Give Yourself Space.

Give Yourself Space.

Today, when someone in Beijing gets the coronavirus again, the entire world knows about it within hours. 52 years after the Hong Kong flu, we still don’t know how many people actually died from it. The WHO says between 1 and 4 million people. That’s a pretty big range. 

For the dad reading this on Father’s Day, imagine if someone asked you how many kids you have and you said, “somewhere between 1 and 4.” And yet, somehow we all accepted this final death toll from the Hong Kong flu back in 1968-1969 as somewhere between 1 and 4 million.

Why?

Because we weren’t obsessed with instant, always-on communication streaming to us 24/7 through our televisions and smartphones. In the 1950s our average radio use dropped to less than two hours per day while TV viewing climbed to 1 hour and 23 minutes. Back then, we consumed a limited amount of media and shrugged our shoulders at a wildly-inaccurate range of how many people died from the Hong Kong flu and we went back to work. 

Today, the average American watches 8 hours and 55 minutes of TV per day. 

That’s an absolutely astounding amount of media consumption. That adds up to over 135 days of sitting in front of a TV or streaming device each year. Unreal. 

Today, there are entire shows and segments on the always-on news media dedicated to theoretical what-if scenarios that never happen. 

What if we run out of ventilators? What if we don’t have enough meat or toilet paper or what if all the hospital workers get sick and there’s no one to take care of us? What if the economy is shut down for years? 

All of these topics scroll across our television and devices non-stop. The few minutes of reprieve you get from the non-stop negative news industry are filled with pharmaceutical ads that ask viewers whether or not they might have arthritis, high blood pressure, eczema, congestion, seasonal allergies, erectile dysfunction, diabetes or one of a million other ailments. 

I realize you don’t have time to participate in this mind-numbing activity but I would challenge you to think through how your media consumption has changed over the years and how immune you really are to its destructive and productivity-zapping tendencies. 

  • Do you allow your phone, laptop or tablet to push notifications to you? Turn them all off.
  • Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through news and social media feeds. Stop. Turn your phone settings to monochrome. It will help reduce the addictive nature of the apps that commonly drain your time.
  • Do you have a handful of Facebook groups you check throughout the day. Limit your time on them.

One of the reasons we see poor results in many small businesses is that the owners and leaders of these organizations are pulled in a million directions, making only millimeters of progress in each.

Instead, you should be making a mile of progress in one direction. 

Would you like to know how to get this done? It’s very simple in theory but damned hard in practice. Do these four things and you’ll become rich in experience, influence, relationships and financial resources.

First, before you go to bed, reflect on your day. 

Don’t fall asleep late at night after watching a bunch of television or mindlessly scrolling through your smart phone. Instead, turn off all the distractions and set aside time to express thanks and gratitude for all you’ve been given. 

Write down the three to five things you’re going to do tomorrow. They don’t all have to be “conquer the world” type goals. One item, for example, could be to take your dog for a walk and meditate or pray early in the morning. Another item could be to sit down with a key employee for breakfast and check in to see how they are doing.

Second, keep your phone out of your bedroom. 

Do not wake up and start checking emails, text messages or voicemail. Start your day on your agenda. Keep all inbound communication at bay. Check your email, texts and other messages no sooner than 12pm, so that you have a full four hours of productive time to work on your agenda, no somebody else’s. David Allen was right when he said email is a never-ending to-do list that anyone on the planet can add to without your permission.

Third, schedule start and end times to those three to five things you wrote down and at the end of the next day, reflect on them again. 

Did you get them done? What did you learn? What three to five things do you know today that you didn’t know when you woke up. Check whether or not you paid yourself today. Answer whether you demand a reasonable wage for your efforts every single day and stop taking what’s left over at the end of the month or simply taking some pre-set salary. That’s no way to 5X or 10X your income.

Finally. Give yourself time and space to think and be productive. 

Write down 10 ideas every single day even if you think they are silly or horrible. Most of them will be silly or horrible but if you train yourself to get into this habit, it’s like putting your subconscious through olympic training for productivity and creativity. You’re reading this report solely because one day over a decade ago, I wrote down the idea to “send frequent updates to clients with market news, mindset lessons and encouragement.” 

Throughout the world, we’re all social distancing, but very few people are giving themselves enough mental space to process, reflect and plan. 

Start with 20-30 minutes per day and grow into a comfortable rhythm where you have at least a half-day of planning for every $5 million in revenue for any professional practice in which you are still a producer or treating clinician. 

Protect this time and space at all costs. Make a “Do Not Disturb” sign and laminate it. Stick it on your door and shut that door. Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors of all times, says the key to becoming a great writer is to have a door that you’re willing to shut. No one must interrupt this time of yours. They must all understand it is how you create and produce for the good of all stakeholders, so that everyone can thrive.

It helps to create a space that stimulates such creativity and productivity. My office, simply by stepping into it, speaks to my subconscious that this is a place to be productive and do my best work. It was created through painstaking attention to detail and no expense was spared in its design, layout or furnishing of technology, tools and resources. 

Very few people have ever been in my office. Many have seen my public-facing office, where I take meetings, but I can count on a few fingers how many have actually seen where I produce my best work. One commented that I could run a large company or small country from “the room where it happens.” He’s right and it’s not by mistake.

At last count, I’ve written over 72 comprehensive courses for business owners, over 100 lectures for orthodontic and pediatric dental residents, seven Amazon best-selling books, over 150 ghost-written books for clients, countless articles, reports and white papers, 285 Burleson Reports, 336 weekly faxes and somewhere north of 10,764 emails to clients and prospective members. 

And listen, I’m very average in all of this. I’m no Stephen King.

When you give yourself space to be this productive, you magnetically attract solutions, resources and people to you that can help you achieve your goals. 

When you don’t, however, you become locked, prohibited, effectively impotent in achieving your results, like the millions of people throughout the world that are glued to a device or television.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.