06 Nov Balancing Life & Fitness: Caging Your Monkey Mind Through Eisenhower’s Box
I received this email the other day:
I kinda chuckled to myself after reading, “How do you do it all?”
Evidently, I’ve tricked people to perceive me as a person who has things “figured out.” This is laughable, but it reminded me of when I first started this website.
I reached out to this smart, Jewish guy named Jordan Syatt. Some of you may know him.
I sent him a Snapchat asking him if he had any tips for building my website, as I had no idea what I was doing and I liked how his site was setup.
He sent me a video response saying,
“My man, nobody knows what the hell they’re doing. You just gotta keep trying shit.“
I specifically remember smiling ear-to-ear after I watched his video. He didn’t say anything groundbreaking, but it was an epiphany moment for me.
I really looked up to Jordan, and still do to this day, because he seemed to have his shit together. Yet, he sent me this humble message and it gave me true perspective.
It showed me how similar I am to people I look up to, and how similar we are in our day-to-day lives — struggles, obstacles, confusion, self-doubt, where we left our keys, etc.
Nobody is above being human.
But what separates Jordan, and many other successful people in life, is that he keeps on trying to get 0.01% better than he was yesterday, despite how difficult it is or how long it may take.
When starting out, if Jordan knew how many hours of work he’d have to put in to be where he is today, I bet he would’ve been extremely discouraged and tried something else.
Instead, he just started.
Then failed. Then learned. Then adjusted. Then failed again, then learned, and on and on and on.
And based on how he’s doing today, he never stopped refining his process.
This mindset is the foundation of the answer to the question in the email. If you’re not willing to get started (even if it’s a bad start) and persevere through the hard shit — you won’t make it to where you want to go.
But that’s still not enough, because you have to build on that foundation if you want to break through mediocrity.
See, people on the Internet love sharing this pic of what they think success looks like:
This is wrong.
This is what success/progress actually looks like:
This shows the importance of working smarter, not harder (although, sometimes, you may need to sack up and put in more hours).
When you work smarter, your failures become much less catastrophic and you reduce their frequency. But your progress slows in parallel because you have to keep pushing your limits just to gain an inch.
This represents what true mastery looks like.
To relate this back to the email, notice what the guy said:
“How do you do it all? … I lost motivation to continue, and wondering if it is the right move.”
He has a lack of clarity and is unmotivated as a result. He’s focusing his energy in a million different directions, instead of prioritizing what is most important and most urgent.
How to Prioritize Your Decisions: The Eisenhower Box
Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the most productive presidents of all time.
His famous productivity tool was his decision-making matrix, known as the Eisenhower Box (or Eisenhower Matrix). The tool is simple to use and can be implemented right after you read this article.
Using the matrix, you’ll separate your actions based on four possibilities.
1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).
Right now, take out a sheet of paper or sticky note and write down everything you need to get done. It may be an extensive list, but that’s okay because we’re managing that monkey mind of yours.
Once you have everything written down, insert it into your own Eisenhower Box (blank template here).
This will help you (and the guy in the email) distinguish between things you need to get done TODAY, based off how important or urgent the task is.
Pay special attention to the “DELETE” square — be ruthless here. It’s important to audit yourself on an hourly basis to make sure you aren’t wasting more time than you think.
Focus on elimination before optimization. Think “Less, but better.”
I use these tactics with my online coaching clients to make sure they are focusing on the most important daily tasks in order to expedite their results in half the normal time.
I even created Automated Fitness 2.0 for people looking for a new, effective approach to incorporating fitness into their busy lives.
But next, once you’ve eliminated the junk, you can prioritize your time towards tasks that are more important.
This is how you shift from your energy going in a million different directions, to one specific task that is of utmost importance.
And when you finish the most important and most urgent task, keep repeating until you have crossed everything off your to-do list.
Putting It All Together
1. Understand nobody knows what the hell they’re doing, but the important step is the first one — starting anyway.
2. Accept that you will fail. But each time you fail, you’ll learn something. Over time your failures will become smaller and less frequent. This is the path to mastery.
3. Gain clarity to your goals by brain-dumping your monkey mind onto a sheet of paper as an extensive to-do list (no matter how small the task, put it down).
4. Once finished, insert each task into the Eisenhower Box to figure out which tasks are most important and most urgent.
5. Cross off each to-do item as you finish them and repeat steps two and three on a daily basis.
6. Dominate life, but remember: every day is a work in progress.