Entrepreneurs – you owe it to yourself to read these, internalize them and make them a part of your day-to-day existence. The ideas contained in these articles were first planted in my head while reading many of Dan Kennedy’s books, these concepts likely have been some of the most transformational things in my life & business.
I re-read these a few times per year – it strengthens my resolve and commitment to these ideas that have radically elevated my level of day-to-day productivity.
1) Stop Spending Time with Toxic People
Read the full article here.
“People who are detrimental for you to associate with are not necessarily of evil intent. They may all be “good people,” but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you. Good chocolate cake is not good for a diabetic. In fact, it’s poison. Associating with somebody who is always pushing it to you, saying “Just have a tiny piece” is just as suicidal as baking it for yourself.”
My thoughts: Yes, you are undoubtedly a reflection of the ideas, goals and habits of the people you spend the most amount of time with. A few years ago, I consciously started to examine the relationships I was keeping and I made it my mission to cut out (as much as possible) people who were negative, down on themselves, lazy, unambitious, depressed, needy, co-dependent or otherwise drained my energy and derailed my success. (This WAS and still IS very difficult, because this list indeed included family, long-time friends, coworkers and other people I ran into ALL THE TIME.)
MOST PEOPLE I KNEW were complainers not dooers. If they spend HALF THE TIME working on something as they did BITCHING ABOUT IT… they’d run out of stuff to bitch about. (Which is perhaps why they didn’t change anything… I later learned some people just AREN’T HAPPY unless they have a battle to fight or an enemy to cast stones at.)
Not only is this frustrating and a complete waste of time – but watching this cycle unfold over and over again is totally destructive to anyone who RELIES ON making massive change and seeking continual improvement. (Entrepreneurs, you know what I mean – that’s part of the fabric of your being, it’s what makes you tick.)
I find it useful to ask myself from time-to-time… “If this were my last day or week on earth… is this a conversation I’d really want to be having?”
Instead I choose to spend most of my time interacting with people who are honest with themselves and others, who are ambitious, responsible and positive. People who systematically decide on the outcomes they want to achieve and then go about their life in pursuit of those things.
As an entrepreneur, watching that cycle repeat again and again has multiplied my power and my focus in my own life to CRAZY amounts.
2) Why Self-Discipline Will Make You Unstoppable
Read the full article here.
“Having and commanding the respect of others is a tremendous advantage in life. That edge comes from self-discipline. The highly disciplined individual does not have to point a gun at anyone to take what he wants; people “sense” his power and cheerfully give him everything they’ve got.”
My Thoughts: In this article, Dan distills self-discipline into 3 steps. I took it a step further by creating a (documented) set of rules, beliefs and schedules that I could use to guide my behavior in a way that was not only compatible with my goals but also enabled me to act without feelings of guilt.
If you don’t know what that means… you soon will… the problem is, the more disciplined your routine becomes the more people will HATE IT. So, you will be forced to find ways to exercise self-discipline while managing others’ expectations for you.
Example… perhaps, one of the biggest changes I’ve made is how (and when) I use email and the phone. The truth is, 99% of the people who contact you each day don’t really care about your schedule or routine. They’re more than happy to derail your day if it suits them. (Sure, maybe they’re not consciously setting out to do this, but that’s the result nonetheless.)
Not everyone liked this change at first because they had an expectation that I would pick up the phone at any time or I’d respond to email or txt messages at any time. It took a while to “train” people as to when and how I’d be available.
I don’t “live” in my inbox anymore – instead I schedule specific blocks of time to process email.
I don’t answer the phone anymore (it doesn’t even ring) - instead I have blocks of time where I’m openly available for calls and also make it easy for people to schedule some focused 1 on 1 time with me.
Generally speaking throughout the day I only accept unexpected communications for a VERY SMALL, LIMITED number of people who I’m close with (personally or professionally) who understand my schedule, my routine and know what I’m engaged in throughout the day. I know that when I answer these unexpected calls they’ll be either TRULY urgent or VERY brief because these people respect my routine.
This 1 exercise in self-discipline has made my days radically more productive – totally worth the price of admission. (And that’s just 1 example!)
3) 5 Ways to Decrease Interruptions and Increase Productivity
Read the full article here.
“You may not win any awards for being sociable, but you’ll have shorter, more purposeful telephone conversations and meetings. Drop-ins will gradually get the message. Callers will gradually learn to call ahead and set up a phone appointment, or at least to prepare and be efficient when calling.”
My thoughts: Doing these things becomes radically easier when you commit to making honest communication the foundation of all of your professional and personal relationships. All too often we feel guilty and make apologies or excuses for our schedule and our commitments – this is complete and utter bullshit. (Unless of course, you’re making the wrong commitments – but that’s it’s own problem.)
This article has driven me to do 2 things regularly:
#1 – Be upfront and honest about my time / availability
Whenever I’m in a meeting or call I aim to be as clear as possible about the amount of time I have. In person, I often tell them outright: I don’t want to be glancing at my watch or phone during our conversation, but I WILL set a timer and when it goes off, I really do have to leave.
