“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”
As we approach the halfway point of the year, many people shy away from any purposeful action, instead choosing to worry about ‘next year’. But, with the right plan, you would be astounded with how much progress you can make, even in 6 months.
Here are 11 productivity tips you can use right now to start getting the most out of your hours each day.
Most people wake up and complain about their alarm, the traffic on the way to work, their boss, the news, their commute home from work, then when their partner asks how their day was, they complain about it.
Total day's output = 0.
Instead, wake up and be grateful for the opportunity to share your unique gifts with the world. Think about your intent, your purpose. Ignore the sensationalized daily news schedules, stop stalking people on Instagram, and switch complaints for gratitude.
When you live with intent, it will be much easier for you to say ‘no’ to the distractions that derail your day.
Dale Carnegie once wrote: “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.” A plan allows us to create a structure around it so we can allocate the necessary resources to get it done as efficiently and effectively as possible, while keeping us more resilient from distraction and procrastination.
Each day, write down three things you’re going to achieve no matter what. Perhaps it’s to complete a gym session, finish the first draft of a blog post, call a family member, or do a meal prep for the week. The important thing is creating the list so your brain can nag at you until it’s done.
(Note: I’m a huge fan of meal prep because it ensures you have nourishing food that can be quickly accessed, rather than interrupting your day to continually shop, cook and clean.)
Most people want to start the day with the feeling of achievement, and for most that is responding to emails. The problem with emails is they’re like boomerangs—always coming back. Instead, do your life’s work first (i.e. the actions that are going to inch you closer to your 90-day goals), before turning to someone else’s agenda for your day. You’ll find you can do the rest on autopilot.
If you have to set your alarm an hour earlier in the morning to get it done, do it. If you want some morning inspo, follow Jocko Willink on Instagram.
It’s not starting things that makes us successful, it’s finishing things. Only begin tasks that you are going to finish and give your best effort. Whether it’s a recorded but unreleased podcast, a stagnant YouTube channel, or training for a marathon that never occurs, begin with the end in mind always.
There’s nothing worse than having a whole heap of half-assed and incomplete tasks that have occupied your attention for months, or even years, where the only reason you haven’t gained traction is because you haven’t been consistent. Most people think starting things is the hard part, but it’s not. The hard part is continuing at the first sign of adversity. Be conscious of that and have an accountability plan to blast through it.
I first heard about the Pomodoro Technique when I interviewed John Lee Dumas for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy. It requires you to have a large timer sitting on your desk and then segmenting your work time into focused intervals (typically 25 minutes), separated by short breaks (typically five minutes). Every time you complete a ‘pomodoro’, or work interval, mark your progress on a piece of paper with a tick.
After four pomodoros, i.e. 100 minutes of work time, take a 15-20 minute break.
Knowing that your output is capped to 25 minutes unlocks hyper productivity as you race against the clock—otherwise you’ll have nothing to show for your pomodoro—and keeps you focused knowing that a break is never too far away.
Doing what makes us happy gives us an extra tank of rocket fuel to commit to our work. It’s far easier for your brain to switch off if your boss is giving you the same boring data entry task for the 500th time or if you don’t even believe in the product you’re selling.
Apple founder Steve Jobs once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”
If you’re not sure what areas make you happy, connect with like-minded people, attend events, and add value to others unconditionally. This will give you exposure to more areas, and eventually you’ll find the areas that excite you where you can concentrate your attention.
Whether you're working in home or an office, make a list of the 5-10 things that interrupt you during the day. This could be anything from the phone ringing and social media, to getting bothered by work colleagues and even your own thoughts.
Break that list into four categories—people, technology, self, and other—and take actions accordingly:
We have access to history’s most brilliant minds right now. Why not spend 20 minutes a day tapping into their expertise?
If you don’t enjoy reading, turn your attention to podcasts or audiobooks. Importantly, when you’re reading (or listening to) these books, keep a notepad so you can brainstorm ideas along the way that will help you achieve your goals. After all, action is the real measure of intelligence.
