How to Get 100 Hours of Work Done in Just 60

undefined

This post originally appeared on my Inc.com column on March 27, 2017.

“Time is money.”

That tired old adage was used almost exclusively by the Wall Street fat cats of yesteryear, or your father when he was trying to teach you a valuable life lesson that one time.

Here’s the thing, though. Time is free, and we all get the same amount of it. Thus, unless you’re able to consistently find ways to produce more with the time you have, yours is going to be worth the same amount as everyone else’s–which is to say, zero (at least from a fat cat perspective).

But even if you’re not aspiring to be the next Wolf on the Street, learning how to be more productive with your time, especially in today’s age of hyper-connectivity–in which someone, somewhere, is always working on the same project you are, and will be emailing you about it tomorrow, early–can help you find success in all aspects of your life.

In my own experience, there are a few key habits one can learn to be as productive as possible. And, though, as with any habits, they will take time to develop, effectively integrating them into your daily routine will allow you to achieve a more balanced life in general.

1. Wake up early

Every weekday, I wake up at 4:22 a.m. I have for a long time.

Now, despite the litany of questions I receive about why in the world I would possibly do this to myself, it remains one of my favorite productivity hacks, and is without a doubt incredibly effective when it comes to keeping me healthy in my life.

Hopping out of bed before the sun has even thought about rising allows me to address the personal chores that I either won’t have the time to do once I get home or the desire.

You can read a full description of my morning routine and how I think it’s benefited me here, but I will give you the gist, since this is an article about saving time.

Some of the main things I try to accomplish before work include taking care of mindless household tasks like laundry or paying the bills, catching up on the latest news in the tech world, going to the gym, and partaking in a little self-improvement by learning a new language.

Each of these tasks exists under one of the four tenants I follow to maximize how proactive I am with my time in the mornings: Get to Work, Get Organized, Get Smarter, and Get Healthier.

Now I realize that altering your sleep schedule is neither an easy nor attractive proposition. However, I implore you. Start small. Wake up 15 minutes earlier every week for a month. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with a little discipline and coffee.

2. Become an expert time manager

This is a simpler way to fuel productivity, but no less effective.

I would estimate that for a majority of you reading this, the areas where you will be able to trim the most fat are in places like answering email and scheduling. For these, don’t underestimate the value of using Google or Office 365 to set up organized folders and calendars using the platforms’ wealth of management tools.

Again, some tweaking might be required to find a sweet spot, but generally speaking, utilizing these tools will help you shave valuable minutes off these otherwise monotonous tasks.

For everything else, experiment with the wealth of productivity apps available on the market today. Personally, I like organizational tools like Hootsuite and Pocket to manage my social media and news, as well as YouNeedABudget for taking care of my financials efficiently.

3. Make your meetings active

Whenever possible, I like to hold my one-on-one meetings in an active atmosphere.

As with the rest of these hacks, it’s not a novel idea, but in practice I’ve found it to work wonders for both the quality of communication I have as well as my ability to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle throughout a busy day.

Doing something as simple as walking outside and talking instead of sitting face-to-face across a desk will allow conversation to flow more freely, and encourages my employees to be healthier themselves, which ultimately leads to a happier team and a more productive organization overall.

If you can’t get outside, or are holding most of your meetings in a videoconference setting, remember to employ some active strategies to remain focused and engaged in the conversation. These methods include things as simple as using your hands when you speak or standing up, but can lead to vastly more effective communication.

Stretching this idea of activity even further, I’d encourage you to look into things such as intramural sports leagues for your co-workers, which, at the end of the day, can not only be superb team-building exercises but are also almost unanimously considered to be an awesome time.

And, to reiterate, being awesome (and efficient) with your time is kind of the whole point.

4 Reasons Why I Still Wake Up at 4:22 A.M.

screenshot-2016-11-14-07-42-11Photo by flickr user FotoArt MB

This originally appeared on my column at Inc.com on 10/27/2016.

