E8: Gather up your to-dos for the week! We'll go over the Eisenhower Matrix, finding your lead domino, timing your tasks, blocking & tackling, and last but not least, we'll discuss how you can multiply your time. Ready?
Eisenhower Matrix (1:31)
The Eisenhower Matrix will help sift through which tasks you're supposed to be working on so that you can make the most out of your day. The core essence of the Eisenhower Matrix is to filter through which tasks are either important or urgent so that you can prioritize your tasks.
Lead Domino (5:33)
Determine which specific one task will help completely eliminate the rest of the tasks on your list. If they can not be completely eliminated altogether, then look for the one task that will essentially be your "lead domino" that will make all the other tasks on your list easier.
Timing Your Tasks (8:11)
Did you know that there's a 2-hour window every day where doctors deliver more fatal doses of anesthesia before surgery? In the same two hours, Danish students score significantly lower on standardized exams. Likewise, during these two hours, CEOs are more likely to say things they may later regret on quarterly earnings calls which can cause their stock price to plummet. Can you guess which 2-hour time period this is?
Blocking & Tackling (13:16)
Schedule uninterrupted time into your calendar. Turn off all your notifications, put your phone on Airplane Mode, close all your other windows, and just concentrate on your task at hand.
Multiply Your Time (16:35)
Rather than asking “What’s the most important thing I can do today?”, reframe the question to “What’s the most important thing I can do today that would make tomorrow better?” In other words, by thinking about how we use our time today, we can free up our hours in the future.
The One Thing by Gary Keller
When by Daniel Pink
Rory Vaden - Multiply Your Time
World-class entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they master the art of decision-making. Influential thinkers like Charlie Munger, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk all use mental models and frameworks to simplify complex problems. Join host Yong-Soo Chung as we dive into powerful frameworks covering entrepreneurship, self-improvement, and wealth-building that will unlock hidden growth levers in your business one week at a time. Listen & follow!
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What's going on everybody? Welcome to the First Class Founders podcast. The goal of this show is to equip you with powerful mental models and frameworks so that you can master the art of decision-making. In each episode, I introduce and apply these concepts in real-world scenarios. My name is Yong-Soo Chung and I'm the Founder of Urban EDC, an e-commerce brand selling everyday carry gear, and GrowthJet, a Climate Neutral certified third-party logistics company.
Today, we'll go over five productivity frameworks and mental models to power up your daily output. We'll go over the Eisenhower Matrix, finding your lead domino, timing your tasks, blocking & tackling, and last but not least, we'll discuss how you can multiply your time. Ready?
Let's get down to business!
Okay, let's begin today with a simple exercise. Gather up your to-dos for the week. How are you organizing your tasks?
Throughout this episode, we're going to go through your to-do list together and see how we can supercharge your day. Here we go!
There are so many productivity apps and journals out there today. Most of them have a simple task list for each day of the week. Simplicity is always great, but there's one thing that's missing from this system: the level of importance for each task.
So that's why we're starting off today with the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix will help sift through which tasks you're supposed to be working on so that you can make the most out of your day.
The core essence of the Eisenhower Matrix is to filter through which tasks are either important or urgent so that you can prioritize your tasks.
So we're going to break down the Eisenhower Matrix like this.
Imagine you have four squares, two on top and two on the bottom.
The bottom right square can be labeled Not Important & Not Urgent.
The bottom left square is Not Important & Urgent.
The top left square is Urgent & Important.
And finally, the top right square is Not Urgent & Important.
Just to quickly help you visualize these four quadrants of squares, we have the most important and most urgent on the top left, with the least important and least urgent on the bottom right.
The bottom left is labeled Not Important & Urgent & top right is the opposite of this so it's labeled Important & Not Urgent.
Now, we're going to go through each of the four squares in the same order and describe what types of tasks these may be.
The bottom right square is Not Important & Not Urgent. If you have tasks in this category, you should really just cross them off your list right off the bat. They are not urgent and they are not important. So why have them on your to-do list in the first place?
Okay, now we move into the bottom left square, which is Not Important & Urgent. These would be tasks like dropping off a package at the post office for a customer or signing for a package from the delivery truck. These could also be errands like picking up the dry cleaning or picking up your groceries.
For these tasks, you should consider delegating them. They are time sensitive, but not important enough for you to spend time on them.
Okay, let's move up and talk about the top left square now, which is the Urgent & Important. Now, we're starting to get to your important tasks.
