This guide is actually not a guide.
It’s a heavily “polished” version of my notes from over 10+ years of research.
Self Improvement is a passion of mine and as such whenever I meet an expert on the topic or find some unique tool or program, I take detailed notes for later testing.
Below are my top 5 strategies and apps that allow me to run multiple successful companies, travel the globe and SOMEHOW sleep 8+ hours per night while taking multiple days off per week.
Before we get started, know that almost NONE of the following information is unique to me.
I have had the amazing opportunity to study and learn from some of the most successfully productive humans on the face of the planet. In some cases I have tweaked and optimized these strategies for what I believe is the better but almost everything here has been shared before in some form or another.
Now without any further distractions, here are my Simple Ways to 10X Your Productivity in 48 Hours or Less!
Step 1: Track EVERYTHING
The first step to understanding how to be more productive is to (shocker) identify what is causing you to NOT be productive.
When I got started on the “self improvement and motivation” path, the first thing I saw was that every successful person I talked to was extremely knowledgeable about what they were doing and had been doing.
I will repeat this, as it’s extremely important. EVERY SUCCESSFUL PERSON I met understood exactly how their time was being spent.
At first I thought this was just a pattern of good memory. However, as I dug deeper I discovered that these successful humans were almost literally tracking everything they were doing. Some journaled or used spreadsheets while the more “advanced” had GPS systems that tracked their every move. A few of the super elite even had a dedicated staff member whose sole job was to record everything they did.
The reason? You can’t fix what you don’t understand.
So obviously tracking what you do is important. That’s the easy part. The real question is how do you track it? I set out to find the best method.
I’m not much of a “journaler”, nor do I want to have to carry around a spreadsheet or notepad if I can help it.
All of the GPS methods I tested were too complicated, inaccurate and/or too expensive which meant automated tracking was out.
Finally I didn’t want to drop an extra $40-60k per year just to pay someone to follow me around.
So I settled on using a manual entry app of some sort on my phone. I have tested pretty much every app on the market and most of them…well, most of them suck (to be brutally honest). I wanted a simple way to track my own time and almost everything available is designed for teams. This means the apps have way too much bloat and are usually too expensive.
I was actually working with a developer to create my own when I found what is currently my favorite way to track my own time. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect and I will be creating my own app in the future but this thing is close to perfect as can be.
It’s call “Hours” and it’s shockingly simple to use. So simple in fact that explaining HOW to use it would be a waste of time. Just go to the App Store to download it for free. you can also use it online through your browser by going to http://www.hourstimetracking.com).
Hours is free for life currently (you only have to pay if you want to use it for your connected team) and again, is super simple to use.
For you Android users out there, I recommend (and now use myself) an app called TimeTrack. Same functionality as Hours but in true Android vs Apple fashion it doesn’t look as sexy as Hours. You can download TimeTrack by going to TimeTrack.com.
To get the most benefit out of these time tracking apps, create a category for EVERYTHING you do during the day (within reason).
For example, my major categories are:
Now I have additional categories but these are the ones I suggest you start with. If you find yourself doing anything for any more than a few minutes add it to app.
I NEVER turn off my tracking. I don’t allow myself to. EVERYTHING you do during the day needs to be tracked so if there isn’t a category for it, create it.
For example, weak points for me are “Bathroom” and “Laying in Bed”. I found myself wasting a lot of time on social media while in the bathroom and the same when I was laying in bed before and after I slept. So I track those time periods religiously and even time myself on top of tracking my time so I can optimize my day.
For traveling, as soon as I get in the car I turn off “At Location” and turn on “Driving”. As soon as I arrive at a location I turn off “Driving” and turn on “At Location”. So on and so forth.
I also make sure to track how long “Preparing Food” takes as well as “Eating”. “Showering” is another one. It’s not a weakness for me but I’ve found a lot of people can shave a lot of time off their day by setting a timer when they shower.
These are just a few examples of what I track but again, there really isn’t anything I have not tracked. As you get more experienced you’ll find there are things you don’t need to track anymore because they are not weaknesses for you. It’s ok to drop those as long as they don’t come creeping back in.
