277: Saying “No” to Focus on What’s Important with Michael Hyatt


“Most of the people I know, and coach, are recovering people-pleasers…”

New York Times Best Selling Author, Michael Hyatt said this to me in our recent conversation.

In fact, I’m a recovering people-pleaser myself.

In my first professional job, I worked between 80-90 hours a week. Part of that was because the job was a bad fit. Part of that was because there was a huge expectation to work a ton of hours. And part of that was that I said “yes” to everything my boss asked me to do.

Absolutely everything.

Saying “yes” to every project – to every request.

“Yes, sir, I can make that happen!”

“Yes, I can get that extra presentation done.”

Saying “yes” to all that took a bad situation and turned it into a totally intolerable situation.

Saying “yes” to too many things can hold you back from career happiness. At first, you may be excited that you’re the person that everyone can depend on.

But then it changes.

People start asking you to do more and more because “______ always finds a way to get it done.” In fact, it gets to the point that the people make you their first stop.

This can cause resentment, stress, and fatigue – none of which produce career happiness. But you also find it difficult – or impossible – to stop saying “yes.”

Saying “no” is exactly what we talk about in today’s episode with Michael Hyatt. Michael is a best-selling author (multiple times over) and was previously the CEO of a publishing company before starting his own company.

Michael is also a self-admitted, recovering people-pleaser. As such, throughout past few decades, he has had to learn to say “no” gracefully. In other words, he had to protect his own time and priorities. At one point, he said it this way:

“The way that you can give people a really firm ‘No’ is to have a really firm ‘yes’ on the other side of it.”

Also, he gives specific examples of how he can say “no” to a request, but still present a solution for the person. And people thank him for saying “no.”

Listen to this episode to hear the whole conversation, including:

  • Why it’s so hard for you to say “No” to people… and what to do about it
  • How to get back hours of free time each week
  • The connection between having a vision and conquering daily distractions
  • Using elimination, automation, and delegation to crush even more tasks on your to-do list
  • Why you need more than one routine to run your day
  • The most important things you can do to be more focused and more productive

Also, as an added bonus, Michael shares the best advice on how to stay happily married for 40 years.


If you want even more help getting started figuring out the ideal career for you, join our free 8 Day Mini-Course to help you figure out the life and work you love or talk to our team about our coaching programs.

Michael Hyatt 00:02
People can handle 'no', what they can't handle is not knowing. And so often, that's what happens. We just let those kind of requests languish in our inbox because we're afraid to say 'no', and that's the kind of thing that makes people angry, not when we actually say 'no'.

Introduction 00:22
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:46
Welcome to the Happen to Your Career Podcast. If you've ever found yourself with more obligations than you feel like you can humanly handle or look at your calendar and to do list and realize that somehow you've accumulated much more than you can possibly do or then you can enjoy. Then you're going to love our guest today, he's a New York Times and Wall Street Journal, best-selling author, former CEO of Thomas Nelson and current CEO of his own company helping leaders around the world. And also on a different note, a couple years back, my wife and I used his best year ever goal setting program and experienced, wait for it, our best year ever in both our business and our lives. So I'm excited to welcome to the show, Michael Hyatt. How are you Michael?

Michael Hyatt 01:33
I'm doing great, Scott. Thank you so much for having me on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:36
Yeah, absolutely. And I've gotta ask, I believe I read someplace that you have now been married for 40 years. Is that right? Did I understand that correctly?

Michael Hyatt 01:51
That's true.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:52
That is amazing. I have a ton of respect for that. My wife and I are working on approaching 20 here. So I have an immense amount of respect for 40. Okay so selfishly, I'm curious, been married for 40 years. What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give me on working on the halfway point?

Michael Hyatt 02:13

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:13
No pressure or anything, Mike.

Michael Hyatt 02:16
I would say, always give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. They don't wake up usually with ill intentions. If they've done something to offend you or hurt you, it was probably accidental, so assume the best and go from there.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:32
I love that and I appreciate that immensely. Thank you for indulging me and…

Michael Hyatt 02:37
You're welcome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:38
I have so many different questions. We're gonna spend a bit of our time today talking about how to say ‘no’ at work, but I'm really curious, you've worked in a variety of different environments, had different types of leadership roles. And I'm curious what you feel like, are some of the biggest places many leaders and professionals miss the opportunity to say ‘no’ at work or in their lives? What have you experienced?