These are important tasks which also happen to be time-sensitive. These tasks would be bottlenecks and firefighting tasks. Maybe your website is down and your users aren't able to log in. Or, your team is busy shipping out orders from the weekend but they just ran out of tape. You may need to run quickly to your nearby hardware store to pick up some more tape so that they can continue to ship out orders.
These tasks are not the ideal way of spending your time but they need to be done now since they're holding up your workflow and possibly blocking others on your team from proceeding with their work. You need to remove these blockers as soon as possible.
Okay, last but not least, we have the top right category of tasks, which is Important & Not Urgent. This is the good stuff. This is where you want to be spending the majority of your time. This is where your uninterrupted deep work will happen. You know, your book writing, your content creation, or anything that requires undivided attention for several hours so that you can enter your flow state.
This can even be related to your Urgent & Important category of tasks. You can ask yourself, what processes do I need to put into place to avoid these bottlenecks from occurring in the first place?
Then implement that new process during your Important & Not Urgent time period.
Let's bookmark this idea of implementing new processes to prevent bottlenecks from creeping up in the future. We'll revisit this later in the episode when we discuss how to multiply your time.
Okay, now that we've filtered through and determined which types of tasks you should be focusing on, let's move on to the next phase: determining which specific one task will help completely eliminate the rest of the tasks on your list. If they can not be completely eliminated altogether, then look for the one task that will essentially be your "lead domino" that will make all the other tasks on your list easier.
This idea comes from Gary Keller and his popular book The One Thing.
Let's take a look at your task list. Ideally, you're working within the Important & Not Urgent quadrant at this point. Now, ask yourself, which one of these tasks will have the biggest impact on the rest of the tasks on your list?
For example, let's say your current list of Important & Not Urgent tasks has the following: writing this week's newsletter, looking for sponsorships for your newsletter, sourcing new ideas for future newsletter topics, and engaging with your audience on Twitter.
From this list, which task do you think is your lead domino?
Well, I would say that in this case, it might actually be engaging with your audience on Twitter. Let me explain.
You haven't engaged with your audience in a couple of days and you want to re-engage with them. You could source your future newsletter topics by asking your audience what they would like to see from you. You could also announce to your followers that you're looking for new sponsors for your newsletter and if anyone is interested, DM you. Boom, you've not only engaged with your audience, but now you've sourced some new topics for future newsletter topics, and hopefully found a few leads for sponsors to your newsletter.
You can now go ahead and write that newsletter, letting the responses roll in while you're writing your newsletter. After you finish your newsletter, you can go back to Twitter and see what kinds of responses you received over the last couple of hours.
This is how you can use this concept to knock down several tasks at once using a lead domino task. Pretty cool, huh?
A bit of a side note here on this concept worth mentioning. You can also apply this idea beyond just productivity. For example, think about the one person who could make the biggest impact on your life right now. Or, the one skill set that you can learn now that will make the biggest impact towards advancing your career. These are also great exercises to expand your realm of possibilities.
But now, let's get back to your to-do list.
Now that we've discovered the one task that will make the biggest impact on all your future tasks, let's move on to the next phase which is deciding when to schedule this task.
I've adopted this from the book When written by best-selling author Daniel Pink.
Research has shown that there are two phases of performance during a typical day: the Peak and the Rebound phase with a trough in between. Visually, you can imagine this as two mountains with one mountain top than the other, and a valley in between those two mountains.
Now imagine your day. You wake up, go through your morning routine, have your cup of coffee, and now, you feel refreshed and ready to work. This is your first mountain top of focused productivity. Then, an hour or so after lunch, you feel tired and lethargic. This is your valley. Finally, you get over the hump and have a rebound phase, your second mountain top of focused energy.
Now, let's talk about that valley first.
But before we talk about the valley, if you are enjoying this episode, please share this episode with a friend who is also into productivity. Word-of-mouth referral is the single best way to grow the show. Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it.
Now let’s get back to that valley.
Did you know that there's a 2-hour window every day where doctors deliver more fatal doses of anesthesia before surgery? In the same two hours, Danish students score significantly lower on standardized exams. Likewise, during these two hours, CEOs are more likely to say things they may later regret on quarterly earnings calls which can cause their stock price to plummet.
Can you guess which 2-hour time period this is? It's between 2-4 pm.
Surveys of knowledge workers in the UK reveal that the least productive time of the day is exactly 2:55 pm, right in the middle between 2-4 pm.
This is your valley. You do not want to schedule your lead domino task during this time period.
So let's go back to those two mountain tops. According to research, most people do their best logical work during the first peak phase of the day, between the time they wake up and 2 pm, and their best creative work during the second rebound phase of the day, after 4 pm into the evening.
This means that if you're a writer or content creator, you'll want to do your research & editing tasks in the morning and your creative writing at night.
If you're an office manager, schedule your important meetings during the first half of your day, but brainstorm ideas for those meetings in the second half of your day.
If you're a student, you'll want to schedule your math and science classes in the morning, and your arts and crafts classes in the late afternoon.
Now, you might be thinking... that's not me at all. I do all my creative work in the morning and my logical work at night.
Well, if that's the case, then you're part of roughly 25% of people whose peak and rebound periods of productivity are flipped. So if that's the case, then by all means, do your creative work in the morning and your logical work in the evening.
It's important to be self-aware and know when you're at your best for different types of activities.
Okay, now let's get back to that most important, lead domino task that you identified earlier in the episode.
If this is a creative task, schedule it during your creative block of time during your day.
If your lead domino task is logical work, then perhaps you should schedule it during the day when your brain is most active for logical work.
Now, you might be thinking... wait a minute, don't I want to get my lead domino task out of the way first no matter which part of the day I'm in?
Well, yes and no. If your lead domino task is content creation but your mind isn't in a creative state, you won't be putting in your best work so it might be best to save that work for later in the day. You don't want to redo the work later because you're unhappy with your output.
This strategy is called "procrastinate on purpose" and we'll revisit it later when we talk about the 5th and final productivity framework on how to multiply your time.
Great, now let's review what we've accomplished so far. We've taken all your tasks and categorized them into what's most important but not urgent. And now, we've determined which task within this category will help completely eliminate the other tasks or make them easier. Essentially, we've identified your "lead domino" task.
Next, based on your own personal energy and work style, we've determined which window of time during the day is best fitted for this particular task, which again, is your lead domino task.
Now, we're moving on to the concept of Blocking & Tackling.
There's a crucial concept that you need to understand for Blocking & Tackling. And that is context switching.
But before we get into context switching, if you are enjoying the episode, please share this episode with one friend who is also into productivity. Word-of-mouth referral is the single best way to grow the show. I truly appreciate it!
Okay, back to blocking and tackling and the idea of context-switching.
Our brains aren't wired to be able to multitask as well as you think.
If you're a software developer, you know exactly the feeling. You're working on a project and you're finally ready to compile your code and run it. But when you run it, you get an error message.
Now, you need to diagnose the error and why it's giving you this message.
In your mind, you think of all the different types of issues that might be causing this.
Could it be this? Could it be that?
One by one, you're going through and eliminating each possible scenario of why the error message keeps occurring.
You've been working on this problem for half an hour and you're almost there.
Then... your doorbell rings. It's your local post office delivery person and you can't miss this package today because it's the last attempt and if you don't sign for it today, then it's getting shipped back to the sender.
So you get up, walk across your living room, open the door, and sign for your package.
Okay, great, now your package is safe and sound.
You walk back to your desk and stare blankly at the screen.
For a minute, you've completely forgotten what you were working on just a couple of minutes ago.
Now, you have to retrace your steps for 10 minutes back to where you were before the doorbell rang.
This is called context switching. When you're in the middle of deep work and you're interrupted, there's added time to retrace your train of thought and go back to where you were previously before the interruption.
If you have too many of these during your day, it'll be a challenge for you to get any meaningful work done.
It's incredibly important to schedule uninterrupted time in your day to work on your lead domino task and eventually, cross off all your other Important & Not Urgent category of tasks.
So, Blocking & Tackling is a method for scheduling uninterrupted time into your calendar. Turn off all your notifications, put your phone on Airplane Mode, close all your other windows, and just concentrate on your task at hand.
You'll be surprised at how much more you can get done by doing this.
Okay, now if you've come this far, you're doing great. There is one last step, which is to multiply your time. Sounds fantastic, right? Who doesn't want to multiply their time?
But before we get into this last final exercise that will put everything together, I want to tell you about the First Class Founders Membership.
All billionaires have one thing in common: they master the art of decision-making. Throughout their lives, they collect great frameworks and mental models and call on them when needed. And that is why First Class Founders exists. The main benefit, the reason why you want to listen to First Class Founders, the reason why you want to upgrade and gain access to all of the members-only perks is because First Class Founders gives you the tools to build your very own problem-solving toolkit so that you too can become a great decision maker like Charlie Munger, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. If you want to get the most out of First Class Founders, head on over to firstclassfounders.com/join. You'll get access to monthly bonus episodes delivered to you via a private, members-only podcast feed. You'll also be able to participate in a monthly Ask Me Anything episode, also released through the private podcast feed, which by the way, removes all interruptions like this one so you can enjoy a clean listening experience. Your support will go directly towards making the First Class Founders premium members-only experience even better so that all of us can keep learning and growing together. Again, you can go to firstclassfounders.com/join.
Okay back to the show. Let's talk about how to multiply your time. Sounds too good to be true, right?
I've adopted this idea from Rory Vaden, a leadership consultant.
Earlier in the episode, we discussed why you may want to procrastinate on purpose on a particular task if you are not in the right state of mind.
So let's dig deeper into what procrastinating on purpose means.
There is a difference in waiting to do something that we know we should be doing versus waiting to do something because we’re consciously deciding that now is not the right time. This is called procrastinating on purpose.
The example we used earlier was content creation. If your lead domino task is content creation but you're feeling groggy and lethargic, it might be better for you to move on to your second task in your Important & Not Urgent category of tasks.
Vaden introduces the idea of adding a third characteristic after importance and urgency, which are the two that we've been discussing as part of the Eisenhower Matrix. And that is significance.
Rather than asking “What’s the most important thing I can do today?”, Vaden says to reframe the question to: “What’s the most important thing I can do today that would make tomorrow better?”
In other words, by thinking about how we use our time today, we can free up our hours in the future.
One example of this might be setting up an online bill payment. Perhaps you’ve put off doing it because you think, “I just don’t have two hours to go through all my services and accounts, find their websites or apps, and input my bank information.”
However, Vaden says that if you can save 30 minutes a month from paying your bills by setting up online bill pay, it makes sense to invest those two hours because, after just four months’ time, you would break even on that investment of time.
Let's tie this back to our Eisenhower Matrix. Remember that earlier in the episode, we discussed the tasks in your Important & Urgent categories as bottlenecks or firefighting tasks that needed to be unblocked in order for your workflow to continue.
A great task for your Important & Not Urgent category would be to implement new processes to prevent the same bottlenecks from happening in the future.
While you can't eliminate all future bottlenecks from your workflow, you can multiply your time by implementing a fix in your workflow now to prevent the same bottlenecks from happening again in the future.
Pretty, awesome, right?
Let's summarize today's lesson. We went over five concepts and frameworks to boost your productivity. Let's quickly summarize each one.
The Eisenhower Matrix helps you determine which tasks are Not Urgent & Important. Tasks in this category will ensure that you're working within your flow state so that you can accomplish deep work.
Next, we moved on to the idea of The One Thing, or the concept of a lead domino task that will help kickstart your task list. Choosing your lead domino task wisely will help ensure that you can get momentum behind your entire task list.
Next, we moved on to timing your task. Here, we scientifically chose the best time during the day when you should be working on this lead domino task so that you are primed to produce at a high level for that particular type of task activity.
Next, we discussed the concept of blocking & tackling: scheduling out your task so that you can have uninterrupted time to complete it. Losing your train of thought by constant interruption results in context switching, which is your worst enemy when it comes to focusing.
Last but not least, we discussed the concept of multiplying your time. Or, in other words, thinking about your tasks in terms of time investment. Which tasks today will help prevent future recurring tasks from creeping up on your to-do list?
Before we end, I'll leave you with one more thought.
As you move through these five productivity concepts, don't worry about implementing all of these frameworks all at once. It's more important that you understand each one individually so that you can identify and quickly prioritize your tasks to get the most out of your day.
Remember that frameworks and mental models are meant to help you improve your decision-making skills. Now, you're equipped with five productivity tools that you can utilize at any point during your day if you find yourself being overwhelmed in a sea of to-dos. Mix and match different tools for whichever scenario you find yourself and have fun!
Okay, that's it for today.
In the next episode of First Class Founders, we discuss the characteristics that separate billionaires from millionaires. Surprisingly, doing more of what made you a millionaire in the first place, may actually block you from moving up to billionaire status. So what are these crucial differences between billionaires and millionaires? Tune in to the next episode to find out!
If you're a new listener and you enjoyed this episode, you can subscribe to the show by going to firstclassfounders.com. If you're a repeat listener, feel free to share this episode with anyone that you think might find it valuable. Word-of-mouth referral is the single best way to grow this show so that we can have more episodes and better production for you. Thank you so much!
Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode of First Class Founders!