Sorting Your Tasks Based on Energy For Better Deep Work

So far in my series on deep work we’ve covered:

If you’ve read them all, you’ve got a good foundation to get real solid focused work done. But there are still some things to consider as you try to get good work done.

Today we’re going to address sorting your tasks according to the energy you have1. First, let’s look at what type of tasks take high energy and low energy.

Maker Tasks (High Energy) are

Coding, writing, design, thinking…these are all high energy tasks. They require that you have a bunch of focus and brain reserves left to do them well. If you don’t have that energy, then the work will take much longer and be of far less value.

Manager Tasks (Low Energy) are

Organizing email, responding to some email, brainstorming blog post titles…these are lower energy tasks. You can get through them without full focus.

True some emails are going to require focused time, and you’ll still get through them faster if you can put aside everything else and just focus on the email, but in general, you can do a decent job of them with less energy and a bit less focus.

Not All Time is Equal

Looking at the above tasks, you need to realize that not all of your time is equal. That time first thing in the morning when you’re super focused and on fire is much more valuable time than later in the day when your brain is tired, and you’re looking at the clock waiting to go.

Knowing this, you need to sort out the high energy tasks in a day and make sure that you are doing them when you have that energy.

I get up at 0445 in the morning and have lots of energy then. Not everyone does though. If you’re a night owl, then make sure you organize your high energy tasks in to your night.

If you’re a morning person like me, then sorting through your lower energy tasks first thing in the morning is a terrible idea. You need to make sure that you only focus on the high energy tasks. Those things that move the needle forward and bring the highest value to your business.

Before you leave work for the day, make sure you have identified the crucial high energy tasks and planned to do them when you have the most energy. Forget about the low energy tasks until you’re done those essential tasks.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: No really, take the time to figure out your tasks if you want to have a better day tomorrow.

photo credit: whatleydude cc


  1. I just had a great discussion about energy with Brent Hammond on my podcast. Go check that out as well

All Those Stupid Notifications Don’t Matter

The day after I talked to Eric about his focus times I tried to derail him in Slack. The message went something like this:

You shouldn’t be seeing this Eric. You’re supposed to be focused on work. So focus.

What do you NEED

Need is a hard word because often those around us try to dictate what we need. I have a friend that messages me on Facebook all the time. Despite the fact that I may not respond to it for a week because I don’t check Facebook.

Every time they bring up the fact that I take way too long to respond and I say I don’t check Facebook they tell me some variation of “Well you need to check Facebook, that’s where everyone is.”

What they mean is that Facebook is where they are so I NEED to be there too. The truth is that they’re the only person that persists in messaging me on Facebook and I may be the only person they know that persists in not checking it to see if maybe they messaged me.

The purpose of technology is to make your life smoother and easier; not to create complexity, confusion, and stress. – Eat That Frog

The first step in deciding what you need in your notifications is to acknowledge which things are imposed by others and which notifications you must have to do your job well.

Do you need some notification of every email that comes in during a coding session? Nope. Email is an asynchronous communication tool. The beauty of it is that you can let it wait and deal with it as it works for you.

Do you need every text message that comes while you’re writing? Nope.

Does everyone in every Slack channel deserve to steal your attention whenever they deem it necessary? No. Even though it’s supposed to be a synchronous communication tool, it’s often no your focus. You should be doing something else that pushes the ball forward in your work.

Will some people be frustrated that they can’t get in touch with you via these channels? Yup, and that’s their problem.

When it’s time to do focused work, you need to make sure that you shape your environment to make it happen.

Do you even need your phone visible? Some research shows that merely having your phone on your desk diverts your attention. You always hear your name being said in a crowded room because you’re burning some part of your brain cycle to listen for your name. Your phone on the desk is the same thing. You’re using cycles waiting to see if it might maybe have a notification for you to deal with.

When you’re doing focused work, the one thing that you need to get done in a day, take your phone right out of your office or workspace. Put it in your bag or a charging drawer.

We don’t do this because we succumb to the any benefit mindset.

The Any-Benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it. – Deep Work

Almost every notification that comes through to us makes no immediate difference in our lives and work. Whether we get them now or in an hour, changes nothing.

Do Not Disturb

Okay, sometimes you do need notifications, and it’s a pain in the butt to go back to your phone settings and turn them off. This is where Do Not Disturb mode comes in.

