Episode 21: 4 Hacks To Keep You Focused And Help You Predict Your Future

Yeah, good morning, Jimmy Williams, I’m telling you friends, I have had a wonderful week, and today is no exception to starting a new week with a bang. I get to spend it with you! Now, how many people can say that thousands of people listen to them each week, send feedback on our livealifeby.design website, and tell us all the great accomplishments that are being achieved in your lives. It’s quite an honor to spend a few moments with you each Monday. And I thank you so much for that opportunity. You know this episode is one I’ve been looking for for a long time. This is an episode of where we’re gonna talk about how I have 4 hacks to help keep you focused and help you predict your future. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Predicting your future. You see you have more control in your life than you most often recognize. Many people tell me, “Oh, I just couldn’t do that”, and then when we boil it down and look at the facts of the situation, most of those variables in that situation are items they can control. They just didn’t realize it. There’s a saying that I use quite often, “It’s hard to watch the movie when you’re in it”. When you’re the focus of what is going on in the world, and you’re in the midst of the battle it is hard to step back just a few feet and see where you’re right flank and your left flank may have some opportunity for you to attack the enemy of mediocrity.

Let’s take just a few minutes today and talk about these activities that you have in your daily life that steal your ability to focus. You know, a few things are out of our control. For example, if you have children, certainly they require your utmost time and priority. I get that; as a parent, I will tell you there were a lot of days where I had to alternatively create time in my schedule because when my children arose, my daily schedule got changed. One of the ways that we can do this is, to arise much earlier than our children. Yeah, you heard me. Get out of that bed and get your feet on the ground, smile on your face, and start your day way before the others in your family. Easier said than done, yes I acknowledge, but it can be done. You see it just takes a little discipline on our part to understand that what we want to create in a predictable day. Don’t you wish that every day, Monday through Friday or Monday through Sunday, whatever days that you need to be your most creative, your most optimistic, your most competitive, your most accomplished would occur? Man, I certainly do.

Let’s talk about 4 hacks that I use every day to keep me focused on my biggest goals. These are not going to be Earth-shattering, but what is Earth-shattering about them are the outcomes. Let’s take the first one. So for example.

Documented routines and habits 

This is an area that I literally have written down each step of my day in terms of arising out of bed, it’s called my morning routine. I have a routine for my work. Soon as I arrive at the office, and then I have an evening routine where I leave the office and then I have an evening routine at my home when I’m getting ready for the next day and I’m going to bed. Now that sounds like a very non-exciting issue, I get that. But what it does is it gives me the small wins in the morning so that I can feel powerful about my day and know that I’ve already won some challenge in the day. That gives me that boost of energy. Those endorphins we’re gonna talk about in just a few moments, that shoot through my brain and say, “Man, you have won something already today”. And that’s what’s powerful. You see small changes in your daily routines serve as the facilitation. Man, that is the grease on the cog that keeps things going, For the larger changes in your world. You know, in his NY Times bestselling book titled, Make Your Bed, Admiral William H. McRaven addresses the small factors in your life that you can control that contribute to a greater confidence for your day.

As creatures of habit, many of us are on “autopilot” and don’t even realize it. Identify the activities in your day that you can control: attitude, environment at home, car and office, your dress, your diet, your time that you go to sleep each night, etc. there are many environmental matters that you can control if you will. Too often it’s easier for us to set back, oh I hate to even say it, kind of whine about the situation, instead of exerting a little energy, a little bit of mental power and then taking control of that situation. So there’s an old country song that always loved by a guy named Chris LeDoux. And the song was titled “It’s a Five Dollar Fine for Whining”. You know I think we need to do that sometimes in our families lives and put that jar right in the middle of the dining room table so when that whining starts about a situation. Just say, “Go ahead and put your money in the jar and stop whining”. But you know we can control a lot of these variables and we don’t, but by completing just one activity from your “to-do list” each morning, you are creating inertia in your day that will carry you throughout the entire day. That one small completed task does something to your body and your mind that says, alright we have started the downhill run on our bobsled today. You see when you’re on the bobsled team, I love to watch the Olympics, man, especially the Winter Olympics. I love the four-man bobsled. Now when you look at them, you go, my goodness look how long this thing is, it’s gotta be ten feet long. Four men, women, get on this bobsled. If you’ll notice it doesn’t take but just a small amount of pressure from the top of that hill, and they can go zooming down the hill, 75-80 miles an hour. It is exhilarating, I’m sure. To be the gentleman or lady that’s in the front of that would be the coolest ride in my opinion. But I digress, the goal I think that’s most important that we can accomplish first thing every morning is this simple yet this powerful, make your bed. You see, why is this important? It’s called predictability, you now know if the day falls apart beyond those matters you had planned, and I do understand that some people’s days get hijacked, I get that. Been there done that in my own career. But if you have that bed made, nice and neat when you leave your home that morning. You go out into the world and take on all of the challenges, pressures, stresses and so forth. You already know in your mind, that predicability is, I’ve got a win for the day and I’ve got a nice, neat, clean bed to lie down into tonight. That to me is one win which we have the capability of controlling the day for ourselves.

