Taking breaks is essential to maintain solid focus for a longer period. That’s why you need to create systems that help you feel more relaxed. The show’s guest today is James Allen, a high-performance coach who helps his clients live to their highest potential. James shares with Rodney Flowers the strategies he uses to become productive. The biggest piece? Be content with what gets done. The best way to feel content is to identify your core task then finish it, so you can spend quality time with your loved ones. Join in and learn how you can reach your peak performance!
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How To Become More Productive: Strategies To Reach Your Peak Performance With James Allen
As always, I am excited about this episode. We’re going to talk about high performance, productivity, getting things done at a high level. I have an International High-Performance Coach, Author and Speaker with me by the name of James Allen. He helps his clients live to their highest potential so that they can feel more alive, engaged, purposeful, and free. He takes a very holistic approach to success by helping his clients create a life and business that surpasses their expectations in their wealth, health and relationships. Without further ado, let’s welcome Mr. James Allen to the show. Welcome, James.
What’s up, Rodney? I’m grateful to be here.
I’m happy to have you here. As you can tell, I’m excited because I want to talk about productivity and high-performance because I believe that it is the crux of success. If you can get things done and perform at a high level consistently, then you can experience a lifelong time of success, in my opinion. I think everyone wants that and desires to be more productive. However, it doesn’t always happen. Why don’t you shed some light on this topic? What are your thoughts as a high-performance coach? What’s holding us back? How can we get over the hurdle?
I love productivity. It’s got a soft spot in my heart because, for me personally, I don’t want to work all the time. I enjoy doing coaching, doing shows like this and the work, but it’s not something that I want to like consume my entire life. I want to be able to spend my life doing other things that I want because I have a lot of hobbies. I play music. I like to go skydiving. I like snowboarding, going hiking, hanging out with my girlfriend, family, friends, and whatnot, and work as a part of our lives, but everybody has work to do.
Many people spend so many days in this busywork. They’re feeling productive but not being productive. That’s what I help people is distinguishing what are your MITs, which are your Most Important Tasks. Those top 2 to maybe 5 tasks that we have are like our core tasks, depending on where we’re at in our business or your role at work. It doesn’t have to be an entrepreneur only, but it’s making the most of that time that we do have at work so we can get work done, feel more accomplished, create systems and habits that allow us to feel more relaxed. We’re not feeling overwhelmed with all the work that we have to do and maintaining our focus. We can spend that time being intentional with our family or friends instead of always be thinking about work. Having less boundaries is a big piece of it as well.
Is there some type of concentration or focus on, “During this particular time, this is what I’m going to focus on and I’m not going to focus on anything else and after that period of time is over, I’m going to get back to it later?” Walk us through what are the details around that?
A great exercise, people have said they tried time blocking, but I always recommend time blocking. I do it. If I showed you my calendar, if I shared my screen right now, it looks chaotic. It seems like there’s a lot of like colors. There’s a lot of things going on, but it’s establishing those boundaries. A great thing to do that I found out about is finding out what your chronotype is. There’s a great book. It’s called The Power of When. It’s a book and this guy has broken down basically your chronotype. You can be aligned, a bear, a wolf or I think a dolphin is another one. There are four of them.Create systems and habits that allow you to feel more relaxed. Click To Tweet
I’m a bear, which is cool. He says that’s the best one. You take this quiz and you go through it. Roughly, it’s an online quiz. He can’t fully diagnose you, but it gives you a general idea of doing your power hours when you’re performing at your best. For me being a bear, typically, I’ll go to bed at 11:00. That’s one of my best times, right around 10:00 to 11:00. I’ll wake up around 6:30 or 7:00. I do some exercise. Those first little bits of time could be doing your workout or some things. We would wake up in the day.
When 10:00 to 2:00 PM hits, those are my power hours. That’s when personally, my chronotype is the most alert or awake. Some people are early risers. I know you, Rodney, wake up at like 5:00 AM or meet at the gym at 5 AM. You get up at like 4:30 or 4:00. You have a different chronotype because that works for you. I woke up in construction work, which is what I do before coaching. I wake up at 3:30 every day and I would get home at 4:00 PM.
I did it for four years and I was like, “I need to do something else because it’s not sustainable for me.” I can still get plenty of things done even though I get to wake up around 7:00 AM or sometimes 6:00 as well. Check out The Power of When Quiz. It’ll pop right up. When you do that, it’s a little long, but it’ll tell you your chronotype. From there, you can calendar in what your most important tasks are and your timeframe of getting them done, depending on what chronotype you are. After you finish the quiz, there’s a little video. He explains more about your chronotype in a fifteen-minute video. Here’s when you should wake up based on his research and whatnot.
He’s good to follow in terms of sleep as well. Having a calendar that prioritizes those specific things, if you look at mine, the end of my day after my workday, I prioritize on the calendar, friends and family. It’s like, “I’m not working while I’m doing that. I’m hanging out with friends and family.” I think a huge piece of it that people get wrapped up in, especially as entrepreneurs are very busy professionals, is that there’s a lot of work that needs to get done. I was reading posts, doing some research learning about things that people are dealing with. A lot of coaches, for example, get into it or entrepreneurs in general.