These two apps make it simple one click to change to the next thing you are doing BUT it will still take some practice to remember to do it.
After you track about 72 hours you will need to pull up report and view your time tracked so far.
What you will see will most likely shock you. I know it did for me the first time.
Being more productive is simply removing things from your daily routine that you are not happy with.
It really is that simple!
Step 2: List EVERYTHING
Another common trait of successful people I picked up on was that anything that needed to get done (no matter how trivial) was put on a to-do list.
At first I laughed at what I perceived to be minor things being added unnecessarily to the to-do lists. Things such as “drink a glass of water” or “close bedroom window” seemed too trivial to bother putting down.
However, these millionaires and billionaires were doing it so I decided to give it a shot.
Man, am I glad I did.
As I discovered quickly, remembering even minor details “distracts” your subconscious mind and slows you down. I was shocked at how much more focused I felt knowing that everything I needed to do was written down. I wish I could explain this feeling to you but unfortunately it’s something you just need to experience.
Write anything and everything you have to do that you can think of down on a list and then take stock of how you feel for the next few hours. I guarantee it will be a good feeling.
As your life gets more complicated your brain will hit “max capacity” and will start prioritizing memories as it sees fit……without consulting you.
My 16 year old self with limited responsibilities could almost remember everything I needed to do for about 24 hours. However, my 26 year old self with a million things to do will forget any non-listed tasks within about 60 seconds.
Weirdly enough, good task “listing” takes practice so no matter where you are in life, start practicing listing out anything and everything you need to do NOW. Your future self will thank you.
Accomplishing a task gives you a quick boost of positive accomplishment. In an aggressively negative world, the more tasks you can “accomplish”, the better you will feel. That’s why simple tasks such as drinking a glass of water, shutting the window and making your bed are so vital to getting things accomplished and staying positive.
So enough about the WHY, let’s get into the HOW!
First things first, I recommend you get another free app. Its called Any.do and you can find it by going to http://www.gabrielbryan.com/anydoapp. Its also 100% free for individual use and works on all devices including Android and desktop computers.
I suggest creating the following lists:
…and that’s it!
Why so few? Because I have experimented with having everything from one master list to over 50 and these three are what I’ve had the most success with. I encourage you to experiment but I would highly suggest starting here.
Step 3: Schedule EVERYTHING
Now that you are organized, the next step is to optimize. To do that you need to schedule EVERYTHING!
….and I seriously mean everything.
When you eat, when you sleep, when you check email, when you are going to do each of those tasks on your task list. Your day should include nothing that is not on your calendar.
Now this will take a LONG time to get perfect.
It took me several months to finally get 7 back to back days that were nothing but scheduled events. I started my first business at the ripe age of 12 so I always considered myself to be an organized person. However, when I started trying to schedule 100% of my day I quickly discovered (judging from how random my days were) that the fact I was even accomplishing one task per day was amazing.
It will be difficult. It will annoy your family, friends and coworkers. It might even annoy your cat. But I promise you the feeling of accomplishment you will get from looking back on your day and realizing it happened exactly as you planned will be amazing.
Oh and on average you should get about 400% more done each day. There is that too.
So how do I schedule my day?
I use two simple tools:
Yep, good ol’ Google Calendar. It’s free, integrates with almost every program and device on the planet and most importantly is FAST! I have tested almost every calendar app available. I can setup and manage events almost 20% faster using Google Calendar then any other program. Enough said.
All you need for Google Calendar is a free GMail.
I love Calendly. It is quite simply the most perfect scheduling tool I’ve ever tested. It is actually one program that I find no faults with and don’t plan on eventually building my own version of.
With Calendly I never manually schedule any meetings (no matter how trivial). Anytime anyone wants to meet me in person or virtually (aka phone or virtual meeting), I send them to my Calendly page. I do this religiously and without fail.
My mom texts me wanting to meet for lunch? I respond back with my Calendly link and tell her to select the “lunch” option. One of my top clients is having an emergency? Send them the secret VIP Calendly link to book an emergency meeting. Please don’t tell my mom she’s not getting the VIP link.
