How to Boost Your Productivity Potential with Erik Fisher

February 15, 2024

Hey there, friend. Welcome back to the Crank It Up podcast as we continue our series on working smarter, not harder. Today, we sat down with my friend, Eric, who for more than a decade has sat down with productivity experts, with authors, with creatives, and listened as they shared their insights on how to implement productivity strategies in both your personal and your professional life.

Really, Eric is teaching us how to get better at our to do list and beyond. He’s interviewed some of the best in the business, including John Acuff and Seth Godin, 2 of my personal faves.

And today, we have a really awesome conversation on how to approach 2024 and how you can get beyond your to-do list. So grab your notebook. You’re gonna wanna take some notes, And listen to this conversation with my friend, Eric.

Eric, welcome to the Crank It Up podcast. I am so excited to have you here. Finally, Finally, I feel like we’re making this happen. And we have a mutual friend in common.

Of course, we met at Momentum a couple years ago, and you are part of our work smarter not harder series, which feels just exactly what you should be part of. So I’m so glad to have you here today.

Erik [00:01:40]:
I am so glad to be here. We’ve got more than one mutual friend. So I was gonna say, which one are you talking about? Because whichever one you’re talking about, the others are left out. So…

Julie [00:01:50]:
That’s a very good point. So your jam is productivity, which I’m obsessed with. I love that so much. However, you know, as our friend Lou does say, let’s start with your origin story, and one doesn’t stumble upon a successful podcast or upon talking about productivity, just sort of randomly. So kinda what brought you here?

Erik [00:02:10]:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Let’s see. Superhero origin story. I have loved podcasts since I heard about them, and how I heard about them was when they were introduced in iTunes literally the moment they were launched. It was, June or July? I forget which. I probably should double check this because it’s July June or July of 20, sorry, 2005.

Erik’s Introduction to Productivity

Erik [00:02:33]:
I’m sitting there in a data entry job, and I’m typing away, and I’m listening to music, and iTunes pops up. There’s an update. And I’m like, great. Bio break. Let’s go refresh the coffee. Let’s use the restroom, whatever. Come back. It’s done.

I’m sitting there typing on my, you know, tube monitor Dell whatever thing and but, anyway and I look over to fire my music back up, and I see this tab and it says Podcast. And I click in, and I say, oh, these are radio shows, but with TiVo included where I can download them and pause them, and I can pick right back up.

I can stop and start them. I can you know, I don’t I don’t miss out like you would with terrestrial tune it on the radio. You miss what they said.

And at that moment, I said, oh, I’m gonna do one of these. Now I didn’t do one for a while, but I did eventually do one. That was not the show I do now back in, like, what was it, 2007.

I had ranked out of the data entry. I was doing something else. Friend of mine and I, working in that same office, would go to his house during our lunch hour, and we would record our version of a late night talk show. We’d review movies and music and different things.

We’d do some funny, like, skit type stuff. End of that year, iTunes, Apple had us listed as one of the Top 10 new comedy podcasts.

Julie [00:03:56]:
You are joking, dude.

This is crazy. Oh, wait. Quick question. When you opened up a podcast for the first time, first of all, were you on, like, a nano or an iPod? What were you on? Which is just funny to think about way back in the day.

Erik [00:04:11]:
Just the iTunes desktop on a Windows machine. I didn’t even at that time, I didn’t even have an iPod of any kind to connect to it to then download them and take them with me portably.

Although that was my next goal, okay. I gotta get an iPod. I gotta scratch together some money and get an iPod so I can then download these and take them with me. I gotta have my shows, my stories.

Julie [00:04:38]:
So when you open that up for the first time, there were actually people who, for whatever reason, whether Itunes had contacted them or they were doing something or however it happens that they were sort of the native first users on this new platform.

Erik [00:04:53]:
Yeah. Apple was smart. Podcasting already existed for at least two to three years at that point. No one but the geekiest of the geekiest knew about it. But daily source code from Adam Curry was in there.

Some of the usual specs from NPR were already in there because they’d already been doing that and had it out there, but it was not formalized and into, like, one ecosystem where you could just find it all by searching.

And so Apple was really kinda the first place to go and just get all of it and find and discover all of it. Way different now.

Landscape’s way different now. We’re coming up on 20 years. We’re about right now, I think. No. It’s next year. It’s next summer. We’re recording this in January 2024.

Erik [00:05:41]:
It’ll be 20 years next summer. That blows my mind.

Julie [00:05:45]:
I know. That’s how weird time is, that’s how weird time is. I know.

Experiment, Persevere, Embrace the Learning Process

Julie [00:05:49]:
So, also, I wanna highlight the fact that because the audience of this podcast are so many entrepreneurial minded people, and they’ve got a little side hustle going. They got a little something going.

And whether they have it it really doesn’t matter whether you have aspirations to make it your full time gig or it’s something that brings you a little bit of a passion, passion project, whatever.

You know, work is involved in whatever it is that you want to accomplish something in. And I love that you mentioned we would go on our lunch hours, and we would be recording this stuff, which probably some days was mildly inconvenient.

And yet you’ve kinda committed to this and you’re doing it, and that’s kinda what a hustle looks like. You know? It looks like I’m doing it during my lunch hours. I’m doing it in the morning.

