4 Essentials for My Sanity and Productivity

tl;dr – My work days are broken down into four types of things I look forward to doing.

caffeine

Everything I need to know I learned from the Dead Milkmen. As guitarist Joe Geraro (aka Joe Jack Talcum) once sang on the song, The Secret to Life, “The secret to life is no secret at all.”

Well, it has been sort of a secret, but I’m going to let you in on it right now. It’s all about setting up little milestones in your day to look forward to doing.

I’ve got four things I like to do on each work day to maintain my productivity and a sense of sanity.

Energy

I like a nice sit-down breakfast of eggs, home fries, bacon, and all of that good stuff, but I usually can only manage to make that happen on the weekends.

So, I settle for liquid energy to start most work days. It’s typically an Atkins shake and Diet Dr. Pepper or Rock Star sugar free energy drink. Later on, I mix in a banana here and a cheese stick there. Plus, lots more Diet Dr. Pepper and occasionally coffee.

Is this ideal? No, but I like it and it gets me going. So don’t go and send me a link on Facebook to some article about how bad artificial sweeteners are for me.

Exercise

I make it a point to start most days of the week with some exercise. I’ll typically run, hike, or cycle. But occasionally, when I am crushed for time, I will use the treadmill desk that I set up in my garage.

I get in no less than 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days per week, and it really sets the tone for my day. I count on the exercise time to shake off stress and start my work day clean. Plus, when I am on the treadmill desk, I get work done.

Re-charging

In order to get the most out of my day, I need to step away and not work for periods of time. One of my favorite breaks is to take a nap in the late morning or early afternoon. I am ridiculously refreshed after I nap without an alarm, whether it’s 20 minutes or two hours.

Another out of the office thing I like to do is to meet friends or family for lunch. It can be a quick half hour or whatever.

Other days, when I am caught up and anxious for some sun, I’ll get out on a boat (with my iPhone to stay up on emergencies). All of these breaks help to reboot me, so I can start fresh into my work the next time I am at my desk.

Bonding

My schedule is crazy from time to time, but there is one constant on most any work day, and that’s sitting around the dinner table with my family.

I really value this time to catch up, decompress, and goof around with my wife and kids. When I’m camped in front of a computer for much of the day, this people time is so important, too.

This article appeared in issue 27 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in August 2014.

How Jason Calacanis Helped Our Business

I’ve been following what Jason Calacanis has had to say since he was publishing the Silicon Alley Reporter back in the 90’s.

missy-ward-jason calacanis-shawn-collins

Back in February 2008, Jason was a keynote at Affiliate Summit West 2008, and it was a privilege to have him up on the stage.

Anyhow, shortly after that he wrote a blog post titled, “How to save money running a startup (17 really good tips)“, that is maybe the best thing I ever read from him.

I took action on one tip in particular…

Use Google hosted email. $50 or free per user…. how can you beat that?!?! Why screw with an exchange server!?!?

Up until this point, we weren’t using an Exchange server for Affiliate Summit, but we were all using Outlook, and it was a regular hassle with exploding .pst files and stuff.

So, after reading that from Jason, we moved to using what was Google Apps Email (I think) at the time. Now it’s Google Apps for Work.

Not only did it enable me to easily admin all of the email for the company, but with the huge storage capacity, nobody had to delete email to make space anymore. And no more days of lost productivity when .pst files were being repaired.

Plus, Google Apps for Business enables us to collaborate easily through Google Drive and Google Docs, and it’s really helpful to have the shared Calendars. I’d highly suggest making the move to any startup or growing company – it’s so worth the modest cost for the efficiency we’ve gotten out of it.

Thanks, Jason.

Free Email Tracking

HubSpot has a service called Signals that enables you to see who opens your email.

signals-by-hubspot

Signals works with Gmail, Outlook for Windows, Salesforce, and Hubspot.

I really like it, because I am regularly working in an environment governed by deadlines, and it’s essential for me to know whether my messages are getting to my contacts and being read.

Since I can see where, when, and how many times an email has been opened/clicked, I know whether I need to follow up.

Being an email maniac, this calms me and helps my workflow.

Get a free month of Signals to try it out.

Getting to Inbox Zero Before Traveling

I strive for inbox zero on a regular basis, and it’s more challenging at some times than others.

emails

When I am about to go on the road, I go into overdrive to try and clean out my inbox, and I largely use the system from Getting Things Done by David Allen.

But it’s still an ongoing challenge with the volume of email I have coming in. I was just looking at my reports from Gmail Meter, and I received nearly 5,000 emails this past July.

Like most people, I have peaks and valleys for email throughout the month with weekends being a little lighter. Towards the end of July, I had a big spike with Affiliate Summit coming up.

july-2014-email-traffic

One of the reasons I am able to keep my inbox lean is my pretty rapid response as emails come in. In July, I replied to more than 90% of emails in less than a day.

july-2014-email-response-time

But there are some emails that can’t be dealt with right away.

In those cases, I use Boomerang for Gmail, which enables you to set up reminders to re-contact people who don’t get back to you.

This is great for pushing out things that can’t be touched until later. So, I’ll have a bunch of things boomeranging on me a couple days after Affiliate Summit.

That’s fine with me – for now I’ve got all of the time sensitive stuff out of the way and a clear mind.

The Best Business Related Speeches in Movies

There have been lots of iconic scenes in movies that are related to business, so I was interested to see a WatchMojo video of the Top 10 Business Movie Speeches.

back-to-schoolThe list includes a bunch of clips you would expect, such as scenes from Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross, and the Boiler Room scene where Ben Affleck tries to be Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

I liked a lot of the picks in their list, but one glaring omission, in my opinion, was Back to School.

Yes, the Rodney Dangerfield movie from the 80’s where he joins his son in college.

The scene, I think, that should be on the list is where Dangerfield is in a class with a professor who is explaining how business works, a textbook idea of business.

The professor gives his overview and then says, “Any questions, class?”

At that point, Dangerfield interjects with his real world examples of running a successful business – his character is a successful business owner.

The comedy legend schools the professor.

Video: Top 10 Business Movie Speeches