The Tools You Should Be Using Instead of To-Do Lists
To-do lists are one tool, but in our opinion, overused.
A to-do list is a great way to choose the easiest tasks to do, independent of how effective they are and how much they matter for your goals. You'll naturally seek out the easiest items from a to-do list instead of the ones that need to get done.
Both Dr. Anthony Gustin and myself have converted over the last several months to using a to-do list as a way to schedule blocks of time on our calendar to align with our goals.
For example, rather than having a to-do list with 1,000 random things on it, identify your goals and what you are trying to actually get done.
Then write down the tasks necessary to achieve that goal.
Open your calendar, block out time to get that set of things completed.
We have been using an app called Be Focused, which allows you to set up time intervals for working. I personally do 25 minutes on / 5 minutes off (Anthony is way cooler than me so he does 30 on / 5 off).
So it looks like this: Goal is set --> Figure out tasks that need to be done NEXT --> put those on a list --> Take out your calendar, schedule a block of time to work on the next actionable steps --> Structure these blocks in cycles of work/rest time for maximum impact
GET AFTER IT!
Ryan: I’m Dr. Ryan Debell. Welcome back once again to the Health Fit Business podcast. This is episode number 33. What Anthony and I want to share with you in this episode is how we have been changing the structure of our days over the last six months to twelve months. As we learn, we continue to tweak how we do things. So, we want to put this episode together for you guys to share some new ideas, new methods, methods that we have found to be extremely useful and time-efficient and effective. So, that’s kind of what we are getting into. If you guys have been enjoying the Health Fit Business podcast we could be greatly appreciative if you could leave us a review on iTunes. They are very helpful. So with that said, let’s go ahead and tune in to episode number 33.
Ryan: Welcome back!
Ryan: We are live Dr. Anthony Gustin!
Anthony: Welcome everybody. This is another episode of the Health Fit Business podcast.
Ryan: Podcast. This is episode number 33.
Anthony: I’m your host, Dr. Anthony Gustin. Joining me today is Dr. Ryan Debell from The Movement Fix.
Ryan: And also…
Anthony: And Dr. Ryan is an international blah, blah, blah. He’s the best.
Ryan: Oh my gosh!
Anthony: And today, we welcome you thirty three listeners.
Ryan: Thirty three listeners.
Anthony: Now we’re not there.
Ryan: Thirty three.
Anthony: We are going to top the Top 100 thousand iTunes podcasts.
Ryan: Episode 33. Thirty three LaCroix drank.
Anthony: Yeah. I think we had about thirty three LaCroix.
Ryan: Just a moment of real talk before we get into this episode. I was doing my Instagram Live. What flavor do you have there?
Anthony: Cran Rasp. I actually ordered six cases of LaCroix Fraise about an hour ago. They should be coming, Amazon Prime, now.
Ryan: Look at this.
Anthony: Yep! That’s one of the flavors I want to get. Cherry Lime is my favorite.
Ryan: Melon Pomelo. Yeah. Obviously, we are recording this via Skype if you guys haven’t caught on that yet. But, I was on Instagram Live and I said LaCroix and all these people making fun of me saying that it’s LaCroix.
Anthony: Which is more sophisticated than them?
Ryan: I was a little bit offended. Not that I’m easily offended but it is LaCroix.
Anthony: LaCroix. Yeah.
Ryan: So, what are we...? We should probably get to something that actually is important. What are we talking about Anthony?
Anthony: Yeah. In this episode. You suggested that we chat about our, kind of evolution of our routines and how we are approaching our days.
Ryan: In terms of days, day structure and how to structure getting things done as… Like as efficiently, effectively as possible. Like, how do you maximize your work time so that you have a lot of non-work time to hang out, drink La Croix, take long hot baths. Things like that, you know.
Anthony: Yeah or just get more stuff done.
Ryan: Literally, hot bath lately. Anyway, so how Anthony? You have this revelation. What are you doing with your phone there? What are you doing?