I’m doing it late at night, and I’m doing it because I love it. And I don’t really know where it’s gonna go, but I’m really loving what I’m doing.

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How Erik Systemized Early On In His Podcasting

Erik [00:06:39]:
The way we systematized it was that he had a spare bedroom, and we created the whole setup there with the sound, the mini soundboard and the headphones and the microphones and the couches and the coffee table, and we just left it set up because we could, and that was great.

And then it was in a space where, okay, we had to leave the building. We had privacy. No one was at his house during that time, and we also knew that we didn’t need to air quotes “waste our time eating lunch during our lunch hour”.

We could do that back at our desk. We could spend the entire time recording something for 30, 45 minutes, and it was good enough.

And then we’d bring it back and then take it home on my little portable hard drive and edit it if it needed it and publish it. And we had a lot of excitement right off the bat, we were doing it 3, 4, 5 times a week, daily, you know, weekdays.

Now as we got going through it, it was like, hey. You know? I don’t really feel like recording today. Okay. Cool. We already put 1 or 2 out this week. That’s fine.

We would have been smarter to have, like, said, you know what? Let’s just stick with it, we’ll do one early in the week and one later in the week, and just, like, hindsight, obviously, it’s 2020.

Then other days, it was like, hey. Let’s just go to your house. We’ll order a pizza on the way and pick it up, and then we’ll sit and play video games for our lunch hour.

And it was like, okay. So we were kinda like Malcolm Gladwell. We did a bunch of those hours, We got it done and got it done.

And as we did more through as that year progressed, we did fewer episodes, but we had banked I mean, seriously, by, I think it was, what, April March, April, we started it. By that December, we had, like, 70 something episodes. It was insane.

Julie [00:08:28]:
That’s insane.

Erik [00:08:31]:
But it was that fun kind of, like, just get your hands dirty and dry and do it and post it. Yeah. And then, again, it was the early days of even social media being a thing where you would post stuff and people would get excited.

And so the landscape was different, but that’s not to say that it was better or worse. It was just different. So tapping into that excitement of that idea is really the lesson there. Just learn as much as you can while you’re on fire for it.

Julie [00:08:59]:
I could not agree with you more. I remember when you were talking, it made me think of when I started teaching group exercise. And I was literally teaching every format under I mean, you name it.

I was teaching every format badly, but I was teaching every format because I just wanted to figure out what I loved, and I, to your point, was so on fire for just oh my gosh.

I love teaching fitness so much. Let me just teach anything and everything. And then to your point again, you start to wheedle it down to, okay, this is I love, and let’s kinda find a rhythm here, but it does take that let me set my ego aside, and let me just get in and get my hands dirty and figure this out and really get those repetitions.

And if someone took no other lesson away from this episode, if they took that, like, get over yourself and get in there and get your hands dirty and just be willing to suck really badly for a while and just be okay with that.

Erik [00:09:53]:
Yeah. I mean and and that’s the thing is, like, I have I don’t know in the last it’s been years now since I listened to any of those old things we had recorded. But I’ll tell you what, there were some nuggets in there that were gold that I still just like. I don’t think it’s great podcasting, but I think that it’s, like, really great practicing podcasting.

Julie [00:10:13]:
Oh, that’s good.

Look Back To Learn But Keep Going On Your Journey

Reverse Engineer Success:

Breakdown big goals into manageable chunks by reverse engineering them. Define the end goal and create a step-by-step plan working backward from the desired outcome.

Erik [00:10:14]:
And I can admire that and even say, kook how far like that, that wasn’t that it was not a solo show. I don’t think what I do right now is a solo show either because I mostly have guests, although we’re doing, like, a mailbag coming up.

But, just you can see the growth. Don’t be afraid to look back at the “bad stuff” you used to do because it helps you feel more competent now.

Julie [00:10:41]:
That’s so good. Okay. So keep going. Keep telling us your journey. So now we’re podcasting, and then and how did you start to dial in on this niche of productivity.

Erik [00:10:53]:
The productivity. So it also so the other cool thing is that same summer of 2005, I just felt like, you know what? I’m gonna check-in on this. And what I checked in on was, do I have ADD or ADHD? And I got tested and was diagnosed.

And so I started to take medication. I didn’t really stick with that because I felt like the side effects were a little wonky. Basically, I was not able to sleep very well, and I was finding well, I’m tired all the time.

So I just kinda probably not the most mature thing to have done, but, again, this was 20 plus years ago. And we had a baby in the house at that point, our first.

And that was also part of the sleep deprivation too. Right? And so, I just said, you know what? I need stability right now. I will come back to this later.

Adjusting to Life’s Seasons & Revisit Past Strategies

But what I did instead was… in hindsight then as well as from then even further back… realized, oh, I’ve been trying to organize my life and make things work this whole time, and I’ve just been systematizing things as much as I can possibly do to have better focus, to stay on task, to even identify tasks, and so much more.

And so I already had a fascinating, preoccupation slash fascination with productivity. Didn’t think it was anything that I was gonna do anything with until I was co hosting with somebody else on a different show completely about social media and marketing and stuff from about 09 to 20 late 2011. 2012 hits, January 2012, and that person says, hey. I’m gonna fade out that podcast.

