Transcript: How to Design Your Ideal Week with Michael Hyatt

September 21, 2017

AMY PORTERFIELD: Welcome back to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I’m your host, Amy Porterfield. Today I’m going to share a few breakthrough moments I’ve had in the  last few weeks thanks to one man, Michael Hyatt. 

You see, I’ve been taking his course, Free to Focus. Oh my  gosh! It  is  so good. If you haven’t checked out  Free  to  Focus  I’m  telling  you  I  think every entrepreneur should go through this course. That’s how good I think it is. 

But today’s episode is not all about his program, Free to Focus. It’s really about finding your own freedom and really digging in  the make sure you are working on the projects that will not only move your business forward, but will actually put you in  that genius mode, that area where you  are firing on all cylinders. 

You know you’re doing the right work because not only are you good at  it but you’re passionate about the work as well. We’re going to get into all of that inside of this episode. 

As I mentioned, I’ve had a few breakthroughs of my own and one of those breakthroughs I creating what Michael calls The Ideal Week. That’s really the bulk of  this episode today. We’re going to  talk about how to  create your own ideal week. 

There are some things we need to get really clear  about  before  we actually dive into designing your ideal week. We’re going to cover it all in this episode. 

I think this episode is a perfect followup to a recent episode I did with accountability expert Carey Bentley. In Episode #174, which I  will link to  in the show notes, Carey went through the different layers of accountability. That episode was so good. She was just really insightful around finding accountability in all that you’re doing. 

We also went over some mindset shifts, limiting beliefs, that might beholding you back from actually completing the projects you really care about. I  think after clearing your  head in  that episode and  them moving on to this episode I think they work really well. 

In this episode we’ll talk about strategy and process and some tools and resources as well, all around finding more freedom in your business. 

I want to bring some magic your way because I feel I have been hoarding this little secret of Michael’s program, Free to Focus. Again, I want all of my students to dive into it and just start to  work  smarter  in  a  way  that creates a business you absolutely love. 

I won’t make you wait any longer. Let’s bring on our guest. 

Amy: Michael Hyatt, welcome back to the show. 

Michael: Amy, I’m delighted to be with you. 

Amy: I’m  so  excited that you’re here. This  time I  want  to  hone in  on  your new passion, almost a crusade, to help people  free  up  distractions.  I noticed that when you talk about your course  you  don’ t call  it Productivity Now or  anything like that because that’s not really what it’s about. So what is this mission really about for you? 

Michael: It’s  really about helping people find  freedom. What  I  noticed was that a lot of productivity models are kind  of  based  on  the  19th Century industrial idea of how  we  can  be  more efficient and  get  more and more done. That’s why, when people have all of these productivity software packages and smartphones and all of these things that are supposed to save us time it doesn’t actually save us time. 

It  actually eats into our  time so  that we’re working more now  than ever. My passion is how you can use productivity, but productivity that leads to more freedom, and really freedom in four specific ways: the freedom to really focus, to do  that deep work that moves the needle in  your business or your life; the freedom to be present so that  when  you’re  with  the people you love you’re really there and not thinking about work, or when you’re at  work you’re not worried about something you left undone at home; then the freedom to be spontaneous. 

For me, when my grandkids come over I want to be  able to  drop what I’m doing, spend time with them,  and  not  worry  that  something’s  having  to pay the price in my business. Finally, I learned this in Italy this summer because the Italians do  this, they call it  the “Sweetness of  Doing Nothing”, but I call it the freedom to do nothing. 

Amy: I love that. 

Michael: That’s the kind of freedom I’m after  and  productivity  is  the means to that end. It’s not the end itself. 


Amy: The sweetness of doing nothing. I need to remember that. Those Italians know what they’re talking about, right? 

Michael: I’m telling you. I fell in love with the Italians. 

Amy: I bet. Did you absolutely love that trip? I know you just went for how long? 

Michael: We were there for three weeks. 

Amy: Three weeks. 

