Productivity

How to Create the Perfect Morning Ritual (plus the Apps You Need)

Total Reading Time: 5 minutes.
The topic of morning rituals is hotter than the Pareto principle and the center of the sun right now. God that was nerdy. Seriously though, no matter where you are on the interwebs you’ll run into yet another article on the importance of morning rituals.
There’s a problem though: I find that most of the articles are either too complicated or too basic, to the point where they’re just fluff and not actionable.
I’ve been studying and experimenting with productivity and effectiveness for years. With that said, I thought I would add my take on this topic to the pile, and tactfully set it right on top.
Below you’ll also see my exact morning ritual, and I’ll give you links to the apps I use on a daily basis.
 

Create the perfect ritual for you.

This is where I aim to really differentiate this post.
In order to create an effective, sustainable, and useful morning ritual, you must understand the goal in the first place. You must also understand how to address the root, or as I like to say “the big domino” that makes everything else fall into place.
Rituals are the secret to productivity and working more effectively. There is a certain magic about them you’ll understand once you try. Rituals allow you to put the various minutiae of your life on autopilot, so that you can use your brain power to focus on what’s important — creating and solving problems.
It’s well-documented (here’s a great book on famous daily rituals) and studied that all of the most famous artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and masters have/had a very specific set of rituals. I challenge you to study the person you look up to most and learn about their daily rituals.
Key point: Every ritual is unique and there is no cookie cutter solution. Look to another person’s rituals as inspiration, but don’t try to extract the same effect by copying theirs.
 

How to create your morning ritual.

1. Create leverage.

Identify what the highest leverage thing is in your life, the domino that makes everything else fall into place. Structure your ritual around making sure this one thing absolutely happens.
For example, waking up early is critical for me. If I wake up early, by 6 AM, I rock the day. The second most important thing for me is meditation. If I do these two things, I’m unstoppable. Everything else is a bonus.
 

2. Place the big domino first.

Once you’ve identified your “big domino” (the one thing causes all the rest of your routine to fall into place) make it one of the first things you do in the morning.
 

3. Write it down.

Have some fun with this, and feel free to get creative. You can use a piece of paper, create a simple document, or just keep a list in Coach.me (formerly Lift app) like I do.
 

4. Start with just three items.

You know what the most important piece of your ritual is. Now just add two more items to the list that you must do every single day.
 

5. Start simple and make it easy to win.

Some people talk about “flossing one tooth” as an example of keeping it simple. I think that’s ridiculous, but the point is just make it easy to win.
 

6. Add more actions once the initial ritual is locked in.

Research is constantly changing in this area. First they said it was 21 days, but then this was debunked as a myth. Now we’re finding it takes an average of 66 days to build a habit. But that’s nonsense too because it’s just an average.

The time it took participants to reach 95% of their asymptote of automaticity ranged from 18 to 254 days.

18 to 254 days. That’s a quote direct from the Phillippa Lally study. The truth is, we’re all different. I know people that need no time at all, and others that need hand-holding constantly.
 

7. Nail it, then add new habits.

Once you nail this routine, add on new habits you want to create. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!
 

8. It’s dynamic, so be open to change.

Your rituals shouldn’t be set in stone. Eventually, you can also create an evening ritual. You should be open to adjusting and adapting your plan along the way.
After a while, you may find that you actually don’t like yoga and the Lululemon’s weren’t worth it. Or you may discover how great you feel after drinking vegetable smoothies. Keeping it dynamic means it’s constantly changing, and that’s a good thing.
 

9. Don’t get discouraged, it’s about mastering the process.

Your ritual will give you power. The act of going through this routine will become an addiction, and at times you may feel superhuman because of it.
There will also be times where you feel completely lost because you missed your morning ritual. Sometimes this happens to me when I’m traveling (here are 6 ways to stay productive).
Stay strong, friendo. Don’t beat yourself up and take steps backwards. Your work is not lost. You’ve been building a muscle, and all it takes is doing the workout again.

10. Bonus!

I like to ensure success and create maximum leverage in everything I do, a strategy my good friend Chad Mureta taught me. Use your personal assistant or a friend/spouse/lover/neighbor to hold you accountable.
Promise to check in for the first 66 days of your new ritual. If you miss a day you’ll donate X amount of dollars to an organization you either really love or hate (the latter is powerful for people that are motivated by a negative consequence).
To do this you can use Stickk, a free service for setting and achieving goals. With Stickk, you can track your goals, and optionally, set stakes to donate your money to an accountability partner, charity, or anti-charity (my favorite).
 

