Productivity (Get Some!) – Part I
Over the weekend, during one of the busiest days in Cressey Performance history, one of our new interns, Jordan, looked over at me like a deer in headlights and said something along the lines of, “Tony, how the heck do you do it? How is it that you’re able to
coach 7-8 hours per day and STILL find the time to do all of the other things like write articles, keep up with your blog, etc?”
Similarly, last night, after all the clients had left, I was sitting in my office when Jordan asked, “so, what are you doing tonight?”
“Writing programs,” I said.
“Really?” he blurted, in a somewhat dumbfounded tone.
I know he knows better and understands the demands of being in this industry (you’re on when everyone else is off), but I can’t help but feel that the vast majority of athletes and clients that walk into the facility (not to mention all the people who read our stuff) on a daily basis just think we just show up and hang out all day, as if all Eric, myself, Pete, Chris, and George do is turn the lights on, play some loud music, throw some weights around, offer a few spots here and there, and then just go home to watch the Hoffinator on America’s Got Talent.
While there’s some truth to that, as to be expected, there’s a bit more that happens behind the scenes. Actually, a lot more, but I don’t want to get too off track here.
Sure, I can think of worse ways to spend my days. Not to rub it in or anything, but I wore sweatpants to work yesterday. What’s more, I also had the opportunity to train roughly 40 professional athletes and work with a wide variety of clientele that put a smile on my face everyday.
I’m not going to lie, though – I was freakin tired! And when I reflected on what Jordan asked a few days ago (
how do you do it?), at the time, I gave him the elevator pitch and mentioned how it just comes down to learning how to prioritize things and setting a schedule for yourself. It was nothing revolutionary by any means, but it got a few head nods, made sense, and he appreciated the skull-session.
In the days since, however, I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper. This industry, unlike many, offers a wide array of opportunity in that you can make what you want of it. On one end of the spectrum you can just do your own thing, work at a commercial gym, and do well for yourself (or not…….most PTs burn out within two years).
On the flip side, you can enter entrepreneurship,open your own facililty, and do well for yourself (or not……it’s been said that seven out of ten small businesses fail within three years).
Throwing more into the ring, you also have this thing called the Internet, which, you know, a lot of people use. Outside of CP, I also run my own personal business through my writing (articles, blog) and online services, and within the past year or two have come to realize that a fair percentage of my income stems from my name being, for lack of a better term, a brand. Kind of like Apple, except not even close.
Anyways, when you think about it, I have two fronts I’m dealing with: Cressey Performance and doing my part to help run a successful (and growing) small business; and Tony Gentilcore (trying my best not to suck).
While I’d be lying if I said I felt I was the most productive person in the world, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give myself at least some credit.
To that end, here are some candid thoughts on how to become more productive.
1. Surround Yourself with Productive People
Seems like a Captain Obvious statement if there ever was one, right?
If you want to get better at playing video games, hang out with gamers. If you want to get better at knitting, hang with people who knit. If you want to be good at being a geek, hang out with people who attend Star Wars Conventions. Oh snap. Oh snap. No he didn’t?!?!??!
Hey……..What tha!?!?!??!! Goddammit, who stole the password to my Facebook account?????
Likewise, if you want to become more productive, it helps to surround yourself with people who have the same work ethic, or at least in the same ballpark…..as yourself. As luck would have it, I work with the Robocop of productivity, Eric Cressey.
For those who don’t know Eric as well as I do, he’s an absolute machine, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as “on” as himself.
Not many people know this, but Eric and I met over the internet. Totally not kidding.
Now, it wasn’t like we were both paying subscribers to strengthcoachbff.com or something equally as creepy. No, instead, back in the day Eric and I knew each other from various strength and conditioning websites (t-nation.com for example) and over the course of a year or two built a mutual respect for one another.
In the summer of 2004, I met Eric for the first time in person in NYC, where a bunch of other people from another fitness website we both frequented decided to organize a small get together. That same weekend – coincidentally enough – I also met Pete Dupuis at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. Little did I know at the time that he’d eventually become my business partner. Weird, how things work out.
Anyways, in the summer of 2005, Eric graduated from UCONN and had accepted a job at a commercial gym in Ridgefield, CT. Knowing full well that I was dying a slow death in Syracuse working in corporate fitness, and yearning for a way to turn the page in my life, Eric called me up and mentioned that the place that just hired him was looking for another trainer.
Taking a huge leap of faith, I went out and interviewed, nailed it, and moved out to CT soon thereafter.
Long story short, I lived with Eric for two years (in both CT, and later on when we both moved to Boston) and saw firsthand what kind of work ethic he had. While I was out in the living room watching Lord of the Rings (again), he was in his room writing freaking books (The Ultimate Off-Season Manual and Maximum Strength).
Of course, I was doing my own thing, working as a personal trainer and starting to dabble in some writing myself (t-nation, and some of you may remember my Boston Herald Step-Up! blog), but needless to say, Eric was (and still is) unparalleled as far as productivity is concerned.
Then, you know, we both got girlfriends, and got our own places, and eventually started Cressey Performance.
They say it’s the people you surround yourself with that dictate your success. Even today, I have no flippin idea how he’s able to keep up with everything. But to his credit, he’s been an integral influence on my career and work ethic, and I’d be an a-hole if I didn’t in someway credit him with helping me learn a thing or two along the way.
2. The $25,000 Piece of Advice
I actually wrote a blog post on this concept earlier this year after listening to Todd Durkin speak at the Perform Better Summit in Providence, RI. Want to know the key to productivity:
Step 1: Pick FIVE things you need to do today, and write them down.
Step 2: Do them.
It’s that simple. If you want to be more productive with your time, and hence, more successful, you need to put your big boy (or girl) shoes on and hold yourself more accountable.
Write it down. Make a list. You need to start somewhere, right?
Speaking personally, my lists vary. They can entail things as detailed as start the introduction to my next article, or something as mundane as clean the cat’s litter box.
Either way, there’s just something about crossing things off a list that’s invigorating and keeps me on point.
Furthering my point, and using last night as an example, I came home from work and the last thing I wanted to do was write programs. Practicing what I preach, I made my list of five names – actually seven, I had to update two existing programs to add in more conditioning work – and crossed them off as I went.
In the end, it freed up my morning to write this blog post. See how things work out? It’s like I’m a productivity ninja!
And that’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll delve into some more tips. SPOILER ALERT: turn off the television!!!!
Until then, feel free to offer your own tips below.