RSS

Tag Archives: Michael Hyatt

2 Keys to Higher Productivity

I wake up at 5:30 am. I sit on the edge of the bed, stretch, smile, and thank God for another day. As I bounce energetically into the shower, my mind is flooded with thoughts and ideas…blog topics dance through my head, things I need to add to my “to-do” list crowd my mind, and I can’t wait to get done with my shower so I can sit down and start my productive day. Hopping out of the shower, I hurriedly dry off, tiptoe quietly back into the bedroom-being quiet so I don’t wake my wife, and I get dressed.

Walking into the living room, I sit down in my favorite chair, pull my laptop in front of me, and move the mouse to wake my sleeping computer…

And all my focus melts away.

It’s my own fault. Last night, I failed to close out the programs on my computer. So as soon as my computer wakes up, it tells me about the e-mails I got during the night. The web browser tells me who won the presidential debate. And my sports feed makes sure to let me know that the St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs AGAIN.

I get distracted by information overload…and the ideas that have been dancing through my mind in the shower moments before fade away. And now, 9 hours later, I look back at my day and wonder…

“Where did all the time go?”

“What did I accomplish today?”

“Why do I feel unproductive and vaguely depressed?”

The answer is simple. I allowed myself to get distracted from my morning routine. I have allowed a new morning routine to creep in, one that is dictated by external forces, and it is killing my productivity.

In a recent podcast, NYT best-selling author Michael Hyatt discussed his morning “ritual.”  For some people, this word has a negative connotation. But Hyatt defines a ritual as “a prescribed procedure for achieving a specific result.” What a terrific definition!

DOCUMENT YOUR CURRENT RITUAL

Hyatt contends that we all have a morning ritual, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Whether our ritual is helping to accomplish our goals is a different story. And he’s right! When I take control of my morning and stick to my “proactive ritual,” I get so much done, and I feel GREAT for the rest of the day. But when I fall into my “reactive ritual,” my focus wanders, and, just like a ship that drifts a few degrees off-course, I look back at my day and wonder how I got so far from my intended destination.

Hyatt offers seven steps to designing a morning ritual. I encourage you to read his blog article and listen to the podcast. I want to highlight the first two steps, because they are so critical to finding your path to productivity:

Acknowledge that you already have a ritual.

  • Again, this is not a BAD thing. We all have rituals, whether it’s how we dry ourselves off when we get out of the shower, or the route we take when we drive to work. Acknowledge that you have rituals for the way that you do things and move on quickly to step number two.

Document your existing ritual.

  • This is where the rubber meets the road. If you want to become more productive, you must first identify your current practices so you can see where you may be losing

My proactive morning ritual looks like this:

  1. Sit up as soon as the alarm goes off, stretch, say a brief prayer of thanks, and hit the shower.
  2. Get dressed, make a protein shake or a cup of tea, and sit in my chair.
  3. Write in my private journal.
  4. Read my Bible and pray.
  5. Open my computer and begin to write.

My reactive morning ritual looks like this:

  1. Hit the snooze alarm
  2. Hit the snooze alarm again.
  3. Drag myself grumpily out of bed.
  4. Stumble into the shower.
  5. Stand under the hot water for at least 10 minutes, hoping it will wake me up.
  6. Get dressed, sit in my chair, and open my computer.
  7. Surf the web for an hour.

I think you get the point.

THERE IS GOOD NEWS

I have identified my keys to a productive (rather than reactive) morning ritual. And they actually begin the night before! I need to do two things in order to prepare myself to be in the best possible position for having a good start to my day.

  1. I need to go to bed at a reasonable time. I have found that going to bed by 9:30 is essential if I plan to be productive the next day.
  2. I need to close down all of my desktop applications, leaving open only MS Word, with a fresh new page to write on.

Seems simple enough. And it is…Now I just have to remember to do it tonight…

And every night.

Because our attitudes are so much more positive when we are productive. And we can’t accomplish all that we are meant to be in this life if we mope around all the time with a bad attitude.

So identify your morning ritual…look for ways to tweak it…and add to your productivity.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Outside “The Zone”

In one of the most impacting blogs I have read recently, Michael Hyatt suggests that frequent trips outside our comfort zone are critical to our growth. Hyatt states that “the really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.” Notice that he doesn’t say “SOME” really important stuff happens…or “OCCASIONALLY,” really important stuff happens…he says that “THE” really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.

I’ve come to recognize the truth of this simple statement.

Like many people, I shy away from anything that causes me to be uncomfortable. I am not someone who enjoys surprises or new experiences. I prefer to stay within previously established parameters for my life. And when something happens to push me beyond those parameters, I’m not happy.

It’s these comfort zone parameters that have kept me from accomplishing so many things in my life. And now, my life is half over (I HOPE it’s only half over) and I feel like I have wasted so much time in my comfort zone, that I’m not completely sure how to get out of it.

