Master This & You Will be a Productivity God

Master This & You Will be a Productivity God

Productivity tricks and hacks are of little worth if you don’t have one thing figured out already – your routine.

Your routine is bar none the best productivity tool at your disposal. If you have yet to recognize it as such, it’s time for closer examination.

Christian singer-songwriter Mike Murdock said:

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.

The things you do, as well as the things you don’t do, speak volumes of what you will ultimately accomplish in this lifetime.

The things you do, as well as the things you don’t do, speak volumes of what you will ultimately accomplish in this lifetime. Click To Tweet

What to Include in Your Daily Routine

When it comes to forming an effective daily routine, you must triage mercilessly.

No matter who you are, and no matter what level you operate at, 20% of your effort creates 80% of your results.

This isn’t to say the other 80% is wasted effort, but it certainly pales in comparison to the 20% that’s creating all the results.

What this suggests is that you can assign a value to everything you do. If you aren’t sure what’s driving results, the Effectiveness Diagnostic is a tool worth utilizing, and one you should return to periodically too.

Now, our tendency will always be to think in terms of work and work only.

But who’s to say Thursday night Netflix binges aren’t fueling you up, giving you the energy and inspiration, you need to engage in Friday meetings?

See, productivity isn’t just about getting more done. At least not at a high level. It’s also about optimal performance – being able to bring your best self to everything you do.

Productivity is about optimal performance – bringing your best self to everything you do. Click To Tweet

If a specific activity gives you energy, and it contributes to all other areas of life – physical, relational, spiritual, and so on – then it’s worth keeping in your routine.

Keeping Accountable to Your Routine

If you scheduled in three workouts last week, and you followed through on all of them, then we know you’re making positive progress with regards to your health.

Three workouts aren’t going to change your life. But the results stack over time, and that’s the secret of all daily habits.

For instance, one daily blog post turns into 365 over the course of a year if you’re publishing daily. And that’s 365 new opportunities to connect with your audience you didn’t have before.

Once you have a routine in place, you need to follow through on it. And oftentimes, that is the hardest part.

But you’ve also got to keep in mind that you’re the one making the rules. If your routine isn’t serving you, you’re serving it, and that’s the opposite of what systems are for.

Whenever something doesn’t work, instead of beating yourself up, simply acknowledge what didn’t work and put a new structure in place.

Whenever something doesn’t work, instead of beating yourself up, simply acknowledge what didn’t work and put a new structure in place. Click To Tweet

On some level, we tend to think beating ourselves up harder and better will make the difference this time, when that is – in my observation – never the case. There is no breakthrough in behavioral modification.

The only breakthrough is in discovering what you don’t see right now (your blind spots). And that often requires an outside perspective.

The only breakthrough is in discovering what you don’t see right now. And that often requires an outside perspective. Click To Tweet

Iterating on Your Routine

The best routine is one that’s sustainable for a virtual eternity.

The best routine is one that’s sustainable for a virtual eternity. Click To Tweet

Many people try to do too much, and don’t share in responsibilities or delegate enough.

As result, their schedule is overloaded from the moment they begin. If they were to take on one more project, their life would quickly turn to organized chaos.

First, it’s important to recognize that unscheduled time isn’t a sin. Just as a blank canvas beckons, you can leave space in your life for spontaneity, and even have time available for a project you desire to take on.

Second, you need a mental model to determine what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. If you’re just getting started, then you will deal out your share of yesses, but as your project quiver grows, you’ll need to begin saying “no.”

And, to call it a mental model would be an exaggeration. What you need is a gut instinct. A primal response. “Hell yeah!” or “no.”

Stop saying “yes” to anything you’re less than stoked to take on.

More importantly, keep iterating on your routine. As noted, some routines may not be workable over the long haul. Closely examine whatever you’re giving your time to, and pay attention to whether it adds to your quality of life.

Closely examine whatever you’re giving your time to, and pay attention to whether it adds to your quality of life. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

Once you have your routine sorted out, you can begin implementing additional productivity hacks. Until then, it’s like trying to solve the entire puzzle when all you need to do is connect the first piece.

Self-mastery isn’t necessarily easy, and it does require discipline. But the benefits are enormous.