The reason Calendly is so important is it removes the back in forth of setting up a meeting.
Can you meet on Thursday at 4? Let me check. Nope I can’t, how about Friday at 11? No sorry that doesn’t work for me, how about Saturday at 4? And on…and on….and on.
Calendly gives you a single page that is automatically updated with your latest availability by connecting to Google Calendar. This means anytime anyone wants to schedule with you they simply select the best time for them and it’s automatically added to your calendar.
No work on your part is required.
This means more productive time and less stress for you.
You can setup your own Calendly account by going to http://www.gabrielbryan.com/calendly.
A quick tip: I suggest you only plan out 24 hours in advance (except for recurring tasks of course).
I always sit down in the evening and spend 10 minutes reviewing and scheduling the following day.
As you get more practice at scheduling your day, you will quickly discover that your days will fill up in advance without as much work on your part. This means 10 minutes a night should be more than enough to get the next day in order.
Now go out and kill your day!
Step 4: SLEEP!
Sleep is a spectacular thing. The record for the longest period of intentionally going without sleep is 11 days and 24 minutes (set in 1964). The US Army has spent over 12 years and $18 million dollars trying to quantify what exactly happens when you don’t sleep enough (and they’re still not entirely sure). Experts around the world argue how many hours per night you should spend sleeping and even what side of your body you should sleep on.
So with that being said, study and test to find out what your body likes.
The following is the list I have created after studying the sleeping patterns of the worlds most success people:
All nighters are NEVER worth it
If you find yourself needing to stay up all night to finish a project all it means is you screwed up somewhere during scheduling. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to sleep at least 8 hours a day you need to change something (NOTE: I’ve found that the most successful people on average sleep around 6-7 hours a night but they leave themselves 8-9 hours for those “catchup” days).
Diet is everything
What you eat and drink before you go to bed directly affects your quality of sleep. If you have limited time to sleep make sure you are eating right in the hours leading up to bed.
Your morning routine is the key to a productive day
The one to two hours after you wake up are extremely important. What you eat, drink, how you stretch, move etc it all plays a major role. If you have some extra time look up “morning routines of successful people”.
Keep a routine to your sleeping patterns
The most successful people in the world wake up between 4am and 6am. That means you should be hitting the sheets between 9pm and 10pm at night. Even if you don’t want to go to sleep that early, try to sleep during the same period every day. What the experts DO agree on is that a regular pattern is healthier than randomly sleeping.
Get some sun!
One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to get 30 minutes of sun per day. This one trick completely changed my health and cut how often I get sick by almost 50%. Get outside, lose some clothes and relax in the sun for 30-45 minutes per day. More sun not only gets you the vitamin D you need (and a nice tan too), but it also helps set your body’s “clock” so you fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly.
Again, when it comes to sleep I’ve found each person is different so test everything you find to see what works for you.
Now I personally have a hard time waking up sometimes so I use a app to make it a little easier.
The app I use is called Sleep Cycle. It’s a simple free app that you install on your phone that monitors how you sleep and only wakes you up if it senses you are not in a deep sleep. This means your wake up feeling more refreshed.
You can download it for free from the app store by going to http://www.gabrielbryan.com/sleepcycle.
Step 5: Be Ruthless With Your Time
At this point you should have 1) Identified and removed any non-productive habits 2) Listed out everything you need to accomplish 3) Scheduled out your days and 4) Optimized your sleep.
Now before we get into the final step, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
That was the easy part.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have implemented the above steps you have done what very, VERY few people will even try, much less accomplish. However, this means that in order to keep this positive behavior going you have to be RUTHLESS.
Again, your family, friends and coworkers will get annoyed. They will make fun of you. They will tell you that you are being too strict. That you need to relax and enjoy life.
I’ve seen this first hand both for myself and others who have tried this.
So when I tell you that you need to RUTHLESSLY follow the below rules I can’t stress enough how important it is.
So without further ado here are my tactics to continue being productive for the rest of your life.
Never answer calls unless previously scheduled.