Michael Hyatt 03:05
Well, I found that most people that are in a leadership role got there in some measure, because they were likable and a part of being likable in our culture is saying ‘yes’ to people being compliant. And I think that most of the leaders I know and coach are recovering people pleasers. I know I am. And unfortunately while I can, you know, help move you up the ladder, it can also get you into trouble. I remember a quote from Warren Buffett, he sai "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that the really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything."

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:43
Which is also a totally different outlook. Folk go from saying, "I'm gonna say 'no' to a few things too. I'm going to say 'no' to very nearly everything." That's a completely different mindset that goes along with it, I would say.

Michael Hyatt 03:56
Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:58
So what do you think it takes to shift in that mindset? Because that's huge.

Michael Hyatt 04:04
Yeah, I think the way that you can give people a firm 'no' is by having a really firm positive 'yes' on the other side of it, you know, everything in life is a trade-off. And especially time because time is a finite resource and it's a zero sum game. So that, if I choose, for example, to have coffee with a friend or breakfast with a friend, you know, that's going to mean that I'm not going to be able to work out because I work out in the morning. So there's a trade, there's a swap there. And most of us aren't conscious of the fact that we're making a swap. And I think that what we got to do is get clear on the bigger question of 'yes.' What are we saying yes to? What do we want our life to be about? What do we want our career to be about? What is the vision that we have? In fact, that's where I start with my book, "Free To Focus", the very first chapter is about or a chapter called formulate, by talking about formulating a vision for what it is that you want. If you don't have that vision, you're just going to be reactive in the moment. Saying 'yes' to whatever comes across your plate, whether it's a task, assignment, or a calendar invite, or an opportunity. And before long, your calendar is just full, you have no time for yourself, no time for the people you love the most and no time to really do the things in your career that advance it and give you momentum and cause you to continue to grow and expand.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:21
So that's great. I love the concept of formulating a vision for what you want. We spend a lot of time on our show talking about that exact thing. I'm curious, then, what does that mean for you? Or what's an example of that for you, you know, what goes into your vision of what you want?

Michael Hyatt 05:40
Yeah, one of the things I learned as I began to study productivity a couple decades ago, is that for a lot of people and for most people, I think productivity is an end in itself. It's just they want to, you know, be more productive, so they can be more productive, so they can be more productive. And I think productivity is a means to an end. And for me, the biggest vision is freedom. And in fact, that's why the book is called "Free To Focus". And I specifically have a vision for four aspects of freedom. First of all, I do you want to have the freedom to really focus, and in a distraction economy, the distraction economy that we exist in today, where we're constantly being pinged for this thing, or another notifications are going off on our phones, on our desktop, it's very difficult to focus on the work that matters most. Not all work is created equal but 20% of the work that we do, according to the credo principle, leads to 80% of the results that we experience in our business or in our life. So I want the freedom, first of all, to be able to focus, do the creative work, the hard work, the problem solving, that's going to move the business or I made a deal in my business and my life. Second kind of freedom I want is, I want the freedom to be present. You don't want to be... when I'm out on a date with my wife, like, I want to be tonight, by the way, but the secret for long term marriage.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:58
Yeah, I appreciate it. Keep it coming.

Michael Hyatt 07:01
So, you know, we'll be out on a date tonight. And I want to be fully present with her. I don't want to be checking my phone, I don't want to be worried about something at work, I want to be fully present with her to engage, and to just share lies with one another. Third freedom I want is, I want the freedom to be spontaneous. I don't want to have so much of my schedule spoken for every little bit, you know, planned out that I don't have the freedom to stop what I'm doing to go help a friend, to visit with my grandkids when they come over. I want some whitespace, some breathing room in my schedule so that I'm not, you know, constantly overdrawing as if it were my bank account. And then finally, I want the freedom to be able to do nothing. Nothing is way underrated in our culture. And yet, when you think about it, when you're doing nothing, sometimes that's where you get the biggest breakthroughs of all, you have that creative thought that sponsor multimillion dollar idea, or you figure out how to fix a relationship that's broken. But it takes that time of doing nothing to get those kind of breakthrough. So again, I'm after freedom. That's my vision.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:07
Michael, do you find that when you're speaking about freedom to do nothing, is that something that people take to or enjoy the idea of, or do you find that there's a lot of apprehension around that? I'm curious.

