Yesterday, I was on a single phone call for about three hours…
It wasn’t chit-chat, or some mindless meeting.
In fact, it was intensely productive.
On the call, I went through most of the thinking and outlining for a brand new financial promotion.
It’s the kind of productivity that Perry Marshall points to as $1,000/hour, or $10,000/hour productivity in his 80/20 Sales and Marketing book.
And it reminded me of a productivity secret I picked up from Dean Jackson a while back. In fact, this was one of many times I’ve been reminded of this in the last few weeks.
I find if I continually find something valuable, it’s probably worth sharing here.
Of course, all credit is due to Dean, who came up with this, and who I learned it from.
GOLF as a model for productivity…
Dean plays a lot of golf. I don’t. You don’t have to play golf to get this and benefit from it, either.
Dean had this idea while playing golf one day. He was wondering why it can be so hard to maintain focused productivity sometimes, but on the golf course he does exactly what he’s shown up to do with no problem maintaining focus.
He thought about the many factors that contributed to golf being a unique environment for maintaining focus.
And he thought about how that applies to productivity OFF the golf course.
And that led to the GOLF acronym and analogy.
I’ll share what G, O, L, and F stand for in the acronym, with my own reflections below…
In golf, your goal is to hit the ball into the 9 or 18 or 36 holes. You keep golfing until that’s done.
In work tasks though, we often don’t apply the same level of single-goal focus.
Especially those of us who are in more “creative” fields.
Yesterday’s call, for me, was especially productive because we got on the line with the purpose of getting the outline done.
Whereas when we work by ourselves, our goal in the moment can switch between the project we’re working on, to checking the news, to checking social media, to responding to email, to whatever else.
Keeping focused on a single goal until it’s done (and having that be a goal that’s reasonable within the time you have to accomplish it) goes a long way toward maintaining focused productivity.
A golf course is a great place to play golf. It’s not necessarily a great place to play hockey, or write a sales letter. When you’re on a golf course, it’s only natural that you play golf, because that’s what the environment is designed for.
How often have you tried to accomplish something in a subpar environment?
For example: do you have a Facebook tab open in your browser right now? Do you have email notifications popping up on your screen, while you’re supposed to be writing?
Being on a zoom call yesterday was actually really good for productivity. Because I was forced to have a conversation, and keep that conversation mostly focused on the task at hand. That, with my screen shared, made it an optimal environment.
When you’re golfing, you typically don’t bring along your laptop. If you’re serious about the game, you’ll turn the ringer off on your phone. You minimize distractions.
I spoke to this in the Optimal Environment section, because an optimal environment is partially defined by its freedom from distractions.
But consider what other distractions you’re letting into your productive space. Who or what is there that’s preventing you from focusing? Bring awareness to that, and then get it out of sight and out of mind until you’re done with your focused productivity time.
A game of golf doesn’t have an unlimited schedule. Sure, you may take a bit longer or shorter. But when you start a game of golf, you intend for it to be done that day (or maybe that morning).
Parkinson’s Law tells us that work expands to fill the time allotted to it. It can also shrink, within reason, to fill the time allotted to it.
If you give a project 10 hours that could take 2, you’ll probably take all 10 hours. And not necessarily produce 5X better work.
On the other hand, if you give yourself 2 hours to get that project done, you’ll likely find a way.
Deadlines are incredible productivity tools, and Fixed Timeframe is just another way of saying deadline.
This can fix sucky productivity…
Whenever I’ve had bad productivity, it’s probably because I violated at least one of the elements of the GOLF acronym.
Correcting that is an easy way to improve productivity, too.
Write this down.
Stick it next to your keyboard.
Keep the constant reminder.
And give yourself a Goal, an Optimal Environment, Limited Distractions, and a Fixed Timeframe for your next project. Then see for yourself how productive you become.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,