They’re like, “I want to do the coaching piece or the fun part. I didn’t realize that I have to be a marketer in the beginning. I have to do sales and all these other things.” It’s a lot for people to juggle with. A big piece is when you have your time blocked out of, let’s say 10:00 to 2:00 for me, once 2:00 hits, I have another task we’re working on, but it’s not like those power hours where I’m creating content or doing sales calls. I have like a 30-minute window where I check my email or I check my Voxer, which is the communication that I have in between my weekly calls with clients.
I carve out that time where I respond to their voice messages. Every day I’m responding to them. I’m giving them that accountability that they need, but I think with our MIT’s, let’s say it’s writing a book. You can’t write a book in a whole day. Unless, it’s a short book, maybe you could, but it takes time. That’s how it is. You know that because you’ve written one. When you write out for the day, you have to be content. I think that’s the biggest piece. It’s being content with what did get done.
It’s a practice that people have to use. They have to be like, “I’m happy with what got done today.” When you’re productive, it’s easier to be happy with what did get done. My tip in terms of that is to create a time block. You can look up on the internet time-blocking examples and they’ll tell you. Take that quiz, figure out when your power hours are and then time block from there. You have to practice discipline because when that time runs out, it’s easy to be like, “I’m on a roll. I can keep working.” It’s your choice. You can do that, but in order to get everything in sequential order, it’s about consistency over time each day.
Let’s talk about that because I do have some questions about it. I have a couple of things that I want to say. The first thing is the focus around that time block. For example, writing a book, you can sit there and your clock has started, but your mind hasn’t caught up to the clock. You’re there, but the words aren’t flowing. In any other tasks, you haven’t gotten to that zone yet where things are going. Leading up to what you said, by the time your time block is over, it’s like, “I’m in the zone. The juices are flowing now, and I have to stop,” which leads to switching. Now you got to turn that off and then go to another task again, get ramped back up for that task. I threw a lot at you there. What are your thoughts about how we navigate the focus part of it and getting into the zone part of it when you are using time blocks?
We can only focus for too long for a certain amount of time before we lose focus and our brain gets tired and whatnot. There’s another piece to doing the time blocking exercise. It’s known as the Pomodoro technique. You set a timer for 25 minutes on and then 5 minutes off. The point is that you have a small window when you’re working and you eliminate distractions that whole time. When I do my MITs, I’ll put my phone on airplane mode.
You have this chunk of time, which is a couple of hours, to be focusing on this one task. It doesn’t mean you’re doing a couple of hours of straight burn and work. You’re taking breaks in between. What I do is literally sit at my desk, get my phone, turn on airplane mode, set a timer, and I’ve done studies. Even if you read Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits, he talks about taking those breaks as well. It’s something common with people who perform at high levels because you’re not straining your brain. It helps you focus for longer periods of time.The biggest piece is to be content with what gets done. Click To Tweet
Having a timer, something as simple as that on your phone, is how you do it. I’ve tried the exact Pomodoro technique, which is 25 minutes and 5 minutes off. It was a little too much. It was almost distracting for me. What studies have shown is anywhere from 25 to 52 minutes works as long as you’re doing no more than an hour at a time. You set a timer. I like 52 minutes. I like to have a little bit longer of a window doing my work and then my timer goes off.
When you take those breaks, you’re not like checking your email or doing work or making phone calls. You take a break and it’s more of a recharge break. When you take that break, let’s say, you’re writing your book, write down all your pages. Maybe you’re getting into flow and then your timer goes off. Take a break. Even if you’re flowing, take a break. Sometimes if I’m flowing, I’ll go like a teeny bit over, but I’m like, “I got to take a break.”
It’s practicing that discipline because I know that if I keep powering through, I’m going to drain my energy faster than if I take a break, walk outside, play with my dog. He loves to play ball. I would throw the ball for him for a little bit or you can do stretching or drink some water and something that helps you personally recharge. Some people like breathwork. Maybe do some breathing exercise or something like that to help you stay more focused and recharge. When you get back to work, you’ll pick up where you left off. That’s a great way to maintain that solid focus for a longer period of time.
Do you pick up where you left off? Do you find it difficult to get back into that zone?
I don’t personally. I was building out this one workshop and it would be delivering to a sales association and crafting a special one for him. I wanted to make it a real knockout workshop for them. He gave me a bunch of kinds of details and pain points that they’re dealing with. I’m taking my time with it and crafting this tailor-made webinar or workshop for them and going through it. I’ll take my 52 minutes on and then 5-minute break and they’ll come right back. I pick up where I left off and I’m good. I don’t find that it’s like, “I broke the cycle. I have to spend another hour getting back to where I was.”
Have you always been that way, or have you honed in some skills that allow you to get back to where you were quickly?
No. I think it’s never been a problem for me personally if I break it and then take that quick because it’s five minutes. It’s not five minutes of me pulling my attention to something else. That’s a huge piece that would throw off your focus. If you take an intentional five minutes to close your eyes, maybe meditate for five minutes, whatever it is for you to recharge, take some deep breaths for five minutes, do some stretching. You’re in a way still focusing on that task that you were working on, like writing your book or building a presentation, etc. You take that break and then you go over and pick it right back up. It’s when we start to take that break and then go check email, or take that break and then start working on some other tasks that you start to break the cycle because your brain takes time.
