Personal Growth

Join Me for a 21 Day Productivity Experiment

October 1, 2012

I’ll make no bones about it, I struggle with focus when working on my business. I’m often scattered and overwhelmed by everything I want to do. A recent post I read really brought this issue to light and now I’m going to do something about it.

photo by Starlit Beaches

I read a story of how more than 100 years ago Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, hired Ivy Lee to help his company with efficiency. Lee told Schwab he’d need only 10 minutes with each of his executives and Schwab would only have to pay him if his advice worked.

Lee left telling Schwab to evaluate the effectiveness of his services in 3 months. And, at that point, send him a check in the amount of what he thought his advice was worth.

After three months was up, Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000. Today, that would be $1,000,000, or more!

So, what could Lee have told Schwab’s executives in 10 minutes that was this valuable?

The $1,000,000 key

He told them this. At the end of work each day, write down the 6 most important tasks which need to be accomplished the next day.

Then, with absolute unyielding grit and determination, the moment you sit down at your desk or arrive at the office, start with number one. Don’t stop or go on to number two, until you’ve completed it. If the phone rings halfway through, leave it!

So, what this means is no checking email first. No reading blog posts first. No texting or tweeting before or during my six tasks. Turning off all notifications on my computer and turning off my phone. Growing my business and doing it successfully requires 100% commitment to this!

All those little distractions and tangents kill my productivity and focus. Even though it might only take a minute to check email or Facebook, it takes 10 or 20 minutes to get back in the grove I was in.

I’ve noticed if I check email first thing, I am reminded of the 20 things I’d like to do and start to feel overwhelmed. My mind becomes littered with those 20 things rather than the six that are going to affect my bottom line the most.

Join me in the experiment!

I’m committing to following Lee’s advice for 21 days and find out for myself if it works. I need you to keep me accountable because, here’s the thing. I know this will help my productivity. The challenge is going to be following through with it. This means not giving into the temptation of the little diversions of Facebook, Twitter, and especially email!

Will you join me? (Registration Closed)

If  yes, join the rise365 Productivity Experiment Facebook Group (click “Ask to Join Group” at the upper right side of the group’s page). We’ll use the group to encourage, equip, and keep each other accountable!

Productivity Experiment Length: 21 days

Start date: Monday, October 8

End date: Sunday, October 28

Registration closes: End of the day Sunday, October 7 (Registration Closed)

Please note: Updates to the rise365 Productivity Experiment Facebook Group should be done after your six most important things! 🙂

Question: Do you want to take your business and success to the next level? Why not join me?


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  • Michael Wright October 1, 2012 at 4:09 am

    You are a very wise man, Mr. Good!  Email is a killer for me, even my work email is a killer distractor from more important work tasks that need to get done first.  Multi-tasking is a huge myth!!!  It’s not efficient.  We feel more accomplished and successful when we have COMPLETED something, rather than leaving it hanging unfinished for periods of time.  As the wise words of Larry the Cable Guy says “Get ‘Er’ Done!” first, then move on.

    • Michael Good October 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Right, and those are wise words from Larry the Cable Guy! I agree on multitasking. Just because we can do 5 things at once, doesn’t mean we should!

  • Ann Musico October 1, 2012 at 7:18 am

    You are both right!  I typically check my email before my husband leaves for work at 5:30 am and then once my daughter is off and on her way to class I jump in.  I will definitely try this!

    • Michael Good October 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Awesome, Ann. Glad to have you part of this! 

      Something else I’ve been reading is to have a few scheduled times to check emails though the days. It’s not that you don’t respond to the emails. You do, but in a planned sectioned-off time.

      It sounds like you may be doing this already.

      • Ann Musico October 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

         I’ve read that too, Michael, and I’m definitely in need of improvement here so I’m really excited about being part of this challenge beginning next week!

  • Dan Hefferan October 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

    So, when you get done with number one, you go onto number two?
    This would be tough to do!

    • Michael Good October 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      That’s correct, Dan. You have to keep in mind, one of your 6 items may be sending an important email. Some of the 6 might not take long. 

    • Josh Mokma October 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

      That could be in a Dr Seuss book!