Turn off distractions

My second hack is to turn off the distractions in my home, car and office. This is where it’s going to take a little bit of a habit-breaking approach to this matter. So how many of us lose control in the environment in our own homes? You know the TV is on just to be one just because it makes noise. Someone left the radio on, just because it’s there to make noise, you haven’t watched the TV in the last 30 min to an hour and what you were watching was of no value to create you a better world. However, I’m talking about setting a tone of control, empowerment and creativity that allows you grow as a person. And become the individual you wish to be. You see you’ve heard me before speak about the negative issues focused on by the media all day on TV. To feel your best emotionally tomorrow morning. Before you lie down for the evening today. Pick out your favorite type of music or a powerfully positive podcast, a little note, I hope it’s Live a Life by Design each Monday. and cue it up so that you can only have to hit one or two buttons to create the atmosphere you wish to experience while preparing for your day. It is that simple. At first though, this will seem a little strange to you. But any change you invoke into your day will cause your comfort level to fall. You see we are creatures of habit so these habits are hard to break once they’re started. And to become greater than we currently are, we must become comfortable with discomfort. See by doing what you’ve always done you’ll always reap the benefits of what you already have, it’s not growing you. This is a life of status quo. No one wishes to live a life of mediocrity.

In my car I have queued up one of my favorite podcast episodes and listen on my way to work each day. It’s called Darren Daily, it’s a three to five minute short quick to the point podcast. Episodes that create nothing but positivity in my mind. When I arrive at the office, I have the meeting rooms arranged in a manner that is inspiring with the scent of vanilla or other fragrances in air to heighten my awareness for the day. You have the ability to get rid of all those negative distractions and replace them with positive variables in your life that help you become a better you. 

A “Stop Doing” List

If the first thing is documenting your routines and habits, the second item is turn of the distractions in your home, car and office, well, this third one’s gonna sound a little bit crazy. But you know that’s what we do here at Live a Life by Design we don’t care what the world says, we want to do those things that we know help you. And I assure you this one will help tremendously. It’s called make a “stop doing” list. Yes, you heard me correctly, a “stop doing” list. All of you are familiar with and use I’m sure, a to-do list, probably every day. Why not make a list of those things that you will stop doing so that they don’t distract your focus from the important things that require your attention. I sat down several years ago and made a list of 100 activities that I would stop doing. 100. Now that’s a lot of activities that I was currently doing or previously had done. Maybe not every day, but that’s a lot of activities. And I sat down and made this list that I would no longer do these activities, personally. The result of this change was phenomenal. Some of these activities that I don’t want to do anymore can be delegated to others. And parenthetically, most of these things that I was doing were items that could have been delegated to someone that had more talent to accomplish those anyway, a lot more efficiently. Some of the activities were not moving our team forward on our big goals and we simply eliminated those activities. And lastly some of the activities were vital to our success, but we needed to change the approach to accomplishing them, and decided to out source their completion. 

One last note about stop-doing lists. You will recognize that you have substantially created more margin in your day. Margin maybe a new term for you. I’m talking about those hours that you now control that you had previously used for something that was not important. You might have just freed up, if you have a stop doing list, maybe three hours a day. For me it was tremendous, it had an outstanding outcome. So this margin can now be used to generate more value for your company, your family or your community. I am not saying that you’re required to work more when you free up hours in your day. That is your option, but it’s not mandatory. I am challenging you to use these newly found number of hours each day to become a bigger, better, and bolder person. You choose where you wish to spend your time, efforts and resources, but know that you are in control. Man, again this creates endorphins in you that you will not be able to contain. People will notice a difference, in the way you walk, your talk, your smile, your demeanor, your energy levels. Man, people are gonna say what are you doing. And you’re gonna answer them simply, hey, I just stopped doing. Then they’re really gonna want to know what’s going on. 