There’s some research that says it takes twenty minutes for you to start focusing on a new task. When you’re already in the flow focusing on this one task because you have about five hours blocked out for it, it’s more like 3 to 4 hours of real focus work. You won’t break that cycle. It’s when you start looking into other things to start checking email, reading articles, scrolling on Facebook, whatever it is, that pulls your attention to a different spot. It would take longer then. If you’re intentional about those breaks, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off.
How do you maintain such a high level of discipline in a world where we have so many distractions now? It’s so easy to get distracted. What are some of your tips for remaining disciplined?
Discipline is huge. Abraham Lincoln has one of my favorite quotes on discipline. He said, “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” I love that. A huge piece to eliminating distractions, which is massive, especially with COVID and everything people started working from home. Many people don’t have that entrepreneurial mindset where they can sit down and do their work. It took me probably like six months to start developing that type of mindset when I first started.
I went from 9 to 5 in construction. That’s what happens with people working a day job at their desks. They went into the office and got the manager breathing down their neck or whatever. They have friends that are challenging them and competing in a friendly competition to like, “Who’s going to make more sales this month?” or whatever, and then COVID hits. There were statistics that showed that the jump went from like 17% of US workers that are working remotely five or more days a week jumped up to 44% of remote workers.
These people are going to their offices mostly and then the huge jump out of necessity from COVID made it spike up way higher to where people now have to develop that entrepreneurial mindset. With that comes a lot of distractions because now they’re at home, they got their kids running in, their cat or dogs or whatever it is, that’s distracting them. It’s a huge issue. Even right now, my phone is on airplane mode. It’s one button. You click airplane mode and then you get to your notifications later. You can.
Granted, if there is an emergency by chance, it’s up to you. It’s something that I’ll do is put my phone on airplane mode. Eliminating distractions comes down to you practicing that discipline. I don’t think discipline is not like a light switch. It’s a skill that you develop. Even making your time-blocking changes, “This task ended. I’m not going to write my book anymore. I’m going to go focus on these other tasks that need to get done.” Unless you happen to have all that time to write your book, but as you know, you have coaching clients. You have things that you have to do, maybe content creation. There are all these different pieces that go into a day.
It’s being more intentional about those times, but putting your phone on airplane mode, setting boundaries of some kind. For example, I had a client who is working a job and he wants to start building his own coaching business. He has only a little bit of time throughout the day to focus on his coaching business because he has to do his job to provide for the family right now until we build up the coaching business where he can make that transition.
In that time, he’s like, “I keep getting distracted from my work because people keep calling me, sending me messages.” I asked him, “How important are these calls when they call you?” He’s like, “They’re not. There’s nothing super important about this call. It’s some small question they could probably figure out on their own.” I’m like, “Okay. Let’s brainstorm some ideas.” They connect on this other software. It’s like Microsoft Meetings or something like that. He found out that he can set a voicemail in it. When people call him, before, he would cut them off, ignoring them, but now he has a voicemail set up on it.
He says, “If it’s important, send me an email or maybe call a couple of times.” He tried to explains it in his email because that’s the time that he has blocked out to focus on his actual business that he wants to grow. It’s being able to set those kinds of boundaries. One more example is in a day, we have 1,440 minutes, which when you think about your life in minutes, it helps you prioritize a little bit more than hours. This one guy has a podcast and his name is Michael Cruz. He has a cool podcast on productivity.
He talks a lot about 1440. He said that he was getting bombarded with people for a long time in his meetings, but he loves having an open-door policy to support people, his employees and whatnot. They would come in. He put up a sign that said, “1440,” because he was like, “I want to be more intentional with my time and knock out my work that I need to do.” He was kept getting distracted by all these meetings and then people would come in and they would be like, “Got a minute?” That whole “got a minute” leads to 30, 45 minutes, 1 hour or more in a meeting.
He’s like, “My whole day got burned away by meetings, which is huge.” He has a sign that says, “1440” and people come in and they’re like, “What’s that sign?” He would explain, like, “I want to be more intentional with my minutes and my time in general.” They would start saying, “Here, I can explain it real quick.” It would literally take them 2, 3 minutes and then they’d be out because they were respecting the sign. Some people would be like, “It’s not even important. We’re going to meet later in this week. I’ll talk to you then. We have a scheduled meeting, not a big deal.” He started to free up a lot more time by doing that. You have to get creative. That’s a big thing that I do when I help people is help them think outside the box on different ways that they do these kinds of things and build those boundaries for themselves.
One of the most difficult elements to time-blocking and being high performance is the discipline piece. It’s the healthy boundaries, the distractions because things come up, and then you got away from the importance of what this popped up against the importance of continuing or ignoring that. I think people have a hard time doing it. Do you think that sometimes we weigh things more important than what they are until we give them our attention when they weren’t that important, to begin with? I think that’s a skill too, discerning what’s truly important, what’s able to be ignored and what we need to give our attention to.
Yeah. This is what they’re called MITs. They’re your Most Important Tasks that you have. There’s a framework that you can use. It doesn’t matter what industry. If you’re an entrepreneur or a manager or even if you’re an employee, to distinguish what your MITs are is huge. People can get stuck inside the busy work. People think they’re being productive and don’t know what’s the productive work. A great framework for finding what your MITs are is first to get a piece of paper and then identify the core purpose of your work, whatever your work is.
If you’re the manager, it’s going to be different than you being the employee. The entrepreneur is going to be different with a bunch of different things that they have to do compared to one specific role. Maybe they have multiple roles. You’re a marketer in the beginning. You do sales, so on and so forth instead of having a team. For you, you have to identify what is the core purpose of your work in terms of you getting to that next goal that you do have.