I use DND mode every morning from 6 am – 9 am and there is only one person that can get in touch with me. My wife. She can only get in touch with me is by calling. I don’t see her text messages even because 99% of the time they’re not immediately relevant.

If I get milk on my way home now, or in an hour makes little difference, so I don’t need to have that notification pull me out of the creative flow.

The only way she can get in touch with me right away is by calling because there she’s marked as a VIP and gets through right away.

Disconnect iMessage

iMessage is great, and it’s terrible. It’s great because you have synced notifications across devices, which also makes it terrible. Especially on your primary working device.

I turned iMessage off on my Mac 8 months ago and haven’t missed it once.

My iPad is primarily a writing device, and it doesn’t have iMessage either because iMessage doesn’t help me write well.

If you want to get focused deep work done, then decide what notifications you need and shut everything else off. It may feel a bit scary not to be reachable, but I promise almost no one will notice or care.

You’ll get more, and better work done with the space you create in your life. You’ll be less scattered. As you train yourself to this new normal, you’ll have longer and better focused times of work.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you’re struggling with focus, book a FREE call and let’s talk about what you’re doing.

photo credit: kthai cc

You’ve only got 100% to give for a few hours then you have 20%

Yesterday I talked about my Mullet Method of focused work. One of the keys to that method is that I take a big break from 9 – 12.

This break fuels me up for my Manager time later in the day and then for some more Maker time.

In October and November 2017, I cut that break out. I was pushing out a video course and working on some books and … just doing lots of stuff so I tried to get just a bit more time at the office.

Did I get more hours in the office? Yup. Did I get more productive time? Barely.

With my regular 6 hour work days, I get 5.5 hours of focused work time done. Time when I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.

When I try to make days into 9 hour days, I get 6 maybe 7 hours of work done. In fact, it’s more like 6.5 hours is the max 7 is some random aberration that I have to double check because usually, it’s a mistake.

With three extra hours of “work”, I do maybe an hour of something productive. There are diminishing returns with more time in the office.

Many of us are interested in how to work better, but we don’t think very much about how to rest better. Productivity books offer life hacks, advice about what CEOs or famous writers do. But they say almost nothing about the role of rest in the lives or careers of creative productive people. When they do mention rest, they tend to treat it as nothing more than a physical necessity or inconvenience. – Rest1

If you want to highly productive, you need space. But what does space look like?

Space looks like:

  1. No screen
  2. Some effort
  3. Something green

1. No Screen

Yes, space starts with no screen time. If you’re just going to flip through Instagram, or Twitter or dive into Facebook, you’re fooling yourself. You’re not resting. Your brain is being highly stimulated.

Also, you’re likely to spend way more time doing these things than you expect. Their entire incentive is to keep you there longer and longer. They want your attention.

Dipping into email is the same thing. It’s a black hole that will steal any chance you have of focusing later in the day.

Get away from your screen if you want to rest.

The most creative and most productive workers are the ones who are able to unplug from the office, recover their mental and physical energy, and return to their work recharged – Rest

2. Some Effort

The second thing that you need if you’re going to rest is some effort. I’m not talking about physical rest then, I’m talking about mental rest.

I mean, go for a walk or a bike ride. I build in some effort by walking to the coffee shop most mornings. I have a 20-minute walk home on relatively quiet streets.

If you run, go for that run.

Don’t tell me you don’t have time for that or that it’s not the best thing you could be doing. Here’s a list of accomplished people that took long walks to think.

  • Nikola Tesla
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Charles Darwin
  • Charles Dickens

Use this space in your day to rest your brain. Think about the projects you’re working on and good ideas will come. You’ll have new solutions bubble up that you would have missed sitting there staring at your computer screen.

3. Something Green

If you want to maximize the restorative benefits of that effort, then look for something green.

In a 2013 study2, researchers found that people are “substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than in urban environments.” They even took into account who you were hanging out with and what you were doing.

Hanging out with your best friend in the middle of a pack of buildings will not make you happier than being alone in a natural environment like a green space.

When she examined the data, she found that she could tell from their brain waves when people were walking through parks and green space and when they were in busy commercial areas: their minds became calmer and less aroused when they turned from the high street into a park. They didn’t zone out completely, though. Natural scenes engage some of your attention without requiring much conscious effort: they provide just enough diversion to occupy the conscious mind, leaving the subconscious free to do its own thing – Rest

If you live in New York, head to Central Park. Find some part that’s more green than buildings and enjoy the peace there to rest your brain and get ready for going back to focused work.