Michael Hyatt 08:24
Well, yeah. I would say it's twofold. First of all, people are super excited about the idea. They just kind of have a collective sigh of relief when I teach other stuff because they think, "Man, how awesome would that be to not be running for this thing to the next, out of breath all the time?" But then immediately, they feel something anxiety because they say, "What would I do with myself?" And I really learned about this fourth kind of freedom when I visited Italy. My wife and I went there for a month, about two years ago. And we were there in the summer. And they actually have this phrase of "la dolce far niente", which means "the sweetness of doing nothing", and they practice it so well. So for example, you know, about five o'clock in the afternoon, everybody, if you're in Rome, or Florence, or really any city of any size, people pour into the streets, you know, they have cocktails together, they just visit... they're basically doing nothing, enjoying life together. And we relish that, but we found that unless we have something planned in that nothing time, you know, in other words, we got to be recreating or spending time with people, but left to ourselves if we don't have a plan, that we just drift back into work because that's what's familiar. And for a lot of people, they love their work, but they end up working all the time. No weekends, no free nights, no vacations, all the rest.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:44
That's really interesting. And on one note, I can't wait to experience that for myself in Italy. Italy is on our list. We pull our kids, my wife and I, pull our kids out of school about once a year and typically go four to six weeks live in another country. So Very excited for that, and probably have many more Italy questions. However, on that note, though, when you're talking about, unless we have something planned, expand on that for me, you know, what does that actually look like? How do you do that? Because I think that it's easy to say that, and I think we might understand that concept, logically. However, I feel like that's one of those things that is much more difficult to do, or to make work in reality. So how do you actually make that work for our listeners?

Michael Hyatt 10:32
Well, first of all, I struggled with it myself, because what I would do is often I go into a weekend with the best of intentions, and find myself drifting into work, grabbing my laptop, picking up my phone, and engaging in work almost mindlessly, or reflexively, or maybe even compulsively. So one of the tools that I talked about in the book, and we also have... I have a paper planner that's grown quite popular, called the 'Full Focus Planner'. And there's a worksheet in there that's called "the weekly preview'. And I do mine on Sunday evening, and there's one each week that comes around. But we have a step in there called "the weekend optimizer", where we talk about and encourage people to plan how they're going to use their free time for this to rejuvenate, because you're going to be more productive, more focused, make a greater contribution, be more satisfied at work, when you give yourself time to rejuvenate. So that looks like things like sleep, ask yourself the question, "How much sleep do you want to get this weekend? Do you want to take a nap? Do you want to sleep in? What do you want to do? What about eating? What kind of nourishment? Do you want to go out with friends? Do you want to spend some time with them? Do you want explore some restaurants or maybe stay home and make something for dinner that you haven't made before?" Exercise. Maybe go on a hike, play golf, go fishing, something related to exercise. Connection or play, you know, meeting with friends, one of the few relationships that are life giving to me that really give me energy, that sustain my spirit, that encouraged me, and being really intentional with those kinds of things. So I think, you know, for me, on Sunday night, I plan the next weekend. So that gives me a week kind of set it up, contact my friends, if I want to go out with them, get a tee time if I want to go, plan a fishing trip, whatever it is. But I want to make sure that I've got positive things that are not work that I'm going to be doing that next weekend.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:24
I found that really difficult, as well. And it's certainly been a progression for me. But I've almost had to trick myself into it in some ways, as crazy as that sounds, you know, even to the point where, you know, one of the things that my wife and I do at this point is we'll give our kids coupons during the Christmas season of a variety of ways that we want to spend time with them and with each other and everything like that, so that it gets put on our calendar for the entire rest of the year. But my question becomes, like, what are some of the things that you've seen to make this easier as a process overall? Because I think it really can be challenging. And even if you have on my calendar to be able to sit down and plan out the next weekend, sometimes it's really easy to get caught up in the variety of other things or feel like I can't, you know, plan that additional time too.

Michael Hyatt 13:21
Well, I think that this is where it helps to have an overarching vision for your life. In a book I wrote a couple of years ago with my friend Daniel Harkavy, it was called "Living Forward" it's about how to have a life plan. And one of the things we talked about there is creating a vision for each of the major domains of your life. So as it turns out, there's more to life than work, right. So there's, you know, there's your personal life, your intellectual life, your spiritual life, your emotional life, there's your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your kids, your work, your hobbies, all that stuff. And they're all interrelated. So that if I don't take care of myself in terms of my health, that can have a very negative impact on my business, if I get sick, or if I have a heart attack, or I'm disabled, that's not gonna be so good for my career. Conversely, if I'm in a work that's constantly a lot of stress, if I'm burned out, that's probably going to have an impact on my most important relationships, and maybe even my health. So I think getting clear, again, we kind of go back to the vision, you know, what I want my life to be about, you know, one of the things that humans have the ability to do is to deceive ourselves, you know, we kid ourselves. And we, you know, we think my current situation, and I'm stressed out, I'm working hard. I'm in this hustle mode right now. But here's where the deception comes in, it's only temporary. And I used to tell my wife, Gail, I'd say, you know, "As soon as we get through this, this launch, or as soon as we get through, you know, I get adjusted to this new job that I've just taken, then everything will settle down." But these things that are temporary have a way of becoming permanent, unless we have a vision for a different quality of life. And then planning the next weekend becomes a step in that direction. But I've got to keep the vision in mind, or I'm probably not going to do it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:07
That's interesting. And I think that, I know I asked you earlier about, you know, what are some of the opportunities that we have to say 'no'. And I almost think that that is one of those that were missing in a variety of different ways. Where it's a, you know, when this happens, then it will be different. However, what I'm hearing you say is that, if that initial vision isn't there to actually do it differently, then when it happens things aren't going to change unless there's some other foundation that you're moving towards. Is that correct?

