How many minutes can you 100% focus before losing your mental edge? Do you know where to find the most deadly distractions in your career? Are you hustling to climb the wrong ladder? If you want to maximize engineering career success, these questions are critical.
In this episode, be prepared to find your personal edge with high performance productivity coach, April Garcia. As an advisor to international billion dollar companies and small agile startups, this former scientist is more than another “get more done” guru. Her Multiply Me methodology delivers 3x more work done in less hours per day.
You are going to feel your productivity increase the moment she starts talking.
No need to put this episode on 1.25x speed… it will feel that way all on its own. Get your notebook out, because April is going to reveal what BLOCKS you from personal productivity. Then she gives you immediate action steps to increase it. That’s my kind of coach!
So press play and let’s chat… and enjoy a free session with the coach you’d like to have a beer with!
The Happy Engineer Podcast
WATCH EPISODE 13: DEADLY DISTRACTION INTERVIEW
LISTEN TO EPISODE 13: DEADLY DISTRACTION INTERVIEW WITH ZACH’S DEBRIEF
Listen on Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Android // iHeartRadio
CARVING YOUR PATH TO ENGINEERING CAREER SUCCESS
Right out of the gates April identified a major cancer in the corporate culture which ends up sucking most of us into a seemingly inescapable black-hole.
“Well, what is it?”, I can almost hear you ask.
It’s the unfortunate outcome of people not asking an equally simple question.
People across the world are increasingly trapped by this mindset that has infiltrated corporate culture – the idea that it just has to be this way. I can tell you from talking with hundreds and hundreds of engineers around the world, there is an unbelievable amount of pressure from the culture within your company, from your peers, from your leadership, that this belief is true – this idea that it just has to be this way. Things are the way they are, and there’s nothing we can do about it. That the way to success is to put in the time. You’ve got to have your nose to the grindstone to get ahead. You want to be a top performer at this company? You’ve got to put in the time.
But why? Why should it not only be acceptable, but encouraged, to essentially throw your life away in an attempt to get ahead in your career? Why is it accepted that “this is just the way things are” without seeking ways to improve the way things are?
Why isn’t there a better way? Well… there is.
The truth is that it does not have to be this way!
I was just talking with one of my clients who’s a very successful software developer at Nike and said, “Hey, what’s going on? How are you?” And she had just had an interaction with a peer who said, “Hey, you know, you’re doing great, but people on this team put in a lot of extra hours and you need to be here and stick around if you want to be a top player, top performer.”
Wow… That belief is so prevalent. And I can imagine you might be having thoughts right now, something to the effect of “But Zach, that’s true. That is what it takes at my company”. I just want you to notice that even as I’m saying this, the part of you that believes that it has to be this way is going to start defending the perceived truth of what you believe already.
If that’s you, I just want you to know it does not have to be this way. And there are solutions and there are ways around this. First, before any tactic or any tool is going to solve this problem for you, you must solve the problem that is within yourself, in your mindset. And if you need help with that, get a coach, get the support you need.
Take action today to reach out and get help because you are not going to transform your mindset by yourself, in a vacuum reading books, or even reading this. I wish that I could completely transform your mindset through this, but it’s not enough. I can tell you from working with our clients – if it was that simple, we would just record the one track that would solve all of your problems. So, step one is get help.
The second thing, which I love and agree with wholeheartedly, is making sure you have clearly defined what success looks like for you.
Everyone has their own ideals, their own concept of what qualifies as success for them. We are not all working towards the same goal. If you succeed in achieving your neighbor’s vision of success, you may be left feeling a bit lost, and unfulfilled.
And here’s the thing: the ultimate answer is not a five-hour day, a six-hour day, or even an eight-hour day. The answer is the answer that’s right for you. You want to climb the ladder? Great. First, make sure your ladder is leaning against the right wall, the one that is aligned with where you want to go. Is this aligned with your purpose and values, do your vision and goals support your purpose and values?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you’ve got work to do. Figure it out before you throw fuel on a fire that could be raging in the wrong direction, because you could end up getting burned. Answer that question, and if you need help, get help. But make sure you actually have defined what success means to you, and that the ladder you’re climbing, and the wall it’s leaning against, are the path to your success.
Now we can dial in on getting it. Take action on the tools and the productivity tips. One thing that stood out to me more than anything in this conversation was what April brought to us in the distinction between the external and internal distractions, with the four key areas that we highlighted.
And this is one of just a whole buffet of amazing tips and tactics that April has to offer. But between distraction, time-hijackers, prioritization, and controlling the narrative – April said distraction is number one. I think that’s so important for you to realize, you’re probably distracted right now while you’re even reading this.
You’re distracted, you’re doing other things. You’re multitasking and I get it, but here’s the thing. Distraction is both external and internal. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to distraction. And this 20 minute timer trick is so compelling, so powerful. And if you’ve never tried it, I highly encourage you to do so.
If you took away only one action, just like April said to put this into practice and give it two weeks. You’re probably going to notice the difference immediately, but like anything, you have to be willing to make a commitment long enough that you actually have a chance to experience the benefits.
- So give it two weeks – when you sit down to work on a task instead of leaving a two hour or three hour block on your calendar that you think you’re going to sit and be productive that whole time, block that out into these 20 minute segments, or even less.
