you don’t have to do all 12 months. You could say, “You know what, I’m gonna theme four of them,” or “I’m gonna theme three of them,” or “I’m gonna theme 10 of them.” All the theme is an overarching focus. It’s an emphasis on one thing. For example, we’re recording this in April, my overarching focus, my monthly theme in April is films. It’s about doing video work. Actually, before we got on the interview, I didn’t know if we’re gonna do video so I’m like, “I gotta make myself look a little bit nicer.” You know your great ideas come in the shower, right? When you’re not really thinking.

‏‏I know. They always do.

‏‏Yeah.

‏‏Or when I’m getting acupuncture. On the acupuncture’s table when I’m in the trance state, all kinds of amazing ideas come.

‏‏My wife’s an acupuncturist too. I just had a treatment yesterday, actually because of a sickness. I live with one. I’m getting a lot of this.

‏‏When you said sickness–so our audience won’t be worried about you–you just had a cold.

‏‏It’s been a lingering cold. It’s been for the past three or four weeks.

‏‏Oh my god.

‏‏Basically, after I last saw you, it literally started about a week after that and it let up a little bit but then I had to travel again and that ramped it back up. Today if the first day where I woke up and I felt actually somewhat normal. I’ll talk about my theme days in a minute here and maybe that’s something I can talk about too is how to cope with it, how this works.

‏‏Yeah, that was another question but yeah, we’ll talk about that.

‏‏I’ll definitely get into that.

‏‏There is so many things I wanted to talk to you about.

‏‏When I’m in the shower I was thinking I have to because I’ve been unwell and I haven’t been emailing my audiences and stuff like that with my usual weekly newsletter or anything like that. I thought, “You know what, I should send them an email today just saying hey, I know I’ve been a bit away and you’ve probably seen why if you’ve been following me on social.” Normally, I would write that but I’m thinking, “Oh wait no. this month is video month so I should make a video. I should do an email that links to a video that shares it.” Because I’ve got that monthly theme, my mind went there. It funneled towards there because it’s been set in stone for months. That kind of focus when you theme time whether it’s your months which is what I do when I’m planning my year but you can even theme a week which I call a weekly sprints or you theme your days which you and I’ve talked about before too where everyday gets an overarching focus. All of a sudden, you go from this massive to-do list that looks like you’ve got so many things to do and no structure to it to–instead of the question what am I going to do today, the question becomes what day is it? “Oh, it’s Friday.” “What’s Friday mean?” “Oh, that’s deep work day.” “Okay, great. Now I’m gonna look at all the deep work that I’ve categorized as deep.” “Okay, there’s 43 tasks now.” “Okay, what’s my monthly theme?” “Oh, it’s films.” “Now, all of a sudden I went from 43 to 4.” All of a sudden it just really funnels your focus and then you can really make every moment matter, not every minute, because I think when you start to think in terms of minutes versus moments, minutes are quantitative while moments are qualitative. You remember like yesterday, I’m going a bit of a tangent here, but my wife and I were watching this new show called Alex Incorporated and it’s about the guy who founded Gimlet Media and it’s kind of like how he quit his job and started a company.

When you start to think in terms of minutes versus moments, minutes are quantitative while moments are qualitative.

‏‏Is this a podcast or a video?

‏‏No, it’s a TV show based on a podcast.

‏‏Oh, they made a TV show. Oh, wow. Wow.

‏‏It’s interesting. It just started as we’re recording this and Zach Braff who was on Scrubs and he is in the movie Garden State, he’s the star.

‏‏Wow, seriously. I used to listen to that podcast. Wow.

‏‏Yep, so you should check it out. But the thing is as I’m watching it, I pause the show and I look at my wife–I watch TV to escape or I listen to podcast to escape. I don’t always wanna see things that are so close to home like about your business and things like that. I said, “I feel that the show, as much as it’s a comedy, it’s really hitting close to home.” The family, he quit his job, I did the same thing when I left Costco. I quit my job. I didn’t really have a fully fledged plan in place. We dipped into savings–all that stuff. At the end of the episode, I journal and I journal everyday at the end of the day. I wrote about that in my journal, I said, “I’ve been watching the show Alex Inc. It’s only been around for two episodes. I don’t know if I’m gonna watch it anymore because it’s not the escape that I’m seeking. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the show, it’s just that’s not what I sit down to watch TV with my wife. Basically, her and I are watching it together going, “We’re watching our life replay a little bit in front of our eyes.”

‏‏Wow.

‏‏There’s another moment where we watch this other show called Life in Pieces which is another funny show. There’s this couple that reminds us of us. It’s like four little vignettes and one of the vignettes has this little kid, this kid who’s I think is like 10, starting to talk like baby talk because there’s a younger kid that’s getting more attention. Our son has been doing that this week. Literally, we watch this Alex Incorporated show where we thought, this is a little close to home. Then immediately after that this other show comes on that we recorded and it does something that is really close to home. My wife starts literally laughing; she spit take. She starts laughing. I’m like, “What is this?” We both start laughing. That went in my journal. I couldn’t tell you how many minutes we spent doing that but it’s a moment. I think when you start to focus on qualitative stuff, your energy level is very qualitative, your themes–again, what you wanna focus on in terms of emphasizing your energy and your attention towards, those are very qualitative. Where I think with productivity, what happens a lot when people plan out their year, is they say, “I have 365 days,” or “I have 120 days. What can I accomplish in 120—” They get very quantitative. That’s when they start thinking about checking off as many boxes as possible as opposed to checking off the right boxes. I think that the way I do this–and I have a course on this called The NOW Year Action Plan–that kind of goes how I work through this process no matter what time of year. I think what can happen here is you really establish a qualitative productivity and plan for your year and then you kind of insert the old habits of checking off as many boxes as possible and looking at your schedule and figuring out how much you can fit in a day. It gets tempered a bit by these larger focuses, these larger goals, these ones that really are your intentions, and you find a way to pay better attention to them.