Acclaimed inventor Thomas Edison once said: “Never go to bed without a request to your subconscious.”
Our bodies and minds are capable of extraordinary things while we sleep, and that rest time is essential for recovery, growth, and general well-being. Thinking about what we want before we go to bed also plants a seed of imagination that can allow our mind to focus on it for the next 7-8 hours.
Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. After all, every great endeavor, innovation, or achievement was once a simple thought impulse.
Checking in on your actions—the people you spent too much or not enough time with, the books you read or didn’t read, the fitness session that did or didn’t get done, or the progress you made or didn’t make towards your goals—enables you to adjust your schedule and routine to ensure the next week is better. With this plan of constant reflection and calibration, long-term success is assured.
And just remember, often, removing a negative influence in your life can be just as powerful as gaining a positive one, so pay extra special attention to who you spend your time with and what stimulus you allow your mind to feed on.
The number one productivity technique, which I never hear anybody talk about, is being inspired. When you’re inspired, it doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you’ve had the night before, how much money is in your pocket, or where you’re working from. You wake up and get after it.
The best way to make that happen is to download my Success Plan Template, write out your 'Perfect Destination' in all areas of your life, and then backtrack it to the work you need to do today that will eventually make it a reality.
Once you’ve done that, you can release yourself from worry about the future because you already know how the story ends—after all, you wrote the story! That will inspire you to take the simple and consistent action that will get you where you need to be.
Try those 11 tips to become a master of productivity.
Everyone tries to act like their super busy, but remember—it’s not how busy you are, but how productive you are, that makes all the difference. Output is everything.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Story
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”
In preparation for this newsletter, I started thinking about who seems to have it all figured out. My answer might surprise you: children.
Having nine nieces and nephews over the last 10 years has given me a great appreciation for the courage, trust, and fun that children inherently have. But rather than encourage these gifts, many parents try to dictate to their children how the world should be, tempered by their own misfortunes, comfort zones, and limiting beliefs.
While, of course, discipline to ensure safety is important, I’ve found that simply asking children open-ended questions and listening attentively is one of the best ways to learn about what’s most important in life. Children have a certain magic—a spark of energy, potential, and promise.
Yet, that same spark seems all but extinguished in most of the adult population.
As we go through adolescence, we modify ourselves to be accepted, listen to the ill-informed opinions of others, and start to resent others who have been dealt the hand of good fortune. For many of us, we reach a point as adults where we feel rudderless and malfunctioned, devoid of purpose and mission. I certainly felt like that, and even wrote about it in Success Magazine earlier this year.
Here are nine lessons I’ve used to accept the past, be happy in the present, and move confidently into the future.
1. Engage with life.
Allowing myself to be pushed around by everyone and everything was the brittle foundation for all that was bad in my life. It was only after a moment of sheer disgust where I proclaimed “I am not going to live like this anymore” that I made the decision to take a stand. From that one moment, my health got back on track, relationships strengthened, my income kept multiplying, and I began to attract opportunities that I otherwise never would have dreamed about.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 16 or 60, or what situation you currently find yourself in. Stop complaining about what you don’t have and, instead, create the reality you want.
2. Seek the friendship of high performers.
One of my favorite quotes is from Bernard Baruch: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” When you’re clear on who you are and where you want to go, you naturally start attracting people into your life who believe in you and your mission. I’m not talking about CEOs; I’m talking about people who are in—or just outside of your current network—who you can easily get in contact with, meet at events, or invite to mastermind groups.
Constantly seek out high performers, look for ways to add value, and never forget the real magic: give more than you get.
3. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.
Napoleon Hill once said, “One of the unappreciated benefits of adversity is that it accelerates the process of identifying your true friends.” As human beings, we have this need for acceptance from others, even if it sabotages our future. But if people do not reciprocate your positive energy, take comfort knowing that the quicker they’re out of your life the better.