I’m doing a bunch of them. I’m gonna pair down, and I said, I respect you for that. Great job. Do less. Do the right things and do less things, but do the right things.

And that then frees me up to go start something new, which is this show that I do now beyond the to do list. And I thought, okay.

What am I gonna do? And at first a blog, and then I’m like, no you’re not. You wanna talk.

You’re not a writer or at least not a writer at first. You can talk things into existence and audibly, create and then take what you did with that and turn it into writing, which I have done at times.

But I was like, what are you gonna talk about? And who are you gonna talk to? So what are you gonna do? What’s the format? What’s the premise? All of that. And so I start it’s back burner.

It’s simmering, and I go to a podcast and social media conference at one point, I think it was called blog world at the time, and it was in New York City. And I go with this goal of, I’m gonna figure it out while I’m here.

Shifting productivity strategies with changing circumstances

Erik [00:13:33]:
I’m gonna talk to people. The magic’s in the classrooms as well as the hallways, and we’re gonna iron this down. And I said, okay. You wanna talk to people, and you wanna talk about topics. And you already know some people you can talk to that are experts and things, but what do you wanna talk to them about?

And I said, You know what? You wanna know how their learning can help you. You want free coaching in other words. Right? And it came down to tt it suddenly hit me. I wanna know how creative they are at a moment’s notice.

I wanna know how they manage their time. I wanna know how they balance work life balance, which was a new phrasing of a concept at that time, and I wanna know how they manage themselves. Oh, so is it a business podcast that’s like self management? And I said, no.

And this is all internal dialogue, by the way, that I’m just sharing out audibly right now. No. It’s kinda like productivity, but it’s productivity beyond the to do list … that’s the title right there, and it kinda then I said it again with almost a buzz lightyear. Be it productivity and beyond, and I was like, that is it.

Julie [00:14:40]:
That’s the best ever. Yeah.

Erik [00:14:42]:
So that’s how the show came about, and then instantly I said, Well, I already have a list of at least 10 people I know will say yes, and I know what they can talk to them about.

Meanwhile, as I’m organizing with them, what are the other names and what are the other topics?

And then the cool thing was I knew I could get Michael Hyatt right away. And I did, and that then unlocked the door for many more people. And so I’ve been doing it for 11 years plus now.

Julie [00:15:11]:
I need to know how you knew you could get Michael Hyatt.

Erik [00:15:14]:
Connections. I just knew. I knew. He knew who I was through like, I had heard him mention my name on a show he had been on that I listened to. He was like, yeah. One of the other shows that I really like is this one with this guy and Eric Fisher, and they talk about this stuff. And I said, he just said my name.

Julie [00:15:34]:
That’s me.

Erik [00:15:34]:
What’s going on?

Julie [00:15:35]:
That’s me.

Erik [00:15:35]:
It’s like, what? And then I also knew he was gonna be at Blogworld, the conference I mentioned in New York City. And so I got to meet him in person there and shake his hand and say, I’m starting a podcast.

Would you be a guest on it? And I kinda assumed he’d say yes. He said, oh, I would love to. Let’s iron it out. So I already walked away from the conference with 1 big name. Yeah.

And that’s the and so here’s this follow-up story. I start the show, and I start thinking, oh my gosh. I love doing this. I need to think of other big names I wanna have.

Well, one of the biggest names you can think of is David Allen from Getting Things Done.

And I went to his site within the 1st 2, 3 weeks of me starting the show, and I caught throw contact through. I say, hi. I’m starting the show. I wanna talk to you. And within 24 hours, I had an email back from his wife saying Dave would love to. And would this date at this time work? And I said, yes. Of course, it will.

I will move heaven and earth to make sure my calendar is clear at that time. And I got him within the first 15 episodes of my show. And I thought it was gonna take asking and asking and asking.

And that didn’t work for everybody because I had asked Seth Godin a few times. But finally, they reached out to me this year, this past year, and I did get him.

Julie [00:17:05]:
Wow. That’s huge, Eric. That’s like … That’s Seth Godin. But also, you know, to your point, the lesson in that, the takeaway is that this doesn’t happen overnight.

Yes, you might have gotten that one guest right out of the gate from work you were doing before lots of people were taking notice, From work you were doing before, so, you know, setting the foundation before you even knew you were setting a foundation.

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So none of this stuff happens just because you decide to start a podcast and then overnight people say yes. And I think that that’s really important, especially for female entrepreneurs to remember that whatever this is for you will be a long game if you want to actually have some impact and create some income in your life. It’s never going to happen overnight.

The Power of Incremental Progress Towards Your Long-Term Goals

Erik [00:17:53]:
Yeah. I always go back to and I think this is another mutual connection slash friend that we have is John Acuff who’s been on the show a number of times. And one of the things I love that he says is There is no wasted experience. All that stuff that you did that you were hustling on and trying to make work, you then pull forward into something else.

All that Experience. All that learning can be applied to something new and different when the time is right for that. It’s not a wasted experience.

It’s just earned experience that you use and can spend. So Yeah.

Julie [00:18:26]:
He’s one of my favorites.

So here you are doing this podcast now, And it’s all about productivity, and you’re listening to the top people talk about what you do beyond the to-do list. So let’s just kinda put you on the spot Lou Mangello style, shall we?

