How To Be Productive [Podcast #001]

How To Be Productive [Podcast #001]

I have always been amazed at "productive" people.

In school, I wanted to know what the best students were doing to get good grades. It seemed like they had a secret to getting their homework done on time while I was struggling to throw something together at the last minute.

Turns out after watching them they all had some kind of system. Some had day planners, some just did their homework as soon as it was assigned and some were in study groups.

Rewarded For Being Unproductive!

Then I went to work in corporate America, I was shocked to see that most productive people are actually "punished" for being productive and everyone knew it.

The most successful people in Corporate America also had 'systems'. They would spend time getting coffee, organizing 2 hour meetings and having lots of 'client lunches'.

I even had one boss that told me he waited to go to the bathroom in the morning until he got to work (in not so nice words). His system was called the "$120 sh**!" (no joke)

Anyone that has worked in the 'system' knows that you get paid for time, not for productivity.

Retrain Yourself To Be An Entrepreneur

As a small business owner, you no longer get paid for your time, per se.  If you sit at your computer for 8 hours and do nothing or worse, the wrong thing... guess what?  You make no money!

When I started my own business online and soon discovered that there were thousands of productivity and time management systems. I even found a ton that actually worked for me from my now business partner, Robert Plank.

No matter what you want to accomplish having a 'system' to follow makes it way easier. Especially online since so many of us are completely new to marketing, technology and even running our own businesses.

Systems Aren't Everything

But even with the best systems I have found there are some days I sit at my computer and just stare. I know I should be doing a system. I know I should be productive, but for some mental reason I just can't.

Here are 2 things that I have found dramatically improve my mental state so and actually make me able to change my mental state instantly so that I can move forward and follow traditional systems.

1) Motivation Wall - A couple of months ago, I recieved a few nasty emails and it really put a mental block on me. My wife just laughed and said, "what about all the nice things people have said or done for you online?"

I couldn't think of any... (funny how one or two negative things can over ride a zillion positive ones at the time)

So she pulled out cards, letters and other 'trinkets' that customers, friends and students had sent to me. You know what? It changed my mental state immediately!

Now I hang up my favorite ones right in front of my computer. This is the first thing I see when I sit down every day and it makes me feel great about what I am doing right away.

How To Be Productive

2) Quiet - Normally, I love things quiet. But recently I have found that while working online as entrepreneur this can be extremely bad! Most of us sit at the computer for hours on end reading blogs and forums, building websites and sometimes getting frustrated because a piece of software or site isn't doing what we think it should.

If you spend too much time in this kind of isolation and quiet, you will not only decrease your productivity, but you will eventually condition yourself to be in a bad mood.

I started using a free service called Pandora, that actually tailors music to my liking. It took a while, but now almost every song they play is something I love.

Here is the thing. Don't sit in silence. Listen to interviews from people you want to be like, listen to music, put something on. You will notice an immediate change in your mood and productivity.

Share this post

Comments (46)

  • Wayne Reply

    The Wall is great and think I will make a version of it. I Have always loved working to music and just came across but with limited 20 gigs ( broadband is lame in NZ) it chews up the quota. I’ forgotten about pandora but thanks for the reminder.

    November 27, 2011 at 11:47 am
  • Russ Banister Reply

    The Motivation Wall is a good idea – especially when you’re feeling a little down.

    I’ve found that sometimes quiet is the right way to get more done and at other times I like to find a good blues station and plug in the headphones. Blues aren’t for everyone – or for every occasion, but I happen to like the feeling they give me for writing copy.


    November 27, 2011 at 11:52 am
  • Roger Reply

    The wall is a great idea, Lance. I used to have several hundred employees, and frequently reminded them to keep a “kudos file” with notes from their satisfied customers.
    A few individuals seem to get energy from “brick bats” too. Whichever, visual reminders like the wall really help. thanks!

    November 27, 2011 at 11:53 am
  • Dee Reply

    Hi Lance

    I am wondering what do you meant by this ?

    “I even had one boss that told me he waited to go to the bathroom in the morning until he got to work (in not so nice words). His system was called the “$120 sh**!” (no joke) <-

    is that some kind of laziness or an excuse for not working.
    wow in here where I am it happens to be similar. People are being unproductive. I shape how I live now to become more and more efficient. Thanks for your wall of motivation. I should have done this too 🙂


    November 27, 2011 at 11:55 am
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      It means that since he was paid for the time he was in the office… well… 🙂

      We have been trained to be unproductive. The transition to business owner is hard for many, because we have been trained to punch in and punch out… and our check is the same, just because we showed up.

      People in Corporate America invent all kinds of ways to make their 8 hours pass.

      November 27, 2011 at 11:58 am
  • Sandy Reply

    I’ve heard it numerous times, but just started using it with great results: setting a timer and forcing myself to ignore distractions until that bell rings. I give myself permission to set it for varying lengths of time depending on the rest of my schedule right then, but I choose a task that I can probably accomplish within the limit so I can mark it off of my to-do list. Works well for me!