If you have a sustainable routine that you’ve been living by for more than a year, I can already guess with a fair bit of accuracy that you have a fulfilling, happy, enjoyable life.

Routine may seem boring at first. But when you experience just how powerful it is, you’ll internalize and appreciate its value as you never have before.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician

Never Start with a Blank Page

Never Start with a Blank Page

Do you find yourself waking up every day only to reinvent the wheel creatively?

Or you do you begin your work with an idea in mind? Do you have a structure for your work and tools that help you get it done more efficiently?

Starting with a blank page is ineffective, and it affects your productivity negatively.

And it’s not just writers that end up facing the blank page. All creatives do.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a songwriter, poet, or photographer. If you keep publishing, at some point, spontaneous inspiration will seem to fade. And you will also begin to feel like you’re repeating yourself.

Repeating yourself isn’t necessarily bad. Films, TV shows, and even church services all follow a structure. Familiarity breeds comfort. And comfort keeps the audience coming back because they know they can count on you to deliver something familiar.

It may not be new or innovative. It may not even be good. But it’s familiar, and therefore comfortable.

As creatives and creators, we’re quick to throw out what’s comfortable. It feels kind of icky.

Yet, comfortable works like gangbusters, especially when it comes to earning an independent income.

When talking about systems, Author Dan Kennedy’s favorite example is Disney.

Disney doesn’t make anything new. When you examine it closely, The Lion King follows the stories of Joseph and Moses from the Bible, as well as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The Lion King, however, was a blockbuster. And it wasn’t new or innovative. Just an old story told with animals instead of humans.

Disney doesn’t make anything that isn’t familiar.

The question isn’t who you will copy or model. The question is:

What will you do to ensure you’re not starting with a blank page?

As a writer, I take advantage of tools like:

And I have no doubt I’m just scratching the surface. Because in my staff writing duties, there are certain post types I find myself writing over and over, and I could see myself creating templates for them.

I could also see myself organizing more of my notes (especially from my commonplace book) within my LifeSheet.

What could you do to make your work more efficient?

There are many ways to get the job done. But one thing’s for certain – you’re not as effective as you could be if you find yourself starting with a blank page every time you start a new project.

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P.S. My new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass is available.

This course equips you with practical and timeless mindset advice, along with the skills necessary to make your own way in the music business.

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How to Stay with an Idea Until it’s Finished

How to Stay with an Idea Until it’s Finished

So, you’ve started a new project. And it’s gaining some traction. And now that you’ve validated your idea, you want to make sure that you stay with it until it’s finished.

But distractions abound. Ideas overflow. Information overwhelms. And at every turn, you feel as though you could be sidetracked.

Staying focused isn’t necessarily easy, and it doesn’t take much for frustration to set in.

Here are some tips on staying with an idea until it’s finished, instead of ending up with another unfinished project that sits on your hard drive.

Identify the Scope of the Project

I’m often surprised to find that even though creatives have started a new project and have found some traction with it, they haven’t defined the scope or extent of it.

No wonder so many of us end up going on a long, circuitous journey.

You need a clear goal, an objective, or a finish line for your project. Even milestones would help.

Because you could end up working on your project for a virtual eternity, never recognizing when it’s done, or when it might be good enough to publish.

So many of us assume that we will know when we have “arrived,” when we don’t even stop to celebrate the small victories we experience along the way.

Trust me when I say you will have no idea when you’ve “arrived” if you aren’t already celebrating.

You must have a clear picture of what “done” looks like, so you can work towards it, and feel like you’re making real progress.

I would not have completed by first book, The New Music Industry, if I hadn’t identified the scope of the project. And I’m glad I did because The New Music Industry has outsold all my other books combined.

By the way, making deadlines for your projects, even if they are artificial, is a focus hack all its own.

Making deadlines for your projects, even if they are artificial, is a focus hack all its own. Click To Tweet

Gamify the Process

You could also think of this as a reward and punishment system, but I don’t like the word “punishment,” and frankly, creatives and creators seem to do a good job of beating up on themselves already.

The idea would be to attach a score to the activities you do. For instance, if you’re writing a book, writing 1,000 words in a day would earn you 10 points. If you were working on an album of music, spending an hour writing songs would earn you 10 points. And so on.

