Day Before Vacation Productivity

Last week I was talking to someone about work and an upcoming vacation he had planned. He expressed to me how productive his week had been because he knew what he had to accomplish before he could leave on vacation. It made me think of a post I had written back in 2013. After reading it again this morning I thought I would post it again. It was a copy of an email that I had sent out to my team:

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Team,

We have talked a lot about productivity and time management over the past year.  We have included it in our education meetings, I’ve sent our Dave Ramsey podcast and we’ve included it in our Monday morning meetings.

Last night I witnessed something that got me thinking about this again.  Tia had just finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed.  Tammy asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper about her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, pepare to present in front of the Rotary Club,  basketball practice and… That was when Tammy stepped in.  She said she needed Tia to list out all of the things she needed to get done and the deadlines for each.  She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her.  Wow, this was starting to sound like real life Ramsey!
This got me thinking about our buddy Zig Ziglar and his “Day before vacation” teachings.
Zig asks the following questions:
  1. As a general rule, on the day before you go on vacation, do you get two or three times as much work done as you normally get done in a day?
  2. If you can learn why you are that much more productive on the day before vacation, and then repeat that process on a daily basis without working any longer or harder, does it make sense that you will be more valuable to yourself, your family, your company, and society in general?
  3. On the night before the day before vacation, do you take a sheet of paper and say to yourself, “Now tomorrow I’ve got to do…,” and then make a list of things you must do?… In its simplest form, that’s goal setting and it’s critical.  Next, did you organize your must-do list in the order of importance and accept responsibility for competing those tasks?
The day before we leave on vacation Tammy and I both have our to-do lists.  On that day both work related and non-work related things get completed efficiently.  This all happens because you have a deadline and you need to focus to get things done.  This is what Tia is going to experience over the next few days.  Her French test, the Rotary presentation, piano recital and all the other things coming up are going to happen if she’s ready or not.  So she needs to focus and prioritize to make sure she does well at all of them.
Going back to Zig and his day before vacation example, he says: “On the way to work the next day your self-talk was upbeat and centered on what you were going to get done.  You arrived at work on time so you were punctual. You immediately started to work, making you a self-starter.  You were highly motivated and optimistic that you were going to finish every tak you had set for yourself.  You were enthusiastic about your work and decisively moved from one task to the next, making good choices as you did so, even if the next job on the list was disagreeable.”
I love his example related to unpleasant tasks. “An ol’ boy down home said it best, “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at the sucker too long.  He ain’t gonna get no purtier!  As a matter of act, the longer you look, the uglier he gets.” That’s the way unpleasant tasks are.”
“As you move from task to task, if someone tried to interrupt and talk about last night’s television program or last night’s game, you disciplined yourself to stay on task and not be distracted from your job… Since there was no “tomorrow” for you on each job, you persisted until you completed each one…. and momentum built with the completion of each task…. Perhaps the most exciting part of this vacation scenario is the fact that your co-workers instinctively picked up the pace [as well].”
If this approach works so well on the day before vacation, or the days before a test, a presentation or paper is due, won’t it work just as well every day?
A big part of this is in the planning.  When you plan things, the odds of their happening go up substantially.  If we plan our months, weeks and days we will be more productive and balanced.
Tia spent the evening writing about her experiences in Africa.  She’s made her list and has prioritized it.  She’s an achiever, not only will she get everything done, she will do it all very well.  But if Tammy hadn’t told her to pause, make a list and prioritize that list her stress would have stayed high and her productivity would have been low.  Plan your days and act so you don’t spend them reacting.
For more great stuff from Zig Ziglar find one of his books here on: Amazon.
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Book Quote of the Week 098

High performance is not about a specific type of person. It’s not about winning the genetic lottery, how long you’ve worked, the shade of your skin, how many people are supporting you, or what you’re getting paid. It’s about your performance habits — which you have complete control over.

Brendon Burchard

Book Quote of the Week 081

No coach or trainer is going to make you good, or great, or unstoppable if you’re not going to do the work. If you’re waiting for someone to make it happen for you… It’s on you!

