Many people dream of finding true work-life balance, but few discover how to achieve it. That’s why on this second of our three-episode arc on setting yourself up to achieve your goals, Bob Mulhern joins the show to help you find more hours in your day and be more productive with your time. We go on to highlight some of the best productivity tools, planning methods, and mindsets that can give you an edge when managing your time and attention.
Bob is the Managing Director of Colliers International for Greater Phoenix, where he oversees a brokerage team of over 100, but as he’ll tell you, managing that multi-million-dollar business isn’t his sole focus in life. Quite to the contrary, by making effective use of his time and using the skills he’s picked up over his career, he’s been able to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
So, are you ready to find more hours in your day? Check out Bob Mulhern on the full episode right now!
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Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller – and this is Ignition Point.
If I was going to put you on the spot, and ask you about how you manage your time, what would you say?
It’s not a trick question. When it comes to determining how you spend your time, you’re part of a bell curve with the rest of society. So, take a second to imagine it. The left side of the bell curve ascends slowly and includes about 30% of the people you know. These are the people who can’t help feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in a day because… well… they are serial procrastinators. While at the opposite end of the curve, you’ve got a quickly declining slope, where just about every high performer is found. These people set apart time for each of their priorities and are highly productive, but they only make up about 15% of the curve!
The remaining 45% of people are smack dab in the middle. They’re always trying to find a groove so they can power through the distractions, but oftentimes they’re inefficient with their time.
So, be honest with yourself. Which group are you in? And more importantly, are you willing to do what it takes to move further to the right of that bell curve and become more effective in the use of your time?
If your answer is yes, you’re in for a great show today. Because in this second of our three-episode arc on setting yourself up to achieve your goals, I’m highlighting some of the best productivity tools and time management strategies that can give you a real edge. So, make sure you follow the show wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts to be notified when the third installment drops next week.
But to set you on the right path today, I’m joined by another one of Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leaders – the Managing Director of Colliers International for Greater Phoenix, Bob Mulhern.
Day to day, Bob oversees a brokerage team of over a 100, but as he’ll tell you, managing that multi-million-dollar business isn’t his sole focus in life. Quite to the contrary, by making effective use of his time and using the skills he’s picked up over his career, he’s been able to maintain the type of healthy work-life balance that many people dream of, but few ever get to enjoy.
Together, Bob and I are going to share some of our favorite productivity boosters, but remember, we can’t make you use them. We can spark the fire, but you have to keep it lit.
So, let’s get after it! Here to share how you can make better use of your time and find more hours in your day, this is Bob Mulhern.
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH BOB MULHERN
Time – right now in the world – is such a scarce resource in so many people’s minds, and what I really hope to do is actually save you a hundred hours by just providing some very practical tips to help you be more efficient. And then of course, give you some thoughts on how to use that time so that once you have it, you use it in a way that really leads to your success and happiness.
I like to tell people a little bit about what I call, “Bob’s Deeply Satisfying Life.”
I have a wife of 31 years, nine wonderful kids, four grandkids. I run a big operation, $30 million plus commercial real estate business. I’m one of the founders of Great Hearts Academies and I’m the President of the Board.
So, what’s great for me is that I’m up usually by 4:30 because I’ve got to get the kids up at six and I get an hour and a half of my own time, and in that window of time I reflect on who I am and I get my exercise in. And so, then the kids get up. Now family time, right?
So, when I come into work, I have a different energy about me.
Really, what fires me up every morning is to take advantage of that time and to enter my day that way.
I’ve made time and abundant resource in my life, but I’ve also been at this a long time. So, if you’re just getting going – if you’re a high schooler – you have a whole different set of responsibilities. I know, because I have high schoolers. If you’re just starting your career, again, you have different opportunities or even less freedom to run your schedule than I do as somebody who’s been my career a long time.
So, what I am going to encourage you to do is take one step at a time and hopefully today by the time we’re done, there’ll be a couple of steps for you to take, and one of them is if you’re not always plugged in, so to speak, you’re going to miss out on things. And yeah, if you’re not plugged in all the time you are going to miss out, but you’re going to find over time that really there’s nothing really significant that you tend to miss out on.
And I think that another trap is that people don’t find a way to stop their work and begin their life-time. A lot of people like to say that those have to blend together and think you’re crazy if you try to separate them. I say that separating them as the only way to go.
And then I think there’s another trap, which is feeling obligated to answer all these requests that come our way. There’s so much data coming at us, that people take the data and turn it into what they call information. People try to gather information together and call it knowledge. And I’m saying that all that we fiercely compete to give away for free, but what I’m talking about now kind of goes beyond all those in what I’ll call the timeless wisdom on how life can be happy and balanced no matter what the circumstance.
So many people say, “my phone is killing me, especially the emails.” And I’m just going to say that I use a tool called sanebox.com, it costs $9.99 a year and it can be used with whatever you’re using. It works with Outlook, it works with Gmail, it works with Office 365; and what it does is allows you to tell your emails where they should go. Some of them go straight to the trash. It’s called the black hole, and just to give you a sense, every week I get about 1500 emails and over 750 of them each month are automatically deleted. They go right to the black hole.
