Distractions Are the Enemy of Good: 3 Ways to Minimize Them

20150909195926-apple-ipad-movie-ipad-proImage credit: Apple

One of the biggest obstacles standing in your way from achieving greatness and becoming all that you can be in life and in business is the never-ending flood of noise and distractions in the world. We live in a world where these things are constant. Everything from television, phones, text messages and the Internet, to work obligations and family duties, demands our attention almost every minute of every day.

Yet, you need not fall into the high percentage of men and women who sabotage their own success by never recognizing that they are the ones in charge of where and what they direct their time and focus to.

I’m always amazed when I hear someone proclaim unhappiness with where he or she is at in life. Then I pay closer attention to the complainer’s everyday movements and energy focus. I typically witness activities like surfing the Internet instead of finishing a proposal to send to a prospect — or texting friends instead of making sales calls — or filling down time with reality television instead of investing in personal and professional development.

These are just a few examples of the small distractions throughout the day that can tremendously hurt people’s chances of achieving greatness and moving closer to where they aspire to be.

Distractions aren’t just the enemy for individuals, but for teams and organizations. Every single day, we are faced with a countless number of distractions with the potential to negatively affect performance and success levels.

Here are three ways to minimize those distractions and make sure you, your team or organization thrives.

1. Stay mission focused.

As human beings, we yearn for meaning and fulfillment, and one of the quickest ways to achieve that and simultaneously minimize distractions is to stay mission focused in all we do. It’s easy to wake up each morning and go through the motions and coast along, but when you stay mission focused, distractions never stand a chance. To help yourself in this regard, post your mission statement in a place where you will see it all throughout the day.

I have my own statement on my desktop and laptop, in my phone, and on a notecard I carry around with me everywhere I go. This forces me to constantly stay mission focused and ignore the “noise” that comes up throughout the day. When we don’t stay mission focused, distractions intrude more often. People forget why they’re here or where they’re going because they’ve become sidetracked.

2. Understand and analyze your weak points.

A beneficial exercise for me was the time I devoted a whole weekend to analyzing the biggest distractions getting in the way of my achieving some of my biggest goals and dreams. I was feeling frustrated and unproductive so I spent time going through my daily routine and schedule, and tracking exactly how my time was being spent.

I finally was able to be honest with myself and see three key distractions that had been preventing me from getting my most important tasks and projects done. I wasn’t aware of them before I made some changes.

You don’t have to spend an entire weekend to analyze your biggest distractions, but spend at least 20 minutes and see what you can do less of throughout the day that will free you up for more quality work time and time to spend on things that matter most.

Most people don’t do this. But if you do, you’ll realize what your obstacles have been.

3. Get serious about scheduling everything and time blocking your days.

The easiest way to fight distractions is to schedule the most important projects, work and priorities that you absolutely need to do each day. Something that has worked well for me is time-blocking, which entails going back to my roots as an athlete, when I had a ridiculously disciplined schedule and the whole day blocked out. When you set aside a specific time in which you devote undivided attention solely to that urgent project or task, distractions and “noise” are greatly minimized.

So, preferably the night before, schedule your next day, blocking out your most important tasks and priorities. This will prompt you to wake up in the morning knowing that you not only have a game plan, but know exactly when something has to get done.

Every single day, millions of people are victimized by the noise and distraction in their lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Intead, be intentional. Get rid of the distractions that don’t serve a greater purpose, to get you to where you want to go in life and in business.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Daily Habits That Will Increase Your Productivity Levels

1413230823-5-tricks-maximize-time-office

“How can I become more productive?” is a question that will continue to always come up.

Everyone wants to get more done and feel a sense of accomplishment as each day comes to an end. There are a million different productivity tips out there, but here a five ways to increase your productivity levels that have worked wonders in my own life.

1. Arrive early, stay later

Living in a congested city such as Chicago, I have found that if I start my workday before everyone else, I can save time by beating traffic and getting to my most important tasks right away. Sitting in traffic will do nothing but frustrate you and set a negative tone for the rest of your day. The same goes for when the end of the work day rolls around.

Your ability to save these extra hours can not only increase your productivity levels drastically, but help you become one of the highest paid and most productive people in your field. Arriving early and staying a little bit later could make all the difference in the world.

