Fuel your Awesomeness with Mental Energy

As a runner, I recognize that I only have a certain amount of energy to run a distance at a certain pace. By fueling my body with the right types of food and energy bars, I am able to incrementally increase my maximum output.  Running a marathon is a great example.  On a normal day, running 26.2 miles is outside my physical capacity.  But with some training and slow stepping up of my mileage, I am able to build my body’s energy capacity to that level.  Mental energy is no different.  Our ability to think, smile, create, walk and chew gum has a finite energy source. On a typical day, my mental energy level is at its highest around 7 am and at its lowest after dinner.  The importance of managing mental energy toward success doesn’t stop with knowing your mental time clock.  This is nothing new.  Perhaps more important is focusing your mental “spend” on  the things that matter.  The other day I as I was driving home from a week long meeting when I received a frustrating phone call regarding a returned check to my Chevron credit card.   After 45 minutes we realized the mistake and remedied it.  However, I was exhausted.  It took a large portion of my mental energy. Each and every day you and I both recharge our physical and mental batteries as we sleep. By focused training like reading, engaging conversations, audio programs, and meditation, you increase your mental capacity. If you’re doing this, keep doing it, if you’re not, you should. During a typical day, you also spend that energy on important things such as writing, talking with your kids, working on projects at work, and planning for the future.  Unfortunately, things like my Chevron credit card phone call interrupt the normal flow and “steal” some of that energy.

 

Awareness of the limits of your mental energy  gives you  a sense of urgency or a desire to protect the things you are doing.  Just like time management, mental management is a must have skill for a successful life.

 

Of course, interruptions do happen and sometimes are important to handle.  You can’t control that.  Here is a list of 3 things I recommend to keep mental energy at its best:

 

Wind Energy

Wind Energy (Photo credit: janie.hernandez55)

 

 

 

1.  Avoid Distractions: This is so obvious and immensely important.  So many times I’ve sat down to work on a mentally draining task (like writing a blog post), only to have my focus taken away in a moment of email distraction.  Even if the email doesn’t need my attention, the mere fact that I know I got an email takes a little slice of my mental energy. If you are intentional toward avoiding distractions, you will learn with time the things that take distract you and steal your mental energy.  I use squarespace notes app on my iPhone to send quick notes to my Evernote inbox.  When something distracts me and I don’t want to fix it then and there, I put a note in squarespace to fix it.  Then, I fix it.

 

2. Schedule your mental tasks at the appropriate times:  Different tasks take higher and lower levels of mental energy.  This is something you will learn with time.  Typically the more creative (writing, planning) and involved (things with complicated directions) take the most mental energy.  Creating enough space in your schedule and the best available time will vastly increase your mental energy and lessen the frustration.  Deciding to build the IKEA entertainment center and hour before church is a bad idea.  Mental energy tasks are not usually the “on a whim” things you want to do.  Be intentional and realistic and schedule this time.

 

3.  Know what you want to do:  This may be too “big picture” for a small blog post, but you need to know what your goals are.  If you have a vision, and idea of what you are trying to accomplish, you will be able to identify the things that are ‘right” to be doing.  If you don’t have a vision and a plan in place to achieve that vision, I am going to create one for you.  Your vision is to create a vision.  With a defined vision, you will have “stuff” to do.  We all have “stuff” we have to do such as laundry, dishes, feed the dog, etc.  Most people stop there.  That’s the mediocre life.  You are going to plug in your awesomeness and the “stuff” needed to be done to accomplish this awesome.  If what you are doing does’t fit into one of those two categories, stop doing it.

 

 

Remember that you own your mental energy.  It is yours to spend as you wish.  We all have responsibilities.  Better management of your mental energy will improve your results in all areas of life and leave room for you to do things that make you awesome.

 

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Reading is a Waste Of Time

Running circles

Running circles (Photo credit: Dave-a-roni (Dark Spot Photography))