My personal morning routine.

Again, my ritual is dynamic, but this is the general outline:

  1. Wake up at 6:00 AM
  2. Hydrate: drink a massive glass of water immediately
  3. Exercise: 20 minute jog or quick workout at home
  4. Take notes (do a “brain dump”) and plan day
  5. Cold shower
  6. Gratitude exercise by looking at vision board app
  7. Mediation: 20 minutes (this is the foundation of my morning ritual and a critical piece of my effectiveness)
  8. Breakfast: drink a green vegetable smoothie or juice and make coffee
  9. Learning time: 30 minutes of reading a book, catching up on articles, or listening to an audio program
  10. Begin working on most important task of the day (highest leverage)

I also have other actions I track that I aim to accomplish and check off each day, e.g., writing 1,000 words.
 

Apps I use for my morning ritual.

Coach.me morning rituals routine screenshot
A screenshot that shows part of my Coach.me checklist
  • Coach.me (formerly Lift) – This is the app I’ve been using to track my habits, create new rituals, and get coaching.
  • Insight Timer / Headspace – I love Insight Timer. It’s not the prettiest app, but there are dozens of guided mediations from great teachers included in the app for free. It also has a cool timer for doing your own meditation. Headspace is the media darling app for meditation, and it’s very popular right now. It’s a beautiful app and it does the job.
  • Vision Board – This is a very simple, clunky app that does the job. It’s highly customizable and there are different life categories you can add text or images to. I haven’t been able to find better (if you know of one let us know in the comments)
  • Feedly – The best news/blog aggregator out there. Use Feedly to “subscribe” to your favorite sites, and do all your reading in batches. It syncs with all your favorite apps too.
  • Pocket – A read it later tool and app. Never allow yourself to get distracted and fall down the article wormhole. Use this to read interesting content later when you plan for it.
  • Outread (iOS) – This app is one of my favorites because it helps me speed read articles. It syncs perfectly with Pocket, so I can jam through articles I saved to read later from Pocket quickly whenever there’s downtime.
  • Audible – The app for audiobooks. I love Audible for when I’m not able to read or I’m in the car, otherwise I prefer Kindle books. New customers can get two free books and three months of membership for only $7.49 per month.
  • Podcasts – The app for listening to podcasts on iOS. For Android, Stitcher is a great app.
  • Elevate – A brain training app that enhances memory, reading comprehension, and writing. Beautifully designed and award winning. Very addictive.
  • Sleep Cycle – The best app for tracking your sleep and logging the data. I’ve been using this for years.
  • Day One (iOS) – An awesome app for journaling and saving memories. I compared many iOS journaling apps and this is the best. I love that you can export everything, and the entries are very customizable.
  • Stickk – A free service that allows you to create “commitment contracts” by setting goals and creating money stakes.

Are you going to create a morning ritual now? If you already have, what’s in your morning routine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below…
Photo credit: RitualCC license

How to Automate Your Personal Finances and Stop Worrying about Money

Total Reading Time: 8 minutes.

“We’re heading to Belize with some friends to go diving at the Great Blue Hole near Belize — you should come! Can you make it?”
“Umm…I’m not sure if I have the funds for that. Let me think about it and get back to you.”
Or…
“This is a really great investment opportunity. They are multi-family apartment complexes, and you’ll receive a check in the mail every month.”
“Hmm…I don’t have enough in my checking right now, and I don’t want to touch my savings for this.”
Face palm. Sound familiar? What if there was a way to know exactly how much money you had available in each category of your life? What if you could have your finances completely automated?
Ah, well there is a way, friendo. Use the strategies and tools in this post to do just that. Get rid of most (if not all) of your worries about money, and know exactly where you stand financially. It’ll also become a lot easier to say yes or no to Belize trips (and there’s nothing wrong with saying no — here’s how to do that the nice way).

Real freedom is the ability to do what you want, when you want, how you want. — Tweet this!

Understanding how the rich think about money is a great start, but it’s only part of the puzzle.  The other piece is having your finances on lock down and being able to make decisions confidently.
This is about shifting from a reactive mode to a proactive one. This will result in much less time spent on finances and feeling way more in control. I’ve been using the strategies in this guide successfully for almost ten years. The key is to take action and implement each step right now.
Personal finances are also an important part of becoming a full-time solopreneur. Knowing when to make the change and having your finances in order is key.
A common roadblock to becoming a solopreneur is the fear of not having enough money. Handling this is critical to your long-term success.
After all, you want freedom, but who wants to live like a college student again and eat Cup Noodles again?
 

