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One of the core factors that will determine your success in life, quite plainly, is your ability to get shit done.
One of the reasons why I got rich and you didn’t, was that during the time you were staring into space or playing with the cat, I was powering through a workload that would make you crap your pants.
How did I do it? Am I some sort of superhuman? No: It’s because I use time management secret weapons on an almost continual basis.
And do they ever work? Oh yes. Next level results.
So take these time management secret weapons, my friend – and use them well! They are your Ninja swords that will give you the power to rip through your tasks in a fraction of the time it took you to do them before!
Get prepared to be tough with yourself – and I will see you at the top.
1. Race Against The Clock
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run…” – Rudyard Kipling
“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” ― Mario Andretti (racing driver)
Are you where you want to be in life? No?
It’s probably because you move too damn slow.
When faced with a big task that’s made up of numerous repetitive actions, I race against the clock – trying to beat my record each time.
I turn all my boring tasks into sports. Yes, it’s nerdy. But it gets incredible results.
If you really want to transform your life (you do, don’t you?), get a stopwatch (you probably have one on your mobile phone) and start using it for almost everything.
The more you do this, the more habitual it becomes to move quickly. You train yourself to go at full speed until it becomes automatic and you just move faster at all times.
How much of your day do you actually spend moving at full speed?
Probably none of it! If I have the misfortune to have to go into town and go grocery shopping, I see nothing but people bumbling along as though they have forever. Why on earth do they want to spend a nanosecond more than is absolutely necessary in the supermarket? Why?
I pretty much live at high speed all the time. All those mundane tasks from putting your socks on to emptying the bins? I do them with Ninja-like speed and precision; which frees up more time for the higher value activities of life. I barely walk across the house without having at least two reasons for doing so!
Just don’t do it when it’s not safe – for example when driving a car. That is one thing that should not be viewed as a race. And don’t be running grannies down with the shopping cart…
Without deadlines, work expands into infinity. Unnecessary and unimportant things get added on, pace is slow, breaks are long. Fluff and filler of a hundred different kinds pad out the task. Nobody cares.
A strict deadline forces you to discard the unnecessary and focus on the important. You change gear. You have a sense of urgency. Pace is fast, breaks are short. Everything is done more rapidly and more efficiently. Fluff and filler goes out of the window and every action is stripped down to the essential.
Most people simply do not set deadlines, ever – and then wonder why they don’t get things finished, ever.
This is not a coincidence, it’s the absolute reason why they are failing!
We all know that one musician who is still working on their album, five years later… and now you know why: It’s because there was no deadline.
Whereas if they had had an absolute, iron deadline that they absolutely HAD to get it done in six weeks, they would have gotten it done, or at least 95% of it – which is about 90% more than they would have done otherwise!
This is more of a tragedy than you even know. The person who never gets it done is very likely just as talented as the person who got it done, they just had no clearly defined target in terms of time – and as the saying goes, if you aim at anything you will hit nothing.
So you simply don’t allow yourself room to squirm and get off the hook. You set an iron time limit.
Elon Musk is famous for his maniacal production schedules. He’s notorious for setting crazy deadlines that force everyone to go into hyperdrive.
Deadlines work extremely effectively in conjunction with #3 – Extreme Visualization…
3. Extreme Visualization aka “Gun To The Head Mindset”
“My mentality is that of the Samurai. I would rather commit Seppuku than fail.” – Elon Musk
NOTE – (pretty obvious but we have to say it) – “Gun to the head mindset” IS A METAPHOR. It has nothing to do with real guns. Do not put a gun to your head or anyone else’s, please and thank you.
Gun to the head mindset is a simple concept to understand. It is about doing your absolute best. Your REAL best – “or else there will be terrible consequences”.
It is dramatic. A kind of “boot camp mentality” – but it gets results.
So you think you are working hard?
Imagine what would happen if someone were to put a gun to your head and say “Work twice as hard, or you will die.”
You’ve guessed it.
You would work twice as hard.
So…. why are you not working that hard already?
Are you in this for a bronze medal or something?
Gun to the head mentality simply means to work as though someone is chasing you with a gun, or your family will die, or that you will die, or some other terrible thing, if you do not give your absolute best.
It gets mad results. The shocking part, though?
Life already does have a gun to your head.
Our time in this world is limited. You do not have forever. Every day, sand runs out of the timer until it is gone – which is one thing that is guaranteed to happen.
Time WILL run out.
Did you hear that? That was the starting gun! Go Go Go!!! Because death is chasing you with a gun, every day.
A famous example of the use of extreme visualization was that of Eddie Hall, the powerlifter. When he broke the world record for the deadlift, he said that the only way that he was able to lift that 500kg was to visualize that it was a car and that his grandmother was trapped underneath it.
NOTE – you of course have to be careful when doing this because you are pushing yourself beyond the normal limits. There’s an element of risk involved. But you can see the possibilities when you use your imagination in this powerful way. Don’t do anything stupid, dangerous or reckless. Do not drive as though there are people with guns chasing you, for goodness sake. Don’t kill yourself over anything, in fact.
The point here is, to just go like hell when it comes to your work.
4. “Master And Slave” Mindset
Once again, this is a metaphor. It has absolutely nothing to do with treating anyone badly.
This is a slightly different form of extreme visualization that’s really interesting and again, gets mad results when done well.
It’s a technique to force yourself to work harder and do better – especially when applied to making yourself do the things you don’t want to do.
