(Breather) I cite some great ideas from peak performance leaders like “4 Hour” author and podcast host Tim Ferriss, the late “7 Habits” author Stephen Covey, and “Good to Great” author Jim Collins. These topics have become of central importance to me lately, because I feel like the world is getting more distractible and hyperconnected every day. We are losing our collective attention span to our great detriment!
I quote Ferriss about prioritizing starting your workday and avoiding “indiscriminate constant action.” Begin your day with fresh air and sunlight by taking a walk outside, then continue with productive action: sit down with a pen and paper and write a list of 3-5 things that are making you feel uncomfortable. Watch what comes up on that list – they’re likely to be the tasks you’ve been avoiding, the things that have the most chance of bringing up rejection and conflict into your day. But ask yourself this: if you accomplished only the tasks on this list – would you feel satisfied after? It’s all about letting the less important stuff slide, and making the decision to prioritize the things that you know must been done. This ties into the iconic 4 Quadrants from Stephen Covey, and the idea that you should spend most of your time in the planning, reflecting, and prioritizing mode instead of in the reactive, distracted mode. The 4 Quadrants are broken down like this:
1st Quadrant: Urgent + Important
2nd Quadrant: Urgent + Not Important
3rd Quadrant: Not Urgent + Not Important
4th Quadrant: Not Urgent + Important
Covey recommended spending most of your time in the 4th quadrant – this means planning, analyzing your to-do list, listing your priorities in order, and doing all the practical things you need to do to in order to get the most done – things that don’t seem urgent, but are actually integral to focus and productivity. Best-selling author Jim Collins is a great example of putting in the work into making sure you’re spending your time as efficiently as possible: he’s set a goal to spend half his working time in “creative productivity mode” and charts his time out on a spreadsheet everyday – talk about getting things done! He’s got the 4 Quadrants down and it certainly shows.
It’s all too easy to become numb to this state of constant hyper-connectivity, and this show will help you identify the ways in which you can avoid falling prey to this, and work with the reality of our highly distracting world to create behavioral patterns that best serve you, allowing you to focus and prioritize your daily life to your benefit.
I talk about my cold therapy plunge and deep breathing. [03:18]
Distractibility and hyper-connectivity are hindering us all from productivity. [05:19]
Step back and get more rest. Be open to feedback. [08:03]
There is difference between efficacy, efficiency, and effectiveness. [09:59]
Start your day with some sort of physical exercise before you get to your screen. [11:52]
Next sit down with pencil and paper. [12:39]
Learn to use the Covey Quadrant. [13:43]
If you lose focus, a nap is a good idea. Or get up and move! [17:37]
Being busy is a form of laziness. [20:36]
- Brad Kearns Cold Therapy
- Brad Kearns morning routine.
- Maybe not so definitive guide to cold therapy
- Tim Ferriss
- Covey Quadrant
- Gretchen Rubin.
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:00 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go. It get over yourself.
Brad: 03:18 Oh man, I am loving my morning cold plunge so much, especially as the weather gets hot. It seems like it’s a lot easier to jump into 34 to 38 degree water and commence my 20 deep diaphragmatic breathing cycles. But what’s so great about it is it’s really a meditative experience for me because I’m not practicing the art of meditation any other time. But when I get into that tub and I focus entirely on my breath, I don’t even feel cold. I’m taking over from the, uh, autonomic nervous system, the natural response to cold with that reflex action of wanting to jump out. I’m just in there, breathe in through it. So check out the video. Uh, Brad Kearns chest freezer, cold plunge and the great article on Mark’s Daily Apple called the maybe not so definitive guide to cold therapy cause there’s so much more we have to learn.
Brad: 04:13 Anyway, I’m starting the breather show, talking about my favorite time of breathing, which is inside the cold tub. And also because we need to take a break from this constant hyperconnectivity and overstimulation. It has become my number one pet peeve in modern life, especially with my core a contribution to the planet. Being a writer, communicator. I spend a lot of time trying to, for example, finish this book that Mark Sisson and I had been working on for many, many months. The sequel to the Keyo Reset Diet. It’s called Keto longevity. And it’s leveraging this, uh, Keto friendly metabolic state, ditching carb dependency becoming fat and Keto adapted into a comprehensive plan for longevity. So we talk about a movement, physical fitness, your mindset, avoiding rumination and distractability, living in gratitude. And then also the huge importance of rest and recovery that we discount in our fervor to eat healthy and get all the workouts done and be productive.