Get Organized the Easy Way

This is pretty much Step 0. It is important that you get organized and immediately begin tracking a high-level view of your finances.
The fastest and easiest way to do this is with a Mint.com account. I don’t see any reason to use another service, as this one is already a proven, popular solution and has all the features you’ll need. Let’s not complicate this, it’s about getting started.
Mint gives you the detailed, transactional level information you need. You’ll also get a high level overview of your finances, i.e., you’ll see your cash flow and balances across all accounts. This service is customizable and comes with a ton of features to take your finance game to the next level.
Once you’re set up and comfortable with the interface, I’d recommend setting up a few budgets and goals to make the most of it.
 

Set up Your Banking

If you’re still hanging out at a brick-and-mortar bank, you must have been around when people took a horse and carriage to Wells Fargo. If that’s you, I’ll make this as painless as possible.
Instead of asking you to switch and let go of your beloved bank and favorite teller, I kindly suggest that you open a free account with the online bank I mention below. Once you start using them, I virtually (hehe) guarantee you’ll go all in and will forget all about J.P. Morgan and the others in the ol’ boys club.

Capital One 360

Formerly known as ING Direct, Capital One 360 is the foundation and secret to automating your personal finances. It’s free, there are no fees for anything (in fact, you even earn interest on your checking), no minimums, and it’s simple to use. You can also have up to 25 free savings accounts, but it’s the Automated Savings Plan feature that makes this all so appealing.
This is modern banking at its finest, which means there are no physical banks for you to visit — everything happens online. Don’t panic, just give it a shot and you’ll see.
This is the key to automation, and is a necessary piece of this system click here to sign up for a free account now and you’ll also get $50 through my link
 

Automation of Your Savings and Spending

First of all, let’s correct one  important piece: I want you to never pay another ATM fee again. I know, “that’s easier said that done”. But that’s why you have me in your life.
Here’s everything you need to know on how to do that: Get Rid of ATM Fees Once and For All.
Now, the next step is to set up your Automated Savings Plan. As we both know, it’s difficult to budget your money and try to save some cash. By the end of the month,  little remains.
That’s why it’s important to do this automatically, before the money ever goes into your pocket. It also prevents you from feeling a sense of loss, since you never had the money anyway.
With Capital One 360, you’ll want to create a handful of free savings accounts that match up to your different lifestyle needs — get creative with this.
 

Examples of Automated Savings Accounts

capital one 360 - checking savings automated
Screenshot of my personal 360 savings accounts – get creative!

You can change these whenever as needed, and can add up to 25 different accounts.

Some More Great Examples

  1. Gifts – I love this for budgeting in birthday and holiday presents.
  2. Wedding – You know…
  3. Real Estate – Save for your first home or an investment property.
  4. Short-term savings – You never know!
  5. Going out (fancy dinners, drinks, etc.) – I love this, no guilt for spending frivolously on indulging.

The idea here is to use the Automated Savings Plan and begin building up the balance in each of these accounts. For example, on the 1st of each month $50 gets transferred from your checking to your Shopping account. $100 gets transferred to your Long-term Savings account, and so on.
Now, when your friend asks if you want to go to Belize, you look at your Travel fund and decide whether you can afford it (and see how big you can go). You’ll also know what your exact budget is for the trip, and you’ll never need to spend a dime for your checking account — boom! It’s a beautiful thing, right?
 

Pay Your Bills Without Thinking

If you’re still paying your bills by sending in checks with cute little envelopes and holiday-themed stamps, there’s no hope for you. But if you’re ready to automate the process and have some idea of how to do this online, I may be able to help.
 

How to Properly Pay Your Bills

  1. Call every company you pay a bill to each month (or have your personal Fancy Hands assistant do it) and make sure all your payments are due around the same time each month. This is doable with most companies, but some old school ones may be a little less flexible. Arman’s tip: Adjust the due date to right after you are usually paid or paying yourself.
  2. Sign up for paperless billing. You don’t need the papers. There’s nothing fun about getting bills in the mail, and it’s better for the environment. If you ever need a copy of an old bill it’s available online.
  3. Sign up for automated payments. Make sure all your bills get paid automatically, without you ever thinking about it. Whatever excuse you have for wanting to pay your bills yourself, lose it. You will save hours per month and feel a massive sense of relief. Go focus on making more money, not managing it.
  4. Check your transaction history once a month through Mint.com. You don’t need to check your finances more than this, and it should only take 30 minutes. Every once in a while there may be a fraudulent charge or something that looks funny, and this should take care of that.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but: never carry a balance on your credit cards, pay off your debts in full each month, and try not to owe anything to anyone. If you’re in any kind of debt, make it your number one priority to pay it all off as soon as possible. Sacrifice and do whatever it takes, this is so important. 
 