So I’m doing something radical…

This Saturday, I run my first ever 5K race. For those of you who are metrically challenged, that’s 5,000 meters…or approximately 16,400 feet. That doesn’t sound too bad, until realize that this is a bit more than three miles…

THAT’S outside my comfort zone.

I’ve been running a couple of miles three times a week. I even got up to 2.5 miles once.

But THREE miles? Whoa…

I have also been thinking about the hundreds of other runners who will be there on Saturday…most of them have done this before. This is not new to them.

It’s new to me…and I’m intimidated. In fact, when I was running yesterday, I psyched myself out so bad that I almost stopped running and decided not to run in the race.

I’m such a weenie…

But I kept going back to Hyatt’s statement:

“The really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone.”

And I know that he’s right…

For me, this race is really important…

It signifies something that I never imagined  being able to do. It acknowledges the fact that I am capable of learning, growing, and improving, even as I approach the receipt of my AARP card.

And it opens my mind to a world of possibilities…if I can run my first race at the age of 47, what else can I accomplish in my life?

Harland Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65. Grandma Moses was 78 when she had her first art exhibition-selling small prints for just $2.00. Ronald Reagan was not elected to his first public office until he was 55, and Winston Churchill didn’t become Prime Minister of England until he was 62. Takichiro Mori (WHO?!?!?) was an economics professor until he left academia at age 55 to become a real estate investor in 1959.  When Mori died in 1993, he was the world’s richest man with a net worth of around $13 billion. And Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was 65.

I don’t want to be a restaurateur or a painter. I’m not interested in politics, or being a billionaire (although MILLIONAIRE wouldn’t be so bad). I WOULD love to write and publish books…and I guess I still have a few years to work on that before I pass Laura’s age…

But it all starts by being willing to get outside my comfort zone…by risking failure and then risking failure again.

So I will run my race on Saturday. I will crowd in with all of the other runners who are more experienced than I am. I will be left in the dust by the majority of them.

And I won’t care.

Because I’m running.

And that’s something that’s going to happen outside my comfort zone.

Where the “really important stuff happens.”

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

When You Don’t Feel Like It…

I have a problem…You see, I’m a writer…and a writer is supposed to, well…WRITE. But I’m not feeling inspired to write at the moment…

That’s not exactly the problem. The problem is that, whether I feel INSPIRED or not, I need to write anyway.

And I haven’t been.

You can’t get away with that in most other professions.

For example, just because I don’t feel like teaching my class doesn’t mean that I don’t show up and do it anyway.

If people didn’t show up for work, society would fall apart. Patients would die while their doctors hit the golf course. Retailers would lock their doors because no one came to work to take care of their customers. The transportation system would grind to a halt as drivers and pilots took the day off.

So why do I stop writing when I don’t feel like it?

Is it because I somehow view my writing as less important? Do I think that what I have to say doesn’t matter?

Or is it because I am just undisciplined…

That’s a statement, not a question.

It also answers the question, “Why do I stop writing when I don’t feel like it?”

I’m undisciplined. My days blow by without a plan. And, as the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

In a recent blog, Michael Hyatt writes about the importance of getting a handle on his schedule. He even includes a link to an excel file that lays out his “ideal week.” I encourage you to read it. You will benefit immensely, believe me.

What tools are you using to become more productive? Have you ever laid out a picture of your “ideal” day, week, or month? Please feel free to share how you are maximizing your time more effectively.

Because I need all the help I can get.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Kicking “The Bucket List”

In the film, “The Bucket List,” Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are terminal cancer patients who create a list of things that they want to do before they die. It’s a familiar premise, and one that I often hear people reference when they talk, sometimes wistfully, about their aspirations.

To me, the expression “bucket list” is too negative… “Kicking the Bucket” makes it sound like it was a life not worth living, and it’s finally (and thankfully) over. This should not be…our dreams, goals, and aspirations should not be relegated to something as mundane as a “bucket list.” So I have instead decided to create my “dream list.”

I’m going to share some of my dream list with you, exposing my soul a little bit…but before I do that, I need to ask: Have YOU created a dream list? Do you have a list of dreams that you want to accomplish? And if you have that list, is it just a mental list? Or have you actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and written them down? I would like to challenge you with this thought: if you have never physically written down a list of dreams that you would like to accomplish in your life, then you don’t have a dream list…or a bucket list…or any other kind of list for that matter. All you have are some nebulous ideas floating randomly through your skull with no place for them to land and move toward reality.

In his best-selling book “Platform,” Michael Hyatt says, “Wonderful things happen when you commit something to writing. I don’t fully understand how it works but I have experienced it firsthand again and again.”  Hyatt goes on to explain step-by-step how to make your dreams become a reality. I am personally engaging in these steps as I develop my list, and seeing my dreams written out in front of me has given me a level of confidence in my ability to accomplish them that I did not expect.

Some people have hundreds of dreams that they put on their list. That feels intimidating to me, so I decided to list just 25. Before I knew it, I already had 23, and I didn’t even have to work that hard to come up with them. After all, they have been floating through my mind for years…I just haven’t taken the time to write them down.