- Set that timer, not with your phone – the weapon of mass distraction – but use a timer via YouTube or some other tool, 20 minutes or less.
- Choose that one task that you’re going to focus on and put yourself in that state that I’m going to beat the timer.
- I’m going to get more done in these 20 minutes than anyone else would think is possible.
- Trigger that drive and that competitive spirit.
I love this tip!
If you want to take it further, then put something on the line for your performance to really help you draw into focus. But even without that, notice in between each 20 minute segment, how productive are you? How distracted were you? Where was your mind when the timer went? Then take that short break, get some movement in the body, wake up, bring your energy and focus back, take a drink of water and then set the timer again and get after it.
This is a really powerful approach to increase your productivity. What I coach my clients on that’s directly related to this is the idea that productivity is not just about hours. It’s about energy. How much energy are you bringing each hour that you work? When you use a tactic like this, through your focus, you’re going to multiply the level of energy that you’re able to bring to each task, and you may surprise yourself with how much you can do.
All right, engineers, put it into practice, take action. And more than anything, get the help that you need to create the kind of transformation that’s going to allow you to experience the life and the career that you desire. That’s what we’re here for. That’s what we’re about.
To be a happy engineer takes intentional effort on your part, but it also means having the courage to carve your own path, do things the way that work best for you, and not being afraid to ask why rather than just accept that it just has to be this way. Sometimes going with the flow isn’t really the best way to go.
That’s going to make you happier than you ever thought possible.
Let’s do this.
Previous Episode 12: Lasting Happiness with Dr. Elia Gourgouris
ABOUT APRIL GARCIA
By age 19, April had begun her long tenure of entrepreneurship as a real estate investor and had already started her first company before she could legally buy a beer. She went on to buy several rentals, started a company, and was “house hacking” before she knew what it was called.
She was also an insatiable traveler, and was eventually attacked by a wild dog in Fiji, navigated a broken foot in El Salvador, survived Bangkok Burn, Delhi Belly and one military coup. This evolved into traveling to 45 countries and leading humanitarian teams with Habitat for Humanity, while still building her business career.
With her experience starting and managing several businesses in varied industries, she provides a genuine insider’s view. She knows the ropes — because she too has fallen from them. Her life has been shaped by being a diligent student. Originally trained as a scientist, she tackles success and personal development with scientific precision.
April also has a passion for challenging herself physically, and participated in numerous races, triathlons, thru-hikes, and endurance races.
In addition to her executive coaching for leaders and high performers, she also hosts the popular Entrepreneur and Business podcast April Garcia’s PivotMe®
She has walked this tightrope while also managing a family with two young kiddos and always staying present as a mom. When she’s not in the boardroom, or on the microphone, she loves getting people out of their chairs, spontaneous road trips, and has ‘Badass’ tattooed somewhere on her body. But most of all, she loves hiking in the Sierra Nevadas with her beautiful family.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- April Garcia on LinkedIn
- Multiply Me Course – SIGN UP!
- Virtual Coaching with April
- Need help applying these tools to your engineering career? Book a FREE call and let’s get clarity on your next steps.
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.
[00:00:08] Zach White: Welcome back. Happy engineers. It’s so good to have you. And I am pumped about our conversation today with April Garcia and April is hailed as the business advisor. You’d love to have a beer with and an expert with an edge. I love this by age 19 had already begun her long tenure in entrepreneurship as a real estate investor had started her first company and bought a house.
[00:00:34] Before she could legally buy a beer. This is so amazing. Graduated from numerous leaders, academies climb the ladder, the top performer in the financial and telecom index. Received a bachelor’s in biology. So she’s got our science background here and built several businesses and advise both us and international corporations from startup to billion dollar businesses.
Expand to Read Full Transcript
[00:00:57] April is an expert at things like growing revenue, sales, and ops, increasing productivity, which I know you want to hear more about and helping people like yourself obtain that balance. So you have the time to enjoy the life. That they earned and she knows what it takes. All right. To change your story, remove the limiting beliefs that may already be cropping up in your mind right now, as you listened to this, create those high-performing habits and teaches people how to add time into their schedules.
[00:01:28] She’s a former science. A passionate adventurer and has visited over 45 countries leading humanitarian teams. It’s amazing. Just look at this survived cholera, dysentery, rabies treatments, and a military coup and completed triathlon. Endurance races despite having lupus, which can be debilitating, although she’s a corporate bad-ass, she is also a loving mother and a wife.
[00:01:56] When she’s not in the boardroom or on the microphone with us, she can be found in the mountains, camping with her family. What an amazing. Introduction April. Thank you so much for making time to be with
[00:02:08] April Garcia: us today. Thank you, Zach. It’s such an honor to be here and I’m so glad that we could come together and that you bought through that bio.
[00:02:16] That was a long one. Zach’s
[00:02:18] Zach White: so great though. Oh, there’s so many things here, April and you know, the engineer listening is I know triggering on this idea of being more productive, having that time. They want engineering career success! And people come to you from all around the world for help. With productivity, time management, getting more done.
