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Asianefficiency – Finisher’s Fastlane Corporate
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Asianefficiency – Finisher’s Fastlane Corporate
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How to Finish Everything You Start, So You Can Finally Achieve Your Most Important Goals
This New System Lets You Focus on What Matters — Even If You’re Overwhelmed and Don’t Know Where to Start
SOMETHING WAS SERIOUSLY WRONG. MIKE WAS LIVING THE GOOD LIFE.
Every day, he was making a difference in the world – he was the CEO of a company that builds educational software for schools with children who have disabilities.
His work made him happy, and the value he provided to big clients was huge.
Past clients he hadn’t heard from in months would regularly email him out of the blue just to say how awesome his software was and how much it was helping them serve their community.
SO WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
Mike was frustrated, every single day, because there was a huge gulf between his dream version of himself and where he actually was.
From the outside, Mike looked successful. He had a beautiful wife, 4 boys and big, beautiful home. But he’d look around at others on Facebook and Twitter — see them giving keynotes, appearing on podcasts, and landing huge clients, and think, “That should be me.”
This gulf between dream and reality showed up in other ways too. Mike wanted revenue to be 5x time what it was. He wanted to write a book. He wanted to be the devoted Dad he didn’t have as a kid, but he was barely eating dinner with his kids 1 or 2 times a week.
And like many people, Mike knew logically what he should do to achieve those things.
He’d spent hours and hours researching the perfect way to write a book, the perfect time management system to end every day exactly at 5pm, the perfect mindsets for achieving work-life balance.
Yet somehow, none of it ever happened. Why?
Let me ask you: have you ever been in Mike’s position? I know I have.
Back when I was in college, I was full of dreams. I’d envision my future, write out affirmations, lay out the perfect to-do list, plot out the ideal calendar. You name it, I did it.
Yet month after month, I was the same unfulfilled, frustrated person.
Here’s the problem I had, and the problem Mike had too. Maybe it sounds familiar to you.
Like me, Mike had a total inability to focus.
He’d sit at his computer and get ready to buckle down on his book, and then somehow, someway, the news would appear on his browser…
15 new tabs would suddenly appear, full of top 10 lists on the best books for entrepreneurs to read, the best to-do list apps, the best way to block out your calendar…
Then he’d spend an hour or more flipping through all these distractions, close the tabs one by one, and eventually get back to his book. Then he’d look at his to-do list, sigh, close Byword, and get back to the urgent business of the day: answering emails, making phone calls, etc.
You see, Mike was great at getting those things done, things he had to do, like client meetings — which he was a pro at. But then after the important or urgent obligations were over for the day, all his energy would vanish.
He might get one or two other things done in a day, but he just couldn’t find the focus to get more than the absolute essentials done.
(And that was just work — he also had a backlog of personal stuff to do: small projects around the house, plans with his family, decluttering, updating his computer.)
What little focus he could muster was sucked away by interruptions — people calling him, emailing him, client emergencies.
He’d forget stuff, get stressed out, and snap at his team members.
Mike could never summon the focus to do the real things that would get him to where he really wanted to be: a published thought leader and a devoted father.
And because he could only focus on “small fires,” as he called them, he never invested time in his real goals: making more money, becoming a thought leader in his field, and being an amazing dad.
He kept trying the same things: different productivity apps, accountability buddies, reading books, tinkering with his calendar.
BUT IT WAS LIKE BEING STUCK IN QUICKSAND.
The more he struggled, the more he seemed to get sucked back in, never able to reach stable ground. Focus was always just out of reach. Distractions kept him stuck in the quicksand of stagnation.
He’d go on Instagram and see people on amazing vacations with their families, building their dream homes, presenting at TED Talks…and feel the envy like a gut punch. Those were his dreams, too.
Then he’d just sigh, close the tabs, and think, “Wish I could do that.”
Once you stop making progress, you’re declining. And that was true for Mike. He couldn’t break through to real growth, because distractions held him back.
Mike knew he was capable of so much more. He was coming up on 15 years since graduating college, and thinking back on his dreams at 22 versus his life at 37…he knew he’d fallen short. And this knowledge was eating him up inside.
He felt less confident about what he could do as a person. It seemed like his future would just happen to him…like he didn’t have control over it.
8 years ago, every day felt like a new opportunity to disappoint myself. I was doing fine in classes, but I had this vision of myself as a successful entrepreneur, someone who helped others and made a difference in the world. Yet every day, I couldn’t focus long enough to even write a blog post.
I kept getting distracted before I could ever really concentrate. Facebook, the news, TV shows, doing laundry…I’d do anything but focus on working towards my goals.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I lacked the ability to do Deep Work.