Michael: Every year I take a one-month sabbatical where I completely unplug and don’t do any work. The only thing I posted to Facebook was my pictures from Italy. We were in Italy for three weeks, mostly in Tuscany, and we  just did a  whole lot of  nothing and we  just loved being together and enjoyed the Italian countryside and drinking the amazing wines and eating amazing food. I gained three pounds but it was worth it. 

Amy: It was worth every piece of that, definitely. Okay, so here’s the deal. You  also talk about productivity in  terms of  four zones and how you want to live your life in one particular zone. Tell me about that. 

Michael: I have something called the Freedom Compass and this is kind of the foundation of my course, Free to Focus, and really the foundation of how I think about life. If you kind of imagine a four-quadrant diagram where one axis is proficiency and one of them is passion. 

The things you are not proficient at and not passionate about, the things that are kind of  just the grind, I  call that the Drudgery Zone. Too  many of us spend too much time in the Drudgery Zone with things we don’t like, don’t enjoy doing, and we’re not very good at. 

If you turn this four-by-four matrix at 90 degrees it actually creates a compass. The Drudgery Zone would be Due South. The opposite of that, things where you are passionate, you love doing, you enjoy them, time seems to just flow and you could do it forever because you’ve got a lot of energy around it and you’re really good at it, it delivers the results in your business and in your personal life that make life worth living, I call that the Desire Zone. 

There are also two other zones. That’s due north. If  you look west this is where you’ve got passion about something but you’re not particularly proficient at it. That can be the Distraction  Zone,  the  realm  of  escape, where we go when things get kind of tough  or  when  we’re  not  really focused. For some people that’s social media. 

If you have to use social media in your business, great. But  for  a  lot  of people that’s kind of  a  place to  go  to  escape. Then the opposite of  that, east, is the Disinterest Zone. This is where you have proficiency but no passion. For example, because I was in the corporate world and, more recently as the chairman and CEO of  Thomas  Nelson Publishers, I  had  to get pretty good at the financial aspects of the business. 

I don’t have a finance background but I got really  good  at  reading financial statements and making presentations to investment bankers and all of that. I could do it. I was good at it. But I had zero interest. 

The  problem is  that when you’re in  the Disinterest Zone you get bored. The secret to really moving the needle in your business and your personal life is to figure out your Desire Zone where you really have passion and proficiency and try as much as you can to either eliminate, automate, or delegate things in the other three zones. Does that make sense? 

Amy: It does. It leads me perfectly into my next question. I  want to  talk about creating your ideal week. But I know before we get there we have to clean up some of the messes in our lives, some things that are just not helping us move forward in a way that gives us instant momentum. 

I thought we could highlight each of those key components you cover starting with eliminate. What’s the right way to  eliminate the overload we all feel? 

Michael: It’s really interesting. There are a lot of people that are into productivity. I don’t want to step on any toes here, but they are into something called “getting things done”. There is a very popular book by David Allen. David is a good friend of mine. I’ve used that methodology for more than a decade and it really can work. 

But we did a survey of people who had read the book and attempted to implement it. Only about 25% of  the people were continuing to  use it. So we ask why? 

Here’s what they said, they said their list just kept growing. Secondly, they spent more time managing their list than actually getting the work done and, third, as a result they felt overwhelmed. They got up in  the morning and had a to-do list that already made them feel like they had lost the game. Then they went to bed at night, even if they had completed ten out of 15 things on their to-do list, they still felt like they had failed. 

The whole premise of  eliminate is  that there is  some stuff that should never be on the list to begin with. The problem with GTD, from my perspective, is that it doesn’t provide this filter. The filter is the Freedom Compass that we just went through. 


What are those things that are in the Drudgery Zone that need to come off my plate? They don’t just need to be done not by me but they may not need to be done by anyone. So, what are the meetings that I’m still attending or the reports I’m still generating or the work I’m still doing because it’s familiar but it really doesn’t need to be  done by  anyone? Those are the things to eliminate. 

The problem, Amy, for people like you and me that are entrepreneurs that are business owners, if our businesses are growing we’ve gotten rid of the things that were in our Drudgery Zone maybe a year ago but now we have new things in our Drudgery Zone that we need to get rid of. 