Come up with a “minimum” score you’d like to meet on a given week or month. And when you exceed it, reward yourself – for instance, you could take yourself out for a nice meal.

If you do not meet the score, then put a consequence in place. Maybe 50 pushups or something like that. But it must be something you’ll do, or there’s no point in having consequences.

Now, let’s be real. Those 50 pushups might be painful, but they’re still going to benefit you. So, while the reward is much more alluring, the consequence teaches you the value of going to work on what matters. Either way, you end up winning.

Given the alternative between going for a nice meal and doing pushups, though, I’d probably choose the meal every time (I’m also a serious foodie), and work towards exceeding my minimum score weekly.

And don’t forget – there’s always a cost to leaving things unfinished. The greatest cost is the damage done to your self-esteem.

There’s always a cost to leaving things unfinished. The greatest cost is the damage done to your self-esteem. Click To Tweet

Cocoon

To some, this will sound draconian, absurd, or ridiculous.

But author Dan Kennedy is so vigilant about his time that he does not spend any time on social media or email. He asks prospects and clients to contact him via fax. And his computers at home are not connected to the internet. They are glorified typewriters.

I’m not saying you need to adopt Kennedy’s system. But you might want to set some hard boundaries in place as you’re working on your project, as you’re bound to get it done much faster in a distraction minimal environment.

You could turn notifications off on your phone. You could even leave your phone in another room while you’re working. That would be a good place to start.

What else could you do to ensure you’re working during the time you’ve set aside for work?

Could you block certain websites in your browser? Could you put a song on repeat? Could you clean up your desktop or downloads folder so it isn’t so messy?

There are many things you can try. It’s just a matter of what works for you!

By the way, if you’d like to learn more about Kennedy’s methods, have a read through No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs (affiliate link).

Say “No” to Shiny Objects

Sometimes, there are no tricks or hacks powerful enough to help you stay focused. Sometimes, it’s a matter of saying “no” more often.

It has been my experience that some creatives and creators are more sensitive than the average person and find themselves succumbing to guilt and pressure. They have a hard time saying “no.”

I’d suggest having a read through Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek (affiliate link). If that book doesn’t reprogram your mind regarding opportunity (and opportunity cost), I don’t know what will.

One of my key takeaways from Ferriss’ book is that most of the communication you receive is not urgent. Sure, the senders will put urgency on it, but whether you add their link to your website is not a life-or-death matter, no matter how many times they cry fire.

And I don’t know about you, but most emails I receive are along the lines of:

  • Let me guest post
  • Add our link to your website
  • Promote our thing
  • Let us be on your podcast
  • We have a new study we’d like you to look at
  • Buy our SEO services
  • And so on

Rarely do I receive communication that’s personalized, relevant, and value-adding to me.

Yesterday, I shared about how you should never let your clients make your schedule for you. Don’t let your inbox make your schedule either. Because it’s just a to-do list other people can add to.

Leave time in your schedule for the things that make you come alive. And deny or put off the things that get in the way of you working on those things.

Leave time in your schedule for the things that make you come alive. And deny or put off the things that get in the way of you working on those things. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do everything perfectly. Trust me when I say I have created my own Duke Nukem Forever (Back on Solid Ground and Flashes of Elation come to mind – an unfinished album and book). If you don’t know that reference, Google it. 😉

The good news is I’ve also managed to release 26 songs and five books. Not bad, all things considered.

You may lose excitement for a project while you’re working on it. That’s normal. After the initial excitement has subsided, you will enter the “hard middle.” And some grinding out will be necessary. But once you get through it, and near completion, you will start to feel excited about your idea again. Observe that pattern, and then you can be in control of it.

Subscribe to my Telegram channel for more inspiration.

P.S. My new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass is available.

This course equips you with practical and timeless mindset advice, along with the skills necessary to make your own way in the music business.

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How to Set Up Your YearSheet & Leverage it to the Max

How to Set Up Your YearSheet & Leverage it to the Max

Here’s something I’m especially excited about. My YearSheet!

Of course, I recently coined the term, so you probably only have a vague sense of what I’m talking about or why you should be interested.

