How I Increased my Productivity 350% in 30 days [Case Study]
Just a heads up: I provided the exact resources, templates, and scripts you can use to increase your productivity
Being productive is like when Popeye eats spinach, anything is possible.
The distractions in life are very real
you want to do it and know it’ll make your life better.
You buy a new program then give it up after a few days.
What if I gave you the exact blueprint I used to boost my productivity 350%?
Would you use it?
I’d hope so
I hope you’d like to get more done in less time
I hope you’d like to have more time for family and friends.
I hope you’ll use the techniques you’ll learn o chase your dreams.
Before I get into my case study:
I have a few simple questions for you.
Do you want to be more productive?
Do you want to be an all-star at work/in your business?
Get more time for yourself and less time spent on mundane tasks?
Are you willing to put in a little work and cut out some of life’s fluff?
If you answered yes to all of these then we have some business to attend to.
Why I NEEDED to be more productive.
All these things together had me spending anywhere from 14-20 hours a day in front of the computer, checking email, trolling social media, managing clients/customers, and a million other miscellaneous things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no problem with working hard and making money as a result, but I was losing my creativity and the most important relationships in my life were falling apart.
I either needed to make a change, have a physical breakdown, or a mental one; whichever came first.
I made a very conscious decision to get more time for myself and do it fast. I didn’t want to quit what I was doing so my only option was to get more productive and fast.
I am personal proof that we achieve the most amazing things when our backs are against the wall and that’s exactly where mine was.
I Asked Myself Questions
The thing is, this is probably the most important step because of two things.
It helped me understand why the hell I wanted to be more productive. Of course, every wants to be productive, that’s what they tell you to be from the first day you join the workforce. That isn’t a reason.
Because you want more time to hang out with family and friends is a reason.
Secondly, it gave me a tangible goal. If I became more productive and then reinvested that time doing the same things then I was actually losing.
I literally sat down for two hours and asked myself questions about my life, my goals, and my priorities.
The two most important ones with the answers are as follows:
Why do you want to change the way your life is now?
As I explained earlier, I was literally killing myself with an amazing work ethic.
People would tell me they admired the way I could work. If I were to turn into a vegetable tomorrow due to a nervous breakdown, they’ll say I shouldn’t have worked so hard (You know how people are).
If you make that change, what will it mean for you?
Having more free time in my life would give me more time and freedom to actually live it. The funny thing is that I travel ALOT, but I’m never able to enjoy it because I’m always working.
I’ll be in my hotel room or on a strangers couch (you can see how to get free accommodation in the bonus section) in a new city and miss most of the trip because I’m working, checking email, or answering client calls (I always have my number forwarded to a local GSM, roaming is for amateurs more on that in the bonus section at the end).
It would give me more time to develop the relationships I felt were positive.
It would increase my lifespan (that’s not a joke).
Before you can increase your productivity by as much as I did, you need to have some very compelling reasons. If you don’t have those reasons fueling your actions, you’ll give up halfway through.
Identify your why and everything will be so much easier.
Here are the results of that exercise:
Action steps: Brainstorm the different reasons you want to be more productive. I want to get a pay raise doesn’t count, what would that pay raise mean to you as a human being?
I Took a Look at My Relationships
There are different types of relationships in our lives.
The productive ones that help you reach your goals.
The outright toxic ones that sap you of motivation, drive, and your love of life
The needy ones. These ones are the most dangerous because they can be hard to spot, you want to help them, they’re nice people that mean well, but somehow they’re always transferring their problems to you by “accident.”
Sucking your time and energy until you have nothing left for yourself.
How to get rid of them.
Well, I’m more of a clean cut kind of person, I like to tell you bluntly rather than stringing you along.
I did it to my own sister, I love her to death, but when she calls me, she wants to talk for hours and I couldn’t deal.
I did the same thing with some of my other friends and not all of them took it as well.
Not everyone wants to do what’s best for you and I’m happy this exercise helped me find out who those people were.
Also, in addition to cutting people off, you need to funnel them to your email. Unless it’s an emergency, have them paraphrase on the phone (basically rush them) then tell them to send it to your email so you won’t forget.
Scripts for how to handle the phone conversations are in the bonus section.
Over time, people will skip the phone conversation and head straight to your email.
I’ll show you how to deal with an overflowing inbox later in this post.
If this approach isn’t for you then you can always be busy. When they call you’re doing something else, or you always have other plans, or you’re feeding the dog.
They’ll get the message eventually and you’ll be better off for it.
Identify and categorize your relationships. The ones that are not helping you progress, cut them off immediately and burn anything that will make you want to reconnect.
I’m serious, if you need lighter fluid, send me an email and I’ll overnight Fedex it to you anywhere in the world on me.
