Category Archives: Method

5 THINGS GREAT PRODUCT MANAGERS DO EVERY DAY

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My favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

In the late 1990s, my first product management job was helping to roll out high-speed internet nationwide when it became a viable (and highly desired) alternative to dial-up services. We went from providing 300 lines monthly to more than 3,000 — all in a window of about 60 days. I quickly learned how to balance staying on a strategic course and managing the endless minutiae that was required to get each customer up and running.

I had always been a leader, so handling the stress and responsibility was natural for me — but I had a lot to learn about focusing my efforts on what mattered most. I soon realized that with great accountability comes great autonomy. It was up to me to prioritize what needed to get done and when.

This is great news for ambitious product managers: You have more control than you might think, no matter how hectic each day feels.

Here are five things great product managers do. Used consistently, these actions can help you prioritize your work every day and thrive.

1. Align actions to goals

To succeed as a product manager it is essential to take a goal-first approach. Prioritize what must get done that day and assess and align new work against your goals. Swiftly break through the endless tasks and chatter by evaluating each request or demand through the lens of your goals. This does not mean you should shut down disruptions as “noise” to be silenced. Embrace the interruptions that align with your goals — one may be the missing idea that makes your product wildly successful in market.

2. Connect the dots

Understand how your product serves your business — the big picture of why you are building it. This may seem obvious, but without that connection, product managers are often led astray by differing opinions, demands from internal teams, and conflicting customer feedback. Identify why your product matters to your business and to customers so you can navigate with a steady mind.

3. Solve one simple problem

You may be tempted to solve every problem for your customers. But you cannot be all things to all people. You will spread yourself too thin and lose that firm direction. Instead, focus on solving one problem at a time. I like to say, “Focus on one problem, and solve the second for free.” Tackle one problem well and new opportunities will emerge.

4. Learn from others

Invest the time and effort to learn about your product team’s core work so you can set realistic deadlines. This is especially important for teams that share resources. Ask questions and get to know the full scope of their experience and tasks. It is also important to admit what you do not know. Rely on the expertise of your extended product team to help you deliver on the promise of your product.

5. Say “no” with confidence

Not every idea will be meaningful. And, in fact, most will be lousy. Great product managers understand that saying “no” is not a one-word answer. This is your chance to explain why the idea does not make sense within your strategic direction. Do not hide from these conversations or be dismissive. Take each “no” as an opportunity to recommit to your goals — and to re-evaluate whether your aim is true.

I know this advice to be effective — but hard to follow. So be kind to yourself when you feel cornered or stuck. Stick out your chest and remember that you have more control than you think and a team at your side.

You too can achieve the quiet power that separates good product managers from great ones. Never lose sight of your goals and embrace each day with humility and strength. Now go get busy.

Discover your own power as a product manager.

This is How to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do

 PourVousCustomDesign

By Patrik Edblad

The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.
 — Albert E.N. Grey

No matter what you want to accomplish in life, it’s going to involve discomfort:

A great career or business requires hard work.

A healthy body needs exercise and foods you don’t necessarily like.

Meaningful relationships need vulnerability and compromises.

In fact, anything worthwhile often requires that you do what you don’t want to do.

And that can be hard.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

I used to take my thoughts very seriously. Whenever one of them popped into my head, I’d immediately identify with it and perceive it as the “truth.”

If a thought told me I was tired and bored, I’d immediately look for a way out.

But I’ve since learned that I am not my thoughts and that my mind is nothing more than a suggestion box.

Because of that, I don’t take my thoughts as seriously as I used to.

And that, in turn, has made a huge difference in my subsequent behavior and the results I get.

These days, when my mind tells me I’m restless and should do something else, I simply thank it for the suggestion and then get back to the task at hand.

Stimulus –> Perception –> Response

It’s never the discomfort that stops you; it’s how you perceive the discomfort.

Your beliefs determine your response, and what you choose to believe is within your control.

You can assign whatever meaning you want to discomfort.

I used to believe it was a signal that I should stop.

These days, I believe it’s a signal that I should keep going.

