I was just recently reminded of a time when my friend Dan Mall shared about how he replaced the phrase “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority”.
He wrote: “Recently, I’ve tried to stop saying, “I don’t have time.” It insinuates that I’m a helpless victim to the all-powerful stream of hours that mightily passes me by. It’s easy to adopt an “Oh well” attitude to what you’re giving up. It authorizes my apathy. Instead, I’ve replaced it with the phrase, “That’s not a priority.” Suddenly, I’ve taken control of my own decisions. I’ve taken responsibility for what I do and don’t do. I’ve added clarity, condemnation, and encouragement, all in 4 short words.”
For me, especially as a business owner, things changed significantly for me when I realized that I alone was in charge of how I spend my time. I have to be the one to decide for myself what the most important use of my time is, and I have no excuses if my schedule feels out of control.
When talking with Cal Newport a while back, he shared with me about the 3 waves of productivity:
- First there was Efficiency
- Then Intentionally
- Now Meaning
These three waves go in order and each one serves the next. You begin by just trying to be more efficient. Then, once you’ve discovered how to save time, you begin to focus more on making sure you’re being proactive with how you spend your time. And then, lastly, you move toward meaningful productivity — where you take back all that time you are saving and you use it for the things that matter.
Thus, as you can see, you need all three to get the true benefits, and it’s not until you get to the third wave that you start to see all the benefits. It is in the third wave — Meaningful Productivity — where you start to produce more valuable work and you find your work more meaningful.
Such as how to have healthy relationships. How to manage your money. How to take care of your body. How to be in control of your schedule. How to accomplish your goals.
We are told that these things are important. And, if we are fortunate, then we may even see these things modeled for us in our life. But we are rarely actually given the skills, mindsets, and information we need in order to live them out in our own life.
Speaking of how it’s okay to make a decision without knowing every last detail… Consider this: one drop of clarity plus 5 minutes of action. I have found that action brings clarity, and then, in turn, more clarity fuels more action. It’s a fantastic cycle. And so, when you’re stuck on something, you’d be surprised how much progress you can make (and how much clarity you can get) in a short amount of time.
You don’t have to take action on every idea. You can make a decision without knowing every last detail and option. It’s okay if you don’t finish every book you start. You don’t have to respond to every email you receive. There’s no need to push every project to the max. Having breathing room — a little bit left over — is perfectly acceptable. In fact… I would argue that it’s preferred.
Many people struggle to make regular progress toward their goals. This is often because the things they are doing are not actually related to accomplishing their goals.
To create an action plan, I like to start with the end in mind, and then work backward.
Once you have a desired outcome, all you need to do is list the steps necessary to accomplish it.
Break things down into small action items. Schedule time for yourself for when you’ll do the next action item for that goal. As you begin to move forward, you’ll discover that Action Brings Clarity.
PS – What is a goal you have in mind right now that you’re struggling to make progress toward? Hit reply and let me know, or send me a DM on Instagram.
Tomorrow — Tuesday, July 26 — I am hosting a private, live interview with bestselling author Josh Kaufman.
Josh is also the author of one of my all-time most-gifted books: The Personal MBA.
Over the years Josh has become a dear friend, and I have gotten so much brilliant advice from him. I cannot wait to bring him into the community to share with you as well.
If you care about business, growth, and productivity, then this will be a conversation you definitely want to be part of. Here are the main things we’ll cover during the live interview:
⚡️ Decision Making: How to get better and faster at making decisions without overthinking things or doing it wrong.
⚡️ Time blocking for creative work: Tips and ideas for building a better schedule.
⚡️ Common business advice: What are some of the biggest pitfalls Josh has seen inside businesses and their owners / leaders — and what are his suggestions to avoid or fix them?
⚡️ Plus Live Q&A: Your chance to ask any questions live (or submit them ahead of time and catch the answers during the replay).
This is an exclusive interview that I’m hosting just for the brand-new Accelerator membership. And I would LOVE to have you join us.
Here’s how to join:
- Sign up for the new Focus Accelerator
- We’ll send you a link and details to join the live Zoom room for Josh’s interview
- We’ll also connect with you directly to help you get settled in with all the material and training that is inside the new Accelerator.
The 5 components of a focused life are this: Vision → Goals → Strategy → Schedule → Habits
That above framework will help you identify where the REAL issues are with your focused life and exactly what to do about fixing them. In short, your habits should support your goals. When they do, it is liberating.
If you want a deeper dive, join me for the free, 1-hour class I’m teaching on Wednesday July 20.
There are many areas of our life where being good enough is good enough. But for some special areas, why not strive for greatness?
It takes significant effort to move something from good to great. But, for those important few things in life, that effort is worth it.
- Do you want a “good” marriage or a “great” one?
- Do you want to be in “good” shape or “great” shape?
- Do you want a good body of work from your career or a great one?
- Do you want to be mentally and emotionally fine, or do you want to be at your best?
What areas of your life do you want to be truly great?
Focus on those, and happily allow the other areas to be good enough.
“Don’t get distracted and your feet will stay on the sidewalk and not too full of snow.”
If you’re feeling like you’re not making meaningful progress toward a goal, or if your day is just filled with more distractions that it should be, then perhaps you need a “Stop Doing” list.
What is getting in your way from the results you want?
If it’s things within your control, can you stop doing them?
- Stop unlocking my iPhone before 8:30 am.
- Stop bringing my iPhone into the office.
- Stop checking my email when I’m bored.
- Stop eating snacks after 7:30 pm.
- Stop checking social media before lunchtime.
- Stop spending money on such-and-such category.
- Stop … ?
What would you put onto your stop doing list? Message me on Twitter at @shawnblanc
Above are some photos from a recent camping trip to the back trails of Arapaho National Forest near Ute Pass. There are many things I love about Colorado. And one of them is that crisp, mountain-pine air. These photos remind me of that.
If you want to use these on your devices as a wallpaper, click on the image you want and you’ll get the full resolution version. Save it and use it as a wallpaper.
If you’re working toward a desired outcome, but aren’t seeing any progress or results yet, here’s why:
- It’s too early
- You’re doing the wrong action
- You’re not actually doing what you say or think you are
If 1: then it’s a matter of patience. Don’t quit.
If 2: then it’s a matter of strategy. Try something new and measure your results.
If 3: then it’s a matter of focus. Track your actions and don’t give in to distractions.