‏‏The difference between task-oriented and goal-oriented. People get so stuck in mundane things that they’re doing. When we work together, we will look at my checklist and like, “Okay, do I really have to do all these together or can these wait for another day? What’s the most urgent?” You actually prioritize what needs to be done and you’ll see that many of your to-do list are actually things that are not urgent.

‏‏What you end up doing is you end up pushing the thing when you define your day which is one of the things I talk about which is when you theme your days, is you could say, “Okay.” Normally what people do is they say, “I can’t do this today. I’ll just push it off until tomorrow and then the next tomorrow,” and then it never really happens. For example, as I mentioned, I’ve been sick—and this is where theme days can really be helpful—because Wednesday is my audio day and interestingly, normally I would not do this interview any other day but on a Wednesday but because I’ve been sick, I opened up a day that I would not normally do any meetings because it’s an exception to the rule. You know this too because you know I normally don’t do meetings on–we’re recording this on a Friday. I normally don’t talk to anybody on a Friday.

‏‏Thank you.

‏‏It’s more of a, “Hey, I recognize I’ve been out of commission for a while, I want to show character and integrity, and make sure I’m living up to my obligations. If I’ve inconvenienced people or if I’ve been out of commission, I need to adjust. It’s very easy for me to adjust because what happens is when you and I are done in this call, I have another meeting with somebody I was supposed to have a meeting with earlier this week but then when I’m done with that I don’t go, “Now what do I do?” I say, “What day is it?” “Oh, it’s Friday. Friday is deep work day.” “Okay, let’s get back to the deep work.” I’m able to zero back in on things as opposed to getting distracted or diverted or derailed. What’s great about theming your day is like for example, my audio day—and we’ve talked about this before—is my podcast, I actually have interviews recorded at least for six weeks in advance now, we’re six weeks ahead. We have guests booked all the way out–we’re recording this in early April, we have guests booked all the way until September.

‏‏Oh, that’s brilliant.

‏‏The thing is, “How do you do all those interviews? I’m like, “Well, they’re done on…” and no one is doing an interview any other day but Wednesdays. Here’s the thing is I’m not doing any interviews in July and August because my kids are home from school. I don’t wanna be telling the kids, “Hey keep it down out there,” while I’m trying to do a podcast interview. Basically, at this point, Orion, there’s one more week available for people to book guests. I know based on the way I’ve created this availability that there were probably three more guests which will take me all the way through to the end of September. I would imagine that by the end of April at the latest, I would have guest booked all the way through until the beginning of October. This week, I basically did my interviews that I was scheduled to do and that was it. I didn’t do any other audio work, I didn’t do any other extra work even though I have a list of things I could do. I knew I’m not feeling 100% by the time I was done three interviews, I was wiped out. I messaged my editor, I said, “You have everything you need. We’re way ahead. Just so you know, I’m taking the rest of the day off because I’m still sick.” He knows by my work habits and I know because I’ve programmed it this way–that any of those tasks that I was gonna do this Wednesday, the default isn’t to push them to Thursday or Friday or Saturday–it’s to push them to the following Wednesday which is the next audio day. The great thing about that is I can look at all those tasks and say, “Okay, these should go to the next audio day,” but then I can look at them and go, “Are any of these more urgent and they need to be done earlier?” Instead of me just ad hoc throwing them to the random days, I have a very clear place where they’re supposed to go by definition. Then if there are exceptions to the rule, I can play with them. What you find when you journal during this process is you find, “Hey, you know what? I’m finding there’s way more exceptions. Maybe only having one day for audio doesn’t work. Maybe only having one day for writing doesn’t work which is what I have for a while. Maybe I need to spread that over the course of the entire week which is what I call a horizontal theme where you block out times of day. People have more control over the time than they think, that’s the thing is people go, “I don’t have time to think of this.” If you say, I don’t have time to block out time to have horizontal themes then you absolutely need to do that. It’s kind of like when people say, “I don’t have time to meditate,” and I’m sure you’ve come across this. If you say you don’t have time to meditate, you absolutely must meditate. It seems counterproductive to take time in your day, in your moments, in your weeks, in your months, to slow down because you’re like, “Well, slowing down means you’re not gonna be productive.” But productivity isn’t about speed. Efficiency isn’t about speed. Efficiency is about doing the right things in a fashion that allows them to be done faster.

‏‏I love that.

‏‏You know what I mean?

‏‏Yeah. Lao Tzu said that, “Tactics without strategy is like the sound before defeat.” If you don’t take the time to strategize, you’re just gonna be busy-work, busy-work, and you’re gonna be busy. People are so proud of being busy, busy, busy but it’s different between to being busy to being productive. Mike, I wanna go deeper into the theme days. I themed my months. What are some example of your themed months, themed weeks, and themed days? What is the horizontal where you’re theming, blocking time?

‏‏Sure. I’ll give you some example. I’ll give you my monthly themes. By the way, these can move, and they have in some instances. Whatever time you plan them, that’s why it’s called The NOW Year Action Plan, because you could start today. You could start in two months. When you start your year, it’s not important so much as when, is that you do it correctly. Is that you do it in a way that works for you. My themes are generally based, like I said, I’ve got personal and professional ones and occasionally, there are what I call hybrid themes. In March, for example, I’d have a hybrid theme called relationships which meant I work on my work relationships, I work on my personal relationships. But I’ll give you the rest of the themes.