I’ve decided that anytime I feel discomfort, that just means I’ve stepped into my mental gym and that it’s time for my mental resistance training.

Exercise Your Willpower Muscle

Willpower is a lot like muscle power. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will get.

If you practice it for an extended period of time, you can change your behavior around completely.

You’ll be able to do what others dread doing and to stay away from things that others can’t resist doing.

That level of self-control is exactly what’s needed to become a remarkable person and create extraordinary results.

So, how do you get started?

Practice Voluntary Discomfort

He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.
 — Spartan Warrior Creed

The best way to practice mental resistance training is through voluntary hardship. Here are a few examples:

  • Underdress for cold weather.
  • Turn off the air conditioning in your house or car.
  • Take cold showers.
  • Occasional fasting.
  • Drink only water.
  • Sleep without a pillow.
  • High-intensity exercise.

These are just a few ideas to help you come up with your personal mental resistance training.

The important thing is that you choose one and commit to it.

And just like in a physical gym, you don’t want to use the heaviest weights right away.

There’s no point getting overwhelmed or injured.

So, start small and then get a little bit every day.

If your willpower muscle is weak right now, it’s perfectly fine to start by making your bed each morning. Or reading one page in a book. Or flossing one tooth.

How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do

If you’re thinking to yourself right now; “I’m not the kind of person who practices voluntary discomfort,” be very mindful of the fact that this is the same voice you want to take control over.

Don’t take it as literal truth. Remember — it’s just a suggestion. And it’s entirely within your power what you do with that suggestion.

If you choose to take action despite what your mind is telling you, it holds no power over you.

You can decide to perceive discomfort as mental resistance training from this moment forward.

And each time you push through the resistance, you’ll notice that you’ll get a little bit stronger.

If you stick to the practice consistently, with time, it’ll become second nature to do what you don’t want to do.

You’ll become a relentless action-taker.

And that’s when you can turn your most desired goals into reality.

If you enjoyed this article, please click the heart so others can learn from it as well!

Patrik Edblad is a certified mental trainer and writer. He helps people use research-backed strategies to become healthier, happier and more productive at Selfication.com. Grab your free copy of his book The Science of Willpower: Proven Strategies to Beat Procrastination & Get Big Things Done.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

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15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

By Ari Rabban

Being beyond busy just comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur.

Whether you’ve got a business that’s been operating for years, or you’re just itching to get work done on a project of your own, many challenges stand in the way of entrepreneurial efficiency. Thankfully, with the right tools at your disposal, there is a way to get to the other side.

Breaking Down Your Breakdowns

Any time an obstacle blocks the path to your productivity, it falls into one of three categories.

The first is good old-fashioned distraction. Whether you find yourself distracted by noisy co-workers, something outside the office, or just the idea of the pile of tasks still waiting to be done, we all know how easy it is to have our attention misdirected.

Then it’s a question of prioritization. Managing a big project or running a startup involves attending to an endless list of demands. Finding a way to distinguish the critical from the important and the non-pressing is essential to navigating workflow.

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula explains how to master this 5% vs. 95% Rule, which is a formative principle for every truly successful entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the question of function. Nothing crimps your process like getting hung up on some functionality issue. Maybe you’re trying to figure out a way to process a payment across platforms or your progress comes to a screeching halt when a problem pops up with your data security. Whatever the cause, suddenly you find that you’ve spent hours trying to accomplish what seems like it should take 10 minutes.

The solution to each of these issues, however, might be as near as your own pocket.

Letting Technology Do Its Part

Contemporary entrepreneurs have a vast toolbox — all on their phones — that wasn’t available a few years ago. Over the past decade, more and more apps have been developed to alleviate the above challenges.

By consolidating your workflow onto a single device, you achieve streamlined processes that vastly boost your productivity.

Forget about shuffling through papers and coping with chaos: Harness the power of your smartphone and its cloud capabilities, and you’ll ease your journey toward success.

There are four app varieties I consider essential to solving problems relating to distraction, prioritization, and function. The 15 unique apps below will offer solutions to these barriers.

