Forget “Time-Management” and To-Do Lists — Try This Instead

I’ve tried it all:

  • Project management softwares.
  • Various “time management” systems.
  • Simple to do lists.
  • Complex tasks management softwares for team.

And frankly, I thought they all SUCKED — HARD AND DEEP.

The most popular forms of thinking on how to manage getting shit done are:

  1. Time management
  2. Tasks management
  3. Project management

Those can all work if your life and business are SIMPLE.

However, I think there’s a far better way: MOVEMENT MANAGEMENT.

At the end of the day, week and year — your OUTPUT is going to depend on how effectively, intensely and consistently you did the RIGHT MOVEMENTS.

What do I mean by “MOVEMENT”?

If you’re a copywriter then you’ve got 3 movements:

  • research.
  • writing copy.
  • editing copy.

If you’re running a marketing team, then you’ve got several movements like:

  • creating new FB ads
  • writing email broadcasts.
  • hiring people.
  • creating new products.
  • doing a bunch of random crap.

The key (especially as you start growing and scaling) is to group everything by MOVEMENTS.

Why?  Because performing a movement with INTENSITY and FOCUSED SAVAGERY is the ULTIMATE TIME MULTIPLIER. (READ THIS ONE 3X).

It’s simple: if I can triple the speed (intensity) that I perform a movement I can triple my output in the same amount of time.  That’s right: 3X your output in the SAME amount of time.

So here’s the process of managing your life with MOVEMENTS instead of “tasks, projects and time”.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Physical Movements

Everything you do in your business is a physical movement, from writing to emailing and even thinking.  There’s a physical movement behind each task.

Your next step is to figure out all of your physical movements over the next 3 days.  Here’s an example of what it might look like:

  • Emailed Cathy about improving support system
  • Called Tom about writing articles for us
  • Had a meeting with Claude about XML issues
  • Wrote an autoresponder email
  • Created a new split-test for optin page
  • Planned out our SEO plan
  • Went to Home Depot to pick up paper
  • Tweaked Google adwords campaign
  • Emailed Rosemarie about refund to Bob
  • Created new headlines for sales letter
  • Marketing meeting

So, for 3 days you want to write down EVERY little thing that you do into a notebook.

Step 2: Connect the tasks with their physical movement

Now, it’s time to go to the essence of each task by figuring out the physical movement behind each one.  Let’s take the same list from above, you’ll see the name of the physical movement after the name of the task:

  • Emailed Cathy about improving support system – Email
  • Called Tom about writing articles for us – Phone Calls
  • Had a meeting with Claude about XML issues – Meetings
  • Wrote an autoresponder email – Copywriting
  • Created a new split-test for optin page – Split-testing
  • Planned out our SEO plan – SEO
  • Went to Home Depot to pick up paper – Operations
  • Tweaked Google adwords campaign – PPC
  • Emailed Rosemarie about refund to Bob – Email
  • Created new headlines for sales letter – Copywriting
  • Marketing meeting – Meeting

As you can see there’s only a handful of physical movements in any businessman’s day.

EACH PHYSICAL MOVEMENT NOW BECOMES A FOCUS-WINDOW.  This a ground-breaking new perspective.  During each focused window of time, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.  You develop tunnel vision about everything else.  You ignore distractions.

Why are focus-windows so powerful?  There are several reasons: First, you are entering the “Henry Ford zone”.  Henry Ford revolutionized the car industry by creating the assembly line manufacturing process.

The Focus-Window concept revolutionizes your workflow by creating an assembly line work process that allows you to triple your productivity (especially when combined with Productivity Booster #9).

You’re eliminating the bulk of the “lost time” that comes from switching from one physical movement to the next.  Dozens of hours a week are “lost” when people are going from phone calls to email and back to emails and then doing a meeting and making another call.
Achieving a mental state of FLOW is virtually impossible when operating in a traditional schedule.    We will cover FLOW and Productivity Booster #9.

There’s a beautiful, natural intensity that happens when you limit the time you can spend on something.  We’ve all experienced the power of CRAMMING for an exam.  Compare having one hour to finish something versus having a seemingly infinite amount of time to get something done.  Focused windows create healthy pressure.