‏‏Aww.

‏‏Yeah, you know what I mean? You could do that. I’ll give you examples throughout the rest of my year which will end in August and then kind of give you some ideas of what you might wanna choose for monthly themes. If you wanna pick some quick things to do, some quick wins to see some results. For example, this month as I said is films. May is the podcast, we’re rebranding the podcast too, so that’s when a lot of those plans will start to be implemented. We’re gonna do some best of episodes in October. During the month of October it’ll be just best of episodes, those will be programmed in May which is four months from October or five months from October. June is the website so even though we’re gonna be launching a new website in November, we’re starting it in June because you need five months to do it. By looking at that, instead of me saying to myself, “Oh man, I really wish I had a new website,” which I do. My brain doesn’t do that anymore because, “Well, it’ll wait until June. It’ll keep until June.” July is a hybrid theme; it’s self-care month. It’s my birthday in July, the kids are out of school, so we’ll probably do some really cool travel, we’ll do some outdoor stuff. It’s self-care for both work and home, so I’ll probably strip out some projects that don’t really matter anymore or I’ll maybe delegate more, things like that. Then in August is planning month. August is traditionally planning month for me because I start my year in September. My focus will be on personal planning and professional planning. Now, this past year, my focus in September was to work on my book and it didn’t work out. It was a missed opportunity. I had too many other things going on and I journal about it. I said, “You know, it didn’t work in September.” Something else happened in September. I couldn’t tell you right now. I’d have to go back and look at my journal and tell you but it didn’t get the focus it needed. October, the focus was on digital products and that worked. I stripped a lot of my old digital products, updated new ones, etc. Again, we’re talking about professional. November was the book and that did work because what I did was I outlined my book, I got that started, we’re now on the process of writing the book, Time Crafting which we’ll publish–the plan is to have it published no later than the November 1st which is when everything changes because I call November, Now-vember. December’s focus was on my memberships. It was to focus on Patreon and what I’m gonna be doing with that so plans are around that. January, the focus was on coaching which we revamped our coaching programs. February was focusing on speaking at workshops which is when I went in and updated what workshops I was gonna do. I started to put together better speaker reel, getting testimonials, things like that. What that does is it just gives you some, again, some overarching focus. Some things you can choose for monthly themes—and I’m gonna be writing about this very soon and I’ve thought about this again, the other day—is the idea of habits that you wanna kick. For example, as of this recording and we were at Social Media Market World in March, and you noticed I was drinking coffee when we were at the party. I quit drinking alcohol in February. I just decided I don’t wanna drink anymore. It wasn’t like I had a problem or anything like that, it literally was just like, “Yeah, it’s just messing with my energy.” I think my quote was, in my journal, when I was sitting waiting for a friend to show up, and I had a beer in front of me. I looked at it, I was like, “You know what, I don’t really need this anymore. I think I’ve had all the beers.” That’s literally what I put in there. As of this recording, it’s been over 60 days.

‏‏Nice.

‏‏I’ve done 90 days abstinence before and stuff like that but this time, I just don’t feel like it’s something that I wanna do. Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to get fit, maybe January should be to do a whole 30 program. You are cutting out sugar or maybe your monthly theme in January would be to declutter and that includes like decluttering your pantries or getting rid of all the processed sugars and stuff like that, but decluttering can fit a whole bunch of things. You could talk about decluttering your office, decluttering your homes, there’s so many things. But what you can do is with that one New Year’s resolution that you’ve been keeping or wanting to keep or figuring that you can’t keep is to break it down like you would a task like write a book. Well, writing a book is not a task, it’s a project. You might wanna say instead of writing a book, you might wanna say write 1000 words or write 500 words which is definitely easier for you to do. Instead of you saying, “I’m gonna get fit,” or “I’m going to create a better environment for myself both physically and emotionally,” maybe that’s a better resolution, then you could say, “Okay, January is about declutter. February is about doing the whole 30. March is about getting outdoors, it’s my outdoors month.” I know where you live, that would definitely work here. Again, a lot of [inaudible [00:25:12]. Maybe April is I want to learn another language. That was one of mine actually. I started to learn French a bit more. That’s how the monthly themes can work. We can touch on daily themes now a bit as well.

‏‏Yeah and weekly as well.

