If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve experienced that pivotal “I need some productivity hacks” moment.
It happens in every entrepreneur career when an exciting new idea, glowing with uninformed optimism… morphs into an oh-shit-this-is-tough venture.
In those moments, entrepreneurs double down on productivity and focus. They start making lists, tracking their time in 20 minute increments and just generally doing whatever they can to become laser focused.
The focus and productivity business and every seasonal fad it manufactures—did someone say “bullet journals”???—is big business. Huge business.
Every year, entrepreneurs (and civilians) spend millions on everything from productivity self help books to nootropic supplements. Software is the biggest category by far, and new slickly designed apps are constantly coming to market—all promising you’ll become a better you.
Here’s something I believe that no one else does:
Software alone will never make anyone more productive
The human brain is divided.
Scientists are learning that the neocortex—the part of our brain that scientists are using when they research, and that you’re using when you try to be more productive—is really just the mind’s “wrangler”. That there are other, deeper parts to our psyche that make up who we are.
And it turns out, our limbic system—sometimes known as our “Mammalian Brain”—has a lot to do with our motivation.
Focus is a front-brain process. It’s something the most grown up, conscious part of you makes you do.
The drive though… the desire to sit down and focus… that comes from this more ancient part of our brain.
The mammalian brain cares more about human connection than anything else.
The brain we share with our primate ancestors was built for team work. It’s dedicated to noticing—and caring about—subtle social clues. It’s deeply concerned with whether or not the other monkeys like us.
(It evolved this way because being liked—and cooperating—with the other monkeys was a tremendous advantage that let us get lots of food and have lots of babies.)
The mammalian brain is why software—no matter how smart the AI assistant—will never motivate you to focus
I have strong opinions about all of this of course. I’m the founder of Commit Action, a “focus and productivity” service for entrepreneurs.
Commit Action started when I began toying with the idea of taking what I believe to be the most important part of coaching and therapy—the human connection and accountability—and splitting it out from all the other advice, strategy and tactics. I envisaged a sort of “clean” form of productivity coaching.
We struck gold at Commit Action when we realized that what’s broken about to-do lists isn’t the to-do list… it’s that most people build them by themselves.
Human beings outsource their sanity.
It takes a village—or at least a single dedicated thought-partner—to organize a human mind.
Commit Action works because instead of building your to-do list yourself each week from a place of isolation and a vacuum of accountability… you have it built by a human being whose sole job is managing your focus.
This switches mammalian brain on. Motivation and focus flow.
We realized the same thing that was broken about to-do lists, was also broken when it came to calendars.
My digital calendar system works great.
I live and die by it. It’s a digital bible of exactly where I will be and who I will be talking to. I adhere to what it dictates.100%.
Except for appointments I make with myself.
Because I don’t make appointments with myself. What I do is fill my calendar up with stuff where I’m accountable to other humans to show up. And I just try to fit in all my actual work between that stuff.
Any time I make a date with just myself—to work on something exponential and game changer—it’s not an appointment. It’s just a loose intention to “get to that this week”.
And if I put little sessions on my calendar like “Write a blog post” from 9am-10am?
… Without the human accountability of a real meeting, I’ll blow that “appointment” off for something as low leverage as an email or Slack conversation.
Everything changes when you add human connection to your most important appointments
My business moves forward exponentially when I take a certain type of action.
At Commit Action, we call it “Growth Driving Activity” or GDA. It differs from business to business, but it has the same psychological formula: GDA requires courage more than effort. It drives exponential business growth (1+1=10). And it’s the easiest thing in the world to procrastinate.
Executing on GDA should be a scheduled, committed appointment we make with ourselves each and every week. Even if it’s only for an hour or two.
Adding accountability to our commitments to our self radically increases our motivation to execute.
I’m excited to announce—today—the release of the biggest evolution in our service offering at Commit Action since the company was founded.
Now, in addition to building out professionally clarified to-do lists for our customers… our Executive Effectiveness Aides will also create a new calendar for our customers.
The Commit Action Calendar is designed explicitly and specifically to sit on top of a busy entrepreneurs appointment calendars.
I personally have three calendars (for three different companies I’m involved intimately with) and a calendar I share with my wife. Every appointment in each of these is a commitment to show up somewhere (or on the phone) with another human.
The Commit Action Calendar is the calendar for the appointments you need to make with yourself.
The calendar we’ve built represents a commitment you make to yourself to execute on your boldest plans.
The tech we use allows this calendar to effortlessly subscribe over the top of any other digital calendar system you use. The idea is to see exactly how your appointments-to-yourself line up with—or get crowded out—by your appointments with others.
This isn’t a replacement for your current appointment system. It’s the addition of a new, most important layer on TOP of your system… that represents a commitment to treat showing up for your own projects with the same focus and dedication you do for coffee meetings.
Think of The Commit Action calendar as a layer in your week-to-week plans that carves out the time you’ve always meant to carve out… to work on the stuff you’ve always intended to.
Our philosophy at Commit Action is that the future of ultra-optimized focus and productivity is human.
Your “Appointments with yourself”are now a commitment your mammalian brain has made to yourself and your Commit Action Aide on your team.
We believe that having a dedicated team member (our Executive Effectiveness Aide) in your corner—someone whose sole job is keeping you in the zone—is a vastly superior approach to entrepreneurial productivity.
Outsourcing your focus and productivity this way taps the mammalian brain for maximum success.
We believe that when you outsource the battle of organizing and clarifying tasks—and now, when you outsource the battle of making an hour by hour plan for the week—preserves your willpower and powerfully frees you up… to actually do the work that matters.
The Commit Action Calendar is a done-for-you solution. All you have to do is show up. Your Executive Effectiveness Aide will build it out for you—concierge style. You’ll be free to do what you always knew you were meant to do best: Execute on big vision.
We’re really excited about this new direction and have already seen promising results. While other companies are building our AI chat bots designed to coach you on productivity, we’re more determined that ever to support the world’s top entrepreneurs with our thesis:
That pairing dedicated productivity aides with our entrepreneur clients—and empowering them with clever tools—is the only way to transform these entrepreneurs into the highest leverage versions of themselves possible.
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I am SOOOO excited about this feature.
Everything you described in this article is exactly what I’ve felt when I make appointments with myself – they have never worked… but bringing my awesome Aide into the mix from the Commit Action team totally puts me in that realm of letting down another person who will know if I didn’t get it done.
This is awesome and I’m super happy to start using it!