We have to constantly be evaluating what we can eliminate.  It’s  the pruning process. For anybody who grows roses or any other kind  of flowers, pruning is a key component in creating healthy, beautiful flowers. The same is true for your life. 

Amy: I’m glad you brought up the idea of pruning because as an  achiever it’s very hard for me to give up anything  that  could  be  driving  the business forward, even just a little bit. You talking about eliminating stuff actually makes me very nervous. 

Michael: It does for a lot of people. This is kind of where there is a faith component that has to come in and almost an  abundance mentality that you have to believe that if you prune it will come back stronger than ever. I’m looking out my window right now at a whole wall full of hydrangeas. 

These things are huge and the blossoms are just falling over because they are blooming like crazy. But in about two months we’ll prune those things down to about two feet tall. We have to do that in the face,  in  the confidence, that they are going to come back stronger than ever next spring. 

The same thing is true. Here’s something that happens to a lot of entrepreneurs. They have a client that’s paying the bills. Maybe they are a high-profit client. But they are also a high-maintenance client. They are sucking all of the air out of the room, all the  resources  out  of  the business, everybody’s trying to keep that client satisfied, and they really can’t be satisfied. 

Here’s the key thing, it’s taking time away from those clients that are high profit, low maintenance that could really drive your business forward. The courage and faith comes in in  firing that high-maintenance client so  you can give your best resources to your best clients and really advance your business. 

Amy: That’s so  very good. With the  concept of  eliminating, I’ve  heard you talk about saying, “yes” to the right things and saying, “no” to  the wrong things. I want to dive a little bit deeper into this idea of  saying, “no” more often. 

I’ve talked about the power of  “no” in  my  own podcast. Episode #152  was how to really make better decisions by  weighing all of  your options inside of your own business. I really like your take on  the idea of  “no” because you encourage us to create a positive “no”. Can you talk about that and some of the components that go into a positive “no”? 

Michael: I think for most  of  us  who  are  recovering  people  pleasers,  I would put myself in that camp. 

Amy: Amen. 

Michael: Right? Amen. I  don’t  want  to  disappoint  people.  So  I  had  to figure out a way to be able to give them a positive “no”. There was actually a book I read on this topic and it was very helpful. I modified it a little bit but here’s what I do. I always want to start when I say, “no” by affirming that person, my relationship with that  person,  and  honoring their request. 

Here’s a common thing I get. I know you get it, in fact, I just made it  of you  recently, but people ask me  if  I  can  endorse their book. I  want to  be able to say to them, “Wow, I’m so honored that  you  asked.  Thanks  for asking. Awesome about your new book.” 

Whatever it is, start with the positive. Then what I  want  to  give  is  a  very firm, very clear “no”. I say, “Unfortunately, due  to  the  demands of  my  time (or due to my current commitments) I’m unable to do that.” 

I don’t say, “Maybe I can  do  it  later,” or,  “Maybe I  can  get  to  it.”  I  don’t hold out any hope. I draw a clear line in the sand. I promise you, people appreciate that. 

If we’re not careful, instead of actually responding to  that person and giving them a clear “no” we either let it sit in  our inbox and don’t answer and the person pesters us and then we get angry and then we kind of respond in a way that’s not equal to the request and say something we regret. 

A lot  of  bad  things happen from that. So  the  best way  we  can  answer it  is to just go ahead and give them a “no”. I’ve had people write back to me and say, “Thank you so much. I can handle ‘no’ but what I can’t handle is not knowing.” 


Then I finish it with something positive. Yes, no, yes is the pattern. The yes positive in that particular example would be something like, “Man, I can’t wait to read the book,” or, “I’m looking forward to the book,” or, “Good luck with the book,” or sometimes, I ’ ve created these with  email templates, and I talk about this in the automation section, how can you 

take the requests that you get on a routine basis,  create  an  email template that follows that pattern, and is really helpful to people. 

It is kind of your  best thinking if  you  are  in  your  best state, respond to that person, and still say “no” but still give them something helpful like maybe direct them to a blog post or a podcast episode or a  book you’ve read or a course you have or something that doesn’t just leave them in limbo but gives them a next step. That’s the yes, no, yes; positive “no” formula. 