    November 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm
  • Gabrielle Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, Lance. Your Motivation Wall is a great example of “what you focus on expands.” So focusing on all the good you are doing for the people who appreciate your work will keep you doing more good for them! I too need to remind myself periodically that you’ll never please everyone – so focus on those who see the value you have to offer! 🙂

    As far as music – I love music so much that I find it usually is a distraction when I work – though I do find if I’m in a less-than-positive mood (which is rare), classical or instrumental soft jazz works well. Thanks for the reminder to add more music to my office life. 🙂

    Here’s to more productivity due to being in a great mood and loving what you do!

    November 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm
  • Martie Tamashio Reply

    I am so glad to hear you are finally following your amazing wife’s advice;)! But it’s so true that the isolation can be a huge energy suck! Music makes a huge difference, especially in our household. It takes a constant awareness and adjustment to stay in positive productive mode. Always a work in progress. And I LOVE to watch your consistent progress Lance!!! Just like a fine wine;)….I love you!

    November 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm
  • Sherm Reply

    Love the tip about the motivation board — I have a “virtual” version of the same idea using Google Docs; Every time I get an especially nice email or tweet or comment, I copy and paste into that Google document which I can read from wherever I am. It’s a great motivation boost to remind myself that my products and services are really making a difference in other people’s lives.

    Oh, and it’s really nice to see the little caricature on the top of your board!

    November 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    • Lance Tamashiro Reply

      Not EVERYONE has one of those… 🙂

      Thanks so much for that… that is one of my very favorite things I have ever received and getting it for someone else’s birthday makes it and even better treat!

      November 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm
  • bhadra Reply

    i like the wall idea and will implement it right awy
    i also allocate between 8pm to 11pm twice a weekas a learning time and leran /read to improve myself

    November 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm
  • Rich Stevens Reply

    Lance motivation is a weakness of many, anyway to get people to self motivate is great advice!

    November 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm
  • Rich Stevens Reply

    Lance motivation is a weakness of many, anyway to get people to self motivate is great advice!
    Your idea is a great one, I am motivated by it at least so that’s good huh;)

    November 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm
  • David Williams Reply

    Hi Lance,

    Interesting ideas. Glad you got over the negative feelings from the nasty emails. The motivational wall seems like a good one. I will try it. I’ve always found music distracting when I’m working although I must try out the music that is suppose to help with concentration. (cant think of it at the moment).

    November 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm
  • Arthur Levine Reply

    Charge Ahead

    I am not system oriented. Ideas pop into and out of my mind all the time. I try and write them down. I find what works for me is putting my head down and charging ahead. The action motivates me to take more action,

    November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm
    • Robert Plank Reply

      Hey Arthur, how can you get any work done on your computer with your “head down?”

      November 28, 2011 at 12:01 am
  • Thom Reply

    The motivational wall is great. What does the novice do while building that motivational wall? I got a program that I could shedule to play motivational statements throughout the day. I also use it to remind me to exercise or take a break from the computer.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm
    • Robert Plank Reply

      Hi Thom,

      So you are okay with a program interrupting your focus when you are in the zone and blurting out words and sounds when you are recording video?


      November 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm
  • Cathy Reply

    Lance, I like your blog…motivation is a tough one…if we are ambitious we are also very hard on ourselves…like worrying about one bad comment. In my role as a consultant/ mentor I work with teachers and always get them to identify their pluses. They often claim that i have helped them to keep positive and remotivated when they wain. However, I don’t seem to be able to do it my self.
    I like the idea of a motivation wall and will try it to keep me on track.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm
  • Alan's Internet Marketing Reply

    Have to confess to having a few $10 coffees in my old job but never a $120 sh**!

    I’ll have to check out Pandora but I find that after 2 or 3 hours I need to remind myself it’s ok to get up, walk around and take a few minutes off… before getting back into things. Sometimes I think in an attempt to become efficient and productive we start to feel guilty about breaks.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm
  • Neil Reply

    I live in the country were the only sound you here is the sound of the birds. This is nice but not always what I want. When I work at my computer ist is for hours and I always have the radio on listening to a station that plays mostly music not much talking I find I can get more done this way.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm
  • Carolyn Skipper Reply

    I’m glad someone besides me gets frustrated. My Email is driving me to distraction. Unfortunately used my personal email to set up working on the internet so I WASTE endless time trying to clean it out! do a search for important stuff and delete the rest….
    I often replay webinars or just videos where I’m trying to learn something….
    Good Stuff: downloaded the Backup Creator video..bouncy and cute…you did a gooooood job. Such a friendly voice! and you don’t talk to fast like someone else we know..Sometimes play it and I have a free blog with a cute song great for a cold RAINY DAY(soon to be snow) in Tennessee.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm
  • David Armbruster Reply