I love to read a good book.  In fact, I love to read a bad book.  That’s my problem.  While reading is a key element to finding success, done without purpose it can waste your time and kill your dream.  In fact, doing anything unintentionally has that danger. Living an intentional life toward success involves purposeful actions.  It also involves creating.  This is what Seth Godin calls “shipping”. It may be written content or it may be widgets.  What your shipping doesn’t matter, ship something.  When I discovered that I have something awesome to ship, I was shocked to realize how much time I was wasting consuming.  When we are consuming, we are providing for someone else’s dream.  Certainly some consumption is necessary for survival, and some is directly relevant for our own dreams (i.e., motivation, inspiration, facts, and ideas).  We are all provided, free of charge, an allotment of 24 hours each day.  I heard once that Alaska gets 24.5 but I cannot verify that. When we consume too much,  as in my case, reading, we are wasting time we could be using to create (our ultimate purpose).  My high school economics teacher called that the “opportunity cost”.  For me reading is relaxing and fulfilling.  It is also a distraction.  Remember Steven Pressfeld’s resistance.  Reading has become “covert resistance”. The resistance has taken over something that is clearly an element of my personal growth and turned it into a distraction.  My goal is not a goal to read, reading is a tool to achieve my goal of being the best person I can be. As covert resistance,  It is a distraction taking away from the real work. I am currently reading Tim Feriss’s hit book The Four Hour Work Week.  He shares insights on information overload and reads only fiction before bed to relax him.  I chooses to be very specific with what he puts in his head. That’s not for me.  What I did learn from him is that we need to be purposeful about the things we are doing.

If a certain task you are doing do not specially fulfill an objective or goals of yours,  STOP!

As a solution, I’ve decided to get more intentional toward my reading.  Instead of a blanket goal of reading 30 books in 2014, I am going to specify that these books are motivating me to create, inspiring me to be a better person, teaching a specific skill I need and want, or are entertaining fiction for my periodic fiction break. I’m also going to stop reading each books once it provides me with enough value.  You may be seeing the resistance put a sneak attack on you.  Over focus on running, writing too many blogs and not working on your book, over booking appointments, are examples.  Be aware and remain intentional.

What are you doing to be more intentional doing the things you love?
Rocco
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7 Steps to Start Creating Margin

Life with 5 kids and a sales job that has me driving 100-200 miles per day is very busy.  2013 was a new beginning for me as I re-awakened the intentional monster within me.  This gnawing feeling of knowing I can do much more in all pillars of my life (faith, finances, career, family, fitness), created a 2013 of discovery.  2014 will continue this path and will add elements of achievement and accomplishment that will undoubtedly create more discovery.

It Gets Crazy Busy After Keynote

It Gets Crazy Busy After Keynote (Photo credit: Sklathill)

 What I have discovered is no matter how much I need to accomplish in a given day, I only get 24 hours.

The goals I have created based on my family’s mission and my obligations are difficult, time/focus consuming, yet achievable.  I wrote a post a while ago about the tyranny of the mundane.  As my goals (and family) get larger, these “mundane” tasks  wreak more havoc on my ultimate plan.  In a nutshell, my vision is to achieve my personal and professional goals, enjoying every step of the journey without sacrificing family time or assuming I can be “daddy” or a “better husband” once my goals are met.  Bottom line is I need more margin.  I need to do laundry, grocery shop, soccer practice, dishes, etc.  I need to be organized and eliminate clutter.  I believe there are many readers attempting the same thing.  Here is a list of  7 important things to start with as we eliminate clutter and enjoy our lives more.

1.  Live intentionally. Schedule time to plan tasks based on goals you have defined.  If you are doing activity that doesn’t match these goals, STOP!
2.  Overoptimism is over booking.  Understand that you can only accomplish so much.  Stop scheduling your days/weeks tasks based on perfect world, ‘“best case scenarios”.
3.  Eliminate redundancies.  My grocery shopping has been a weekly event with at least 2 stops and sometimes 4 stops (Trader Joes, SuperWalmart, Costco, and Stater Bros Grocery Store). As a goal oriented person I have given myself 4 weeks to research and implement a way to shop for 2 weeks at a time and break my stops to Costco and Trader Joes.  I am looking into automation through Amazon Prime, but the Jury is still out on this.
4.  Timing is everything.  I am more focused and productive in the morning.  It makes more sense to schedule creative and focus centric tasks in the morning and the more mundane tasks in the afternoon.
5. Remain Curious.  While I wouldn’t recommend changing your routine on a weekly basis, be open to learning new ways to do things.  I am a growing fan of the Simple Life Together (SLT) Podcast, Beyond the To Do List, and many other productivity/effectiveness Podcasts.
6. Consider going digital.  Eliminate as much clutter and accessibility issues as  possible.  I am a huge fan of Evernote.  I used to stumble around in an anxiety induced stupor looking for things like birth certificates (always needed to sign up for kids’ sports), shot records, social security cards, etc. I am in the process of migrating a lot of my “filed’ documents into Evernote.  The accessibility is amazing.  I will be writing more on the Amazing Evernote in the near future.
7.  Automate.  I recently heard the phrase “touch it once” on the SLT Podcast.  Certain emails and other electronic documents can be automatically stored into Evernote for reference and easy retrieval.  Programs such as “If this then that” are valuable tools.  As I stated earlier, Amazon Prime can eliminate stops to the grocery store (free shipping).  Hiring gardeners, dry cleaners, and housekeepers can create margin usually at a nominal cost.  Unless you enjoy these tasks, you can be working toward your ultimate goals or simply relaxing while someone else does the work that must be done but you don’t want to do.
With these 7 steps, I have only just begun.  Number 1 on the list is the overall theme of this blog:  intentionality.  If you are living intentionally, you are either doing these things or will eventually to come the conclusion that these are valuable pieces of advice.  Share with me some of your tools.  I am particularly interested in automation tools and how to reduce the grocery shopping burden.
Rocco
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Trade Urgency for Intentionality