Imagine yourself as two people. One is the Master, the other is the slave. Imagine yourself as the Master. You have a slave (also you) who you can command with absolute authority to do whatever you want done. What would you command?
What’s strange about this exercise is that a) it works – and b) you do have both of those people within you all the time. You are able to command yourself to do anything, and to obey your own command.
In a sense, you do have to have an absolute iron authority over yourself in order to get control of your life. You really are both Master and slave – and you need to be!
Work sucks. You are using your time to create value for someone else. Its boring. There are more fun things you could be doing. You have to ignore the fun things and do the difficult thing. For pretty much everyone, the interesting, exciting things are on the other side of a pile of boring, mundane things that you wish you could sidestep, but you just have to crunch through.
Your brain will wriggle like a snake trying to find ANY way out of doing the thing you want it to do.
You simply have to be the Master of your life, “set your foot upon the neck of the snake”, take total control and command YOURSELF like a slave.
5. Effective Task Selection
It’s essential to spend your time doing the most important tasks you could be doing.
As Felix Dennis said: “Keep your eye on the ball. It’s the one with the words ‘The money is here’ written on it.”
There are an infinite number of things you could be working on – and in internet business, this will always be the case. There will never be a time when you have done all that could be done. Even if you have completely finished working on a project, the funnel is built and it’s generating income… there are an infinite number of ways to optimize and an infinite number of other ventures you could get started with.
Review the work you have done so far in your career. What you will find is that the majority of actions you undertake don’t lead to any great results, while most of the great results came from a minority of actions.
This has been known as the Pareto Principle or 80:20 rule – that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.
Imagine what would happen if you were able to put 80% of your effort into the actions that got the results.
Identify the actions that are directly connected to getting the results you are seeking and focus on them. Of course, there are “boring but necessary” tasks aplenty. But don’t get lost in those. One could easily spend all the time “weeding the garden” and forget to grow any flowers. Minimize the boring but necessary, eliminate the wasteful and focus your efforts on the actions “that move the needle”.
6. Macros / Key Commands
This one is a bit more arcane than the others and only applies to computer-based tasks. But it gets stellar results.
Every single day, you throw away spectacular amounts of time doing tasks with 12 keystrokes and mouse clicks that could be done with one.
For the most basic example; you should never, ever be typing out your email address.
You don’t really think about it because it’s only one or two seconds each time. But add up all the thousands of times you type it out – and it starts to look like a tragedy.
All floods are made up of raindrops – but nobody counts the raindrops. It’s like that with time management. Yes there are of course there are the major time savers, but there are also countless ways to shave a fraction of a second off your time of doing thousands of different things.
It is these tiny droplets of time that make the great river that washes us all away. 😉
My email address is on the F15 function key on my keyboard. I don’t have to think about it, I never mis-type it. One keystroke and it’s done.
And that’s just one simple example. Through the use of macro software (I use Keyboard Maestro) I have key commands for a ton of actions. I even have some that can automate entire complex sequences of Photoshop actions, for example resizing and saving entire folders full of images in web ready format with one click. The computer crunches away for 30 minutes, looking like it’s being operated by a ghost, while I do something else. Pretty cool.
7. Effective Delegation
Good delegation offloads the tasks that don’t require you, to free up more time for the ones that do.
Note the choice of words: EFFECTIVE Delegation.
There’s a good way and a bad way to delegate. It’s not as simple as handing something over and telling someone to get on with it. You have to select the right person, train them, manage them, check up on them, quality control their work, pay them and more.
That takes time too! But if it’s done well, it permits you to scale and get many times more done than you could on your own.
How is it that a big company is able to manage 10,000 workers or more? They have smart systems.
There’s a lot of detail involved in doing this well. I’ve lost count of the number of outsource workers I have personally hired for tasks over the past 10 years, but it must be somewhere over 100. Read my full tutorial How To Outsource And Grow Your Business Exponentially.
8. (Bonus) Batching And Templating
I just thought of another important one. Batching. If you have a task that’s repetitive but complex – for example creating 50 graphics, putting them in their own named folders and including a descriptive text file with each one – it’s far quicker to create the 50 folders in one batch, then create the 50 text files, then make the 50 graphics – rather than make one folder, then add the text file, then create the graphic, then repeat.
It’s essentially the assembly line process, applied to your work. Henry Ford pioneered it as he found that productivity was dramatically increased by having workers perform the same task on one car after another, rather than have them build a car from start to finish then build another car. The amount of times they have to put down one tool and pick up another, for example, is massively reduced.
Another critical aspect of this technique is templating. For example, you can see on this website that each post has its own graphic with some similar elements. I don’t create a new graphic from scratch every time and add in all the elements. I use a template – which has the circle and the number, the logo, the colored background, some text with the correct fonts which just needs to be changed and resized. Now that I have the template set up, making a graphic to go with each post takes around 5 minutes, if not less in some cases. I also have macro commands set up for Photoshop. I fly through this work because I have to!
Nowadays, assembly line techniques and batching are standard in manufacturing, but most individuals don’t apply them rigorously to their own personal work. I do everything I possibly can using these techniques and it’s a big part of the reason why I am able to run over 30 websites and have over 10,000 articles and graphics published in total…
There you go. Now you see how it’s done. With every success story, there’s always a lot of “wiring under the board” that people don’t see. Good time management is not just a productivity hack, it’s an overall quality of life hack. These are some of the real secrets of success, now go and make it happen.