Being Fulfilled One Task At A Time

For more than 10 years, I have been a crew member at Tony Robbins events around the US, as a volunteer in various positions and helping out with whatever was needed. But my favorite part is being a member of the fire team in charge of the logistics of the fire walk experience for participants.

Creating the physical part of a fire walk involves an enormous amount of hard labor that takes place over two days–outside in whatever weather is happening at the moment. I  put together wheelbarrows in the snow, carried water-soaked mats of grass in the rain, and swept parking lots for hours in the sun.

No matter where or when I’ve been a part of fire team over the last decade, I’ve never heard anyone complain or criticize about the amount of work. In fact, there are always more people wanting to do that work as a team member than there are spots available.

Why?

As a fire team member, why are we so fulfilled, so happy, and so energized by whatever is being asked of us? During one particularly great reflection session with the team after cleanup, we started to uncover why.

Yes, there is a sense of mission that happens being a part of such a great overall experience for thousands of participants, but it’s much simpler than that.

People feel immersed and elated in their work because they’re singularly focused, and not multi-tasking.

When you’re putting together a wheelbarrow, that’s all you’re thinking about in that moment.  When you’re unrolling mats of grass to form a part of a fire walk line, you’re immersed in that grass on that lane. When you’re in charge of ensuring there’s no debris that can stab someone’s foot in a parking lot, you’re sweeping and not worried about doing anything else.

Single-tasking is not only more efficient, more effective and more productive, it’s also more fun and fulfilling.

Allow yourself to become happily lost in the sensation of being focused. 

Work Spas

I love going to spas.  No, not the kind that are advertised in the back of local newspapers, but the real kind that are luxurious retreats from the outside world.  Periodically being in a place that is specifically geared towards helping me relax and recharge while being extremely comfortable is as close to perfection as possible: fluffy robes, soft towels, salt rooms, wet and dry saunas, different temperature hot tubs that get hotter and hotter, cold plunge pools, lounge chairs, hot towels for your face, rainfall shower heads…

When you’re immersed in the spa those features may seem like they’re geared for your body, but it’s your mind that is getting a radical change of pace as well.

Imagine if you could use that different mindset for your work. How about integrating some elements of the spa into where and how you get work done?

Introducing the Work Spa.

Much of today’s most important work (if not all) involves creativity. The Work Spa is about being in an environment, periodically, that enhances your creativity while also being conducive to getting work done–if you want.

Could you be more effective immediately after a series of hot and cold plunges in the different pools?  Would you stimulate a latent part of your brain and be able to better solve problems because you’ve never tried to find a solution while you’re sitting around in a robe and towel surrounded by eucalyptus steam?

There are plenty of movies where the two power brokers in some financial transaction go into a steam room, so let’s take that idea to the current times.

A simple start would be putting wi-fi and laptop lockers in existing spas and having a section where the keyboard clicking wouldn’t interfere with the silent portion.  What else would your ideal work spa have?

 

The Sunday to Thursday Workweek

If you have to work five days a week, work a better five days.

Work on Sunday and you’ll be less distracted and focus better because to most other people it will be a day off. Being able to focus means you’ll also get your work done faster and usually with better quality.

Take off Friday and you’ll enjoy all the things you’d want to do during a weekend without the weekend traffic and crowd.  Again, this will make the overall experience more enjoyable.

There are innumerable benefits to moving your schedule to be slightly opposite the majority.  Test it and see how it works for you.

What else could you do to your schedule to improve your effectiveness?

 

Finding the Payoff in Your Work

When I was a little kid I was always on the search for odd jobs. A couple times my Uncle Mike brought me to a warehouse he managed where they distributed VHS training videos in all sorts of subjects. One of the jobs I did there was to take huge boxes of VHS video tapes and stick stickers on the front of them before putting into other huge boxes. It was one of the greatest jobs I ever had.

The reason why: there was an immediate payoff (and maybe it’s related to singular focus).

I could see hour by hour, minute by minute the exact output of my work and set up little games to challenge myself to get better. If I did 2 boxes of video tapes the first hour, I would challenge myself to get 2.5 boxes done the next hour.

How many times do you get to the end of your day and think “what the hell did I do today?” Sure, you know you went through hundreds of emails and sat in hours of meetings and did SOMETHING today – you just have no idea what it was and there was no payoff at the end that lets you realize your impact. It usually after months and months of a large project to realize any payoff when it launches.

What would happen if you or the people on your team were absolutely clear, every day, about what the payoff was that you were working towards? How can you tie your daily actions to overall longer term goals?

Whatever you do, just please don’t set up some little system where you make the number of emails you send in a day or the total number of minutes you spend in a meeting any criteria for success.

Use Your Out of Office Message to Change Your Life

When you open your email inbox after a vacation do you ever take the time to analyze what happened? Usually, over a short period of time people generally get the point and stop emailing you frivolously.

Could receiving less unnecessary email benefit you? If you want more time in your day and a more valuable inbox, all you need to do is re-create the vacation email phenomenon all the time instead of just when you’re actually on vacation.

So why not utilize the Out of Office message even when you’re in the office?

Whether you want to use it to the extreme that Tim Ferris talks about in “The Four Hour Workweek” in order to build independence or you’re just looking to change some of your co-workers behaviors so you receive 15% less email at work, the automated reply or Out of Office is key.

So what does an Out of Office message look like when you’re actually in the office and just trying to make a point? Keep it simple and try something like

Thank you for your email; I’m currently trying an experiment to reduce email clutter. If I am CC’d this will get filed without review. If there are more than 2 people on the To: line this will get de-prioritized as well. If this is something important or urgent please follow up with a conversation. Thank you.

People can’t get mad at you when you say it’s an experiment.

After a couple days or weeks people will get the message and stop emailing you unless it’s incredibly important. With all that free time (because we all know email takes up way too much time) you’ll be able to focus on the things that will bring you value and could, in the end, change your life.

After all, wouldn’t your life be different if you spent that 15% more time with your kids, or finding ways to be exponentially better at your job, or creating your micro-business?

What would you do with that 15% of your time back?