Long-Term Savings

A long-term savings plan is crucial, although not nearly as important as creating wealth (see below). There will be times when you need to be ready for a financial drought, especially if you work for yourself or plan to at any point.
Make sure you are using the Automated Savings Plan feature and put as much as possible into that account at the beginning of each month. Have a goal to hit a certain number by a certain time, e.g. $50,000 within X months.
Once you hit that number, begin taking any excess and invest in assets. Choose things like real estate, stocks, gold/silver, or any asset class you have interest in. You should also be doing this with your Investment savings account.
 

Investing and Creating Wealth

As I explain in this post, money (cash) does not equal wealth. This is a misconception and lie that our environment has instilled in us over many generations. The rich are not on a hunt to accumulate as much cash as possible, they measure their wealth through their net worth.
The idea is not to get cash, but to accumulate assets that trickle off cash over time. You want to achieve a point of living off the interest of your assets. Allow the principle to stay put, or rollover into other investment vehicles.
Become interested in one specific asset class at first, (e.g. real estate) and achieve a level of mastery in your knowledge. From there, you should also remember to diversify how you allocate your investments.
Don’t try to do this alone, especially if it isn’t something you’re already passionate about.  The same way you need a consultant to help grow your business, you need a wealth advisor to help grow your investments.

Photo credit: Lendingmemo — CC license
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I Discovered What the Rich Know about Wealth and I Can’t Keep It to Myself

Total Reading Time: 4 minutes.
Over the past few months I’ve discovered a big secret, and experienced a massive paradigm shift…AKA a holy sh*t moment.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been studying money, wealth, and business — yet it took me this long to figure out the secret. If you look at my bookshelf, the word “money” or “rich” appears on many of the books.
The main motivation (the big why) for wanting to be rich, is probably the same as yours: complete financial freedom.
The ability to do what you want, when you want, how you want…even with who you want — and never worry about paying for any of it.
Now I’ve always thought that to become financially free and wealthy you had to accumulate as much money as possible. This could be through your work, business, investments, or side-gigs. This is 100% wrong.
After years of studying this topic I’ve only recently discovered the secret: cash is not the path to wealth.
Cash, in and of itself, is an awful way to accumulate wealth. Having a massive piggy bank of cash doesn’t help (for many reasons that I won’t dig into on this post). Net worth has very little to do with cash.
Through the centuries and since the invention of money backed by nothing (fiat currency), we’ve been led to believe that it’s all about the cash.
Most will never know how wealth works. Most people don’t understand the fractional reserve system, fiat currency, or even debt.
Is this an intentional conspiracy by the 1% rich against the rest of us? Not if you ask me. I believe if you want to live in that reality you can. You’ll find the answers you’re looking for.
What I do believe is that understanding how money works is where you start. That understanding will instantly help you change the way you think and feel about money.
I also believe that most of the modern rich are good people who have worked hard for their success and wealth. Success leaves clues.

So What Is Wealth?

Wealth is the accumulation of assets, not cash. Most of us have heard this before, but what is a real asset?
Your assets should trickle off cash/interest, which you can then spend and live off. e.g., real estate investments that earn you a monthly check, or stocks that pay dividends.
Most people think assets are cars or new TV’s, so they end up in the same place they started. To become financially free and wealthy we need to redefine money and our habits around it.
In a capitalist, consumer society that relies on world-class marketing to influence your purchasing habits, you’re screwed if you don’t wake up.
Companies make money by making you feel like you’re not good enough (in many ways). They want you to make a purchase to solve your problems. Yes this is a bit gloomy, but it’s not a conspiracy — just a truth of marketing (which can be used for good and bad).

Testing the Theory

Wealthy people are not the ones you think. In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley shows us that the millionaires in this world aren’t driving Ferrari’s and living in yachts. They’re driving dependable, used cars (or maybe a classic car that appreciates in value over time), and only investing in what they need.
We’re getting our ideas of what it means to be rich from Instagram and reality TV, which are just marketable one-off BS examples of wealth. The real rich don’t even want you to know they’re wealthy. They don’t care about appearances, or what we think about their spending habits.
They’ve figured out the secret to accumulating and keeping wealth (the latter being the harder part). They don’t play by the same rules the rest of society does. If you study these people you’ll learn this for yourself.
Here’s the biggest thing you’ll find: they all have a bulletproof growth mindset. Thought you could get away from the internal game/mindset stuff for a bit? You can’t. Wealth is only limited by your own mental limits.