Brad: 05:19 And all that stuff. So there’s four pillars of longevity. Oh, it’s going to be great. And I’ll tell you more about it as time comes. The release date is December 31st, 2019. Right now what I’m really focused on is this pension for distractability and hyperconnectivity. I’m noticing it in the conversation patterns of humans on the planet, especially me. And I’m pointing the lens pointing the knife at me throughout this entire conversation because I’m noticing how distractible I’ve become and it’s such a different life than back in the old days when we had to push the buttons to dial up our Internet connection member with the, uh, the audible errrr younger listeners don’t know what I’m talking about. But you used to make this creaky, weird noise when you’re dial up internet connection connected to America Online or whatever you are doing to go check your email. But it was more deliberate. It wasn’t a constant, there was no mobile device connecting you to anything. You had the printed out maps, which I love to go get at the AAA office and have a map of every area of California that I’d traveled to or every area of the US ah, things are different now. There’s a voice telling you where to turn on every turn, lots of progress. But the pension for distractability and the shortening of our collective attention spans is really driving me crazy and making me sad, especially for the younger generation. Uh, when we think about all the things that we’re missing. So I’ve noticed a couple good articles, programs from thought leaders and I want to share some of the highlights because that’s what I do on the breather shows. Uh, one of them was from Tim Ferriss, the a bestselling author, a productivity expert, Tim Ferriss podcast. So He’s kind of this guy that, uh, is obsessed with productivity and efficiency and time optimizations.
Brad: 07:12 Many writes some good stuff about this. Uh, so this is, um, mostly quoting and then I’ll be paraphrasing at times or coming in from the peanut gallery when I disagree from the message or have something to add, I get to do it because it’s my show. But Tim Ferris says most superheroes, these super high productivity people, uh, people talk about Elon Musk a lot cause he’s running for different companies or whatever he’s doing. He claims to work 100 hours a week. Remember that article? Uh, I, uh, highly scoffed and criticized that even if it’s true, which it probably is. Who cares,? man, why don’t you go be healthier, work less and everybody will adjust accordingly. Uh, but, uh, the super geniuses that have that, a flaming, a shooting star to contribute to the world and change technology, I can see how he’s so motivated and so driven and irreplaceable.
Brad: 08:03 But for most of us, I find when we take a deep breath and sit back and maybe try a little bit of delegating if you’re in the workplace or just letting things go with the flow, if you’re a parent, I have noticed that myself where I feel like I had to be all things to all people and uh, make every social occasion and uh, be connectable to anybody who wanted to connect with me immediately. Sometimes you sit back and things have a way of working their way out. When you take care of yourself, get more sleep, focus on your peak performance, core daily responsibilities, stuff like that. So back to Ferris. Uh, most superheroes have nothing in the sort. They’re wild, neurotic creatures who do big things despite lots of self defeating habits and self talk. Okay. I’m feeling that a boy, the process of writing a book, if you’ve tried or doing a big project, whatever you’re working on a, sometimes there’s that negative self talk creeping in and a self doubt. Second guessing a feeling great about something one day and lousy about it the next day. And I guess that’s part of the process. And um, I’d say at times it’s really good to have that critical eye. I remember some occasions where I’m writing something or working on something and I think it’s the greatest thing ever and I’m just feeling great about it all the way through with no critical eye. And then I’ll send it to uh, someone to review and uh, the thing will get turned upside down. Like, Oh yeah, I never thought about that. Thank you for your feedback. So being open to feedback, being receptive to uh, change and revision a, those are good qualities for anyone who’s creating something. Eddie Blau frequent listener man, every time I send that guy something like my recent, uh, label of my top secret, incredible male optimization, a supplement product had great feedback.