If, if that’s the solution that they’re seeking from you, can you just help us understand what is the actual problem that people are trying to solve?
[00:02:44] April Garcia: Sure. So,
um, a couple of problems act, so so they come to me. Um, they come to me for. So usually they come to me with, for business solutions, right? They, um, they want to get their ops team running more efficiently.
[00:02:54] They want their sales teams to go up there,
um, or increase revenue where they want to launch a new product, things like that. So their business objectives. However, what I found was when the door was shut, And sort of the gloves were off. What was said was how do I get more done in my day? How do I get more done in my team’s day?
[00:03:10] And that’s,
that’s, really how I got into this type of work is that I had the solution. Um, and it came hard, fought for sure, but I had the solution and really that made all the other business objectives that they had. This was the big domino to fall is being more productive. And the problem that is often the problem that needs to be solved in this situation.
[00:03:29] There’s a couple of them. The biggest one is distraction. Distraction is a huge problem. It is,
it is a huge problem for, um, getting more done in your day. Um, and I’ll just list a couple of other problems, time hijackers, and that can be everything from people that can be Bob and accounting. Constantly asking you a question that can be, um, your inbox.
[00:03:49] Keep in mind. A lot of people will go for their priorities and they look in their inbox. Your inbox is often not your priority. The priorities of others. These are all things that hijack your productivity. So distraction is a big one. And honestly, that prioritization, we feel compelled. Once something is written on our to-do list, we feel compelled to get it done.
[00:04:10] We see a problem and we want to solve it. Oftentimes the things that go on our to do list, aren’t actually getting us to our larger goal. They’re just something that we’ve added to our, to do list, or maybe that have been delegated to us by somebody else. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be done or it doesn’t necessarily need to be done by us.
[00:04:27] So I would say distraction time, hijackers prioritization. And a little bit of controlling the narrative. And we’ll talk about that more, but just controlling the things that we’re saying about, well, I’ve got so much to get done. All these things need to get done. This is what success looks like. This is the price of admission to success.
[00:04:45] That is a limiting belief because when we imagine success, oftentimes especially in the professional realm, we imagine long day. We imagine that you have to fight and Claude to get to the top, whether that’s a corporate ladder or you own your business, it can still be this focus of will. I have to do this.
[00:05:02] This is the price of admission. And I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case.
[00:05:06] Zach White: I love the spirit of this already.
And I know with a productivity expert on the other end of this conversation, we’re going to get through some amazing value here. But before I dive right into these areas. , tell me. Where was the point in your story where you realized I’m really good at this at solving this problem?
Like when did you come to that realization? Where were you in life at that time? Take us back
[00:05:29] April Garcia: to that. Yeah. So,
um, I would say that before I discovered that I was really good at this, I first had to be really bad at that. So that’s really where, um, as is often the case necessity is what spurs us on for this.
um, you know, looking back at my career, Zach, I’m gonna be honest. I was always pretty good at what I did. I was always a top producer. I was always in the top, you know, 5% of, of the industries that I was in and I was very successful. It came with a huge price tag. I worked incredibly long hours. So in, in every building that I worked in, I knew the security I knew maintenance.
[00:06:04] Um, I can remember in my twenties working in the financial industry and maintenance, rescheduled all the lighting in the parking lot because I would leave hours after everybody else. And so here was this 20 something year old, leaving the parking lot of a bank and it was this kind of sketchy location. I worked all the time.
[00:06:23] So that came as well price and I told myself, well, this is the price of admission. This is what it’s like to climb the corporate ladder. And I did, and the truth was my system was working, but I was paying this huge price. So I started giving up on the things that I loved in life. I’m a big outdoors. I’m very adventurous, loved, travel, love, anything, mountain bike, hiking, all of those things.
[00:06:45] And those started to get smaller and smaller in my life and where it really became a problem. I was when I became a parent, because I wanted to be a very present parent. I wanted to be engaged and I wanted to teach my kids how to paddleboard
and try and travel and all these things that are important to me.
[00:07:03] I wanted to be there with my kids for that. And that’s what really forced my hand in to say, okay, well, the system I had was working. But I had to pay a big price. How do I enjoy the same level of success? How do I produce the same kind of results, but not the 60, 70 hour work weeks? And so that was really the catalyst that drove me forward.
[00:07:26] Now I’d read every productivity book, I’ve done the courses, I’ve gotten the journals and the apps and all of those things. And there is value to all of that, but. Honestly, a lot of it was just over complicated and they would talk about productivity in this kind of theoretical space. But,
but, okay, well, I, I understand the concept of predo, you know, predo principle.
[00:07:44] What happens when, you know, my coworker keeps popping their head in what happens when I’ve got my, my,
my primary objective, but then something else comes in and there’s a fire and I’ve got to go put it out. What happens to my primary objective. So I finally. I sat down and said, let’s take, let’s stand on the shoulders of giants.
[00:08:03] Let’s look at all the information that’s out there. Look at all the laws, all the principles. And then how do we distill those down
and, make them practical for today’s day and age, when to be honest, some of the people that have wrote those things, they’re a little removed from the day to day. They’re not still, you know, trying to make their kid’s hockey game.