The Wealth Formula

As always, it all comes down to freedom. The point of money is to provide the experiences we desire most in life. The only way to do that is to master it.

Create Value through Your Confluence —> Turn Value into Income —> Invest Money in Assets = Wealth 

The Next Step

To make the shift now, move your income into assets. Decide on one reliable method to accumulate the income: your job, your own solopreneur business, a side business, etc.
Then decide on one asset class that you want to learn and master. Your focus going forward will be to invest all your cash into assets within that category e.g. a business, real estate, stocks, or any investments that trickle off cash flow.
Have fun. Use it for good.

Links to Resources

  1. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
  2. Self Made Wealth – This online course by Eben Pagan is the most fantastic resource on wealth and money I’ve ever discovered. Unfortunately the class is now closed, but may re-open again in the future, so I’d recommend signing up for the waiting list.
  3. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi – I first read this book years ago, but it was instrumental in building the foundation of my personal finance habits. This book is all about automating your finances and making it as easy as possible.

What are your thoughts on money and wealth? What resources have been helpful for you personally? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Photo credit: WealthCC license

Weekly Review: The Productivity Secret of Superhuman Achievers

Total Reading Time: 7 minutes.
If you don’t implement this weekly exercise soon, your precious texting thumbs could fall off.
Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, let me give you a brief introduction to the single greatest (and most effective) productivity ritual I’ve ever discovered: The Hour of Primetime.
Simply put, the Hour of Primetime is a weekly review. This ritual and exercise is something all high-performers and achievers complete in one form or another.
You may have heard of people performing an annual review (I have some free templates you can download here). This is quite similar, and is a necessary component for achieving the objectives you set for yourself each year. This exercise can change your life, and will if you apply it weekly. It is the single greatest discovery I have made, and I’ve taught this exact weekly exercise to countless friends and mentoring clients.
This is about being effective, not just productive (for more on that see the ultimate guide to productivity). It’s also about having a fulfilled life, across the many different categories that matter to you.
Years ago I went through an audio program by Tony Robbins called The Time of Your Life. It’s a fantastic program and I highly recommend it. One particular specific section really stood out to me and has formed the basis of this weekly review exercise.
I’ve made a lot of custom tweaks and added more systemized structure to make this easy to follow and implement for you. I’ve also put together all the materials you’ll need to get started today.
 

Hour of Primetime: The Weekly Review Ritual

Every week set aside one hour for yourself. It’s you time. What a concept, right?
I do this every Sunday morning, and I recommend you pick a set time as well.
You’ll be writing, so either have a special notebook for this or print out the downloadable template below. During this exercise you’re going to really observe what’s going on in your life and start planning ahead.
It’s an opportunity for you to get everything out of your head and live proactively.
It’s also an opportunity for you to review your progress and “rate” yourself in the different areas of your life, like the annual review.
 

Step 1. Visualize

Take 5-10 minutes, close your eyes (do this!), and think about the outcomes you want for your life. Trust me on this. Visualize it vividly.
Try to think long-term. Why do you do what you do? What are you actually working toward? What’s your ultimate vision of success, happiness, wealth?
What does it look like? What does it feel like? Feel the thoughts and see the images as if you’re already there. Get clarity on what you’re working toward.
Always ask yourself “what’s my outcome?”.
Make sure you don’t skip step #1. The rest will not work without it.
 

Step 2. The Seven Areas of Your Life

After you’re nice and juiced on these fun thoughts — head to the notepad (you can do this in a special notepad, in a journal, Evernote, or even a Google Doc).
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on the 7 key areas of your life. Feel free to switch this up if you want, but these categories should cover everything.
Seven key areas of your life: Relationships (significant other, family, and friends), Health, Spiritual, Career, Finances/Cash Flow, Emotions/Meaning, and Celebration.
Review the past week and think about how well you did compared to the desired level, with 10 being the absolute best.
 

Step 3. Accomplishments

Review your week…and don’t do this quickly. Think about it in your mind. Reflect and list out all the little accomplishments and magic moments you had.
Think moments of laughter. Think about accomplishments at work. Think about the awesome little moments that made you smile. Think about memories with family and friends, or the special woman/man in your life. You get the idea.
Note: I like to open my calendar when I’m doing this to help jar my memory and reminisce about the week.
List them all out, and feel good about them again. Feel proud and let yourself remember all these incredible accomplishments. We don’t revisit these memories and experiences very often normally, do we?
This step should make you feel fantastic and give you a sense of immediate fulfillment.
 