Michael Hyatt 15:41
Yeah, that's absolutely correct. I mean, I think that for the average person, they've got so much stuff they're trying to manage, because they've got their work life, they've got their career, maybe they're involved with their church or their community. And so there's all these demands, all these requests that are being made, all these meeting people want you to go to, all these opportunities, and they're all good. But we've got to have a filter, otherwise, we're going to be overwhelmed. It's like standing on the beach face at a tsunami. But one of the tools that I talked about in the book, "Free To Focus" is the freedom of compass. And this is a way to think about your book, or your work that I think is a game changer. And if you could just imagine a traditional compass, imagine a circle and it has, you know, North where you would expect it at the top of the circle, South at the bottom. And North represents in the freedom compass, the things that you love, the things you're passionate about, the things that give you the most joy and satisfaction represents those things as well as the things that you're proficient at, the things you're really good at, the things that people are willing to pay you to do. And so I call that in the book, 'the desire zone'. This is true North, this is the work where you make your greatest contribution, it's the highest and best use of you. Now, directly opposite from that, which is due South is the drudgery zone. These are those things where you have no passion, and you have no proficiency, you don't enjoy them, and you're not good at them. So when I left the corporate world, and I was managing a very large company at Thomas Nelson publishers, and we were doing about a quarter of a billion dollars a year, I had two full time assistants, and all of a sudden, I stepped out of that and found myself a solopreneur. And I was trying to do everything, not just the things that loved and the things I was good at, but increasingly, I was doing administrative tasks that for me, were not in my desire zone like they are for my current assistant, but they were in my drudgery zone. And besides that people weren't paying me to do those things. And so the thing about this of freedom compass, by the way, there's two other zones to where, like, the disinterest zone, where you might be good at it, but you don't really enjoy it. For me that was accounting. Or the distractions zone where you might enjoy doing it, but you're not very good at it. And it's where you go to escape or waste time. But the key to being able to pare down everything and being able to know what you're going to say 'no' to is to know what's in your desire zone. And for most of us, that's a small band of activities, where we can really feel good about the work, and we can really do a great job. And the more we can focus on that, the bigger better results will experience in our life and in our work. So, make sense?

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:22
That makes a ton of sense. And it also raises another question. In the book, you spend time talking about automation, and different ways to automate and even some different areas to automate. And I am curious, what are some of the ways that we can use automation in order to spend more time in our desired zone? And specifically, I'm looking for, you know, what are some examples of that in addition to those ways too? So help me understand that.

Michael Hyatt 18:56
Sure. Let me put it in context. This is kind of the middle third of the book where I talk about cutting all those activities, say 'no' to all those activities that are outside of your desire zone. So I do that under three overarching principles: eliminate, automate, and delegate. And they're in that order for a very specific reason. First of all, we don't want to automate something that should be eliminated. And we don't want to automate something that needs to be delegated. So we eliminate everything we can of what's left, we ask ourselves the question, "Does a human need to do it? And if not, then we can automate it. If so, then we have to ask the question, am I the right human to do it? Or could it go to some other human?" And that's delegation.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:39
Let me ask you about that really quick, though. So how do we decide if a human needs to do it?

Michael Hyatt 19:44
Well, I think you work through those in the exact order I gave. First of all, does this need to be done at all? Can I eliminate it? Second question, could a machine do this? Could this be automated in some way? If the answer to that is 'no' then you basically get to the place where a human has to do it, then the question is, am I the right human to do it? And if not, then it gets delegates.

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:07
Appreciate that very much. Yeah, it makes a ton of sense. And okay, so then what's our next...

Michael Hyatt 20:12
Do we go back to automation?

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:13
Yes, please.