So SaneBox sends me an analysis the end of every week, and it thinks I’m saving eight to nine hours a week. Well, let’s say it was only five hours a week. I remember the first time it said one hour, I couldn’t believe it. I’m thinking, “wow, that’s 50 hours a year!” Five hours, again, times 50 weeks, and that’s 250 hours.
Another easy tool that easily saves me an hour a week is Calendly.com, and it’s a great thing. Somebody calls me and says, “I’d like to get together;” I invariably send them back a link that says, “use this link to find a time on my calendar.” And you can set parameters on that. So, in other words, I could send somebody a link that they couldn’t make something on Mondays or Fridays, or nothing before 10 or nothing after 4. I can send a 20-minute link, a 30 minute, an hour, a lunch; and I will tell you, that easily saves me an hour a week. So, there’s another 50 hours just by using this simple tool.
I also use Upwork.com or TaskRabbit or FancyHands.com or Guru.com. The price is low, the turnaround is fast, and the results are reliable. So, I’d encourage you, if you haven’t used one of those to take a look at it.
I remember one time saying, “I need someone to come to my office to teach me a particular program,” and found out that the resource for that was literally across the lobby from me, which I had no idea about. And I found out by going online. So, you never know where the solution’s going to come from, but it’s easy to post it and again, save as much time as you want.
And then there’s a lot of just time-saving mindsets.
One of the most important mindsets is to actually pass on things that are very good. I mean, I was invited, for example, yesterday to a really good reception that was downtown, but it was sandwiched between two things that were very important to me. One was work related and one was a family birthday dinner that same night; and so you just have to say, “oh gosh, I don’t care how good that was, I’m not going to just rush down there, be a part and rush back.” And just those simple decisions have cleared me up to do what’s most important.
And so the things I do work on, I think people say all the time, “gosh, for a guy that’s as busy as you are, you’re sure an easy guy to get an appointment with,” or “for as busy as you are, you sure don’t seem worn out when we’re talking and you seem focused on me, not distracted.”
I think all that comes from me just refusing to take on good things that just aren’t as good as the most important things. But if you’re tired, you know you’re not doing it, because there is time to do things that are really good and time consuming and still be able to have plenty of time for family, time for reading, time for reflection.
Another one I like is, “don’t lose by your own rules.” So many people say, I’m going to train for whatever this is and be ready by this date. And usually the time frame is not realistic. And so, they end up losing because of a rule they set and they’re afraid to change the rule.
I will constantly say to myself, “hey, that’s something I decided, and I can change that,” and it’s a simple mindset, but it does save lots of time.
I just would look for progress, not perfection. I’ve gotten to where I am one step at a time and I’m older than probably most people listening to this, but I will tell you day after day, week after week, I’ve been serious about these things and it’s all based on a number of small steps I’ve taken and habits I’ve picked up over time.
You need to start with something that you want to do. I would encourage you to just take one of the tools or one of the ideas and get that down. Master it, look at the list. Don’t say, “I’d have to do this or that.” Say, “I would love to do that.” Get it down, and then add the second thing.
I think if you add two or three right away, three weeks from now, you won’t be doing any of them. If you just add one and focus on it, it’ll start you off in a path that will go on and on to great things.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
Let me start by giving a big thank you to Bob Mulhern for taking some time to share his perspective on this week’s show.
Now – think back to the beginning of the episode – do you remember that bell curve I was talking about? You’re not locked in place on that curve. If you’re a self-admitted procrastinator, you can overcome procrastination and move into the middle of the curve. If you’re somewhere in the middle or you already see yourself as an expert, there’s still steps you can take and new technologies you can use to level up. Wherever you are on the curve, you can make progress by applying some of the mindsets Bob talked about or by seeking out some next-gen resources. Because that’s what it’s about. Progress.
Adding hours back into your week is a great starting place when you’re working on high performance productivity, but there’s a catch. Once you’ve got more time, you have to make sure you’re using those newfound hours effectively.
Now, you might be thinking, “that sounds great Steven, but I can’t just force myself to focus on work.” Well, you actually can, but I’m not recommending that you get all compulsive about the way you tackle your checklists or all the work you’ve got to do. I’m just suggesting compromise. You need to negotiate with the part of your brain that wants you to play harder than you work.
See, when you’re putting off your priorities and procrastinating, your brain is in enjoyment mode. You’re releasing Dopamine over and over and over again. So, keeping in mind that we’re trying to beat procrastination, we don’t want to inspire addiction. You need to rationalize moderation based on how many hours you’ve got in your typical day.
Most days, you need about 8 Hours of Sleep, an Hour for Hygiene, a generous 2-3 Hours for Commuting and Eating, and depending on whether you’re in the workforce or you’re still in school, roughly 8 Hours for working or learning. After you crunch those numbers, you’re left with 4-5 Hours a Day that gets divvied up between priorities like Family, Personal Health, Volunteering, Organizational Involvement, and hanging out with Friends.