Amy: That’s so very good. I absolutely love it.  So  now  that we’ve  talked about eliminate and the positive “no” the next  step  you  teach  is to automate. What is one tip you can  give  listeners  to  automate  different areas? 

Michael: Mos t people, when they think of a utoma t ion, think of technology. Technology is actually only one type of automation I teach in the course. The first one, and I think the most  important one,  in  fact before we got on the show today you were talking about this to me, that is to create rituals or routines. 

You no longer have to think about the sequence, something happens, you’ve just got something that sets you up to win. I kind of call these the core four rituals but I recommend a morning ritual so when you get out of bed in the morning you’re doing the things that nurture your soul, that prepare your body, that get you in  a  place of  peak performance so  that you an really be productive during the day. 

Then I talk about a work-day start-up ritual so that when you get to  the office or get into your work area there is  a  set of  specific things you  can do to sort of clear the deck so that you can really focus and do  the deep work on things that are going to matter. 

At the end of the day, a work shut-down ritual so that you kind of have a clear boundary to the end of  the day  so  that you  can  tie up  the loose ends so that you don’t drag that stuff into your evenings so  that you can’t be present with your family over  dinner or  spending the  evening with them. 

Finally, an evening ritual because the best day starts the evening before. An evening ritual sets you up for a productive next day. 

Amy: I’ve got to give a shout out to your Full Focus Planner which is your physical planner that I am obsessed with. 

Michael: Thank you. 

Amy: I got everyone on my team to get one as well. I bought them one because I want us all to be on the same page and using the same type of system. Again, a big shout out to your physical planner. But, in  it  what I love is  that you actually give a  space to  first just write out those rituals and make sure that we know what our morning ritual is and our evening ritual and then this work-day startup and how to end your day. 

To me, Michael, that has just changed everything. 

Michael: Wow. 

Amy: It’s like I get to ease into the morning instead of seeing what email I got, I need to get in Slack, who called me, or whatever it might be. There is  none of  that. I  feel you are changing lives with these morning rituals and these startups and the way to kind of end your day. 

Michael: Oh thanks. 

Amy: It is so very good. 

Michael: The reason we created a physical product is, and I’m a totally digital guy, for years I was all digital, but the problem is if you want to put yourself smack dab in the middle of the realm of distraction try to do everything digital. 

Amy: Yes. 

Michael: That’s why I  like a  physical planner. Part of  what we  do  in  there is to help you identify your big three for the  day,  what are  your  three tasks that absolutely have  to  get done, what your schedule is, and for most people, we are getting reports from thousands of people back on it now, it’s giving them a simplicity and focus to their day they never had before. 

They are not feeling overwhelmed. They are getting to the end of the day knowing that if  they  didn’t  get  anything  else  done  they  got  the  three most important things done and they feel great about that. 

Amy: That’s so true. And then at the very end of the week you have a few pages where you get to evaluate how the week went, what worked, what didn’t work, what you need to pull over into the next week, and then you help us plan out our weekend. 

I  know this is  a  side note and not really what we  were talking about, but we plan out our weekend so we actually have rest and relaxation and the weekend goes how we want it to go. 

Michael: It’s so important. I’m  glad you  brought that up,  Amy,  because I want to talk about it.  The  whole course, the  Free  to  Focus course, starts with a module of three lessons called Stop. Usually when you think of productivity you think, “Go! I’m on  the  go.  I  want  to  get  in  the  game.  I want to do it faster.” 

No, I’m just saying to blow the whistle. Let’s stop the madness. Let’s evaluate what we’re doing. What is it that we want? That’s really where we think about freedom. Where are we now? Then there is a lesson on rejuvenation. 

How do we take care of ourselves so that we get the rest, refreshment, reflection, relationships, all of  those  things  we  need  in  order  to  be  the best version of ourselves? I can tell you when people work all week long and they work through the weekend eventually their focus suffers. Their productivity suffers. 