Here’s the list of focus-windows that :

Autoresponders: the only thing I do is create autoresponder emails

Copywriting:  This is when I create new ad copy for optin pages or sales letters

Email: Writing emails and replying to responses

Numbers: Accounting and reviewing invoices

Operations: random or infrequent tasks that need to be done

Phone: Calling people

Power-thinking: This is when you break down projects or figure out key decisions

PPC: This is working on pay-per-click campaigns

SEO: This is planning and working on SEO plans

Sales:  Making phone calls

Social Media:  Managing FB, IG, Snapchat

Split-testing: This is when I set up new split-tests for sales letters, optin pages and order pages

Video work: This is either doing: video editing, or writing notes to the video editor

Obviously do NOT copy my focus-windows if they are not your own.

There’s total freedom in creating your Focus-Window schedule.  I’ll elaborate on this later in this chapter.

Crucial Integration: The Operations Mini-day

One of the most IMPORTANT focus-windows in this list is the “operations”.  Basically, anything that is either: random or infrequent enters the “operations” list.  This can include going to the store to buy more paper for your printer or reserving an airline ticket to go to a seminar.  By grouping all of the miscellaneous tasks together, you can avoid the time-draining problem of random tasks.

If certain tasks are very infrequent and you spend less than 30 minutes a week on that physical movement such as calling people once in awhile, you might want to put those tasks inside your “operations”.

This is also the power of hiring an “operations manager” who handles everything in this category.
For me it’s MENTALLY PAINFUL to deal with operations.  I literally feel mental pain when I do stuff in this list.

Step 3: Schedule Out Your Focus-windows

Now you need to allot the appropriate amount of time for each focus-window and optimize your schedule.  Otherwise, many things might NOT enough things done and projects might get delayed because you’re not passing the baton fast enough (see relay metaphor).

For an example, perhaps you need to work on copywriting for 10 hours a week.  Maybe you only need to do phone calls twice a week for 1 hour.

The other thing to keep in mind is how to optimize your overall schedule to maximize your flow states, habit building, skill building and lifestyle.

You have total flexibility in how you set up your focused windows.

Choose The Right Structure For You:

Daily Focus-Windows vs Weekly Focus-Windows  vs Reverse Focus-Windows vs Deep-Essence

There are certain focus-windows that might need to be done daily.  Other focus-windows should be taken care of weekly… And for some people the reverse focus-window or deep essence concept is the ultimate solution.

Daily Focus-Windows

Certain physical movements such as emails and phone calls should be done daily by most people.  I’ve personally limited email replies to twice or 3 times a week.  It truly depends on the nature of activity and if how much of it you need to do.

Email is one of the greatest black holes of all times.  The more emails you send, the more replies you get.  If email is really critical to your business what I suggest is that you either create: one or two 30 minutes to 1 hour email focus-windows.  Perhaps you have a 30 minute email focus-window in the morning and another 30 minute email focus-window in the evening.

The Power Of Daily Focus-Windows

Let’s say you want to create videos for 8 hours a week.   Efficiency wise, it makes more sense to batch it all into one day.  However, you should also consider breaking it down into a daily ritual.

The power in setting up daily focus-windows was explained to me by my friend and fitness superstar Elliott Hulse.  His video presentation skills went to the next dimension once he started doing DAILY FOCUS-WINDOWS and bang out videos on a daily basis.  There’s going to be far stronger skill-building happening if you work something on daily then once a week.

When I learned spanish, I applied this concept.  I worked on it DAILY.  One day off was detrimental to my progress.  One day off felt like 3 steps backwards because I wasn’t reactivating the new spanish neurons in my brain.

I would go as far as to say that it would be EXTREMELY SLOW and ineffective to learn a language once a week and study for 7 hours straight.  You would progress far faster breaking it down into 1 hour daily focus-windows.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re starting a NEW money move, it’s a great idea to work on it DAILY.

Once you’ve achieved mastery, then maybe the Deep Essence structure makes more sense.

Here’s a sample daily habit schedule for someone who wants to get into the groove of filming videos and writing.

 

Eating Data On A Daily Basis

Another type of money-move that should be scheduled DAILY is activity that gets new data on a daily basis.  When I launch new marketing campaigns, I’ll examine the data daily.

Here’s an example of the daily changes someone working in pay-per-click makes based on the data:

  • Stop losing campaigns
  • Decrease the bids on break even campaigns (to make them profitable)
  • Increase the bids on big winners
  • Extract valuable split test data and proliferate it in other campaigns
  • Launch new campaigns based on what we’ve learned

So if you have money moves that feed a lot of data to you, eat it on a daily basis.