2. Plan each day the night before

This is a total game changer. If you spend just 15 minutes before you go to bed the night before creating your to-do list and prioritizing it, you will have a head start on your day when the morning rolls around. After I create my to-do list, I pick the most important tasks and put a little star next to them reminding me that these are the tasks that need to be done to push me forward with achieving big goals.

3. Leave the office for lunch

This is something so small that can have such a powerful effect on how you work for the remainder of your day. Getting out of your work environment for lunch can ease stress levels, refresh your creativity and help you to re-focus for when it’s time to go back to work. I often take a short walk to clear my head and think about how I want the rest of my day to go.

4. Minimize distractions

This seems self-explanatory, but in this day and age, distractions are everywhere. If you work from a computer, as most do, there is the temptation to check social media and surf the Internet, among many other things. When it’s time to work, work! If possible, close your door and have a “do not disturb” sign hanging on the door so your co-workers know not to bother you.

Every company has those employees that love to talk about what was on TV the night before instead of actually getting important things done. Don’t let these average achievers hold you back. Set boundaries and try your very best to abide by them daily. Your ability to minimize distractions as much as possible can single handedly increase productivity.

5. Keep your goals in sight at all times

After setting extremely big and exciting goals that you want to accomplish, keep them in sight at all times. I keep a list of my goals in my phone, a note card that I carry in my pocket and in a spiral notebook. The main objective is to keep your goals in a place where you will end up seeing them many times throughout your day. When I glance down at my goals, my motivation levels to get things done goes through the roof.

Start to picture yourself as the most productive person in your field. How does it feel? What tasks are you spending the majority of your time on? What is your philosophy on personal performance? Be in competition with yourself to see how much you can get done. Have fun with it. Make it a game.

Always try to beat the person you were the day before. Keep track of your results and work every single day to be a highly productive individual and watch the small daily victories begin to transform your life.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The New Era of Time Management

One thing I have always been incredibly fascinated with is how the most successful people in the world manage their time. Recently, I sat down with one of the world’s leading thinkers on productivity and New York Times bestselling author, Rory Vaden.

We discussed that there are really three generations of time-management thinking.

Era 1 time-management thinking was all about efficiency.

It was predicated on the idea of doing things faster. All things being equal, efficiency is good, but there is a limitation to efficiency that gives it a point of diminishing returns as a time-management strategy.

No matter how efficient we are, in today’s day and age, there is always going to be more to do than we can ever get to. At one point in history the idea was to create tips and tricks and tools and technology to help us get our to-do list done faster so we’d have margin or space left over.

But that’s an incomplete strategy today. Because we all carry computers in our pocket, we are all working as efficiently as ever before and we are still never caught up. That’s because at the end of today’s modern to-do list isn’t more margin — it’s another to-do list!

Era 2 time-management thinking was about prioritizing.

Prioritizing time was about developing calendars and checklists to help us focus first on what matters most.

Prioritizing has been the pervasive paradigm of thinking in the world of productivity since 1989. We still refer to “prioritizing” as the cure-all for most of our time-management problems. While prioritizing is still a highly valuable skill and as relevant as ever before, it too has a very substantial limitation that nobody ever talks about.

According to Vaden, there is nothing about prioritizing that creates more time. All prioritizing does is put one thing in front of the other. It takes item seven on your to-do list and bumps it up to one. But it does nothing to help you get the other items on your to-do list completed and it does not create more time. Prioritizing is simply borrowing time from one activity to spend on another.

The modern era is all about multiplying time.

In the world today, a new type of thinker has emerged. They don’t manage their time and they don’t prioritize their time — they multiply their time.

Multipliers have figured out ways to actually create more time while everyone else is still living with the fallacy that time is finite. Welcome to Era 3 time-management thinking.

How in the world do you multiply time? Simple.

In fact, this next sentence is the entire core premise of Vaden’s new book that comes out in January (Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time).

You multiply your time by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

You don’t just think, “what are the most important things I have to get done today or this week?”

Instead, you ask the question, “what are the things that I could do today that would free up more time tomorrow?”

Vaden says, “When you ask yourself that question, you will find that you immediately feel less pressure to only focus on the urgent things that are pressing today or this week and you instead gain a perspective to start thinking about what you can be doing now to make a positive impact on the future. You give yourself permission to do the significant things that matter for the long term.”

That is what multipliers do.