The world is a big place, yet so many of us cling to friendships that no longer serve us or pander to toxic family members. Channel your energy into supporting those who bring out the best in you, and you in them. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.
4. Find the gift in every adversity.
Our educational system uses standardized tests to place teenagers into two buckets: smart and stupid. For the high academic achievers, this can be a poisoned chalice of unrealistic expectations and discomfort in reality, when they notice that the present reality doesn’t equal magical promised land of happiness, success, and freedom. For the low academic achievers, this can create ¬limiting beliefs and poor self-esteem that can take decades to unwind.
But the most successful people in life learn from every adversity and, with their superior resourcefulness and resilience, always rise once more—as I wrote about in Reader’s Digest. As the Dalai Lama said, “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” Failing means you tried. Find the gift in every adversity.
5. Read, read, read.
You have access to the most brilliant minds in history who can give you a step by step guide to creating a life of extraordinary happiness, freedom, and success. Yet, as I spoke about in Episode 2, more than $73 billion is spent on lottery tickets in America each year, despite the fact you’re 8x more likely to be elected President than you are of winning the lottery jackpot.
That amount, $73 billion, is more than 5x the amount of money that is spent on books each year. One book can transform your life, but how many lottery tickets do you need to buy before you start to see a return on investment?
Commit to reading 15 minutes a day. Feel confident knowing that your competitors would rather spend that time on more sleep or television. If you hate reading, listen to audiobooks or podcasts.
Most importantly, take notes as you read (or listen) and put those ideas into action. If taking notes is not your thing, draw a picture, which studies have shown might be even better.
6. Work at no charge for industry leaders.
Working for a wage is fruitless. When starting out, what you learn is so much more important than what you earn. Sacrifice pay in the short-term for the advantage of being in an environment that challenges you to grow and get outside your comfort zone.
While most people try to impress with fancy resumés, prove your worth through creative thinking, positive energy, and hard work. Having the endorsement and tutelage of industry leaders will propel you toward you dreams quicker than anything else.
7. Success is holistic.
Most people are on the hunt for money but forget that health is the real wealth. A healthy body and mind put you in the best place to have meaningful relationships with others and give you the energy to do the work that will achieve your goals.
As Jim Rohn said, “How sad to see a father with money and no joy. The man studied economics, but never studied happiness.” It’s much better to advance with true happiness than it is to have mere monetary wealth.
8. Don’t compare your Day One with someone else’s Year Five.
The internet has shattered the barriers of entry for most industries, allowing anyone with an internet connection to start their own business. People are very good at starting, but quit at the first sign of adversity. This normally comes a few months in when they look at the results others are receiving compared to others, get down on themselves, and give up.
Success, in any field, is a marathon—and consistency is the key. Channel your energy into doing the work, rather than comparing how much better others are doing.
9. Know what you want and ask for what you want.
One day, about two years ago, I picked up my 5-year-old niece, Charlotte, from school. On the way home, we did our usual stop at a nearby café for a babycino (a tiny cup of steamed milk designed for kids to enjoy a ‘coffee’ with their parents). As we pulled into the carpark, Charlotte pointed—from the backseat, might I add—to a storefront that I hadn’t even noticed, and said, “You’re going to buy me that water bottle.” I looked up to see a pink water bottle and the pretty pattern that adorned it.
Maybe it was because I was in the trenches of the Think and Grow Rich project at that point, or perhaps I just wanted to reward the confidence of knowing what she wanted, but five minutes later we left that store with a fancy pink water bottle and a pack of stickers, too. I had to laugh at the irony, knowing that a 5-year-old knew the path to success better than most adults.
Importantly, keep asking for what you want. One of history’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison, once said: “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”
Demand the best for yourself. Use those nine lessons to get rid of regret forever.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
The Gold Standard
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
There’s one element that all those who have achieved enormous success hold in high esteem: failure. Whether industry titans of old, such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford, or more contemporary worldbeaters, such as Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos, failure has been the catalyst to not only creating extraordinary wealth but maintaining it too.