In business, SPEED WINS.  If I’m improving things by 1% a year, this means I’ll double the performance of my campaigns every 72 days.

As a small business, this is one of your BIGGEST EDGES.  Big companies move slowly.  They make decisions slowly.  The react slowly.

Adjusting, move and pivot EVERY SINGLE DAY with your marketing.

Daily Co-ordinating

Another type of activity that requires daily focus-windows is Integrators.

Integrators are the ones who manage project, co-ordinate people, review and organize the tasks, structure the teams, give people feedback and insure that things get done.

Every co-ordinator should check with everyone to insure they’re moving forward.  Otherwise, delays happen when people don’t pass or take the baton.

Here’s an sample schedule for an integrator/manager/operations:

 

Open Co-ordination Windows

There is power in having a daily “open co-ordination window”, when your team KNOWS that it’s open and they can reach out and ask questions.

For an example, you could tell your team that from 4 to 4:30, they can hit you up on Skype, phone or whatever chatting app you have to ask you questions.

This keeps the baton moving forward daily.

Weekly Focus-Window Structure

One of the keys to triple your productivity is hitting the FLOW STATE.  I’ll go deeper into this on Productivity Booster #9.  Most of the time it’s easier to achieve flow when you’re not switching focus-windows too quickly.

Personally, I found that I have many focus-windows (12) in one day made it was difficult to get in the groove because they were too short.  The other thing I found was that some focus-windows don’t require that much time compared to others.

In this case, what I suggest is creating weekly or bi-weekly focus-windows.  For example, operations can be taken care of with a weekly meetings.

So, analyze your tasks and do a estimate how much time you will need a week.  Don’t worry about being “wrong”, you can always tweak your time allotment later.

The Reverse Focus-Window Structure

Some people only have 1 primary mini-day in their career with a few minor focus-windows.  For an example, perhaps you’re a professional writer.  So, your main focus-windows is writing, but you still have a few extra things to take care of such as: meetings with clients and sending out emails.  So, your day could look like this:

  • Emails: 8:30 am to 9:00 am
  • Writing: 9 am to 12:00 pm
  • Lunch: 12 to 1 pm
  • Writing: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Meetings: 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Here’s a sample reverse-focus window structure for a writer

The Essence Structure: Themed Days

Recently, I’ve moved to an essence structure and it’s my favourite one so far.

The Essence Structure is inspired by the Entrepreneurial Time Management System, a system created by Dan Sullivan, creator of Strategic Coach.

The Essence structure is built around having a single focus for AN ENTIRE DAY.  Dan has 3 types of days:

  • Free Days: these days are business-free days
  • Focus Days:  these days are spent doing the activities that generate revenue Buffer Days – these days are spent preparing for your focus days
  • Buffer Days:  these days are spent preparing for your focus days.  I would call these “operations days”.

Because I have various teams and sub-teams, I have a lot of meetings each week.  The way I structured my Essence Structure is:

Creative Days:  All I do is write, or film videos.

Meeting Days:  All I do is meet with teams.

Fun Days:  Off days.

Before I would spread the meetings around every day of the week.  I found that having days with NO meetings, I can focus a lot more on being creative.  I don’t have to think about stopping the creative flow.

Here’s a sample essence structure schedule for an online marketer

  • Yellow days days are: operations/meetings/buffer days
  • Green days are: focus/creative days
  • Blue days are: FUN/off/recovery days

Breaking A Career Down Deep

Another concept we discovered with experience was the need to break things down into tighter focus-windows.  In the beginning, I had a mini-day called “traffic generation”.  But, that was too wide or too vast.  I got better results from breaking it down into various more specific focus-windows.

Looking at the copywriter again, perhaps he could break down his copywriting mini-day into several ones such as: research, writing and editing.  So, in that case his day might look like this:

  • Emails: 8:30 am to 9:00 am
  • Research: 9 am to 10:00 am
  • Writing: 10 am to 12:00 pm
  • Editing: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Meetings: 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm

So, if you find that your focus-windows are too broad – then don’t be afraid to drill down deeper and create new divisions.

Here’s a sample structure for a copywriter

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Scheduling Your Mini-days

The next step is simple, you need to schedule your focus-windows into a weekly planner.  Here’s a few tips:

  1. Choose the structure that appeals to you the most.  There’s no right or wrong.
  2. Be flexible.  It might take you a couple of weeks to figure out the right structure for you.
  3. If you’re working on a new skill or activity create a daily routine for part of the day each day.
  4. If things don’t work, change it.