    Just think, if you did not receive the nasty emails nor received the advise from your bride, where would this post be today and your wall, would it have been created. Reminds me of the saying “one awe sh$t:( erases all the atta boys. Your wall is a really great idea for motivation. Don’t forget to add a couple of devotionals.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm
  • Ron Borg Reply

    The motivation wall is nice but music in my office is mandatory. Pandora has way too many commercials and I find their music selections for the bands I choose off base. If you like Pandora, you will love Slacker. They stay within your genre much better and only a very occasional and very short commercial. But the biggest enjoyment improvement to my workday has been finding “chill” music. I’m on the phone a lot so I want tunes that won’t interrupt… chill is perfect. Bands/artists like M83, Bonobo, Boards of Canada, Tycho and Emancipator provide the perfect background… I probably listen to music about 5 – 7 hours a day… minimum.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm
  • DA Southern Reply

    Couldn’t agree more with the tips. The Motivation Board, Vision Board, is truly a way to go. Being visual creatures we are bound by images of every aspect of our being, in fact that is how we remember the past, by pictures. I use a great online board called a Lino Board @ Additionally, there is a little program called Focus Booster that is an Adobe Air app. It gives you various times that you can set for those concentrated burst and runs in your system tray. And, oh yes, Pandora, one of my favs, and a subscription would be beautiful, by the way. I have to have the music as well as the silence is not friendly except for the meditation periods and then it is nature alone. Great points, Lance.

    November 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm
  • Ray Posner Reply

    Living in the country on 160 acres I find that I don’t need music and that it is actually a distraction.

    The sounds of nature are all I need

    November 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm
  • Flo Reply

    Well, when I was a freelance writer I had a board of rejection slips, the idea being if you keep generating responses, eventually you will get to yes, but it did not always do its job. I work with folks looking for work. I heard a statistic once that suggested that most online marketers also still have a day job. And I have not started what I preach, but we all should have at least a folder with our accomplishments. Because it is only human nature to remember the negative over the positive unless we really work to remember the positive. It would help with writing the next resume. Employers are blown away when someone includes their accomplishments and not just a litany of duties. Also it would help you write sales copy to be able to show your wins, attract JV partners etc.

    November 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm
  • Robert Plank Reply

    Lance, it’s funny that you mention playing music to get yourself in the right state and to get yourself productive because I just now realized I have been doing this (accidentally for years.

    I used to hate doing dishes, until one day I didn’t, never realized why. Then one time by girlfriend said, can you please not turn on the radio when you do the dishes? And that’s when I realized… I had been turning on the radio every time I did the dishes without realizing. Not only did it pass the time faster, but it was fun and when the dishes were done I was almost sad that it was over.

    And yes, I still play the radio while washing dishes and if “she” decides to do the dishes every now and then, we can talk about not having it on.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm
  • Antonio Cruz Reply

    Hi Lance; regards from Mexico; One of my purposes is to be more orderly in my projects next year, I think I can be more orderly to be more productive, I use your idea of ​​the wall of the motivation, thanks for your advice.

    November 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm
  • Clyde Reid Reply

    Although I hate the solitude idea listening to music is even worse. I always end up stopping what I am doing because the music catches my attention. I need to find something different that will accomplish getting me in the right frame of mind.

    I like the motivational wall idea and I have the perfect wall for it. The wall is really big so there is enough room for enough good stuff to overcome any bad attitude.

    Thanks again for excellent information.

    Dr. Clyde

    November 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm
    • Robert Plank Reply

      Clyde, what kind of music are you listening to? I have found that classical and trance music gets me motivated, but if I have Pandora or iTunes set to “pop music” or emotional “chick music” then it works against me. Double edged sword.

      November 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm
  • Heather Reply

    Hi Lance, I really liked your post. I have a similiar idea to your motivation board that I want to work on. I want to list what my husband and I need to work on with every website we have or are going to start, as well as all of our goals. We are going to place these lists on a large wall in our office. I think it will really help us stay focused and on track.
    I enjoy music when I’m working, I don’t find it to be a distraction as long as the music is more in the backround or just quietly playing.

    November 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm
  • Rich Grannis Reply

    Thank you for your two tips. Great reminder and reinforcement on tip #1 that really works. On tip #2, I have reservations on listening to others talking but am willing to try it. I do listen to music at times.

    Thank you for sharing and have a GREAT DAY!

    November 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm
  • Lynn Jordan Reply


    What a great idea to keep your kudos on a board by your computer. I keep mine in a file folder, but seldom remember to look at them.

    Since I work with writers, I know that one bad review can blot out the memory of all the good reviews and letters from fans.

    You’ve always been a great inspiration for me. Thanks for the tips.

    I’ve always loved Pandora, but don’t remember to listen very often.