For some, 25 might still seem like a lot, so I would like to encourage you to identify just ten dreams that you would like to accomplish. If you come up with more, that’s fantastic, but just try to list ten for now. I am going to list ten of mine, just as a starting point to help stir the pot. These ten are not necessarily my top ten, but they are all definitely things that I dream of accomplishing in my life:

  1. Lose 135 pounds (I have already lost 90; 2/3 of the way there!).
  2. Go skydiving.
  3. Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef.
  4. Have 10,000 subscribers to my blog.
  5. Take all of my sons on a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
  6. Scream “We’re Debt Free” live on the Dave Ramsey Show.
  7. Speak at the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast.
  8. Take my wife to Ireland and Wales to explore her heritage.
  9. Complete a 5K race.
  10. Walk to the top of the Great Wall of China (I was there once, but I was too overweight to make it to the top, so I need to go back!).

I am already working on some of these…for example; I ran a full mile today without breaking stride for the first time in my life. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but for someone who used to weigh 360 pounds and couldn’t walk up a short flight of stairs without gasping for air, this was a huge moment. I actually shed tears of joy when I crossed the one mile mark. I never really believed that I would ever be able to run a mile. When I did, something inside me was released. All of the self-doubt that I have been harboring since I was a kid went away when I realized that I could actually do something I once thought impossible.

So what about you? What are your dreams? What are the things you dream of doing but think that they are impossible? I have just two pieces of advice for you:

  1. Write them down! List the things you want to do, read them, savor them, and imagine yourself doing them.
  2. Get Michael Hyatt’s book, “Platform.” It’s an Amazon.com best seller, and you can pick it up from any number of online retailers for well below cover price. And then read chapters 8 and 9 (heck, read the whole book!) and follow the simple steps to realizing your dreams.

You’ll be glad you did…and your life will never be the same.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

DON’T BUY THIS BOOK!!! (YET)

“UN”HANDY MAN

Have you ever built anything? I’m not the most handy guy (just ask ANYONE). But I have managed to remodel a kitchen and bathroom, finish a basement, and even build a chicken mansion (think of a chicken coop on steroids…REALLY big chicken coop) over the past several years.

None of these creations will end up in the carpentry Hall-of-Fame…but they have served their purpose. Now I’m trying to build something else. I’m trying to build a platform.

I wish it was the kind of platform that needed some wood and nails. I think that might be easier. No, the kind of platform I am trying to build is defined perfectly by Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers) as “the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans.”

I’m not hung up on the word “fans.” That feels too egocentric. I don’t think of anyone who reads my blogs or follows me on Twitter as a “fan.”  But I recognize that there are some people who like what I have to say. And I want to make a difference in the lives of as many people as possible. So I would define my platform as “the means by which I connect with the people in whose lives I have made, or will make, a difference.

Feels too wordy, but it gets to the heart of what I want to do: I want to help people. And in turn, I want those I have helped to be inspired and motivated to help others. I want to look back on my life in 40 years and smile, knowing that God used me to help as many people as possible.

In order to maximize the number of people I may help, I need a platform.

THE “GOOD OL’ DAYS”

In the days before electricity, the way that an individual built their platform was much less broad. The local newspaper would carry information about the movers and shakers of the community, but the influence was localized. As technology grew, the ability to carry a message grew with it. Telephone and telegraph became a way to carry the message to more people. Eventually radio and television exponentially increased the numbers of people who could be influenced. Now we have the internet…and within the internet, the number of ways to reach people and establish a platform continues to grow, seemingly with no end in sight. The explosion of Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Squidoo, Google Reader, and RSS (just to name a few), has created a vast network of people, so it should be easy to connect with thousands of people at the click of a button…

But it isn’t. Not without a platform.

The beauty of a platform is that it is not a “one-size fits all” creation. A platform may include your Facebook, Linked In, or Twitter accounts. It might include pod-casting or YouTube videos. Perhaps you are a musician or an actor or a public speaker. If you are a writer, your platform may include newspaper, online articles, or a blog. It is likely that building a platform will require a combination of things in order to get yourself noticed.

GETTING NOTICED

Hyatt is releasing a book on May 22nd called (appropriately enough) “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.” I cannot wait to read this book, and I encourage all of you who are looking to be a voice in the world to order it too…BUT…

Do NOT order it yet! Hyatt is giving away an insane amount of free material for those people who buy the book during the week of May 21-25. In his own words, Michael writes, Here’s the deal: if you buy the book during the week of May 21–25, I will send you SEVEN FREE BONUSES worth $375.98.”

This is an incredible opportunity to learn from an expert how to build your platform and be heard above the clatter of our noisy world. I urge you to check it out. Details are available on Hyatt’s website.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

I’m building a platform, one plank at a time…I’m doing it through speaking, coaching, teaching, and writing. We all want to make a difference in this world, so we all need a platform. How are you building yours?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,