Episode: A (Virtual) Book Launch Party for Free to Focus
Hey there, we’re so excited to announce that Michael’s new book Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less is available starting today, right now. If you go to freetofocusbook.com, there are almost $500 of bonus material you get for free when you order the book today. Now, we think this is a book that can and will change your life, but you don’t have to take our word for it.
Miriam: This is Miriam Schulman of The Inspiration Place. I’m a full-time artist living in New York.
Alesha: Alesha Mathis, and I’m from Warner Robins, Georgia.
Jamin: My name is Jamin Baxter from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Male: We gave some advanced copies of Free to Focus to business leaders and entrepreneurs just like you, people who are looking to achieve more while doing less. Let’s just see what they had to say.
Miriam: I would just say that for those who like to learn and improve, these books are the best bargain for getting, basically, a $1,000 course on productivity.
Alesha: I loved it. Actually, when I first picked it up, I leafed through the table of contents, and I saw delegating. I’m a small business owner and flying solo. It’s just me, and I thought, “This book isn’t going to be for me because there’s no one to delegate to.” But I came out of that book with so much information, things I could put into play that very day, and really, they just blew up my productivity.
Jamin: The principles Michael teaches in this book Free to Focus, honestly, I believe it would cost you thousands of dollars if you were to go to a conference and get these principles and learn them in person. I’ve not only noticed a difference in my personal life, like being present at home when I’m home because I know I accomplished at work what needed to be accomplished, but our team has seen a great success as well. So I just fully endorse this book Free to Focus.
Male: Well, what are you waiting for? Listen to Miriam, Alesha, and Jamin, and take the first steps to improve your life right now by going to freetofocusbook.com.
Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.
Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.
Michael: And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. Today’s episode is going to be a little different, as we’re hosting a party right here in our studio. My brand new book publishes today. It’s called Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less.
Megan: Okay. Fair warning: this is going to be an unapologetic pitch of the book, because we think this is so important and will change your life if you read it. We’re not going to hold back. We’re going to tell you exactly why we think that’s true, because we are pumped about this book.
Michael: We are. I’ve written a bunch of books, and of all of the books I’ve ever written… I promise, I haven’t said this for every book, but I’ve never been more excited about a book than I am about this book. I’m excited because of what it has done in my own life, what I’ve seen it do in the lives of my clients, and what I expect to see happen in the lives of the people who read it.
Megan: That’s right. Also, we’re going to tell you how to get some amazing bonuses when you buy the book during this launch week, and we’re going to announce the winners of our drawing from the bonus episode we did last week. So there are giveaways, there’s free stuff… It’s totally a party.
Michael: What else do you need?
Megan: Well, we need cake. We do not have any cake, which is kind of a bummer.
Michael: We have Larry with us here in the studio. Larry typically leads us through our podcast, and we’ve invited him here to be sort of the emcee of this party. Larry, take it away.
Megan: Master of ceremonies. That’s right.
Larry Wilson: I feel like I should get a round of applause after that. All right. I’m a book guy. I love books, but I have to tell you, Michael, I have read a lot of productivity books. I’ve been doing that since, believe it or not, the mid-80s. So I’ve seen them all, read them all. Why is this book different than other books about productivity?
Michael: Okay. Like you, I have a long history with productivity. I was the kind of productivity geek in college where I carried around a paper planner. I scheduled my classes. I scheduled my study periods. I went to bed on time. I got up early. I was a total nerd on this stuff. When I started blogging in 2004, my blog was called Working Smart because it was all about my productivity hacks and what I was learning about productivity. I found that people couldn’t get enough of that stuff. I find that’s still popular today.
Here’s the problem with most productivity systems. Most people who write these books or publish blogs or do conferences see productivity as an end in itself. In other words, if you’re working 12 hours a day, the promise of productivity is that we can reduce that to 8 hours so you can fill those other 4 hours up with even more work so you can accomplish more stuff. From my perspective, productivity is not about accomplishing more stuff; it’s about accomplishing the right stuff. You have to be clear that it’s a means to an end.
So what’s the end of productivity? For me (and this is why the title of the book is the title of the book), it’s about freedom. I want to be free in four specific ways. I want to be, first of all, free to focus. I think the right productivity system will enable you not to be like some kind of circus clown, spinning a bunch of plates and trying to keep a bunch of things happening at once, but somebody who’s able to focus, do the important, creative work, problem-solving, that moves your business and your life forward.