When you’re not getting the rest you need I can prove it to you scientifically you are not going to be as productive as you otherwise could be. So, getting rest is important. But here’s the problem for business owners and entrepreneurs and leaders. They get to the weekend and they don’t know what to do with themselves. 

They just tend to drift back into work because it’s familiar. They get the sense of being productive. So I said, “What if we took the initiative to be intentional about our weekends and actually plan it,” so that we don’t go into a weekend with no plan and drift back into work. 

Instead we’ve actually got positive things that express, where we  can enjoy that freedom, and not have to work. Boy, I  hit  the  ground  on Monday having a  weekend like  that  in  a  completely different state of mind than if I had worked through the weekend. 

Amy: Michael, I work so many weekends. I don’t work the whole weekend but I am always dabbling in something related to work on the weekends. Since this planner, I thought that I wanted to totally shut that off. That’s a bad habit that I don’t want to get into and I definitely see a difference. 

Again, kudos to you on that planner. 

Michael: Thank you. Thank you. 

Amy: It’s fantastic. Guys, I’m going to link to  the Full Focus Planner  in  the show notes at  I  want  you  to  check  it out, especially at the time of this recording we’re going to  move into the new year soon. It’s a perfect way to start the new year. Anyway, let’s get back to it. 

We talked about eliminate. We talked about automate. Now  let’s  talk about delegate. You say you want 95% of your activity to be in the Desire Zone. So, how does delegating help us get there? 

Michael: There are certain tasks that don’t need to be done by any human and those can be eliminated. There are certain tasks that have to be done but they can be done either by machine or almost in an unconscious way, and that’s automation. 

There are some tasks that have to be done by a human but it doesn’t have to be you.  That’s  where delegation comes  in.  This  is  challenging for  a  lot of business owners and entrepreneurs because, let’s be honest, we  tend to be micromanagers. 

Nobody can do the job as well as we  can and another common excuse I hear is that it takes longer to explain it than to just do it myself. But if you want to  see incredible exponential growth in  your business, if  you want to  see exponential growth in  your sense of  freedom and your sense of control, you have got to delegate. 

You’ve got to figure out the few things, for me it’s just a couple of things (actually three things), that are in my  Desire Zone and then make a  point of getting rid  of  everything you  haven’t eliminated or  automated that’s still on your list. 

The wrong place to start is with your resources. You say you can’t afford anybody else so you aren’t even going to think about  it.  Wrong.  The money doesn’t show up until you have the vision for what you want to do with the money. 

Nobody ever comes to me  and  puts a  big  pot  of  money down and  says, “See if you can spend this wisely.” It doesn’t work that way. But, when I get clear on  the vision for what I  want, and in  this particular case I  am asking, “What are the things you would delegate if you could delegate?” 

Forget about the resources and then just trust that somebody somewhere at some time is going to show up to do that. Getting clarity is the most important thing first. Then your mind will begin to go to work about how to resource it. 

That’s how I  try to  get people to  think about it. Delegation is  huge. It  is one of the most important aspects of growing your business. I  thought when I left the corporate world I would be a solopreneur.  That  just sounded kind of romantic until I realized I was booking my travel. I was working through all my email. I was  trying to  find the  FedEx box  and  I had no clue as to where it was. 

I was spending all of this time in my Drudgery Zone on  things I  hated. That’s not why I was put into the world and those are not the things that are going to  advance my  business or  give me  the kind of  life I  want to live. I’ve got to be able to delegate. 

Amy: So  true A  lot of  my  listeners are just starting out so  they might have a ten-hour-a-week VA but not much more than that. What if  that’s the case? What’s one small step they can take right now to delegate more? 

Michael:  That’s exactly how I  started. When I  left the corporate world it was just me, overwhelmed. I  thought, “Gosh, I  hate to  spend the money for a VA but maybe I can afford to get one,” and I started with five hours a week, literally. 

I hired an agency and did it five hours a  week. That lasted for two weeks and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this freed up five hours for me to focus on income producing activities.” What if I went to ten hours a week? 