For the positive ones, still take a step back for a little while so you can work on making yourself more productive.
I became more productive in isolation before I tried to deal with the distractions of the world.
I organized Ruthlessly and Pruned the Chaff
Now, in defense of the pics I’m about to show you, I just want to put it out there that I’m a bachelor.
I also used to work for most of my waking hours.
This was my brainstorming area on a typical day
Not a pretty sight, it was even worse on the road. Here was my CPU home screen.
There were files everywhere.
Here are just SOME of the social media apps I was using.
These ones are nicely organized, I had more all over my phone. When you first look at it, it may seem like it’s not so bad.
The thing is, when you have all this stuff and clutter, it makes it difficult to concentrate due to something called the Zeigarnik Effect.
This is basically when you’re doing something, other things are drawing your attention, making it difficult to complete the task at hand.
Thought in my head: I need to start cooking, I need to fold the clean clothes, I need to vacuum, where did I leave that file, whose messaging me, do I have a new email, and so on.
This is going on in my head while I’m trying to come up with a million dollar idea or set up another website. Not a great way to do it.
Now, that you know why it’s so important to organize, I bet you’re wondering what I did.
The first thing I did was throw out or donate ALL my useless things or rather, things that were no longer useful to me.
I mean, if it wasn’t nailed down and serving a tangible purpose then it was getting the boot.
As far as my phone, I turned off all notifications, deleted almost all of my apps, even the productivity ones, and unsynced my email.
I just did a system restore on my computer then deleted all the other miscellaneous files the restore missed.
Then I organized my house and the remaining files on my computer.
For receipts and other paperwork, I scanned them and uploaded them to the internet then destroyed then paper copies. (The Programs I use for file storage are in the bonus section at the end).
The only exception was for things that I needed to keep the original eg Passport
Get out a pen and paper and make three columns. Label them necessary, unnecessary, and liability like so.
Catalog every item in your life under at least one of these columns. You can get rid of everything in liability and unnecessary immediately.
Now, I want you to cut your necessary column exactly in half. That dress that your great grandmother left as a family heirloom needs to go.
Your first bike needs to go. That sweater Aunt Jane gave you, but you never wear, needs to go. Don’t worry, it gets easier as you build up momentum.
Your life should now be so much easier to navigate without all that physical and mental clutter. The places to throw away/giveaway all your stuff is in the bonus.
The 80/20 Rule became my best friend
Now, everything I’ve mentioned up to this point is important and will give you a productivity boost in and of itself.
Being organized and removing clutter allows you to think more clearly and also lets you find things faster which shaves off minutes for every task and can add up to hours ever week.
A lot of people will be happy with that, but I was just getting started.
My next step was to identify the most productive areas of my life and the least productive. How Did I do this, I made a list.
The list was based on two things. My time investment vs return and my monetary investment vs return.
Let me explain something before I go into how I applied the 80/20 rule.
As a marketing consultant, I’m paid $125/hr on average. That’s $1250 a month for our lowest package, but the hourly rate reduces once you get larger packages.
The very first thing I did was eliminate any activity that I couldn’t justify as being worth $125/hr. In other words, I delegated and put a lot more trust in my team. This immediately saved me 3 hours or more a day.
That still left me with the actual problem of team management which I tackled later.
This freed up a huge chunk of my time and is one of the most important things you can do.
Empower people you work with to take care of some of your tasks or outsource it completely. A list of outsourcers and where to find VA’s is included in the bonuses
That’s right, I made a list of all the things I was spending time and money on.
My advertising expenses
My marketing activities
My client interactions
My product selection
The Table looked like this:
Which products combined produce 80% of my revenue
Which advertising avenues combined produce 80% of my ROI
Which group of clients/customers were responsible for 80% of my income
Which marketing techniques were bringing in 80% of my results
Then I looked at it from the other direction
What 20% of products produced the least revenue
Which 20% of my advertising produced the least return
Which 20% of my clients/customers were responsible for most of my headache and the least of my revenue
Which 20% of my marketing techniques produced the least ROI
Looking at it from two angles like this, I was able to identify my top performers as well as my worst performers at the same time.
I cut out the products immediately (they were mostly affiliate products) and reinvested my resources into the money makers. Less time managing multiple products.
I cut out the low performing advertising avenues. This was a really important one because you always need to keep a bead on your advertising dollars and performance.
Consolidating my advertising options helped me cut down about an hour every day, reduce my advertising spend by about 40% and increase my revenue from advertising by over 60%.
I had fun cutting out some of my clients because honestly, some of them just aren’t worth it. Let me tell you about one client, to this day I don’t know why I took him on.