Once you factor those in, you should have one or two hours left over. Set that time aside for binging shows, playing video games, and impulse shopping. Doing so will actually increase the likelihood that your priority hours will be focused hours, but what other things can you do to keep focused during priority hours?
Well, for the past few years, I would try to get as many things checked off my list as possible, but eventually I found that whenever I finished a task, I’d check it off and then have to figure out what was next. More often than not, that question broke the rhythm of my productivity, creating more opportunities to get distracted.
It’s actually pretty common. You might finish a project and think to yourself, “Sweet, that’s handled, what’s next on the list?” But because you’ve got so many tasks to process, you get sidetracked. All of a sudden you’re left wondering, “what’s new on Instagram? What’s trending on YouTube? When does the new season of The Mandalorian come out?”
I think we’re all guilty of that, because even though you might’ve been in the zone, when you went back to your checklist, you’re activating the part of your brain that handles parallel processing and multitasking, and in case you weren’t aware, we all suck at multitasking.
That’s because underneath it all, we are naturally serial processors. We crave sequence and order. We like for things to relate to one another, and when they do, we can move between them more quickly. That’s why I’ve started organizing my workflows using a methodology I’ve spun off of Paul Graham’s Maker-Manager Essay.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, I’ll have a link to the Essay in the episode’s Show Notes, but it details that there are two ways to schedule your day – Maker Scheduling and Manager Scheduling.
Maker Scheduling is for creative work that requires longer durations of time to work in free flow, while Manager Scheduling is the familiar brief scheduling style you use when you’re booking meetings or handling operational work.
Many people have said these schedules are best applied to full days – taking the shape of setting out Maker Days and Manager Days. However, I’ve opted to break my daily schedules into Maker-Flows, Manager-Flows, and a third, which I call Volunteer-Flows.
My Maker-Flows are 2-4-hour chunks set out for creative tasks that can involve Designing, Prototyping, Writing, Marketing, and Analysis. My Manager-Flows are 1-2-hour blocks for meetings, administrative tasks, budgeting, and selling. While Volunteer-Flows are 1-2-hour windows for community serving tasks and pro-bono work.
By keeping my focus on one type of work at a time, I’m able to close the time gap between tasks and increase effectiveness. Of course, those flows are specific to my blended work life and personal life, but you can build your own workflows on the same premise.
As Bob had mentioned, there’s also a whole host of apps that you can make use of too. He shared his favorites for saving time, but I’ve got a few to add for focusing your attention.
One of the biggest distractors is all the notifications you receive on a minute by minute basis. Really, think about every time your phone vibrates or dings. You immediately stop what you’re doing to see if it’s important. Spoiler Alert: It never is. The solution is to take 5 minutes to redefine your notification settings and refamiliarize yourself with the Do Not Disturb function.
Next, if you’re constantly online and you keep tons of open tabs, you’ll naturally want to poke around those open sites, but the better alternative is to remove the temptation. Go online and download Google Keep, and start saving all those sites in a safe place where you can return to them at a later time and keep them organized so you never lose them.
Last but not least, you’ve got a million things to do and there are a hundred ways to keep track of them. My personal preference is keeping them written, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with a ton of task management apps in the past and I personally recommend Clear+, Todoist and Trello. They are absolutely great for tracking your progress and will keep your to-do lists organized.
(NOTE: After the episode posted, I totally forgot to mention the two productivity apps I have used most – Things 3)
There are plenty more tools where that came from, and I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to share a few time saving tools that I think are worth checking out that Bob didn’t mention.
Another great one for outsourcing work is Fiverr. I think the absolute best in Email Management and inbox overhaul right now is Superhuman. And if you hate managing your own Social Media channels, you need to check out Meet Edgar.
By putting some of these strategies into place and adding in a couple of these tools, you will free up more of your time and you’ll be using that time even more effectively than you ever have before. So, start today and focus on making progress.
Well, I think that we can both agree that we covered a ton on today’s episode. So, if you enjoyed hearing from Bob and you want to learn more about his work, you should check out his expert profile up at Colliers.com.
As Bob had mentioned, he’s one of the Founders of the Great Hearts Academies, which educates over 13,000 kids nationwide K-12, offering a classic education for modern times. At the time of this recording, their network has grown to include 22 Arizona Charter Schools and they’re doing some really remarkable work, so if you’re interested in learning more about the Great Hearts Network, you can check out GreatHeartsAmerica.org.
For the easiest way to get all those links, extra resources and more, be sure to check out this episode’s Show Notes up at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint.
If you’re fired up about raising the bar for your Personal Brand or you want to develop a comprehensive Brand Strategy for your business, let’s connect! I’d love to find a way to team up with you to take your Brand to the next level. To reach me directly and begin your next leap forward, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Well, that’s going to do it for this episode, so stay motivated and keep moving forward.
If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!