I did that after two weeks. Then after a month I went to 20 hours a week. I  was getting a  significant return on  my  investment and I’ll tell you  a funny story. We had a mastermind a couple of years ago. It was one I was leading. 


One of  the guys in  the mastermind said, “You know, I’m doing all of  my own web development. I’m okay at it. I’m not great at  it.  I  can  hack through it but I just can’t afford a web developer.” One of the guys said to him, “How much do you think you make an hour?” 

I don’t remember exactly what the number was but  let’s  just  say  for  the sake of argument he said it was $150 and hour. He then asked a question, “Would you pay a less-than great, maybe average web developer, $150 an hour?” 

He said, “Heck no! Absolutely not!” Then he  said, “You already are.” And that’s exactly right. For a lot of us,  whether it’s  bookkeeping or  some  of these other things we  are paying a  very, very high price because we’re paying ourselves and there are certain things that only we can do. 

Generating income is  the  place  we  need  to  be  focusing  our  attention when we’re in the beginning stages of our business. That’s why delegation is so essential. 

I don’t believe in going into debt for it. I  don’t  believe  in  stretching yourself too thin. But I do  think you’ve got to  have that list of  things you will delegate at your first opportunity. I like pushing my  VAs  and continuing to give them more and more higher level stuff. They  can  do  a lot more than you think. 

Amy: That’s so very true. That’s a  great  lesson. They  can  do  a  lot  more than you think. As entrepreneurs it’ s so easy  for  us  to hold  onto everything. We think we  know the best way to  do  it. That’s not true. I  love your example of the web developer. It’s so very good. 

I think we’re ready to get into creating our ideal week. So what’s the concept all about and can  you  break down the  different stages that go into the ideal week? 

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s say that you know what your activities are in your Desire Zone and this is a journey,  it’s  not  going  to happen overnight. But you are going to increasingly do more things in your Desire Zone and fewer things in your Drudgery Zone. 

The way you do that is  that you schedule it. What gets scheduled gets done. The concept of the Ideal Week is this, if I had total control of my calendar and total control of my commitments how would I like my calendar to look? 

Before I did this, and I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, I would have meetings showing up at all different times during the week. I’m an introvert so that means it takes energy when I’m in a situation  in  a meeting. 

It  seemed like I  would just get focused on  some work that was really taking serious think time and I would have a meeting. It would yank me out of that zone where I’m trying to think and be  productive. I  would go have the meeting and it would take me a while to get back into it again. 

I thought what if I batched my  meetings so  that there were only days I would take meetings and other days that would be completely free to do client work and really do the things in my Desire Zone. That was a huge breakthrough. 

That’s what I suggest people do. Think of time really in three different categories: First of all there is front-stage time. This is when you’re performing and doing the things that generate revenue or deliver the results for which you were hired, if you’re working for somebody else. That’s front-stage time. For me, right now, talking to you is  front-stage time. I’m performing. 

Back-stage time is everything  you  do  to  get  ready  for  that  front-stage time. In our case, Amy, it would be preparing a slide deck for a webinar or going to a conference, like Score, where we learn  better  speaking techniques or anything that’s the preparation that leads us to give better performances when we’re on front stage. 

Then there is off-stage time. Some people don’t know there’s any place that’s outside of the theater of work. We’ve talked about that plenty here, but the off-stage time has to be built into your ideal week. 

With those three kinds of time, how are you going to map out, in a sort of batching way, when your front-stage time is going to be, when your back- stage time is going to be, and when your off-stage time is going to be. 

I just create a simple, weekly calendar template and then literally go through and put in the blocks as though I had 100% control and had no pre-existing commitments. Does this make sense? 

Amy: It does. It’s so good. 

Michael: I actually theme it. There is time I have, for example, I have the themes like front stage, back stage, and off stage (specific days are given to those things) but then if you look at the horizontal look of that the mornings are pretty much personal time and then I have  work  time through the bulk of the day and then I have evening time for family. 

I have all day Saturday an all day Sunday for my off-stage time. Most of that’s family but there is church and other things that go on during the weekend too. 