Step 4. Areas to Improve

Start thinking about things you didn’t do or areas you could improve upon (refer to the 7 areas of your life to get ideas). Now list them out.
Did you make any mistakes? Were you short-tempered with anyone? Did you not exercise when you intended to? As weeks go on you may start to see patterns here. That’s your hint!
It’s an area you need to address and an old habit you’ve (unconsciously) built into your life. Now don’t feel bad about yourself here after getting pumped up in step 3.
This isn’t about punishing yourself. Just think specifically about areas you can improve or things you didn’t do and would have liked to.
 

Step 5. Capture

Shake out those thoughts now. This step feels really good. Start thinking about all the little thoughts, worries, and to-dos that are occupying your mind.
Think of the thoughts that keep popping into your mind, especially the ones that nag at you or you keep procrastinating on.
Capture everything. Write them all down. Feels good right?
 

Step 6. Batch Into Outcomes

Look at everything you just captured. Now try to find common outcomes between the different things you captured. Look at the Seven Key Areas of Your Life to see how these pieces might be connected.
Example: running a mile in the morning AND buying a supplement/vitamin AND juicing green vegetables AND researching standing desks are all actually related!
They’re both part of the same outcome: Get fit. Which falls under Health. So why get fit? Maybe because you want a stronger and healthier physical body. But why? To have a high level of energy so you can handle anything as it comes at you and increase your vitality.
See what we did there? You need to look at your ultimate outcomes. Group them together.
Another example: Calling your business partner to discuss a potential new client opportunity AND needing to correct the images on your website because they’re outdated.
Both part of the same outcome: Grow your business. Which falls under Career. Again, group them together.
Do this for all of the items you captured.
 

Step 7. Schedule it

Take everything you just grouped together into larger “outcomes” and schedule them into your calendar for the week (and beyond if needed).
Do your absolute best to group the related tasks that have the same outcomes together. This way working on each task doesn’t feel like a task, it feels like part of the same outcome. You’ll constantly be reminded of why you’re doing what you do.

What gets scheduled gets done.

Note: As you’re performing tasks try to remember the outcome you’re working on. Remember that it’s always part of a bigger picture and grander outcome.
Let the stress go away when one simple little task bothers you. The worry and stress is bad for your health and isn’t serving you.
When scheduling these blocks of tasks/outcomes into your calendar, give yourself room to breathe. Don’t schedule 10 blocks back-to-back.
Try to narrow down and distinguish among your weekly outcomes which ones are absolute musts. Meaning, know which ones must get done vs. the ones you’d like to get done.
If something doesn’t need to be done that week—schedule it in your calendar at the appropriate time and save that space now (it’s okay if you end up changing this).
Also, remember to schedule some personal you time also. Instead of getting distracted by little things you can now stick to this schedule and look forward to the pre-scheduled relaxation/do-whatever/chill-out time.
I have a block of time every Friday where I just watch videos, catch up on reading, goof around—whatever.
 

Step 8. Bonus: Pat yourself on the back

You’re now light-years beyond how the average human being deals with the many areas of life, let alone how they schedule their days.
Remember that what gets scheduled, gets done. With time you will be able to handle whatever comes at you. Don’t panic, stick to the outcomes. Enjoy the journey.
 

Bonus

Did you enjoy this weekly review exercise? I’ve created a PDF version of this for you to download and keep forever. I’ve also included a template you can use each week to actually perform the weekly review.
Just enter your best email below and you’ll be able to download everything. 
*Photo credit: Super HumanCC License

How to Cure Your Procrastination Forever with This Simple Formula

Total Reading Time: 2.5 Minutes
When I was in high school, I became an expert in the art of procrastination. And believe me, I was damn good. I would somehow complete homework assignments the morning they were due, and take tests with minimal studying (i.e. glancing at the chapters the night before). For years I said, “I just work better under pressure. I wait until the last minute because that’s when I get laser focused and do good work.”
Cool story. Well, I got away with that in school, but it doesn’t work in the real world. We humans are basically a combination of three things:

  1. How we’re wired
  2. Our environment
  3. Our choices

However — nothing is more powerful than choice.
Procrastination is one of the most negative forces in the world. You already know why you procrastinate, but I’m going to break it down for you. The act of procrastination is caused by two character traits (more on this below). These two traits actually form habits that cause us to fall into unconscious patterns of procrastination.
Get good at these two things, and you’ll quickly become a habitual, lifelong procrastinator. Procrastination causes failed businesses, lost jobs, lost opportunities, poor performance, a general lack of creativity, and an overall poor quality of life.
Every procrastinator has a reason for procrastinating. This is similar to a smoker who tells themselves that one or two cigarettes a day is okay, or the person who can’t unwind at night without a glass of firewater.
 

