TMBA 207 – Working More Doesn’t Always Pay Off

TMBA 207 – Working More Doesn’t Always Pay Off post image

Back in the day, becoming productive– for me– meant locking myself in the house and putting the coffee maker on overdrive. We’ve learned since then a lot about the frameworks that empower exceptionally productive entrepreneurs, and in this episode we’ll share which ones we use, which ones we’ve discarded, and of course, which ones we disagree on!

On the show this week:

  • The “I gotta go the airport at 5 PM principle.”
  • How to categorize tasks by priority and when to work on them.
  • The (pyramid scheme-ish!) Rule of 6.
  • The most influential productivity system Ian ever implemented in the business.
  • How to center your focus to “the one thing.”

People on this episode:

What we’re excited about this week:

Listening options:

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Dan & Ian

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Published on 08.29.13
  • One thing I’ve been using for productivity and creating content is a little line I picked up from Schramko that is along the lines of “You are either creating content or consuming content”. With this in mind I’m trying to find the balance, for example, between looking at twitter for business purposes, content, and networking vs looking at twitter and pushing refresh every 20 seconds because I’ve devoleped some habit to load twitter any time I’m resisting doing the important work.

  • It’s somehow very reassuring to know that even experienced entrepreneurs struggle with this! Awesome episode.

    I’ve unintentionally been experiencing the “gotta go to the airport at 5 PM” principle – internet has been inexplicably spotty for the past week, so when I can get online I’ve gotta use that time EFFICIENTLY b/c who knows how long it’ll last.

    Also loved the part about pausing and asking yourself what, exactly, you’re trying to accomplish. I’d been going around in circles trying to figure out the best way to present the material for my next product. I kept starting to work on it, taking various angles, and running into brick walls.

    Then I was thinking back to my first-ever course and it hit me – what my students LOVE is my simple, clear, direct manner of explaining things. So I stopped trying to add all these crazy innovations, stopped watching my competitors’ videos, and went back to my roots and the way that felt most natural to ME to present the lesson.

    And BOOM – 7 lessons written in one day (about 10% of the product). Talk about major flow unblockage!

  • Great episode, love it when the boss is around.

    What’s SOD?

  • Bettina

    Hey Dan and Ian, thanks for this episode! Yesterday I finally bought “Work the system” since you keep mentioning it. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed of it. I’m 35% into the kindle book and I keep thinking “hey, when will we finally get to the meat and potatoes and learn how to implement this!”. Are there any other books about systems that get to the point faster? I learn a lot more by listening how you implement your systems (e.g. the how-to-create-a-podcast-system) than by reading this book. So, thank you for showing us how you implement your systems that is really helpful! Cheers.

  • Podcast Listener

    I agree with Ian, that constantly asking yourself wether something will really get you to achieve your goals is the best option to maximize productivity.

    You’re probably done with your writing already, but you should check out Scrivener, which makes the whole writing process a lot easier.

    If I only had word I’d procrastinate like crazy, as it’s very hard for me to structure a book properly in a normal word processor.

  • Dan

    I like the idea in general that to be an entrepreneur you need to produce. PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE :D I love simple ideas like that that can help you cut through the clutter.

  • Dan


    Of course the first month I had it I just played with the features !

  • Dan

    Hey Bettina– that’s true, the book is a bit like a standard business book in that it’s probably at least 50% longer than it needs to be (maybe more) to communicate the main idea.

    I tried to cut through it all and show our implementation here:

  • Dan

    Hey Paulo, sorry missed the link, you can check it out here:

  • Dan

    It’s amazing how that can work eh? Sometimes it takes a bit of crunch to step back and force to evaluate our assumptions. Assumptions are weird things because we are always operating under them, they are either empowering us or holding us back depending on the circumstance. Procrastination and “stuck” feelings are a good time to basically be like “what the hell are we even doing!? :)”

    The cool part is that everything you’ve done up to that point doesn’t generally feel wasted. All that info / experience can get compressed into your new and efficient judgments.

  • Bettina

    Thanks for the link, Dan! I’m sure your book will be different from a standard business book (don’t be scared ;-)!). Looking forward to reading/hearing more of you and Ian.

  • Dan

    ahhhhhhhhhh!!! terrified :)

  • Ben Ray

    Hey guys did you see this? I thought it was quite clever

  • Dan


  • Matt Zarachoff

    College students seem to be experts on Parkinson’s Law. It doesn’t matter how large an assignment is – we somehow find a way to finish it at the last minute. Unfortunately, we’re usually not sure how to use self-discipline to take advantage of it.

    On another note, you guys have mentioned “Work the System” several times and I think it’s about time that I pick up a copy. Maybe I should view a bit of consuming as an investment to more producing, eh?

  • Dan

    yeah tell me about it, that’s where i learned it! :D It’s actually not a bad strategy– waiting to the last minute. if you plan ahead and set time aside to work on stuff you can end up spending a lot more time on things than necessary.

    WTS is awesome, you can get the broad strokes here and then decide if it’s for you:

  • Thanks for the tip on Focus @ Will tried it today it’s freaking awesome!


  • Dan

    cheers that app is so simple and effective!

  • Martin

    Producing is key! It’s funny what happens when you take a whole day off to get work done and you do nothing. Then the next day, you think you have no time, yet you get a million things done!

  • Dan


  • I second that! The simpler, the better in my experience. As soon as it gets complicated, I bury my head in the details and lose sight of what I’m trying to achieve.

    Which reminds me, I really need to revisit ‘why’ I’m doing what I’m doing at the moment so thanks for the tips guys!

  • Why do you need self-loathing to write? Geez man, if it’s that hard for you I wonder if you are doing something wrong? I write with headphones (just for noise reduction, no sound) and the door closed. That’s it, no fancy hacks.

    I do love all the cool tools you share, but sometimes I think we can spend more time trying to be productive than actually being productive.

    Also, I listened to your podcast on 1x speed, that’s the ultimate compliment :)

  • Dan

    haha that’s a great point, if shit is going difficult it might be time to re-frame. I find most writing very easy, but essay writing– writing to synthesize ideas very difficult but rewarding.

    thanks for the slow listen too! :D

  • Matthew Newton

    Just listened to this (am on a HUGE podcast binge at the moment.. like 40+ in the last week). Am loving the evolution of Ian’s voice as he just grows more and more into the role. He’s always been good but his underlying personality keeps coming through. <3.

  • Dan

    UH OH! :D

  • What works for me productivity-wise is segmenting continuus tasks into singular actions and ticking them off. You get SO bored SO fast when you have a task that you know you have to do on a daily basis, like writing a blog post. And it’s so obvious, that you don’t even schedule it anywhere. What you should do is create singular tasks for each day and then you’ll see how deleting them and going towards inbox-zero (calendar-zero if you will) gives you a boost.
    Completing actions can overwhelm you though. I always loved it but during my university days there were so many pointless goals, I got completely sick of them and actually preferred continuus tasks, like learning and training.
    The point is, no matter which side of the table you’re on, be sure to stick to it as long as you don’t get sick of it. Then do a 360. Otherwise you’re mixed up with singular and continuus tasks, which will shift your focus too much and eventually break you down.

  • Dan

    Love mixing it up too… when I start to drag down I like to hit the road and see some new scenery. Always energizes me.

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