And alright. I mean, maybe not a top ten, but let’s say going into a brand new year, working smarter, not harder.

What would you say would be your top, you know, 3 to 5 tips on just productivity in general? Someone is like, listen, this year has to be different. Where would you tell them to start?

Erik shares another way to think about starting your “new year” in a way that works for you.

Erik [00:19:05]:
It’s gonna be funny because I am one of those people. I have a friend who also does a productivity show. He’s been doing it for a long time, Mike Vardy, and he starts his year September 1st.

Julie [00:19:17]:
Oh, like a school year.

Erik [00:19:18]:
And it’s to bypass the whole, Alright. We gotta close out the calendar year strong and start the other one strong too, and yet you’re drained because you’ve been running and running and running.

You’re kinda on fumes at that point if you haven’t been doing self care and kind of putting in the margin in place and boundaries and all the things that we talk about. So that said, I actually really like not jumping into January. It’s funny.

The other day, somebody said, January is the week between the holidays and the New Year, and I thought that’s a really great way of putting that concept. I love now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important and imperative.

And if you can do it and it fits you, because there is no one size fits all. But in my experience, I don’t love doing lots of introspection backwards and goal setting forwards at that time of year.

And I think this one that we just passed, holidays of Christmas, New Years, whatever you celebrate, For me, prove that definitively. I don’t.

I wanna relax. I want to rest. I wanna spend time with family and friends and enjoy the time observing different things. I wanna do planning and goal setting and all that kind of stuff. I think for me, retrospective is better mid to late summer.

And I think starting to kick off and implement early fall, like that September time frame. And so I will personally be digging into my friend Mike Vardy’s stuff about starting the year in September 1st.

[00:20:59]:
All that said, That’s what it takes. It takes looking back and saying what you know you want things to be different. But you only have a vague sense of wanting to be different.

You don’t have any concrete things. Instead, you’ve gotta say what isn’t working, and then really drill down and say, Okay. My health doesn’t work. The way that I’m spending my time doesn’t… I feel like I’m scrolling on my phone constantly and getting nothing done.

Like, I could list a bunch of stuff off there. You have to identify those things first before you can course correct and say, well, then I’m gonna put boundaries up for my technology.

I’m going to put plans in place that Julie can do for me when it comes to health and fitness. And you have to but you have to identify them first. And I would also say, don’t be afraid to dream too big here.

But then realize, okay, you’re not gonna turn and pivot all of them all at once.

You’re going to pick and choose one or two and wear that groove. Start to wear that groove, get in that groove, and that momentum will beget more momentum across all the other things.

Julie [00:22:11]:
I think that’s such an important point. I talk about that a lot too, and so I’m glad that you spoke about it, this idea of thinking we have to overhaul our entire lives. And if we could deconstruct one myth in terms of whatever it is, New Year’s resolutions or what goal setting, it would be that, like, knock it off.

Like, you are not going to overhaul your entire life overnight, and it’s not gonna happen because the calendar magically turns to January 1st, and we certainly won’t stick with it.

You know, when I was teaching group fitness in gym settings, of course, the first week of January was like madness and mayhem. And I loved it because I love seeing people come into the gym, but I would always say to them that first week.

I’m like, I need to see you here in April when it’s not so sexy to be here, when it’s not so cool, and it’s not so Instagramable, I really wanna see you here in April. I wanna see you here on a random Tuesday evening in, what, July, you know, whatever.

I really because it’s not the giant overhaul that will change your life. It really is those small recalibrations that you stick to that you stick to, whatever it is that you decide.

Erik [00:23:16]:
Yeah. The new year, new you thing is fine, but how about new you right now? And also know that, again, it’s not a whole new you right now.

It’s one one brick by brick by brick daily here forward.

Julie [00:23:32]:
Yeah. Oh my God. That’s so good. Okay. So we’ll call, we’ll just say Sally. I use the words the name Sally. So Sally is like, okay. I am going to look back.

I’ve decided what doesn’t work. I’ve kinda figured out what I wanna do. You know, what does Sally do from there? Where does she, now that she’s got some idea where she is, what she does when she wakes up on a Monday, what’s she doing?

Erik [00:23:58]:
I think this is the case where you reverse engineer things. You say, okay. You can I mean, you can do this by quarters? You can do this by I mean, probably best to break it down into quarters.

But if you say, okay. I’ve identified the things that I wanna change, whether it ‘s let’s go with business. Something in your business. There’s a thing you wanna launch. Let’s use this as an example.

There’s a thing you wanna launch. This is actually a good example because There’s a point in time where it’s launched. Yeah. When is that? How far out is that? What’s the timeline, in other words?

Go to the end of the timeline and say it’s launched. Now what all needs to happen backwards from then to now for it to launch? It’s the creation of the thing. It’s the organizing of the thing.

It’s the, you know, whatever it is, if it’s a book, it’s a course, it’s a it’s a whatever. And only the way the only way it’s gonna get done is not by doing now, again, this is my okay.

Erik [00:24:48]:
Caveat. Sometimes taking cave days or retreat times and going away and, you know, hammering on the creation side of things can work for people.