      • Dan Hefferan October 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

        we’ll put it on my bucket list 🙂

  • adlib247 October 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I agree…I’ve had so many days where that “one thing that MUST get done today” still sits untouched by 3:30 PM. One of the tricks for me will be remaining focused since I will use email for part of those projects.

    Of course, it’s always clever to post an anti-discraction experiment on Facebook. (not that I saw this there…)

    • Michael Good October 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm


      I know, right?! I have the same issue sometimes with needing to use email for some of the important items. 

      You know, it might work well to compose an important email somewhere else like google docs and then copy and paste.

  • jodyberkey October 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I’m in.  This is great timing. When Elijah is at preschool Tuesdays and Thursdays, I need to really maximize the four hours to get work done.  I’ll start tomorrow and get a good week of practice in before the experiment officially starts.  Is that cheating? 🙂

    Did you catch Pat Flynn’s post and podcast on being more productive?  He has some good tips in it.

    • Claudia Good October 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Yes I did Jody (I know Michael did too)!!! I love his podcast… I think I first heard about him from you Jody! His stuff rocks!! could I put any more exclamation marks in this comment??!!!!!

      • jodyberkey October 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

        Exclamation point it up, girl!!!! I’m glad I could be your Pat Fynn matchmaker. I get so much inspiration and ideas from you guys.

        • Claudia Good October 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm

          glad to inspire Jody!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Ryan Ash October 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Sounds like a great idea, so I’m in! And yes, Jody, I’m going to declare that starting a week early is cheating. :p But I’ll let you slide if you share all of your pointers.

    • jodyberkey October 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      A slide for a slide, Ryan. I’d say we’re even now. However, I’m happy to share anything I learn.

    • Michael Good October 2, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Nice, glad to have you, Ryan!

  • Alex Barker October 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Great idea Michael!
    I’ll be joining the Facebook group fo sho.
    The Schwab story sounds like a Dale Carnegie story from “How to win friends and influence people” 🙂
    Stephen Covey’s time management strategy is a must for prioritizing! I’ve been using his technique for 4 weeks now and I feel happy at the end of the day. I don’t feel like I still have a thousand things to do!

    • Michael Good October 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Alex, love it! Great to have you join.

      I think it may be in “How to Win Friends.” I found it again in Jeff Usner’s book, “Internet Millionaire.” 

      Looking forward to hearing more about how Covey’s quadrants are working for you!

  • Claudia Good October 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I am also in on this!! Love how you make things like this practical babe 🙂

    • Michael Good October 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Hey, thanks, Claudia! You’re the spice in my life. 😉

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  • Alana Mokma October 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

    ahhh. This is going to SUCK, but I need to do it – actually, I think it’s exactly what I need. Thank you for the challenge, Michael and Claudia! 

    • Michael Good October 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Alana, nice to have you part of this! We’ll kick it off Monday and have fun with it.

  • Isaac Ludwig October 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I too am looking forward to being part of this experiment. I must admit that I need to alter the concept significantly however. 

    In my professional life working for a consultant, I MUST keep lines of communication open so this includes email and access to my cell phone. Also, some of the 6 things might take 5 minutes to do, some might take 3 or more hours, so there could be some interruption. Also, emergencies will undoubtedly develop that will need addressed immediately.  

    BUT the 6 things will be completed before ANY MOMENT is spent on any pursuit of leisure.
    Any moment spent on any technology website,
    any of the 3 webcomics I follow,
    any inane office conversation,
    reddit (oh dear goodness),

    BEFORE I retire to my bed, I will have checked these things off and created the next 6 tasks for the next 24  hour cycle.

    This will be my triumph. For it is letting things slide that is my scourge. And I take extreme encouragement that I join people who with me are actively taking back what i let fritter away.


    • Michael Good October 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Isaac, glad to have you join! I like your approach here. I think it’d be a learning process for us all. Plus, I have some of the same questions myself, so it’ll interesting to see what works for you. 

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  • Tico & Tina October 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    awesome, we’ll join your experiment – this was actually something we started when we got home from tour a couple weeks ago, and it is super helpful. we fell off the wagon a bit, though, so some accountability will be good =)

    • Michael Good October 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Great, guys! Glad to have you.

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