What Happens to Your Focus When You Have Space

The big thing that happens with rest is that you recharge your brain. Your muscles get tired from use, and so does your brain. Expecting that you can give 100% for eight continuous hours is lying to yourself. You have 100% for maybe 4 hours, and then you have 20%.

With a break, you can get back at work and give maybe 80% for the rest of the day. Will your work be better with 80% given for the final hours of your day or with 20% and an extra hour or two of work?

It’s that 20% brain work we look back on in two days and wonder what on earth we were thinking. Instead of letting yourself do it, cut it out and go for more sustained effort at your maximum effectiveness.

Look at your calendar, and on top of the focused blocks you built out yesterday, built in rest times every day. Times, when you’ll go, recharge for the next work block.

Know that if you’re not going to do that, you’re setting yourself up for shoddy work later in the day. If you want poor work, then keep right on going.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you’re having trouble building rest in, let’s talk about your schedule and see where we can get more time.

photo credit: nickdm cc

The Mullet Method of Deep Work

There are two pictures of me that I think are stellar. I’m 6 or 7 in them. In one I’m missing a front tooth, and I’m wearing a red plaid shirt. I have short hair up top, and you guessed it, long hair in the back.

The other picture is almost the same, except I upgrade to a rat tail. Same red shirt. Missing a front tooth. Same short hair on top.

Both of these were my school pictures for different years.

The mullet is something I have experience with.

The Mullet Method of Deep Work has nothing to do with the hairstyle though. You don’t need to get a haircut. You do need to work in two different blocks of time though.

Maker Up Front

I get up pretty much daily at 4:45 am. I walk the dog, and then I head out to Starbucks and sit down and work from 6 am to 9 am. During that time my phone is in “Do Not Disturb” mode. The only way for anyone to make my phone make any noise is if my wife phones me.

Her text messages get nothing.

My iPad has no iMessage and no notifications of any sort. It has no social media. It’s set up to only be a writing device.

Those three hours in the morning are my Maker time. I read for an hour which usually means I do some writing of ideas as the book prompts me.

Then I write for two hours.

In a call1 with Jay Papasan the author of The ONE Thing, we talked about the fact that at first an hour of focused work felt like an epic amount of time. I’d feel like I was fighting focus all the time. I’d continually be wondering what I should do.

Now my three hours of focus feels like it’s not long enough. I wish I could make my work have four hours of focused time every morning of the week.

If you’re struggling with getting your creative work done, then start with your creative work.

“But Curtis I have to jump on support right away!”

No, you don’t. 99% of the emails you’ll get about support can wait for another hour or three. Almost everyone is reasonable, and those few that aren’t wouldn’t have been reasonable even if you responded within two seconds of their support request.

The problem is you. You need to get comfortable sucking as support for a few hours in the morning so that you can keep moving things forward.

“But I could never get up that early.”

Fair enough, I’ve always been a morning person, so it feels natural to me. I find that most people who tell me this don’t have a problem getting up early, they have a problem going to bed late.

They start Netflix at 8 pm and then binge watch whatever show they are currently letting drain their brain. When 12 am finally rolls around, they decide it’s time to do some good adulting, and they go to bed.

Of course, you have trouble getting up early. You’re setting yourself up for failure. If you want to try getting up early and focusing, then cancel Netflix and stop watching anything at night. Go to bed by 9 pm.

No, it won’t be easy, and it will take a few weeks to get into the routine. But the problem is almost never getting up early so don’t fool yourself.

If you’re just not a morning person, then just start your day with focus. On Tuesday I get my two oldest kids ready for school and get them both to their different buildings. That means I get up at 6 am and walk the dog. Then wrangle kids from 7 – 8 before I take my 3-year-old to preschool. Then I get back from preschool and walk my 7-year-old to school.

I don’t get to start work on Tuesday until 9 am and the first thing I do is have three hours of focused time. I do the same thing to start my day. I read for an hour, and then I write for two hours.

Your focused time doesn’t have to be at 6 am like mine often is, but it should be first so that you can get it done and feel like the day was a winner right from the get-go.

Manager in the back

Now the second chunk of my day is usually from 12 – 3 pm. During this section of my day, I’ll have Slack open for questions. I might have email open, and I’ll book calls if they have to happen outside of my regular call times.

If I have to check email on a day, then it happens in the afternoon.