Anthony: Trying to Instagram Live you.
Ryan: Holy crap! Is that the iPhone 7? You must live in San Francisco where everything is super techie.
Anthony: Here you go.
Ryan: There you go. Okay. Anyway, before we lose 32 of the 33 followers or listeners I should say. How have you changed the way that you are structuring things recently?
Anthony: Yeah. The biggest thing I think, the takeaway of this episode should be that our productivity, our day to day, our routines are always in flex and we have not figured out the perfect solutions that work for us. That will work for us forever. So, everything’s kind of...
Ryan: That doesn’t exist.
Anthony: Your framework is going to be changing from day to day, week to week, month to month. And so, for me, I’m not able to step back and structure my day a little bit differently then if I were to have, try to do this year ago. It would have been impossible. So, there is one takeaway to get from this entire episode. It could be that everything should be changing. You should be reevaluating kind of steps where you are at, where you’ve been and what works at the current time. I think I’ve mentioned this in this podcast before but I do pretty regular retreat type of things where I would disconnect, go off the grid, choose a notebook, write down tons of ideas. Kind of reevaluate all the things that I’ve been doing. What’s working. What is not working. So, I recommend if anybody is not doing that, start doing it now because I get...
Ryan: What kind of retreat? Like, where do you go? People are going to wonder “Where is Anthony?” What kind of place do you go?
Anthony: I went to… This place had been marine ... It’s called Boon in Green Grove. You could join me next time if you want.
Ryan: So, it is like a hotel in the middle of the woods, right?
Anthony: Yeah. And it has a cold pool and a hot tub.
Ryan: You know what’s funny? You did some contrast bathing there and I did some contrast bathing in Seattle in this place called Bone-A-Fide.
Anthony: We didn’t plan.
Ryan: I wonder where you…? Yeah! The universe is vibrating. Quantum mechanics right there. It is starting to get weird.
Anthony: This place is up in the, by the Red Woods. Isolated. There isn’t a lot of people there that’s why I like it. Yeah. So, what I do is I just take this notebook and start writing stuff down. Like I said, evaluate what’s going on and like you said, I had a little bit of awareness. What has been working versus what has not been working lately with how I am scheduling my day. And so, what I had been doing recently was using the Daily Domination Journal like we had been doing even before we made the journal, kind of structure the day out based upon the two top things I want to accomplish. This going through a bunch of miscellaneous to dos. I shifted from that to a little bit more of a time blocking schedule. Kind of using that just to say “Oh! Maybe I should be doing this. Maybe I should be doing that.” But essentially the point from this uneducated or uninformed place of to dos where I just have list of hundreds of to dos and kind of I look at them and “Okay.” Once a week. One typical day. “This is most important therefore this is going to be on top of my list. I’m going to get this done.” However, this year especially I have a really intense spreadsheet which will probably make it into a template that people can fill on their own.
Ryan: That spreadsheet is like… Do you remember my reaction when you showed that to me?
Anthony: Yeah! You thought I was a freak.
Ryan: I was like “What the?!” I didn’t know anyone in the world did anything like this. That was my thought.
Anthony: Yeah. I don’t know how you would describe it but it is basically a system for me to get immediate feedback on actions that I’m taking to make sure that...
Ryan: If John Nash…. If John Nash had an Excel spreadsheet it would be almost like what that was.
Anthony: Yeah. There is no writing on Windows. That’s coming next. So, I was reading his book recently. Last night, I actually like fell into this which was So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, the guy who wrote Deep Work. You know that guy?
Ryan: I watch a Ted talk with him actually.