When you write out what that core purpose is, list the regular tasks of whatever that job is. For example, if it’s like growing a coaching business or a speaking career even, then you want to be making phone calls unless you have someone that already does that. If you’re starting out, for example, you got to make those phone calls or get on podcasts or whatever it is. You’ve got to get your message out there because no one knows who you are.
That’s a huge task that you have that’s going to move you towards that goal. It’s taking the time to define what those big goals are. Once you’ve listed out your core purpose of your work, the regular tasks that you have, and then what you do is rank those tasks based on how each one of them is going to impact your actual core purpose. It’s like that main dream that you do have if you’re an entrepreneur anyway. You’re ranking them. You can highlight them, number them, however you want to do it.Work and be productive so you can spend that time with the people you love. Click To Tweet
The top 2 to 3 of those tasks are going to be your absolute, most important tasks. If you’re a real estate professional and you’re like, “I need clients,” you got to find a way to generate those clients. A lot of real estate professionals make phone calls and notorious for making 100 phone calls in a day. Where there’s a lot of them, who are like, “I know that’s going to help me grow my career, but I’m not doing it.” Prioritizing that most important task, time blocking and committing, like, “I’m going to do this.”
With all those other tasks, let’s say, you’re an entrepreneur. You’re like, “I’ve got my 2 to 3 tasks, maybe 5 tasks. I wouldn’t say any more than five.” These are the most important things for me to be focusing on. All the other tasks like, “What about answering emails, all these other things I need to do?” Remember to automate, delegate or eliminate those tasks. That’s huge, but the idea is that you’re focusing on your core work, so being able to identify that.
How important is it to write it down? You mentioned writing the lists down and even writing down the core. I think you said the values. How important is that?
It’s incredibly important. Your brain remembers so much more when you write something down, especially by hand, but even still, I have a Google Doc where I have checklists and plans. That’s a folder that I have. For example, this one, a little agreement that we have where I’m going to do a webinar. I’m going to do a blog post and a podcast episode with this one sales association. I have checklists and plans there, but when you write things down, it makes it so much easier to dictate what those next steps are for you. Also, your brain remembers them more. There’s so much science if you look into how important is writing your goals down. Grant Cardone talks about that.
When you write it down, especially consistently, it’s something I have called the 40-day challenge. We write out your dream that you have for 40 days consecutively in the morning and the evening. If you miss one of the days, you have to restart your challenge. Let’s say you get to Day 39 and you’re like, “I got distracted or something came up, so I didn’t write my dream down.” You have to restart your challenge even on Day 39, the last evening night.
It’s a fun challenge, but what it does that programs your mind to have more discipline. There were times where my girlfriend and I had to go somewhere on the weekend and I’m like, “I got to write this down quick in the morning.” We woke up and stuff and I’m like sitting there, she’s like, “James, come on.” I’m like, “Hold on. Just give me a second,” because we had to go somewhere. It helps you program your mind to remember the importance of that dream. There are going to be times when you’re building something where there are going to be distractions, other things that you could prioritize, but you’re prioritizing your dream. It’s a great practice for that.
I want to talk about the value of time. A friend of mine, he and I were talking about time. It’s the most valuable commodity that we have. There is nothing more valuable than time because the last five minutes that went by, you can’t get that back. It is gone forever. Speak to us about your thoughts about the value of time.
Here’s a great example. Let’s say that right now, I sent over to you $525,600. Would you like that?
It doesn’t matter how much money you make. Who wouldn’t want that? If you’re broke or doing extremely well for yourself, anybody’s going to be happy with over $500,000. Everybody here would love that. If you break that down, there are 525,600 minutes in a year and you get to choose what those minutes are going to be. If you break that down even further, like I mentioned earlier, 1,440 minutes in a day. That’s all that we have for a day.
When you think about Kevin Harrington, for example, Shark Tank or all those big billionaires, they focus more on the minutes in their day rather than hours. Those extremely high-level people, those high performers, focus on the minutes in a day. When you think about the minutes in your day and prioritize those minutes and you keep thinking about it, that’s why that one guy, Kevin Cruz, will put up a sign that says “1440.” He tells people like, “Put up a sign that says, ‘1440.’” When he was doing that thing with his meetings, he was noticing that other employees that would come in and see the sign started putting up a “1440” sign.
There are only 1,440 minutes in a day because the truth is that, when you’re constantly thinking about it, I love putting up some reminders for my clients or me. I have pictures of my dream of a house that I would love of the lifestyle that I’m always working towards are always going to be growing and then when that gets accomplished or something new. Writing down and getting some visual reminder of what that importance is for you is so big because it’s going to keep you motivated in those times when you’re writing your book and like, “What’s the point of doing this mundane work?” That helps.
You can’t get time back. You can lose your money and make money back. I’m sure you have lost money, Rodney. I’ve lost money. We’ve been able to make it back. You can lose your health even and make it back. You are such a prime example of that. We had you on my show and you talked about your resilience and it’s amazing. You have literally lost your entire health and been able to bring it back. Maybe not fully as to what it used to be, but you’ve been able to take your health back, which is so huge.