[00:08:19] There’s not trying to pick up their kids or drop their kids off in the morning. Uh, they’re a bit removed from the day to day. There is a way I knew there was a way to advance our careers, but still have time for the other things in life. And I sat out on a mission and I solved it. Now I’ll spend the rest of my time sharing it with others.
[00:08:37] Zach White:
That’s amazing. So that cost that you talked about, I know the engineer listening who wants engineering career success is they’re nodding their heads saying, yep. I know the cost. I’m also in that place and putting in these crazy hours. I can’t seem to get ahead. I keep trying to solve it with the same solution of one more hour and then two more hours.
[00:08:55] And what do you think it is April that keeps us stuck in that place. When we know we’re paying the price and, and for whatever reason, we don’t do the things that are going to help transform that situation. What keeps us stuck?
[00:09:10] April Garcia: A couple of things. Zach one is just the belief that it has to be there.
[00:09:14] That’s the biggest thing that keeps us stuck. Now I’ll talk a little bit about how our system and our society are kind of set up to sabotage us too. But the first thing we have to dismantle, we’ve got to crush this with our heel, is that it has to be this way because not only do you believe it, but likely your coworkers believe it, and your boss and your staff believe it.
[00:09:35] So we’re seeing it everywhere. There is evidence around us every day that this is how it’s got to be done. And so we,
we buy it hook, line and sinker. Yep. This is what it is. This is the price of admission. So the first thing we’ve got to do is crush the idea that this is the only way, and maybe some of us grew up and we saw, you know, our dads, maybe they were successful.
[00:09:54] Maybe we saw them put in the really long hours and we define success by, oh, this is what it looks like. It looks like 12 hours. It looks like texting your spouse, that I’ve already left for the day, honey, when you’re still sitting in the office, trying to get one more report out, right. Who hasn’t been there.
[00:10:08] I’ve been there many times and I’m sure many of your lessons and
we’re we’re rushing or, or we’re, we’re enjoying some measure of success. Why the cabin that we’re going to go to on the weekend and then our partners going without us, and maybe we’ll meet them up there on Saturday. And that hurts. But again, we say well, but, but my career is, is paying for that.
[00:10:27] Right? So I’m supporting, I’m providing for that life for them. Or maybe I don’t get to go out with my friends as much and go mountain biking. Whatever it is that really fires you up. But, but that’s okay. Cause I’m just, I’m just putting in as Dean Grasiozi. He likes to call it his success tax.
Well, we convince ourselves that our success stacks is so big and we start paying his tax and her tax and that guy’s over here tax doesn’t have to be that way.
[00:10:52] Zach White: This, this is huge because you’re talking about a mindset, not about a tactic right there. So, uh,
uh, you know, you know, I’m just going to ask the dumb question, okay, that sounds great. April. I want to crush this belief or this idea that it has to be this way. Uh, okay. am I done? Did I do it?
[00:11:10] How, how do you know? Or what’s that, what’s that process of a mindset transfer? Sure.
[00:11:16] April Garcia: So there’s a couple of things. So one
is, is the belief and, and when I go through, so, um, when I go through, so I have a course multiply me and it’s focused on time management and productivity. And the reason why the first two modules are focused on mindset is because we have to. I can show you how to take a 10 hour day and make it an eight hour day or 12 hour day and make it an eight hour day. But if you believe that’s what success looks like, if you’ve defined it that way, eventually you will return to the longer days because that’s how you’re defining success. So I can’t emphasize enough that crushing this belief is very important to success.
[00:11:49] So let’s just say, okay, April, I’ve accepted that there are the Tim Ferris’s of the world that are working for them. I don’t know anyone who works for our week. I’m sure they’re out there, but we accept that. Maybe it doesn’t need to be 60 hours a week. Maybe it’s just a nice seven hour day, and I’m very productive.
[00:12:04] Okay. I buy it April. What’s next. The next step after that is we have to define. What success looks like for us, we need to make sure that the thing we’re about to do is going to get us to our goals. So before we jump into tactics, so we’ve got very, very specific tactics. Like what do we do with interruptions?
[00:12:21] What do we do with time now,
now, Jack hijackers? What do we do with our phone? The weapon of mass distraction, right? We go into various. Tactics. It’s not mine as Brendon Burchard’s, but I loved when he said that we go into very specific tactics, but before we do that, we’ve, we’ve got to crush the belief. Number one.
[00:12:36] And number two, we’ve got to define what success looks like. So a lot of people will sit in front of me and say, I want to climb the corporate ladder faster. How do I get there faster? Well, before we add gasoline to the fire,
Make sure it makes sure let’s use the analogy of the climbing, the ladder. You better look up and see, is this the building I really want to be on, there’s an old saying about that is before you climb it faster, make sure you need to go where you’re trying to go.
[00:13:01] So it’s not about just. Define what success. So lean out into the future, maybe three to five years and say, okay, this is what success I want this role. I want my,
my job to look this way. I want my business to look this way. So once we define what success looks like, then we’re going to stack up the tasks.
[00:13:20] That get us there. So again, we’re not just jumping in and doing things faster. Success for me is not just teaching you how to get 20 things done on your to-do list instead of 10. Well, then you’re still in the same kind of rat race, the same trap that you were in before. You’re just pumping out more.
