Episode 118: Listen for the Silence

Do you ever wish you were more productive and had energy remaining at the end of a challenging day? In this episode Jimmy shares the strategies that make him efficient, effective and energized.

Episode Keys

  • The importance of several short quiet breaks in the day to help you “sharpen the saw”.
  • Why you must get adequate sleep and exercise to reach your potential.
  • How to get more tasks done and working less!
  • When you should plan your day and why it is powerful to build your confidence of control.
  • Who can help you make greater progress on your goals.

Podcast Transcription

Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life By Design and I am going to share some exciting methods to give you some outcomes in your life that you are probably not experiencing. Hey, good morning to you. It’s Monday morning again – another opportunity to enjoy life to its fullest this week, and you are going to share a few minutes with me this morning. I feel wonderfully honored. So I’ve got to explain, though, what I’m referring to today. After things became kind of out of sorts last year, I wanted to get things back to normal as quickly as I could, so I started the process of going back into the office. I started the process of going through my daily routines, challenging what I had planned previously. Can I get things back on track? And can I be as efficient as I was when we went to remote work?

I got to thinking, man, I am feeling drained the first couple of days. So let me explain what happened. Many of us feel like we can’t find solitude or simply a place to think during our week I’m certain. Each of us should be giving ample amounts of time to think, instead of do. Now, I understand that some of us feel like we can’t slow down in life or we will be overwhelmed with all that we have to accomplish. In a previous episode here on Live a Life By Design, I shared my approach to slowing down to accomplish more. For example, we often get so caught up in the doing of life, we don’t think of the why of life. By implementing a consistent, strategic, personal thinking day or hours, if you will, in your week, you will find yourself more excited, more capable, and more successful in life to accomplish this goal.

I am sharing with you today three outcomes that are a product of personal strategic thinking. So let’s just jump in. Outcome number one, greater energy management will be focusing on the goal or challenge you stated was the top priority for you. I’m talking about how this outcome can still give you all the productivity you need to gain from your day and still have energy for other important items in your workday or your personal time. I was feeling drained at the end of a couple of long days of intensive research and planning for our clients. It seems like everything kind of came in a wave after we opened things back up fully and, and our team was so busy and doing all the great work that we do for our clients, but during my Workday shutdown ritual, one day, I had the thought of just resolving this feeling. You know how you’ve had all you can stand to feeling that way because you’re not feeling in control like you had before. It is time to regain control of your time, energy, and day.

So to save energy, I created some processes that automate, or bunch, some of the daily tasks that previously contributed to my weariness. For example, instead of reviewing my emails at 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM that I do every day, I delegated this task to my executive assistant, and believe you me, she is much more technologically capable than I am. So she now reviews and sorts all these emails, more than 250 a day, most days. And those that actually require my full attention and my response personally, she places in an email folder labeled simply this: Jimmy – Important Emails. Pretty simple, huh? So after delegating this simple task, she freed up for me 48 minutes of my day. That’s right. Nearly an hour was spent previously and I’ve got it down to my responding time, at the most so far, has been 12 minutes in response. Now, if I have something that I need to respond to, that is of greater length than what I can feel like typing in an efficient manner, I simply Copytalk. That’s right, C-O-P-Y-T-A-L-K, Copytalk on my app on my phone and it is transcribed for me, and then my assistant receives an email from Copytalk. She cuts out the transcription, puts it in the email for me. Boom, we got it sent off. It’s very, very efficient.

I don’t know about you, but reclaiming 48 minutes of my day is big. I just don’t have margin in some of my days to allow me to take 48 minutes and focus on other matters. This now is occurring on a very much daily basis. As a matter of fact, I have challenged myself to find another 48 minutes of tactics or strategies that I can use to gain another hour of time and control.

But another approach remaining energetic through the entire day is something as simple as consuming 64 ounces of water. Now you may be shaking your head at that recommendation, but what does that have to do with energy and quietness you ask? First I drink an eight ounce glass of water while taking a five minute silent, technology-free break every hour. Now, you’re going to laugh. Five minutes is not a lot of time, but it is wonderful if you can get away from everyone, just enjoy your glass of water, cold, room temperature, whatever you like and no technology. I’m not talking about picking up your phone, leave it alone. No laptop, no technology whatsoever to let your brain just rest from the processing of all that stimulus, that data.

The second and the biggest driver of my energy though, is a combination of two activities that really keep me going: sleep and exercise. Now I know we were talking about being at work, but at night is when you recharge and refuel your brain and your body to prepare you for the next day. So little confession time here from Jimmy. There in the pandemic I let my health goals slip a little. Oh, who am I kidding? I let them slip a lot. Many of us probably did, but that’s no excuse on my part. Now that I am finding normalcy returning to my world because I am causing it to occur, I am feeling more energetic and creative, but don’t overdo it. Just work on going to bed and sleeping – I don’t mean watching TV, reading a book – go to sleep for an eight hour period each night and you will find yourself remarkably empowered.