Michael Hyatt 20:14
Automation. Okay. So one of the things I do talk about, and this is... you could argue that this is the human element, but it's self automation, where you essentially, at least subtract the mental focus that it requires to do it. And I talked about four specific daily rituals that everybody needs to have. And so I talked about a morning ritual. In other words, what are the things that you can do every day that sets you up for the best possible day? Athletes do this, you know, they have a pregame ritual. And sometimes it's a little bit superstitious, but they go through the same things to give themselves the mindset, put themselves in the best place physically, so that they can go out and win the game. So a morning ritual. Then the next ritual is a work day startup ritual. So instead of, you know, checking email all through the day, why not do that as a part of your work day startup ritual, where you go through a handful of things, take about 20 or 30 minutes, and then you can get on to the deep focused work, that is what you're actually paid to do. And then a work day shutdown ritual, where you do that same thing again, except now you're trying to disengage from work, so that you can leave it behind, and give yourselves fully to the evening's activities, whether that's, you know, time with family, or time and recreation, or whatever it is. And then finally, an evening ritual. So you can set yourself up for the best possible sleep, because, as it turns out, being rested is one of the most important things you can do to be more productive, and more focused. Sleep all by itself will make you more productive. And a lot of people try to be more productive by cheating on sleep. But that's why they can't focus. That's why they can't concentrate. That's why you try to read a book late at night, and you keep reading the same paragraph over and over again. Because you're tired, you can't focus. So that's self automation, doing those rituals. But another kind of automation, and here's what I discovered, kind of by accident about 20 years ago, and I found out that or discovered that the same kind of requests were coming in over and over again. And so I started to catalog them. So I get a request from somebody to, you know, serve on a nonprofit board, or another request to make a charitable contribution, or another request to get together with somebody for coffee and just so they could pick my brain. And so I cataloged these, I came up with, I don't remember now, about maybe 40 of these. And I said, "What if I created a template response, so that I could say 'no' to these requests, but say 'no' with grace. So that I felt good about it, and the person receiving the email felt good about it." And then I saved these as email templates. I'll talk about the specific format, speaking of how to say 'no', here in just a minute. So now when somebody sends me a request, because I used to be a book publisher, people want me to review their book proposals. And I just don't have time for that, I can't do it anymore. But instead of me kind of, you know, procrastinating because I'm not quite sure what to say, and I don't want to let that person down, or let it sit in my inbox until I finally get irritated enough that I get too aggressive in my response. Rather than that, I just grab an email template, and I personalize it a little bit. And it takes me about 10 seconds to respond to that email, rather than 10 or 20 minutes to compose one from scratch. Now, Scott, here's the cool thing. I save all of these as email signatures. So typically, people have an email signature that they've created that you know, has their phone number and their address, maybe their title, so forth. But the truth is, you can use it with most email programs have an unlimited number of signatures, you can put all kinds of blocks of text in there, and then just pull those down, select those as needed. And today, I've got probably 50 of them that I use on a regular basis. And it makes it so easy to respond when somebody writes in and I can feel really good about the response. Now, can I just take a minute and tell you about how I say 'no' with those?

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:18
Please do. That's one of the things I am anxiously awaiting for. So, yes.

Michael Hyatt 24:08
Okay. So one of the best ways to say 'no', and I learned this from Dr. William Ury, in his book "The Power of a Positive No". And that is this formula, where whenever you say 'no' to somebody, you use the "yes-no-yes" formula. You know, some people call this the sandwich approach. But it's a little bit different than that. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to begin with an affirmation. I'm not going to try to shame people for making a request of me, or make them feel small. I want to affirm them. So for example, somebody is writing to me, wanting me to review their book proposal, it might look like this, my first paragraph would say, "Hey, congratulations! You done something that most aspiring authors will never do. You've completed a book proposal. That's one of the most important first steps you can make. Congratulations." So that's the positive yes, right on the front end. Then what I want to do is give them a 'no', that's unambiguous, you know, now I'm going to say 'no' in a way that's clear, and does it allow for any whistle room, I'm gonna establish a clear boundary, but I'm going to do it in a gracious way. So I might say something like this, I may might say, "Unfortunately, due to my other commitments, I'm not able to say yes to your request." So what I said there is I've linked it to my other commitments, I'm trying to be a person of integrity, I want to follow through on what I've already committed to, you know, I don't want to double booked my time. And because of those commitments, and it's all absolutely true, I can't say yes to your request. But notice that it's unambiguous. So I'm saying it in a way... I'm not saying "Hey, check back within a couple of weeks. You know, I'm busy right now. Maybe I'll have time later." No, then I just have to deal with it later. So I'm going to clear boundary, where I, you know, put a line in the sand and say 'no'. So that's "yes. no." And then finally, another, yes. Where I'm going to try to be helpful if I can be helpful, you know, maybe I could refer him to somebody else. Or maybe I could just, you know, wish them well, and say, "Look, I wish you the best for the book. All the best to try to find a publisher. If you get it published, please send me a copy, or I look forward to buying a copy" or something that ends on a positive note. Now I'm gonna tell you something, I have never had a negative reaction to a 'no' kind of email like that. Usually, people thank me for getting right back to them. People can handle 'no' what they can handle is not knowing. And so often, that's what happens. We just let those kind of requests languish in our inbox, because we're afraid to say 'no.' And that's the kind of thing that makes people angry, not when we actually say 'no'

