Biggest productivity breakthrough hack!
The last two weeks I have made an extraordinary discovery in productivity.
It is probably the best thing I have done in a very long time in order to improve a situation that seemed hopeless. The funniest part of all of it is that I have done this in the near past already in other areas of my life. It a pretty universal way to get back to basics. It really works!
Let me rewind the tape a little and explain how the breakthrough came to me initially.
I was, at one point, getting deep into sports training, health, and fitness. I attended a couple training certifications so that I could teach INSANITY classes at my local gym in Fort Knox, KY where I was stationed. I had such amazing results on my own that I felt it would be good to open to the public something that what was otherwise not as easy for most people to accomplish by themselves. I figured with my deep knowledge and experience and a little bit of charm I would be able to get a lot of people involved and excited about something that most people put on a pedestal. Getting in shape and pushing your body to the outer limits, in a group setting rather than in front of your TV where you could easily press pause and quit. Accountability, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, and really hard work outs. Who could possibly want anything beyond that?
So there I am working on making people’s lives better and I am thinking to myself what can I do to improve a little more? Diet and nutrition is an area I was not as well versed in. So, with the big push from someone very important to me, I dove into a 3 week cleanse. I was scared to say the very least. But being an adrenaline junkie at heart and someone who welcomes challenges with open arms, I decided to dive in. I got the kit and reading through the material, figured out a couple things I needed to do in order to be successful.
- Completely empty out all cupboards and throw everything away!
- Buy everything needed on the list with additional visits to the store for resupply.
- Accountability and support (forums and logbooks).
Step 1) Doesn’t sound too complicated, but throw everything in the cupboard out? Yes, everything must go. Everything that is not on the approved list that is. So that is basically what happened.
-Its, peanut butter, chips, chocolate, milk, bananas, potatoes, steak, bread, etc… everything had to be eradicated. Why is this the crucial first step? Because getting back to bare minimums and not having temptations around is key to any major dietary change. I was basically going from normal everyday eating habits to vegan over the course of a few days. Getting rid of everything was disheartening but it was essential to success.
Step 2) Cupboards cleaned out now its time to re-stock only the good stuff. A very specialized list of a lot of things I had never heard of. Fennel? Bragg’s Aminos? Pink sea salt? WTF? At that time I had not really heard of, or at least not purchased any of those items. Sure, I shopped at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s but who the hell buys this stuff? Vegans on a cleanse that’s who. So we got everything all stocked up. Let me say it was expensive as hell.
Step 3) Accountability and support. Fully engaged was the only way to go. Full immersion therapy for this cleanse. This was something I had done a few times without thinking about it and it ALWAYS worked to my advantage. I always felt that I ate pretty well and never would have thought for one moment what it is like to be Vegan or how healthy it really feels. I found lots of support on the web site as well as a few Facebook groups. I even “created” an app specifically for this cleanse. I didn’t like trying to zoom and scroll the site when shopping or looking for recipes on the go so I took the site and made it very mobile friendly, in the form of an app. I offered it for free to those in the Facebook group and it was embraced with open arms. I felt there was a group of people going through the same crap I was who I could vent to. I also had someone else physically going through it with me (accountability).
All in all it went great. I am not an obese person by any stretch of the imagination. I was right at 200 lbs at the time and didn’t expect to really loose anything. I just wanted to clean out my body and learn about nutrition. To my surprise I ended up loosing a lot of weight for someone my size, and learned a ton about nutrition. I think my ending weight was 177 lbs which is completely crazy! I don’t think I have been that small since High School. That one event in my life has led me to a better relationship with food and eating. It has allowed me to “slim” down my pantry as well as minimize the impact of food choices on my wallet and my brain. It has allowed me to be a semi-expert in the realm of food and nutrition. I am by no means a doctor and I am not credentialed to give health advice but I can tell you what worked for myself and I know it has worked for many others. But the point of all of this is not to talk about nutrition. I am here to give you the run down on the breakthrough that alludes to all of this.
The critical first step. Unsubscribe Productivity Hack! (AKA Step 1)
The step that makes this technique universally applicable is hitting the reset button and starting from the basics. Emptying out the “cupboards” in order to fill them with only the good stuff. Breaking things down to the nuts and bolts in order to find the inefficiencies. As I have already stated, this works with nutrition and diet. It works with minimal food stress in everyday life no matter what your diet consists of. Where can it also apply?