The Procrastinator’s Formula

Want to know exactly what causes procrastination? There’s a very specific formula…

Laziness + Indifference = Procrastination

(Tweet the formula)

If I were you, I wouldn’t take your procrastinating ways too lightly. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t purposely or consciously just stop procrastinating one day. That wasn’t my goal. Ending procrastination was a byproduct of another event, which I achieved over time.
The day I realized the change and could sense its permanency, I was ecstatic. After some analysis, it became crystal clear:
I was finally living with a purpose. I wasn’t aimlessly going about my days anymore. I wasn’t floating along and living someone else’s life, occasionally getting a pat on the back over things that were meaningless to me.
I had a clear, definite, unbreakable plan. If you want to stop procrastinating and live a fulfilled life, you have to get hungry. You have to make the choice that you only get one shot at this, and that it’s not worth playing small.
Nelson Mandela - playing small quote
This is something Napoleon Hill, author of one of the bestselling books of all time, calls “definiteness of purpose”.
Here’s the scariest part: too much procrastinating will eventually lead to complete wandering or drifting.

Laziness + Indifference = Procrastination = Drifting

 
A drifter is someone who lacks purpose and passion. Sometimes this person goes through negative spirals and doesn’t even understand why (see this case study for more on this). A drifter has fallen completely into an unconscious pattern, and this can become a permanent rhythm.
 

Conclusion

To stop procrastinating, start caring. Deep down, we already know this is the answer. It’s not a matter of having a workflow or productivity guide. It’s not about learning how to focus better or get into a flow.
The root cause of this is our laziness and indifference. You can remedy this by using your mind consciously and having a definite purpose.

Definite Purpose + Burning Desire + Actionable Plans = Fulfilled Rockstar

 
Don’t know what your purpose is? I’d bet that you already know exactly what it is. I’ve found that people who say this usually have the answer but won’t allow themselves to believe it’s possible. Either way, just continue growing and making small changes — it will become more clear to you every day.
Once you have it, don’t let it go. Focus on this and only this. This is the fastest, easiest, and most direct way to eliminate procrastination forever.
 

Links to Resources

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
  3. Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research, and Treatment by JR Ferrari, JL Johnson, WG McCown

Photo credit: To Do ListCC License
 

Fancy Hands Review: How to Hire Your Own Virtual Assistant for Just $15

Total Reading Time: 6 minutes.
Today, we’ll be talking about Fancy Hands, a service that offers U.S. based virtual assistants to anyone in the world. I’m also going to show you exactly what to expect, and how to make the most of this investment in your freedom.
The best part? It’s not expensive to get started, they’re only $29.99 a month. And you can also get 50% off your first month — so only $14.98 to start.
Now, let’s dig in…
fancyhands
We all want one thing:
More free time. For what? Mainly, more time to focus on the more important things. Who defines these “important things”? Well, you do. How often do you find yourself handling annoying, random BS tasks that you wish someone else could do. Too often. Right?
If only we could blow away the competition by getting more actual “work” done and not having to deal with these boring, nonsense tasks. Or what if we had someone to help with the little things so we could focus on being creative and producing good work?
There are far too many judgements and preconceptions about what having an assistant really means. But here’s the deal, we’re living a self-directed lifestyle, right?
And if we want to be free and achieve great things we need to focus on what’s important. Outsourcing the minutiae of everyday life is one of them.

Snapshot of My Dashboard

This snapshot of my Fancy Hands dashboard shows you my usage for the last few months. The statistics that blow my mind the most?
451 CALLS that I didn’t have to make, and 4.1 DAYS of time saved. Remarkable.

Fancy Hands - personal stats
A lot of time and money saved.