Anthony: Yeah! Good dude! Anyways, he was saying that people should be learning skills and same thing with deep work that is why he wrote this book. Because, you increase your skill acquisition, the more intentional your work is. And so, when you get more intentional if you have feedback really quickly. So, for instance, when I tried to learn something new on guitar, I will learn it really really slow then keep trying to speed it up. Speed it up until I am proficient at that. And so, if I messed up, that is a feedback that says “Okay. Stop! Slow down until you get and then you can speed back up.” So, the same way I have applied that to learning guitar, I have applied it to my day to day to make sure the things I’m doing are progressing to where I want it to go. And so, each day I track certain number of things. Things that I want to do that are important to me. This is always changing as well. Some of the things that are there are writing 30 minutes, moving, working out, meditation, and then a couple of projects, how many articles are written this year so far, how many people I’ve connected with, how many books I’ve read. If I’ve tracked those books in the most spreadsheet, taking summaries. So, all that for day to day, probably thought I’m pretty crazy now. This does make sense in a second. So, that is day to day then there’s a yearly, a huge yearly thing that is separated between all of my businesses, personal, financial, all these things that I want to accomplish in a year. This was a trip back from Paris, I basically took 12 hours and I wrote all these, evaluated every single step of my life and what I want to accomplish, what was realistic, put down baselines and so every month I evaluate what’s going on. So, I had maybe 20 to 30 major goals that I want to accomplish for this year.
Ryan: There was so much on there. I can’t remember all parts.
Anthony: There are 20-30 things that I think are super important that I want to do this year. And so, as I was going through this last time, it coincided that beginning of the month was when I was going through reviewing these goals. So, one of the things I had an epiphany of was that I should not be doing anything that doesn’t help me reach these goals.
Ryan: Were you before?
Anthony: The question was are all these to do lists that was pointing there I thought was important? It was getting things done and I was doing things that only I could do however, they weren’t directly always attributed to my goals that I want to reach.
Ryan: There were things that you were like “Oh! for some reason this needs to get done.” But when you reevaluate it in terms of “Why does this need to get done? Does it align with the goal that I have?” “No it doesn’t.” “Okay. I should probably be doing something different.”
Anthony: Right. And so, there were things like we’ve preached about before only things that I could do. You know, things that will push the needle forward somewhere but they weren’t necessarily always align with the goals that I want to achieve. So now what I’m doing, I’ve started now this month and I’m going to be working through it in the next few months. I guess will do a recap episode in few months to see how is this going. But I’m taking all the things that... The next action steps for every single one of these goals. Looking through that and from that, I’m scheduling in my calendar blocks of time for those next actions steps. So, going through I reevaluated “Okay. You know it’s March and my goal is this. I’m not getting there as fast as I want to.” So, for instance, I want to write a book about ketosis and so like this. I’ve written an outline but I end up kind of distracted in the first chapter. I just need to start writing more about it and so I scheduled four blocks of time in my week this week to do that. And so, if I would have responded to emails and done things that only I could have done, yeah, I would have done stuff down but the progress is being pushed forward on this book that I want to write.
Ryan: And if writing your book was just written on you to do list.
Anthony: To do list. Yeah!
Ryan: No way! It would never happen! Because if it is in to do list, what are you going to do? Look at that and “Nah! That one is too hard to do right now. Oh, this one is easy. I can do this one fast so I’ll just do it.”
Ryan: Very nice.
Anthony: And so, this combined with what we both had been doing. I think the last time you were in San Francisco, I showed you this nifty little widget that I got.
Ryan: Oh yeah!
Anthony: Which is doing. Yes. let’s say I have a three hour block for writing.
Ryan: On your calendar, it says “writing” and it’s blocked for three hours.
Anthony: Right. And so, then later in the day maybe it’s another thing that would reach. Like I have another one today, I’m going start a podcast interviewing other health experts and so today was a two-hour block about planning strategy for podcasting. So like, the questions I’m going to ask, whom I’m going to talk to, the equipment I’m going to buy. All those stuff. Okay. But what I’m doing within these chunks of time is taking 30-minutes-on/5-minutes-off approach to completing the work. For the majority of it especially if it’s hard and mentally taxing. If it is just… If it is something like the podcast is able to kind of cruise through it at a decent speed but something like writing, 30-minutes-on/5 minutes-off. Huge! So, I have this little timer now. We’ll include this in the show notes, I don’t know what it is called.