Second, the freedom to be present. I don’t want the kind of multitasking lifestyle where I’m always trying to do a thousand things at once, trying to clobber this huge to-do list every day. I want to be free to be present with the people I love when I’m with them, and when I’m at my company I want to be free to focus on the most important work I can do in the company. I’m not somewhere other than where I am in that particular moment.
Then I want the freedom to be spontaneous. Some of life’s richest moments are not on your calendar. They can’t be calendared. These are things that happen in the margins of your life. But if you don’t have any margins in your life, you don’t give an opportunity for those things to happen. If I have a friend who drops by or somebody who needs a visit at the hospital or one of my grandkids comes over and I just want to stop and play with them, I want the freedom to have that kind of spontaneity.
Fourth, I want the kind of freedom that gives me the freedom to do nothing at all. The Italians have a phrase for this. They call it la dolce far niente. It means the sweetness of doing nothing. There is a sweetness to that that most people, at least in the US, rarely experience because we’re so stinkin’ busy. That busyness does not lead to a rich, satisfying life. It doesn’t lead to a sense of freedom but to a sense that we’re kind of enslaved to our jobs and to these productivity apps that are dictating what we do with our time.
Male: My life before the Free to Focus course, especially work-wise, was kind of like hanging on to the side of a train that’s speeding down the rails. First, it has allowed me to cut back on the hecticness of trying to accomplish everything or trying to check everything off. I was trying to accomplish too much. It has allowed me to find that space to breathe and produce content that I know is going to have a bigger impact, that’s going to reach more people than the other tasks I was doing. It has allowed me to cut out a lot of the shallow work and go into that more deep, meaningful work.
Larry: Megan, you’ve seen your dad produce a number of books in the past. How do you feel about this one?
Megan: I am so excited about this book because this content has made a huge difference in my life. In fact, I really credit it with my being able to win at work and succeed at life, which we talk about a lot, but specifically, to be the kind of mom I want to be with my children, which means, for me, I’m actually working about 35 hours a week, which enables me to be home with them after school, which is a super high priority, but I also want to lead our business in a way that takes us on a path of success.
The only way that’s possible is for me to be incredibly productive, but not just getting more stuff done. I have to be able to do the right things, the things that matter most, both to me personally and to the business, to drive the results that matter, and this system has taught me how to do that very successfully.
Larry: You used the word system, and that’s actually in the subtitle of the book. This is a productivity system. It’s not a series of tips for cramming more work into one hour or anything like that. Give me the skeleton, the framework of the system.
Michael: There are three parts, which are Stop, Cut, and Act. Those are the three major sections of the book. Each of them take up about a third of the book. Then with each one of those there are three chapters. We talk about Formulate, we talk about Evaluate (this is all in the Stop section), and then Rejuvenate. That’s all about, “How do I take care of myself so I can be the most productive version of myself?”
As it turns out, productivity and time management is more about energy management than it is anything else. Getting a good night’s sleep is as important to productivity as any hack or any strategy you could ever employ. So, that’s the Stop section. We go into a deep dive in Formulate, Evaluate, and Rejuvenate.
The second section is about cutting. Now that you have the Freedom Compass in place, you’re in a position to take out the weed whacker and start cutting out major things on your to-do list. The way you do that is you Eliminate, Automate, and Delegate, and each of those is a separate chapter in that Cut section. One of the best ways to eliminate is to head off the requests at the pass and to flex your “no” muscle and get better at saying no, and I have specific strategies in that chapter about how to get really great at saying no.
Larry: You mean I actually have a “no” muscle?
Michael: You do. It’s atrophied maybe.
Larry: It’s very underdeveloped.
Michael: But I talk about how to say no, and probably the reason it’s underdeveloped for you is the same reason it was for me, and that’s because I’m kind of a recovering people-pleaser. I talk about how to say no without being a jerk in that chapter. Then in the next chapter I talk about automation. Here’s what we don’t want to do. We don’t want to take on tasks for ourselves or even delegate them when we could automate them, and we don’t want to automate what we could eliminate. So we eliminate first, then automate.
I talk about technology. For all of you geeks out there, I talk about technology, but I also talk about self-automation under the umbrella of rituals. I explain four basic rituals everybody should be doing every single day, and that’s in that chapter. Then that third chapter is about delegation, and this is the one so many leaders struggle with. They have a hard time delegating because they think one of three sentences. These are rattling around in their head. People who are listening could relate to this.