And I think there are some fits and spurts, you know, especially if you’re new and excited like we’re talking about earlier with my podcasting. Yeah. Go. Hey. Go.

If you can do it every day for a week for five days and really hammer it home and practice and come up with something and you’re creating and you’re getting it down, great.

You’re capturing. You’re collecting. You’re curating. You’re editing all that kind of stuff all at once because you’re excited about it.

Embrace that if you can in your time and your schedule. If you don’t have that time and that schedule, you’re gonna have to make some time.

[00:25:28]:
And the easiest way to do that is figure out what things you can stop or pause to be able to insert that time. So that’s all that.

But I really think it’s way more, have an idea of what it is at the end, reverse engineer what all those different steps are and know that it may course correct and change as you’re headed that way.

The timeline may shift as you go, bBut at least if you reverse engineer and start with that end in mind I think there’s even a book called that. And, if you can do that, then you’re gonna start off from a much healthier place at a much better pace. It’s all about pacing.

Julie [00:26:08]:
That’s good. That idea of pacing, that is really good.

Julie [00:27:30]:
So I’ve been having some conversations with some of my business partners about that, and I’m okay. Where do you wanna be at the end of the year? Is this January? Where do you wanna be? I want to add this many people to my team.

Like, that’s awesome because right away that’s even though it’s quantifiable, it’s also a little nebulous because what hasn’t been talked about or thought about or strategized around is how we’re getting to that actual number.

And that’s where that reverse is okay. Well, that needs this many people or or whatever you know, can you even use it in terms of savings. You know, I want to save x amount of dollars.

What does that mean per week? What does that mean per month, what does that mean at the end of the year? And when you start thinking about it that way, to me, that feels a little bit more empowering.

That goal at the end of the year is awesome, and hopefully that keeps you on track. But it can also feel very nebulous because it’s just it’s and and also we all know like, we all were in high school at one point.

When did you study for your test? You study for your test on the night before the test. We know this. We humans are weird like this, and so we’ll wait till the end of the year, and then we’ll scramble around because we didn’t accomplish our goals.

And these little metrics on the way to the goal help us to your point with pacing.

Erik [00:28:43]:
Well and there’s an example there too of that last minute study that I can talk to without embarrassing my daughter, but she won’t care. I’m not throwing her under the bus. She’s learned or she’s learning, I should say.

Acknowledge your thoughts, capture them, then release them. It’s a mental game of catch and release to align your brain as an ally, not an adversary.

My eldest daughter who is turning 19 in about a week, she just finished her first semester of college. She’s studying to be a vet tech. She loves animals. We all love animals in this house. So she is doing a dual program with Purdue and then a local college here, and she goes there and she lives there.

And, anyways, she was done with her local stuff, but her Purdue study she had two files for Purdue still to do. She came home from college for first Christmas break, and she’s still studying and, and then taking the test at the end of the day, two days in a row, and she hadn’t really done a lot of studying for them up till that point.

And I’m observing her, I’m trying to be a very sensitive person and, you know, a kind dad. But I’m also trying to say, like, hey. You know that sitting there for hours at a time is a downward slope of attention and energy, etcetera.

You’re not learning anymore as you’re just sitting there. Instead, you need to have your flashcards or whatever it is made up of and then you sit and do it for 5, 10 minutes, get up, move around, go for a walk, walk the dogs.

Work In Smaller Increments of Time For Greater Productivity

It’s like studying. But you’re getting up and you’re moving and then you come back. And every time you refresh and refresh and refresh, instead of sitting there with this drop off of attention. You’re learning faster, better, and more. The way that this lesson applies is kind of with, like, Pomodoro technique.

It’s not just I mentioned finding that time and what you’re gonna stop. Well, sometimes we think we need, again, 2, 3, 4 hours to get anything meaningful done on that project, that thing we’re creating.

Roughly, half an hour a day of uninterrupted time. If you can sit and say, okay. for 15 minutes, I’m gonna do or if if you can dedicate an hour, and even if that means getting up a little earlier and you adjust your schedule, but you do it, with that one hour, you’re gonna leverage and lift so much more because if you do 15 minutes and a 5 minute break, in 15 minutes and a 5 minute break, and then do it one more time.

In that hour, you air quotes worked 45 minutes, but you did more with that 45 minutes, especially because of those 5 minute breaks of refresh and reconfiguration and recharging. Where you flip the switches and Instead of sitting, you’re standing.

Instead of all those things to take breaks the right way, which we could go into, with that 45 minutes, you got so much more done than thinking I have to dedicate 2 to 3 hours on a Saturday morning where I leave the house and commute there and etcetera, etcetera. No. 45 minutes times, even 3 to 5 days in a week is so much more impactful.

Julie [00:31:42]:
Yeah. That is so good because I know especially with female entrepreneurs who do have a lot of pulls on their time, they tend to… we tend to… I see this in my business. I’ve felt this myself. I’ve heard this so many times.

Well, you know, I just can’t find the time. I can’t find the time because they’re looking for that 2 hour block of time where the laundry is done and the kids are asleep and the dishes are put away and there’s and the house is quiet and they have the perfect notebook and the perfect planner, that is not going to happen.

And what you’re doing is just setting yourself up to not ever hit you’re giving yourself an out to ever hitting your goal because You’re scared.