Those three hours are my manager block. I can happily have it because I’ve already accomplished my significant tasks of the day. I’ve written a few thousand words. I’ve developed more content for my site. I’ve written a guest post or a script for a video course.

If my day had to stop right then, I could say with confidence that it was a successful day.

“Okay, so why can’t I start with Manager Time?”

How we start our day will dictate how the rest of it goes. I stopped even looking at a screen before I had coffee because I continually found that when I started with scattered items my day was scattered.

I had trouble focusing on anything at all.

When I start the day with focus, then I can focus. My brain is prepped for focus.

I’ve seen this play out over and over again with my coaching clients as they adopt a focused start to the day. When they start with focus, they can continue to focus. When they begin with scattered, they can’t help but be scattered for the rest of the day.

What about 9 -12

Oh, you noticed that ‘missing’ time block did you. I didn’t say I did anything during my 9 – 12 block because I often do little that would be considered work during that block of time.

I rarely open a screen unless it’s to change the podcast I’m listening to while running.

During that block, I rest2. I hang out with my kids, or I run, or I take a meandering bike ride to get home and then hang out with my kids. I help with homeschool.

Having this break is a crucial part of having energy later in the day to do good work.

Look at your calendar for next week. Block out your focused blocks of work in the morning and be okay with “sucking” at those random scattered tasks during your focused blocks.

Stick with it for at least four weeks, then tell me how it’s going.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: Stop struggling with focus. You can get more worthwhile work done without more butt in chair time. Book a free call and let’s talk about your schedule.

photo credit: legofenris cc


  1. This was with the Read to Lead book club. You can join me if you want to get access to awesome authors and an awesome group of people. 
  2. We’ll talk more about the importance of rest in the next post. 

How Do I get Deep Work Done in the Midst of Random Priority Distractions

A reader name Eric reached out to me recently with this question:

I just Instapaper’d a couple of your deep work articles but I had a question: what can you do to get the most deep work possible when a good chunk of your time is taken up by unscheduled, urgent, and energy draining tasks like customer support?

Some background on Eric. He sells plugins and while he’s a great developer and has made them easy to use, clients are clients and they have issues. As he’s sold more plugins, the support issue has continued to get bigger, despite hiring a great person to handle part of support.

Eric needs to keep fixing development things with his plugins and he needs to write marketing copy and work on his marketing funnel.

Those are all deep work1 tasks that need big swaths of time focused on them. Random interruptions break up the creative flow and mean that the work takes epically longer to accomplish.

I’ve got a few suggestions to make this schedule work better which we’ll cover over the next two weeks. Today, we’re going to talk about your two modes of working.

You have two modes

The first thing you need to recognize is that you have two modes of working. You are at times a Maker and at times a Manager2. Makers need large blocks of time to do their creative work. A meeting at 10 am breaks up their morning in to two blocks of time that are almost entirely useless for good work.

A Manager breaks up their day into hours. They have a meeting for an hour. A call. Another meeting. Most of their tasks fit into this discrete block of time and most of those tasks don’t take an hour of deep thought to warm the engine and get going.

Most of you are technical people. You fight the gremlins of the internet. You are Gandalf. Being creative means that you need large blocks of time to do your work.

You are a Maker.

You also run a business and need to answer email. You need to deal with support. You have to have meetings with prospects to see if they might become clients.

You are a Manager.

The problem with Eric isn’t that he has Manager tasks, it’s that he’s letting them invade his Maker time. We’ll talk more tomorrow about how I use The Mullet Productivity Schedule, to make sure that my Manager tasks don’t invade my Maker time.

Eric’s second problem is that as a Maker (artist) he’s grappling with the change in his business. He used to do client work where 80% of his time was coding. That’s Maker mode.

Now he’s got a business where 50% or less of his time is Maker time. He has to do the marketing. He has to handle the more technical support questions.

He has to learn to be okay with that transition, and that will take some time.

What is most important

As I dug in with Eric, he knew that he should decide his most important tasks the day before. In fact, he came up with a list of three tasks that should get done the next day. It only took him 30 seconds to write them down.

Putting aside the fact that he let distractions in3 Eric admitted that the first task was super important. The second task was important. The third task was usually terrible. It was filler so that he had “3 items” to follow what everyone says you should have.

If that’s the case, then cut the third task. If you look at your task list and two of the things you put down as priorities seem terrible, then cut two of them.

One of the big principles of Bullet Journalling, is that paper creates friction and this is a good thing. If it feels like a significant pain to move your tasks forward, then they likely weren’t worth doing anyway. You didn’t get to them the first time, so apparently, they weren’t important.

