Here are 4 things I’m doing differently lately and the results have been fantastic for me.
Thing #1: I get up earlier
For most of my life, I’ve been a stay-up-late-and-sleep-late kind of guy. One of my greatest pleasures of finally being able to quit my job and work from home full-time was the ability to sleep until 10am or 11am every day.
Marriage and kids changed that. But, even then, I’ve still been happy to lay in until 9am if I could.
“What’s the point in getting up early?” I’d say. “I’m not in the Marines!”
Well, as is often the case, I’m late to the party.
Sometime back in March, I went to a conference and got my sleep schedule all screwed up.
The morning after I got home from the conference, I woke up at 6:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I thought, “I’ll have a cup of tea and go sit at Jessica’s desk.” (Her desk is furtherest away from where everyone sleeps.)
It felt GREAT to get the jump on the day. In fact, by the time 9am came around, I’d actually already done most of the stuff that was on my list to do for the morning! And it was only 9am!
Then the next day, I did it again. I got up at 6:30am.
(I’ll pause here for a moment for you to roll your eyes. I understand that a lot of you reading this have been getting up at 6:30am for years and are seriously unimpressed with my Herculean feat of waking up like a normal person.)
But, this is a pretty big deal for me.
My productivity is through the roof.
I’ve gotten more done in the last six months than I did all last year.
I’ve produced hundreds of ads.
I’ve written thousands of words.
I even accidentally wrote a book.
One morning, I sat down to write a short little 2–3 page training document for our subscribers on how I write sales letters and VSLs….and I couldn’t stop.
After a week of this, I’d written a book. It should be going to press within the next 30 days or so.
All because of becoming an early-riser. Crazy.
Anyway, I’m writing this to you right now at 7:32am. I’ve been up for a little over 90 minutes.
I’ve got my Earl Grey tea.
I’m sitting at Jessica’s desk.
The weather has cooled off so I’ve got the back door open and my dachshund keeps going in and out…in and out….in and out…
And, so far today, I’ve done a bit of reading, I’ve written a new training lesson for the Predictable Income Academy members, and I’ve made some notes to myself on how I can increase my value to others.
That brings me to…
Thing #2: I started carrying a notebook in my pocket every day
I hate journaling.
Well, that’s not true. I don’t hate it.
I’ve just never been comfortable with it. I never knew who I was writing TO. (Do you ever feel that way?) Am I writing to myself? Who’s going to read this? Are my kids going to read this after I’m gone?
They’re not bad questions but they’re crippling ones. They inject doubt into your brain every time you pick up your pen.
Plus, whenever I tried journaling, I would always buy a really nice one. You know, the expensive ones at the bookstore with the elastic strap and the hidden pocket in the back for $20 or whatever? I’d get one of those.
In fact, I have one from Louis Vuitton, too. It’s got a buttery-soft, blue leather cover and gilded edges. I can’t remember what I paid for it.
It’s from Louis Vuitton so it was probably a million billion zillion dollars.
It looks really good on that bookshelf over there.
In fact, let me get it and look at it.
Ah. Yes. It looks like most of my “journals” over the years: a couple of pages of writing at the front that KIND of sounds like me…..but only if I were wearing a suit, sitting in a wood-paneled library, and holding a glass of whisky…
…then the rest of it is blank.
Somebody ought to write something in this thing. But, alas…my tuxedo is at the cleaners.
But, guess what?
It turns out that carrying a notebook every day and writing in it is WAY easier than journaling!
WAY easier! Check it out:
I use a Field Notes Brand notebook.
It doesn’t have a leather cover.
It doesn’t have an elastic band.
It doesn’t cost a billion zillion dollars.
It’s not made by a fancy European company that actually prints their books in China.
Of course, any notebook will do.
But, I like the Field Notes because it’s exactly the kind of little notebook that my Dad used to carry when I was a kid growing up on a farm in North Carolina…
It’s the exactly the kind of notebook that would slide around the dashboard of the pickup truck when Daddy picked me and my sister up from school.
Which means it’s also the same shape and size as the one that Scott Hunt whipped out of my hands one day in 4th grade social studies class and then announced to the class that I had Lisa Millsaps’ phone number in my “little book” and had put 4 little hearts next to it.
This one on my desk doesn’t have any hearts in it. But if I wanted to put some in there, I could. I can put ANYTHING in it.
And, unlike my “journals”, this doesn’t have to be pretty. I mean, I’m not writing the Magna Carta, here.
- It’s just me scribbling down ideas.
- Or things I need to do.
- Or brainstorming names for the new product.
- Or notes from the Monday staff meeting.
- Or a note about the fact that my wife, Jessica, is the best mom in the whole world.