This client is a young entrepreneur and his company doesn’t have very much cash. They’re still in the bootstrapping stages, but when he approached me, I just decided what the hell, these are the kinds of people that make the world go round. (I gave him a major discount on our services because I honestly wanted him to succeed and to top it off, he’s not even in my niche).
The relationship started off smoothly enough, we designed his website, did some solid SEO, and built out targeted content for them.
As time went on, he started to ask for more and more from my team and I. Remember, he was already paying less than ANY of my clients.
He was basically taking without giving anything in return. As if to add insult to injury he would call me throughout the week and try to keep me on the phone forever asking for advice and my opinion
The kid just couldn’t take a hint. The problem was, he was humble to a fault and I just couldn’t bring myself to give it to him straight like I normally would.
After deciding to be more productive, I realized it was time to cut this guy out of my life and business. The conversation went a little something like this.
him: Good morning Sir, was your night restful?
Me: Yes it was, thank you
Him: That’s good, How are you doing today sir?
Me: I’m doing alright, how can I help you?
Him: I’m glad you asked. Sir, I wanted to run an Idea by you (This is how he usually started when A. He wanted to take up an unreasonable amount of my time or B he wanted to ask me to do more work without paying for it.)
Me: Shoot, I’ve got two minutes.
Him: ok sir (very polite fellow. Anyways, I gave him exactly 2 minutes, I was looking at my watch.)
Me: Excuse me, I’m sure your idea has merit but I just don’t have the time to hear it out right now.
Since we began our professional relationship, you’ve been making unreasonable demands of my team and I, and to put it frankly, I don’t appreciate it. (I’m warming up here).
You’ve seen a tangible return from the work we’ve been doing for you, but it never once crossed your mind to pay for the extra services that you’ve been able to cajole us into providing.
To put it simply, If you’re unable to conform to the way we do business here then I’m going to have to insist we go our separate ways.
Him: Ok Sir
Me: will there be anything else?
Him: No Sir
He corrected course immediately and now runs any ideas by me through email.
From this conversation alone, I think I saved two hours a week.
The rest of my clients were funneled off to my email and team members, the only ones I deal with directly now are the largest clients which saves me about 5-10 hours a week.
You can find more professional “customer breakup” scripts in the bonus at the end.
Finally, I analyzed my marketing to see which ones brought the highest return on investment and it is, hands down, email marketing.
Tell whoever disagrees they can kiss my ass.
For my employees, I identified commonalities in the ones that were producing the most and needed the least supervision and direction. A lot of them work on opposite sides of the planet so it can be pretty tough to supervise and correct mistakes.
I immediately set up two of the best ones as supervisors and hired new employees using my top producers as a blueprint.
I did this while holding onto the old ones that were poor producers.
After the new employees were up to speed, it took about two weeks to cover the utter basics, I did a mass purge of the old employees.
That saved me about 2 hours a day in management time
I always ask myself a question now. Am I being productive or just active? I’ve literally taped it around all of my workspaces, it’s on a sticky in front of my computer, and it’s a note on my phone.
Ask yourself the same question, are you being productive or active? The answer can be eye opening.
Analyze every area of you life and determine what is giving you the most happiness, the most financial gain, and bringing you closer to your goals.
Once you do that, cut everything else out of your life.
Use a chart similar to the one I used to categorize the different areas and take action to eliminate the underperforming activities while investing in the ones that are actually yielding fruits.
Remove all those bullet points from your to-do list and concentrate on the highest yielding tasks.
This can be emotional, but once you wrap your head around the fact that busy is not always productive then you’re on your way to being a champ.
I killed the Multitasking bug
Did you know it can take up to 45 minutes for your brain to resume a major task after you’ve been interrupted?
To put it simply, stop it. Stop it because it doesn’t work, stop it because you’ve been lied to, and stop it because I’ll poke you in the eyeball if I catch you.
In order to stop multitasking, I had to take some drastic measures.
Whenever I’d write, I’d unplug my router from the internet.
I would literally block certain websites on my computer for hours at a time.
I have a standing rule that no more than three browser tabs can be open at once
I canceled my cable subscription and then went on information detox.
No more news sites, no more blogs about how to grow our list to 10,000 subscribers in 30 days, and no more posts that showcase how one really cool guy increased his productivity by 350% in 30 days (well, maybe just this one).
Did I say that I’ll poke you in the eyeball if you don’t stop multitasking?
You can find the resources to prevent you from multitasking in the bonuses.
Turn off the friggin T.V.
Forget the address of your favorite blogs and news sites.
I Set Tight, Almost Impossible Deadlines.
I thank Parkinson for this beautiful piece of insight.
The time it takes to finish a task expands to fill the space allocated for it.