Ryan: Be Focused Pro.
Anthony: Be Focused Pro.
Ryan: Got to get the pro version.
Anthony: I have I think a non-pro version.
Ryan: I really feel like I need to support the developers Anthony.
Anthony: That is what I do with Evernote. I don’t need their premium stuff but I buy it because I think it changed life.
Ryan: You don’t seem to cross more than 2 devices?
Anthony: You can do that without paying probably.
Ryan: Oh! They must have changed it now because you can only do two.
Anthony: Right. Anyway, so...
Anthony: Yeah. It’s same type of mentality I think you should have if you are working out. Instead of clock the timer “Am going to go... Am going to run for 30 minutes.” Instead of stopping and checking your phone which is what you generally do when you are trying to work on something. You get distracted anywhere else. And so, for me, it’s like I can be sometimes uncomfortable or I’ll think of something that I need to do or I need to respond to another tab open, but if I see that clock running down “Oh! I can go 10 more minutes without being distracted. I can go 5 more minutes without being distracted.” And sometimes, it ends up being longer. That focused undistracted work for that 30 minutes is… You can get so much more done in that 30 minutes than you ever imagined.
Ryan: So, I was telling, I was showing this to Chris Johnson when he was over and then he texted me like the next day, “This is like cheating.” That’s what his text message said. This is cheating. It makes it so powerful. I’ve been doing the same thing so I don’t know if you been looking at my Daily Domination Journal or what but I blocked out like. For example, what I did today was this thing that I’m working on. I wrote down visually what are the steps that are required for this to happen and what are the bottlenecks in each one of those steps. Right? So, identifying what has to happen next. I put those on the list of the things that have to happen and then I blocked out time working on this project and then that to do list is completed during the time block dedicated to completing what needs to be done because with to do list, to me should be more of like reminding yourself of what has to happen but having a to do list without scheduled time to work specifically on certain things is not that great. And so, using this 25, I’ve got 25-on/5-off. I don’t know why. Maybe, maybe I’m just not as. I can’t stay focused. I should have 5 minutes. Here’s the interesting thing, at 25 minutes I don’t feel like I need to stop. Are you sipping loudly the LaCroix on the microphone? At 25 minutes’ I go “Man,Ï don’t need to stop right now. I want to keep going.” And then I remind myself and look… You know if you are a rower? Like an urg? Let’s say you are doing this. Okay, I remember specifically the work I did once. Like, grow a thousand meters and do a bunch of double unders okay. If you could get off the rowers sooner if you rowed really hard and really fast. But then when you get to the next thing, you lose because the person who phased is able to go to the next thing without having to hit the wall. So, I think like if you try to work for 2 to 3 hours uninterrupted, it’s like too mentality challenging. Then then you get smoked. But if you stop it, for me it’s 25 or for you 30, take that 5-minute break. It’s like rowing slower where you can recover and continue going versus go really hard and then crash. So, I go cycles, mini cycles and then I write what I want to complete in each of those mini cycles which is contained in a tiny time block.
Anthony: Perfect! So, yeah! I think we both independently came in to the same realization that we need to forego what we want to be accomplished on project basis. Identify the next actionable steps and then block that out and do this mini little time block in a larger time block.
Ryan: And actionable steps are “what should be on your to do list as a what would I be doing during this time block?”
Anthony: Right. Yeah! And so, to reiterate the point earlier that I was making that I was not able to do this even six months ago. So let’s say I have these 20 goals, right? And now, I’m just working on those on a day to day basis, I’m going to get way more done in like how I measure what I want to accomplish. However, I now have tons of employees in place where I can trust them that if I will walk away the entire business will not collapse and so if something needs to be brought up they can just contact me like the day when one of my sites got hacked. Like that. Obviously, throwing things of the window. I respond to something like that but on a day to day basis, I can trust that I’m having people supporting me, this team that I built whereas six months ago I could have neglected this day to day stuff that is clearly as important but other people are helping accomplish all those now. So, I was able to reevaluate and change my day to day. I think that’s the main point that I want to get across is that you should be always, on this regular basis, looking at what you are currently doing if it still makes sense with kind of where you are at now.
