By Mary Grace Richardson, Editor-in-Chief
“No matter how small you start, start something that matters.” – Brendon Burchard
Coming from a once left-behind mining town in Montana, Brendon Burchard delivers his message of inspiration and leadership with an animated energy and wicked humor that’s uncharacteristic to his upbringing. Now a #1 New York Times Bestselling author, the world’s leading high performance coach, and a Top 100 Most Followed Public Figure on Facebook, Brendon led his High Performance Academy in Phoenix last week, focusing on comprehensive motivation training for those interested in achieving more.
While the topics of the four-day conference covered everything from psychology, physiology, people and purpose, I most recognized the crowd’s response to a discussion about how go-getting people get sucked into living lives of reaction instead of focus. Here are ways to re-orient yourself when life, people, or notifications pull you in many different directions:
Focus on Your Own Agenda in the Morning
Good decisions lead to faster productivity, so cultivate the energy you need to get through the day at the beginning. Studies show that it takes people on average 23 minutes, but up to two hours, to get back on track once they’ve been distracted. The people Brendon coaches — from billionaires, Olympians, and top Instagram influencers to personal trainers, stay-at-home parents, and accountants — have shared that once they decided to try to not take calls or emails until after lunch, they saw an immediate improvement in their productivity toward the work that mattered most to them. Though it might seem counterintuitive, boundaries enable freedom, and as Brendon said with a hum of resonating approval from the audience, “If you leave time to randomness and interruption, you’re stealing from your greatness.”
However, while highly productive people typically schedule their block time in the morning to work on their own projects, you might not have the flexibility to determine your own schedule like this. Communicate with your team or family to see when would be a good time for you to have yours. Just remember, people are 30% less productive during the day if they look at their email in the first hour they wake up.
Also, find out what your chronotype is to pinpoint when ideas flow the most for you. Your peak hours might be at the stroke of midnight or during everyone else’s afternoon lull. What matters most is understanding that if you want more free time, you need more discipline.
Most people bumble through the week or into a meeting, and honestly, it’s typically not a huge problem. Thunderbirds are usually well-experienced so that this can pass off as good enough, but there’s that lingering, nagging feeling when you know you could have done something better or more efficiently. Perhaps you recognize the monotonous drain of routinely checking in and checking out as soon as you can.
Making the necessary preparations to maximize your meetings with people or launch an idea might seem like it’ll take time away from relationships and hobbies since you’ll have to spend more of it planning and organizing. However, explaining to loved ones that doing more work upfront will give you more freedom later to have quality time on an upcoming day can prevent or ease their feeling of being neglected.
Prepare your family or partner for the week ahead and involve them as much as possible. By explaining why it’s important, they’ll understand why it’s happening and can support you by sharing a part in it. When people co-create with you, they stay with you.
Recognize False Emergencies
As Brendon described, your email inbox is a convenient organizing system of other people’s agendas. If you get an email about something unexpected that someone wants you to do and it makes you anxious, consider whether it might be a false emergency or not. Last minute requests that make you apprehensive most likely fall into this category. While this is an issue all people face, women are especially susceptible to being delegated tasks that are other people’s responsibilities.
Determine when the actual deadline is or when something is needed. As for managing your email, define with your team or other people with whom you’re regularly in contact about how to decide if something needs an immediate response. Some teams have established that if they need feedback quickly they’ll text the recipient directly or include “Needs Response” in the subject line of the email. If not, the recipient can respond within 24 hours.
Other people’s messes are not yours to clean up. Ask yourself: Is it planned? Do you own this? Does it feel right? Is there a real need now?
Articulate Your Dream
If you’re unsure of your dreams, it leaves you especially open to being distracted by other people’s agendas and requests. Breakthroughs will come when you speak with conviction about what you want, and for those graduating soon, it’s especially important to double down on what you believe and how you think you can contribute. Conviction moves you and others to live in alignment with who you are and what matters to you.
To get the juices flowing, get together with a group of T-birds and share your most audacious, bold dreams. It doesn’t have to be practical or even relevant to any part of your current lifestyle, but you might even find that once you voice it, the people you’re talking with will have complementary aspirations or can recommend resources for it. Assuming that you’ve identified your goal/dream, it’s helpful to break it down into phases or projects because it’s too easy to get swept up into other people’s paths and continue to live in reaction when you don’t know your own direction. This would be a good time to think and chat about which projects you’re taking on or are finishing in the next 90 days. Now that you’ve pinpointed what’s on your immediate horizon, what are two other projects that you can finish by the end 2018 that will you get you closer to your dream?
Finally, understanding what you don’t need in your life anymore is as important as knowing what you do. What’s a project you should stop that prevents you from moving forward? When deciding to bring something new into your life, ask yourself: Is this a passion? Will this help me grow? Will this help me lead? Try to find people who truly align with what gives you energy. Life changes when you say what you want and ask for help.