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Today, I’m going to show you how to solve the number one thing that kills your productivity—the thing that reduces your output even though you’re working comparable hours because you allow this problem.
The Alpha Male 2.0 business model means, among other things, that you work 30 hours a week or less to maintain a location-independent income. I’ve said many times that it makes no sense to have to work 40, 50, or 60 hours a week to maintain your lifestyle. That’s stupid. And the only way to pull this off is to be good at time management.
The only way to pull of dating multiple attractive women is also to be reasonably good at time management. I have dated three or more (usually more) women for the last 14 years of my life while maintaining this business empire that doesn’t take me a lot of time to maintain.
As many of you know, I’ve been a business consultant of some description for 25 years now. Specifically, I’ve been a time management and productivity consultant for about 17 years now. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies all over the world and coached a lot of people; I live the lifestyle of maximum productivity.
The number one problem limiting your productivity—assuming you’re actually doing the work—is distraction and interruptions. I’ll give you some real statistics.
1. It takes you 23 minutes and 15 seconds, on average, to recover from an interruption in your work. When you’re immersed in your work and you’re in that zone and someone or something interrupts you, that’s the kind of time you’re looking at before you can return to the same level of productivity you had before the interruption. You may think that because interruptions only take a few seconds that you can get right back to work, but that’s not how this works.
2. The typical person in a work environment is interrupted once every 11 minutes. This means you never get past that point of maximum productivity.
3. You will spend approximately one-third of your entire workday recovering from direct interruptions.
Your productivity is being absolutely murdered by distractions and interruptions, and let me be clear: Interruptions don’t have to be human beings. Your cell phone, computer, Skype, outside noises, and many other things qualify as interruptions. It can also be something as simple as a noise from a neighboring apartment. Any way you cut it, it’s your job to minimize this.
Interruptions damage your workflow and productivity even if you think the interruption was a good idea. If your wife interrupts you with something that’s absolutely necessary, these things happen—but it still kills your productivity. The reason for the interruption doesn’t change any of the data points I mentioned above, and like I said, it’s your job to minimize distractions from all sources.
Here’s another thing. When I talk about soft-nexting women and she calls and texts you a million times, you have to put your phone on silent and place it face down as you drive away. Then ignore it for about an hour. And if you think you don’t have the option of turning off your phone for an hour or two because of your work (or whatever else excuse you’ll use), you have a massive lifestyle problem that you need to fix right away. That’s the opposite of freedom, long-term happiness, and Alpha Male 2.0. So don’t bullshit yourself (or me) about how you can’t turn off your phone for even a short time.
Time is the only resource you have that you cannot get more of. If you lose money, you can make more. If your wife or girlfriend leaves you, you can always go get another one. If you lose your job, you can get another one. But if someone wastes your time, you can never get that back.
Here are the top five techniques on how you can minimize interruptions and distractions for the purposes of maximizing your productivity and time management.
1. Disable all noises and flashes on all electronic devices.
I always begin my webinars by asking participants to silence their phones, email, Skype, and so on. My phone is on silent most of the day. Notifications on most apps have been disabled, and I don’t have any social media apps on my phone whatsoever.
I’m a pro-technology person, but I’m also objective and I know when technology fucks people up. Because your cell phone is always there, it calls to you. You have to turn off all the notifications you can and leave it on silent as much as you can.
2. Create a minimalist office.
That means you don’t want to be the guy who has shit all over your desk. You don’t want calendars all over the walls, Post-Its all over everything, toys and bobbleheads and My Little Ponys everywhere, and shit like that.
Your field of vision when you’re working should just be your monitor, your keyboard, and your mouse—maybe one or two other things too. But that’s it. You don’t want a lot of distractions in your field of vision. The more stuff you’re constantly looking at, the less focused you tend to be.
3. Every night when you’re done working, remove all the clutter so it’s clean the next morning.
You should have a debriefing period at the end of every workday in which you go through your day, map out what you did right and wrong, then clear off your desk and the entire work area, whatever that consists of. That way, your work area is nice and clear and you can get right to work the next morning.
4. Always exert 100% control over all noise.
The noise that goes into your ears is 100% within your control. This might surprise you. I’ve heard all the excuses—I live in Manhattan, or I live with seven people, or I have a huge family and there’s always activity around. Well, I’m going to blow your mind here. You can get noise-canceling headphones for as little as $30 and wear them while you work. You can even have something playing in the headphones so they block out noise. I wear mine on plane, when I’m working at airports, all kinds of places, and they’re great.
Now, what should you play in your headphones? You have a couple of options. You can play music that has no lyrics or singing; that’s a good choice. If the music does have lyrics, it should be in another language so you don’t understand what they’re saying. If you understand the lyrics, it becomes another distraction.
Another option is white noise, which you can download online for free. I use that too and it works great.
If you work in a noisy environment, control the noise. Being interrupted by noise is no excuse.
You can also choose to work somewhere else. Grab your laptop and headphones and go to a Starbucks or a library and work there. I do that semi-regularly.
5. Use “do not disturb” time.
I’ve saved the best for last. This means you set aside a block of time every day—it can be an hour, two hours, four hours, whatever works—and this is a time when no one is allowed to disturb you. You can even do one in the morning and one in the evening; you can decide when and how long.
This falls into two categories: people you live with and people who don’t live with you but bug you a lot. I’m married, I live with Pink Firefly when I’m not traveling, and I have “do not disturb” times when she is not allowed to come talk to me. The exceptions I make are if someone is bleeding or if someone is dying. Clearly, those are necessary interruptions. No one can disturb me for any other reason.
During this time, if someone texts, calls, or e-mails me, I let it go until “do not disturb” time is over because that is the time for me to work and focus.
So if you live with other people, you need to set up these times during which no one can disturb you. This includes your kids, your wife or significant other, your MLTRs who text you all the time—literally everyone.
Now, if this concept terrifies you, then start with one hour a day, maybe right after lunch. Pick a short window of time and do your most important work during that time. You won’t believe how much work you get done during “do not disturb” time. Most of my day consists of this.
It works, and it will work for you. Trust me, you do not want interruptions while you work. That is a sure-fire way to live a lifestyle with lots of work with lower income.