What I learned while attending a federal military academy has been a lifeline as an entrepreneur. It involves Legos.
Instead of a college career filled with parties and kegs of beer, I shined my shoes and participated in drills. Those two things alone ate fifteen to twenty hours every week. I also had a full load of courses, sports, debate team (yes, I was that kind of nerd), and a job as an EMT.
I almost went crazy.
Then I discovered a strategy that has served me the rest of my life. It’s called Focus + Lego-based Day Construction.
The first part — focus — might sound obvious. Of course, you should focus on what you’re doing. But most people try to multitask. Stop multitasking. It’s a myth, and that’s backed up by a lot of research. Your brain chemistry is such that you actually can’t concentrate on two things at once. Instead, what you’re doing is concentrating on one thing and toggling to another, rapidly going back and forth between them. If you’re driving and eating, you’re ever so briefly taking your concentration off the road in order to take a bite, then immediately, you return to focusing on the road.
Multitasking is a beloved strategy for many but, in reality, you’re really not doing more than one task at once — and probably doing mediocre work at each one. Sorry, but it’s true. It’s time to focus. You will accomplish more work of greater quality in less time. That’s called “Doing less, better.”
The Legos will set you free.
And that brings us to the Legos. The Legos will set you free. That might sound crazy, but approach the Legos with a completely open mind. Think of every single thing you do each day as a Lego piece — some are small, some are big — and fit the pieces of your day together like a Lego castle.
The big Legos are the tasks that truly merit your time. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Just because someone requests an appointment with you doesn’t mean you should schedule one. Your schedule should contain only red-letter, top-priority activities: only the essentials, and tasks that have to be completed by you and no one else. Don’t forget time for life priorities like being with your family and friends. And always schedule time — or Legos! — for the unforeseen demands that arise each day.
Which Legos are the fundamental pieces? Which small ones fit between the big ones? Which are the low-priority pieces? The last ones in and the first ones discarded if necessary?
In this way, Lego-based Day Construction will help you see where your time is going and manage it better. As you get used to laying out the Lego pieces of each day, you’ll become smarter about how much you can accomplish and which tasks actually deserve your time. And one of the beautiful things about the Lego-based approach is that it doesn’t take much time to do.
But maybe Legos sound childish and you’re asking yourself: “Am I really going to sit there with a blank slate and fit the pieces of my day together like a Lego castle?” Fair! I hear you loud and clear. But time is more valuable than money and you’d never run your business without a financial budget. You’d never spend money willy-nilly and not keep track of it. (No offense, Willy and Nilly.) That would guarantee that you’d go bankrupt.
Once you embrace the Legos, there’s a cumulative effect.
Take at least as much care with your time. It’s the difference between living the kind of life you want and slogging through an endless, boring queue of tasks. That difference is worth a few minutes at the start of your day, right?
Once you embrace the Legos, there’s a cumulative effect. You’ll develop better routines and habits, and you’ll find shortcuts. Every forty-hour workweek is the sum of 480 five-minute segments. As you manage your time better (thanks to Legos!) and as you maintain better focus, you’ll get more and more of those five-minute segments back. It’s no small thing. They’ll add up to hours, week in and week out.
This is not an overstatement: It will change your life.
And we haven’t even discussed the psychological benefits yet. You will be free to focus on your passion and that will allow you to feel the satisfaction of productivity and the lightness of leaving behind an unmanageable schedule. You’ll build momentum and confidence in your ability to tackle your goals.
The more excitement and passion you bring into each day, the better results you’ll see. We’re good at things we’re passionate about, and the opposite is also true. All it takes is focus and, yes, Legos to create a virtuous snowball effect that will keep rolling for years.
Want to dig even deeper into the power of focus to change your world? Read our Maintain Your Balance Whitepaper to see how Focus + Lego-based Day Construction dovetails into The Golden Formula (from our CEO’s international bestselling book, Live Free or DIY), and some of the core concepts from our Inside Out Leadership coaching and development program.