You’re an inspiration. You can even lose love and make it back. There are people who get into divorce when they’ve been together for 15, 20 years. A couple of years later, they’re able to restore love. Even as dark or shallow that may seem, even love can be replenished, but you can’t get your time back. It’s something that doesn’t come back. That’s why it’s so important. That’s why when I was in construction work, I was like, “I’m young. I can get started. I’ve got no kids or anything. This is a great time for me to get started.” I could have waited. Maybe I would have had a kid or something. That would have been more pressure for me to stay in that job instead of saying, “I’m going to go for this.” I went for my dream because I realized the importance of time.
I’m sitting here thinking as you’re speaking. Some of us are good at budgeting money or spending money very frugally. We don’t take that same approach with our time. I was thinking about 1440. I hadn’t thought about that. Thank you. I hadn’t thought about it in that way. I’m going to start doing that from here on out. When you look at the time of your day in terms of minutes instead of hours, it makes it more manageable in terms of being able to schedule out how much time you’re going to spend here, how much time you’re going to spend there and 1440, okay. It’s better than having 24. You feel like you don’t have much to work with.
If I say 1440, I’m like, “I got 1,440 minutes. How am I going to spend that?” You can even create a list spreadsheet or use your calendar and put little time blocks in your calendar. You can see how you’re spending your time. I think having some type of mechanism that allows you to look back. Sometimes we get frustrated. I’m sure you’ve gotten frustrated about where you are. You’re looking at what you’ve accomplished, how close you are to your goal. You may have questions about, “Why I’m not here? I haven’t produced more over there. Why am I falling short here?”
You can always go back and look at how you spent your time. You can go back and look at how you spent your money. You’re like, “I spent too much over there. I spent too much in food and leisure.” It’s good to see how we spend our time. If everyone reading this went back and looked at how they spent their time over the last six months of 2021, what would that look like? How would you feel? What would you want to change?
That’s the thing. When I work with someone, we work heavily on the calendar. Obviously, I want to know what their goals are, what they want to accomplish. We want to be as efficient with the workpiece. As you said in my bio is I take a holistic approach. I don’t want it to be about work. I want you to get efficient with your work and be productive, but I want you to do that so that you can spend that time with the people that you love, doing the things that you love. That’s what I do my best to be an example of that. It takes discipline.
On a weekend, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’d be like, “No. I said I’m going to spend this time because I put in my calendar to go do my hobby of hockey or playing soccer with some friends” or whatever it is, prioritizing friends and family. That’s about the power of having your calendar dialed in. If you look at my calendar, it’s fully blocked. It’s like, “That’s what I’m doing. I’m going to be doing this when that time hits.” It’s so powerful when you look at someone’s calendar like that one client that I have in Belgium who wants to make that transition to another job. He had nothing about his coaching work, growing his business. It was all his job.
It’s like, “What you have on your calendar is where you’re putting your attention to. Where you put your attention to, energy is going to flow and that’s what’s going to become more of your life.” Prioritize more of the things that matter to you, not just work, but your family, friends, hobbies, sleep, have a bedtime. People don’t have bedtimes and they should, but these are the simple things that people don’t do. That’s where working with a coach, with someone who helps you with this, is valuable, being able to sit down and have someone helps you prioritize all of that time and helps you with the discipline. The accountability sticks with it.
That’s why I’m heavy. I use Voxer, which is like a walkie-talkie app on your phone. It’s free. If anyone’s curious about some way to communicate with clients or employees, Voxer is great. I’m not paid by them by any means. I just like it. My clients will set daily accountability goals for them, even if it’s journaling. If I have a limited amount of time, I do 30 minutes a day on your work or an hour a day. I’ll do a Voxer check-in. I prioritize on my calendar where I check-in and I’m like, “What’s going on? I didn’t hear from you.” He’s like, “He’s on me. He’s paying attention to me. To prioritize this thing is most important to me.” I found that to be extremely valuable for my clients.
Talk to us about how that brings more freedom. I feel like a lot of times, people feel that is very restricting because I got these set times. I don’t have time to be spontaneous or I’m always on a timeframe and it seems very restrictive or rigid. What are your thoughts about that?
I have time where it says friends and family. That’s the time that I have with friends and family, but we’re going to be spontaneous. If you’re focusing on your work and you’re growing a business, you got to work. You talked about on my show, it’s something I love that you said, check out Rodney’s episode on my show. It was super cool. You talked about how you can’t get from California to New York, transport over there. You could fly a plane, drive a car, walk or ride a bike if you wanted, but you have distance that you need to travel. There’s a time where you do off of work. I think that having this time-blocking schedule is more freeing than anything because of the discipline piece.
People are always trying to grab your attention and your time, which are two of your most important assets right there. That’s what people value the most more than anything. People will pull that. Les Brown called cell phones, social media, video games and TV weapons of mass distraction. It’s what it is. When you have the discipline and the structure to follow through with the calendar and the priorities that you have on your calendar, that’s a way more freeing life. It seems rigid, but also, like my calendar, it changes.
Maybe I’ll change some time slots around, but the bottom line is that when I look at your calendar and we crack open that calendar, I want to know that you’re prioritizing the things that are most important to you. That’s what I want to know. When you’re doing that, you start to live a more freeing life. It’s going to take some adjustment if you’ve never done it before. That’s where the discipline piece comes in. You’ve got growing pains. It took me a long time in entrepreneurship and I’m still growing. I’ll forever be growing, but my calendar will change.
