How I Get More Done Than You Do
It’s 5:41 a.m. as I write this.
But this isn’t to make you feel bad for not getting up early. It’s merely a statement of fact.
You see, in my years on this planet to date, I’ve noticed one thing that often signals to me who “has their shit together” and who doesn’t. And it applies to everyone. Countless politicians, CEOs, stay-at-home moms, corporate leaders, MBA students, high school students, retirees. Even you.
It’s an awareness of the extent of 24 hours. Simple.
An awareness that this 24 hours determines where you will be tomorrow.
A few of your neighbors have it: you see it in action everyday. But many of them don’t. A few of your friends have it. Most of them don’t, right? A few of your extended family have it. Maybe your dad has it, but not your mom or cousin.
At this point you’re wondering “do I have it?” and “is it important?” and “how do I get it?”.
Do I have it?
The “do I have it?” question is only for you to answer, and you won’t have to think about the question for long. Don’t ask your friends for their opinion. Don’t ask your coworkers. This is not “a 360” as we say in the biz (360-degree assessments are a systematized collection of opinions and ratings from your coworkers, subordinates and boss). So what’s your answer? Do you have it?
Is it important?
Next, “is it important?” Yes! Your life is where it is because of the value you place on time. If you truly value time, it will be obvious to me and those around you in the way you prioritize the activities in your life. And not just in the over-used “work life balance” sense. But in the specific activities within each of those popular categories. Watching The Bachelor is less important than watching Downton Abbey, right? I don’t care. I don’t watch either. In the time that you’re glued to a screen I’m doing something more important (to me). Spending an hour with your sales team is more important than an hour with the software programmers, right? Again, I don’t care. It’s your 24 hours. But hanging out with either team means you’re not spending an hour with your clients or your customers or your audience. The take-away here is that you can’t be on auto-pilot. Not even for an hour. One hour is extremely valuable currency. It requires relentless and clear prioritization.
The sobering reality you must fully understand is this: your 24 hours is the same 24 hours that all the successful people have. It’s the same 24 hours for you as it is for entrepreneur Elon Musk, athlete Lindsey Vonn, billionaire Warren Buffett, Prime Minister David Cameron, media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey and actor Hugh Jackman. Even Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The same 24 hours.
How do I get it?
The answer is a 3-step process:
Step 1. We are all flawed, biased and far-too-easily distracted. So get ahead of the game – which means GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF. There are at least twenty raging biases that wreak havoc with your decision making – outcome bias, confirmation bias, blind-spot bias to name a few. Get smart on how they impact you personally. Then ruthlessly work to protect yourself. Typically, that means instilling a discipline around your attitudes and behaviors that you haven’t had in years (maybe high school or college, if you were a high-performing student), if ever. Need help with this? See Step 2.
Step 2. You need to brutally ask this question with everything you do, or plan to do: “am I willing at this time, to make the investment required, to make a positive difference on this [topic or activity?]” You can even use the terrific acronym AIWATT (make it rhyme with “hey-whaaaat”) to keep a smile on your face as you get into the habit. This is a great tip I picked up from Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter in their book Triggers.
Step 3. Your tomorrow starts today. You must, must, must bring yourself in for a smooth landing each night. That’s right – restful sleep. And I’m not talking about scented candles and centering your chakra, necessarily. You and I would be in trouble if that were the case (my chakra is at least partially clogged, but my physician kicked me out of his office the last time I asked him to clear it for me). The smooth landing I look for is consistently using the last hour of my day as preparation for the first hour of the morning. Literally. Coffee maker prepped. Plates and utensils ready for breakfast. Backpack by the front door. Clothes ready – whether that’s business attire, or morning workout gear.
Now go do it.
My dirty secret
If you need a little morning inspiration, just think of Lindsey Vonn or Hugh Jackman with their morning breath and rumpled jammies getting their early start on the day. And give them a telepathic nod. Because you both have the same 24 hours.