And it was only when I went through a phase of productivity experiments that I discovered the seeds of the system I’ve now grown into a full-blown way to live a driven, focused life.
A friend and I dove head first into the productivity literature. We read every book we could get our hands on, we went to seminars around the world with experts like Tony Robbins, and we spent thousands of hours testing techniques out and refining them. All to close the gap between where we were, and where we wanted to be.
Over a period of months, I developed a system that worked for me.
I finally got clarity on my most important goal.
I discovered how to jump start myself into focus, no matter how distracted I was.
I developed a foolproof way to find the ONE thing I needed to work on whenever I felt lost during the day.
I set up systems for addressing the “small fires” in my life: the phone calls, emails, and meetings that had to get take care of but that would destroy by ability to do Deep Work if I let them.
I systemized how to deal with incoming requests, so that every email and “Got a minute?” didn’t become a time debt sucking me away from real productivity.
I found a way to banish distractions, so I no longer felt compelled to open Facebook or Reddit every 5 minutes.
And I discovered easy ways to find the time for Deep Work, no matter how busy I was.
And in the 8 years since, I’ve taught this system to thousands of people, who have paid millions of dollars combined for the information.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
WHAT IS DEEP WORK?
I’ve mentioned Deep Work several times now, so you may be wondering what I mean by that. Is it just another word for focus?
Nope. You see, you can focus on anything. You can focus on a grocery list. You can focus on finding the perfect show to watch next on Netflix. But that’s not Deep Work.
Deep Work is a flow state in which you do your most creative work.
It’s when your brain starts making connections between different concepts, when inspired ideas come into your head, when the words flow out of your fingers and onto the keyboard. It’s when you’re tackling a hard problem and instead of immediately doing something else when you get frustrated, you stick with it, until you push through to the other side.
Here’s how it can look. Picture this scene: you sit down at your keyboard for your early-morning writing session. The house is quiet — not a sound.
You’ve got your cup of fresh hot coffee or tea steaming beside you. Your Moleskine journal is next to you, fresh from the journalling session you just completed.
You sit up straight in your chair, click on your monitor, and settle your hands over the keyboard. You know exactly what to do. You have the ONE THING you need to do now.
You start typing, and the ideas start flowing out.
Distractions are the furthest thing from your mind. As you type, your mind zeroes in more and more on what you’re doing. No willpower. No internal friction. No nagging little voice in your head.
Just a state of flow. Deep Work.
After an hour has passed, you push back your chair, stand up and stretch, smile, and walk over to the kitchen to start making breakfast.
Your day has started with a win, and it’s only going to get better from here.
Later, a friend asks why you’re so happy, and you tell them you’ve been getting up early to write the book you’ve been talking about for years. And that you’ve already written 50 pages.
“ Wow,” your friend says. “You’re really doing it. That’s awesome.”
Does this sound like a pipe dream? Or something only a super-disciplined Zen monk could ever hope to achieve?
I want to tell you this: I get Deep Work like that done every single day. And if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you. It doesn’t require willpower. It doesn’t require working 12-hour days. It doesn’t require yelling at yourself in your head about what a lazy underachiever you are.
It doesn’t require any of that.
Deep Work is something that makes you feel better about yourself, because you get real work accomplished every time you do it. Work that lets you achieve your goals and be the person you know you’re capable of being.
Deep Work is something Mike had never experienced. No wonder he couldn’t write his book. His book wasn’t just a simple “open Byword and write” plan. It was a systematic way to take write the book, get it published and a marketing plan so it would be seen by millions of people across the world.
To get his book out there, he needed to level up his life, his skills, his approach, the entire way he thought of himself.
He needed to get himself from here to there.
But at that moment, as he had been for the past 5 years, he was too overwhelmed to even start.
Picture that — you’re fired up for a new project, you get ready to start, and you come across folder after folder of unfinished projects.
Projects you were just as excited about as this one.
“What makes you think you’ll finish this one?” you ask yourself. “Why is this time any different? You never finish anything.”
IT’S A HORRIBLE NEGATIVE CYCLE, WHEN YOU CONSISTENTLY START THINGS AND CAN’T FINISH THEM.
Mike wasn’t just frustrated, he was angry at himself.
Angry that his company wasn’t growing.
Angry that he couldn’t even start — much less finish — his most important project (his book).
Angry that all the creative ideas swirling around in his head never went anywhere.
What’s the point of having amazing ideas if you can’t start and finish them?
What’s the point of working if it’s just, essentially, busy work?
Mike would sit at his desk at 7pm every evening, look back on another mostly wasted day, and think, “This isn’t what I got into business for.”