‏‏And weekly. We’ll do weekly sprints first. Weekly sprints, they override monthly themes. For example, if you have–I will tell you that this month I do have a weekly sprint and it’s for personal, it’s called gardening prep. It’s a weekly sprint because I wanna get the garden ready because next month is my gardening month for personal stuff. My overarching focus isn’t working on home improvement his month which is my monthly theme, but for this week it’s for just getting the garden ready. I’ve been weeding—or trying to—I’ve been figuring out a plants. If I get better this weekend, I will go out and do that and if not, then I’ll just move it to the next week. That’s not a big deal. What you wanna do with weekly sprints is you wanna have them begin and end. You wanna make massive progress on them in a seven-day span. That’s why I call them sprints as opposed to themes. Once that’s done then your monthly theme takes back over. Now there’s a group of people called Multipotentialites. Emilie Wapnick talks about this in her book How to Be Everything. A lot of Multipotentialites won’t do monthly themes, they’ll do 52 weekly sprints or they’ll do 25 or whatever. That way, they can move up to 52 things forward in a very short period of time. If you’re somebody that wants to do a lot and wants to have a really dense weeks that you have a focus and you can really finish up a project in a seven-day span, you might wanna incorporate that but no matter what, they override the monthly themes so you could theme your months. I normally have about I think maybe 6-10 weekly sprints at the most; at the most. Because they are more intense. I’ll talk about the difference between daily themes and horizontal themes as well but daily themes are by day of the week. I have a lot of people saying, “I can’t possibly theme a day,” and then what I’ll say to them is, “Okay, I’ll do a classic pattern breaking theme.” Again, a lot of Tony Robbins stuff here. I’m like, “When do you do your laundry?” They’re like, “Oh, normally Saturdays.” “Really? What else do you do on Saturdays?” “Well, a lot of housework; I clean the house, I do errands for the house.” “You do a lot of household stuff on Saturday?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” “What you’re saying is Saturday’s kind of like household day?” “Right, yeah.” And then they go, “Oh.” Yeah, you’re already doing it. You’re already doing it for some days of the week. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to do it for everyday of the week. But if you give each day an overarching focus, it’s much easier to wake up in the morning and ask yourself the question what day is it because it’s a definite answer. You’re not gonna wake up on a Wednesday and go, “It’s Friday.” You’re not. You know it’s Wednesday and then Wednesday means something. You’ve defined your day, Wednesday is audio day. Again, you have to work backwards on your certainties. I’ve kids. My kids are sometimes out of school Mondays and Fridays depending on school activity days, like the Pro-D days the teachers get. On Mondays and Fridays, Monday is my optimization day which is things that I do to make my business better and Fridays is my deep work day. If I lose a deep work day, no big deal. If I lose a optimization day again, no big deal but I can’t afford to lose a video day which is Tuesday. Kids are never out of school on Tuesdays, never. On Wednesdays, it’s audio day, they’re never out of school on Wednesday either. Those two days I know that I can have zero interruptions which is why those days are scheduled like that. Thursday is what I call my training day because my wife is home with me on Thursdays, she helps me run the business, so we’re training each other. I also do a lot of my coaching calls on Thursdays. I do a lot of learning myself. Any kind of research or learning I’m gonna do is gonna be on Thursdays. In Friday, like I said, it’s deep work day. Some of the deep work can be learning too. You want your themes to be broad enough that you can fit things into them, that you can kind of justify it that’s why I said household day is a good day because you can laundry at household day, you can run errands on household day, you can spend time with your family on household day because they live in your household. You could do that. Then Saturday and Sunday, Saturday used to be exclusively family and Sunday was my planning day because I start my week on a Sunday but oddly enough on one of my trips to California this year, my first trip, my wife asked me as we were driving to the airport, we were talking about Saturday being family day, she said–she was very hesitant to ask this because she knows my themes help me, and they help all of us. She said, “You know the weather can be a bit hit and miss. Saturday sometimes it’s raining and sometimes it’s beautiful.” She goes, “Would you be okay with maybe deciding based on that day whether it’s planning or family?” Here’s the thing, about three years ago, if I didn’t have this framework in place, I would have lost my mind. I’m like, “How? No. But this is…” But because all I have to do is say, “Alright. If Saturday’s gonna be planning day this week then I just look at the planning, tag into the restoring things in that area or tag or whatever.” On Sunday, I would look at family. It was a very easy switch for me to say, “Sure, no problem.” No fuss, no muss, not a big deal. Because I have those themes so my brain, again, it’s not worried about what it needs to do based on a list. It’s worried about based on a big list. It’s worried about what it needs to do based on a much smaller list. Then horizontal themes, they override daily themes much like weekly spreads over monthly themes because horizontal themes are time of day. I’ll give you a great example of that really quickly. Tuesday never used to be my video day. Tuesday used to be my administrative day and while I was at Social Media Marketing World, you and I both know the big message at that conference Traffic And Conversion were video all day, everyday. You must invest time in video. I’d already been thinking that what was happening on Tuesday was that it wasn’t enough time for me to do all my administrative work. I also found that–and this is a dangerous part of a daily theme that you’ve gotta watch for–is you could just putz around all day with something with something that’s very trivial. Administrative tasks for me are very trivial, they’re not really deep, because I’m more of a night owl, by the time the time the night rolled around, I was still doing these administrative tasks. I really wasn’t using my attention level to their best used cases. I should be making something, I should be doing something bigger. While we were at Social Media Marketing World I decided, “You know what, Tuesday’s gonna be video day because Wednesday was audio and video together.” And then what I did was I created three horizontal themes because remember, I used to have writing day as well. I look at my circadian rhythms which I think is really important. I don’t think people value their energy levels when they tackle their to-do list or their tasks nearly as much as they should. There’s this great book called the Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus.

I don’t think people value their energy levels when they tackle their to-do list or their tasks nearly as much as they should. Click To Tweet

‏‏He was on this podcast.

‏‏Yeah. I’ve had him on my show as well. We talked about–there’s a lion, there’s a bear, there is the dolphin, and there is the wolf. I’m a wolf and he’s a wolf too. I don’t know. What are you? Do you know what you are?

‏‏I’m a bear, I think.

‏‏Bear is the most common. My wife’s a bear as well.

‏‏Yeah. But I’m a special bear.

‏‏Why are you special?

‏‏I’m a unicorn bear.

‏‏Oh, you’re a unicorn bear. Okay. I don’t know if my wife’s a unicorn bear.

‏‏For our listeners, I just want them to…

‏‏Give them contacts. Yeah, sure.

‏‏Dr. Breus, what he does–there are four animals; dolphin, bears, owls, and what was the other one?