The headline quote from Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors in history, was written by a man who, from the moment he set his mind to a definite chief aim, was obsessed with the goal until it became a reality.
Incredulously, before unveiling the world’s first lightbulb for practical use, Edison went through more than 3,000 designs for light bulbs and another 6,000 tests trying to find the right material for the filament. He would go on to hold more than 1,000 patents, and his other inventions—such as the motion picture camera and phonograph—transformed almost every industry on Earth. “When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes,” the American once said.
While Edison’s obsession might seem crazy to outsiders, it was a perfectly rational state of mind to the man himself. Think about today’s true innovators and changemakers, from Sara Blakely to Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs: all have been described by adjectives far harsher than “crazy”.
Edison’s close friend, Waltor Mallory, once visited the inventor in his workshop. Having personally observed some of the countless hours of dedication, effort and sacrifice, Mallory lamented the lack of results. With a smile, Edison quickly replied, “Results? I have gotten lots of results! I now know several thousand things that won’t work.”
That simple response sums up Thomas Edison’s growth mindset and reveals how he became such a prolific achiever, despite not having a formal education.
Those with a growth mindset:
In contrast, those with a fixed mindset:
To win in the long-term, you must open yourself up to the prospect of losing in the short-term, or longer. Simply continuing is one of the surest paths to success, but so many people give up because they accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. This is true in ALL areas of life; in fact, you can probably think of at least one person who remains bitter despite a divorce or business hardship that occurred years prior.
If you allow yourself to be defined by how you’ve been wronged or some other misfortune, you’ll go through life with a chip on your shoulder and likely stay within an ever-shrinking comfort zone. However, those who keep their sights on long-term victory—and can quickly dust themselves off when they do fail—are the ones who enjoy far greater happiness and success.
Embrace failure because it means you’ve tried.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos understands this better than most. “I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally,” he was quoted. Further reinforcing his counterintuitive love for hardship, Bezos wrote to his shareholders, “I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!)” But he is acutely aware that every failure increases his chance of hitting a home run, as Amazon has done with numerous innovations that catapulted the company from a simple online bookstore to, on 7 January 2019, officially becoming the world’s most valuable company.
Even with the recent breakdown of their 25-year marriage, Bezos and his partner MacKenzie were able to quickly and amicably move on, wishing each other well, reducing any undue pressure on their four children, and calming nervous Amazon shareholders.
True innovators like Edison, Bezos, Winfrey, Jobs and Musk do not view the word ‘failure’ as a negative. Rather, they view it as an omnipresent companion on the journey to achievement—a stepping stone to success. Every failure brings us closer to success, just as surrendering to adversity guarantees defeat.
In fact, the quote for today’s episode in its entirety is: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Choose to be a victor rather than a victim. Regardless of what life throws your way, promise to try just one more time.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
‘The Secret to Happiness’
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison
“If people should take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem
“All people have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward—sometimes to death, but always to victory.” – Dale Carnegie
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
“The only easy day was yesterday.” – US Navy SEALs
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
“Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.” – Proverb
“Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.” – Steve Jobs
“Failure is success in progress.” – Albert Einstein
“Never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat.” – James Whittaker
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” – Jonathan Winters
“Find a way or make a way.” – Elon Musk
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
“At any moment you can make a decision to change your life.” – Janine Shepherd
“Failure is a stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
“If I had listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers
“You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” – Lebron James
“Fear is the result of a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do. A lack of knowing what you can do is caused by a lack of experience. A lack of experience is caused by a lack of doing something new.” – Dale Carnegie
“Most great people have achieved their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill
“The freedom to fail is vital if you’re going to succeed. Most successful people fail time and time again, and it is a measure of their strength that failure merely propels them into some new attempt at success.” – Michael Korda
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“Even if we crash and burn, and lose everything, the experience will have been worth ten times the cost.” – Steve Jobs
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
“Sometimes an expensive lesson is worth every penny.” – Noel Whittaker
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie
“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it. That is the quickest and surest way to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
“You can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore.” – Anonymous
“Thinking will not overcome your fear, but action will.” – W. Clement Stone
“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” – Dale Carnegie
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
“All is possible for the believers.” – Laird Hamilton
“Action breeds confidence and courage.” – Dale Carnegie
“I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally.” – Jeff Bezos
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk
“Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past.” – Tyron Edwards
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth
“Bravery is the solution to regret.” – Robin Sharma
“Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.” – Robert Greene
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)
“Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you’ll never be in peril.” – Sun Tzu
“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” – Neale Donald Walsch
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
“I believe we [Amazon] are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!).” – Jeff Bezos
“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” – Steve Maraboli
“Try and enjoy yourself. Because, actually, life’s pretty good.” – Elon Musk
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“You can’t have courage without fear.” – Jocko Willink
“Run the day or the day runs you.”