  • Hootsuite/Trello/Lizzabo

It’s easy to get wrenched off-task by social media, especially when you use it to share business-related content, communicate with team members, or network with potential contacts.

A variety of apps can address this. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to schedule posts without actually spending any time on social media platforms. Meanwhile apps like Trello and Campfire facilitate collaboration within your team. And tools like Bizzabo and LinkedIn are great for digital networking.

  • Asana/Remember the Milk/Google Now

Powerful apps have taken the place of the day planner. Apps like Asana, Remember the Milk, and Google Now make it easy to not only plan out your schedule, but share it with other team members.

  • Square

For the longest time, independent businesses didn’t have easy access to the tools necessary to accept payments in plastic…Continue Reading 

About the Author: Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council.

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

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Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

How to Become Memorable in a Noisy World The secret to connecting with anyone.

By Daniel Gefen 

The Internet has introduced  powerful tools to connect millions of people with the simple click of a button.

An email, a tweet, a post. Within seconds, you can reach more people than your ancestors did in a lifetime.

The world has become a ‘numbers game,’ but nobody cares about being a number.

The same tools that you have at your disposal are easily accessible to the other seven billion people on this planet, which means that everyone is being bombarded with emails, tweets, messages and ads on a daily basis.

The way people act online reminds me of how people act when driving their cars.

Normal, well mannered people step into their cars and evolve into insensitive masters of metal.

All of a sudden, everyone else becomes ‘objects’ to avoid, ignore, honk at, shout out, cut off, curse at, etc.

The world has become faceless, but humans crave human interaction.

I started to realize the power of human interaction and developing deep relationships when I started my podcast. It’s amazing what 45-minutes talking to someone can actually do for a relationship. I have interviewed over 65 successful entrepreneurs and make an effort to keep in touch with each of them.

They are all busy people and are probably bombarded with messages from fans trying to connect. But here’s the secret:

They are human beings. And human beings crave deep, meaningful relationships. 

How many times has someone tried to get your attention with the same lazy piece of spam?

If it doesn’t work to get your attention, then why try using it to get the attention of others?

The Internet has made people lazy. It’s so easy to mass message or post quick meaningless things in the hope that a percentage of the masses will react.

Lazy people hope for the best. Successful people work hard to make things happen.

Here are some ways you can become memorable:

  • Instead of posting ‘Happy Birthday’ on someones timeline and getting lost in the masses, take 60 seconds and send them a happy birthday video message. They will remember you for it!
  • Instead of posting useless, mindless one liners,  post something deep and interactive
  • Reach out to people one on one and start a personal conversation
  • Dare I say it—pick up the phone and call people
  • Instead of commenting on other people’s posts with the same old one word replies like “cool” or “#Truth,” put some time into sharing how their post impacted you
  • Surprise people by sending them a gift in the mail

Most importantly, keep in touch with people on a regular basis—at least once every 90 days.

Ask yourself, what makes others memorable to you?

Now go and become memorable!

The Lost Art of Discipline

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthepurpleninjette%2Fvideos%2F231427823979497%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Gaby Diaz-Cervo

A message from an ETR sponsor

Hey, it’s Chad Howse here.

I’m a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur… also a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author.

But a decade ago I had no money. Actually, less than no money, was in debt, and got out of shape for the first time in my life.

Rather than searching for a ‘get rich quick’ product or workout to get me in shape, I focused on developing discipline.

Nothing else, just creating the habits that the ‘rich, ripped, and successful’ version of me would have to develop.

Discipline, however, rarely endures when it’s dependent on willpower.

Just like your ideal body, discipline can’t be built with motivation alone. It requires a process, plan, and strategy if it’s going to live forever.

That’s what I focused on. I devoured every book I could possibly find on the subject, from theory and philosophy, to solid scientific evidence on what works. I read about great historical figures, guys I wanted to emulate, and realized it wasn’t talent or willpower that made them great; it was discipline.

I got on a routine. I became the same man every day rather than the guy with no money who depended on inspiration to write content and create products.

To be honest, it didn’t take long to turn things around.

After a few months of my discipline program I began to make more money and my body changed in front of my eyes.