So, that’s what I’m going to get into here.

What is a YearSheet?

A YearSheet is like a summation of a highly effective general annual meeting – “highly effective” being the key term here since most meetings aren’t.

If you’re a solopreneur, then you would do this meeting by yourself. If you have a small team, you might ask for their input. If you have a mentor or mastermind group, ask for their help. And so forth.

Regardless of your situation, doing an annual review can help you refocus and identify whether you are staying on the rails you’ve laid for yourself or if you’re off in the weeds.

The goal of a YearSheet is to establish a high-level view of what you’re looking to accomplish in your projects in the year ahead, as well as the overall direction you want to be moving in. You’re not reinventing the wheel – you’re just looking for ways to ensure progress in your chosen direction.

The goal of a YearSheet is to establish a high-level view of what you’re looking to accomplish in your projects in the year ahead, as well as the overall direction you want to be moving in. Click To Tweet

(Note: You may want to set up a separate YearSheet for every project or area of life you’re developing a vision for.)

It’s okay to include specifics in your YearSheet as well. Just don’t make it a to-do list. Save those items for your to-do list.

How to Set Up Your YearSheet

As with your LifeSheet, you should set up your YearSheet in a way that makes sense to you.

That said, I recommend using a Google Doc rather than a Google Sheet for your YearSheet, as it’s less about data entry and more about capturing a high-level view of your project that will guide your actions throughout the year.

There is another reason I recommend creating this in Google Docs though. My first YearSheet was created in Microsoft Word, and because I did not save it, I ended up losing it (thanks Windows 10 and your erratic auto-restarting behavior!).

Anyway, be sure to use an appropriate title for your YearSheet. Remember – the reason it’s called a YearSheet is because it’s meant to guide your actions for the year – not for the rest of your life.

One of my YearSheets is called “Music Entrepreneur HQ YearSheet 2021” because I wanted to develop a North Star for this business unit.

As far as the structure of the YearSheet is concerned, I like to keep it simple. I create a heading for every area of the business covered, and summation bullets under each.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to headings, and there’s no need to follow my example unless it works for you.

I have headings like “Content Direction,” “Content Goals,” “Newsletter,” “Optimization,” “Subscribers,” and so forth. Besides “Guiding Principles” and “Goals” which are at the top of my sheet, I’ve put all my headers in alphabetical order. This isn’t necessary but it can be helpful.

YearSheet headings

I guess you could say the YearSheet is like a strategy document, but it’s a little narrower in focus, because it’s all about making gradual improvements (Kaizen) to your project, community, or business. Your branding, brand position, audience, or even marketing channels might not change, but execution will, especially if some things aren’t working, and you would like to improve on them.

Anyway, so far as the bullets are concerned, I’ll highlight what I have under my “Newsletter” heading so you can get a better sense of what you might include in your bullet summations:

YearSheet bullets

This year, I’ve looked at investing more heavily in our newsletter at Music Entrepreneur HQ, which is why I’ve dedicated space to it in my YearSheet.

I could already cross off these bullets because I have actioned them, but I’m going to keep them inside my YearSheet as a reminder of the changes made and the reason they were made.

How to Develop Your YearSheet

If found it important to take a dispassionate view of my business (money is the measuring stick – this isn’t “nice” think) as I was developing my YearSheet. It’s my brain that got me to where I am. Whatever I like and don’t like about my business is a symptom of my own thinking.

Whatever you like and don’t like about your business is a symptom of your own thinking. Click To Tweet

So, I looked at it as if I were making executive decisions on behalf of stakeholders (though I am the main stakeholder). Here’s a sentence that encompasses the high-level thinking applied:

“Based on what has and hasn’t worked to this point, here are the changes we need to make.”

I don’t have to like the decisions being made, but rather trust that they will lead to the positive outcomes I want to create. My job is to action these decisions.

