Podcast: The Year of Gettin’ S**T Done

The Busyness Paradox Episode #32: The Year of Gettin’ S**T Done

It’s time for one of our favorite new year’s traditions: blatantly ripping off another podcast’s new year’s tradition! Taking inspiration from the excellent Cortex show’s use of yearly themes, we take stock of our “Year of Structure” and look ahead to 2022’s theme. Join our discussion about how the “annual theme” approach can improve your work and non-work lives and let us know what wacky workplace topics you’d like us to dig into in the year ahead.

Stuff Mentioned In This Episode:

0:32 – Cortex Episode #123: 2022 Yearly Themes
3:18 – Your Theme by CGP Gray
8:28 – Omnifocus
9:10 – Sanebox
10:41 – Keyboard Maestro
11:02 – Elgato Stream Deck
19:36 – Episode #22 – The Efficiency Paradox
22:48 – Getting Things Done
22:53 – Episode #12 – Technology and Productivity: An Insider’s Perspective(with guest Stephen Robles)
26:20 – Incremental Improvements: Change Your Life One Small Step at a Time by Mike Brodsky
26: 42 – The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Episode Transcript:

Frank Butler  0:17  
Happy New Year Busybodies, another episode of the Busyness Paradox. I’m Frank Butler here with Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey  0:23  
Good day and happy new year.

Frank Butler  0:26  
Happy new year it is 2022. And you know what that means, right?

Paul Harvey  0:32  
It means it’s time for us to rip off an idea from another podcast. Once again, the good folks at Cortex, CGP Gray and damn, what’s that guy’s name…Mike Hurley have had a tradition, I think for five years of establishing, instead of New Year’s resolutions, New Year’s themes. To have a theme for the year. So last year, what was our theme, Frank?

Frank Butler  0:56  
It was the year of structure.

Paul Harvey  0:57  
The year of structure. And it’s time to create a new theme. But maybe first we should talk about quickly what these themes are, and how our first attempt at a theme last year, how that went. And then we can announce our theme for this year.

Frank Butler  1:12  
I think we should certainly start with the idea of why we chose themes instead of a resolution or resolutions. I think goal setting is very important. I always believe strongly in the idea of goal setting. And in particular, what we call smart goals, which stands for specific, measurable, aggressive, realistic and timebound. But the thing is, is that when you’re only accountable to yourself, that can be problematic. