In today’s episode, Allan welcomes podcast host and author of The 5 AM Miracle, Jeff Sanders. Jeff is incredibly knowledgeable about time management and advises entrepreneurs about the importance of setting morning routines. Many entrepreneurs get in the habit of multitasking, which can lead to several distractions. Allan and Jeff discuss the significance of having focus blocks of time each day, with no distractions. In order to be deliberate towards a goal or task, an entrepreneur must have a focused block of time scheduled in their day.
Allan has started and grown several multi million dollar businesses, his mission is to help you do the same. Welcome to the Business Growth Pod, building the future one entrepreneur at a time.
Welcome to the show today. I am excited to welcome Jeff Sanders. Jeff is a keynote speaker, a productivity coach. He’s a podcast host, and he’s the author of the 5am Miracle. Welcome to the show, Jeff. Well, thanks, Allan. So I’m here today. So tell us a little bit more about yourself your journey and what has led you to kind of become a productivity coach and write a couple of books. Yeah, so basically, I kind of fell into this on accident. I left college having majored in theater and psychology and did not have any plans to be an actor or a psychologist. So my question was, what do I do with my life. And in my very first job out of college, it was a door to door sales job that’s looking back on it was a terrible job. I really did not like it. But my boss was obsessed with personal development and wanted me to read a book by John Maxwell. And I read that book and was instantly just like captivated by this whole world I didn’t know existed. And I had saw that well, this guy named john. He’s a speaker. He’s a writer. He’s an author, he’s got this personal brand. And there was something about that mixed with this whole concept of personal development, I found really fascinating. I wanted to dig into it as much as I could. So I began to read a ton of books, listen to the podcast, like really dig into that world. And that’s what led me to eventually having my own blog that then led to me launching my podcast that led to coaching clients led to speaking gigs led to book deals. And this whole journey has kind of unfolded as the years progressed, and I had day jobs for a while knowing full well I did not like them and wanting to leave eventually. And then the company I worked for happened to go bankrupt. And so I was not employed overnight and thought, well, the side business I’ve been building would be a great thing to now do full time. And so I made the leap to doing that about seven years ago. And so ever since I’ve been doing this full time, and it’s a bizarre journey. I did not plan but one that now I’m in it really seems to fit me really well. I love it. I love that you mentioned that you had a job selling door to door, what were you selling?
Verizon business phone service, which nobody wanted, especially the way that we were selling it. I mean, if you walk it to your random retail store and say, Hey, like I’m some guy you don’t know, wants to upgrade your phone service. It’s a terrible sales pitch. No one knew who I was. They didn’t like me. I was rejected constantly, which is a lot of lessons in sales. There are a lot of lessons and self confidence and some good things pulled from it, but not a job I recommend for most people. Yeah, it’s funny because I actually have a couple 100 door to door salesmen that listen to me every week. And so some of my companies employ door to door sales when there’s a lot to it. That’s fascinating, because I mean, my personal experience is one of like, well, this is not a fit for me. But I saw a lot of people who were doing well with it, who really thrived in that environment. So it’s an interesting like, it’s one of those like, you walk into the job and you know, pretty quickly whether it fits you or not. And the ones who did did well and the ones who did not walk out the door. And so yeah, for me, it just didn’t work. 100% One of the things that make door to door salesman successful and I have door to door salesman that I have a guy that’s he’s gonna make 300 grand in a period of four months this year. One of those things that leads to his success and the other top achievers is the routine that he keeps.
What have you seen in terms of how
helping entrepreneurs and helping high achievers with routines. The one night podcast being called the five a miracle is about waking up early with intention, like the intention behind it is that you have a plan for your day. So you know, the night before you say tomorrow morning, I’m going to have this certain routine that I want to have in place or a certain goal that I want to achieve. And I have seen the power in that play out in my own life. When what I did years ago, when I first launched the show was that at the time, I had a full time job, I had a marathon that I was training for and the side business I was building. And so for me, the goal was fit it all in somehow I allow my life and the complexity of my schedule to fit. And the only way that I saw that working was to wake up early and do the most important things first. And that was really, for me kind of a real like strategy moment to say, if I could employ that kind of strategy to really prioritize what matters most right away, then I can have those key habits throughout the day in a way that allows me to thrive. And then I was able to show others how to do the same thing with their calendars to say there’s probably a lot of messiness, a lot of complication, let’s simplify it and make sure the most important elements are put right up front in your day. And that constraint transforms someone’s entire experience with how they live each day. Because the routines are set to prioritize the right things right away. So what is it about waking up kind of early 5am is early right, in terms of what most people do. And I imagine most people wake up around seven ish or something, right? So what is it is there some magic to waking up at 5am I call it the 5am miracle, because to me, the miracle that happens is that you’re right, no one else is awake at 5am. And so if I’m awake at 5am, it’s just me, and I have alone time I have me time I can prioritize whatever I want to do without distraction. And to me, that is the name of the game that comes to productivity is focus. And if you can guarantee focus on the things you want to do, you’re going to get more done, it’s going to be higher quality work. When I made this switch to 5am, the first initial goal was I’m going to go for a run, I’m going to train for this marathon I had on the schedule. But then after the marathon was over, I realized I could still get out of bed at 5am, but do something different with that time. So it wasn’t just the morning run, then all of a sudden it was I’m going to prioritize a business project, I’m gonna prioritize a personal project, I’m going to take one specific thing I want to do and give myself an hour, maybe two hours to do just that. And then the rest of the day, I know they’ve already accomplished something big, and I had the momentum built up. And it just makes that morning routine feel so much more powerful. And 5am is optional. No one has to go to bed at that time. But for me that time fit is a way to say I’ve got alone time I’ve got focused time, I can execute and do things well. And I also realized the opposite was true, which is that my evening routine was sloppy. I was watching late night television, I was not utilizing those hours well, so I may as well just go to bed, and then wake up the next morning and actually have that time be more effective. So it’s really just like a time shift and how the hours of the day operated, which allowed for the hours in the week to be utilized better. And that simple shift can really provide us tons of benefit, because the hours you’re awake are being used well. And that’s where all of your success will come from. Is there something to be said about knocking out some of those harder tasks earlier in the day? Some of those things that you might be a little more difficult if you’re trying to do them around two or three in the afternoon? Is there some truth to that? There’s a great book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog. And that the concept around that is just simply that there is a gross thing or a hard thing you want to do. And if you’re going to do that, you may as well do it first thing. And I think that definitely holds true for a couple of reasons. One is that if you postpone the hard thing, you’re probably just not going to do it. Right? If people just say like, well, I’m gonna go to the gym at like, 5pm like, no, you’re not, you’re gonna skip it. If you go to the gym at 5am, you’re definitely going to do it. And I feel like that mentality holds true for so many people. And then on top of that we have more discipline, more mental energy first thing in the morning, more of a willingness to try things that are hard. But in the late afternoon, we get tired and there’s a circadian rhythms that kick in, we want to take a rest, like there’s more distraction at that point in the day. And so you want to be able to leverage when you’re doing things well and prioritize the hard stuff then. And they can do the smaller tasks later in the day, like emails or phone calls or things that don’t require as much you know, kind of from you. So the morning hours there really are powerful. So what does your morning routine look like right now? Well, it changes all the time based upon whatever project I’m working on. So as opposed to saying, you know, a lot of people will kind of give the speech around an early morning routine saying Well, I’m gonna do yoga and meditate and read a book and you know, go for a run. It’s like that’s a lot of stuff. What I like to