First, “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.” Second, “It takes longer to explain how to do it; I might as well just do it myself.” Third, “I can’t afford to pay anybody to do it right now, so I guess I’m going to have to do it myself.” As long as “yourself” is the answer to those questions, your business cannot scale beyond you. Your life can’t scale beyond you. I get into very practical things, like the five levels of delegation, the Delegation Matrix, and a whole bunch of tools inside of that chapter.
Megan: I love this chapter, by the way. It’s my favorite.
Michael: It’s a big breakthrough chapter for most people, definitely for most of our clients. The final section is all about Act. Finally, we get there. I talk about Consolidate. I talk about building an Ideal Week. I talk about a concept called mega-batching. Not just batching but biggie-sizing that and doing mega-batching, where you dedicate entire days to certain kinds of activities. Then the next chapter is on Designate. How do you become purposeful and design your ideal quarter, your ideal week, your ideal day?
Then, finally, Activate. The Consolidate and Designate chapters are really about having an offensive plan to win the game, but the last chapter is about a defensive plan, because even though you have a plan for your week, you have a plan for your day, life happens. You’re going to face interruptions and distractions. I get very practical on how to manage those two things. So, that was a quick flyover of the three sections and the nine chapters of the book.
Larry: We’re talking about the book Free to Focus, which is out today. That’s exciting. As promised, we’re going to hear from some people who have been involved with this material when it was in course form. This has evolved over a period of years. How many years, Michael, developing this material?
Michael: We launched it in 2016. About three.
Larry: About three years to develop this. Now it’s in book form. When you publish it, you know it’s done.
Michael: That’s right. Fully baked.
Larry: It’s in book form now today, and we’re going to hear from several people who have been exposed to this material, implemented it in their lives, and they talk about the amazing transformations they’ve had. I want you to listen to this.
Male: I was successful. I was putting in the work and the hours. Quite frankly, I was a workaholic. I was working 16 to 18 hours a day at various sprints in my life. I have seen a transformation in my business. We have always had great strategies and done a good job of achieving them, but our execution has gotten so much stronger, and the ideas we’re putting into practice are much more meaningful, to the extent that we’ve gone from really strong, consistent growth to extraordinary growth and consistently beating our budgets. These results blow me away. I’m convinced that without these tools I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the same type of results I’m experiencing today.
Female: I’m kind of a geek when it comes to productivity. I tried so many apps, tried them for a week, realized they didn’t have what I wanted. I have tried a combination of things and still felt a little bit frazzled. It has changed the whole way I think about productivity as a whole. It’s not just about checking something off. It’s not just about a new hack or a new tip or a new feature. It’s really looking at what the vision is, what it is you want to do, how you can be free to focus, and most importantly, what is important for you to focus on.
Michael: I love hearing those stories, because I think it does testify to the fact that when people get clear about what they want and then they have a simple system for implementing it, all kinds of good things can happen. I think that so often people get involved in productivity, like I’ve said before, and it actually creates more work, more stress, and doesn’t really lead them to the destination they want.
Megan: I also think those are regular people. It’s important, if you’re listening to this, to know these people, who we know really well, are not superstars. They’re not different than you. They have families and problems at work and things they’re overcoming personally and all the normal stuff everybody is dealing with, yet this system has been simple enough for them to implement and achieve great results. So that ought to be encouraging, because these are just average folks.
Larry: Megan, are you actually able to narrow your focus to just three things that need to get done in a given day?
Megan: Well, I would say it’s three primary things. If only those three things happen, then my day will be a success. I certainly have a handful of other smaller tasks that usually are things I’m delegating, but yeah, I am. You may think to yourself, if you haven’t ever tried to apply this to your life, “Well, three things…that’s not enough.” However, three things times five working days a week is 15 really important things every week that you’re doing.
Those add up over time, and all of a sudden, you realize you’re making significant incremental progress toward your most important goals, toward the things that move your business forward. It’s pretty astonishing, actually, because you may be right now getting 20 things done, but they’re not the things that really matter because you’re not evaluating them in that way; therefore, you find yourself not making the progress you wish you were.
Larry: I think it’s important to remind listeners we’re not going to cover the whole content of this book today, nor could we in one podcast. It is a system, so there is a way to get from point A to point B. It sounds like, “Wow, I can’t just narrow my to-do list down to three things” or “I can’t just delegate everything I don’t want to do,” but there is a way to get there, and that’s what the book is about.
Michael: Yeah. And here’s the danger of a podcast like this: we kind of resort to productivity hacks and tips. The book does have that, but the thing that makes this different from every other book out there on productivity is that there is a system. We intentionally chose that word in the subtitle, and it’s for a reason. There’s a three-part framework we use in the book that has served us very well and that our clients get, they can remember. It really unlocks this whole approach to productivity that does make it different and makes it possible to get more done by doing less.