Here are some questions that will help you develop your YearSheet headers and bullets:

  • What resources (articles, books, courses, etc.) have I consumed this past year that I’d like to integrate and implement (I have this under “Guiding Principles”)?
  • What should I do more of based on what I know is working?
  • What should I stop doing based on what I know isn’t working?
  • What assets am I already leveraging and could make better use of? What assets have I yet to leverage? What assets can I acquire?
  • How can I create a stronger connection to my audience and facilitate a greater impact in their lives?
  • What can I do to engage my audience more effectively?
  • What are some things I can do to simplify my project, community, or business (this is a significant focus of my YearSheet)?
  • What systems can I create to make my life easier? Can I automate, eliminate, or delegate certain tasks?

Final Thoughts

Your YearSheet will serve as your North Star for the year if you take the time to develop it. And you will be able to make better decisions. Decisions that are more aligned with your vision.

Your YearSheet will serve as your North Star for the year if you take the time to develop it. Click To Tweet

I find it easy to get distracted by shiny objects, new ideas, and new approaches. My YearSheet offers a dispassionate view of what needs to be done if I am to accomplish my goals. It’s the lighthouse I need to navigate stormy waters.

Will you be setting up a YearSheet? What did you take away from this article?

Let me know in the comments.

P.S. I recently launched my new course, the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass.

This course equips you with practical and timeless mindset advice, along with the skills necessary to make your own way in the music business.

Click on the banner below to learn more NOW.

Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass

How to Stay Organized with Your LifeSheet

How to Stay Organized with Your LifeSheet

Do you find that, as you’re going about your day, you begin asking yourself, “hmm… where was that document?”

Or do you find yourself trying to remember certain stats and facts, as well as their source?

Or maybe you have long lists of information that need a consolidated home, because you feel scattered and like your data is spread out and a little disorganized.

If so, you may benefit from creating your own LifeSheet.

First, a bit of a Preamble

Last week, I shared a little bit about how I use my LifeSheet to stay organized (in addition to several other methods and systems that keep me in check).

Several of you found this to be a worthwhile idea and expressed interest in it.

At the outset, I want to remind you that I did not invent the LifeSheet system. I first learned it from James Schramko, who has a low-cost training on this very thing.

The LifeSheet System

That said, it’s easy to make your LifeSheet your own, and you should make it your own!

Since all systems are there to serve you, you should always set them up to work within your creative infrastructure. You should not be a slave to something that does not jive with you.

You should always set up your systems to work within your creative infrastructure. You should not be a slave to something that does not jive with you. Click To Tweet

I have ditched countless systems and routines that never worked for me. Integrity is knowing when something isn’t working for you and setting a new structure in place to address the issue.

Integrity is knowing when something isn’t working for you and setting a new structure in place to address the issue. Click To Tweet

So, feel free to take inspiration from my LifeSheet, but don’t feel obligated to copy it in any way. I make it as useful as possible for me based on my work.

You should make yours as useful as possible to you.

Where to Create Your LifeSheet

My 2021 LifeSheet

I addressed this briefly in the post referenced earlier, but the best place to set up your LifeSheet is within Google Drive, because of its searchability.

Simply create a new Google Sheet and label it “LifeSheet 2021” or whatever works for you.

It is recommended that you set up a new LifeSheet annually, as what applies this year doesn’t always apply to the next. And I’ll be honest – depending on how you use your LifeSheet, it’s bound to get quite full over the course of a year.

But the other advantage of creating annual LifeSheets is that you will have a record of each year, what was important to you, what you were creating, as well as the progress you made.

For those who enjoy documenting their journey or have archivist tendencies (I admit that I do), with a LifeSheet, you can easily refer back to events, dates and times, projects, and so forth, if you make it a point to store this information in your sheet.

Setting up Tabs within Your LifeSheet

LifeSheet tabs

It all starts with setting up your tabs!

Now, this is quite easy to do, but without any frame of reference, you’re probably going to feel a little like an untethered helium balloon.

This is where I’d like to share what my current tabs are, as well as an idea of what is stored in each.

But first, a quick explanation. A file cabinet is generally organized with folders, right? And each folder contains a different category of files. So, the tabs within your LifeSheet are like different folders.

You could also think of it this way. When you set up a WordPress blog, you create multiple categories that you can slot your blog posts into (an intelligent writer never chooses more than three to five categories, because she wants to become known for her expertise). Same idea.