For example, my girlfriend and I did my dad a favor because he went down to Cabo San Lucas. He has a house down there. I dropped him off at the airport. I woke up early. We dropped them off at the airport. I didn’t work out that day, came back and I still got to work when my time block started, but I got to drop my dad off and spend some time with him. His car was at our house and we had to bring it back over to his place. My girlfriend was going to drive with me.
We talked about this Pomodoro technique where you’re taking that 5-to-10-minute break every 25 to 52 minutes. In about 3 or 4 of those intervals, depending on how much time you have, you should have a long break, which is your lunch. My lunch is an hour and I’ll take a long break. I could eat lunch in the first twenty minutes when I have all that other time, to relax and recharge. That’s the big thing. Note on that is like, if you think about an Indy car, which is a super high performing vehicle, even Indy cars win the race by taking breaks. They’re called pit stops. You’re the same thing.
Talking about flexibility, Lexi and I, Lexi’s my girlfriend, we had to go drop off my dad’s car. I was like, “What do you say? We go get some lunch because I didn’t make lunch at home.” We went out, dropped off the car, and went over to this one Mexican restaurant and had some lunch together. I enjoyed my time with my girlfriend. Did I get back at exactly when my time block was there? No. It was 30 minutes later or 45 minutes later. I’m okay with that because I got work done. I spent the time focusing on those priorities so I still got a lot done. That comes back to that piece of being content with the work that did get done. I think it’s more freeing than anything. You’re taking your life a lot more seriously when you do this.Even IndyCars win the race by taking breaks. Click To Tweet
You give yourself some flexibility in there. That’s what it sounds like.
There are unpredictable things that come up in life, but it gives you the framework of that’s what I’m clocking in. That’s what I’m clocking out of my day instead of being all over the place and chaotic because the opposite of chaos is order. This is giving you order.
I like to look at it as if your calendar is like a bicycle that’s taking you to your goals and dreams or leading you towards the values that you have in your life. Using the calendar is the actual mechanism of pedaling. It’s the actual cycling of the chain on the bike that’s producing the ground force to move the bike forward towards your goals and values. That’s how I see that. If you don’t use the calendar properly, you don’t have the proper mechanism that’s going to propel you forward.
You’re on the bike. You’re doing a lot of activity, but because you’re not using the calendar properly, it’s like, you can get on there and you can do all kinds of things, but until you start churning that thing one pedal at a time over the way it’s designed to work, then you don’t go anywhere. Before we go, I want to talk about one more thing as it relates to high performance and productivity, and that’s the diet. I want to talk about food and exercise because the body has to do something. It has to function in order to produce. What are your rituals or habits as it relates to giving your body to fuel that it needs in order to perform at a high level?
I’m not extremely strict with my diet. I’m a laid-back dude. I like to have discipline. I like to be focused on my goals, priorities, dreams and whatnot. Even as we talked about the calendar, I have structure and I still was okay with going 30, 45 minutes over to spend that time with my girlfriend because we had a great lunch. With that flexibility when it comes to health and nutrition, I want to have a diet. I wanted to have one found a great method that I’ll share with you in a moment.
I wanted to have something that was flexible for me. I think a lot of people can relate to that. It’s difficult to be never eat sugar ever in my life. Sometimes it’s fun to have some ice cream. This is a great method in terms of nutrition. When you think about generating energy, taking those recharge breaks is so big. Prioritizing your sleep, having a bedtime that you go to bed at, when you wake up in the morning. Kids sleep so well because they have a bedtime, nap time, and then they recharge and then they wake up at this time, whatever time that is for them. Doing those five-minute recharges is huge. It’s massive. Being intentional about stretching, walking, doing breathwork, playing with your dog or your kid for a little bit, something that fuels you and feeds your soul.
We talked about generating energy this whole time. In High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard talks about how a power plant doesn’t have energy. It generates energy. That’s what we want to do for ourselves. We want to be able to generate that energy. That’s where those recharges are so valuable. For nutrition, I recommend using something called the Magnus Method. The Magnus Method comes from a guy named Magnus, but you can check them out on YouTube at Magnus Method.
He is this cool dude. He’s like the Swedish guy. I’m Swedish. That’s probably why I like him. What he does is he trains superheroes like Chris Pratt or Chris Hemsworth to get into superhero shape these actors for their superhero roles. He has this cool diet plan that’s very laid back. I was shocked because he helps these people get insane physical fitness in shape. What the Magnus method is, it’s 5 meals per day, every 3 hours. It sounds like a lot, but the point of it is that it keeps your metabolism high and you’re eating high protein, good quality meals.
You have breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, and then dinner. Those are your five meals for a day. Seventeen out of the twenty meals are high protein, natural whole foods and staying away from sugar as much as possible. The other three meals in the twenty meals are whatever you want to eat. You can have anything. You can have an ice cream sundae if you wanted, or you can have that burger that you’ve been craving, whatever it is, but it’s something nice. It gives you a framework and you can prioritize this in your calendar as well.
Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, those are all considered a meal. If you think about days in a week, if you have five days in a week and there are twenty meals, twenty divided by five, that’d be four. Every four meals that you have can be whatever you want it to be. For the most part, it’s like the whole 80/20. You’re eating 80% natural, unprocessed, high-protein whole foods. That’s a simple hack that helps me stay on top of my health game.