    November 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    • Robert Plank Reply

      You know what’s funny Lynn is before Lance had the motivation wall he would read some of our sales letters (List Copywriting, Make a Product, and Membership Cube) which are filled with testimonials, to get himself motivated again.

      November 28, 2011 at 12:00 am
  • Jørgen Carlsen Reply

    It is OK to be sad and use some time to stare. Why? Because “something” has hit some unfinished business from the past. Staying in the feeling may lead to an “Aha is it just that!” – and the feeling stops and productivity begins again.
    Next times somthing hits, the feeling or emotion might be there again – but shorter and shorter, because you know “Oh, it was that again…” The feeling is gone after a few minutes.
    So – in situations like the one you described, productivity in the long run will be increased if you allow yourself to be unprodunctive in some specific situations.

    November 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm
    • Robert Plank Reply

      What’s up Jørgen… I think I’m depressed now 😉

      November 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm
  • Jeanne Kolenda Reply

    Lance, My favorite music to listen to while working is by a Norwegian group called Secret Garden. The album is called “White Stones.” I have a friend who is a best-selling author; we were in Iceland together several years ago, he told me that’s what he listens to while writing. I picked up a copy while there, and when I brought it home and started listening, it has become my favorite “go to” for peaceful productive work time. Of course, I have others (my daughter’s music, for example!), but this is definitely at the top of my list. Your blog post is very good. Thanks. ~~ Jeanne

    November 28, 2011 at 6:55 am
  • Rog Reply

    Hey Lance,

    Thank you so much for the great advice!

    One thing I’ve come to count on from both You
    and Robert is the great advice and immediately
    implementable ideas/solutions you guys share
    with us! I really do appreciate it and admire
    you both for all you’ve been able accomplish,
    and the ability to teach it to us.

    Thank You.

    November 28, 2011 at 8:13 am
  • Allen Ng Reply

    I have the same mental block problem. Some days I just sit down and stare at the screen not knowing what to do (even though I have a to do list), just can’t get myself going and end up reading emails, surfing the nets and being unproductive.

    I love the idea of motivational wall, I believe it will be of great help to me. I will implement it right away.

    November 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm
  • Kym Robinson Reply

    I’ll add in a tip that works for me…..

    I find the best way to get stuff all done is by having too much on your to-do list!

    I write my next days to-do list after dinner each night – I only write down 5 money making activities for the next day, thats it just 5.

    I power focus from half an hour after I start work (first half hour for email skype fb etc) and I always have my 5 tasks done by lunch time!

    Then I have the rest of the day to be UBER productive and feel like a legend or I do nothing more and am happy and content in finishing the to-do list and enjoy the rest of my day without any feelings of inadequacy at all!

    It works for me – maybe it will work for you too!

    have a great rest of your day Lance 🙂

    November 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm
  • Trevor Reply

    Hi Lance

    I like the motivational wall idea – I’ll adapt it to be a virtual wall.

    I can work in silence for long periods but music can be a distinct relief at times and can also be inspirational so I’ll remember to factor that into my day from now on.

    Have not heard of Pandora before – I like the idea of it aligning to your music tastes – I’ll certainly look into that.

    Thanks for these ideas Lance.
    I like that both you and Robert are helping all of us on our journeys.

    November 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm
  • David Bibby Reply


    Thanks for the article.. I realize that my office is a bit too quiet and you’re right it can actually get depressing at times. I’ll look into the Pandora service.

    I have a motivation wall and my kids gave me a “love” box. It’s fill with small pieces of papers that I can draw at random with messages like “You’re the best daddy ever!” and “You watch movies with us”, “You make us popcorn”.

    So if I’m having a bad or stressful day… I can pull one of those out and change my mood real quick.


    January 11, 2012 at 6:48 am
  • Mel Reply

    I hear you, Lance! When I’m reading delegate evaluations after a day of training I’ll get 20 that say ‘great – 10/10’ and I’ll get one that gives me a 7 or 8 and I’ll feel bad and ruminate why, totally ignoring the other 20 that were stoked.

    Like Lyn, I keep my ‘feel-goods’ in a folder but I’m ripping them out now and sticking them up on that wall in front of me.

    We all need motivation from time to time, especially as we often work alone.


    February 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm
  • Linda Michel White Reply

    Hi Lance,

    I bought one of your products, read your blog, and have become an instant fan… Thank you for one of the most interesting, and informative blogs on the net… I will definitely look into Pandora, and will share it with my best friend…

    Keep on keepin’ on, ’cause you’re doin’ something right… Thanks…

    Linda Michel White

    July 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm
  • Paul B. Taubman, II Reply

    I have a bunch of cards and emails on my file cabinet, similar to your board.

    I like the idea of having them in FRONT of me – they will be moved this afternoon!

    Thanks for a great suggestion.


    June 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *