4 Best Productivity Tactics That I Use Daily

Aaron Hoos

Just sharing 4 really powerful and effective productivity tactics that I use every single day. In fact, on the (occasional) days that I miss them, I notice it!

The Productivity Tactics

#1. The Night Before: Brainstorm/Mindmap My Work For The Next Day

Using a whiteboard or a few pieces of scrap paper, I just build a big mindmap of anything I want to do the next day. If it’s content, I do a rough outline; if it’s a project to delegate, I outline the pieces I need to outline; if it’s a complicated project, I list the steps.

#2. The Day Of: I Start Early

I always used to call myself a night owl. And I was for many, many years. But because of where I live (currently in Mountain time), I was missing a big chunk of my clients’ days (many work in Eastern time). So I taught myself to get up early. That made a massive difference. I get up at 5 and get to work. I’ve got a solid day knocked out by noon and choose what I want to do after that.

#3. Throughout The Day: Calendar Plus Prioritized List

You might need to tweak this for yourself but I’ve been testing different configurations of a calendar for… as long as I’ve been a writer and strategist. What works for me is: build out a calendar for the week of time-sensitive items (meetings, appointments, etc.) then run a daily list of prioritized projects that I run through. I’ve found this to be a great combination of rigidity of scheduled appointments and flexibility of non-scheduled ones.

#4. Throughout The Day: Time Tracking

I’d often read that tracking time was critical but I never did it. Then one day I decided to track my time… and it changed my life. Like, in one of the most profound ones. In short, I tracked what I did every 15 minutes of the day (and ranked it with a green or red highlighter as being productive or not productive). And since I usually get paid for production instead of hours, my production went WAY up and easily doubled (or more) my income.

Summary

Of course there are many other productivity tactics that work great but these are the ones that really move the needle for me. I hope you find them useful for your own business and life.

What I’m Working On This Week (April 27 – May 1, 2020)

Aaron Hoos

Wow. It was a really productive week last week. I got a bunch of stuff done and then some… even with World Book Day!

This week, I’m hoping for more of the same! So, here’s what I’ve got going on…

Publishing. This is an ongoing project for me so yes, it was on last week’s list and it’s on this week’s list. (And it has been on my list just about every day since what feels like the dawn of time). But I’m pushing forward on it. Specifically, I’m pushing forward on republishing some books from my client that changed dramatically during a rebranding. It’s a complex project but I’m getting through.

Launches. I’ve helped a client build an ascension model over the years — from a single membership level in 2016 to two levels by 2017 to three levels in 2018 to four levels in 2019 to five levels in 2020 (so far), and we’re just about to launch two more levels that I’ve built. That might sound like a lot but this is part of my client’s plan to dominate the industry. So, the two levels that we’re just about to introduce are built and nearly ready to go, just putting the finishing touches on them this week.

Testing assessments/interactivity. A client is building some additional assessments and interactivity into their (mostly automated) sales funnel and I’m putting those pieces together, which include scripts and videos, a flow with multiple dependencies, and ultimately exit points that help to address objections or add value or close the deal.

Event prep. With everything pivoting to online at the moment, several of my clients’ events are now going to be delivered through an online service like Zoom. So, that changes a lot of things — from our workbooks (need to be printed and shipped earlier) to scripts (need to be adjusted) to how we create an event experience online.

There are other things, too, including some end-of-month work for my business. But these are the big pieces that will easily take up my entire week.

Have a productive week!

What Is Your Life’s Work?

Aaron Hoos

Your life’s work. Do you know what it is?

I think there are only a few who really do.

It’s not just your job or business. It’s not just what you think about. It’s not just the impact you have in your community. It’s not even necessarily your purpose (although sometimes it could be, I suppose).

Your life’s work is the work that you were put on this earth to do.

Eric Liddell, the runner (and Scottish Olympic medalist; he’s the guy that the movie Chariots of Fire was about), famously said that when he ran, he felt God’s pleasure.

Or I think of countless others who say, “I would do this work even if I didn’t get paid for it.”

I’ve been thinking about this concept of my life’s work a lot lately as I explore current projects I’m working on and new opportunities I’m looking at, and talk to others who are thinking about the same thing.

For me, I believe my life’s work is strategic copywriting.

“Strategic”—meaning that I carefully consider the entire sales funnel of a business and write up and down the funnel to grow the business.

“Copywriting”—meaning that I create content that empowers readers to make a decision.

There are a lot of strategists/consultants out there. There are a lot of copywriters out there. I think that my work is the intersection between the two, and I bring a whole-business strategic sensibility to my copywriting… and a copywriter’s sensibility to my strategy.

I’m open to refining this further but that’s what I believe it to be. It’s why I was put on this earth. And whenever I get to do that kind of work, I feel truly alive. I think back to times in my life when I couldn’t do this work (for various reasons) and it left me feeling… rudderless.

If I were to refine it further, I wonder if there would be a greater sense of impact in how I describe, or if I would ever consider narrowing it further to a specific industry.