‏‏No, wolves and lions.

‏‏Wolves and lions.

‏‏Owls, you would do because we’re night owl, I get that but he actually calls them wolves.

‏‏Yeah. Every animal is more productive in different times of the day. Also for sexual energy levels, and feeding times, and every person has a different circadian rhythm. You might be a wolf where you work during the night. You might be a bear where my perfect time to wake-up is at [7:00] AM. If you’re a lion, your perfect time to wake up is at [5:00] AM. We all have different times that we are more productive during the day.

‏‏Dolphin are the unique brand where they’re both, they kind of the people that struggle with sleep. You should go read the book because you’re right, the book breaks down when it’s the best time for you to have an argument with somebody based on your chronotype. What is the best time for you to have sex, when is the best time for you to brainstorm, stuff like that. That’s what I did, is I went to my copy and I use it a lot anywhere but I’m like, “Okay, now it’s time for me to set up my whole horizontal themes this way.” I realized as a wolf, I’m not very good in the mornings, so I wanted to do these administrative tasks, the ones that take very little energy for me to do in the morning. Basically, from all seven days of the week including Saturdays, I’ve created this thing called maintaining mode. That’s what administrative work for me is, it’s just keeping things level, keeping things status quo, making sure nothing is falling apart. From [9:00]-[10:00] AM, Sunday through Saturday, that’s the modality that I get into. It overrides so like today, for example, even though it’s my deep work day on Friday, from [9:00]-[10:00] AM, I focus on maintenance, maintaining work. I have a way to look at that in my task list. Any good task list or to-do list application or any good framework, you should be able to look at this and go, “Oh, here are all the tasks that are maintenance. Here are all the task that are my next block which from [2:00]-[4:00] PM,” which is the best time for me to do creative work is called my making mode. I’m making stuff from [2:00]-[4:00] PM. Even on let’s say on Monday which is my optimization day, I’ll be making something between [2:00] and [4:00]. On my family day, between [2:00]-[4:00] PM, that’s probably when I’m best playing Lego with my son because that’s when I’m gonna be at my most creative. Then from [10:00] to midnight is my music mode. That’s where Dr. Breus said you’re best at brainstorming, and thinking, and things like that. Just wrapping up your day. That’s when I meditate at the very beginning of that and then I’ll go to journaling and planning out my next day and stuff like that. That block of time is again, Sunday through Saturday. I’ve got these three horizontal themes; maintaining mode, making mode, and music mode, and they work really well because they override the daily theme. The great thing about that too is that I’m not worried about when I’m going to get these little administrative tasks done or I’m not worried about on a Thursday when I’m in training day that, “When am I gonna make stuff?” “Oh, yeah. Between [2:00]-[4:00] PM.” Or, “When am I gonna get this journal done?” “Oh, between 11 and midnight,” that kind of thing. Having those all set up, it may sound as you’re listening to this, incredibly rigid but it’s incredibly freeing because when you think about it, today is Friday, the only things that are listed on my schedule are the appointments I made with the others which are rare, and then all I’m looking at is, “Okay, I’m focusing on deep work. Oh, it’s [9:00]-[10:00] AM, I’m focused on maintenance. Oh, from [10:00] AM-[2:00] PM I’m doing more deep work. Oh, from [2:00]-[4:00] PM I’m making something.” Maybe something as a result of all the deep work or maybe I was in deep work mode and making something anyways. Because sometimes they crossover. Again, from [4:00] PM to [10:00] at night, I’m in deep work mode more than anything else. From [10:00] PM to midnight I go to music mode. The thing that drives me nuts, Orion–and I think this is a real problem too–is this thing called hyper scheduling where people put in their calendars.

‏‏Too much, just too much.

‏‏Yeah. They’re like, “I’m gonna check my email between [9:00] AM and [10:00] AM. Why not go into communication mode between [9:00] AM and [10:00] AM? Because it gives you a few more options. People need options. If they don’t feel that they have a choice and if they don’t feel they’ve created that choice, then they rebel against it. They feel like instead of I need to do this, it becomes I have to do this. Those are two very different ways of looking at things.

‏‏You don’t have to do versus get to do.

‏‏Right. Because you’ve designed it that way. You’ve defined it. I think that when people look at time crafting in this way, which is really what you’re doing, you’re crafting. It never ends. A craftsperson never stops getting better at their craft. They wanna hone their craft consistently. It’s like a lot of people look at their finances and pay attention to them and hone their investments and make sure that–but do you do that for your time? Well, money comes and goes in a lot of cases. You can earn money back. You cannot earn time back. Time is your most valuable resource. You mentioned Lao Tzu earlier and when people say, “Well, I don’t have time to do that,” Lao Tzu’s great quote, time is a manmade construct, saying I don’t have time is like saying I don’t want to.

‏‏Oh, wow. That’s powerful. Mike, just to circle back, I just wanna let the listeners that if they wanna listen to Dr. Breus on Stellar Life podcast, you just have to check episode 34. We’re gonna have the link in the show notes. This is amazing. Everything that you’ve shared so far. It’s like drinking from a fire hose with you.

‏‏It is. It is.

‏‏You’re so good. I wanna shift a little bit into some of your favorite apps, favorite productivity apps, and how you use them.

‏‏Okay, I’ll put a little [00:39:16] a little pre-[00:09:17] in front of this, I have always said focus on the app within first. You could get Evernote.

‏‏Oooh. That’s the first question, how do we do that?