to do is just one activity one primary thing. And so I’ll pick whatever kind of current project I’m working on which it was physical fitness a few months ago. Now I’ve got a business project actually blades to podcasting in my studio. So what I tend to do now is I’ll wake up these last couple of months, and I work on my studio, and then I get to use it throughout the day when I’m doing my job. So right now the morning routine is I get up and that’s what I first focus on. And that will change based upon my goals and the season I’m in. But I want to make sure that whatever I’ve identified is the most important task gets my full attention. So get up, grab a coffee, and I do that one thing. And then the rest of the day can kind of unfold with the smaller stuff. But I just I love that feeling of saying like I got the big win right away. So how is it that you determine what that is that you’re going to do the next day, the next morning? And when do you determine that? Are we talking weeks in advance? Are you doing that kind of on the fly? It’s a daily decision. So I’m very flexible in terms of what that next morning routine will look like. Mostly because there’s so much that kind of ebbs and flows with my work, I can’t really predict the future that well, it’s one thing I’ve learned is, I don’t have annual goals, okay, because I learned that I cannot predict 12 months from now, it’s just too far away, because there’s too much variability, but I can predict what I’m gonna do in the next 12 hours. And so because of that, I have so much more control over the short term. That’s and I’ll make the decision. And then I follow through, get the results and go. So I mean, the big projects that I work on generally have a 30 day deadline for me. And I do that intentionally because I know that I can focus for about 30 days. And beyond that there’s just a lot that just things change too much. So I don’t like this idea of setting a plan, but then having to move the goalposts all the time because things keep changing. That just gets frustrating. So I just make the timeframe shorter, and then I can execute, get the results and move forward. So it’s the short timeframe for me works better, both in the daily basis in terms of routine, but also the bigger goals as well. Okay, love it. Are you familiar with I think his name is L rod or something. He wrote the Miracle Morning, how l rod Yes. And I read his book a couple of years ago, and that’s affected to how I start my day. Because I have specific routines. He talks about how there’s, you know, there’s four or five things you need to do every morning as part of his Miracle Morning. And what are your thoughts about those specific tasks, and a lot of times, they don’t take a lot of time, they’re four or five minutes each or something like that is savers program is what he calls that there’s an acronym for the specific activities there. It’s the kind of program or approach that I think fit certain people in certain seasons. So I know a lot of people who have adopted that program, and they love it and have never stopped doing this. And others, it’ll work for a couple of months, and then it kind of doesn’t work anymore. The way that I know myself is I like to change things up. I’m the kind of person who as much as I love routine, I also love to kind of, you know, challenge myself to do things differently. And I get excited by new ideas. So for me a morning routine has the exact same flow every day can work. But I think you have to really align those activities to what you really thrive with, because not every activity is going to speak to you. Like if meditation doesn’t provide the benefits you want it to it may be as a forced activity, or you’re having to discipline yourself to do it. I prefer the approach of whatever you feel compelled to do, that you find beneficial that you can lean into that you can go deeper into. That, to me is more beneficial than doing a bunch of random things that someone said was a good idea. Like, I want those good ideas to be your good ideas that fit for your life and your season. So as much as I love house program, I think the you need to take everything with a grain of salt. I mean, don’t listen to a guy in a podcast, right? Do your thing your way. And for me, that’s what’s allowed me to do well, I don’t know if I’m kind of putting words in your mouth here a little bit. But I really like how the essence of what you just said is, correct me if I’m wrong, but you can kind of get stuck in a rut, even if you have a routine, right? Well, that’s what routines are. They have routines can be ruts, if they’re not well thought through or not, like not reviewed frequently. You know, you can start a really good habit that stays a good habit, your whole life. Those are pretty rare. It’s hard to find a habit that someone will have for 70 years, what usually happens as you start a habit, it provides some benefits, but then you change your environment changes, you know, life changes, your goals are changing, right? And so because of that, that really good habit is now just kind of a distraction. It’s now in the way and so in order to make sure that doesn’t stay that way. You have to review these things often enough to reevaluate like is this habit still providing the benefits I want it to or is it not and should be altered. And to me that allows me to pivot it allows me to grow into change and to really
Be on top of my life for where it is today. Gotcha. And so expanding on that a little bit, how does somebody know, I workout frequently, and in the past I’ve had specific programs. And right now I and I’ve recently said this, I still go to the gym almost every single day. But I told somebody, I feel like I’m kind of stuck in a rut, even though I still have that routine, right? And so how do you one identify, okay, my routine may or may not be working for me. And two, what do you do about it, there’s kind of two ways that I view routines. The first is results. And the second is how much fun Am I having, which is not the normal thing to look at routines through. But I have found that the things I tend to do are things I enjoy doing, it’s not a shocking statement. But that’s, I think what people get stuck in, let’s use the gym as a good example. If someone says, you know, you should go to the gym and lift these certain weights, and then you’ll get the results you want, you’ll gain some muscle and lift more, more more weight. Well, if you don’t like lifting weights, it’s going to be torture to go every single day. So for me, I tend to go to the trail and run because I love being in nature, I love being outside, I would rather go to the trail and run and go to the gym and lift weights. Now I still do both. But I know mean, I’m gonna have a whole lot more fun on the trail, which is then going to give me better results for what I’m trying to achieve, which is generally better health. Now, if you have a specific goal you have to achieve, then you can find the best method for it. But even then, you still want to find the way that’s most enjoyable for you. Because then that’s more likely to succeed long term. No one does things long term they hate doing. But they do things long term they like that’s where habits can really thrive as you’re doing things that speak to you that really