So, here are the tabs I’ve set up within my LifeSheet and what they are for:

Mission

My mission

The thing that gets me up in the morning, the thing that keeps me going in my darkest hours, the thing that gives me reason to walk through the most grueling challenges in life is simply this – my mission. Which is why I felt it important to document it in my LifeSheet and have it as my first tab as a constant reminder.

And my umbrella mission is to inspire creatives and creators. I ensure that every initiative I take on is in alignment with that core mission.

Ideas

Every creative and creator should have a storage locker for their flights of fancy, brainstorms, instant awakenings, or random ideas. And when I say, “flights of fancy,” I don’t mean to sound demeaning. But inevitably, you will look back on many of your ideas and say, “that was a horrible idea.” Which is why you should be choosy. You’ve only got so much time!

One of my crazy ideas this year was to start a new podcast. But I found out through surveying my audience that they liked my current podcast and wanted to hear more.

Concepts

I have some thoughts on coining terms I wish to share in the future. For now, I suggest referring to the linked article, as it is quite definitive and enlightening.

So, a concept is something of your own invention. The LifeSheet system is not my invention. But Weekflow is. So is YearSheet (I will be sharing more about these concepts soon). Technically, Music Entrepreneur HQ and The Indie YYC are concepts, though they are also a business and a community, respectively.

Should concepts be trademarked? It’s up to you.

So, this is where you would track your concepts or terms you’ve coined. That said, when ideas don’t resonate with your audience, there isn’t much point in holding onto them (unless it’s for your own pleasure).

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link) started as a concept first, and because it resonated, evolved into a best-selling book.

Rules

Also known as “decisions I don’t make,” such as publishing daily.

This is awfully Godin-esque, but I take liberal inspiration from the likes of Seth Godin, James Schramko, and Napoleon Hill (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). I’m a musician, and this is the way we tend to think about influence – “I’ll take this part of Eric Johnson, this other part of Eddie Van Halen, one part from Nuno Bettencourt, and blend it all together.” I don’t know if I’ve ever been accused of being the most original or unique writer either, but at least I have my own experiences to share.

What rules do you live by? These tend to dictate your overall effectiveness, since what you do is just as important as what you don’t do (or the other way around as the case might be). The more experience you gain, the more you’ll begin to lean on and value your rules, because time is the most precious resource, and your rules will dictate how you spend your time.

The more experience you gain, the more you’ll begin to lean on and value your rules, because time is the most precious resource, and your rules will dictate how you spend your time. Click To Tweet

Projects

Or, more accurately “client work.” I have separate documents for business goals and product development. That said, I could always link to those documents within my LifeSheet, and that’s a great tip for anyone looking to set up and make the most of their LifeSheets.

Within the “projects” tab I log the name of the project, its status, as well as deadline or completion date.

Courses

As creators, Schramko says we often have a lot of courses on the go and sometimes lose track or forget about them completely. Fair point. So, I thought I would add this tab for myself, too.

And having done this, I went back to complete a course I had started awhile back. So, I guess you could say it works.

Presently, my bigger concern is that I am part of a business-oriented mastermind group, Slack channel, and online community. So, keeping track of this activity has become more important to me, as I want to make the most of each. Perhaps this is what I should track in my LifeSheet, but I haven’t set it up yet.

Post Ideas

This one is going to be relatively self-explanatory to all my writer friends out there. Within this tab, I store all my article ideas. And because I publish daily (sometimes multiple times per day), I find this tab especially critical.

Although it’s always nice to capture trending topics and keywords I can rank for, I tend to focus on the immediacy of inspiration and document ideas first instead of worrying about how the topics are going to be received by readers. Having written thousands of articles over the years, I can honestly say I have no idea how any piece is going to be received and whether it’s going to match my expectations.

But as much as possible, I like to answer questions, and many of my posts are based around real questions I’ve received. And as we all know, if one person has a question, likely there are others who have the same question.

🔥 Tweeps

I’m a bit of a Twitter power user, and I love interacting with, and retweeting those who consistently share great content. I also love to give shout-outs to my 🔥 Tweeps. So, here I track who those tweeps are, as well as their area of expertise.

If I just refer to this list, it makes it super easy to curate content (retweet) from across a varied group of influencers. Keeps me active in the Twitter game.

