I help run AppSumo which is a $100 million company, I’m trying to write a best-selling book, and I’m trying to grow my YouTube channel that helps people on their business journey… How am I able to do three full-time jobs in a regular work week? Let me explain my productivity hacks.
The point here isn’t about how to do a lot more work.
You can be lazier and get the things you want done.
Productivity Hack #1: Define Your Outcome
Before we dive into the productivity hacks that make me able to do it all, the most important thing when you’re trying to write a book or run a company or be a good husband or whatever is…
Define your outcome.
- AppSumo: I want to earn $90 million/year in revenue
- Youtube: I want 500,000 subscribers
- Book: I want to make a New York Times bestselling book
Once you know your goal, then your whole week can align to whatever your goals are and what you need to move them forward.
One of the phrases that’s in my mind almost every single day is…
Productivity Hack #2: Calendar Reviews
Every single Sunday, I spend around two hours reviewing my calendar.
I even hired a woman named Anna—who is phenomenal as the Head of Staff at AppSumo— to help me organize my calendar.
I remember when I worked at Facebook, I would go up to Mark and be like, “Hey, can we talk?” And he would say, “You have to talk to her first now.” I was thinking, “Dude… who do you think you are?”
But I get it now.
It’s not about who’s more important or not. It’s about being intentional and knowing what’s the best use of your time.
Now I make sure I’m spending my time in the most important zones, and a thorough calendar review every week makes that happen.
So on Sundays, we pull my calendar up and I literally ask myself what my goals are that I’m trying to accomplish this year, what main things I need to move forward on, and how much my week aligns with it.
In my calendar, one of the key things that you can see from the screenshot here is my rainbow color system.
I don’t see a lot of people do this.
But what this does is color-coordinate my calendar. So orange is fun and green is exercising and certain colors relate to certain AppSumo priorities.
When you look at your calendar, you should be able to instantly notice what your priorities are and if they line up to your goals. If it’s not, you should be much more intentional with your schedule if you want to make things happen.
If you have a day job and you’ve been wanting to do a side hustle, this is even more critical because you only have your breakfasts, lunches, nights, and maybe your weekends to make those things happen.
So you need to be super clear if you’re scheduling and blocking out things that are truly your priorities.
Like with my goal to get 500,000 YouTube subscribers, I know that each month I have to make three YouTube videos, so what are the inputs that I can control?
- I can input my energy into coming up with great video ideas
- I can input my time into filming videos y’all want to watch
- I can input my energy into working with the teams and people I need to work with to bring the videos together
So I need to have those inputs blocked out on my calendar.
Again, a lot of this is really about intentionality. It’s not about trying to do more than anyone else, or being super busy or crazy productive.
It’s about knowing the main things that matter and intentionally spending time on them and scheduling the inputs into my calendar so they get done.
Productivity Hack #3: Calendar SOPs
Another thing that I’ve done to be intentional about my time, is writing out a calendar Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs).
These are what mine are:
- Mondays & Tuesdays—1-1 meetings: If I have this goal at AppSumo it’s the leadership and the people that work with them that help make it happen. So all of my time on Mondays and Tuesdays is dedicated to helping the different leaders and people in the company accomplish their goal—which helps me accomplish mine.
- Wednesdays—People: How do I hire and retain the best people possible to help us accomplish our goals.
- Thursdays—Alignment: Do I understand our customers well, our partners, is the strategy clear, is our purpose clear, does the whole company know that stuff?
- Fridays—Recap: Understand what happened during the week, review it, and reflect on it.
Productivity Hack #4: Schedule Smarter
Throughout my days, you can see on the calendar that I’ve scheduled in time to recharge. That’s something I think that’s not talked about enough.
Give yourself a break.
Do whatever you need to do to give yourself some energy because your energy is going to get depleted during the day. You need to add it back in so you can sustain and enjoy doing these things for a long time
Try to not create a life you have to run away from.
I love that quote and I try to live by it.
What I realized when making YouTube videos—which is a key goal that I want to accomplish—is if I do it at peak time in the morning, it takes away my energy for the day.
And it’s not my main priority. AppSumo is right now. So I need to schedule it so it doesn’t take away the energy I need to do all my AppSumo stuff.
So instead, I schedule smarter and put filming at the end of the day around five o’clock or at night.
This way I can accomplish all my goals, and my second priority doesn’t take away from my main priority.
Productivity Hack #5: Hire Experts or Use Software
The reality is, I’m not the greatest book writer in the world.
So I went out and found someone who is.
His name is Tal Raz and I’m working with him to be able to write a great book now.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Oh that sounds pretty damn great. You just found this other guy who’s just gonna do all the work and you’re gonna sit on the sidelines.”
I thought that too, if I’m honest with you.
But the reality is that it’s a lot of work and you can’t just call it in. You have to show up for the things that you want to be successful at. So every week now for two hours on Mondays and at least an hour on Fridays, I dedicate it to book researching or writing.
I think one of the things that we don’t talk about with Elon Musk or Steve Jobs is that most of the people who accomplish a lot of things are either hiring people or using software to get it all done.
Elon Musk isn’t programming Teslas. He also isn’t programming SpaceX rocket ships.
He’s going out and finding people who enjoy doing those things and enables and empowers them to do that for his businesses.
Productivity Hack #6: Review Yourself
Literally for every single meeting and action I review:
- Was that good use of my energy?
- Was I present?
- What can I learn for the future?
I had a meeting earlier today and I thought, “Hey, I don’t actually like this. I don’t think it’s a good use of my time.” And I figured out what I want to change about it for next time.
This way, I am constantly optimizing myself.
One of the things I’ve recognized is that I have to be mindful of my energy. Like what adds to it, what subtracts from it—and every hour is an opportunity cost. For example, if I’m making a video, I’m not recruiting for AppSumo.
So every hour counts.
Productivity Hack #7: Learn How to Say No
If you want to be productive and get your priorities done, you have to say no a lot.
This upcoming week, keep an eye out to see how many things you turned down.
How many meetings? How many projects? How many events?
And if that means you have to choose between some things and other things…
That’s a beautiful thing.
That means you’re prioritizing.
It’s funny, when I ask people if they have a priority, everyone always says yes. Everyone always says they have a main focus.
So I ask them to show me their calendar and they have a list of 15 things.
And I always say, I didn’t know that focus was a plural word.
It’s not. It’s singular.
The goal here is: Don’t have a lot going on. Have a priority list and see how much of your time is focused on the priority.
Trade off mediocre things in the short term to focus on the things that’ll bring you greatness in the long term.