It also helps when you can set the agenda or outcome for the call or meeting in advance to keep you on topic.
This also means saying NO to things when you’re booked or when the schedule is tight.
#2 – Stop feeling guilty about being productive
Yeah, it sounds stupid – but most of us do it from time-to-time. Quit making apologies for saying NO to interruptions.
We all have reactionary people in our lives, people who go about head day like Chicken Little, expecting you to help them out with every in-the-moment “emergency” that crops up. (My family earns the gold medal in this one every day, by the way.)
You have become okay with saying: “Listen, I’d love to help you – but it’s 11am on Tuesday and my schedule just doesn’t work like that. Let’s talk tonight after I’m done work and if you still need help we can plan a time to get together.”
4) The Single Most Important Habit of Successful Entrepreneurs
Read the full article here.
“It is my conviction that a person who cannot keep appointments on time, cannot keep scheduled commitments or cannot stick to a schedule cannot be trusted in other ways either. There is a link between respect for others’ time and respect for others’ opinions, property, rights, agreements and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality. As a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone. And, when I violate this, as I occasionally foolishly do, I always get burned.”
My thoughts: Yes, this might be THE ONE factor. That elusive X factor.
This is article describes a standard that you should hold yourself to but it’s ALSO a quality you should SEEK OUT in those you work with!
My primary business is my direct response agency but I also maintain a small, private coaching group of entrepreneurs (and hopeful future agency clients) that I work with 1-on-1. When I first began doing it, I let anyone join. Today, there is usually a waiting list to join and the process is quite selective and candidates must go through a screening process on the phone with me – and I wind up offering a seat in the group to fewer than 40% of all the people who are interested.
While candidates KNOW they’re getting the phone so I can screen them (and indeed so they can screen me as well)… what they don’t often know is that SCHEDULING the call and SHOWING UP as scheduled is the 1st step of the screening process. Very few 2nd chances are given to people who don’t follow through with confirming the appointment or getting on the phone at the correct date and time.
In several cases after people missed our appointment – I offered them a 2nd appointment BUT requested a $500 deposit (which I would fully-refund at the time of our meeting). Out of the handful of people I did this to, only 1 of them made the deposit. That entrepreneur when on to join my coaching group and is one of the most successful members.
The people who said NO to the deposit and ran away telling me I was crazy… I checked up on their respective business before writing this post, you might not be surprised to learn that, NONE of them appear to be doing any better or different than they were at our first interaction. That screen was a success! Today, I’m happy those people are NO WHERE NEAR ME.
5) How to Take Control of the Information Avalanche
Read the full article here.
“A lot of people let “noninformation” consume a lot of their time. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish-wrap, yet we have just about become consumed with useless news. Twenty-four-hour-a-day news stations. News-talk radio. News and opinion websites. Yes, you want to be informed. But do you need to be informed about the latest celebrity sex or shoplifting scandal, the latest athlete going to jail, the weather in Bulgaria?”
My thoughts: Honestly, before I read NO BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs I didn’t know there was an “information avalanche”. But the more and more I examined these ideas the more I realized how incredibly easy it was to devote our time and attention to the inputs coming into our life… the things that really have their hooks into us, instead than the things we know we SHOULD BE (or we’d RATHER be) doing.
Think about… our life is filled with places info comes to us: Facebook, email, phone, RSS feeds, postal mail, magazine subscriptions… and the list goes on and on. How many times do you get sucked into DEALING WITH or CONSUMING incoming information just because… it’s there!?!
A few years ago I started making some BIG CHANGES. (As my friends will tell you, I always say: “Anything worth doing, is worth OVER doing.”) So, in true Conrad Flynn fashion… my first call was to the cable company.
Television was the first thing to go. (A later redirected that monthly budget into a COMMERCIAL internet connection for my home office – best thing I ever did!)
Newspaper and similar subscriptions, gone. (99% of all “news” is trash and ads NO VALUE to my life.)
Mail from my various postal boxes goes into a big box where I sort it once per week. I don’t open the mail as it arrives - I just don’t care.
Magazines and other subscriptions go into a big pile where I read them at my leisure.
When someone sends me an article or link that seems interesting, I add it to Pocket or Evernote and read it at my leisure. (There’s also an awesome 3rd party service that sends this stuff right to my Kindle.)
RSS feeds… no notifications, ever.
Email subscriptions that I DO want… skip my inbox, skip my BlackBerry and go directly to gmail labels, sorted by sender where I can browse through them whenever I want.
Speaking of email and BlackBerry… also NO NOTIFICATIONS, of anything, ever, period.
I also use “unsubscribe” links with vengeance. (Sometimes it’s fun to search gmail for the phrase “unsubscribe”, “remove me”, “change your subscription” and others to catch periodic offenders that you may miss.)
What do you think?
What will you do differently after reading this? Share with me below…
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About the Author: Conrad Flynn
Hi, I'm Conrad Flynn, a direct response specialist and all around marketing geek! I'm the founder and chief strategist at Concur New Media, a boutique direct response online marketing agency. I'm also a coach, trainer and speaker on new media and marketing topics.