So if you give yourself 2 hours to finish a paper then it will take you 2 hours.
The truth of the matter, it doesn’t take anywhere near 8 hours to finish your work for the day.
In all honesty, if you tell people to get out of our face, eliminate multitasking, and some of the other tweaks I’ve mentioned then you should be able to finish an 8 hour workday in about 3 hours.
That’s when you start getting noticed by the boss and moving up in the ranks or, like me, you get your life back.
The trick is to do just more than what you believe is reasonably possible then increase it by increments as you get used to it.
I started this one with blog posts.
Usually, when I’m doing a blog post, it takes me hours to get it all down, not because of the quality but because I’m distracted.
I’d be researching, browsing Facebook, Twitter, and Redditt while trying to put a cohesive piece of information together. It’s no wonder blog posts take hours.
Whenever someone tells me it took them 20 of work hours to write a post, I always wonder why.
It’s not because it’s super high quality, it’s because they were distracted.
Guess what I did.
No, I didn’t write a list.
I broke the process up into blocks.
Block one: prep. This includes research and development
Block two: this is where I vomit my mind onto my word processor. I write from start to finish without editing or trying to make my thoughts coherent.
Block three: Editing
Block four: Editing
Block five: Editing
Writer’s secret, the first draft always sucks.
I started to set impossible deadlines and fond they were possible, then I made them even more impossible and found they were still possible.
Using this process and reducing the deadlines by increments, I shave off another 1.5 hours a day.
Choose only the most important tasks to concentrate on so you’ll have less work to do and yield the greatest results (80/20 rule)
Shorten the deadlines you set on these high yielding tasks until you finish them as fast as humanly possible.
I made a System for my Email and got an assistant
Ah, Email, our best friend.
This little invention literally makes the world go round.
Without email, your life would fall apart in a few days, right?
It’s a damn lie.
You don’t need email to survive any more than your dog needs a Ferrari.
You may lose a few clients because you didn’t answer them quickly enough, but they were probably not going to do business with you anyways.
Studies have shown that people who check their email first thing in the morning are 30% less productive than those who don’t.
Now, on to how I conquered email.
I mentioned earlier that you should be funneling as much of your interactions to your emails.
Work issues, phone calls, minutes of meetings, and everything else reasonable should be sent to your inbox.
This leaves you with a slight problem, hundreds of emails a day.
I know I subscribe to websites indiscriminately when I want some of their gated information, I can just unsubscribe later right?
That’s not all, I juggle about 10 different email accounts and all of them are pretty active.
Email alone was taking up hours of my day and KILLING my productivity.
The thing is, I would check an email; need to reply or have my attention otherwise diverted.
That would leave me unable to finish what I was doing.
Here’s how to get email under control.
ONLY CHECK EMAIL TWICE A DAY. ONCE AT 12 PM AND AGAIN AT 6 PM
It’s as simple as that. There are almost never emergencies in the world and people are bad estimators of what counts as one.
I think this was one of the things that made me the most productive. I was literally saving 1-3 hours a day.
You want more meat to the explanation?
Alright, let me help you out.
Use an autoresponder, they are quick and easy to set up.
They let you get your message across and they deter the time wasters.
Some good autoresponder scripts are in the bonus.
Anyone that wants to talk, have them send you an email instead
For meetings, make an excuse not to attend and then have them send the minutes to your email.
After I started batching my email, I decided to get an assistant. I used to think this was not “real” of me but then, I said Fuck that, I need my time back.
The hardest part of getting a new assistant is getting them to understand our own quirks and personality.
Face it, you’re weird.
It’s part of what makes you the person you are.
So my assistant is an English major at a University in Texas and writes like a 16th-century professor.
I’m very informal in email and the way I talk for that matter.
I say cheers and she says sincerely.
I say you’re and she says you are.
It was an interesting experience getting her up to speed on what works and what doesn’t.
I developed a Standard Operating Procedure that’s in the bonus section.
I took pieces from some of my friends and then tweaked it to my needs.
You can do the same with mine.
My friend, if you’re not actively fighting to become more productive then you’ll never achieve that almost impossible goal you’ve set for yourself.
If you do mistakenly get there, you’ll be like me and unable to enjoy the things you’ve been able to accomplish.
Make a conscious decision to take back your time by being ultra productive.
There are a lot of fringe benefits as well.
More efficient lifestyle
Removal of toxic people from your life.
The list goes on and on.
Share this post with a friend that you know needs the help and get more productive starting today.
P.S. I now only work about 4 hours a day and skip some days completely because I’m awesome like that. I’m still looking for some more ways and resources that will make it possible to shave off the remaining time from my schedule.
I’m aiming for one hour a day which I can batch into about two days a week.
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