That’s a whole nother fear conversation, but that’s what we put into place. Like, that’s the distraction that we put in our into place and the excuses we give ourselves rather than just sitting down and doing to your point 15 minutes of work.

15 minutes of work here, 15 minutes of work there, 15 minutes of that, far more progress then waiting for everything to be so and then going to Target and spending $150 on the notebook aisle because you gotta have the perfect notebook to do the thing and all, you know, all of that.

And we talk ourselves out of doing anything because of this story that we’ve created in our head that man, if you take anything away from this podcast and you’d think, okay.

I’m gonna work for 15 minutes here, 15 minutes here, 15 minutes here, and you do that every day, like, that’s huge. That’s huge progress.

Erik [00:33:04]:
And if you’re an antsy person like me who thinks, oh, there’s other stuff I should be doing, you can use that 5 minutes for like, I have been the person who sat at my desk, did 15, 20 minutes, and then said, okay that thing is now done, that piece, that part, that whatever.

I then go stand at the kitchen sink and we’ll do some dishes for 5 minutes. And I’m kind of you know, with some music playing to pump me up, and I’m like, alright. Look. You got that done, and now I may still be doing work. It’s a chore. It’s whatever, but I’m at least doing something else completely.

I’m not on a screen. I was sitting now I’m standing. This is what I talk about when it comes to brakes and flipping the switches.

  • If you were sitting, stand.
  • If you were standing, sit.
  • If you were looking at a screen, don’t.
  • If it was quiet, music.
  • If it was, you know, loud, get somewhere quiet solitude. Inside, outside, etcetera.

Flip flipping all those refreshes and recharges.

Julie [00:34:03]:
Yeah. And that’s the novelty that our brain likes.

I like that. You know, during the pandemic when 2 of my 3 girls came back home and were living at home. I would still get up…. I can’t believe I did this, but I would get up at 4 AM because morning’s really important to me, and getting stuff done in the morning’s really important to me. It’s my green zone. It’s when I function the best.

And I still had a business to run even if it was a pandemic. And now I had a business to run with a husband who is also home trying to coach a football team from our house with 2 daughters who are home trying to do schoolwork, one of which was taking singing and dancing classes, and I just kinda looked at the landscape of the situation and thought, well, I still have stuff to do. This is important to me.

What can I adjust to your point? I’m gonna get up earlier. I’m gonna get up at 4 AM, and I’m gonna use this amount because let me just tell you. Nobody else in my house is getting up at 4 AM.

So what did I just guarantee myself? Three hours probably, you know, two and a half at least before other people were up and moving about and doing anything, and it was worth it to me.

In that season of my life to adjust my time and use it accordingly. So I think that’s another. We have to remember, not everything is forever. So you’re adjusting, but maybe not forever.

Erik [00:35:23]:
Yeah. There are literal seasons of the climate and weather, and then there’s also seasons of life. And that’s why, like, somebody asked me just the other day, hey, what have been some of the biggest things you’ve learned about productivity from people you’ve talked to on your show, and I say honestly, one of the thing there’s so many things, but what I come back to again and again is there’s a portfolio of stuff that worked for a season that then you either pull back out and say, you know, that used to work then.

It then stopped working because the season changed in life, etcetera. But maybe it’ll work again. And that’s another thing I would say to people that are wanting to start new things or revamp the new year is, like, what if what are some of the things that used to work that you’re not doing now that might work again?

Revisit the portfolio of productivity and adapt productivity methods to change with the seasons of your life.

Julie [00:36:11]:
And that is I love that so much because all because I work in the health of business space. And invariably, there will be the story. Well, you know, I used to work and then I just stopped. Then I’m like, well, why? Because you know it made you feel better.

But a lot of the time, it’s because I used to work out and this was before they had kids. I know I used to go to the gym for a couple hours a day and then when their life changed, maybe they had children or they moved away, they got married, whatever, suddenly, the story they told themselves, well, I can’t do that anymore.

And it became, I can’t do anything anymore. And how about we shift that story to well, the habit will stay the same.

I’m still gonna get a workout and a movement in, but how it looks will be different now because of this season of life.

Erik [00:36:54]:
And there’s, I forget who it is, off the top of my head, but somebody was I listened to a whole, like, audiobook they had of this where it was, basically…

You have certain gifts, you have certain talents, and you have this innate desire as to what you wanna do to make an impact on the world, we get stuck in the modality of how that actually works its way out when instead it’s no.

The essence of that is the thing that can take… its fluid. It takes different forms when you pour it into different things instead of thinking.

I mean, it’s the literal thinking inside the box. Oh, my thing can only fit in this box. No. It fits in this box, in this box, in this box.

It fits in this weird curvy weird one. It’s, you know, it just, And over time, that’s what it gets you continually report into different modes and ways of doing things.

And that I think there was a year, year and a half ago that I heard that, and it just kinda like, oh my gosh. I’ve been thinking about it all wrong.

Julie [00:37:51]:
That I mean, that’s so brilliant. We get so caught up in the literal how of the thing instead of, to your point, the essence of it or the why I wanna do it or the gift that I think I’m supposed to bring the world.