‏‏You build a framework. You have a framework that will work in any app you want. We’ve seen apps come and go. I used to write a lot more technical stuff because I used to write for [00:39:37] and The Next Web. That’s where I kind of cut my teeth a little bit. But the problem with that is that apps come and go. If you rely on an app, let’s say, Things. Things is a great example. I know you use Things, I use Things a bit more too because I really like what they’ve done with it but in its early stages, there was a point where it wasn’t syncing. You couldn’t have it synced between devices. People were frustrated by that. But if you build your entire platform on something that doesn’t work for you then realistically, you’re not gonna get as much out of it. You’re not gonna be productive and you end up blaming the tool. It’s like people who download Evernote, put all of their paper goods in Evernote and then they say, “Now, all my mess that was on my desk is not on Evernote and Evernote was supposed to fix this for me.” No. You need to go in with intent. My big belief of productivity is intention plus attention. “Hey, I want to be able to access my task quickly and do what Mike has suggested here.” Okay, great. Then you need to pay attention to things like what are the best modes for me to use? What are my best themes? You need to take the time to do that stuff. Then you can use tools like Things—and you and I have done this—where it’s like, “Okay, these areas are going to be named after my daily themes, and then the tags are gonna be named after my modes, etc, etc, etc.” I would say when we get into the apps phase, there are really good apps out there, but then again, you wanna make sure that you have a solid foundation of your own framework. Basically, you should be able to do whatever you do on paper in an app. If you can’t then you need to come up with a way where if you’ve written something down on paper, it can translate to the app very easily. I’ve done this with timecrafting. I’ll give you some example with tools. If you work by yourself, if you;re not working with a team, and you’re on the Mac or iOS platform, Things is a phenomenal choice.

There are really good apps out there, but then again, you wanna make sure that you have a solid foundation of your own framework.

‏‏Yeah, I love that. Discovering that, for me, was like discovering a treasure.

‏‏Yeah. Now Things does have cloud–Things Cloud. You can collaborate with others but it’s not expressly designed for that. If you were collaborating with other people then you have to take into account a few things. Number one, you have to take into account what platforms they’re using which means they might be using a Windows machine and you’re using a Mac or you might be using a Windows machine and they might not ever go on to a computer and they’re using an android device. That’s where you probably wanna look at if you’re a small business or a small [00:42:05], you’re only collaborating with a few people or even just doing it personally. You wanna look at a tool like Todoistwhich is very clean, minimal, streamlines, looks really great, and you can collaborate with people on projects. There’s so many things you can do with it. I believe a great app should be as simple as you want it to be but as powerful as you need it to be. Another app, if you’re running a much larger business or you’re running a business where it’s going to scale, you wanna use a tool maybe like Asana which is what I use with my team because it has the ability to really scale. You can have conversations inside of it, you can have dependent tasks, you can list projects either in a list form or in a board form–which is what some people who would use say, Trello or something like that would like. But it allows for scale, you can have up to 15 people on Asana for free. A lot of virtual assistants out there would have more experience with a tool like Asana than they would with say, Todoist. I will look at Things, Todoist, and Asana are probably are my three favorite. There are a lot of other ones out there. WunderList which is transforming into Microsoft, Todoist is good, Trello is good if you’re a very visual person, TickTick is another one that people really like, there’s a lot of them. I think we get stuck on this. There’s so many options that you end up in this paralysis through analysis kind of situation. When you’re going to look for an app, let’s say you decided that you’re gonna get Things, try to find somebody, a resource that will teach how to use it or give you some kind of preamble like my buddy Shawn Blanc, he’s got a course called All the Things. It not only talks about how to use Things but he talks about the fundamentals of why you should use Things or why you should use a tool at all. If you’re gonna use a tool like Todoist…

‏‏I recommend people just work with you.

‏‏Or work with me, yeah. I do app stuff for sure because I’ve been spending a lot of time with it but again, it’s the frameworks first. Again, focus on the app within because if you don’t do that first, then no app will save you. I’ll finalize with another thing. I love using Evernote for storing information, it’s where all my research goes, I do a lot of my articles begin in Evernote, do not use Evernote for time and task management. It does not have projects set up out of the box. It has reminder but you have to reset those reminders. At the time of this recording, it’s not the ideal for task management. It is more of an information. Think of it as a digital filing cabinet. If you’re thinking about using Evernote for your to-do lists, think differently.

‏‏Think again.

‏‏Sure, yeah. You could use it for checklist. I’ll give you a quick example, we live, like you, on the fault line, if there’s an earthquake, we wanna have an emergency kit ready.

‏‏We just had one yesterday.

‏‏Yeah, I know.

‏‏My house was shaking. It was interesting.

‏‏We’re right on that. There are always talk about the big one. Well, we’re building an earthquake kit which we should have done a long time ago. In Evernote, I have a checklist of all the things that are in the earthquake kit along with a picture of what it looks like, all that stuff. That’s perfect for Evernote but you’re not gonna out in there, “Build earthquake kit.” That should be in a tool like Things, or Todoist, or something like that. Because that’s what it’s designed for. If you’re using Evernote for something like note taking and stuff like that, I know there’s this thought that, “Hey, if I can use one app for everything then I should be able to do that.” I used to work for Costco and I love Costco because you can get almost anything at Costco but there’s certain things you just don’t want–you’re not gonna go into Costco and get.

‏‏Like parsley.