Just drop them.

Digital task managers make it far too easy to move things forward that we’re never going to do. You push the date forward and make the task a problem for future you. Maybe you take the date off and then continually have to decide during your review if the task is worth doing.

Eric wrote down three things because we’re always told three is the magic number of big tasks in a day.

Three is not the magic number. The question to ask yourself every day is:

If I only got my number one task done, would I consider the rest of my day successful?

If the answer is ‘no’ then it’s not the most important task on your list.

Now that task may not be a single thing to do. When I’m writing a book, my ‘task’ is to spend two uninterrupted hours writing, not finish the book or finish a chapter. Two hours of focused work on the content is pushing me in the right direction. I can’t help it if the material demands 10 hours to do right.

All I can do is put in the time that the content needs. This series is a perfect example. I sat down thinking it was a single post and as I’ve written this first one I have five others to write as well. Maybe it will be more.

My task for the day was to spend two hours writing, with this post being the top priority. If I spent two hours writing, my day was successful.

The Focusing Question Because Shit Hits the Fan Sometimes

Yes, shit hits the fan sometimes. Despite your best-laid plans, kids get sick. As I was launching my 8 Week Business BootCamp, my youngest kid got sick. I was up at 3 am cleaning sheets.

My wife was up with a 1-year-old throwing up in the bathroom.

That left me with scripts to write and a 6-year-old doing math on the bed with a 3-year-old building a tower with blocks and attempting to shove it in my butt while laughing about it.

Writing scripts is Maker work, and I had distractions, so I had to ask myself one question4.

With the distractions I have going on, what is the one thing I can do so that the rest of BootCamp prep will be easier?

At that moment, I couldn’t write, but I could look through all my coaching handouts and break them up into course modules so that when it came time to write the scripts in one shot.

All I needed to do that was a few minutes to read through a chunk of the content and break it out into a section suitable for video. I didn’t have to write; I just had to understand a small piece of content at a time.

The rest of my day didn’t get much better for focus time, and yet I still felt like the day was great because I could look back and know that with my next work block on scripts I was ready to sit down and write. I had no material to gather or sorting to do, only writing.

And I did in one three hour chunk. I edited and wrote 10,000 words.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about my Mullet Deep Work Method and how it can help you be a Maker and a Manager in your business.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you’re struggling with focus, I’d love to talk about your schedule and see if I can help you build a better plan.

photo credit: 64604717@N03 cc


  1. If you’re not familiar with what Deep Work is, read my look at the book of the same name by Cal Newport
  2. Paul Graham coined these terms in 2009 here if you want to dig deeper into them. 
  3. We’ll talk about that in one of the coming posts. 
  4. This question is a variation on the question from The ONE Thing. I reviewed it if you want to know what that book is about

Where to Start When You’re Drowning in Business and Life

When you realize you are out of sync with your Strengths and your goals, and you have put yourself and your health on the back burner, don’t beat yourself up. Just restart. – From Frustrated to Frickin’ Awesome

It happens to all of us at some point, including me. I don’t have it all together. I may not even be that many steps ahead of you.

In fact, maybe I should be on your email list instead.

At times we will be out of sync with the ideal life we want. We will feel like we’re drowning and there is no edge to the pool.

It’s okay to feel like that. It’s not fun, but it’s okay.

1. Get some support

You can’t go it alone. The myth of the solo business owner is just that a myth. They’ve had mentors and other businesses that helped them.

When I started web development, I got to meet Dale and Dwayne who owned Brave New Code and WP Touch Pro. They moved to products and sent me a bunch of work.

Without them sending me work, you may not be reading my site today because I wouldn’t have survived the first year without that boost of amazing clients from an established agency.

You also need some accountability. Have a weekly mentoring group. Look for someone local to talk to about the struggles you’re having.

Get honest with these groups, because suffering in isolation is only a way to ensure that you suffer longer.

2. Get some exercise

Yes, when you’re drowning you should get out of the office and get some exercise. I’m not saying take up running if you don’t run but go for a walk.

Go for a walk every day for 20 minutes. Walk fast enough that you breathe just a bit heavy. If you can, go for a walk in a space that has lots of green, avoid city streets if possible.

Do it without music and no screens. Clear your head and be intentional about looking at the beauty around you.

To stay focused throughout the day we need a clear head. We need a head full of energy.