I was a high school English teacher. I am no longer a high school English teacher, but I would say I’m probably still teaching in some way because it’s not that I have to be a high school English teacher.

It’s that I really like to shorten people’s learning curve, I really want to help people live their best life.

And maybe at a point in time that was helping high school students, but maybe now it’s helping, you know, female entrepreneurs or whatever it might be. So getting really, you know, removing that expectation that it has to look a certain way, I think, really serves us.

Erik [00:38:36]:
Well, let me put my podcaster hat on real quick and say, what for you when you were doing that, was it about, like, the literature itself or and the lessons that came like, it was about the literature itself, or was it really about the teaching and the unpacking of the story, and I’m relating that to the story of the person reading the story and your your students.

Julie [00:38:59]:
It was looking at my students and watching the light bulb go off for them when they realized that something William Shakespeare wrote 100 of years ago was still the same thing we were saying today.

They were just saying it differently and had them go, oh, oh, reading’s cool. And I’d be like, yes. Yes.

There was the light bulb moment, which then translated to when I was teaching group fitness and watching someone in my class realize they could do a squat when they didn’t think they could or one more push up when they did and it was a light bulb for them. And now it’s helping women build a business and realize they can make money.

It’s a light so it’s always this, like, light bulb moment, where you help someone realize their greater potential.

Erik [00:39:41]:
That’s it right there. See and since somebody would get stuck and say, well, I can’t find a job that is, I can’t find an English teacher job.

So I guess I don’t know what to do. No. In fact, you know that it’s not about that. It’s about the light bulb moments, and because of that and that rethinking of that, you had your own light bulb moment.

Julie [00:40:01]:
We’re just having our own podcast here right now.

I love it so much. Okay. So to wrap up, would you think of maybe, like, your top like, who are your top 3 guests? It’s like, who said something that you’re like, first of all, I can’t believe this person came on my podcast.

And secondly, when they said that, like, the world stopped turning, and it stayed with me ever since.

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Erik [00:40:23]:
Yeah. Well, I mean, off the top of my head right away, I can say Jon Acuff has been on so many times, but his most recent thread of thought or at least from the books he hasn’t published, the books he’s published.

He’s got more, obviously, he’s working on, but his soundtrack ethos soundtracks and the follow-up that he wrote or that his daughters wrote and he edited really, that, that it has to do with the the stories we tell ourselves so that we’re living inside of our own head and and the soundtrack that we would play over and over and course correcting, re redesigning the playlist.

So that we think better, not just about ourselves, about what we can do and all of that. And I’m completely downplaying this, but it’s about mindset, basically. Mindset, motivation, Self talk, all of that.

All of that is so important, and I’ve, you know, I’ve spun my mental ram and wheels and whatever you wanna call it over and over and over thinking and believing things that were false.

And just unlearning that is so important. Yes. So there’s that. I’m trying to think of some other ones. There’s been so many. One of the ones one of the biggest ones for me was when it comes to distractions, and this may help.

Effective Task Management To Not Interrupt Productivity

People that are super busy and can’t turn their brain off while they’re trying to do that focus time have either a legal pad or even a mini legal pad, and I’m saying don’t do it digitally.

Have it set near you with a pen. And it’s kinda like meditation, in fact, where as you’re focusing on doing something, a thought comes to mind. Oh, I’ve gotta remember to create that vet appointment for the dogs. Okay. Well, I don’t try to force that out of my head and remember it later.

Pull the pad close gently, take the pen, write it down, acknowledge that appointment, and then push it away. And you’ve then taught your brain to acknowledge the thought and then capture it and let it go.

And then thing is then later, you’ve got this other to do list of stuff. And if you do those things, then again, when the next time comes around to do more focused work and you pull that pad over and the thought comes up, your brain’s like, hey, you did it last time when I brought it up, and then, you captured it and then took care of it. You made that appointment. I trust you. And it’s this little inner dialogue between you and your subconscious where you’re…

Julie [00:42:56]:
training your brain.

Erik [00:42:56]:
You’re training. Exactly. And so you’re training yourself, and you’re training your brain to work with you instead of against you to distract you. So

Julie [00:43:03]:
So it all that also helps in the story, we tell ourselves that everything has to be perfectly quiet. We have to be perfectly focused because we’ve now given ourselves a tool to capture all of that that happens while we are still trying to get work done so we’re not fighting ourselves anymore.

We’ve given ourselves a system to work with ourselves, which just feels like making a happier human all around.

Erik [00:43:28]:
Yeah. Yeah. And I think it was, I’m trying to think. It’s a guy I don’t know if you know who Chris Brogan is, but he’s this guy who works with him, Rob. I’m blanking on his last name. It’s been a while since he was on, but we we kind of made that analogy kind of like you’re working from home, and you have a toddler, and that toddler has a thought. Most of us have experienced this. Right? The toddler comes up.

She’s like, hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. And you just want the toddler to go yeah. Yeah. Go.

Yes. You can do the thing. Go. But instead, how much more calm and especially how much more kind is it to train them toddler wise or your brain wise because our brains are toddlers sometimes, to acknowledge and train them that daddy and mommy are busy right now.

We’re working. Oh, but your but your thought and you specifically are important. And so you capture that and say, not now, but in a moment. Yeah. Not now, but soon.