Here’s a secret that marketers don’t want to tell you: the program doesn’t matter as much as your discipline in following it.

Discipline makes transformations.

I’m still a work-in-progress and I always will be, but the freedom I have today from stress, from a boss breathing down my neck, and the freedom to travel the world, buy a house, and live life on my own terms isn’t due to intelligence.

I owe it all to discipline. And the more discipline I develop, the more freedom I have in my life.

That’s the greatest misconception about discipline— that it’s confining. In reality, it’s liberating.

But I’m not a naturally disciplined guy. I need a program to follow, some kind of daily guidance that gives me clarity on where my attention needs to be focused.

I’m guessing you’re the same.

In fact, I’ve never met a ‘naturally disciplined person’ in my life.

Everyone I know who’s killing it, struggles. They all struggle. Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, even Napoleon Bonaparte struggled mightily to be the disciplined men that would develop greatness.

And without a plan, you’re out of luck.

That’s why I created The Lost Art of Discipline – a mission to not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

Take the challenge that is the Lost Art of Discipline and be the person that even your most ambitious dreams didn’t imagine you’d become.

Tired Of Being Overworked, Sacrificing Your Health, And Missing Out On Time With Your Family?

Self-Leadership Secrets of an Extreme Athlete

By Michael Hyatt

What could the sport of running teach us about the secrets of self-leadership and reaching our business finish lines?

I’ve been a fan of Dean Karnazes ever since I read his book Ultramarathon Man several years ago, so I eagerly devoured his newest, The Road to Sparta, which tells the story of history’s first-ever marathon.

Some of us know the popular version of the story, where after the Athenians defeated Persian invaders at the battle of Marathon 490 B.C., a messenger ran 26 miles to share the exciting news.

But Karnazes shares the real story, where the runner, whose name was Pheidippides, actually ran more than 150 miles all the way from Athens to Sparta, then back again, before the battle.

That’s 300 miles.

Why would a person willingly go through something like that?

“Western culture has things a little backwards right now,” Karnazes said. “We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives.”

That observation doesn’t just apply to running. That applies to all of life, including leading our organizations. When it comes to work, comfort equals boredom.

Engagement and even happiness come when we’re gunning toward major goals. I’m talking about the kind of achievements that push us outside our comfort zone.

Maybe it’s launching a new product line, starting a new career, or growing a sales channel by double digits. If staring down the goal makes you feel uneasy, you’re on the right track.

This ‘Discomfort Advantage’ is only one of the lessons running can teach us. Here are three leadership takeaways I discovered when I read The Road to Sparta:

1. Leverage your unique abilities.

When Karnazes was a child, he went to a basketball camp coached by the legendary John Wooden. A small kid, Karnazes struggled to get rebounds like the bigger children. But Wooden could see his spirit and gave him some advice: “Do what you can.” Instead of going for rebounds, he started playing the backcourt. And he dominated.

When we compete head-to-head as if our abilities are the same as others, we sometimes miss playing to our strengths. It’s like we tilt the playing field against ourselves. Instead, we need to focus on what makes us unique. Steve Jobs is one of the best examples of this in recent years. Apple played its own game and rose to dominance.

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2. Let passion outrun balance.

We have to be careful that our jobs don’t dominate our lives, but there’s a natural tension in play if we really love what we do. “People speak of finding balance,” says Karnazes. “To me, that’s a misplaced ambition. If you have balance, you do everything okay. … Balance doesn’t lead to happiness—impassioned dedication to one’s life purpose does.”

What else could lead a person to run 153 miles through Greece? What else could lead an entrepreneur to do what the market believes is impossible? Balance is desirable, but it’s not the endgame. Finding and achieving your life’s purpose is.

3. Celebrate your wins.

When we reach our goals, we need to take the appropriate time to celebrate. That’s a critical way to honor our work. But it’s also a key component of living a full life.

Hosting another run in Greece called the Navarino Challenge, Karnazes was surprised at how the townspeople came out to celebrate the winners. “These people were all willing to put aside what they were doing and join together,” he remembered, “rejoicing in the moment.”