Once you get that it gets very exciting. It  was huge for me  as  an  introvert to move all of my internal meetings to Monday and all of my external meetings to Friday. That left me Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to really focus on  either back-stage or  front-stage, but the things where I was uninterrupted and could really do the deep work that was going to matter. 

Again, that was huge. Once you get that ideal week the next step is  to share it with your team so that they can support you and they aren’t unwittingly undermining you. Then, also be easy on yourself and realize, even for me, as I said, I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, I very rarely have a week that actually matches up to my ideal week. 

There  is  always some twist. But without that it  would be  chaos. It  gives me a pattern or template, something to work toward. 

Amy: That’s so very true. I want all of my  listeners to  see my  Ideal Week just to get a sense of what it looks like. So  I  went through Free to  Focus and Michael gets into all of  this in  so  much more detail so  you  really make some good decisions and ask  yourself some smart questions to move into the perfect, ideal week for you. 

If you  go to  I will  actually  have  a graphic there of my ideal week so that you get a  sense of  it. But I’m curious, Michael, with your ideal week do you spend more time in the front stage or back stage? 

Michael: Actually, I spent the most time in the back stage. 

Amy: That’s what I was thinking. Me too. 

Michael: I’m preparing. If I do a  webinar like  I  will  be  doing for  Free  to Focus here in a couple of weeks (I don’t know the time this is going to be released, but it’s soon), I’ll spend  a  ton  of  time  in  the  preparation  but then, obviously, a webinar is a very short performance. The preparation is probably 7-to-1. 

Amy: Yeah, for me to  as  well. So  I  wanted you guys to  see an  example of that. My final question here, Michael, is  around  this  ideal  week  in  the sense that I created mine and I gave it to my  team. I  actually spent hours doing this. I was with my project  manager,  Chloe,  and  we chose  a weekend to  do  it  so  we  wouldn’t  be  disturbed.  I  know,  we  are  getting away from that. 

Ironically, we made our ideal week on the weekend. We mapped it all out, for me personally, and then I went right into a big project with a tight deadline. I feel my ideal week was a joke. It just melted away and wasn’t even there. 

I’m guessing that I know it’s never going to be  perfect but there’s got to also be a sense that this becomes a habit or you’re very intentional. I definitely feel I easily just moved away from it. What do I do about that? 

Michael: I think the  key,  Amy,  is  really to  give  to  your  executive assistant as much control as you possibly can. Where I get into trouble is when I start to run my calendar. 

Amy: Good point. 

Michael: Here’s what happens, I don’t know, this probably doesn’t happen for you but what happens to me is  if  somebody  asks  me  for  a  request, again, as a recovering people pleaser I want  to  say,  “yes” and  I  usually won’t pay attention to  my  ideal week because I’m trying to  accommodate them and I’m not  keeping  the  context  in  mind  of  everything  I’ve  got  to do. 

If I let Jim, my  assistant, do  that  he  always  looks  as  a  reference to  the Ideal Week. If someone is requesting a meeting and say they are going to be in town on  Wednesday and  Thursday and  want  to  meet with me  while they are  there he  says, “Oh  man, you  know, he’s already committed on those days. Is there a possibility you could meet on Friday.” 

Then they say, “I guess I could stay over and have breakfast with him.” Jim is pushing things into  those  parts  of  my  ideal  week  that  have  already been allotted for those kinds of activities. I would never do that. I would feel like I was being too high maintenance. 

Jim doesn’t have any of that. He doesn’t care. 

Amy: I love that. I love Jim’s way of handling it because it’s so much more productive than if I were just to take it over. So that’s a really great point. Now I said we were going to wrap it up but I do have one more question. I was thinking about how you run your business and the different systems and processes that you use. 

I was also curious about your favorite productivity tools. I know in the beginning we talked about all  of  these tools that  could  actually turn  out to be  a  distraction for us. But I  am  assuming there are a  few that are really valuable for you. 

Michael: Yeah, there definitely are. I will say this, the calendar is kind of the hub of everything. In my company we  use Google Calendar but I  use a Mac and I use a  program called Fantastical.  It’s got  some other features I really like and we have layered calendars and all that. 