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:42
I love that. And I so appreciate you going into detail on an example of that. And I know you have some examples in the book as well. But I'm curious for somebody who wants to sit down and write these types of templates, what would you recommend for them to be able to get started? So they can start saying 'no' with grace.

Michael Hyatt 27:01
Well, the first thing I would do is I would develop what I call a "template mindset". In other words, anytime, and this is an automation principle, but anytime you do any task, ask yourself the question, "Is it likely that I will be doing the same task again?" So if I'm getting a lot of requests for book proposal review, like I am, and that's not gonna apply to most people, but whatever it is for you, if I'm getting that request a lot, then what I want to do is take some extra time on the front end, and write a thoughtful response that follows that "yes-no-yes" formula, and then save it as a template. So I could reuse it. You don't have to do all these at once, just do them as they occur incrementally as you experience them. But it starts with that template mindset. And it's not just email, for example, when I'm making slide deck presentations, because I do a lot of webinars and a lot of public speaking. I asked myself the question years ago, I said, "Is it likely that I'll ever do another webinar after the first one I did?" "Uh, yeah." Pretty good chance of that. So I created a webinar template using Apple keynote. So that's the basis of every webinar I ever do, I start with the template, because it has the seven sections in a webinar that are all mapped out. And from there, it just becomes kind of fill in the blanks or paint by number. So use a template whenever you can, because it will save you time later.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:19
I appreciate that example personally. I do a lot of webinars and public speaking as well. And I have been, unfortunately, come to that conclusion much later than I wish I would have. So thank you for that.

Michael Hyatt 28:32
You're welcome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:33
Yeah. Different questions. You mentioned, startup ritual. And I'm curious what that looks like for you in your day startup ritual, as I think what you had called it, what does that look like for you personally? And another question, I was talking with one of our listeners yesterday, and they apparently are a fan of yours. They mentioned you offhand. And I'm like, "Well, I'm talking to Michael on the podcast tomorrow. So I can just ask him." They were curious, what time you get up in the morning and how much sleep you get?

Michael Hyatt 29:05
Yeah, so let me start with the last question first. So I shoot for eight hours a night and I measure this rigorously using the oura ring (o-u-r-a), which tracks my sleep better than any device I've ever found.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:18
Love that. It's amazing. I've got one on my finger right now.

Michael Hyatt 29:21
Yeah, it is. It is amazing. And it's really accurate. So I'm shooting for eight hours, but I almost always get, you know, seven hours and 15 minutes. A lot of it just depends on how much tossing and turning I'm doing through the night. But I find that I function the best when I do that. And by the way, I get up at 4:45.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:40
There you have it. You heard it here.

Michael Hyatt 29:43
Yeah, that's so... I don't think anybody's ever asked me that question. But that's what time I get up. I get up at 4:45, I do have an alarm set, it almost... I almost always catch it before it goes off because I'm just, you know, acclimated to that. But my work day startup ritual consists of four items. First, I empty my email inbox. And, you know, I probably get 150 emails a day. But I don't see... I probably have five emails that I have to deal with in the morning. And here's why. Because my assistant, Jim, manages my email account. So I have two email accounts, I have the one that I give to everybody out there except the people on my staff. And that's the one that comes into gym. And then I have a super private email address. And Jim drags the ones that demand my attention into my private email inbox. So when I wake up, or when I get to the office, and I'm doing my startup ritual, I'm seeing only those few emails that he felt like he couldn't handle on his own. And then it requires my personal touch. So that's number one. Number two, is that I review and respond to slack messages. Now slack is a piece of software that we use for all internal communication, sort of somewhere between email and text messaging, but we love it, we've been using it for about three years. Third thing I do is I check social media, I don't spend a lot of time there, but I'll check my Instagram account, my Facebook account and my Twitter account, maybe respond to a few messages. And I've got a social media manager who helps me with the posting, so I'm just really replying to stuff. And then finally, I review and confirm my daily big three, the three items that I'm going to be focused on for today, three, and only three items I'm going to be focused on today, that are really the important things that will really move the needle on my business.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:36
I really appreciate that. And I'm taking notes for myself, as well. And I'm curious on a semi unrelated, semi related note, you know, you mentioned like, the oura ring as an example. And oura measures a ton of different things. But that leads me to ask the question of, you know, what are some things that you measure in your life that maybe most people wouldn't think of, you know, whether it's health, or fitness, or sleep related or anything else along those lines, what are some things that you measure in your life that matter a lot to you, but maybe most people wouldn't want to think about?