As always, I will encourage you to follow me on Twitter and to be a part of the “action.”

Medium Posts

I have yet to take advantage of this yet, but this is where I thought I would log all my Medium posts and their URLs.

As anyone with personal experience will attest, going digging for your past articles in Medium is kind of a pain, and as of this writing I have over 360 stories.

So, for all those times when I want to link to a specific story, I thought it would be a good idea to store all this information in my LifeSheet.

Medium Publications

Publications are crucial to getting your Medium stories in front of more readers. I have taken this advice to heart and have started creating and joining various publications (Smedian is a great tool for that!).

I simply do not have the bandwidth to memorize what each publication is about or what their submission process is. So, within this tab I keep track of the types of stories each publication accepts, so my stories can always find a home.

More Ideas for Your Tabs

I think by now you’re starting to get a better sense of how to use your LifeSheet and what tabs to create. Unless you do a lot of the same work I do, it’s unlikely that you will create the same tabs as I have.

So, just in case, here are some additional suggestions on what you can track within your LifeSheet:

  • Login information. These days, you might be more inclined to use your browser’s built-in functionality or an app like LastPass. But there might be some instances where it makes sense to store login information in your LifeSheet, and back in the day, it was one of the best ways. Of course, you should always take the necessary precautions when it comes to the logging of personal information.
  • Affiliate partnerships. I have tracked my affiliate partnerships in past LifeSheets, and still think it’s a good idea. You can create quick links to each of your dashboards and check in periodically to see how your sales are coming.
  • Key performance indicators. Marketers like to track things like views, leads, conversions, and so forth. If there are specific KPIs in your business you want to keep a bird’s eye view on, and measure over time, you can put these in your LifeSheet. Note that this will be a manual process unless you use a tool like IFTTT or Zapier to automate the logging of information from one app (like Gumroad) to another (Google Sheets – your LifeSheet).
  • Standard operating procedures. I’m a bit of an operations nerd, so maybe this is just how I think, but linking to procedure documents (especially repetitive tasks) from your LifeSheet could help you maximize your efficiency. Or, if you have a team, you could easily manage your SOPs this way.
  • Dream 100. I’ve spoken elsewhere on how to build your Dream 100, so I won’t be getting into that here. But it makes sense that you’d want to document such an extensive list and have your finger on the pulse of how those relationships are developing. Your LifeSheet is a good place to do that.
  • More. It’s up to you! Add whatever tabs make sense to you and begin documenting and organizing the information that affects and enriches your world.

Your LifeSheet – a Living, Breathing Document

As I began work on this article, I deleted a tab within my LifeSheet. I hadn’t been using it, and it clearly wasn’t important enough to keep.

The point is this. Your life changes. Your work changes. And your priorities can also change.

Don’t feel like you need to commit to one thing. Your LifeSheet should be a living, breathing document. You should be spending a little bit of time inside daily and adding and removing from it regularly.

You can get a bit of an idea of my priorities from the above. I don’t want this to be a “do as I say, not as I do” lesson, so if there are things I’ve said in the past, such as “I’m prioritizing Twitter and Medium this year,” it is clearly reflected in my LifeSheet.

Final Thoughts

Now you know exactly how a LifeSheet works as well as how to set one up. You should also be clear on its benefit.

And now it’s time to action your learnings.

Will you be setting up your LifeSheet? What will you be putting in it?

Let me know in the comments.

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For Increased Productivity, Embrace Organization

For Increased Productivity, Embrace Organization

If you want to be productive, you must embrace organization.

If you want to be productive, you must embrace organization. Click To Tweet

Some of the most successful people I know are also the most organized, and they have specific systems they use vigilantly and depend on to ensure they can get more done in less time.

Here I will share a few ways I stay organized. But there is no need to emulate what I do. You should do whatever works for you. You’re welcome to take inspiration from what follows though.

#StrategySunday Planning Sessions

Every Sunday, I plan for the week ahead and publish my minutes.

This gives me a bird’s eye view of the week ahead and what needs to be completed.

When you’ve got a lot to do, and your energy is starting to wane, things can easily slip through the cracks.

