Picture your perfect day. You wake up early. The sun is shining. Everything goes your way during your morning routine as you get off to work, where you arrive a few minutes before everyone else. You avoid the temptation of checking email immediately and settle into a major project.
Time passes quickly. You aren’t fatigued from a poor night’s sleep or from bad breakfast decisions. You make significant progress, and in fact, you wrap up your work before noon. You smile and celebrate your victory.
You sit back and realize you’ve gotten ten times more work done this morning than you did all of last week when your phone was ringing off the hook, when you were late for work because you stayed up late binge-watching television shows, and when you had to work overtime each night to keep up with the endless barrage of emails and meetings.
What has allowed you to have this near perfect day?
Why were you able to achieve a great victory?
The answer comes from the 3-C formula.
You controlled your morning.
You conquered the chaos of the world.
You concentrated on what counts.
To get more done, you must plan and prepare better than ever before. That is how you control your mornings and minimize external distractions. It’s how you conquer the communication chaos. When you plan ahead, you can create systems to limit the number of emails in your inbox, and to avoid being sucked into time-draining meetings.
Finally, you’ve planned to concentrate on what counts. Through self-reflection you’ve identified what activities move the needle ahead in your life.
Dan Sullivan, founder of the Strategic Coach program, calls this, “finding your unique ability” and he teaches you to spend your workday on this and only this.
That’s not a bad start, but it’s a slightly vague explanation. Here’s a better way to look at it.
“You must work only on your 5%,” says my coach and business partner, Bedros Keuilian, in this video.
What falls in your 5%?
For most entrepreneurs and executives, this includes:
- Selling (aka “drumming up business”)
- Coaching employees
- Reviewing the most important numbers
- Making high-value connections
Now that you’ve identified your 5%, you need to make a to-do list for the next morning. Each night, identify your three most important tasks to work on as soon as possible after you wake-up.
One of those items should be using my fifteen-minutes-first-thing-in-the-morning exercise. Here’s what I want you to do. When you wake up, head downstairs to your kitchen table. Armed with only a pen and paper, you must sit there and work on your number one problem or opportunity in life.
If it is a problem, like being in credit card debt, figure out how to fix it. Identify ways to cut your expenses, increase your income, and transfer your debt to a lower interest credit card.
If it is an opportunity, identify ways to take advantage of it, to leverage the opportunity into massive success for your business and income. Figure out who to connect with, where to advertise, and how to spread the word.
“But wait,” you’re thinking, “there is so much else to do! I have errands to run, a lawn to mow, and a package that needs to be sent out by Fed-Ex!”
Relax, young grasshopper. These activities are not in your 5%, and these tasks must be delegated. This is work that must get done, but not by you.
In fact, tomorrow morning, during your first fifteen-minutes-in-the-morning session, you can make a list of all the activities that fall into the 95% that should be delegated to someone else. Use this time to identify and eliminate the obstacles and bottlenecks in your life.
As Bedros teaches, identify every task that can be done by someone else for $20 an hour or less. Then assign someone to do those tasks. You can’t be doing these things if you want to 10X your success and productivity.
Start with hiring a local teenager to mow the lawn, paint the shed, and clean the gutters. If you hate going to the grocery store or cooking meals, take advantage of one of the services that does those for you.
For office duties, hire a part time assistant to do the trivial work. Go online to one of the many freelance sites to find people that can fix your tech problems. Just because you can do a task, such as bookkeeping or building a website, doesn’t mean that you should.
You simply can’t be doing $20 an hour tasks if you want to make $100,000 per year.
Let’s be brutally honest. There are two types of people in life. First, there are the high-achieving fighter jet pilots. That’s you. And then there are the maintenance men that are there to take care of the pilots and the fighter jets.
Serious entrepreneurs and executives, the fighter jet pilots, find other competent workers, the maintenance men, to do the 95% of $20 an hour tasks that don’t make a dramatic in moving the business ahead, but that simply keep the business moving along.
As a high achiever, you are the type of person that can have a massive impact on the lives of other people, but if you’re too busy with trivial tasks to do the real work that will change the world, then you — and the people that you should be helping — are going to remain frustrated.
You must switch your mindset and do only the work that moves the needle in your life.
“Focus on your 5%,” Bedros says, and start each day with your top three tasks, and outsource everything that can be done by someone else.
Ruthlessly block, protect, and control your work time.
Get up early, attack the day, and make progress on your top priority.
Eliminate temptations. Overcome distractions.
Prepare properly. Communicate clearly.
Be the Boss of your life.