Make sure you clear the space in your schedule to recharge your energy during the day.

3. Just start over

I love working in 12 week cycles out of The 12 Week Year1, but not every cycle goes as planned. Some of them can be total disasters.

When that happens, stop and take stock of where you’re at right now. Don’t start a full 12 week cycle again, look at whatever time you have left and the goals you wanted to achieve.

Ask yourself: “Out of all the goals I had, which ONE(s) will yield the biggest result?”

Then: “Out of all the goals I have, which ONE(s) can I get done in the time I have left?”

Now, start to plan out the weeks you have left in your cycle.

None of these ideas are magic. You’ve likely still got a bit of a road to walk until you can break out of the funk you’re in.

Remember:

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare. – Grit

Those that win in life have endurance.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you’re looking to get back on track, check out my 8 Week Business BootCamp.

photo credit: clement127 cc

My Phone sucks, and it’s one of the best things that’s happened this year

I haven’t been kind to my iPhone 6S Plus. It’s been on a number of hikes where it got so cold it shut off.

It’s turned itself off due to being way too hot.

It’s slow now, and when travelling, I need to charge it every few hours because I’m using it. At home, it sits in a drawer on the lower floor of my house which means a charge there lasts a whole day.

All of these perceived drawbacks are benefits.

Because it’s slow, I’m tempted to use it less. Instagram kills the batter in minutes, seriously I can watch the percentages drop every second.

I’m forced to think about any digital note I take. Too often the ease of a digital note means we record stuff that doesn’t matter. That is one of the reasons I use a paper notebook for my book notes. If the quote isn’t worth recording, then it’s simply not worth it, so I don’t write it down.

Rules for Adopting Shiny Stuff

All the drawbacks on my phone beg the question, why not get a new one? I agree I’ll likely upgrade it in the next six months unless it gets significantly worse than it is now.

My case is fairly clear, but what about a perfectly good phone that’s just not the newest version?

What about your billing software that works, but has a few issues?

How do you stop yourself from jumping between new shiny tools all the time? How do you stop yourself from wasting hours just checking out options that you’ll never end up using?

It starts by not allowing yourself to search for new tools until you’ve answered two simple questions

What problems do I have that need to be solved with a new option?

and

Will said new device or software solve these problems without introducing a bunch of other problems I hate more?

When I walk my clients through these questions 90% of the time the problems they identify aren’t solved by a new option. Many times, the new option introduces a bunch of other issues that they hate even more.

So they stick with the same tools they’ve always used.

The second constraint

The second big constraint you need to put on yourself is that you can’t look for new options except for once a year. I usually use December to identify any pain points and then look at possible fixes, but you can pick any time of the year.

Pick the one or two things that are giving you the biggest trouble and give yourself four weeks to find a solution. If you don’t find one, stick with what you’ve got for the next year.

Intentional

Both of these rules are about being intentional. Not just jumping from one shiny new option to the next.

You’ve got better things to do with your time, like write that book, or publish that plugin, or build a tower with your kid.

Be intentional about looking for new tools.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you want to get intentional about your business, check out my 8 Week Business BootCamp. It will help you kick your business into overdrive.

photo credit: 99957142@N06 cc

No Screen Before Coffee

I recently gave a talk to creatives in my town and the single most talked about topic after was my two rules about phone use and email.

  1. No Screen Before Coffee
  2. No email before noon

Without a doubt, people loved the ideas, but no one I talked to thought that they could implement the strategies in their business.

They all said some variation of:

“Oh I love that idea Curtis, but I could never do that with my business. I have to answer emails right away.”

Some of them were in sales. Some of them were dealing with local businesses. Some of them were artists or even a web developer.

I don’t believe any of them, especially the web developer.

Very little is as emergent as you think

The more I talked to them the more it became clear that they were saying they couldn’t let email sit longer out of fear and momentum. They feared that something emergent would come up, but none of them were supporting any mission-critical systems.

There were no remote emergency nuclear power support technicians in the room.

They were all just worried about what others would think about the change in email habits.

I’ve never met anyone that couldn’t get away with checking their email less.

Try checking your email less

Give it a few weeks, but try to check your email less. Maybe it doesn’t have to be noon, but try not to check your email for the first 2 hours of the day.

I bet nothing changes.

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: If you’re looking to get your focus down and your business on track, check out my 8 Week Business BootCamp.