A couple of books that have informed my thinking on this include Gary Keller’s The One Thing and Peter Montoya’s The Brand Called You. Each of these books tend to speak to an aspect of your life’s work, so I wouldn’t say that any single one of them is definitive, but collectively they have contributed to my thinking.

This is definitely something I’m chewing on, and probably will be for a while. But so far, strategic copywriting is the thing that really lands for me, and ticks all the boxes of the kind of work that I’d be proud to call my life’s work.

World Book Day 2020

Aaron Hoos

So, I’m not exactly sure when it started but, in my house, World Book Day is the biggest day of the year.

Yes, bigger than Christmas and birthdays.

And this year, in spite of the whole social-distancing-quarantine-lock-down thing, this year’s World Book Day was no different.

In fact, it was amazing.

So, let’s answer your first question:

What Is World Book Day?

World Book Day (also known as World Book And Copyright Day) is UNESCO’s international day of commemoration and recognition of books, publishing, and copyright.

It’s celebrated internationally on April 23rd (except in the UK where it is a charitable organization and possibly an even bigger day celebrated earlier in the year).

Okay, Aaron, But What Is World Book Day To You?

Well, my wife and I love books. A lot.

… We read voraciously.

… We buy books like addicts.

… We’re on a first-name basis with librarians.

… We’ve taken vacations that were specifically about books and reading

… I write like I have hypergraphia.

So somewhere in the past we saw that there was a World Book Day and we thought we’d have fun by just going to the library on that day (as if we needed an excuse).

But over time, it grew to become much more.

And, for the past several years, it looked like this: I’d wrap up some client work in the morning then we’d go out for lunch, then to the library for the afternoon, then out to dinner, then to Chapters in the evening. Sometimes friends would join us for part of that experience.

It just became a day we looked forward to… and slowly started to eclipse other days that are traditionally nostalgic/important to most people, like birthdays and Christmas. We like books; we like the quirkiness of it.

Then the world shut down in 2020 and we had to change course…

World Book Day 2020

In the past, most World Book Days for us have been about going out — for meals, to the library, and to a bookstore. Of course that can’t happen in 2020 but that didn’t stop us from celebrating and, in some ways, it made it even more fun to do something different.

Leading up to World Book Day, I posted all week on Facebook about my favorite books, and Janelle recorded videos about them on her YouTube channel, Too Fond Of Books.

In case you’re curious: my top ten favorite fiction books, at the moment, are:

  1. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  2. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
  3. The Terror – Dan Simmons
  4. Lord Of The Flies – William Golding
  5. 1984 – George Orwell
  6. The Martian – Andy Weir
  7. The Stand- Stephen King
  8. Lord Of The Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. Dogs Of War – Frederick Forsyth
  10. World War Z – Max Brooks

And my top ten favorite non-fiction/business books are:

  1. Dotcom Secrets – Russell Brunson
  2. Influence – Robert Cialdini
  3. Getting Things Done – David Allen
  4. Making It Work – David Allen
  5. The 4-Hour Chef – Tim Ferriss
  6. The One Thing – Gary Keller
  7. The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
  8. The Ultimate Marketing Plan – Dan Kennedy
  9. Traction – Gino Wickman
  10. Thinking Fast And Slow – Daniel Kahneman

(It’s interesting to see how this list has changed since I posted a similar list of my top ten favorite business books in 2013.)

Then, on World Book Day itself, here’s what I did:

In the morning, I wrapped up some client work.

For lunch, we had a barbecue with my parents.

Then I finished a book (a novel about Hadrian’s Wall that I’d started months ago and hadn’t picked up for a while). I didn’t love the book but it had its moments.

Then I had a nap. haha! (Not book-related but still 100% necessary.)

Then I shopped for books (online) and bought four or five of them.

Then I spent some time going through a library tour on a site that a friend shared with me. (There are 6 virtual library tours here; I’ve been to 2 of these libraries in person — the one in Canada and the one in the UK).

I also recorded videos about my top 3 favorite works of fiction, and shared them on Facebook. Check out this video on Moby Dick and this video on Fifth Business and The Terror.

Also throughout the day…

  • I browsed through some of the books on my bookshelves
  • I thought about a book that I wanted to write and made some notes
  • I did a bit of book management in LibraryThing.com (where we manage our personal library)
  • I flipped through a few books that are sitting in a box waiting for our Little Free Library to be built
  • I looked at some of my past financial fiction reviews and picked a book to review next
  • And I checked out some videos YouTube and pictures on Instagram about Moby Dick

And then I finished off the day by reading a book called The Escape Room, about a group of investment bankers who are trapped in an elevator. The book was pretty good; not sure I’d read it again but I enjoyed it.

Parting Thoughts

I love World Book Day! It’s a little quirky and different to celebrate it with as much fervor as we do at our house but it’s become a thing we do and we look forward to it for years.

And this year, because of how different the world is at the moment, I was forced to celebrate it differently. It was much more social this time around and I built up more anticipation on Facebook, and then shared thoughts on books throughout the day there as well… so those things helped to make it even more enjoyable than ever.

Aaron Hoos