Larry: Many of us will question that very principle, that you can get more done by doing less. I think you would probably call that a limiting belief, something that just holds me in place. What are some of the other limiting beliefs we may have about our productivity?
Michael: One of the most typical ones people state is “I don’t have time.” The problem is because they’re not thinking about time in the right way. It is true that time is unlike every other resource. You can’t earn more time. It’s not like money in that way, which is another resource. It’s finite. You have 168 hours a week, but this is also where I think people have a limiting belief about constraints. The truth is constraints are extremely helpful.
For me, for example, to say I’m only going to work eight hours a day and I’m going to end my day at 6:00 p.m. is a constraint that forces me, during the course of that day, to choose to work on the right things, only the important things. I don’t have time to fool around with the stuff that’s not important or that’s not going to produce the results I’m expected to produce.
The fact that I say I’m not going to work on the weekends is another constraint that forces me to choose wisely during the week. The liberating truth is the fact that time is a finite resource is actually a liberating thing. The fact that I don’t have more than 168 hours, that I have to get it done in 168 hours is a gift, because otherwise I would work myself to death, and so would most other people.
Female: If anybody had ever come into my home and talked to my family, they would know that my family didn’t see me. I was working probably 60, 70, 80 hours a week. It finally got to the point, on a Sunday, when one of my children didn’t call me a hypocrite but basically said, “I thought you said Sunday was family time.” I realized I had put my business ahead of my family.
A few months ago, I actually was diagnosed with breast cancer, and that added another level of stress. I ended up actually having a heart attack a month later, and I was in the hospital for that. So, combining the business with the family with my health, I had to figure out how to be productive. Free to Focus has literally completely changed my life. I am not overwhelmed with tasks and lists, and I’ve gotten connection back in my important relationships in my life. I’m making more money too, which is kind of nice.
Larry: A lot of people are listening to this podcast today, and they’re probably very much identifying with the pre-Free to Focus Michael: over-busy, over-stressed, working too many hours, family life suffering, health suffering. For all of us, what do you hope we’re going to get from this book?
Michael: Well, I hope you’ll get hope, that suddenly you’re going to feel like life is manageable, that you can win at work and succeed at life, that you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other, that you can give attention to an appropriate level of self-care, you can be in great shape, you can have better relationships, whether it’s with your spouse or a significant other or your kids, and you can really grow your career or your business and make serious progress there. This system, I think, is kind of the infrastructure. It’s the operating system that will enable you to do that.
Larry: As we bring our launch party to a close, we want everyone to get a copy of this book. It’s transformative. It’s life-changing. It has made a difference in many, many people’s lives. It will for our listeners too. Tell me about how to do that.
Michael: Okay. The best way to get this book is to go to freetofocusbook.com. The truth is you can go to any retailer and get it. This has links to all of the major online retailers. But here’s the cool thing. When you go to freetofocusbook.com, you’re going to suddenly discover that there are all of these bonuses for buying the book this week, because we’re trying to drive sales (I’m just going to be very transparent about this) through the cash register, so to speak, this week in an attempt to make the major best seller list. So we’re offering some incentive to do that.
If you order one to nine copies, we’re giving $498 of free bonuses away, including a free copy of the Free to Focus audiobook, a copy of Your Best Year Ever ebook, my top productivity tools, where I go through each of those. There are seven different bonuses, and you can read about them on the page. We go into depth on those.
If you order 10-plus copies (because you are going to want a copy of this for your teammates), there are $798 worth of free bonuses. These are substantial. These are not things we just threw together, but they’re all related to putting this content into practice and even going deeper with the content. Again, all that’s at freetofocusbook.com.
Larry: So, guys, it has been a great party. We’re excited about the book out today, Free to Focus. Get your copy today. Megan, final thoughts for our listeners today?
Megan: I think productivity is simpler and more doable than you think, and it can enable you to finally get off the hamster wheel in a way that most of us have never thought would be possible and experience a kind of freedom and empowerment that is really going to change your life.
Michael: Hey, guys. Thanks for hosting this little party. I’m eager to get to the cake. Thanks to all of you for joining us on Lead to Win. It means a lot to me that you would listen to this episode about this book. This is my baby. It’s very precious to me, and I’m delighted to share it with you. Next week, join us for another great episode. Until then, lead to win.