[00:13:36] That’s not success. It’s to get you to your goal. We need to define success, get you there and then get you home. So you can do the other things you love in life. So I can go into it, the actual practical steps, but we really got to clarify where you’re headed.
[00:13:49] Zach White: Clarity and where you’re headed is the ladder leaning against the right wall.
[00:13:53] I’d love this in, at any point in the process, April, if somebody is on the ladder that they think they’ve got that three to five year plan set up and they’re, they’re hustling, they’re climbing what’s the test or what’s the way to check and ask yourself, is my mindset still in that right place? Or have I fallen back into the old pattern, the old mindset, if that’s such a foundational starting point, what would you recommend for someone else?
[00:14:18] Not sure. Like, have I landed back in that old way or do I have this new mindset that’s going to serve me and take me towards that,
that definition of success? What’s the test? Sure.
[00:14:29] April Garcia: That’s a really good, great question, Zach, because it does take maintenance and
it’s, it’s a maintenance. We have to manage our mindset.
[00:14:36] We don’t shift our mindset and snap it’s there because you’ve lived a lot of years. You might have left 30 years, 40 years, 50 years. In another mindset. So it does take, uh, it does take maintenance. I want you to think about it like a muscle that you’re exercising. We don’t pick up the dumbbell once ago.
[00:14:52] Oh my God. Check out my sweet biceps doesn’t work that way.
Like you’ve got to maintain it. So there are things that you can do, um, the multiply method, but there’s things that you can do that you can kind of pressure test as you go. Have I slipped back and a lot of times our schedules will tell us we’ve slipped back.
[00:15:08] A lot of times we’ll look at it and suddenly our days have gotten longer again. And we start taking on,
um, other people’s priorities, right. Um, OTPs, we end up taking in other people’s priorities. Oh, okay. Well now my, my schedule is starting to suffer again. A lot of times our health does, because then we, we worked through lunches.
[00:15:24] I used to say that I only took, I only ate lunch if it was part of a meeting that I was hosting, otherwise I would just work through my lunches. Right. I just had the power bars in my desk and a curate that sat next to it because coffee was for closers and I was a closer, well, that’s the best way to live.
[00:15:40] That’s. That’s one way to do it, but five and five gets you to 10. And so does two and eight.
Um, so maintaining that mindset is important spending a little time in the beginning of your day, thinking about your day. It’s amazing how often we just jump in and start executing on our tasks and we don’t stop to define what success looks like for that day.
[00:16:01] So I want you to lean out three to five years, have that clear. And then each day we should to be defining what success looks like. In fact,
there’s part of the actual tactical piece. When we’re working on, um, prioritization. I talk about the one thing. There should be one big domino each day that you’ve got to knock out and you’ve got to knock it out by 9:27 AM.
[00:16:24] Kind of a little joke. I make about Milton from office space and I was going to catch the building on fire. So you’ve got to get this thing done before 9:27 AM when your building catches on fire, because we often take the most important thing in our day, the thing that has to get done, and we usually tackle it around three o’clock in that right.
[00:16:41] At that point, decision fatigue has kicked in other people’s priorities. There’s emergencies. You’ve got your,
your fire extinguisher route trying to put fires out. And we haven’t done the most important thing we did need to do in the day. So there are things there’s kind of the simple framework that you can do each day and say, okay, what’s my one thing for the day.
[00:16:57] Um, where are my distractions going to come from? What is my priority versus other people’s priority?
Because nobody wants to hear, well, I got busy and I just didn’t get it done. Your boss. Isn’t going to understand that your team, isn’t going to understand that. And you say that too many times, and it’s going to create a problem for you professionally.
[00:17:11] So it’s incumbent upon us to figure out how to prioritize our day and not let other people prioritize our day. Not to say that meetings don’t pop up for sure. But we’ve got a plan for those things.
[00:17:23] Zach White: I know people are like, oh, I want more. Give me, give me the tips. Give me the hacks, give me the strategies.
[00:17:27] And we’ve mentioned four big areas of productivity and for the listener, I just want you to know engineers, if you’re seeking engineering career success.
Like this is the tip of the iceberg that April’s given me here. And I really encourage you to, to work with her and take her course and get the whole, the whole buffet rather than the snack we’re delivering here.
[00:17:40] But distraction time, hijackers prioritization, and controlling the narrative. You mentioned those, which are the four April. Do you see. The most prevalent. If I was looking at an engineering career success community and say, where do you see the most resistance or people struggle the most, which of the four would you say?
[00:18:00] Is the place to look
[00:18:01] April Garcia: first distraction, any form of distraction. If you were to actually follow around an employee or a worker will say,
um, it’s amazing. It’s amazing how often they are distracted from the task at hand. And I’ll give you a solution for that too. I’ve got a very simple solution. I can give you today and it will immediately make you more productive.
[00:18:17] And it’s so powerful imitate in a second, but if you were just to follow someone around. You are distracted the majority of your day. It’s amazing how often we’re distracted. And so we’re distracted by external and internal. So external could be the ding of your slack, your Trello, a sauna, whatever tool you’re using your inbox outlook.