Was that accompanied by a certain type of physical regimen in terms of exercise?
Yeah. In the morning in my calendar, I’ll get up around 7 AM. I’ll wake up. I’ll drink a ton of water. I have a big 40 ounces. I think it is. That’s another piece of staying hydrated. I’ll drink one of those big things like water, and then I’ll go out and do a workout. Sometimes I’ll lift. I’m flexible with how I do it, but I always do some exercise. I love CrossFit. I’ll do a quick CrossFit burn exercise with a weight vest that I have or my body weight. I find them online. If you like CrossFit, check out WODwell, you can type in like, “Kettlebell workouts WODwell or bodyweight workouts WODwell,” if you’re into CrossFit and like high-intensity exercise. If you’re not, don’t even bother. Don’t do it.
It gives you these 500 kettlebell workouts. I go through there and I find workouts. I do a warm-up, do my exercise, come in, take a cold shower, get ready for my day and then I’m good to go. That took me a long time and years of practicing health and exercise, most importantly. Since I was in high school doing football, that’s when I started getting serious, senior year. I used to be a fat kid, so I wanted to be fit. I was in high school and Insanity with Shaun T like P90X, so I would wake up at 5:00 AM when I was in sophomore in high school. I would do Insanity in the living room and then I would go to school.
I saw an infomercial for Insanity and was like, “I want to be like that. I want to be fit. Like I’m tired of being fat.” I started doing it, convinced my mom to get it from me as a kid. I started working out doing that. Exercise has always been a thing for me. It’s like a way of life for me, but if you’re reading this and you’re like, “I don’t exercise that much.” I’d say 3 to 5 days a week of actual exercise. You’re good. Do something that you enjoy. I want people to enjoy their life instead of doing something that they absolutely don’t like.
If you don’t like lifting weights, then don’t lift weights. If you’d rather do rock climbing, do rock climbing. If you’d rather do rowing, do rowing or running, whatever it is. There are so many ways to move your body. Dance is a great exercise. There are so many things you can do as long as you’re getting your heart rate up. You’re challenging yourself physically and mentally as well. Do that 3 to 5 days a week and you’re solid, but it doesn’t have to be going to the gym, lifting weights if that’s not what you want to do.
Create a community or have some partner or a trainer of some kind. If you have a personal trainer that you work with, it makes so much easier because you’re held accountable. It’s like having a coach or a community in CrossFit. That’s the thing that people love is the community. Even people who don’t like CrossFit still admire the community because it’s so strong. Having some community or accountability partner is going to help you a lot when you get consistent with it.
How important is it to move throughout the day? Even though you may have a workout regimen that’s set, let’s say in the morning or in the evening, some set time during the day, but I think it’s still important that you get up, move around instead of sitting in one spot focused on your work. I think it’s still good to move around and get the blood circulating through your body periodically.
It’s five-minute breaks. Do some stretching. Stretching is great. If you want to, you can do a mini-workout or do a couple of jumping jacks or something to get some blood moving, but go for a walk. If you’re working in an office and by the time you read this, it’s far enough after COVID, then get up and walk around the office, take a couple of laps in five minutes and get your body moving. That’s like being intentional. You’re not checking your phone, looking at emails on these breaks.
You’re being intentional about getting up, moving around. I’ll play with my dog. That’s what I like to do or I’ll even walk up my street, which is a one-mile loop from the top back down to one mile. It’s a steep uphill, but that’s a great exercise for me. I’ll do that sometimes on my longer break, depending on the day, but doing those breaks, even being able to stretch or do a couple of pushups, if you want to do something like that, that’s great as well.
This is common sense, but I have to do some research on the correlation between blood flow and the high function of the brain. There’s some study out there that demonstrates that you can get more brain activity when there’s a higher level of blood flow and oxygen, even more blood flow to the brain, as well as water. I know you mentioned water, but I think that is so important. A lot of times, when it comes to focus, we can’t get to that certain level of focus. It’s not that we don’t have the concentration of the energy to do it. The brain isn’t hydrated enough. When it’s not hydrated, you get that foggy feeling or that sense of not being able to concentrate. Some of that can be handled by drinking more water.
Hydration is huge. I found out I can add gifts into my presentation, which is super fun. I love to incorporate humor into my presentations. I have a thing that says, “How most people drink water,” and this guy is like pouring water in his face. I think it’s funny, but it’s literally how it is because so many people don’t stay hydrated. If you can look up super easy on the internet how much water should I be drinking in a day? You can even go to BronsonHealth.com. That’s where I found a cool chart. It’s a good framework to at least get you going. I have those 40 ounces and it tells you if you weigh this much, these are how many ounces you should drink in a day. It’s a super simple chart.
You can type in, “How much water should I drink,” go to images, you’ll get some charts. You can calculate how much you should be able to drink throughout a day roughly. If you exercise a lot, you’re going to need to drink more water. If it’s super hot out, you’re going to need to drink more water, but it gives you a framework of, “I should be drinking roughly this much in a day.” When you have that framework, then it helps you realize like, “How much am I drinking right now?” Maybe not nearly enough. You’re like, “That’s why I feel groggy all the time.” For me, I have to drink like three of my 40 ounces, so 120 ounces or so of water to technically be hydrated. I’ll probably drink more of that.