Tim S. Grover

Book Quote of the Week – 039

“My confidence came from my vision… I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are training 5 hours a day, you always know why you are pushing and going through the pain barrier, and why you have to eat more, and why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined… I felt that I could win it, and that was what I was there for. I wasn’t there to compete. I was there to win.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Alarm Clock Discipline

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Everyone wants to know:
“How can I be successful?”
“What do I need to do to be the best at what I do?”
“How do I get an edge to beat our my competition?”
What’s the answer? Well, there’s an entire industry built on telling you the answer. There are so many resources available to answer your questions.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Think and Grow Rich

How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

The list is endless. There are many more I’ve included in my Reading List, check them out HERE. Or check out the 2,275 books that come up in Amazon when you search “How to be successful” HERE.
But it doesn’t matter how much you know or how much you’ve read if you don’t act.  There are many things that you need to do and things that need to come together for you to be successful, but I know that one thing you need to be successful is discipline. Today I have been thinking about something I call Alarm Clock Discipline.
The more I read, the more I see thoughts and ideas overlapping with different authors. Recently I’ve had three different resources that have made me think about this topic.
In October I wrote a post about The Slight Edge. In that post I wrote:
Out of all the great things that I have learned from this book, there is one concept that stands out more than the others. “The simple things that lead to success are all easy to do. But they are also just as easy not to do.” This concept is hit on throughout the book. It’s the simple, little habits that you do every day that lead to success. The simple, little habits that are easy to do, but just as easy not to do. This phrase runs through my head every single morning now if I want it to or not. I set my alarm for 5am. When it goes off I have two choices. I can slide out of bed, put on my running shoes and go for my morning run. Or I can hit the snooze button, curl up in bed and fall back asleep. I’ve really done both quite a few times in my life. I’m pretty disciplined so getting up early to run or workout usually isn’t a big deal. But I’m not as disciplined in going to bed at a good hour. So some mornings when the alarm goes off at 5am and I’ve only been in bed for a few hours it’s pretty easy to justify skipping the workout that morning and usually hitting the snooze two or three more times after that. But now each morning when my alarm goes off, before I have the opportunity to realize how tired I am, the words, “Easy to do. Easy not to do.” are running through my head. That’s motivation enough to get me going.
Jeff talks about the “little things” a lot. If I hit the snooze and skip my run it likely isn’t going to kill me or have a drastic impact on my health. But the compound effect is always working. It’s either working for us or against us. So as I get out of bed for my workout those actions are compounding with all the other times I take those positive actions. That one workout might not have much of an impact on my health, but compounding them all together will. Just like when I hit the snooze, that action compounds with all the other times I take those actions and works against me.
Basketball is a big part of life in our family and Alarm Clock Discipline is a big deal when we are getting teenagers up at 5:00am for a workout. As would be expected with kids, some days are easier than others, but over the past five years I’m proud to say that Tia and Daxon have put hundreds of hours into working on their game before most kids their age would even consider being out of bed.
I recently sent them the following video to watch from PGS Basketball: 5 Ways to Build Mental Toughness.
Number one on the list: Wake Up Early & Get Out of Bed
I love in this video when he says that by “hitting snooze you are giving into your feelings. When you give into your feelings you will never be special at anything.”
I don’t care if you do or don’t like the sport of basketball. Take five minutes to watch this video, it’s worth your time.
The most recent resource that got me thinking about this topic again was a book that I just finished by Jacko Willing and Leif Babin. The book is Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win
In the book they say that discipline starts every day when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. The moment the alarm clock goes off is the first test and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is simple. When the alarm clock goes off do you get up out of bed or do you lie there in comfort and fall back asleep.
They go on the explain that if you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win, you pass the test. If you are mentally weak at that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail. Though it seems small, whichever decision you make will translate into more significant and substantial elements of your life.
My favorite quote in this book is, “Discipline is the difference between being good and being exceptional.”
How do you become successful? There are many answers to that question. But having Alarm Clock Discipline is a good place to start.

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Daily Success Habits

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When Jeff Olson talks about success habits in The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness he often says, “they are easy to do, but they are easy not to do as well.”

I recently read Think and Grow Rich again and decided to take on Napoleon Hills challenge of writing down my goals and reading them twice per day, once first thing in the morning and once just before going to sleep. Really, it’s a pretty simple way to get your mind continually focused on your goals, it’s easy to do.

Over the past week I’ve had some late nights and early mornings. That’s no excuse and I still have all my good intentions, but as I look back there are times that I have simply forgot to do this. Easy to do… Easy not to do.

As I hurried to get the kids off to school this morning and realized I had forgot about reading my goals over this morning I started to reflect on it. How important are these goals to me? How bad do I want to achieve them? If I can’t take the simple step of reading over my goals twice per day am I really going to do the other things that are going to help me achieve those goals?
To be successful we need to create our success habits which we do day in and day out regardless of what they are. As Darren Hardy teaches in The Compound Effect, it’s the small, daily habits that create big results. Figure out today what those small daily habits need to be and don’t cheat yourself, make sure you are doing them every single day. They will help you find success.


 

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