[00:18:39] These are all external distractions. Our phone is an amazing tool. For distractions, we get a text message and run a WhatsApp chain it, whatever, in your particular field or company, there’s all sorts of things, constantly barking for your attention. And when everything seems urgent, then nothing is urgent.
So I was, I would say that if you’re going to tackle any one of those things, it’s it’s distraction. And I’ll, I’ll mention another piece of distraction. We just talked about all the external distractions. Let’s talk about internal distractions. Yeah. This three pound organ that sits on our shoulder is a very effective tool to get us off task.
[00:19:15] I don’t need my phone to ring to start wondering when was that proposal over like kiss schedule? My kid’s dentist appointment. I’m really good at distracting myself. We don’t focus on anything for very long. And so we have to tackle both the external distraction and internal distraction. Now, one thing I’ll say about internal distraction is we will underestimate how much something will take us away from the task at hand.
And so let me give you an example, like say, say, you’re working on a project and you’re focused on the project and, and, and you’re, you’re focused highly, and there’s a little ding. You pick up your phone and you see a text message and he set it down. The external distraction was maybe 15 seconds. You just read them.
[00:19:58] It was not 15 seconds. The second you heard the dang, you were off task and you were thinking, oh, is that, is that Steve? Oh, is he reaching out? Oh, is that you know, my mom, because my father is having health, whatever it is, your,
your, what I call mental real estate already been occupied by that you pick it up and you read the texts 15 seconds.
[00:20:16] Right? You set it down to anything that didn’t take me off task for long. Yes, it did because you do not just switch gears and refocus, especially if you’re doing a challenging project,
right. It’s not about the amount of time that you’ve taken away. It’s about the, the, the ansular time, the rest of the real estate, mental real estate, as I call it, that gets gobbled up by this thing that has taken you off task.
[00:20:36] That is huge. So you can watch a worker and see how much they’re looking away, but then you don’t know how much of their time they’re up here thinking about the game last night, they’re thinking about what they’re going to do after work that robs us of our productivity. So distraction is the biggest thing.
[00:20:54] Zach White: This distinction between external and internal distraction April, I see a connection and I want you to tell me if I’m seeing this correctly or how you see it. W what is our psychology and the interaction with technology and how technology has changed the way that we work.
And so, so is it, uh, is technology a problem for us in productivity?
[00:21:15] Is technology a helper or
like what’s the, what’s the sort of interaction between these two? How do we solve that and integrate them effectively? So it’s
[00:21:24] April Garcia: both, it’s our biggest problem. And it’s our biggest strength we have to, we have to leverage it. We can leverage it for the good, we can leverage it for the evil.
[00:21:31] So for example, you taking a task, right? I mean, I can say, okay, well, this task is made so much faster because of technology. That is true. But let me ask you this, Zach, do you feel like you have more time in your schedule because of our technological advances, right?
[00:21:45] Zach White: Not even close. I
[00:21:47] April Garcia: feel more distracted than ever, right?
[00:21:49] Yeah, absolutely. So internally, so I run a con consulting for Maven, so we use,
um, we use a sonnet we’ve used Trello, monday.com and all sorts of stuff, but we use the sun right now. Wow. That’s amazing. It can, it can project manage so much of the work that we’re done. Did it put back time in my schedule? No.
[00:22:05] Did it put back time in my team’s scheduled? No, but we’re all distracted by the dings and mind you, I love this software. But did it give us more time only if we use it effectively and most of us don’t, so it’s a love, hate relationship with technology, but I can suggest some things to do to make you more effective while using technology and when to turn technology off.
[00:22:27] Okay. So let’s get into the tactical piece. So let’s just say you’re tackling a big project and it needs,
it needs more of your brain. So this is not a mindless project. You need to focus on this. Yes. Engineering career success, for example. So. The first thing we need to do is we need to remove ourself from as much technology as possible.
[00:22:44] Now I realize that people go, whoa, my boss might need to get in touch with me. My team might need to get in touch with me. There’s ways that you do that time blocking. So if you’re not familiar with time-blocking, it’s essentially setting aside a piece of time that is dedicated for a specific task. Most people are familiar with this.
[00:22:59] This is the step. A lot of people forget. You have to communicate that you are time-blocking for that period. Preach it,
[00:23:07] Zach White: this is my favorite thing.
[00:23:08] April Garcia: Okay, here we go. I’m getting on, I’m getting on stage. Let’s do this, love it. Time block for a specific amount of time. And what’s key is you communicate to your people when they can have your attention back.
[00:23:21] Don’t just say I’m Tom blocking at night. No. You say I’m time blocking from nine to 11:00 AM at 1101. I will be checking my emails, my slack messages, whatever communication tool they use,
that you have to let your people know when they can have your attention back, or they will interrupt you. Managing the expectations of others is a huge piece of this.
[00:23:43] And again, you might have a team. People say, well, I have a team. I’ve got people depending on me. That’s great. If they know they get you at 1101, they will be better at not interrupting. Yeah. If they know you got to communicate that and you have to stick to it because if you bend, they will keep expecting you to bend on that.
[00:24:00] Zach White: I got asked this question, the, the fear that always pops up and I just want to hear it straight from the person who’s helped thousands and thousands of people just like our listener to go through. If I time block for 90 minutes and I tell my boss and my team, I’m not available. Has anybody ever lost their job for doing that?
[00:24:19] Like, can I get fired if I’m not available during that night? Like, I’m just going out to that far. End of the fear. Tell us has it ever, has it ever happened that somebody totally regrets doing this?
[00:24:29] April Garcia: No, not that I know of, but there’s a couple of ways to handle that. Okay. So don’t start with 90 minute time block.
[00:24:36] Because when we’re going into something like this, when we’re changing behavior, and this is really important, this is just the psychology of,
of changing behavior. Don’t expect you to go from zero to 60 overnight change is made in small, consistent steps. So if you’ve never time blocked and you’ve always been available to your boss, don’t expect 90 minutes to be a reasonable request.
[00:24:56] Start with. And what you’re doing is you’re training people. You’re managing their expectations. We teach, we teach people how to
teach or to, uh, interact with us. You can shift that now, will you get fired by being unavailable for 90 minutes? No. As long as you communicate it and icing on the cake, be able to show your results.
[00:25:15] If they’re waiting on something and you can produce it after that 90 minutes, they’re going to start to correlate when he or she is unavailable for that 90 days. We get incredibly effective work from them, but if they’re unavailable for 90 minutes and you’re on social media, or you’re looking at your phone a lot, well, then you can have another conversation probably, but if you’re running into a problem with that, Make sure you communicate it.
[00:25:38] Sit down with your boss and tell them why. And not like I get distracted and I stroke that don’t make this your fault. This is, Hey, this is a technique in performance improvement, and I want to deliver exceptional results. And I believe I’ve looked into it. I’ve researched at whatever language serves you that by doing this time blocking method, I’m going to be able to deliver.
[00:26:00] But let them know when you’re available again.
[00:26:02] Zach White: I love it. So remove ourselves from as much technology as possible. What’s number two. So the other
[00:26:07] April Garcia: piece to this is that okay. Nobody focuses on anything for 90 minutes, so, okay. We’ve removed the, who’s going to need you in your boss or your team or whoever.
[00:26:16] Okay. So now you’ve got 90 minutes of uninterrupted time to do this project. Yay. You nobody focuses. You don’t even, you don’t focus on a Hollywood hit for 90 minutes and there’s explosions and sexy ins to keep our attention. I don’t know if you need to cut that Zack, but here we go. But the point being is like, we, we don’t focus on anything for that amount of time.
[00:26:35] So you’ve got to be realistic about how long you can focus. So there’s a couple of ways that we’re going to do this. I am a huge fan of, um, Using a timer. So this is based off of the parade and civil and Parkinson’s law and a couple of other things where we’ve meshed them together to say, we are going to set a timer and it helps you manage distraction and keep you focused.
[00:26:59] And we add
an, a competitive edge to it, right. For short stints of time. So for example, let’s just say that you’ve picked 60 minutes to work on this. You need to know that you’re not going to focus for 60 minutes, because even if technology does not distract you, you will distract you. You’ll start to write with one pen and go, you know, I don’t really like this pen.
[00:27:16] I don’t like the grip. Where’s my blue pen. You’ll just do that. However, if you set a timer, now I’m a fan of setting.
Um, it’s just based off the Pomodoro technique, which is actually 25 minutes, sometimes longer. I’m a fan of setting a timer for no more than 20 minutes. Ideally the sweet spot is between 15 and 20 minutes.
[00:27:36] And you are going to focus on one task during that 20 minute period. Let’s just say 20 minutes, we’ll round it to 20 minutes. The time will go up or down, depending on how tired you are or how much you don’t want to do the task or have been procrastinating on it. If there’s something that you’ve really needed to get out this project that you don’t really like, but you really need to do.
[00:27:56] And you sit down for night. You are not going to focus for 90 minutes. You’re going to focus for 10 minutes and then you’re going to be frustrated. They had to do the task and you’re frustrated at yourself for procrastinating and why couldn’t Steve help all of these things. So you’re going to set a timer and here’s the key I do not like when people set timers to their phone because rarely do we touch our phone and only look at a timer.
We touch our phone, even if the phone is on airplane mode, which when you’re doing a critical task, I encourage you when you’re time blocking to put your phone on airplane. Many people gasp when they hear that. And I remind them it’s okay. You’re going to tell your people when you’re available again. It’s okay.
[00:28:30] But every time we touch our phone, we get distracted. So I literally use a YouTube timer at any point during my day. At any point, during my team’s day, you will see that the first tab of our internet browser is a YouTube. That is silent for 15 to 20 minutes. And it’s actually cap meals at the end of the 20 minutes, you’re doing a task and say, you’re focusing on for 60 minutes.
[00:28:52] You will reset that timer for 20 minute increments. When that timer is up at 20 minutes, you’re going to do something physical. It can simply be stretching. It could be moving your arms. Some people will get up and circle around their chair and sit back down, but something physical. We’ve got to manage our physiology.
[00:29:07] So we keep our energy high. Otherwise, we’re approaching a task with low energy. If you sit and bang out something for four hours, your energy has dropped. And so has your efficiency just standing up and stretching is critical. So if you get nothing else from
this, this, this conversation, this interview.