When that soon actually happens and they believe you… So it’s a parenting thing too, really.

Julie [00:44:41]:
Really train. But, again, to your point, everything’s about mindset. Everything’s about mindset and then coming about training your brain. Okay. What about Seth Godin? I mean, what did he say? I mean, I just can’t like, the entire podcast just had to be gold.

Erik [00:44:54]:
He was talking about his brand new book, And I’m blanking at the title right now, but it was all about the new world of work when it comes to just culture of work and how we look at work.

It was really honestly, it was kind of like that whole, hey, this is the essence of what I do. It’s a light bulb moment for you.

It’s how I do that, but how do I do that in the new world of work versus the old world of work and how organizations, big and small, can rethink that. It’s really a thinker piece. It’s very much a Malcolm Gladwell type book in a lot of ways, and it’s a very short read.

And it’s very cool. Like, I need to actually refresh. I need to reread it. In fact, Just give me 2 seconds. I’m gonna Google it.

I used to have it just sitting on my desk. The Song of Significance is what it’s called, and it’s about challenging the way we think about business and leadership. So

Julie [00:46:05]:
There’s just very little he does that isn’t gold. Just so smart and so articulate at communicating, you know, all of, so good.

Erik [00:46:16]:
And even from him, he was very kind. And when and when I hit stop on the recording, and I wish I hadn’t hit stop yet in one of the two places that I was recording, he said to me, wow, Eric. You are very good at what you do.

And I just was like, I hold that in my head and in my heart moving forward just as a reminder, I don’t have it recorded literally, but I have it recorded in my head and my heart. So…

Julie [00:46:43]:
And we need those, you know, to your point, kinda bringing it back to what you’re talking about before and kind of looking back being okay with looking back at where we were and acknowledging where we are, there are times when you are going to need to look back and pull that out and remember, like, you know what?

I am pretty good at what I do, and I’m even if this was a hard moment or a challenging moment or I feel like my energy’s lagging, whatever it might be, you can pull that out.

So it’s, you know, back to the beginning of what we’re talking about, really looking back at where you were, using that moving forward, setting those goals, and then reverse engineering all of that.

That’s really the key to that reverse engineering and putting those tools and systems in place to help you stay focused so when you do sit down to work, it’s not a big production, and it’s also not 16 hours.

We don’t need to be doing that. We’re just not meant to do that.

Erik [00:47:33]:
It’s that downward slope where it’s just like, oh my gosh. I’m getting nothing done now. Yeah. And you’re just wasting your time.

Julie [00:47:42]:
So where can people find you and tell us all the things?

Erik [00:47:46]:
Yeah. Well, the best place is to just go check out the show at beyondthetodolist.com. There’s where you’ll find there’s a search box there. You can just type in any kind of topic.

You can also scroll, you can type in a name, type in a topic. It’s probably in there. There’s 11 plus years of shows in there. Over 500 episodes, and that’s a good place to start.

And then if you wanna connect with me at all on social, Primarily, I would say Instagram or threads is where I go now because Twitter’s kinda dead. 

Julie [00:48:25]:
Well, this has just been a joy, and I look forward to, you know, the Crank It Up podcast followers happy into this resource because we all wanna get more done, and we all wanna get more done in a way that feels joyful and that we love, that is fun.

Because when we’re experiencing joy, when we’re experiencing happiness, when we’re loving what we’re doing, we stay focused. We stay committed. We get those goals done.

So I’m so appreciative of you being here. I can’t wait to tap into that resource myself. You’re awesome. This has been great. Thank you for coming on.

Erik [00:48:58]:
Thank you for having me. It’s been great.

Thank you so much for listening to the Crank It Up podcast. If you know a friend who would benefit from this I mean, who wouldn’t? If you know a friend who would benefit from this episode, this conversation around personal growth, will you share this episode with them? I would appreciate it.

Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about personal growth. Let’s get the world, especially women, on an intentional personal growth journey. Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about cranking up your goals, cranking up your dreams, and cranking up your life.

Want more motivation & inspo sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to my Peptalks!

Ready to level up your personal growth & development? Get info on the #1 tool I use on my journey! julievoris.com/growth 

And let’s get connected on Instagram @julievoris and @project100.co

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Meet Erik Fischer

Overwhelmed by all the hats you wear in life? Listen in as Erik Fisher talks with productivity experts as they share how they implement practical productivity strategies in their personal and professional lives.

We explore all aspects of productivity and the true end goal of productivity: living a meaningful life.

For more than a decade, Erik Fisher has sat down with productivity experts, authors, creatives as they share their insights on how to implement productivity strategies in both your professional and personal life.

Thank you so much for listening to the Crank It Up podcast. If you know a friend who would benefit from this I mean, who wouldn’t? If you know a friend who would benefit from this episode, this conversation around personal growth, will you share this episode with them? I would appreciate it.

Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about personal growth. Let’s get the world, especially women, on an intentional personal growth journey. Let’s get the world, especially women, talking about cranking up your goals, cranking up your dreams, and cranking up your life.

Want more motivation & inspo sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to my Peptalks!

Ready to level up your personal growth & development? Get info on the #1 tool I use on my journey! julievoris.com/growth 

And let’s get connected on Instagram @julievoris and @project100.co

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