At every speech, I put up a slide that reads:
“Make the decision to win or you’ve automatically made the decision to lose.”
In the modern world of comfort and instant gratification, we naturally gravitate towards relaxation, indulgence and excitement. Along the way, more important but less fun tasks—like reading a book, completing a goals template, studying for an educational program, creating a household budget, going to the gym, or doing meal prep for the week—are often put on the backburner.
From 100+ firsthand interviews with some of the most successful people on the planet, I’ve learned that it all comes down to a simple mission: Win the day. When you have a comprehensive Success Plan, you live with intent and know what daily actions will inch you closer to your perfect destination.
Here are seven tips to help you win the day.
Take a quiet moment each day to give thanks for the countless gifts already in your possession, such as love, health, peace, shelter, food or the opportunity to make the world a better place. Train yourself to find the gift in every situation so you can see the problem for what it is and properly respond rather than impulsively react and potentially make it worse.
Being clear on your perfect destination makes it much easier to take daily actions, attract people who can amplify your efforts and persist through the tough days. Each morning, as soon as you wake up, write down three things that would make today a ‘win'. Before you go to bed, review the success of your day and the actions you took (or did not take), and calibrate accordingly.
Try doing your life’s work—the actions that will inch you closer to your goals—before working on someone else’s agenda for your time. The two biggest examples of someone else’s agenda are social media and emails. There is a time and a place for both, but make sure you are not wasting your best hours on someone else’s plan for your life. Instead, allocate your most creative and productive time for actions that align with your goals, and do the rest on autopilot.
Give your body the physical and mental nourishment it needs to function at an optimal state, encourage creative thought and feel more energetic. Many of the most high-profile CEOs and world leaders deliberately schedule time in their busy calendars for daily exercise, meditation and reading (or podcasts / audiobooks).
Whether it is buying a meal for a homeless person, volunteering your time to help disadvantaged youth or teaching military veterans how to surf, there are countless ways to give back. In the pursuit of helping others, make sure you also take care of those under your own roof. Having an open channel of communication with your loved ones and actively planning times to be together without distraction is an important part of ensuring the family unit grows as one.
On the journey to success, failure is inevitable. Rather than striving for perfection, aim for progress. If at the end of the day you are disappointed with the result, compare your goals with the actions you took—maybe there was a toxic friend who occupied too much of your time, notifications on your phone that kept distracting you, or bad food choices because you had not prioritized a supermarket visit or meal prep. Calibrate accordingly. Over time, simple and consistent action turns to extraordinary achievement.
Famous inventor Thomas Edison once said, “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” The best way to bring a wish to life is with a good night’s rest and a plan to win tomorrow.
Fun is an essential part of enjoying life, but develop the habit of paying the price each day or you’ll have to pay a much greater price down the track in the form of:
As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Each day, make the decision to win or you’ve automatically made the decision to lose.
Onwards and upwards always,