It is an incredible design in our body that if we get sufficient, proper sleep, we can function at higher levels in our day. And let’s talk about exercise. So what I did is I began walking and I walked pretty consistently. If the weather was bad, I do calisthenics inside, anything that was cardio driven. I tried to create a routine of at least 30 minutes of that a day, just 30 simple minutes a day. The difference began to feel incredible, and I felt them immediately, within the first couple of weeks of proper sleep. I had gotten out of routine. You’ve heard me say on previous episodes, I was up at three or four in the morning and I’d just go into my study because I didn’t have a very good separation between work and home, right? So we have to build those artificial walls into our lives so that we know when we’re going to be working and when we’re going to be on personal time.

So the outcome number one for me, by having some silent, still moments by sleeping properly, by drinking 64 ounces of water a day, and that exercise – that critical exercise – was just greater energy management. It allowed me to focus on the goal or challenge that was my top priority without feeling drained.

But outcome number two is just as important. More goals or tasks were accomplished by this way greater efficiency. Now, this is a big reason for my plan, strategic, personal thinking each day. I don’t want to simply say, “Hey, I got it done.” I want to do what some of the greatest minds in engineering have done for centuries. “We got it done, but could there be a better, more efficient way to accomplish the same result.” You know, with many big, hairy, audacious goals to accomplish this year, it’s critical to me that I approach each challenge with an idea that will solve the matter within the greatest efficiency. None of us has time to do things twice.

I mean, some days, I don’t know if I’ve got enough time to get the project done once. So to accomplish this outcome, I plan, though, each day before I ever start my day. For example, I plan tomorrow tonight. With that in my mind, I’m already working on efficient solutions while I sleep. This was something that Thomas Edison would do. He keep things on his mind during that deep sleep that would resolve some of the challenges he couldn’t fix during the day by allowing his mind to rest and focus. And that sounds counterintuitive and counterproductive, but it truly works. Your mind goes into a deep sleep and allows you to embed itself with what problems you’ve had on your mind, by getting comfortable, relaxed, and then solving those because the solution was always in your mind, it’s just you have such a frenetic pace to the day, you couldn’t stop to listen to yourself with the solution. So planning the day the night before has helped me, and I review my goals each week as I’m doing my planning daily and then plan that day ahead. It is so less distracting there in the next day.

So give this a try and let me know what you think. Look at your weekly goals, and then every day, when you look at those weekly goals, put that in your plan to accomplish something toward that goal the night before you’re going to start the process. At the end of the day, you will find yourself accomplishing more and bigger, more valuable projects with greater efficiency.

Outcome number three is giving me an overall sense of greater control of my life and day. You know, you’ve heard me state a quote from my mentor, Jim Rome, that “you either run the day or the day runs you.” I love that quote. So when was the last time you looked at your planner or calendar at the end of a long day and simply smiled from all the accomplishment? The day that made you feel empowered, that you were in control of the decisions necessary to complete the projects that were necessary to your career, your livelihood, that were on that list.

You know, this is where you must exercise your no muscle that’s n-o muscle. Lately I have been fortunate to be presented with many opportunities to participate on boards, speak to groups that are not in our company’s market, and lead an organization through a fundraising campaign. To each of these very worthwhile groups and or activities, I politely declined due to a keen focus on where I am spending my valuable time. This is not something that makes me uncomfortable, but more empowered since I am controlling my day. I don’t allow the distractions of other people’s goals to distract me from mine. And you know, it was a Greek philosopher Pythagoras, and he said the oldest shortest words, “Yes and no are those which require the most thought.” Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, made a similar statement that “it’s only by saying no, that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”

To me, it’s just focusing on the needs and contributions in your life, as well as in your community, pick something you’re extremely passionate about, devote your time necessarily to that cause, but if it’s not something for which you have a passion, don’t allow yourself to be taken in from something that will rib you of your day of energy and time. And those are two areas of life that are vital if you’re going to be successful in reaching your goals.

So the challenge this week is simple. It’s for you to review your schedule and make time for 15 minutes per day of simply strategically thinking about the tasks you must accomplish to meet your objectives for the week. Then, increase your daily thinking time to 30 minutes per day for week two. Just give it a try. This is going to be difficult at first because we have shiny object syndrome in most our brains. I think, you know what I’m talking about. We’re so easily distracted. We’ve got the “boob tube” turned on or the radio turned on and we never allow ourselves that still, quiet moment to simply listen to our own minds think, to listen to the silence in the room, to allow yourself that few moments, to really focus on the vital activities of life. You see, this purpose is simply to give you a stress-free zone for optimal performance, and it’s time you claimed your life back from the frenetic pace of the world. Go ahead, live your life by design.

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