Society moves at a lightning pace.  Busy is the “in-thing”, and it is going to steal your awesomeness.  Busy-ness is unfocused productivity.  Doing a lot of the wrong things doesn’t make you effective or productive.  The goal, after all, is to have the power to achieve your awesomeness whatever it may be (insert stop killing your dream), and still be happy.  Stephen Covey illustrated the importantance classifying tasks in a simple manner and knowing how to protect your time from wasteful, non productive things.  His quadrants:

English: Mount Rainier

English: Mount Rainier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Urgent/Imporant: crying baby, kitchen fire, etc.

2. Not Urgent/Imporant: exercise, planning, etc. (this is where your awesomeness lives)

3. Urgent/Not Important: interruptions, calls

4. Not Urgent/Not Important: Busy work, time wasters.
Living intentionally isn’t about blocking out interruptions or never wasting time.  Words with friends, crossword puzzles, and farmville are not wasting  time if you are choosing do these things rather than doing them at the expense of things that matter to your awesome.  There is no magic bullet here.  Every once in a while, you have to get back to basics, and evaluate your path.  Pay attention to these 3 simple things to assess your ability to focus and play in the urgent zone.

1. Define your Awesome:  What are you trying to accomplish.  Thinking with “the end in mind”, what is “the end”?.  Without this, you are wandering around aimlessly and everything will seem urgent.

2.  Awareness of where your time and focus is being spent:  Once you have defined your goals, you have a guiding light toward where the majority of your time and focus should be spent. You must be willing and able to evaluate your time and focus.  If this seems foreign to you, seek some coaching from a personal coach.  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Effective Executive, and Getting Things Done, are great places to start.  They provide classic tools for managing your actions.  How much of your bucket is full of quadrant 2 activities? These are the things that will get you to your awesome.

3.  Making adjustments:  The thing about YOU becomming awesome is that you are blazing your own trail.  Sometimes a seemingly perfect path ends at a cliff and you must turn around and find another way forward.  You may feel trapped on your current path.  Your bucket may be filled with Job pressure, kids’ activities, traffic, ailing relatives, etc. Recognizing these things is only the start.  A small percentage of people get to this point, an even smaller percentage do something about it.  Doing something about it may be as simple as car pooling to soccer practice with anoother parent.  This will open some time for you to work on quadrant two activities.
 Relentless forward movement, however small, toward a defined goal, has a remarkable way of leading to success and accomplishment.
Urgency and focus grow and decline inversely.  Staying ahead of deadlines and intentionally protecting your focus time will keep more of the important things in quadrant 2.  You will get more done at a higher level.  Perfection is not the goal.  You define the goal, now do it!
Rocco

Is Efficiency Killing You? It’s Time You Become Effective.

Intentionality is a double-edged sword.  Certainly a must have weapon on the road to awesome, however, you must not lose site of being effective.  Short sightedness can sometimes lead to a dream killing “efficiency overload”.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? Effectiveness is the completion of a project or task. The project or task may be small daily items such as cleaning the kitchen or bigger life achievements such as publishing a book or owning a business.  Efficiency adds the element of “smoothness” or “cost effectiveness” to the these projects, but often times at a cost.  I’m often so focused on getting things done in tight time windows in order to fit in more “stuff”, I stop enjoying the process. Writing and reading, two things I love to do, started to be “boxes” to check.  Since these things are not my income source, they are easily discarded if they take from my quality of life. For you these “boxes” may be yard work, cooking, or even watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

The thing about efficiency, is that it doesn’t stand on its own as a result.The ultimate goal is to be effective.