I love waking up when it’s still dark out. I feel the most productive when I can get several things done before most of the world is even awake. Eighteen months ago, I wrote a post about why I do that, called “Why I Wake Up at 4:22 A.M.,” and the response I received from readers all over the world was incredible.

I was talking last month to one such reader about how he could make some small changes in his morning habits to increase his productivity. The first question he asked me, however, was “Are you still waking up that early?”

A lot has changed in my personal and professional life over the last year and a half–I’m traveling more for work, my job has changed in scope as our company has grown, and I have several new responsibilities. Through all of this change, one of my most important constants is that I still wake up at 4:22 each morning.

Why?

Many people I encounter are a mixture of impressed and confused, or scared, by the fact I spring out of bed when most everyone else is still sleeping. But I actually find it pretty easy to get out of bed that early. That’s because I’ve discovered that determination and commitment to regimens are crucial–even during times of change.

1. I’ve recognized that things have changed

Since I published the piece referenced at the top of this article, Fuze has changed significantly. The company’s grown. My team has grown. I have more direct reports. The list goes on.

Throughout all that, I’ve kept my center by staying healthy, starting my day off right, and dedicating even more of my time to planning to make sure everything is as smooth as it can be.

Remember, having more or different responsibilities doesn’t mean you have to change what got you where you are.

2. I’ve embraced my constants

While a number of things have changed in my life since March 2015, there are a lot of things that haven’t. I still wake up at the same time–something I’ve been doing for more than a decade.

I find that the early morning hours are incredibly productive. Although my day-to-day roles and duties have changed, I’ve kept my early-morning hours free to devote the peaceful time to free thought. I also use my mornings to catch up on industry news and find out what our competitors are up to. I still vacuum twice a week. There’s also time for nonwork stuff, too. I’m still doing CrossFit every day at 6 a.m. and have started running on Friday mornings in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

3. I’ve learned to be adaptable

I spend my days running the product management team at Fuze here in NYC. I also spend about half the month traveling, to our headquarters in Boston as well as our various customers and sales offices around the world. During normal work hours, I don’t have time to just sit down and write anymore.

Rather than accepting that reality, I’ve chosen to be proactive in the early mornings. I use the time to write position papers, do competitive analysis, and try new products. I also do a considerable amount of planning, using Evernote to catch ideas that relate to product strategy. Once I make it to the office, I cue up what I’ve found and discuss it further with my team.

One of the biggest changes I’ve had to adapt to is the fact that I travel a lot more. Despite long flights and changes in time zones–think landing in Europe at 10 p.m. local time–I still force myself to wake up early and exercise.

You might think it’s a little obsessive to only book hotels that are within running distance to a CrossFit gym. I have found that no hack for fighting jetlag works better than taking a melatonin to get a deep sleep upon arriving, and then forcing myself to go to a 6 o’clock class the next morning. With a little bit of planning, you’re much more likely to work out and stick to your schedule. Your body remembers the pattern and starts to boot up much more quickly than if you’d given in to your jetlag and stayed in bed.

4. I know that staying healthy makes me happy

The bottom line is that no matter what comes your way or what changes in your personal or professional life, you need to take care of yourself. You need to take time for yourself and your job that allows you to plan better and become a more effective leader.

So many of us deal with changes by adjusting our whole routines. But, it turns out, sticking to some parts of your original regimen will help you adapt to the changes you face. There’s no sense in changing your entire life around just because you had a change in your life or job. Stick to what got you where you are, and chances are it’ll take you even further.

How I Stay Productive in 8hrs of Video Meetings

Screenshot 2016-07-19 11.49.34

Photo by wikipedia user Raysonho

Videoconferencing is revolutionary.

It allows people in the East Village to connect with international colleagues in real time—not only hearing what they have to say, but also seeing how they gesticulate when they’re talking. Seeing as though much of human communication is nonverbal, this is nothing to take lightly.

Check out the full post on my Inc.com column.