Recap of July Small Business Breakfast

Accessing the CEO Brain: Brain Secrets of Time Management and Productivity

In this Small Business Breakfast presentation, we shared some of the strategies high performers and CEOs use for being productive and getting the most important stuff done.

We split up the talk to answer two separate questions:

  1. What’s the most important task for me to work on RIGHT NOW?
  2. How do I structure my day and my time to get the most done?

Part 1: What’s the most important task for me to work on RIGHT NOW?

Your Vision of Success Drives You and Gives You Clarity

QThe most important thing to have that will help guide your productivity is a clear and exciting vision of where you want to go.

Your vision is like a “destination postcard”–a specific image of what life is like now that you’ve achieved your goals.

Having a vision is much more motivating than goals, because it’s a visual representation of your success. And the brain reacts to visual images much more than just numbers (like a goal).

If you haven’t already, take the time to write down a clear vision of success.

We lead people through a unique “visioning” process as part of our Mindset Mastery Bootcamp training program. To learn more about the bootcamp, sign up for a free Business Breakthrough Session here.

The second tool you can use to identify your most important task is called the “Productivity Pyramid.”

Use The Productivity Pyramid to Understand Your Highest Value Activities

We also shared a great visual for how business owners/employees typically spend their time.

Developed by legendary internet marketer Eben Pagan, the Productivity Pyramid is a way of putting all of your tasks into four simple areas:

productivity triangle

Ideally, time should be spent on tasks that are high lifetime value or high dollar value tasks.

High Value Tasks

High value tasks are built or improved once and have a long term/lifetime value to a business. Doing these kind of tasks results in money being made automatically or value being delivered in systematic way.

Examples of high lifetime value tasks are:

  • Creating systems for operations, delivering product, making money, customer service, etc.
  • Developing the right culture
  • Developing a brand
  • Developing employee skills and their personal development
High Dollar Value Tasks

High Dollar Value Tasks require your specialized skills. Even though they may be worth $50 to $200 or more, you are still swapping time for money.

Examples of High Dollar Value tasks are:

  • Prospecting/selling your services
  • Cultivating relationships with donors (non-profits)
  • Advertising to gain new customers
  • Writing proposals
  • Etc.
Low Dollar Value Tasks:
  • Administrative, Inefficient, Busywork
  • Anything you can outsource or hire easily:
    • Research,
    • updating spreadsheet
    • customer service
    • appointments, etc.
  • $10-30/hr


Zero or Negative value Tasks:

These are activities that waste time and drain your energy and the energy of employees.

Examples of zero value tasks:

  • Checking e-mail mindlessly (rules for email were given)
  • Facebook, Social Media
  • Reading the news
  • Going down rabbit holes

Examples of negative value tasks:

  • –Micromanaging→ Hiring somebody and having to constantly check up on them
  • Long, inefficient meetings

Part 1 Takeaway:

The pyramid should be inverted so that you steal time from the low dollar value and zero/negative value tasks in order to work on high lifetime value and high dollar activities.

Whatever you do, make sure you start your day with a high lifetime value (preferably) or a high dollar value activity!

Here’s what the real productivity pyramid should look like:

reverse productivity triangle

Part 2: How do I structure my day and my time to get the most done?  

In the second part of our presentation, we shared the ultimate mindset for productivity and a specific game plan you can use daily to achieve maximum productivity.

Starting your morning with a “consumer” mindset instead of a “producer” mindset kills productivity!

consumer vs producer
Caption: (Don’t start out as a consumer, be a producer instead!)

Starting your morning in a consumer mindset means you start answering emails first things in the morning. Or you check out the news, social media, etc..

There are three reasons why having a consumer mindset is a productivity killer:

  • You start working on other people’s agendas before you’ve gotten clear about YOUR agenda.
  • The way you start your day is the way the rest of your day will go. Starting out by consuming other people’s information opens you up to more distractibility later in the day. Your brain will have a harder time focusing throughout the day.
  • You waste a lot of mental energy that you need for your “energy hungry” tasks that move you ahead.