“If we always made decisions with our heads instead of our hearts, we’d probably live much more orderly lives,” he says, “but they would much less joyous. … How many people spend their entire lives striving for something with their nose to the grindstone, only to wake up one day and realize they haven’t really lived at all?”

Trade on your unique abilities, stay fueled by passion for your work, and take time to celebrate your accomplishments.

Those three takeaways might serve an athlete. But I’m confident they’ll serve leaders even more.

Originally published by Michael Hyatt on December 16, 2016

About the Author: Michael Hyatt is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, which is also a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and now writes, speaks, and coaches full-time.

How to Beat Procrastination

“The mind is a place unto itself, and can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost

How to Beat Procrastination

By Craig Ballantyne

It was 4 a.m. Time to get up, pet the dog, clear the cobwebs from my mind, and sit down to write. That’s my Magic Time and I can’t waste a minute of it.

But one morning last month, I struggled to get started. Instead I emptied the garbage. Took out the recycling. Packed my toiletries for my weekend travel. Arranged the books on my desk to sit at perfect 90-degree angles. I even shaved. And on a day when I would be working from home!

Finally, I decided to man-up and sit down. I glued myself to the chair (figuratively, of course), and forced myself to write. The first few minutes were difficult, almost excruciating. But then the mental spigots opened and the words flowed. That Zen-like feeling I get from my morning writing spread through me.

This is how you stop procrastinating.

By doing.

Do or do not do. There is no try, young Skywalker. Start now.

I write because that is what I was born to do. I can’t stop writing. But I’ll admit, sometimes it’s awful tough to get started. Some days I need a little extra push to get going. We all do. But once you get that ball of momentum rolling down the hill, it’s tough to stop.

Even the most hardcore marathon runner often struggles with the first few steps on a cold November morning. However, the same runner knows full and well the Boston Marathon is only a few short months away and so they stop trying and simply do.

All of the inertia disappears once you start.

To start is to win.

To start is magical.

To start is spiritual.

To start is to say, “This is it, world. This is what I’ve come to do and you’re not going to stop me, with your siren songs of petty distractions like social media or reality television.”

To start is to almost finish.

But why is it so hard to start doing and stop procrastinating?

Are You Missing Out on Life Because of This Inner Demon?

Just think of all the amazing accomplishments you could achieve if you could just beat the procrastination monster.

According to an article from Scientific American, almost 20% of the population chronically procrastinates, routinely putting off tasks to tomorrow that could be done today.

Frankly, that number seems awfully low. Our tendency to procrastinate, first developed in college pulling all-nighters to cram for exams or finish a term paper, is made worse in today’s world of constant social media updates, email addiction, multitasking, and 24-hour news channels.

But for every minute you spend procrastinating, you miss out on a minute of effective study, a minute of making an impact, a minute of moving towards your full potential.

If procrastination is an issue for you, then let’s change that starting right now. Don’t wait a minute longer in learning how to tame the beast.

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My Simple One Second Secret to Stop Procrastination Every Time

Marketing guru Eben Pagan warns us about getting sucked into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) loops. An OCD loop might involve checking your email, visiting news websites, checking your website or sales statistics, reading your text messages, and then returning to your inbox to start the loop all over again. That’s how so many of us procrastinate the day away.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

When I was younger and the novelty of seeing a new sale notification hitting my inbox had not yet worn off, I was guilty of giving in to a powerful OCD loop like the one described above. Fortunately I recognized the problem and over time developed a simple, quick and easy solution to snap out of it and get back to work.

I developed a trigger.

A trigger is exactly that. It’s an action item that triggers you to get back to work.

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It doesn’t need to cost money or require another person to help. It just needs to be an easy, yet effective reminder that triggers you to get back to the task at hand.

For me, it was simply having the smallest amount of discipline to open up the Microsoft Word program on my computer.

That was the trigger that snapped me out of my procrastination.

As soon as I realized I was entering an OCD loop, I fought the urge to continue and opened up the word document. It triggered a break in my bad habit and a return to the right actions.

I still use this trick today.