The never ending inbox rattle. That annoying notification for the 9282883 time today. The little icon on your screen that says you have 1200 unread emails. Let me be completely blunt. Before this week my inbox, including junk/social/promotions, was maxed out at over 10,000 emails. Sure I can delete email in bulk every week but why bother? It will just fill back up the next week (usually the next day). So I did something completely irrational, I just started hitting unsubscribe. Lets be completely honest, whether you sign up directly or indirectly there are some sites that will send you random emails. I got tired of it. It put a huge strain on my cognitive capacity. You are only allotted so much energy everyday. What you do with that energy, intentional or not, is your choice. If you choose to spend 20 min every few days emptying out mailboxes because the junk in there “might” be of some use one day, you might be lying to yourself. Its the same feeling you get when you open the garage or storage container that is filled with boxes of stuff you haven’t touched or thought about for years. If you are not using it right now and on a regular basis what are you keeping it for? Do you have gadgets in your kitchen you bought for a some magical purpose and now they just sit and collect dust in a drawer? Same thing.
It started with one annoying email and it turned into two and then four and then it just snowballed and turned into a game for me. How many email subscriptions can I destroy in the next 10 minutes? How many can I destroy in a day? After a few days my regular inbox is still full, but all of the annoying emails stopped coming in. It’s completely amazing! You just don’t know how good it feels to not get a “bing!” every 10 minutes from some random email. That one sound can ruin an hour of work. That one sound can distract you enough that you will spend anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours trying to get back in the groove of what you were doing. Don’t let me get started on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc, etc…These platforms are all fine and good but really you should be the one to decide to take a break and check social or email, not everyone else. You should be in control of your time. You can turn off the notifications but the messages will still be there to distract you. You are going to check email eventually and if the one email you need to read is buried under 20 emails from Groupon, Amazon, Ebay, Retailmenot, Grant Cardone, ….. you will get completely distracted. I just got completely distracted right now re-checking something for this post. But this time I was distracted by the “unsubscribe” link rather than the actual email itself. Its a matter of figuring out the value of these extra messages versus the abundance of them. Figuring out how valuable your time is compared to how valuable that Labor Day sale ad is.
How much is your time really worth?
I have been blessed to have had this explained to me at one point and it made so much sense that I have had it on my mind ever since. Your time can be calculated. How much money do you take home in a year? Don’t know? Look on your current tax return under taxable income. That number is very important. Not only for paying the bills but also for figuring out how much your time is actually worth right now. Take that number.. lets say it is $50,000.00. So divide 50,000 / 1790. 1790 being the average amount of hours worked in a year based on a 40 hour workweek. I know the true number is 2080, but how many of those hours do you actually work? I would venture to say about 1/3 of those hours are “working” hours. So we have $27.93. Until last week I thought this was accurate accounting of my time. Even if you take the 50K / 2080 you only get 24.03 Per Hour Worth (PHW). I then got an amazing insight from Neil Strauss and he explained to take the per hour number and multiply by 3 to get the true value of your Per Hour Worth (PHW). Either way, your time is actually worth some dollar amount. If you multiply by 3 after: (50,000/1790)*3 = 83.80 Per Hour Worth (PHW). If I were you I would go with the higher number. Why sell yourself short? You can be as subjective as you want but I am sure your time per hour was important to you when negotiating for the job. How much is that number worth when you pit it against someone else taking your time? Going to the movies or out for drinks? It only cost $40. Think again. It cost $40 plus the driving time, plus the time spent socializing (based on your per hour wage). Half hour driving there, half hour back, 2 hour “coffee” or whatever ($40). It adds up to $291 based on the the $83 Per Hour Worth (PHW). When you actually break it down it starts to be a little ridiculous.
Don’t believe me? Just take out a piece of paper and write down what you did today accounting for every minute of the day. Now figure out how much of that time was really important to you or brought value to your life (not just from a money perspective but from a fulfillment perspective). Your office wants to have a meeting for 2 hours? Is the 2 hours really worth your time? I’m not telling you to boycott meetings, I am just asking that you take all of this into consideration. What about that task switching I spoke of with the emails? Leaving one task in order to perform another and the time it takes to get back into the original task. This all has to be accounted for. It sounds really ludicrous but it makes perfect sense when you break it down. Figure out what your PHW or Per Hour Worth is and figure out how important your time really is based off of this number. You will have a completely different lens through which to view the world.
Here are the key takeaways (for those of you who need cliff notes for a book but can spend 2 hours on Facebook looking at random memes – please feel offended by this statement):
- Figure out what your time is actually worth to you (and everyone else).
- Find the unsubscribe button… on your spam, on your junk in the attic, on the unused gadgets in the kitchen, on contacts that are no longer relevant.
- Take control of your time and ultimately you will take control of your life.
- Clearing up this time and saying NO will allow you to actually do the ABSOLUTE YES work you love and enjoy. It will give you time to read those books you want to read. It will give you time to spend more time with loved ones. Fill your cupboards back up with only good stuff!
- Find someone or something to keep you accountable. There are TONS of FB groups for everything imaginable. If not create your own. Check out STICKK
Thank you so much for spending YOUR time with me reading! I hope this was helpful and not too far in the weeds. Feel free to leave me any feedback below in the comments.
Also published on Medium.