He goes on to say, “They get outside of their to-do list of short-term priorities and they realize that the real key to creating more margin in their life isn’t about working faster, or somehow ‘prioritizing’ better, it’s about learning to think differently.”

To be a multiplier you must stop living urgently, and start living significantly.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

10 Ways to Become the Most Productive Person Around

Have you ever come across someone who just seemed to get so much done and was by far the most productive person you knew? Why can’t you be that person?

Here are 10 ways to become the most productive person you know.

1. Eat to win.

We really are what we eat. The “eat to win” mentality is fully understanding that what we put into our bodies greatly effects our focus, energy and well-being throughout the course of the day. A junk food diet will lead to a junk performance. When we start our day by consuming foods that increase our energy, focus and well-being, we instantly set ourselves up for a productive day.

2. Start your day with a green smoothie.

There is no better way to feed our mind and bodies than consuming an alkalizing drink such as a green smoothie first thing in the morning. One of my favorite recipes is as follows: 8 ounces of water, 2 handfuls of organic spinach, 1 apple, 2 stalks of celery and a juiced lemon. This drink is high in fiber, which will help rid the body of toxins and provide us with the vitamins and minerals needed for world-class energy levels.

3. Plan your day the night before.

Take 10 to 15 minutes to plan your day the night before. Adopting this habit yields phenomenal benefits. Lack of sleep mostly comes from thinking about all you have to do the next day. This makes the mind restless, and it becomes much more difficult to get a good night’s rest. Planning your day the night before should crush this problem right away. When we plan our day the night before, we wake up ready to hit the ground running knowing exactly what has to get done.

4. Write a productivity creed.

This has been an absolute game changer for me. For example, my creed is written on a note card that reads, “I, Matt Mayberry, am the most productive person I know. I dominate my day and move quickly from task to task, accomplishing things that matter most.” This simple creed has worked wonders and I carry it around with me everywhere I go. When I catch myself in a funk, I glance down at my creed and get right back to work. I look at this creed at least 10 times throughout my day.

5. Jumpstart your day with a workout.

I say it all the time. Fitness is the best productivity tool you can ever invest in. Find a routine that works best for you and work that routine into the ground every morning. By starting our day with a workout, we get the blood flowing and rid ourselves of the morning blues with the release of endorphins. Not only does a good workout release stress and increase energy, but you will feel super charged and ready to conquer the day.

6. Drink up!

Instead of rushing to grab a cup of coffee every time you feel sluggish or tired, drink some water. Our bodies need proper hydration to perform at our absolute best. It’s a natural tendency to look for an instant “pick me up.” These methods of energy are very short lived. The human body is made up of over 70 percent water. More times than not, when you are feeling sluggish or tired, you are dehydrated. Water is a fundamental aspect of high performance.

7. Do not disturb.

How many times throughout your day has someone come into your office and interrupted you just to talk about nonsense? Chances are you are getting interrupted via text, phone or email throughout your day. If you work in an office, set up a “Do Not Disturb” sign when it’s time to get important work done. If you work from home or outside of an office, set a policy so people know not to call or interrupt you during certain time blocks. If you are able, completely silence and stow your phone away so there is no distraction or urge to stray from the task at hand.

8. Take a walk or eat lunch away from the office.

Instead of eating lunch at your office, find the nearest place where you can step away and enjoy yourself. A great way to rejuvenate and be prepared to attack the rest of the day is to take a lunchtime stroll. Eating lunch outside of your regular work place or going for a midday walk helps to clear your mind of clutter and distractions from earlier in the day. This should recharge you for an even more productive second half of the day.

9. Hour to greatness.

This is one whole hour first thing in the morning that is dedicated to preparing my mind, body and spirit for the day ahead. This routine consists of reading an uplifting book for 15 to 20 minutes, rewriting my goals while visualizing the achievement of each one, meditating on my productivity creed while looking over my to-do list for the day, and finally, flooding my mind with positive and motivational messages via audio. This alone can drastically skyrocket productivity levels. Instead of watching all the negativity that’s on the news or in the newspaper, indulge in preparing your mind for a phenomenal day.

10. Decide.

To actually become the most productive person around, you must first decide to do so. Don’t beat yourself up over how unproductive you’ve been or relish over how productive someone else is. This will never get you to where you need to go. Making the decision is half the battle. Once you’ve made up your mind, you will begin to challenge yourself to see just how much you can accomplish any given day.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com