Examples of Recent Tasks

Fancy Hands will handle just about any type of task for you, within reason. Below are 5 recent tasks I had my assistants perform:

  1. Shipping issue: Call Frank & Oak (an online retailer) and find out why I haven’t received my shirt yet. If it’s still available please have them send it to me, I still want it. If it’s no longer available and they can’t send it to me just get a refund please.
  2. Lost Kindle: I just took this flight (see below for details and seat number) and forgot my Kindle in the seat pouch in front of my seat. Can you please contact the airline and recover it? Contact them locally and specifically ask them to grab it from the plane. I will pay for shipping if needed.
  3. Accommodations: Can you please find me accommodations for the night of June 30th in Rio de Janeiro? Highly rated is the biggest priority. Hostels are fine, but decent reviews with cleanliness as priority. Please reply back with 3 options, and then secure a reservation for the one I choose.
  4. Purchase: Can you please find me an Apple (genuine only) 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter? I’m okay with used (this will be a backup). Once you find the best priced one just purchase it and ship to my home address.
  5. Research: I need to find best service that will handle my postal mail. I want this service to receive all my mail, scan it, and forward me any items I specifically request (no packages, just letters & regular mail). I need this service to give me a California mailing address (preferably San Francisco) that looks like an actual address. I need great customer service and a strong track record (FYI: I went with Virtual Post Mail).

If it’s legal, they’ll probably do it. Here’s a huge list of common tasks they can do. What can they not do? Here’s a breakdown of that.

How to Effectively Assign Tasks

This was by far the hardest part for me, and is generally the most difficult piece for most people.
Delegation is a skill that takes time to learn (a very valuable one at that). Always approach your assistant with an “if this then that” framework to your task.
Just remember “IFTTT = If This Then That”. Don’t confuse this with the service. The more you can think of obstacles and “what if’s” ahead of time, the less back and forth you’ll have. Patience and detail are key to your success here.
Note from Arman: Think of it as a game. If you’re able to get your tasks completed with no questions or obstacles, you win. The better you get at this, the better you’ll eventually be at managing a dedicated assistant, and eventually, an entire team.

Fancy Hands Final Review and Notes

Value

Overall, Fancy Hands offers an incredible value. With the smallest plan you receive 5 tasks for $29.99/month. According to Fancy Hands, the average task is something that can be completed in under 20 minutes.
My statistics show that I’ve saved 4.1 days or over 98 hours of time. This means each task is taking approximately 27 minutes. So let’s find out how what this would cost you per hour, based on the entry level plan.
At $29.99/month for 5 tasks, that’s $6 per task. Each task at 27 minutes means you’re paying around $13 per hour of work. This doesn’t even consider the money your assistant can save you through the tasks.
Here’s the key: If you make more than $13 an hour, you’d be making a very wise decision to use a service like Fancy Hands. The more you can free yourself from things that don’t require your personal attention, the more successful and fulfilled you can be.

User Interface/Accessibility

The service is constantly evolving and keeps getting better. To submit a task, you currently have all these options:

  1. Email
  2. Through the website
  3. Fancy Hands mobile app
  4. Record a voice memo through the app
  5. Call them
  6. Text them (SMS)

Very flexible. I love the voice memo feature, because as tasks come to mind I can quickly record and outsource immediately.

Quality of Work

I find that the average assistant wants to go above and beyond your expectations, especially if you’re friendly, clear, and use the IFTTT method above. Fancy Hands assistants are all U.S. based, sharp, and detailed.
I’ve had assistants put together massive amounts of research, build beautiful spreadsheets, and fight for me with customer service departments. I’ve been thoroughly impressed on multiple occasions.
I’ve also had assistants that complete tasks quickly, and don’t always ask the necessary questions to deliver exactly what I asked for. In part, that’s my fault because I wasn’t clear enough.
As I mentioned, it’s important to be as clear as possible, otherwise you’ll get what you ask for.

Consistency

My experience has been pretty consistent. Most assistants do the job as asked, and occasionally one will go far beyond expectations.
There have been two or three occasions where I was disappointed with my assistant. The fix was simple: ask for the task to be reassigned.
After each task is complete you can leave a thumbs up or down, so it’s clear that quality is being monitored.

Responsiveness/Speed

The biggest benefit of a non-dedicated assistant service like Fancy Hands is that you can submit as many tasks as you like at the same time. A single, dedicated assistant can only handle so much.
This means you’ll have multiple assistants working on your tasks, and as you become an experienced delegator your needs may grow. This model is the most scalable and many people opt to stay with Fancy Hands rather than Zirtual for this exact reason.
Most tasks are looked at within an hour or two, some right away. Many are even completed that quickly. Time to completion all depends on the type of task. I’d estimate most are completed within 48 hours.
See my final review and ratings below. Overall, I recommend Fancy Hands to anyone with no reservations.
[review] 


 
Use my link (it’s basically a referral coupon) to try Fancy Hands at 50% off your first month. That works out to only $14.98. It’s an investment in yourself that will leave you instantly feeling less stressed, less busy, and more in control.
Please comment below with any questions and feedback. If you do sign up, please let us know how it goes. Help us all learn from your experiences and share your successes/struggles.