I recently hosted a nearly 2 hour training in our private Travel Expert Marketing Academy Facebook group all about organization and productivity.
It was super in-depth and I answered a ton of great questions from our members. We got such good feedback that I decided to share an outline of my 8 Step Productivity Formula with everyone here on the blog.
If you are in the Academy and missed the training, you can still watch the recording anytime. Just go to the private Facebook group and search videos for “8 Step Productivity Formula”.
Step 1 – Create a Vision for Your Life
Set aside some time to sit down and write out everything you would like to accomplish in the next 10 years. No judgement. Don’t think about whether a thing is realistic or not, just write everything down. The big, the little, the doable, the maybe-not-doable – get is all on paper.
Next, choose your top 10 things from that list that you want to really, seriously commit to doing in the next 10 years. Highlight those 10 things.
Now that you have your 10 things in 10 years, every single morning you are going to write out those 10 things, as affirmations, as if you have already accomplished them.
For example, if one of your 10 things is “I want to be fluent in Spanish” then every morning one of the things you will write down is “I am fluent in Spanish”.
Then also write it out each one as an afformation – “Why am I fluent in Spanish?”
Every morning, as part of your morning routine, write out all 10 goals as affirmation and afformations.
Additionally, choose 1 of your 10 goals to hyper-focus on every day.
Every morning, spend a few extra minutes really focusing on that one goal you chose. Visualize yourself actually accomplishing that thing, what does it feel like? What does that look like? Etc.
You need to have a crystal-clear vision for your life, if not, you’re going to waste your days focused on things that don’t matter, and not spending time working towards your goals. This crystal-clear vision for your life is your North Star and you are going to focus on it and always follow it.
Say yes to the things that are in alignment with your vision and say no to things that are not in alignment with your vision.
Step 2 – Plan for Success with a Weekly Plan
At the beginning of every week set aside some time to write down all of the things you need to get accomplished that week. This shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes.
It doesn’t matter when you do it, I prefer Fridays, some people choose Sundays, but it’s more effective if you do it at the same time every week. Just add it as a reoccurring event in your calendar and get it done every week.
Start by doing a brain dump of everything that you need to get done. Again, no judgement, just get everything down on paper and out of your head.
There is a space in your Travel Agent 90 Day Success Planner to do this brain dump and weekly to-do list every week.
Next, look at your list and ask yourself: “what items can I automate, delegate or delete off this list?”
I like to start with delete to get as much out of the way as soon as possible.
Ask yourself: “What on this list is not in alignment with my vision? What on this list is not going to move the needle? What is not going to make that big of an impact, what can I let go of? And just be okay with it not getting done?”
Remember the Pareto principle – 20% of your effort gives you 80% of your results.
Focus on the 20% that gets you the 80%.
Be ruthless about what you delete.
Ask yourself, “What on this list can I delegate to my partner, child, virtual assistant, minion, etc?”
Get creative. Don’t get stuck thinking that YOU have to do everything yourself. You might be able to, and you might even do it better, but that doesn’t mean that you should.
Be willing to ask for help. Asking for help can be hard for some of us. We are afraid that asking for help shows weekness, but it doesn’t!
I love this quote from Brené Brown in her book Daring Greatly: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
What things on your list can you put into some sort of system so that you don’t have to think about them anymore.
Even if you still have to take some action, and it’s not 100% automated, how can you build a system around it so that it’s easier to get done and requires less of your brain space?
For example, my furnace filters need to get changed every 90 days, so I put a pop-up alert on my calendar to remind me every 90 days to replace them.
I still have to physically change the filters, but I don’t have to expend any energy trying to remember to do it or worrying that it didn’t get done.
Next, set your weekly commitments.
It’s been proven that daily to-do lists aren’t ideal for most people. Instead, what you want to do is create a weekly to-list.
Take what’s left on your brain dump, whatever you could’t delete, delegate or automate and that’s your weekly to-do list.
Out of that list, choose the top 3 things that absolutely must get done. If your week totally falls apart – sick kids, sick you, major fires to put out with clients… you know those weeks, we all have them. If you have one of THOSE weeks, what are the THREE things from your list that still MUST get done for the week in order for you to move closer to your North Star.
These are your top three tasks for the week.
You are still committing to do everything on your list, but you get a “get out of jail free card” if you can’t get everything done, as long as you get the top three done.
Step 3 – Work with Your Natural Cycles
Your 24 Hour Cycle
If you are a morning person, set aside some time in the morning to do those important tasks that require the most bandwidth and that are going to move you towards your North Star.
Then at night, when you are worn out and don’t have any bandwidth left, you can do tasks that don’t require much thought or effort. Remember, it’s all about doing your most important tasks when you are at your best.
If you are a night-owl, same thing in reverse, set aside time at night to focus on your North Star tasks and use the mornings for those things that don’t require your best effort.