Michael Hyatt 32:17
Well, certainly all the things, all the various things in the business, you know, we have key operating indices that, you know, we follow, and that's gonna be different for every business, but in my personal life, the things that I tend to measure, like I weigh myself every single day, and I'm just trying to make sure that, you know, my mouth doesn't get too far ahead of my stomach. And you don't want to keep my weight, you know, managed. There have been times when I've been on various nutrition regimens where I've measured very carefully my food intake, like, I went on the keto diet last August. And so my wife and I were both using an app called carb manager, and it wasn't so much... Well, I said this, we weren't used to eating as much fat as the keto diet required. And we were tempted to eat too much protein and too many carbs. So by measuring it, it really kind of helped calibrate and after we got into the rhythm of that about after three months, we didn't feel like we needed to measure it anymore. So occasionally, we'll do that. But another thing I measure on about a weekly basis, is I'll check the ketones in my blood. You know, I've got a little $70 device that will check that with great accuracy. And speaking of blood in the US, I'm telling you, but about twice a year, I go in for a comprehensive blood panel, and then I sit down and talk about it with my doctor. And the thing that I love about that is it's an early detection system, because you can see so much, so many problems will show up in the blood before they show up anywhere else. And so for me managing my health, managing my energy, and by the way, productivity is more about energy management, than it is time management. So I want to make sure that I'm getting adequate nutrients, that all my blood level, all the different measurements are right. And so I follow that pretty meticulously. So those are some of the things that I measure.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:05
I really appreciate that. And I'm also very interested in what you just said, we've done a variety of different episodes on energy management as well. But I'm curious what you mean, when you say, productivity is really much more energy management than anything else. Can you expand on that for me?

Michael Hyatt 34:23
Sure. We'll think about how much you can accomplish, like for me, I'm a morning person. So in the morning, that time is so precious to me, you know, I can accomplish more in an hour than I can in the evening in three hours because I rested my blood sugar levels, right, all about the energy management. So when I'm energetic, I can be more focused, I can accomplish more. And, you know, a book that was really helpful to me was Daniel Pink's book on chronotypes, I think it's called "When".

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:54
"When". Yeah. Absolutely. We had him on the podcast a short while ago. Great book. You mentioned it.

Michael Hyatt 35:01
Awesome. Yeah, great book. So I've realized that, for example, for me as a morning person, you know, as a morning Lark, I like to do my most creative, most intense, most focused work first thing in the morning or early in the morning after I've done my morning ritual. And then I go through that trough, you know, that kind of declining period when my focus isn't so great. Usually, that's right after lunch. By the way, I take a nap for 20 minutes every single day. But after I get it from my nap, you know, I'm not at my best, I'm refreshed. But this is a great time to do administrative work or work that doesn't require a lot of creativity, and not a lot of problem solving. And then I usually get a rebound, you know, recovery later in the day, and then I can go back to some more creative work. So knowing that's super helpful to me. So, you know, I also think there's a big aspect of energy management, there's just the decision you make to be energetic, because your mental attitude, probably more than any other single item affects how you feel about yourself and the energy that you bring into the world. And I don't remember who first told me this is not original with me. And I'd cite the source if I knew it, but I don't. But whoever it was, said, "You got to decide in life, whether you're a thermostat or a thermometer." It was either you create the temperature, or you reflect the temperature. And I want to be the kind of person that creates the temperature, I want to be a thermostat. You know, I want to have energy, I want to bring energy. And for me a lot of times, most times, that's a decision, you know, I got to this interview with you, you know, I could... After lunch, my time, I could be a little groggy out or I could say, "No. I'm going to be energetic. Scott's got an awesome program with an awesome audience. I don't want to bring my best. So I'm going to be energetic." Energy is a caused thing in that sense.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:51
Well, I appreciate you bringing the energy Michael, very, very much for a variety of different reasons. Oh, my goodness, we've covered a lot more different places and topics from how to have a happy marriage all the way to how to say 'no' to a variety of things in betweens, I so appreciate you covering so many different directions here.