WHEN YOUR FOCUS SUFFERS DEATH BY A THOUSAND PAPERCUTS, WHAT REALLY DIES IS 2 THINGS:
1 Your ability to achieve your vision for yourself by following through on your goals.
2 Your self-respect and confidence that you’ll ever make your goals happen.
What makes it so hard for people like you, me, and Mike is that we’re not lazy. We work hard.
But working hard isn’t enough.
As Tony Robbins has said,
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.”
To achieve your important goals in life, you must concentrate your power and direct your focus. That starts with building focus, and knowing where to focus. Being smart isn’t enough.
The poet Thomas Grey wrote a famous poem where he looks on gravestones in a country churchyard and thinks about the unknown Miltons and Cromwells that could be there. People who could have been famous figures in history, but weren’t. They just never had the opportunity.
Similarly, think about the Tony Robbins, Benjamin Franklins, and Steve Jobs who never were. Who could have been — who were on par in intelligence, ideas, and creativity — but could never focus and make their ideas happen.
Think about reaching the end of your life, looking back, and seeing what you could have been — what you could have achieved — but didn’t.
Not because of a lack of intelligence or work ethic, but a simple inability to do Deep Work. To truly focus on important work.
That future loomed over Mike. He saw the huge gap between what he could be and what he was.
And it was his lack of focus standing in the way.
Are You Stuck in “Putting Out Small Fires” Mode?
Have you tried using GTD, task apps, OmniFocus, Spotify playlists, and other productivity tools — and still find you can’t focus?
Do you still find yourself overwhelmed with distractions, open loops in your head, ideas, and your backlog of tasks?
It might surprise you to know that a lot of our clients have this problem. They’re excellent at their work. They rarely fail to deliver on things that have to get done.
But when it comes to achieving their goals — the goals that keep them up at night — that’s where they fall short.
And that’s because they’re stuck in “putting out small fires” mode and managing the urgent — but neglecting the non-urgent and important.
Over the past 7+ years, we’ve helped hundreds of clients get better focus.
So when Mike came to me for help, I knew what to do.
I guided him through the focus system we’ve developed, and that I use personally to stay focused in my life.
I gave him quick wins to instantly boost his productivity.
Then I guided him through the myths holding him back from focusing, helped him develop new mindsets, and gave him real-world ways to handle the emergencies that pop up and threaten to destroy focus.
We also worked together to define his One Thing to work on — out of the 300+ on his list.
This gave Mike a clear plan for how to prioritize and where to start.
Before, Mike used to do maybe 20 minutes here and there of focused work. Within a week, he was doing 2 hours of focused work a day. Within a month, he’d handled his entire backlog and was able to do 4 hours of focused, high-value work every workday.
He wrote eight chapters in one week. The daily energy boosts Mike got from accomplishing important, focused work every day gave him the confidence he needed to approach the big, intimidating publishers he knew he could land — but was too scared to contact before.
His employees noticed the difference. He was calmer, more on top of things, and handling all his responsibilities with minimal stress.
His wife and kids saw a happy daddy. He was there every morning to get the kids ready for school and at 5pm ready for dinner time.
After seeing Mike’s results, I started thinking: I love working with clients one on one, but I wanted more people to see these results for their own focus.
Plus, focus is one of the #1 topics people ask us about.
- “How do I stay focused and motivated long enough to finish what I started?”
- “How do I focus while allowing for open communication so my staff can easily ask me questions?”
- “I have a million ideas and tasks. How do I know the best one to start with?”
- “I work in a large bureaucracy with multiple meetings called per week, and each meeting interrupts my focus for 3+ hours. What do I do?”
- “ What if I miss something important when I go offline for deep work mode?”
- “How do I make myself do something that doesn’t have a deadline?”
- “How do I get more than a week ahead, so I’m not always putting out fires?”
The antidote to feeling overwhelmed is knowing where to start. And the antidote to a lack of focus is the ability to do Deep Work so you finish what you start.
18 months ago, the Asian Efficiency team and I started developing a course to distill all our knowledge about focus and Deep Work in one place.
First, we sent out surveys to tens of thousands of people. Then we followed up with over 100 hours of one-on-one interviews to better understand the problems people were having with focus.
We then tested dozens of new ideas with beta testers. We adapted tactics based on their feedback and iterated techniques until our testers achieved the increased focus they were looking for.
Then we met as a team and spent days reading interview transcripts and hashing out the outline of our course. After that we spent weeks shooting all-new videos, putting together the course material, and organizing it all into a flow that takes you from zero focus to superhuman focus.
Tens of thousands of dollars went into creating this course. We knew we had to make the best focus course available so other people could have the same level of success Mike and our other clients were seeing.
And along the way, during all that research and work…