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A Meandering Journey Towards Purpose

If you’re hoping that the path to what you’re meant to do is going to be a straight line, you’re fooling yourself.

My path towards coaching starting with numerous jobs where my wife and I always talked about the ways we’d never treat an employee.

Then it went to higher education in counselling, which I decided not to continue through to Masters lever where I could actually be a Counsellor.

Then I built a six-figure web business and learned a bunch of hard lessons about how I shouldn’t be running a business.

Only after that, which represents more than 10 years of work and experience did coaching come into the picture.

Most grit paragons I’ve interviewed told me they spent years exploring several different interests, and the one that eventually came to occupy all of their waking (and some sleeping) thoughts wasn’t recognizably their life’s destiny on first acquaintance. – Grit

Only after getting many calls from freelancer’s asking how to negotiate contracts or be focused with their time did coaching enter my mind.

Only after lots of emails and comments on my site did I remember that all my life I’ve been the person people come to when they’re struggling with something in their life.

Even after that, my WHY has changed a bit. It’s always been something around helping people run an awesome business so they can live the life they want, but now it’s more refined.

I want to help you build a thriving business and a thriving home life. Because success at work with broken relationships is not success. It’s a waste.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not 100% sure where you should be at. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a clear concise WHY statement.

It takes time to get there.

You can do it, put in the time and keep your mind open.

Talk to those around you that care about you. When they think of you, what do they think you’re best at?

What problems are you regularly asked to solve?

Have an awesome day!

Curtis

PS: I wrote a book dealing with Mastery. It helps you decide when to stick with hard work, and when it may be off track. You can get it on Amazon.

photo credit: tormentalous cc

4 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself To Find Your Purpose

Running your business aimlessly is a great way to get stuck. Oh sure, you’re stuck with a healthy six-figure business, but you’re still stuck. You can tell you’re stuck because the work you’re doing isn’t anything you have a passion for. You don’t like your clients, and you question why on earth you’re even in business.

The problem is that you don’t have a purpose to your work. You have no reason to roll out of bed in the morning other than to pay some bills. That’s not good enough.

If you’re looking for your purpose here are four questions that will help get you there.

1. What makes me breathless

Have you ever had that feeling of breathlessness? You talk so fast that you can’t keep up with your words. People have to ask you to slow down so they can keep up with you. If you’re on the phone and people can’t see your face, they stop you to ask if everything is okay?

What are you talking about then? What leaves you in that state of excitement where you don’t notice how excited you are? What type of projects are you talking about, or what aspect of a project are you talking about?

2. If I had no commitments, what would I choose to work on?

This isn’t one of those times you tell me you’d stay on the beach all day sipping some drink. The type of people that run businesses don’t sit around like that. When you’re sitting around on Saturday and don’t have any client work to do, and the kids are playing what do you do? Which project do you pick up? What activities do you choose in your down time?

Out of those activities, look for a common theme they hold. If you read books, what type of books? What topics do the cover? When I did this exercise, I realized that 80% of the books I read by choice were about business.

3. When I’m at my best, the thing I love most about it is …

When you leave work on a high note, what is that thing you’re excited about? What’s the one activity in the day that makes you smile for weeks or months to come?

I figured out that when I can help someone get new insight into their business problems, I’ll smile about the breakthrough for years. I still smile when I remember helping someone in my mastermind group realize that they were jeopardizing their business with a hobby. The hobby had potential to become their full business. It wasn’t there yet, and if they kept treating it like it was a full business, they’d soon end up with no income to speak of.

Stop and think about the times in your life that you made a difference and you still swell with pride when you think of them. What is it about that situation that makes you proud of your actions?

4. What items do others seek my advice on?

When people call you, what questions are they asking? One of my friends had been laid off his job and was working on getting a new long-term contract. When it came to the negotiation part, he called me to ask for advice about how to approach his prospective employer.

I have another friend that calls me for advice on how to handle different situations in his work from dealing with managers to dealing with union representatives.

When friends call me for advice, it’s about running their career’s and businesses better.

If you go through this exercise, you should have a decent idea of the things that may fit into your purpose. Once you have those, the job isn’t done. You still need to keep refining what you do. As you refine, it will align more and more with the purpose you’ve identified for yourself.

Have an awesome day

Curtis

PS: We cover these questions, and much more, in my 8 Week Business BootCamp. Once you finish that course, you’ll have a handle on your purpose, and know the actions you need to take to start stepping towards it.

photo credit: 121169317@N06 cc