“Focus On Being Productive Instead Of Busy”
On March 12 I was on day six of a seven-day football recruiting trip with my son, Daxon. We were having lunch, waiting for a football practice later that afternoon that we had been invited to at Southern Utah University. That practice never happened. While we were having lunch, we got word that the governor had just implemented new rules and guidelines around COVID-19. That meant the rest of our trip was cancelled, so we headed home. At that time, I had no idea that I’d be sitting here nearly three months later having gone through everything that we have.
It has been interesting to watch and hear different stories about how people have dealt with quarantine. As we try to get things moving again, we know that this story is long from over. There is still a lot of uncertainty and unknown surrounding Coronavirus itself. But there is still a lot of uncertainty and unknown with our lives, our businesses, our jobs, the economy and so much more. What I do know, is that whatever the new normal is once this is over, it won’t be the normal we knew before.
For me, my time in quarantine was actually very productive. As I watched everything start to unfold in March, I knew that there was going to be a lot of things change in the business world, and I believe a lot of it is a permanent change for many. Everything from working remotely to doing more and more business online. I saw a need for many business owners to get a better knowledge and understanding of effective marketing tools and strategies they would need to survive and continue to grow during the pandemic, and once it is all over.
I began developing my Marketing Accelerated course. Quarantine brought a lot of challenges as I worked on this course. Quarantine had some challenges. With things such as the entire family being at home and kids homeschooling, it created trials with productivity, filming modules for the course, and just getting things done.
But I was able to implement some things into my routine that helped me to be productive, stay focused and get a lot accomplished. These have been productivity habits that have been very beneficial during quarantine, but they are also habits that I’m going to continue with even once we get to our new “normal.”
Get Up Early
“Create the life you can’t wait to wake up to.”
Getting an early start on the day has always been a habit that has helped me with my productivity. Back in my days as a bank manager, my most productive time was early, when I was the only one in the office. When I was there early, I was able to focus on what needed to get done without having any distractions. Once my staff arrived and the doors opened, I never had the opportunity to stay laser focused on a single task.
For years I’ve been getting up early and going to the gym to workout. Before quarantine, I would be up at 4AM and then be home in time to help get the kids ready and off to school. When we went into quarantine, the gyms were closed and the kids were not leaving the house to go to school. The easiest thing to do would be to enjoy those extra hours and get some quality sleep!
But to stay productive during quarantine, I made the decision to keep an early morning routine. Since I was developing my Marketing Accelerated course, this was often a necessity. Most of the video made for the modules was done very early in the morning so that I could have it completed before anyone else in the house was awake. Like at the bank, the early mornings also gave me time to get laser focused on a project without having any distractions.
The early mornings also included exercising. The best part has been doing it as a family. We all started a running routine together each morning.
“Every day is another chance to get stronger, to eat better, to live healthier and to be the best version of you.”
It doesn’t matter the time of day you do it, but exercise should be part of your routine. Everyone is different and you should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, but your overall success and productivity will improve if you implement the right exercise program into your life.
I’m not going to go into all of the details, but it has been proven that exercise will improve your health, focus, anxiety, stamina and a lot of different areas of your life. As I mentioned, my exercise routine was interrupted when our gym got shut down because of quarantine, but there are always options to keep going in one form or another. Make some form of exercise part of your daily routine and it will help you in your overall productivity.
“By taking just 20 minutes out of your day to prepare for your day, you prepare your mind.”
A new practice that I started during quarantine was daily journaling. I’ve always been one who keeps a personal journal, but this is a different kind of journaling.
I’ve heard Brendon Burchard, Darren Hardy, Michael Hyatt, and others all talk about daily journaling and the benefits to your productivity. I decided to give it a try with Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner. This is a practice that I quickly grew to love and appreciate. The process helps me to be more intentional with my weekly and daily plans. It’s also an incredible tool for me to start and end the day with because it helps me to be in the right mindset.
First thing in the morning I sit down and plan my day. I determine my top goals and priorities and figure out the “must-do” tasks for the day. But my favorite part is going through a list of ten questions every day and my answers set me up for a powerful day. They are questions such as:
- One thing I can get excited about today is…
- A situation that might stress me out or trip me up today could be… and the way that my best self would heal with that is…
- One thing I could do today that is a little outside of my comfort zone is to (try, ask for, express something, take a big step, etc.) …
- I would know that today was a great success if at the end of the day I did, said, or felt this…
I end the day the same way it began. I go through a list of questions and reflect on my day. Questions such as:
- A moment that I really appreciate today was…
- Something I realized or learned today was…
- I could have made today even better if I…
However you set yourself up, if you will take the time every single morning to intentionally plan your day, and then every single evening to reflect on your day, your productivity and results will soar. If you are skeptical, I challenge you to try it for a month. If at the end of the month you don’t see the benefit, stop. But by then, I know that you have seen an amazing impact on your life.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
In my morning journaling, I look at my top priorities for the day and block time to focus on them.
Blocking the time means that you need to remove all distractions so that you’ll be able to focus on that one thing and nothing else during that time.
No emails. No social media. No phone calls. No interruptions whatsoever.
You need to train yourself to do this effectively. Our phones and computers are always notifying us with noises or pop-ups to distract us. Shut them all off during this blocked time. The text can wait. The phone call can wait. Believe it or not, even Facebook can wait!
The challenge during quarantine is that you not only have to train yourself to properly use block time. You need to train your family. They need to understand that if they need you, it will have to wait until after block time. They can’t just come into where you are working and ask a question. You don’t want any distractions, so you’ll have to establish something that makes it so they are aware when you are in a block session and they can’t disturb you.
It’s very important how much time you block. Don’t block hours on end and think you’ll just put your head down, get to work and get things done. Your body and mind need breaks. Set an alarm so that you are taking a break at least once per hour. Clear your mind, move your body and drink some water. It will refresh you and enable you to be more productive than if you tried to work straight through.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
“Don’t blame the distractions, improve your focus.”
My wife gave me a pair of Apple AirPods Pro in January for my birthday. I had no idea that they would end up being one of my best, and favorite tools during quarantine.
The AirPods Pro are noise cancelling headphones and I love them. My home office doesn’t have a door on it, so distracting noises throughout the house can be heard from my office. But when I put my AirPods in and activate the noise cancellation, I enter a world of my own. It is perfect for my block time when I want all distractions eliminated. They are also great when you are reading.
Wherever you work, if you are going to implement block time into your day, I suggest getting a pair of noise cancelling headphones. I love my Apple AirPods. I also have the Bose Hearphones, but I prefer the AirPods over the Hearphones. There are a lot of options available. Do some research and find the ones that will best suit your needs and give them a try.
We’ve never seen anything like this before. COVID-19 has forced the world to change and many of those changes are going to be permanent.
Life after COVID-19 will not be the same as life before COVID-19.
I watched many people use quarantine as an excuse to be mediocre in all that they do. I also watched others push forward and be more productive than I’ve ever seen before.
Those who make the choice to be disciplined in their actions and act with intent can make the very best out of this situation or any situation we face in the future. Create habits that you are willing to implement into every day of your life that will enable you to live the life you desire and achieve the goals you dream of. If you would like to learn more about creating a clear path that will help you create that future, get my free Momentum Series.
Originally published at https://jeffheggie.com on May 28, 2020.