Certain projects have hard due dates.  To remain on a course toward awesome, you need to meet these timelines.  I don’t typically struggle with dates on projects, where I struggle are the “extra” things.

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume ...

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume this is for people on horseback. But then why have a gate here in the first place, I can only think it is here to keep cars off the dyke. It would be quite easy to lift a dirt bike over this wide gate, and any livestock you pass through. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are things that I believe will set each one of us apart on a road to success. Due dates are easy, they are given to us and hold us accountable.  Reading, writing, exercising, etc don’t hold us accountable.  These things need to become a way of life;  a part of who we are.  They need to fall in between “happening when they happen” and “utter obsession”. Here are a 3 important things to consider:
1.  Don’t compare yourself to people at different stages of the process.  A tenured blogger (Michael Hyatt or Chris Brogan), has the history, audience, and developed talent to manage high volumes of readers, topics, and consistency.  You’re 3 months in, don’t trap yourself into thinking you need to keep up with these guys.

2.  Regularly schedule a Check-in on yourself.  Observe your ambitious schedule for a check on priorities, results, and your happiness. As I did this, I realized my attempt at consistent blogging was taking all the fun out of it. I can afford ( as this is only a hobby), to chill out for a while and slowly jump back into the game.  You will find these opportunities to fine tune your effectiveness verses efficiency.  Backing off on writing is not efficient, but burning out and hating it isn’t very effective either.

3. Are you enjoying what you are doing?  If the answer is NO, then take a look at what it is you are doing.  Is the process stealing your joy, or is it the thing in and of itself?  Figure this out.
Remember to prioritize things in your life.  I suggest starting with a Family Mission Statement.  Read my article  on this topic and look through the resources.  The process really forces you to focus on what really matters.  Things that cause anxiety and frustration that do not lead you toward your mission…well…it’s a no brainer on what to do.
Share with me what you do when the work you do becomes a “box” to check.
Rocco

Managing The Tyranny of the Mundane

Every time I go the mall (which with 4 girls in the house is way too often), I get turned around and frustrated.  I go to the giant cube in front of JC Penny and look at the map to find the store I am looking for.  Then, I look for the red star that shows “You are here”.  Then, with a simple geometric shape of directions, I draw a path (avoiding as many toy stores as possible), to my destination. I usually get distracted by a candy store, two diaper changes, and a spilled soda along the way.  With a “diaper-dad” diaper bag, I make the changes, clean the messes and approach my destination with clean children and smiling faces.

Whaddaya Mean I Don't Do Enough Housework?

Whaddaya Mean I Don’t Do Enough Housework? (Photo credit: las – initially)

What is important to you? What do you want to accomplish?  Do you plan on becoming the VP of Marketing, publishing a Novel, releasing a hit album for your Polka band? Your goal is your goal and nobody else’s.  It is up to you to do the steps to get there. Where is your “you are here”?  Life is a series of seasons that change your approach toward your goal but not the goal itself. Tasks such as laundry, vacuuming, homework, and bedtime routines are just as important to achieving your dream as the focus time you spend on your dream. These are like a solid foundation to build upon. If not managed (note, I didn’t say finished) they can be a potential source of distraction, frustration, and even dream death.

There is a time for cleaning and there is a time for dreaming.

Many of these things seem mundane and even time wasters.  They are…if you let them be.  Stressing over simple tasks (although many) while working on your dream, or stressing on your dream while working on your tasks is a sign that you may need to re think a few things.  Usually it’s not a matter of doing less.  A tweak here or there such as waking up 15 minutes earlier 1 day, or being more realistic on how much time things take may do the trick.

Mastering the art of managing the mundane may be one of the most important things you can do to achieve your dream.

Yes! Vacuuming and dishes will get you to the corner office! Be intentional about your time checking  boxes so you can be intentional about building your dream. I recently wrote a “how to” on productive relaxing ( read here) .  Being intentional with your time is knowing you are safe doing what you are doing NOW because you aren’t supposed to be doing something else. Build a list of the boxes you need to check in order to keep your foundation solid.  Agree on duties and fair timeliness with those whom you are accountable.  Be present in every moment, including the mundane.  Those tasks should never be interruptions to your dream and should never cause tension in your family.  Enjoy the journey, not just the dream of the destination.
How do you manage the unending list of tasks that can steal your dream?