compel us to move because you’re excited to do it. Because tomorrow morning at 5am, you get to do something you love to do is a whole different philosophy than some guy forced me to got a better five is now gonna yell at me to go do push ups. Like that’s not the approach that most people really thrive with. So what do you recommend for people that are trying to catch on to this idea of waking up early starting their day off? Right, especially for entrepreneurs? What are some things that they can do to kind of get excited about that? Guys, like me fall into this trap of I have 1000 things to do. Like there are so many things I could be doing that it’s kind of an exhausting lifestyle for most entrepreneurs, because you’re in charge of almost everything. Even if you have people that work for you. You’re still in charge of almost everything all the time. And so what I like to view kind of routines as is how do I create systems that allow me to either offload the work, simplify it, allow me to focus and do just a few things and do them well. And so routines can really lean on that in a very strong way and say, well, let’s tie the routine that I do every day to the few things that I want to make sure are happening in my business and in my life. And when your routines, your daily habits are directly tied to your goals, then those routines have value, they have meaning and you care about them more, because then you can see the results begin to stack up, even if you’re not enjoying them for a while you do enjoy them when you see that they’re working. And so that’s really, really important to tie the activity to something that’s bigger, and then those things will compound over time. And then the whole system feels like it’s really working well. Yeah, that kind of reminds me of my high school baseball coach. So and this was a long time ago. But one day, early on in the season, we’re out warming up. And he’s you know, out there with us. He’s like, Hey, is everybody having fun? We’re like, yeah, we love baseball, we’re having fun. And he says something like, you know, what I think is fun. Winning is fun, right? And so, and I was like, okay, that’s, that’s true, because when you play baseball, and you lose, it’s not as fun. And so maybe entrepreneurs in order to adjust their routines wake up a little bit earlier, they need to associate that with something that’s positive, right? Get those small wins in there, because I think winning, succeeding, showing ourselves that we’re getting closer to our goals is the best form of motivation. And in that sense, when you define what winning looks like, it’s a lot easier to define the habits to get there. So let’s say for example, I mean, baseball is a good one, because you can define, you know, victory by winning the game. In business, it might be achieving a certain revenue goal for the quarter, or whatever it is you’re trying to get to, when you have that specific finish line you’re trying to achieve, well, then the habits can be adjusted to really actually literally stack you up to get there and direct way. And then so that feeling of victory or results actually happening. You can literally feel that every day. And another example of that is I have a vision board my home office, that’s not the one that says like I’ll have a big mansion one day and a sports car. It’s a vision board that says here are my habits. Here are the things that I lean on every day, the way that I want to think the way that I want to act. And those things are also tied to my goals. So I want to make sure that like those do
habits are things are adding up to the results I want. And the whole system is just based on that really simple idea that what I do every day matters. And what I do every day is going somewhere, specifically, not just generic success or generic health at the gym, but I’m actually going to this exact place. And that gives you more direction, more clarity, and really defines those habits every day. I think entrepreneurs have to be deliberate with certain things, they have to be in a position where they can control their routines, they can control their time a little bit. And early on, I’m in a position where I have a little more control over my time than I used to. But not everybody does, especially startups. What are some things in addition to waking up before everybody else, and I have I live on the west coast, but I have business on the East Coast, Obama up at five, it’s already eight in Boston. What are some things in addition to getting up before everybody else that entrepreneurs can do to have a little more control and be a little more deliberate about their routines, the best thing that I like to do throughout the day is what I call f bots are focused blocks of time. And these are focused blocks where I am doing one thing, I do that one thing with complete, complete focus, I mean 100%, no distractions. I use this example frequently, like this interview right here, like I’m in a focus block right now, like my house, you have to be on fire for me to not do the interview. And because of that, like my phone is turned off my dog is put away, there’s a sign on my door for my wife to know that to not come in, because I’m doing an interview. Like I’ve got all these certain things in place to guarantee that when I’m doing one thing, that’s all I’m doing. And what I have noticed over the years is that the more of those focus blocks are in my calendar, the more work I get done in that block, the more focus I have, the more quality that shows up, the more creative I am I solve problems that otherwise I would not be able to because there’s too many things happening. Like we live in a world of just obnoxious distraction, there’s so much opportunity to just not focus, so most of us don’t. And so you have to be so deliberate to be able to create that kind of time for yourself. And I just, it’s a luxury for most people that have and when you get it, oh my gosh, like it’s just the results show up because it’s just it’s a magical thing to have quality focus time. And so to me, that’s what you want to bake into your calendar is these focus blocks to say, you know, at 9am to 1030, I’m going to do this activity. And by 1030, it’s done. And that’s it, and you feel good about it, and they do it again. And that is just it’s such a powerful way to live and focus and actually execute in your goals. I love this concept. I think that our society has