Ryan: Yeah. If I’m scheduled… If I’m doing this same exact set up in a year, I’m probably not doing it right.
Anthony: I talked to you about one of the things I want to do. I mean we have all these different businesses going on. What I want to do is essentially do just like what Elon Musk does which is two days in Tesla, two days at SpaceX, and kind of back and forth for a day so. And so, I want to structure a full day block for each thing I’m not at that point yet and I need to get the things to grow a little bit bigger until I get there. I need to make key hires and team additions before, that’s the case but I think that would be the next step for me. It is just kind of identifying goals. Let’s say we have seven for my personal let’s say or me just personally. Well then, Mondays. Every Monday I’m going to focused on that and then every Tuesday I’m going to focus on Health Fit Biz or every Wednesday I’m going to do Perfect Keto stuff. So, that way I have the entire day blocked out with all calls, meetings, to dos, goals, all that thinking is just one train of thought for that specific day. That is how I hope to be approaching things in maybe like 6 months from now.
Ryan: So, let us say somebody has a clinic and running a clinic, what they could do then is be like “Look. I’m going to block out one day a week a certain period of time where I’m going to focusing on like developing my marketing. And then another day, I’m going to have a block where I’m focusing on like process improvement or something like that.” Rather than feeling like you are always screwing around trying to figure out haphazardly how to improve things and then like you are always consistently working on the most important areas of your business systematically with focus and intention.
Anthony: It’s key. About as key as LaCroix for a podcast.
Ryan: Yeah. 10% off. La Croix is basically free. I just ordered a bunch on Amazon Prime now also actually two days ago.
Anthony: Do you think we can get them to sponsor our podcast?
Ryan: I don’t know their market. I mean, I get like six or eight pack for like $3. I don’t know how they have any margin for that.
Anthony: Didn’t we try to get a… What did we try to get? A Virgin?
Ryan: I don’t know that we actually tried to get Virgin Airlines. But I guess, I would have to talk to Alaska since they are merged. Whatever!
Anthony: Virgin first class if they can sponsor us, I’d be a happy man.
Ryan: Best first class in the industry. Okay. So, what is the COW? The Challenge of the Week
Anthony: Get the timer thing.
Ryan: Be Focused Pro. You can either get the free version which is ad supported or you can get the pro version.
Anthony: Or you can get a dial timer. You can set in your time. Use your phone. Doesn’t really matter. Just get the timer. Whatever is easiest for you and then start doing.
Ryan: Test it! Do it. Try 25-on/5-off or 30-on/5-off.
Anthony: And if you are already using stuff like Daily Domination Journal. Or have we ever given people template for the day?
Ryan: I don’t know. Should we do that? No! We did. We did. I think we gave a template once in the show notes somewhere.
Anthony: Okay. Well, find that. We should definitely find that and put it in the show notes. So, if you don’t have a journal, just copy this down. Figure out what are your two most important thing for the day and then do this 30 minute-on/5-minute-off. At least, try that and see how undistracted time works for you.
Ryan: It is pretty incredible. I think the most challenging time is actually thinking about and figuring out what you, what actually is important.
Anthony: We’ll have an entire episode about my spreadsheet and we’ll give it by the way for free as well.
Ryan: Oh! Wow! Very generous doctor! You’re a nice guy! We are ... Alright! So, I guess that’s all we got. I guess, we got to get after it huh?
Anthony: Get after it.
Ryan: Thank you guys for tuning in to this episode of the Health Fit Business podcast. If you found it helpful, please share with someone that you think it would also help and leave us a five-star rating on iTunes. Make sure also to go to healthfit.biz and sign up for the email notifications to which you can find right on the homepage so that you get all the updated podcasts and blog posts sent directly to you. Until then, we will see you next time.