My rule is that I’ll drink 3 to 4 of my water containers. I’ll drink one in the morning, get it knocked out right in the day. Some people get those massive water containers. It’s like a gallon or something. You’ll drink one of those throughout the day. My goal is to knock this out for the day, but it depends on you. I think having like a big container, calculating how many of those you’re supposed to drink through the day, that’s a super easy way to stay more consistent.
James, how can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you or work with you?
A free gift that I do have that I created and I’m always continuing to revise and update when I learn things and have different conversations. It’s going to evolve more and more over time. I can fine-tune it. It’s a printable planner. You can go to my website, JamesAllenCoaching.com/planner or if you go to JamesAllenCoaching.com, you’ll be able to find the planner. It’s there. Pick up the planner because it’s going to help you. What you can do is you can have a morning plan that you have with a couple of questions that I ask you to get set of like, “What’s your most important task you have to take care of? If distractions show up, what’s likely to show up and how would your best self-handle those distractions?” It’s questions like this.
You can have a better idea of like, “My phone’s going off. My best self would handle it by doing this.” It helps you get in a better frame of mind. There’s also an evening review where you review your day, think about it, you write the date on it. It’s cool because it’s printable. People have a high-performance planner, which is great. I have two of them right now and I love those planners or there are all these other kinds of planners that you can use. When you run out of it, you have to buy a new one. The printable planner is cool because I’m always taking on feedback and updating it to fit people’s needs. I’d love for whoever’s reading to get your feedback more and more on it.
Down the road, maybe I’ll make it and do an actual physical copy. With the printable planner, you have to print out the pages and you’re good. There’s a section to free write or take notes. I’m coming up with a weekly review as well. Every week you can print out all the planners. That’s a great thing, but you can get access to that. Go to JamesAllenCoaching.com, and you’ll see the planner right there. It says, “Download your planner,” right when you open it up. That’s a great way to stay in touch. You can find me on social media, Instagram, Facebook or connect with me through my website. That’s the best, but it’s James Allen Coaching everywhere.
This has been a great valuable conversation. I want to appreciate you for stopping by, hanging out with me, returning the favor from going on your show. It’s been a blast. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about how we can be more productive, be high performers and achievers in our lives. I think it’s important. My philosophy, we’re on the field of adversity in the game of life. How are you playing your role? How are you performing on the field? That’s going to dictate the legacy you leave behind and the impact that you have in the game. Performing at a high level is so important.Prioritize the things that really matter to you more, not just work but your family, friends, hobbies, and even your sleep. Click To Tweet
I admire you like crazy. I saw you. I was like, “I want that guy on my podcast,” and then we got on. Now I’m on yours. It’s super cool. You are definitely an inspiration to the world. I love what you do, so I’m grateful to be here.
Thank you so much. Before we go, I want to ask you one more question, in addition to all the value that you’ve given us so far, but if there’s one thing that you would like to leave with us that’ll help us handle adversity, bounce back from challenges and win in the game of life, what would it be?
One of the quotes that have stuck with me that has helped me in those times of adversity and discerning, should I keep going? Should I throw in the towel? Especially as an entrepreneur, I was listening, that’s all I have to say, but the quotes by Howard Thurman and he was a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. He said, “Don’t do what you think the world needs. Do what makes you come alive because what the world needs are more people who’ve come alive.” I ask myself that question, “What makes me come alive?” When I let my imagination run free and think about it, it’s everything that I’m doing right now. Even though there have been so many challenges along the way, there’s been a lot of wins too.
Those wins wouldn’t have happened unless I kept going through those challenges. That’s a quote that helps me and thinking of like, “What makes me come alive?” I’m asking myself like, “Is this thing going to make me feel more alive?” That’s what matters. It’s the time piece. At the end of the day, what mattered most to you? It’s not always how much money you made, unless that money helped you make the impact that you wanted to make in the lives of others. It’s like the relationships. It’s the experiences that you had. That’s what matters. Do what makes you come alive.
It makes me think about the saying, “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”
There’s another one similar that says, “Some people live 90 years. Most people live one year 90 times.”
This has been great. Thank you so much for stopping by with us.
Thank you for being here.
- James Allen
- The Power of When
- The Power of When Quiz
- High Performance Habits
- Building Resiliency with Rodney Flowers – Apple Podcasts
- Magnus Method – YouTube
- Instagram – James Allen Coaching
- Facebook – James Allen Coaching
- Is Life Knocking You Down? Read Rodney’s inspiring story – Get Up! I Can’t. I Will. I Did… Here’s How! https://rodneyflowers.com/get-up-book/
- Recognize Your Positive Potential – Essential Assertions by Rodney Flowers https://rodneyflowers.com/essential-assertions-book/
- Get Access to Rodney’s Daily Inspiration in your Inbox Today https://rodneyflowers.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=01f76a038256f77a6fbc93590&id=307d726734
About James Allen
James Allen is an international High-Performance coach, author, and speaker. James helps his clients live into their highest potential so they can feel more alive, engaged, purposeful, and free. He takes a very holistic approach to success by helping his clients create a life and business that surpasses their expectations in their health, wealth, and relationships.
To James, success is an inner game. This is why he helps his clients with things like mindset, confidence, health & well-being, courage, leadership, high-performance, manifestation, on top of business strategy. He believes that, in order to succeed at a high level for the long term, which is what High Performance is all about, you will need both a strong mindset coupled with an effective strategy