‏‏Yeah. For example, I like grass-fed butter, you’re not gonna find that at Costco necessarily all the time. You’re not gonna find non-alcoholic beer which is what I do drink now or at least good non-alcoholic beer at Costco necessarily. Just because your app can be a one-stop shop or a Swiss Army Knife doesn’t mean it should be. It’s probably better for you to get a screwdriver, like an actual screwdriver than to use the screwdriver that’s in your Swiss Army Knife. That’s just one cautionary tale is gett a dedicated to-do list app that will manage projects and your priorities and all that stuff because you’re gonna be far better off with it. Again, have that framework in place beforehand so you can translate that into that app. Then if that app goes belly up, all you have to do is go, “Okay, I’ll move it to the next one. Oh, this next one also will allow me to use my framework. Great.”

‏‏Mike, I wanna ask you about the desire to do all this and the desire to have the motivation and passion to move forward. Because like you said, some days you’re sick, some days you don’t feel like it. What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything?

‏‏I think that’s one of the reasons that I built the daily themes into play and the monthly themes to be honest–is to kind of direct my focus and to funnel it a little bit. For example, the last three weeks I’ve not been doing a heck of a lot. But when I’ve gotten up, I still have it programmed into my head like Monday is optimization day, “What can I do for optimization?” “Oh, I’m sick. I should get some acupuncture because that’ll optimize me.”

‏‏Aww, that’s beautiful.

‏‏Right? Right? Having those generalized themes has helped me. Using energy levels as modalities. For example, I have tag in to-do list which is what I use in personal stuff, it’s called shallow work which is the opposite of deep work. I’ve done a lot of shallow work tasks while I’ve been sick. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking which is an activity based mode while I’ve been sick. I’ve been doing some reading. The nice thing is when you have these in place, you’re not scattered and you have some choice. Instead of worrying about accomplishing as much as possible, you could say, “Look, I feel like crap today. What are all my low-energy tasks?” “Oh, look there’s four of them.” If I do those four then I’ve done the best I can do for today with this stuff.” For me, a low-energy task would be very different than what you would consider a low-energy tasks. That’s why personal productivity is so personal, it’s subjective. Ultimately, what we wanna do is work subjectively to reach a mutual objective. The other thing that can fuel desire is writing in your journal, keeping a daily journal. I have kept a journal for, I think the last, I wanna say, between four and six years. I’d have to look again.

‏‏Nice,

‏‏I almost did this today where I was kind of like–because I don’t get sick very often but when I get sick, whoo. It sticks around. I could go back and look in a journal and see the last time I was sick. I could say, “Hey, you know what, I haven’t been sick since February 2017.” I could say, “Here’s how I felt.” A lot of people go, “Well, what’s the point of taking time to journal? I don’t understand.” I could just look at my calendar, my day planner, and see what I did. I’m like, “But you’re not gonna get the feelings. You’re not gonna get the context.” Again, I did not put in my task list yesterday to watch that show with my wife or watch those shows with my wife. But in my journal, I went about how we felt about that. It led to so much more. Journaling that reflection, that slowing down, rekindles that–you better connect with yourself. You’re disconnecting from it so you better connect to yourself which allows you to move forward. Yesterday, I still wasn’t feeling great. I almost cancelled my meeting with my writing coach. I met with him anyway because meeting with my writing coach stoke the fires a little bit more. If I didn’t, I’d probably wouldn’t be getting back to writing. He said, “Don’t start writing again until Sunday. Take the rest of the weekend to get better.”

‏‏Nice. Smart coach.

‏‏Right. But the thing is, is if I didn’t meet with him, I might have just, again, I wouldn’t have had that direction, I wouldn’t have that focus. Have you read Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies at all yet?

‏‏No.

‏‏Her new book. It’s really good because it does provide some insights as to what you tend to do. I tend to be an Obliger–that’s one of the four tendencies which I resist inner expectations but I adhere to meet out of our expectation. By building this framework of timecrafting, I can, like you said, I’m really organized and stuff like that, but by creating that there’s another tendency called the Upholder which both meets inner and outer expectation. By building that framework, I can look more like an Upholder. I’m able to kind of trick my brain into going, “Mike, remember, here’s all the things that you wanna do for yourself which ultimately will help you meet the expectations that others expect of you like bringing in revenue for living and stuff like that. I would recommend, that’s another great book to read. Gretchen spend a lot of time in it. She’s not a doctor by any stretch of the imagination, she’s a psychologist who spent a lot of time researching it, and there’s a lot of things in there that people will–I found by looking at it. I’m like, “Oh okay. This is why when I’m working with a client for example, and they start asking a lot of questions, it’s not that they’re attacking me, it’s just they are a questioner which is, by nature, what they do. They meet inner expectation but resist outer expectations or my son, who follows into more of the rebel tendency…

‏‏Not only me.

‏‏Yeah. Well, it’s you resist inner and out expectations, Again, instead of having a to-do list, you have a could do list. When I’m teaching rebels, for example with you, when we’re coaching, I could say, “Hey, look. What are the things that you like to do?” “Well, I like to spend time reading.” “Okay, great. Maybe one of your daily theme should be reading and researching and that’s where your focus is.” Then you have choice within that. You could say, “Hey, I’m gonna read about whatever I want but today is the day I read.” You create boundaries.

‏‏I think I’m a hybrid of your type and your son’s type.

‏‏Yeah. You’re probably a rebel of a large army. My wife’s an Obliger-Rebel. She’s an Obliger but she’ll tip towards rebel. I think it’s worth reading. She wrote The Happiness Project and Better Than Before and all that stuff. I think this is her seminal work and this is the one, it’s gotta be. There’s a quiz you can do and all that stuff. Her and I actually just spoke this past week because I’m gonna be part of her course that she’s working on.

‏‏Oh, nice.