I barely ever give out my phone number anymore to begin with. When I do, it’s usually a line that goes to a secretary/voicemail. This is because you simply can’t take unscheduled calls when you are sticking to your schedule. The easiest way to do this is just tell people in your voicemail greeting to email you and then give them your email.
I would also suggest getting a second number aka your private number (or vice versa). There is a great app called Burner that gives you unlimited calling and texting for only $4.99 per month (http://www.gabrielbryan.com/burner).
Guru Tip: Setup a special email JUST to give people on your voicemail (something like “email@example.com” and then setup a auto reply that sends them a link to your calendly page. Boom, automated scheduling at its finest.
ONLY answer emails and phone calls during specific times.
Let people know in your voicemail greeting that you only check voicemails between certain hours (or certain days of the week) and for the fastest response to email you at firstname.lastname@example.org. This allows you full control over both the time and length of answering anyone who contacts you.
NEVER schedule ANYTHING without a clear START and STOP time.
This is actually easier than you think now that you are scheduling your day in advance. Because everything goes on Google Calendar and Calendly, anyone scheduling with you will see the start and end time. Just make sure to be clear with people that you have to leave at XYZ time. This not only keeps you productive but also will make people respect your time (and you) more.
Limit contact with “unproductive” people.
I hate to say this but usually the most unproductive parts of your life will involve those closest to you. So limiting contact with these unproductive people can be difficult. However it is incredibly vital that you control how your time is spent and setting limits is the first thing you need to do. It will be hard but it will be worth it. I personally make sure that any “unproductive” family members and friends are interacted with AFTER my daily tasks are complete.
Never Schedule More, Schedule Less
If you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed out aka you feel like you are not accomplishing enough….stop everything. Stop everything and go through your task list again. Cut out anything that is not incredibly vital and/or can be pushed back. The most common cause of stress is having too many tasks on your plate at once. Cut it down to the most 2-3 important tasks and push everything out at least 24 hours. This may feel impossible but I guarantee it can be done and more importantly SHOULD be done….immediately. It’s been proven that if you have multiple tasks on your plate for one day you are less likely to get ANY of those tasks done. However, having just a few PRIORITY tasks on your plate for one day means you are much more likely to get those tasks done. A weird psychological “tick” of the human mind but a important one to understand.
Do NOT carry your phone 24/7.
This was incredibly hard for me. I manage all of my businesses from my phone along with every other aspect of my life so NOT having it within a few feet of me at all times was disconcerting to say the least.
However, now that I have started taking time away from my phone I couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. Just a few hours away from my phone not only helps me feel refreshed BUT it also can help me solve major problems that have been bugging me. I think of it as reset time.
This is also a great way to make it up to annoyed family and friends. Showing up without a phone will make people feel incredibly important (try this on date night, trust me!).
If for whatever reason you cannot be parted from your phone (emergency contact, etc) there is a great app called Freedom that will selectively block apps, internet, etc. I personally use this app even when I’m using my phone to block out distractions and work more effectively. You can download it by going to http://www.gabrielbryan.com/freedomapp.
As you can see, all of these steps are designed to make you put your time first. This may seem “selfish” at first but I promise you that when you 10X your productivity you will be able to give back to your family, friends and community that much more.
Step 6: Bonus Round
The following are additional “quick hit” productivity tips and tricks I use after I’ve accomplished the above steps.
DRINK WATER!! I cannot stress this enough. It’s been proven that for most common ailments such as being tired, sore, lack of sleep, inability to sleep, lack of creative thinking, etc, water is the missing key ingredient.
The experts disagree on how much water you should drink in a single day (mainly because each human is different) but you should aim for between 8 and 10 glasses of water. When in doubt, drink more.
I personally have to fight the urge to down energy drinks and instead drink water (mainly because I abused the**** out of them when I was younger). However, making that change helps me sleep less, feel better and get more done. That’s the whole point of this guide right?
Use the Power of Pocket. One of the biggest distractions I have (as somebody who loves to learn) is getting sucked down the “rabbit hole” of the information maze known as the internet. To fight this temptation, every time I see a article, video, etc on the internet that I want to read, I copy the link and put it in Pocket.