Rocco

Doing Nothing is Productive: My 4 step system to productive relaxation

Sitting on the couch the other day, I had a sinking feeling that I was wasting time.  With so much to do, to hit maximum achievement in life, how can I sit on my couch and do nothing for over 3 hours? After a couple of minutes of stressing,

I realized that doing nothing was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

Singing in the rain

Singing in the rain (Photo credit: John Fera)

I had given myself permission to relax. I had confidence that the work that needed to be done to achieve everything I had going was tucked neatly into my system.  I had built in a rest period.  It wasn’t a “cushion” in case I fell behind on work.  It was necessary in order to recharge the batteries.  I resisted the urge the to go into my office and write during this “free” time.  I had to remind myself that this wasn’t “free time”, it was, in fact, scheduled “chill-axing”.  I have a system to manage the balance of my day-to-day and big picture plan.   It works to  accomplish almost anything I want. Here is my 4 step system.

1. Have a place to “minddump”.  David Allen in Getting things Done still carries a little yellow notebook to write things down that “pop up” in his mind.  I carry a  Moleskin notebook and manage my mind dump on a weekly basis. .  From mowing the lawn to doing my taxes, the mind dump is the primary entrance into my system.  This is where I capture things as they come up. I intentionally schedule time to review my big picture plans (usually once a week and during my planning session) and add action items to this list. I’ll show you what to do with this information shortly.
2.Inbox. It’s so valuable to have a physical inbox that gives me assurance items will be managed.  I can’t tell you why, but I still put items such as bills, and kids school stuff on my mind dump to assure it will get completed.  This is a great example of tailoring YOUR system to what works.  My inbox assures that I won’t lose things and  assures they will get done.  Above all else, YOU must have confidence in your system.
3. Weekly planning: Choose a day that works best for  your season of life.  For me, Monday mornings at 5:15 am works for now.  This is a MUST!  Have all inbox sources open and available.  This is where you utilize the valuable minddump. Review each item and figure out what to do with it.  Typically I start with many of the same things, i.e., “write 2 posts per week”, “Run 3 times per week”.  These get fit in easily as these are recurring tasks.  Other items such as “review freelance opportunities”, “develop training class”, and “Schedule physical” must be fit in knowing my calendar weak spots for the week. Everything must be assigned to the calendar or trashed and crossed off the list.  Remember to plan everything including spontaneous acts.  For me, these things clog my creative pipes if they are sitting in the RAM memory of my mind.  From writing poetry for Jamie, to telling my kids I love them, there’s a place for all this in my system.  I find that the security of having the minimum safe and secure in my system opens my mind up for more “real” spontaneity. Know thyself and don’t over book your calendar.  You will quickly lose trust in your system of you do.  We will discuss how to develop long-term plans to pull from in a later post.
4. Weekly Review: Choose a day that works best for your season of life.  Friday afternoons before I go into weekend mode works well for me.  This doesn’t take long as this usually bridges over to my Monday morning planning session.  I review my calendar to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Any items that where left incomplete (things DO happen) are put back into the system for Monday morning’s planning session. I’ll close any loops such as emails or returned calls (if possible) so they don’t loom over the weekend. I will be implementing a quarterly review this month to help better manage big picture stuff.
When done correctly, a system clears your mind for better focus, clarity, and enjoyment.  The power of knowing you don’t have looming tasks and projects running out the back door is intoxicating.  Find a system and mold it to you.  If it works, it’s perfect! In my experience, most systems work if you are intentional and you periodically review the system (once or twice a year) for flaws based on your season in life.

When was the last time you did NOTHING?  Schedule some time for yourself, you’ll thank me later.

Rocco De Leo

Be Intentional or be Nothing

Running through the beautiful hills of Murrieta, California, I felt like I was running  underwater.  I couldn’t maintain a respectful speed and my legs were screaming.  I have been a runner for 4 years, and for 3 of those years, I progressively grew faster and gained endurance. This last year, however, I took a step backward. Running was never anything I thought much about.  I put on shoes and ran a specific set of miles and that was is. I had “big picture goals” such as completion of my first half and my first full marathons.  There were certain trials I wished to conquer. Once completed, I didn’t create new goals other than continual running.  Singular achievement goals are great goals to have, but they are achieved and forgotten.. For me, achieving these goals marked the end of key component to my training: intentionality.