Brad: 09:59 Yeah. All right. So Ferris says he personally thinks that he sucks at efficiency doing things quickly. It takes his time, but he gets it done. He’s written bestselling books, so it must be working for him, but he provides an eight step process for maximizing efficacy. Efficacy is doing the right things, where efficiency is doing things quickly. Do we remember the Stephen Covey books, the late Stephen Covey, seven habits of highly effective people. And he talks about the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. So you can be efficient without being effective. Ferris efficiency and efficacy. So here’s the eight step process. So the first one is wake up an hour before you have to be at the computer screen. Email is the mind killer, amen, oh my gosh. Email gets criticized a lot. Of course it’s the greatest thing and an easiest way to communicate and save so much time and energy from the old days of having to crank the phone or lick a stamp and mail an envelope.
Brad: 11:07 Uh, but it can definitely get out of hand. So you’ve got to use it to your advantage and leverage it by turning it off at times when you’re supposed to do something else because it is a sort of, um, the hyperstimulation as addictive. You get those dopamine hits every time you receive new and novel stimulation in your environment. That’s how we’re hardwired. We can’t help it. It’s very difficult to fight. So your inbox populating is always going to pull you away from trying to revise a certain paragraph deep into a different project. So an hour before you have to be at a computer screen, wake up and then do your morning ritual. And I’ll opine here where I feel like the best thing you can do as soon as you get out of bed is to do something physical to get the blood and oxygen flowing through your body.
Brad: 11:52 So you can look on youtube. I do this Brad Kearns morning routine. I think the title of the Youtube video is where I’m doing this flexibility mobility series of drills right on the ground. As soon as I get out of bed, it’s pretty strenuous. It takes about 12 minutes. Uh, if you want to start with a five minute routine, like the yoga sun salute moves or go out to uh, your backyard and just raise your hand to the sky, throw the ball to your dog, walk a little bit a stretch. Take the dog around the block is the very first thing you do. But when you get fresh air, sunlight, and move your physical body after a night of sleep, that’s a great way to start the day a Ferris wants to have you go make a cup of tea and then sit down with a pencil and paper a, this sounds like fun.
Brad: 12:39 I have to say that I don’t do this and might be an interesting thing to spend one minute on every single day, uh, like a to do list or something. His description is write down three to five things that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. Oh, the stuff that’s been punted from one day’s to do list to the next and the next. Most importantly, these are things that have some chance of rejection or conflict. So ask yourself after you write these three to five things that are making you most uncomfortable, ask yourself some questions. If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day? So maybe I’m writing down on my list, getting punted a day after day. Finish book, exclamation point. So yeah, good answer. Next one. We’ll moving this forward. Make all the other to do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later if you’ve answered yes to at least one of these questions, block out two to three hours to focus on one of these things on the list today.
Brad: 13:43 Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff. Slide again, that’s the Covey quadrant being referenced. So remember this or you can look it up. Uh, just type in Covey quadrant and you’ll see this wonderful diagram of, uh, for for uh, boxes. That’s a quadrant, right? And they are labeled as a different stimulation or things to do during your busy day. So one of the quadrants is urgent and important. So this would be a phone call from your boss saying, Hey, I need those reports right away. We have a meeting in 30 minutes. You drop everything and start kicking butt on urgent and important. And another quadrant is urgent and not important. So the term urgent, meaning you’re faced to deal with it right away, uh, that would be someone dropping into your cube saying, hey, did you see Curry last night? He went off on the threes. Can you believe it? And you say, oh, excuse me, I’m working on a really important project for my boss. It’s due in 30 minutes. And then they go, whoops. See you later. So that’s the urgent and not important example. There are many better examples such as, uh, answering your chats and texts messages while you’re supposed to be doing something else. So we got to be mindful of, uh, spending too much time in that quadrant. And then the other two quadrants are not urgent and not important. So that’s like nonsense. Surfing, Youtube, uh, frittering away time, shuffling papers on your desk that aren’t important in the first place. Uh, tracking down a mystery, charge on your credit card of $3, and you don’t recognize it. So you spend 27 minutes on hold and talking through it. Uh, instead of just eating the $3, then finally not urgent and important.