The Accuracy Of The Breakdown

How do you make a project come to life?  The first critical step is power-thinking it… In other words, BREAKING IT DOWN TO THE NITTY GRITTY TASKS.

Here’s an example, if my project is doing a infoproduct and my plan would be to film a seminar and then release a course.  Here’s an example of how I would power-think it:

  • Power-thinking: Figure out dates for event
  • Power-thinking: Figure out name and marketing angle for the event
  • Power-thinking: Make list of potential affiliates
  • Copywriting: Write sales letter for event
  • Copywriting: Write email sequence to sell event
  • Writing: Create content for event
  • Phone: Call video rental places
  • Phone: Call Steve the cameraman for filming
  • Phone: Call Derek the editor for editing
  • Phone: Call Vancouver hotel to get information on room prices
  • Phone: Call Fairmont hotel to get information on room prices
  • Phone: Call Sandman hotel to get information on room prices
  • Phone: Call friends to invite them to speak
  • Phone: 50 potential affiliates (will need to break this down into 50 tasks)
  • Operations: Buy supplies for the event

There might be more steps that I’m missing (and that’s ok, I’ll cover this shortly).  But, you essentially want to figure out ALL of the tasks that need to be done in order to manifest the project.  This is the second part of power-thinking.

Handling Multiple Projects

The mini-day/power-thinking system is by far the most powerful way to manage multiple projects.  In fact, it could be one of the only ways to manage many projects simultaneously without losing control.
This system is not “project based”, it’s “movement based”.  A project is broken down into simple executable tasks and then all of the tasks get assigned to their appropriate physical movements.  And then, you just get into execution mode and crank out the tasks with ferocious intensity.

This breakthrough way of working allows you to work on multiple projects simultaneously.  Especially as your team expands in numbers and in power.

Richard Branson is one of the best modern power-thinkers.   He lives on his private island and hangs on his hammock with pen and notebook and creates visions and breaks them down.

Then he hires a superstar to manifest his vision and Virgin business operations supports it.  Virgin group is now comprised of over 400 companies.

Step 5: Tweak and Adjust

Don’t feel “trapped” by the powerful structure of this system… The fact is, it will give you 10X more business power than ever before.  You’ll be able to complete projects much faster faster… You’ll be able to move on to bigger and bigger money making opportunities constantly.

Also, be aware that you might need to tweak your focus-windows.  Either creating new ones, eliminating or decreasing old ones or switching to a reverse mini-day strategy…  Just listen to your gut and watch your productivity and results.

Consider the flow of activities and your personal preferences.  Perhaps, you feel more creative in the morning so writing advertising copy at that time will give you the biggest bang for your buck.  Maybe, you prefer copywriting late in the evening.  Just respect your own strengths, weaknesses and preferences while you’re tweaking your personal schedule.
There’s also the optimal time to perform certain tasks.  Making phone calls at 6:00 am or 9:00 pm probably won’t yield the best results.  Be aware of this when scheduling focus-windows that interact with other people.

Your Focus-Windows Will Evolve As You Do…

 

You will find at some point that your schedule doesn’t seem to be working anymore.  Your gut will feel “off”.  Tasks might be left on the table or ignored and projects aren’t moving forward.  This is usually a sign that you or your business has evolved and it’s time to change your focus-windows.

When your business first starts, you are the driving force behind everything.  You are the one that pushes it forward into success.  Your focus-windows will be varied and you will be the “jack of all trades”.  However, YOU WILL HIT THE WALL.  It’s just a matter of time before your business stops growing or you burnout.

This is when your business will start hiring other key players such as a programmer, project manager, content creator, etc…

At this point, your roles will change.  You will need to start managing your team players to a new level.  This means, you will spend more time in meetings, emails and phone calls.  Perhaps some of your previous focus-windows will disappear because you’ve found someone who can do them 10X better. So, be aware that your focus-windows will evolve with you and your business.

Personally, my focus-window structure tends to change every 4 to 6 months or so.

Let me know how you manage your time, projects and tasks and if this resonates with you.

Meet the Author

Matt Gallant

Matt Gallant is a serial entrepreneur who’s collected over 7 million leads in various industries, scientifically tested well over 10,000 different marketing ideas, generate tens of millions of dollars online and built his dream international lifestyle. Matt currently resides in Panama with his beautiful wife.

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