On that morning when I struggled to sit down and write, it would have been easy to continue finding household chores to occupy my time. But that would have put me far off track of my daily goals.

The only thing that saved me was my trigger. When I conjured up just the smallest modicum of discipline to sit down in front of my computer and open up the word document, everything changed.

It was the trigger I needed to return to my writing. From there, each word typed was a victory. Each sentence a battle won. Each paragraph was a huge step in conquering the procrastination demon. Each victory made it easier to achieve the next. I was on a roll.

That’s the big lesson. Action begets action. And it all starts with a simple trigger.

How to Pull the Trigger on the Tasks You’re Avoiding

In their book, Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath explore the science of building habits. What they found was in order to make something a habit, we simply need to make it easy – and rewarding – for us to take the action.

Having a trigger reminds you to get back on track. Triggers, like brushing your teeth, can you get you back on track and stop mindless eating at night. Turning on loud, energetic music can be the trigger you need to finally start the exercise session you’ve been delaying all morning. Pulling out your checkbook and putting on a collared-shirt could be the trigger you need to finally sit down and deal with your monthly bills.

These little triggers can go a long way.

It’s what you’ll find with all activities that you are procrastinating on. Scientific research supports it. The only thing that helps you overcome procrastination is to actually do the thing you are procrastinating about. That’s it. You must take action.

And it can all be made easier with a trigger. Pull that trigger and you’ll slip back into your right habits with less willpower required.

So how do you stop procrastination? Just start.

Identify a trigger to get you into action mode. And once you’ve started, don’t stop until you’re done. Keep on pushing, start your day with one positive success step. Don’t do anything else until you make progress on something that is important to you!

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About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.

Steps To Take Every Friday

Follow This 4-Step Routine Every Friday

By Andrew Merle

Don’t make the mistake of treating Friday like any other workday.

Having a specific and intentional routine on Friday will set you up for a relaxing weekend and a successful following week.

Follow this 4-step process every Friday to maximize your productivity and peace of mind:

1. Block off your calendar for all of Friday afternoon

This means not scheduling any meetings or calls after 12 noon on Friday (trust me, your co-workers will thank you for this), and declining all invites unless they are absolutely critical (e.g. mandated by your boss).

With some open space on your calendar, now you will be able to close out the week on your own terms.

2. Spend 2+ hours working on unfinished top-priority tasks

If there are still any major outstanding items on your weekly to-do list — specifically ones that will cause anxiety and stress over the weekend — now is the time to tackle them.

Find a quiet place to work where you won’t be interrupted, and spend a couple of focused hours on these top-priority tasks, completing them or getting them into a good place before the weekend.

Once progress has been made against these big items, you can turn your attention to the little ones.

3. Spend 1 hour cleaning out your inbox

Scroll through your entire inbox for emails or calls that slipped through the cracks during the week.

If sending a response or giving a quick call back will only take a few minutes, do it right away.

Consider whether some of these items really need to be done at all. If they aren’t that important — and you will never actually get around to doing them anyway — just delete now and save yourself the stress of seeing them again.

Do make a note of any items that are important and require more time to complete, and will need to wait until the following week. It can alleviate pressure (and is a nice courtesy) to take a moment to quickly respond, saying you’ll get back to them with a more in-depth answer next week. This leads right into the next step.

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4. Write out your to-do list for the following week

With a clear understanding of where things are being left off with all big and little items, you can now prioritize what you will do the following week (and equally as important, what you will not do).

It is critical to take time on Friday to write out your to-do list for the next week. Your top priorities will be much fresher than trying to do this on Sunday night or Monday morning.

This will also give you the peace of mind to know that your top priorities have been captured on paper, and will enable you to hit the ground running the next week.

Limit your weekly to-do list to no more than 3–5 essential items.
And that completes the fourth step of the routine.

* I know I said this was a 4-step process, but there is a bonus step that might be most important of all.

5. Leave the office early

At this point in the day, you have made progress against your major projects, cleared out as many minor-but-necessary items as possible, and set yourself up for a successful week ahead.

