30 May 5 minutes to Entrepreneurial Efficiency


“Give me one more task and I’ll shoot”

Another day, another task.

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Henry David Thoreau

You’re constantly fighting fires…you’ve got you’ve got 10 people demanding your attention…too many projects on the go and definitely not enough time to do everything.

You go to bed thinking about your work…you wake up and think about work….at the weekend: if you ever get time away from work…your thoughts constantly drift back to work.

So how do you fix this?

How do you make sure you get more of the right work done?

Before we go into how to do this, it’s important to understand the biggest problem with how people spend their time.

A common mistake is that focusing on efficiency instead of effectiveness

“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”
Peter Drucker

So, an example of efficient versus effective in the world of content marketing is as follows:


Writing the perfect blog post in record time with loads of nice images.


Writing a good blog post and spending X hours heavily promoting the post through a strategic campaign to generate backlinks and shares.

Efficiency vs Effectiveness – Summary

Here’s a detailed table on what’s right and what’s the wrong objective:

Being Efficient

Being Effective

The problem is that being effective is hard….

I used to focus on efficiency

And I’ve used all sorts of methods to improve my productivity over the years

The 80/20 of the things that have helped me out of many, many trials:

  1. Headphones + either brain.fm or [email protected] (music to help focus)
  2. Not checking email first thing
  3. A timer
  4. Working in blocks of:
    a 50m work, 10 rest
    b 50m work, 30 rest
    c Repeat

That’s about 80% of my productivity right there. They reduce the majority of my distractions and allowed me to focus more.

But it’s all focused on Efficiency, not Effectiveness

I can block out most distractions, but phone calls, emails, notifications and ‘urgent’ things always manage to sneak through. And if something creeps into my day, I find it very hard to stay on track.

So I’ve been searching for a way for a long time to figure out how to be a LOT more productive in terms of my output.

The best solution I’ve found in a long time comes Charles Duhigg in the book Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.  

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I think I should get bonus points for productivity as I listened to this on Audiobook.

It’s a good book and there are plenty of stories to outline why the recommended approaches should, and have worked. But like most books of this style, you can boil the benefits down to a few takeaways that are actually generate results.

So from this book I prepared:

The Entrepreneurs To Do List.

To allocate full credit here – it’s pretty much all taken from the book, just formatted to make it easy to see on one page.

To understand why this will work, it’s important to understand what Goal Shielding is


Goal Shielding has been scientifically proven to help people reach goals and perform better.

In the simplest study they found that tennis players who planned their mental states and strategy using an ‘if-then’ methodology – were able to improve their performance significantly:

For example, they planned before a match:

If I play a bad shot and get stressed..
..then I will calm myself and tell myself ‘I will win

And they played a LOT better.

Goal shielding is easy, but often overlooked.
All you need to do is anticipate in advance what is likely to de-rail you from your goal – and decide in advance what you will do instead.

Goal Shielding Example
Normal goal

  • I will eat healthy today

Goal with Goal Shielding:

  • I will eat healthy today, but if I want some chocolate, I will drink a big glass of water instead.  If I still crave chocolate, I will eat a banana.

Marketing example:
Normal goal:

  • I will write 1 blog post today

Goal with Goal Shielding

  • I will write 1 blog post.
  • These are likely to appear in my day and this is how I will deal with them:
    • I’ll be asked for coffee by Sarah – I will only go if I have finished my blog post
    • I’ll be tempted to check our Analytics for our performance – I will schedule this at 2pm and will limit myself to 5 minutes on the most important metrics.

Why Goal Shielding works

This makes you think through possible causes of you not reaching your goal and plan for them.  It’s important to actually go through the process of planning to give your brain a head start on how to behave – making it easier to stick to your goal.

Putting this into practice.

Now, I regularly plan my day by using a to-do list like this

To be productive, you simply ask run through the questions, and write out the answers:
This will only take you 5 minutes, but the impact of focusing your mind on goals and managing distractions will make a big impact on your performance.

The Questions to break down your goals

  1. Why am I doing this?
  2. What’s my stretch goal (your big picture goal)
    How will I make this:

    1. Specific
    2. Measurable
    3. Achievable
    4. Realistic
    5. Timely

The Questions to refine your focus

  1. What will happen first?
  2. What distractions are likely to occur?
  3. How will I handle those distractions [goal shielding]?
  4. How will I know you’ve succeeded?
  5. What is necessary for success?
  6. What will I do first?

I’ve compiled an easy to use google worksheet which you can edit to answer the questions.  It includes real examples of answers and is in a very easy to edit format.

To claim your download, just enter your details on the form below:

Use this and you WILL increase your output.

Enter your details below and I’ll send you a link to an editable version of the Entrepreneurs To do List – the way to increase your entrepreneurial performance in just 5 minutes a day .

Fill in your details above and I’ll send you the link instantly.