For my task management, even  though I  use  a  physical planner, I  don’t try to  keep everything in  my  physical planner, I  use a  hybrid system. I  use a task management tool in  order to  store all of  my  tasks. But only three of those are going to make their way into my Full Focus planner for today. 


I’m currently using, for a long time I’ve used Nozebe. I still love  that program. But some of  my  team is  using Todoist.  So  that’s the one I’m using right now. I’m going to tell you a little secret. I got to ask this in our private Facebook group for Free to Focus the other day, if you eliminate, automate, and delegate you are not going to have that many tasks to manage. 

You’re not going to  have  these unbelievably long lists and  multiplication of lists. Your life is going to get a lot more simple and, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what task manager you use. 

Amy: I agree. 

Michael: You could use a legal pad. 

Amy: Yes. 

Michael: It makes a huge difference. 

Amy: That’s so very true. Well Michael, I want to thank you so much for joining us and I can’t let you go before we talk about your upcoming free master class, The Seven Deadly Sins of  Productivity:  The  Hidden  Habits Undermining Your Performance and How to Change Them. 

I am going to  be  on  this webinar live. I  cannot wait until you do  it. So  tell us  a  little bit about what we’ll learn because I  want my  audience to  sign up and learn what I’ve been so obsessed with lately, diving into all of your strategies and systems. 

Michael:  Here’s the deal. There are a  lot of  things that we’ve learned about productivity that are actually keeping us unproductive. For example, I’ll just give you one of the deadly sins, thinking we can skimp on rest or skimp on our meals. We think we can work  through  lunch because we have to say focused on “this thing” or we will get up a couple of hours early. 

That’s counterproductive. I  go  into that in  depth. One of  the things that I do in the webinar that I think is really helpful is I go to the science. What does science teach us about productivity? There has been a lot of work done on brain science, about our own psychology, even our physiology and how that helps us to be more productive. 

So many times we’re working against the science and it makes us less productive, more overwhelmed, more discouraged, and we feel like a hamster in a wheel. My commitment is  to  help  people  get  off  that hamster wheel and start making real progress where they have some air to breath. 

They have breathing room where they feel they are in control and are experiencing freedom. 

Amy: Perfect. You guys, you’ve got to sign up for this. It’s absolutely free. Michael’s going to be there live. It’s at and it will take you directly to his free webinar. Michael, thank you so very much for being here today. I absolutely love having you on the show. 

Michael: Thanks Amy, you’re always a delight. 

Amy: So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I have. I absolutely love talking to Michael. I want to remind you that I have posted a snapshot o f m y ideal w eek. If you go t o http:// you will see my ideal week. 

Here’s the deal. It took me a few hours to create it and I used Michael’s program Free to Focus in terms of the principles of eliminate, automate, delegate. But there are also some special nuances he teaches in the program to really nail down your ideal week, a  week you’re actually going to stick to and you’re going to find a lot of freedom with. 

It is very individual for  each  of  us  but  at  least you  will  have  a  place  to start if you see my snapshot and then you can build yours from there. But I highly recommend his program, Free to Focus, because it has helped me immensely, even beyond the  Ideal  Week,  just  how  I  approach my  work, the decisions I make, what I say “yes” to, what I say “no” to. 

I’ve really changed the way I’m approaching things because of this program. He’s going to talk about it in his free webinar so go to http:// to go  to  his free webinar. Even if  you don’t want to sign up for his program watch the webinar. You will have so many takeaways and insights to help you build more freedom into your business that you don’t want to miss it. 

Come on, who doesn’t love a free webinar by someone like Michael Hyatt who I know has spent hours and hours preparing so that no matter if you buy or not you walk away feeling excited and inspired and driven to take action. Those are my favorite webinars to get on and I  will definitely be there too. 

Got to and you are good to go. 

Alright guys, I can’t wait  to  connect  with  you  again  next  week.  Next week’s episode is all  about  what’s  working  right  now  with  list  building and social media. We’ve got some  good  episodes coming up  and  I  can’t wait to share them with you. I’ll see you here again next week. Bye for now. 

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