Limit Time on Social Media

So, make a stop doing list, and probably my biggest and most powerful hack for keeping focused during the day is this simple one. Many of you may not agree with this, but I tell you this has been profound in my life. You guessed it, Limit my time on social media. You know this may sound a little contradictory since we offer our subscribers a Facebook page, website, blogs, etc. However, I’m going to reveal a secret weapon today that we utilize for appearing as if we are tuned into social media on a constant basis. The secret weapon is actually a scheduling app called HootSuite. By using this app we are able to create social media posts in less than 10 minutes per day that are interesting and serve our audiences’ needs and desires. Recently we discussed a new method of communicating with our subscribers to our Facebook pages and will be launching our VIP page. You know, stay tuned to our social media and website pages for announcements in the near future. But many people use social media as a crutch to keep themselves busy during the day with the feeling that at the end of the day, whoo, man I was so busy today. It’s a false accomplishment in my opinion. 

When your social media page dings, that someone has commented or liked your post, your brain sends a wave of endorphins throughout your body that is more powerful than morphine. This phenomenon has become so prevalent in the world that scientists actually have assigned a mental state to the activity. It’s acronym is F-O-M-O. This stands for Fear of Missing Out. You know we are gregarious people by nature. We love to visit, socialize from as far back as the caveman era, we were known as clans, or we like communities, or we enjoy groups of people. This fear of missing out, though, has become paralyzing to the business world. Some studies reporting that employees are becoming so disengaged with the responsibilities of their employer, and are spending more than 4.2 hours per day on social media or internet sites that are unrelated to their work. Wow! More than half of their day of which they are paid to accomplish certain tasks are spent on distracting social media and internet sites. 

To help us realize when we have committed more time to our phones than we should, Apple has included an app that measures the amount of time you are on your phone each day and compares that usage to your average daily usage. This applet is called ‘Screen Time’, many of you know that I’m a proponent of journaling with pen and paper. One of the reasons I enjoy writing with a pen is our brains absorb the material and thoughts much better than if we were typing the information. The magic of coordinating the movement of your fingers and the capabilities of your brains power to remember and create is nothing short of a miracle. 

I want you to slowly put down that social media, that phone, put down the computer mouse and simply learn to collect your thoughts on paper. Now I understand you want to be able to reflect on those, you may want to research something you’ve written years ago. I get that. There are means of which you can go in a catalog or archive those pages of your journals, and I do that as well for future searching purposes.

I know that change is hard, however, I also know that anything you wish to accomplish, you can do so with enough dedication, creativity and effort. This week I challenge each of you to examine your daily activities, and simply create a stop doing list of those activities that are not positive in your life, don’t create great value for your family or you simply aren’t passionate about the activity. Work on this list for the next 21 days. This is what engrains a habit in your life. Now the days repeated could be 21, 14, 31, it doesn’t matter as long as it becomes a habit for you. Next week, commit to working on improving your environment at work, home and in your car so that it is stress-free and motivational for you. Also, track your time on social media. Boy, this is where it really gets simple but powerful. I used one simple hack to let me know when I needed to be away from social media, and that hack was a very technical, important $1.99 egg timer. You heard me correct, I had an egg timer that I’d sit down right next to me when I’m on social media, and I set the egg timer and I flipped it over, and I had 3 minutes to get on and get though with posting whatever I wanted to accomplish, like the ones I wanted to, like and so forth. This simple hack kept me focused on when that sand had fallen from the top half to the bottom of that egg timer, that I had to finish my post and sign off the app. It created an urgency, a trigger if you will, that changed my habit of just sitting there, chasing rabbits down holes that didn’t really add value to my friends, family, or to me for instance. 

You now, this takes some discipline. But the simple mindset of tying your social media investment to only three minutes per day, will cause you to be selective and purposeful in the posts you read and the people you follow. Oh and one last challenge for this week, make your bed each day. Wow, check that one off, right? To help you achieve greater focus, go back and listen to episode nine of our podcast where we discuss productivity hacks that are proven to creating a more efficient you. Thank you for listening to Live a Life by Design, we continue to reach people that need a positive and powerful message each week because of people like you referring us. Our podcast is being heard by people in Canada, Australia, Dominica Republic, India, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. Wow! We had big goals and plans for this podcast to help change the world. That is phenomenal, thanks to people just like you referring this podcast. You know, we’re blessed to share our message with so many wonderful people. We would be honored if you would share our podcast with your friends and family members. And one of our goals is to touch over a million lives that need to hear a positive message of hope in the world. By working together we can do this. If you haven’t rated and reviewed the podcast on iTunes, please take a couple of moments today and go do that for us. You know, join us next week I am excited to tell you that we’re gonna share the strategies how to not take yourself so seriously so that you can grow exponentially. You know we’ve got some guests coming you won’t want to miss an episode of the next few weeks. We have some wonderful guests that are going to tell you how they overcame some of the deepest adversarial challenges of their lives and reached the top of their career. So join us here over the next few weeks, make certain that you want to give us a comment or anything of that nature about what we’ve said on this podcast or what you’d like to hear by filling out the form below. 

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