Michael Hyatt 37:14
You're welcome.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:14
Many more than we usually get into one episode, and at this point in your life, because I would consider you a leading expert in the ability to be productive and saying 'no', you're definitely influencing a chunk of the world in those areas. So what, at this point in your life, is most difficult for you to say 'no' to now?

Michael Hyatt 37:37
I think the ongoing challenge for me is to say 'no' to technology. Now here's what I mean by that. I love technology. I consider myself a geek, you know, I've got... if you could see, the studio I'm in right now, I've got four Macs sitting on the desk in front of me. I've got two PCs across the room. And I've got my phone in my back pocket. The problem is all that technology, unless we have a clear philosophy of technology and particularly as it relates to productivity, those can be an immense source of distraction. So I just recently read Cal Newport's new book "Digital Minimalism" . Have you read that?

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:18
No. What did you think of it?

Michael Hyatt 38:20
Oh, highly recommended. Phenomenal book.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:23

Michael Hyatt 38:24
But as a result of that, what I did was I took my very expensive iPhone Xs Max, which I paid over $1,000 for, over $1200 for, and I removed email, I removed Slack, I removed every social media application with the exception of Instagram. But through screen time, I limit my access to Instagram to 30 minutes a day. And I gave my phone to my wife. And I said, "I want you to enter a passcode for screen time so that I can't cheat the system."

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:55
I love it.

Michael Hyatt 38:56
So when I run out of Instagram time, I'm out of Instagram time. So the biggest hack, the biggest thing I struggle with and have to work on is keeping technology corralled and not taking over my life. And this is so hard, Scott, because all these tech companies are multi multi billion dollar conglomerates, whose one objective is to get you to use their devices and make it compulsive. Or get you to access their services, like in the case of Facebook, because their entire business model relies on that, you're the product. They're taking our attention collectively past, packaging it and selling it to the highest bidder advertisers. And so they're at war with our focus, with our attention. And they've got the benefit of being able to tap in and hack our bio circuitry because every time we check those services, we get a dopamine hit, a reinforcement that turns that into a compulsive behavior before long. So one of the best things I found is to find technology with technology and just take control of it. So even on my desktop apps, I use an app called "Freedom'. And you can find out more at freedom.to. Freedom is an application that limits your access to apps, and to websites for designated periods of time. And there's no way to defeat it, you can't cheat on the system without rebooting your computer. And what that does is gives me just enough friction to remind me of what my purpose is that, you know, go into... check, you know, Facebook compulsively for the 30th time today. No, you know, I'm in a deep work session. And I'm going to stay focused.

Scott Anthony Barlow 40:34
I absolutely love that. And really appreciate you going into detail on that too. And, again, thank you for such the range of areas that we have gone today. And the book that we've been mentioning again, and again, is "Free To Focus" and Michael, where can people get that book? And where can they learn more about you, as well?

Michael Hyatt 40:59
Thank you. Well, the book is available wherever books are sold, right? So it's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, everywhere else. But I would suggest that people go to freetofocusbook.com because there we're making available a ton of free bonuses, some amazing stuff related to the book, it's all free, all you have to do is buy the book, wherever you want. Come back, submit your receipt there. And that will unlock all these free bonuses. So we're really trying to drive people to buying the book and to sharing it with their friends. For everything else related to me, you can find me at michaelhyatt.com (and that's Hyatt with a 'y' hyatt.com)

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:38
Amazing. Thank you, Michael. My wife will thank you for the advice as well, I'm sure. If not now, then in years to come. And I really appreciate you making the time and taking the time.

Michael Hyatt 41:50
Absolutely. Thank you, Scott, appreciate you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:53
We've got even more in store for you next week, right here on the Happen To Your Career podcast.

Elizabeth Mills 41:59
I'm very self critical. So unless it's really amazing, and we have this huge win, I'm not going to say anything at all to people. And that is something that I am working on is how to let people know the kind of how the sausage is made. But this is how this works. And that's part of the process to educate and help people understand what it is that I and my team actually do.

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:25
Oh, I'm so excited. I can't wait until you tune in. I'll see you right back here on hHappen To Your Career. Until then, I am out. Adios.

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:40
It helps so many people we did it... I'm sorry for the editing in advance. Just giving you bloopers, I guess sort of.

Scott Anthony Barlow 42:50
And it means we get to help you there. Starting over.

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