The part that eludes many is that if they’d planned well, not only would they safeguard against forgetting important appointments, but they would also be able to make more time for meditation, rest, recreation, and sleep, which would ultimately make them more effective.

Yes, it sounds counterintuitive. Because planning feels like work. That’s because it is. But it’s an important work. Just like reading. And it helps you prioritize, create more time, and approach every week with a sense of peace and confidence.

Planning is work – an important work. Click To Tweet

LifeSheet

My 2021 LifeSheet

I did not come up with the LifeSheet system. I first learned about it from James Schramko, who has a great training on it.

Schramko suggests setting up your LifeSheet within Google Drive, using Google Sheets, because of how searchable they are. This is my preference too.

I think it best to create a new LifeSheet every year and label them appropriately. This way, you can learn from each year past and avoid clutter.

Within Google Sheets, you can create tabs for anything you wish. I currently have tabs for Mission, Ideas, Concepts, Rules, Projects, Content Distribution, Post Ideas, Courses, and Medium Posts.

I could talk about each of these and share in detail what is stored in them. But suffice it to say, this is what has worked for me. And while I have taken certain ideas from Schramko, I have made my LifeSheet my own.

If you’re thinking about making your own, I would suggest doing the same. Customize your LifeSheet to serve you. That said, I’ll still offer some ideas and tips on how you can use your LifeSheet to stay organized. You can:

  • Store your login information
  • Track your affiliate partnerships
  • Track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Log ideas you come up with that you can’t action now (“later” file)
  • Link to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documents
  • Make it your quick link dashboard
  • Sort your priorities
  • Log and track your Dream 100
  • Document travel plans
  • And more

Desktop Calendar Pad

Staples desktop calendar pad

I have been using the same, physical, desktop calendar pad from Staples since 2016. Now I feel naked without it.

This is where I keep track of meetings (mostly virtual these days), appointments, important deadlines, and so forth.

I have never gone completely digital with my scheduling, though I certainly take advantage of digital calendar and scheduling tools as well.

Sometimes I will also log content I’ve completed in my physical calendar, so I know when to put together the next piece by.

Other Tools

There are other tools I use that help me stay organized to varying degrees. Here’s what they are:

  • Yellow legal pad. Perfect for tracking to-do items, especially admin related tasks.
  • Calendly. For scheduling appointments. I simply don’t have time for the typical back and forth on email. So, I use Calendly. I make Wednesdays and Thursdays available for ad hoc meetings and those booking can choose a time that’s convenient for them. I get notifications in my email and they are converted to local time.
  • iPad. This is where I keep my #StrategySunday minutes. I use my Apple Pencil to handwrite notes.

Helpful Resources

There are a few books that have shaped my organization habits and have made a tangible difference in my work life. They are as follows:

  • The 4-Hour Workweek (affiliate link) by Tim Ferriss. I blame Tim Ferriss for the de-prioritization of email in my life. I jest, but it’s kind of true. From him I learned that most communication is not life or death, make or break. It’s not urgent if it’s not urgent to you.
  • Getting Things Done (affiliate link) by David Allen. Allen advocates a paper-based system for organization and productivity. As he states in his book, you can take his system piecemeal and apply it to your own efforts, which is exactly what I have done. I don’t follow GTD to the letter. I just took the parts that made sense to me and left the rest alone. As noted earlier, I utilize both a desktop calendar pad and a yellow legal pad for the paper-based part of my system.
  • No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs (affiliate link) by Dan S. Kennedy. I have never come across anyone who better understands or values time as much as Kennedy does. if you want to know how to manage your time like a pro, this book is it. Kennedy’s book will also help you determine your value and exactly how much you would need to charge per hour to earn what you’re worth. The main thing I’ve done because of this book is ensure I have long blocks of “busy” time where no one can contact or distract me from my work.

Final Thoughts

The better organized you are, the more productive you will be. You will capture more ideas, prioritize better, make better use of your time, and more. As result, you will also make more.

How you organize is up to you. But I point to multiple methods and resources above that could be of tremendous help. I also publish on productivity every Wednesday, so for more tips, you can keep an eye on the blog too.

How do you stay organized? What methods have worked for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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