- Or the list of things I need to pick up at the store to make my soon-to-be-world-famous guacamole for Gayla’s birthday party.
I don’t care who reads it (mostly).
If my kids read it, that’s fine. There’s some stuff in there that will tell them what their Dad was thinking about. That’s pretty cool, too.
So, here’s why you should start doing this, too:
- A notebook is always on.
- The tool doesn’t get in the way of the job. I just want to get the notes down. That’s all. I don’t care about the tech. And, in the amount of time it will take me to get my phone out, wake it up, find the app I want, open a new Note, and then type it in with my thumbs….I’ve already pulled my notebook, written it down and put it away. Done. Screw the “cloud”.
- I don’t get distracted. When I pull out my iPhone to do something, I’m tempted to be distracted by an email notification, a text notification, an app, the last thing I was looking at on my phone, etc. My notebook doesn’t do that.
- Because….science. There are several studies that show that your brain processes information differently if you write it down than if you type it on a keyboard. It works the same way for everyone regardless of age, gender, education or country. Writing stuff down makes you smarter than typing it.
- It has a longer battery life. Think about it. Plus, it has an amazing autosave feature that automatically saves your work once every nanosecond. I’ve never had to reboot it.
Try it. You’ll like it.
(Yes, I know that what I’m doing is still “journaling”. Shhhh….I’m trying to fool my brain, here.)
Thing #3: I use Facebook less
Time-clicking is an epidemic.
You know time-clicking?
It’s when you’re sitting at your computer and you’re not actually doing anything deliberately. You’re just scrolling and clicking.
Looking for something you don’t even know you’re looking for. And it’s never there.
You always think that it’s just below the bottom edge of the monitor….just one more scroll and I’ll fill this need. But it’s not there.
It’s never there.
There’s something spiritual in that situation, I think.
A yearning for something.
The validation of others?
I don’t know.
But I do know this: whatever it is, you won’t find it on Facebook by endlessly scrolling…scrolling…scrolling…
Time-clicking is digital alcohol. It sneaks up on you and robs you of life and time.
I’m not preaching here. I’ve fallen into the same trap. But I’m working on it.
Facebook is like any other good thing: it can be taken too far and abused. So, use it deliberately.
In fact, treat Facebook like a nuclear accident site:
- know what you’re going there for
- gear up
- get in there
- do what you have to do
- get out.
It can be a dangerous place.
Thing #4: I spend more time alone
Ever wonder why you get all your great ideas in the shower?
It’s because you’re alone.
Think about this carefully.
You. Get. Great. Ideas. In. The. Shower. Because. You’re. Alone. With. Your. Thoughts.
Just you. And your brain. That’s all you need a lot of times.
Your MIND can give you amazing solutions to nearly any problem you’ve got.
And yet, most people have no interest at all in being alone with their thoughts.
They get in the car and must have the radio on.
They get up in the morning and must have the TV on.
Force them to stand in line at Starbucks and they MUST look at their phone. It’s unavoidable.
In 1654, Blaise Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
What is it that makes it so difficult for us to just sit and think?
Getting up earlier makes this a little easier for me. All I have to do is stay away from the computer and the phone.
When the weather is nice, I usually can do this by just going outside and sitting by the pool.
Sometimes I stay out there for 15 minutes. Other times I stay out there for 3 minutes.
I’ll watch my dog prance around like he owns the place.
I’ll notice the birds in the trees.
I’ll get an idea and write it down in my notebook.
I’ll listen to the pool gurgling at me.
I’ll breathe in and out.
I’ll get another idea.
Is that meditation?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. Either way, I don’t really care.
I just do it because my brain is the most powerful tool that I have.
I can only get good results out of it if I put good stuff into it…
…and then listen.
I got an email this morning from Rob Hatch over at Owner Media. (BTW, check them out. He and Chris Brogan are doing good work there.)
In this email, Rob said something pretty profound. I’m going to quote it directly so I don’t get it wrong.
Here’s what he said:
I’m convinced that the biggest challenge to gaining attention for your product or service is not that the world is noisy. It’s that we lack clarity about who we are, who we serve, and the problem we help them solve. Rather than struggling to be heard, listen loudly.
I thought that was pretty profound. The problem isn’t how noisy everything else is. It’s our own lack of clarity about who we are.
Hey, thanks for reading. If you read this far, you get cool points.
P.S. Be good to someone today. Buy the coffee for the person behind you in the drive-through. Pick up the lunch tab for the table of policemen or firemen or soldiers siting in the restaurant with you. Be a good person.
P.P.S. If you got value from this, please share it with others. I appreciate it. I might even write your name in my notebook and put some little hearts beside your name….