[00:29:23] Just here, this set a timer on repeat 20 minutes over and over again until you get the task done and compete against the timer. I’ve got 20 minutes. Go, go, go
make it like a, let it bring out the competitive side in you and it will help you stay on task. You will be amazed at how often when the timer is up, you have gotten off task.
[00:29:43] Either external or internal distractions will lure her in. It just does it just, it just distracts us. So that’s the key to that.
[00:29:51] Zach White: And in-between each interval take that short break, stand up, move the body, you get your energy back up and then go right back in. That’s exactly it. This is awesome.
[00:30:01] April Garcia: Psychology too.
[00:30:01] So we’re managing technology, internal and external, but you’ve also got to use right now. Our psychology is almost often used against us. We have terrible stories, terrible narratives. We believe things have to be a certain way. All that psychology is working against us. I also teach people how to use your psychology
for your faith in your favor.
[00:30:20] Zach White: If you look into the future April, where do you see this psychology technology interaction going? Is it,
is it getting better? Are we learning how to handle it or is it getting worse? What do you think?
[00:30:31] April Garcia: I feel like it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I feel like our workforce will be more distracted.
[00:30:39] It’s going to have to hurt more before people take action. When people are comfortable, they don’t take action because it’s change is hard.
Um, and so I think that people haven’t suffered enough for them to actually change, which is why we have to have these conversations. Don’t let it get that bad. Don’t let your hours get that long.
[00:30:56] Or your health suffer or you not get home in time to have dinner with your people. Don’t let it get that bad before you take action. Take it now because ultimately not only does it give you enjoyment back in the rest of your hours, but you produce better results. You can perform at your best without those long hours.
[00:31:12] Zach White: This is a great place to take our conversation. As we near the end of our time, Aprils. If somebody hasn’t already caught on, April’s got a thousand tactics and we can pick from the menu of those, on what exactly what you need to be productive and get things done in your day and compress those hours down.
[00:31:29] But at the end of it all getting more done, why does it even matter? And what is the message you’d have for the engineer listening seeking engineering career success? Like why do we even care about being so productive?
[00:31:43] April Garcia: The work that you do is important, but it is not all of them. It’s important to do your craft and to do it well. It’s important to produce results and perform at your best, but there are other things about you that you need to make time for.
[00:31:57] You’ve worked so hard for this life. I want you to have time to enjoy the life you’ve heard.
[00:32:06] Zach White: I love it. We can just, we can just stop right there. It’s so beautiful. Enjoy the life that you’ve earned and it doesn’t have to be this way all the way back to the first thing I shared with us April. This is amazing. And I always ask us at the end, because I know the engineer listening is going to want to take this further and great engineering career success, great coaching like you provide.
[00:32:28] We know that questions. And answers follow up. And so if the engineer listening to this wants to be happy and fulfilled in their career and in their life, what would you say is the best question to lead them with the
[00:32:42] April Garcia: best question I would make it really, um, in the moment and tactical, I would say is this thing I’m about to do when you’re looking at your to-do list, you’re looking at a project.
[00:32:52] Is this thing I’m about to do, going to get me to my three-year. Instead of just jumping in and doing it. I don’t want you just to hear here’s how to do this faster. That’s not what April Garcia is about. It’s about here’s how to do the most high value things faster so that I can get to my three or five-year vision.
[00:33:11] Zach White: So powerful is the thing I’m about to do, going to take me to my three to five year goal. I love it. April. If someone wants to jump into your course or get to know you more and follow your amazing content, where can people go to.
[00:33:25] April Garcia: Absolutely. So
I’m at, um, my podcast name is pivot me. So So we’re at pivot-mean.com actually, no, it’s probably little bit easier.
[00:33:32] Let me just get you to the, the April garcia.com is sort of our homepage and there you’ll see the course multiply me, um, four steps,
um, a whole series of things that will really help you be more productive. Um, and I know that you’re going to drop some links into Zack. Yeah, connect with us. Connect with me.
[00:33:51] I want you to be more productive. I want you to use these very manageable tools. The answer is not in another app. It’s not in another book. It’s not in another journal. The answer is using these very simple tools and using them every day. So you can go out there and love this life.
[00:34:09] Zach White: That that’s a perfect place to end if you’re listening to this and you know, you need what April’s talking about.
[00:34:14] It’s not about buying 10 more books on productivity. It’s having that professional that coach like April to can show you exactly what to do, make it simple and hold you accountable to that action day in and day out as you move forward. And I couldn’t recommend highly enough that you plug in with April and do her calls.
[00:34:31] Follow her content. And so I will absolutely make sure there’s a link in the show notes and everywhere for people to jump in and do that.
Um, April, thank you so much for making time today. I mean, I feel like we covered a pretty big chunk and it’s still just the beginning of, of what all you have to offer.
[00:34:45] So thank you again, just amazing. I hope we can do this again sometime in the future.
[00:34:49] April Garcia: We certainly will. And thank you for having me on the show and for the work that you do and the concepts that you’re bringing to your audience. It’s just so incredibly valuable and it’s great to be here. Oh,
[00:35:00] Zach White: thanks April.