‏‏Yeah. Again, I think you’ll learn a lot through introspection and thinking, and believe it or not, slowing down. Making time. If you slow down you start to think about, like you said, “Do I really need to do this task at all? Can I delegate it? Do I need to do it today?” You let that part of your brain that has reason on its side take–or as if you’re just going, it’s that primitive part of your brain that just goes, “Hey, I just gotta keep going because I’m just trying to survive. That’s why people say the word busy. “I’m busy, I’m busy, I’m busy.” When you say I’m busy, it loses its power. I throw this quote around a lot and I won’t use the expletive but I’ll say, “Using the word I’m busy or saying busy is like the F word. The more you use it the less power it has.” If you drop an F bomb out of nowhere, and I don’t know if yous wear very much at all, but if you were–do you swear? Do you use curse language very much at all?

‏‏Sometimes I do. Not a lot.

‏‏Right. If you were to drop it out of nowhere, you’d be taken aback. My mother-in-law, she rarely swears. I think I’ve heard her swear maybe twice. When she swears it like, “Woah, woah, wait, what.” You mean business. But if you were to say F this, F that all the time, then that doesn’t have any power. It just becomes like another adverb or adjective. Same with the word busy, if you throw that word around like it’s a badge of honor then eventually it has no meaning, it has not power. When someone says, “I’m busy,” yeah, everybody’s busy. What are you busy about? There’s a quote I think, “Even they answer busy but what are they busy about?” I can’t remember who said. I think it was C.S. Lewis or somebody like that. But the bottomline is to foster that desire, you need to not just think about what you’re doing, planning is part of it but reflecting is another huge part of it and you can’t undervalue that. There’s a reason that there’s an app called the Five Minute Journal and there’s a book Five Minute Journal. It takes five minutes of your time to do this and you could do it in any way you want and the best thing is I think five minutes of your entire day is I think 0.3% or .03%, it’s something ridiculously small like that. When someone says, “I don’t have time to journal.” I throw two things out. I throw that quantitative thing which is like, “This is 0.4% of your day. If you don’t have 0.4% of your day time to reflect, something’s wrong.” The other thing I throw out which is probably even more impactful is I do another pattern break. “How many of you are on Facebook?” Invariably, everyone raises their hand. Mike, if you’re on Facebook you’re already journaling. You’re just journaling for the world.

Foster that desire. You need to not just think about what you’re doing, planning is part of it but reflecting is another huge part of it. Click To Tweet

‏‏Ahh, so good.

‏‏You know what I mean?

‏‏Yes.

‏‏I also say, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if some of the stuff that was put on Facebook was just put on a private journal?

‏‏Oh, beautiful.

‏‏Wouldn’t it be just a better place because there’d be less regret, there’d be less shaming, there’d be less betrayal.

‏‏And more authenticity.

‏‏Right. It’d be more authentic because you can say what you exactly and there’s no retribution. When I journal in my journal which is, the app I use by the way is called Day One. When I do that, no one sees that journal. My wife doesn’t. They’ll see it when I’m dead and then I won’t care because I’ll be dead. But it’s freeing and I’m not worried about spell checking and stuff like that. I just want to make sure that I get those thoughts out of my head because then I could sleep better, I’m not putting on Facebook any political stuff, anything like that because it’s some of the worst things you can put out there but I’m saying where it counts and I’m able to get it out of me so that it’s not weighing me down.

‏‏Mike, this was amazing. I could talk to you forever but I know you gotta go. Real quick., what are your three top tips to live in a stellar life and where can people find you?

‏‏Three top tips. Number one; capture everything, regret nothing. When things come come to your head, get them out of your head, put them down somewhere that you trust whether it’s an app, paper, notebook, or whatever but don’t think you will remember them because you will not. You can’t remember everything. Number two I would say give your days and your time more definitions. Define your days, theme your months, give yourself something for your brain to tether to so that when you’re stuck and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do now.” Your brain goes, “Remember, we have this monthly focus or we have this daily theme.” Third is journal, journaling your life because it’s your story. Looking at a calendar or looking at a planner from a year ago, you won’t be able to tell what was really happening then. All you’ll be able to see is the basic data, you want the metadata. You want the good stuff. Take five minutes out of your day whether you do it in the morning or in the evening whatever you do, it doesn’t matter. Journal your life. People can find me at productivityist.com and on social I’m @mikevardy on Twitter.

‏‏Thank you so much, Mike, I really appreciate you.

‏‏Thanks for having me, Orion. Really appreciate it.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

✓ Focus on qualitative goals rather than quantitative goals. Check off the most important things on your list instead of checking off as many tasks as possible.

✓ Create a framework for your ideas and organize your priorities from highest to lowest. Strategize which tasks you need to tackle first.

✓ Analyze your energy levels to discover what time of the day or week you function best. For example, find out what time is best for research, writing or answering emails.

✓ Find and participate in a hobby that brings out your ideas. Some people get inspiration in the shower, while others find it through nature walks.

✓ Keep track of yourself through journaling. Aside from being a good form of self-expression, having a journal helps you monitor your progress and productivity.

✓ Stop the habit of saying “I’ll do it tomorrow.” If a quick task can be done now, make sure to get it done and don’t wait.

✓ Take time to slow down. Productivity is not about speed. Pausing and taking things into perspective can help you better reach your goals.

✓ Set up themed days or themed months to keep your thoughts and goals organized.

✓ Don’t hyper-schedule and overpopulate your calendar with too many things to do.

✓ Check out and tune in to the Productivityist Podcast to get the latest tips on how to optimize your time and goal setting.  

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