created this idea of like multitasking. And entrepreneurs have like run with it. When I was practicing law, I learned this concept of shutting my door and doing one thing for at least 45 minutes, right? Not much more than that, right? I want to be able to keep my mind and stay focused on it. But the reason why is because I would get into some pretty heavy stuff sometimes. And if somebody came in and I got distracted, they say it would take 3045 minutes for me to get back to where I had left off. And with entrepreneurs because of how many distractions we just naturally have. And the larger our companies get, the more distractions we get. We have to be even more deliberate about Hey, for 30 minutes, I’m going to close my door. I’m going to let everybody turn off my phone, turn off my email, right good luck, log out the email or close out of that screen. A lot of entrepreneurs think Well, no, no, if if I’m doing something and an employee comes to me, then I’m doing getting more than one thing done. But you’re actually doing two things poorly. Is that something you’d agree with? Totally. I mean, in that last day job that I had, this is where I first began to employ these practices, where I did a similar thing where I had a sign on the door that said, like I’m in a meeting, but I wasn’t and I needed time by myself. And I began to lock my door, I began to unplug different devices, like my phone is unplugged. Most of the day, there was an instant messenger program that that my company wanted to use. I uninstalled my computer, like I was going in every direction to defy the norm because I needed time to think. And if you don’t have time to think you can’t get deep on difficult problems, you can’t solve complex issues, because those require focus. And yeah, people come into your door to ask you questions, you might think that’s effective, but really, they could ask you that question when you’re when you’re done. And probably just the same in terms of that results happening. But yet you also got your big work done. And so it’s really that balance of what matters what truly has to happen today. And if those things get done, a little stuff then will be filled in later. I 100% agree and I actually had to physically move myself so I no longer work in. We have several offices in Arizona where I reside and I work from home because of those distractions and one thing that I’ve learned is
That, when I’m in the office, occasionally, things come up, that wouldn’t come up, if I were at home, right? I’m just happened to be there. And I’m thinking about it. And it’s like, those issues, or those opportunities are still there. But I’m just really easy to reach at those moments when I’m in the office. And in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about how we need to spend a large bulk of our time focusing on things that are important, but not urgent. And I think as entrepreneurs, unless we’re really deliberate about our routines, we’re not able to focus on those important non urgent items, we’re focused on the non important urgent items. There’s what’s interesting is a lot of people you know, with the pandemic made the move to working from home for the first time. And one thing that I saw, you know, seven years ago, when I made this shift myself was that certain things that were previously not a distraction, all of a sudden became one, like, because I’m at home, I can do my laundry, I could do the dishes, I could answer the door, I could check the mail, these weird little habits of like daily living, all of a sudden become distractions from my work, like are these things that I should be doing nights and weekends I’m now doing at 10am. But like, I need to be doing work at 10am. And so I think it’s about defining, like, here are the activities that provide results that are good, that are important, but they’re not urgent, they’re not do right now, like do my laundry tonight, or have to do in the middle of the workday. And like being able to define and really filter out what that looks like, allows you to really focus on what matters now I find that the more you’re able to do that in your work. And it’s just it allows that sense of prioritization on a level that most people don’t get to, because they just allow the distraction in. They don’t see it as a distraction, like, Oh, I’m, I’m doing a laundry while also doing a phone call. It’s like, no, you’re actually just pulling yourself away from what matters. And I feel like that’s what relating back to? I love it. No, you hit the nail on the head. This has been great, Jeff, I you know, I love chatting with people about strategy, especially for the entrepreneurs that listen to my show. And they’re just trying to figure out how to get better. They’re trying to figure out how to be more deliberate in what they’re doing. What books are you reading right now? What books do you recommend for the entrepreneurs in addition to your own? Right, in order to to accomplish that end? I just got the book, the new one from Michael Hyatt, I just interviewed with his CEO yesterday, actually, when at work, it’s exceeded life. That’s the book. It’s his latest book that just came out of that book actually is a really good one that has to do with balance between the living at home and working at the office and figuring out how do I have family time? How do I have work time? And what’s the boundary between the two of those, which for entrepreneurs is huge. Because the tendency is we just work all the time. There’s no OFF button. And I feel like having that definitive line in the sand is so crucial. So that book right now is what I’m working through it to help myself to figure out how do I have time for my daughter, how I have time for my family, but also get my job done? So I think that kind of boundary is huge. Love it. Yeah, it’s been a pleasure, Jeff, where do people connect with you? Where do they find out more about what you’re doing and the great information that you’ve put out there? Jeff Sanders comm is the home base for all of my contents. My podcast is probably the best way to check in and what I’m doing most of the time so the 5am Miracle podcast you can find wherever you get your podcasts and yeah, that’s what this is a go. Love it. Well, it’s been a pleasure, Jeff, I appreciate you know you joining us today and wish you nothing but the best. Awesome, thanks a lot.
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