Starting your morning as a producer means you work on a high value/high dollar value task before you get sucked into other people’s agendas.

The Game Plan for Productivity

This game plan is based on several “limitations” of the brain, which we’ll recap here briefly:

Physical Fatigue May Be Keeping You From Performing At Your Best

exhausted man

  • The average person needs 7-8 hours of SLEEP per night to recharge their brain. If you sleep less than 6 hours for 4 days in a row, you have the same loss in thinking ability as if you were drunk!
  • Most people don’t get enough WATER to fuel their brain. The brain is made up of around 75% water. The water helps the electrical impulses (your thoughts) flow freely within your brain. If you’re even slightly dehydrated, you won’t be able to think as clearly during the day.
  • The vast majority of people don’t MOVE enough during the day. When you sit for more than 20 minutes straight, the muscles in the back of your body tighten up. When these muscles are tight, your focus goes off.
Mental Fatigue is a Real Problem
  • Thinking is very “energy hungry”–it consumes a lot of your brain’s resources.
  • You can only work on an energy hungry task for 60-90 minutes (at the MOST) before your brain starts to get tired and perform poorly.
Multitasking and Distractions Are Killing Your Productivity

The human brain cannot multitask. It’s a physical impossibility. You can’t focus on two things that require conscious energy at once.

Instead, when you try to multitask, you are really “task switching”–switching between two tasks.

People who consider themselves “good multitaskers” make up to 50% more mistakes and take 50% longer to complete their tasks. Also, your IQ drops by 10 points when you are processing too much information!

Distraction is another huge productivity suck, whether you’re distracting yourself or you’re constantly distracted by your outside environment.

Here’s a shocking statistic: The average worker loses 2.1 hours of their day to distraction–that’s 25% of their workday!

The Game Plan for Productivity

Here’s a quick game plan you can use daily to be ultra-productive.

game plan

  1. Prepare your mind. Do something to activate your body and mind and get you ready to work. Here are a few examples of good activities: meditation, aerobic exercise, going for a brief walk, journaling, prayer, etc.
  2. Get Clear on Your Priorities: Take a few minutes to write down the top two or three things you absolutely MUST get done today. No more than two or three things!
  3. Set Your Intention: Pick the ONE task from your priorities list that is the highest value task and that requires the most brain power. Then
  4. Get into Flow: Work for a period of 60-90 minutes with single-minded focus on that one high value task. Get rid of all outside distractions and turn off your e-mail during this time.
  5. Rest and Recover: Take 5-10 minutes to take a break and refresh your brain. Get up and move around if you’ve been sitting. Go for a walk! Walking for just 7-8 minutes increases your creativity by 60%. Stretch out your legs and arms.
  6. Repeat from Step Three: Look back at your list of priorities and pick the next task you’ll work on for the next block of flow time. If you didn’t finish the first task, you can continue working on it. If you did finish, move on to your next priority.
  7. Digital Detox: At night stop using your computer, ipad, etc. at least 2 hours before you go to sleep. The digital detox period lasts until you have had a period of producing the next morning.

Part 2 Takeaway: Instead of approaching your day as a long marathon, treat it like a series of sprints. Break it up into smaller chunks of 60-90 minute flow time, followed by movement and rest.

Research shows this way of working helps you do your best, most creative work throughout the day.

Also, make sure to avoid multitasking and prevent distractions at all cost. They are the number one productivity killers!

For more in-depth training on productivity and creating the ideal lifestyle and business, sign up for a free Business Breakthrough Session with Nita and Josh today.

Dr. Nita Matthews-Morgan and Josh Matthews-Morgan are the founders of Learn Your Brain. They are a unique mother-son combo who use brain science and other cool tools to help individuals and teams develop the mental habits of success.