The Moon Cycle
I recently read about this idea in Kate Northrup’s latest book do less. She talks about getting more done by working with our natural rhythms. The goal is getting the most done while putting out the least energy possible.
There are certain times during the month, according to the cycle of the moon that determines the best use of your energy and time.
There is a ton of research about how the moon effects our energy and how to use it to our benefit. I won’t go into too much detail about it here, other than to recommend Kate’s book, or Google moon cycle and energy and read some of the other research about how you can use it to your advantage.
Step 4 – Batch and Time Block
Batch your tasks and block out chunks of time on your calendar to complete each batch.
By batch I mean put similar tasks together and do them at the same time i.e., answer all your emails at the same time, make all your phone calls at the same time, etc.
I like to hyperfocus in 90 minute chunks, meaning for 90 minutes at a time I focus on one task or batch of tasks and then I take a very short break. Some people can only hyperfocus for 20 minutes, or 30 minutes, or whatever. Do what works for you, just try to gradually increase the amount of time that you hyperfocus on your tasks.
Between sessions on hyperfocusing, it’s important to get up, stretch a little, walk around a bit, get some water, maybe step outside, do a little dance…. whatever feels good. The key is to get away from your desk and computer and ideally move your body a little.
It’s also important to schedule in buffers. For example, I schedule in buffers after all meetings to allow for meetings that go longer, or for writing down important notes while they are still fresh in your mind.
Here is another important tip. If you don’t need your buffer – if nothing came up that you need to deal with, then take your 5 minute break and then get right back into your next session of hyperfocus. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by some unimportant shiny-object – that’s a sure way to waste the rest of your day.
Step 5 – Set Expectations with Everyone Around You
This isn’t necessarily fun, but it is critical to your success.
You need to set clear expectations with the people close to you in your life. Your spouse, partner, kids, roommates, etc..
This should be a collaborative process. You are going to get them on board with the vision, and then collaborate with them about how they can best help you.
This is a 4 step process…
1. You need to enroll everyone in your vision.
You’ve already set the vision for your life – that was Step 1 of the 8 Steps to Productivity – now you need to touch, move and inspire those around you and get them on board with it. They need to be excited to help you with your vision because you are going to show them how it will benefit them too!
2. Once they’re enrolled, you ask for their support.
As soon as you have them inspired them in step 1, you need to get their commitment to support you. Don’t wait until their emotions have worn off. Ask right away. “Can I count on you to support me in this?”
3. Tell them exactly how they can support you.
Example, “I need time to work without any distractions. Here are the times I want to have focused work time, and I’m going to be working in my office, with the door shut, and I can’t have any interruptions. Do you agree to allow me to have that time without any distractions?”
4. Set the ground rules.
Together, come to an agreement over the ground rules about how you will work together to achieve your goals.
Step 6 – Get enough good quality sleep
Even though this is Step 6, it’s really the foundation of all productivity, and arguably, the most important step. It’s impossible to function at your highest level of productivity if you are not well rested.
If you are not getting enough good quality sleep, most people need 7-9 hours each night, start out by figuring out what is getting in the way of your sleep and figure out how to fix it.
There are thousands and thousands, maybe millions of articles and books written on the importance of sleep, and how to improve it, so I won’t go into that much here. Please, if you aren’t getting plenty of high-quality sleep, do some research and figure out how to help yourself.
Step 7 – Do a Morning Victory Hour
Some people call this a morning routine, but I also love the phrase Victory Hour from the book the 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. I mean, how powerful is it to think about spending an hour every morning doing a few key things that will set you up to have victory over your entire day!
There is another great book about morning routines called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
In the Travel Expert Marketing Academy, we go into a lot more detail about an ideal morning routine for Travel Agents. If your a member you’ll find that inside your Vault. If you aren’t a member of the Academy yet, you can pick up one of the books I’ve mentioned here and come up with something of your own.
One thing I recommend for everyone to add to your morning routine is the exercise I mentioned in Step 1 of writing down your 10 things in 10 years.
Step 8 – Be Ultra Present
This is so hard in today’s society, especially if your work is done on the computer – it’s almost impossible to NOT get distracted, but it’s so important to stay focused and in the moment.
When you are having a conversation be fully engaged.
When you are hyper focusing on your tasks, be fully engaged.
When you are not fully present, you are distracted, and you make mistakes, and mistakes cost time, which costs money.
I find the tips in Step 4 – batching my work and hyperfocusing for a set amount of time with short breaks in between to be the best way to beat distraction.
Whatever works for you, find a way to be present and focused in the moment.
If you’re in the Travel Expert Marketing Academy and you missed this Live training – where I go into much more details on all these steps – you can watch the video any time in our private Facebook group. Just search for “8 Step Productivity Formula”.