With a highly-productive Friday afternoon in the books, it’s time to get out of the office early.

Even leaving at 4 or 4:30 p.m. will make your weekend feel significantly longer.

You deserve it!

About the Author: Andrew Merle writes about living well, including good habits for happiness, health, productivity, and success. Subscribe to his e-mail list at andrewmerle.com and follow him on Twitter.

The Voice of the Lord


by Lawrence Powell

I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so, I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:14-16, 27)

Do you know that God has something to say that you need to hear today? God still speaks to man, and you can know His voice.

In Matthew 4:4 we read, …Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I want us to focus on the word proceed for a moment. To proceed means to go forth, to go out, to depart, to come forth, to issue.Its Gods words, thoughts, affections, and sayings projected from His mouth to our ears. Bread, as you know, is a staple of most cultures. You’ll find bread in some form everywhere. So Jesus uses this global picture to explain to us that we cant live off earthly food alone. We need spiritual food every day to maintain health, and that spiritual food is every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

God reveals His will to us by His spoken word. He wants every one of us to hear His Word because He wants us to know His will. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise… I need to stop here and share something with you: Years ago, I looked up the Greek word for unwise, and it said stupidly. So, God is warning us, Don’t be stupid; understand what the will of the Lord is. If I don’t understand what the will of the Lord is, I am stupid; I’m unwise, according to Scripture especially since the Word of the Lord is accessible and understandable.

Another reason God speaks to us is that He wants us to be found in the very center of His will. Don’t make major decisions without getting the will of God on them. Don’t jump into a job because it pays better than what you’re making right now. That job that looks so good might only have six months left to it. And don’t you dare get married without asking the Lord, Is this the one? You can know the will of God for your life, but you need to listen to His voice.

God speaks. He’s not mute, as the idols of various religions around the world. But, the truth is, sometimes we mute Him, don’t we? Sometimes God is speaking, but we’ve got the mute button on. Do yourself a favor: Don’t turn a deaf ear to the voice of the Lord when He’s speaking to you. We are so privileged to serve the true and living God. When we cry out to Him, He hears us, answers us, helps us, heals us, and delivers us from every one of our distress-es. He’s a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God!

Yes, God still speaks and will continue to speak. I grew up hearing the saints talk about how God spoke to them, and, honestly, I’m not sure if everything they said was really from God. It might have been that late-night pizza! But people said it in a way that you could tell they were familiar with the concept of hearing Gods voice. When I came to know Jesus, I wanted to hear what they heard. I wanted to hear the voice of God. So when somebody said that God spoke to him, I’d wonder to myself, What does God sound like? When somebody talks to me, it’s spoken aloud, so I just assumed that when God spoke, it was in an audible voice. Now, I’m sure you know that if God wants to, He can certainly speak in an audible voice if He chooses to. He determines how He will communicate with you. So let Him! The important thing is, He will speak to you, through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, and you can expect to hear clearly what He has to say.

Acts 13:2 gives us an example of how God spoke to the early church: As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and they sent them away. What were they doing when the Holy Spirit spoke to them? They were in prayer, praising and worshiping the Lord. In that atmosphere, the Holy Spirit spoke. If youre going to be a person who hears the voice of God, youve got to be a praying, worshiping person. Thats one of the reasons the enemy doesnt want you to praise and worship the Lord, because he knows that when you worship God, He will speak. If you need direction, guidance or help, just spend some time ministering to the Lord.

Keep those spiritual ears open so you can hear what God will say to you. It may be just a word or a paragraph; it may come in a dream. But know this: He will speak to you. Why? Because God wants to encourage you to trust Him and His Word, to know the sound of His voice. As you experience the fulfillment of His promises, He knows your faith will grow strong, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He will direct you in your deci-sions and order your steps so you can experience what He has for you. But your ears have got to be open to the sound of His voice.

Matthew 7:24-27 says, ‘Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.’

When it comes to listening, are you a fool…or are you wise? I don’t want you to forget that question because it’s not just hearing His Word that matters; it’s doing His Word. My prayer for you is that you will hear the Word of the Lord and then go and do it! Amen?