Whether running, writing, parenting, or anything important to you in your life, don’t take for granted that you will always move toward your goal “automatically”.  Yes,  it does happen. Sometimes.  Why take the chance?  The tyranny of beginners luck or the honeymoon phase of new endeavors can fool you into thinking things will always be easy. Here’s a list to guide you toward maintaining intentionality and relentless forward movement.
A Marine undergoes water survival training

A Marine undergoes water survival training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Differentiate the daily from the long term goals. Steven Covey pointed out the difference between tasks that are important and urgent (doing laundry, answering the phone, cooking dinner) and those that are important and not urgent (getting your Master’s Degree, exercise, writing a book).
2.  Align high energy (physical and mental) tasks appropriately.  For me, this is typically in the morning before the kids are up.  If you have a spouse, this time should be agreed upon as your time to focus on your high level tasks (writing, research, excersise, etc. ).
3.  Align the mundane tasks (important and urgent) that don’t involve high levels of thinking or creativity to times when you are less creative for you. For me, that’s in the evening after working and i’m distracted by kids’ homework and tired from work.  This is a great time to hang a picture, do dishes, or clean the patio.  Not a great time to research for my book.
4. Write it all down.  It seems as though the one thing all productivity speaker/writers agree on is the absolute necessity of writing things down.  Goals, tasks, ideas.
5. Create an internal sense of urgency.  Guard your quality time from internal distractions such as getting off task (Facebook, twitters, checking the weather) and outside distractions (phone calls, emails, unimportant tasks). You have to REALY want this!
6.  Keep perspective.  Baby cries, 9 year old is sick, wife had a particular bad night not sleeping.  These things happen.  Understand the difference between pause and procrastinate (click here to read my article on this topic). Sometimes the urgent and important trumps the not urgent and important.  It is up to you to maintain contingencies but also keep perspective on when to allow “intrusions’ upon your times. if you are in a positive and intentional workflow, you purpose can handle occasional interruptions.
What are you doing TODAY to be intentional?
Rocco De Leo

Master Time Management By Turning Down the Noise

Your To do list is running your life and perhaps ruining your life. Mundane after mundane task with a sprinkle of useful tasks marks a typical day in your life. Amazon shows over 120, 000 books on time management. With so many resources out there, why are many American’s failing to complete a simple to do list? We are a nation of people with too much to do and usually too much of the wrong stuff. One answer is that you spend way too much time listening to “noise ” in your daily life. Noise is all the stuff that doesn’t matter to your overall plan and purpose. Distractions. Stephen Pressfield, best selling author of The Art of War refers to resistance as what gets in your way of getting things done to be great. I am suggesting that your resistance tells you to listen to the noise. How much noise do you listen to?:

1. Facebook: constantly browsing, posting irrelevant comments, and looking for the little red number at the top. This is fine if its part of what you are attempting to do, but you better be honest with yourself. Do you need to be doing this to complete your to do list?
2. Texting: How many conversations do you have going during the day? Can you manage a single train of thought, or make one trip to the store without stopping to text someone? How about at a red light?
3. Internet surfing: Unless this is a specific task on your to do list, this is a time waster. Blindly surfing the internet without a purpose just to “peak” your interest is like floating on a life raft hoping you’ll land in Hawaii. The only place you’ll end up is with the sharks.
4. Sleeping in: Sleep is important, and sleeping in is nice when your to do list isn’t holding you back. Beyond the to list host Erik Fisher asks his guests questions about productivity. They all get up early in the morning and most find this time the most productive and creative time of the day. I personally prefer the 5:30-6:30 hour to read.

This is not an exhaustive list, there are plenty of other ways to waste your time. Turn down the volume. Eliminating these things is not feasible, and is ridiculous. You work hard and probably enjoy these things. Here are a few suggestions to help move the needle on your to do list:

1. Facebook: Use these instructionsto adjust the notifications on your facebook. The constant ping of your facebook is very distracting and can derail any train of thought and get you off task. Or you can simply take facebook off your mobile devices and access only from a desktop (that may require some detox).
2. Texting: Let people know you are in the middle of something. Tell them you will call them later. Keep the texts short and purposeful. Avoid texting too many people. Once people know you are a “texter”, they will want to use that as a primary communication method. This has its own problems we will address in another article.
3. Internet surfing: Have a purpose. Look up something and move on. Wandering around aimlessly is a waste of time. If you are truly interested in research a topic on the internet, assess how much time you think you need and schedule some time to do this. Don’t, however, use this a break from your to do list.
4. Sleeping in: Make and agreement with yourself and those you are accountable to on the days you want to sleep in. Be reasonable here, you don’t get those hours back. If you are going to sleep in, make it count. Make sure you actually get to sleep in and not get interrupted by other noise.

How has noise affected you? Share with me some tools you use to turn this noise off. I am particulary interested in numbers one and two, but share with me any type of noise you have dealt with and a solution or two in the comments section.

Rocco