Brad: 15:41 And that’s the, uh, Covey all star quadrant. And he recommends that you spend most of your time in that quadrant, that be planning, analyzing your to do list, uh, order of priority, uh, plotting down your errands that you have to do on that day. And what order you’re going to drive to the various locations and what you have to take in your car so you don’t forget anything. Not Urgent, but important. This idea of spending the time in the high cognitive function planning, strategizing quadrant is echoed by bestselling author Jim Collins. He’s been doing some podcasts interviews recently. I think he’s got a new book out. He wrote good to great and many other of those, uh, peak performance efficiency analyzing of, uh, organizations and systems. And he said that he’s trying to set this goal of spending. I believe it was half his working time, let’s say in a year and a 2000 hours of work in a year.
Brad: 16:41 He wants to spend a thousand or those hours in, uh, creative, uh, productivity mode, generating, uh, original, uh, creative content. And then these other chunks, these other percentages go toward housekeeping, right? Or you’re just trying to get your software to work, uh, answer, phone calls, reactive mode, a communication mode, but half of his time, and he charts it out every day on a spreadsheet. This guy is tight, man. What a great concept to realize, hey, did I spend half my day doing something of value in making a contribution rather than just housekeeping, house cleaning, that kind of thing. So that’s four quadrants for you and back to back to the action. So now we’re jumping back into Ferris’ ideas and he wants you to be clear and block out two to three hours to focus on one of those high priority items that you pulled out of, uh, the Covey quadrant of not urgent but important.
Brad: 17:37 Okay? This only counts if it’s a single chunk of time of two to three hours rather than 10 minutes here and 10 minutes they’re adding up to two hours. Does not work. If you get distracted or start procrastinating coating from Ferris. Now don’t freak out and downward spiral. Just gently come back to your single to do priority. Ah, this is the only way I can create big outcomes despite my never ending impulse to procrastinate, nap or otherwise fritter my days away with bullshit in quote by Ferris and I’m going to extract and peanut gallery comment about the napping. Uh, if you are dragging ass or feeling like your discipline and cognitive abilities are declining at a certain point in the afternoon after that big a high carbohydrate lunch or what have you, a 20 minute nap to me is a real peak performance when, and I’m sure the fairest would not as had an agreement, and I’m taking his comment out of context, but, um, if you have to nap, you have to nap.
Brad: 18:39 And a little goes a long way when you’re constantly vigilant as to your cognitive ability and when you lose focus, uh, get up and move around is a great one too. Uh, I know Mark Sisson does that. He says when he gets tired, instead of taking a nap, he gets up, moves around and does some slackline comes back and I’ll do the same, but I’m also a huge, huge fan of napping. And I get that 20 minutes, 20 minutes back in droves with my productivity the rest of the day. Okay. And then a final thoughts from Ferris and this stuff’s gonna hit you hard because we all have to swallow this and realize, oh crap, that sounds like me a little bit, doesn’t it? Here we go. If you have 10 important things to do in a day, it’s 100% certain that nothing important we’ll get done that day.
Brad: 19:23 On the other hand, Ferris says, I can usually handle my one must do item and block out lesser behaviors for two to three hours. At least. It doesn’t take much to seem superhuman and appear successful, the people around you, but what you do is more important than how you do everything else and doing something well does not make it important. Huh. Interesting. Hey, I organized all my bookmarks on my web browser in alphabetical order. Isn’t that awesome? Yeah, that’s fantastically awesome. How long did it take you? Oh, it only took me 45 minutes and then we’ll check in tomorrow. What’d you do today? Well, I organize my sock drawer with the larger to smaller thickness of socks so I can reach in when I’m going for a run versus going for a hike. Fantastic. And boy, Oh boy, there we go. With what Gretchen Ruben calls proclass. Oh, sorry, I mispronounced, I was under pressure. She calls it pro class. She calls it pro crass to clearing procrastaclearing. Don’t be doing your procrastaclearing now. Ah, I made it.
Brad: 20:36 Okay. Uh, and here’s some quotes from Ferris that we shared in the book. They were so important. Uh, being busy is a form of laziness, lazy thinking and indiscriminant action. Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions. Whew. Pretty good stuff. Thank you so much for listening. Put it into action and spend more time in planning mode, reflective mode. The space between your thoughts is where the magic happens. That is the breather show. Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.