Pocket is exactly what it sounds like. Its a free website you create an account on and you use it to save links to stuff you want to read. Pocket is simple and brilliant. They have a great app and website. Most importantly, it’s free so you have no excuse. Go to http://www.gabrielbryan.com/pocketapp to get started using it now.
All you have to do once you signup is schedule time on your calendar to review what you put in Pocket. You stay productive and never miss an important article!
Listen to Motivational Speeches. Self improvement is hard. Friends, family and even random people will subconsciously try to discourage you and put obstacles in your way. Improving yourself changes the balance of your “world” and as such causes Murphy’s Law to kick into top gear. Anything that can go wrong to stop you will.
To fight against this almost constant message to quit requires constant mental toughness. I find the best way to do this is listen to motivational speakers (and speeches and talks by successful people who would never even dream of being called “motivational”). Recently I’ve found that there are multiple people on YouTube who cut together speeches and talks and run music in the background. These tracks are all free and can be accessed by going to YouTube and just searching for “motivational video”. Here is one of my favorites https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaKZDEMDdQc8t6GzFj1_TDw/featured.
I have these tracks running in the background almost constantly. I think of it like my subliminally fighting the negative energy I run into on a daily basis.
You may not be at a place in your life where you are ready to appreciate the power of this. I was not until recently. But when you reach that place, I promise you the effect it will have on your life will be unstoppable.
Listen to Podcasts. I actually didn’t start listening to podcasts until very recently. This was mainly due to the fact that I read much faster than people speak so listening to someone when I could read about them in less time seemed counter productive to me.
However, when I started testing by listening to a few podcasts (namely Tim Ferris and other “interview” style podcasts) I quickly learned what I already knew but was ignoring; that when we learn things by “listening” it affects us differently then when we read it. Feel free to look up the science on this but trust me, you need to make sure that some of your daily knowledge “intake” is through JUST audio (no visuals).
Break Your Easy Tasks down into “Micro Tasks”. I already told you to add EVERYTHING you need to do to your task list. If you want to take it to the “expert” level, take your tasks and break them down into as many “micro” tasks as possible.
An example of this would taking a task that said “Drink 10 Glasses of Water Today” into “Drink Glass 1 Water”, “Drink Glass 2 Water”, “Drink Glass 3 Water”, etc.
The reason you want as many micro tasks as possible is because each time you get to “check” off a task on your task list it gives you a positive energy boost. If you have enough micro tasks, you can have a steady chain of positive energy boosts all day long. This is a great way to hold off the negative energy which happens on a daily basis.
This is why I love to schedule micro tasks in 3 areas of the day. 1) Right when I wake up so I get started on the right track 2) around 1-2pm to fight the afternoon “lull” and 3) at the end of my “working” day so I can end the day on a positive note.
Again these tasks should be super easy, super quick tasks (aka drink glass of water, shut window, eat banana, etc) for positive energy boosts.
If it seems too easy to put on your tasks list then its perfect for a micro task.
Give Back. Take time out of your day, week, month, whatever you can afford to give back. It can be tutoring people for free, cooking meals for the less fortunate, volunteering for a charity or even working for a struggling company for free to help them out.
I firmly believe that before you can help anyone improve their life you must improve your life first BUT you can and SHOULD help out people along the way.
Something I learned from studying a young entrepreneur named Caleb Maddix (an extremely motivating 14 year old). If you are having a bad day, a lull in your business, a frustrating moment where you don’t know what to do, just stop. Stop and find someone you know you can help and help that person fix one problem for free. This will almost always bring success into your life in some form or another. Trust me, this works.
We have now reached the end of this guide (for now, watch your email for updates!).
This may not seem like much BUT I guarantee that if you implement even a FEW of these steps you will see a dramatic change in your life.
As you might have noticed, Self Improvement and Motivation are a passion of mine. I’m constantly studying and experimenting and testing new strategies to be the best me possible. In fact, I’m so passionate about this that I actually created a company just around self improvement and motivation called Chase the Fear.
If you want to follow along with what I’m testing and discovering, subscribe here on SUPERhuMIN.com for the latest articles!
Until next time, my name is Gabe and I wish you an amazing life!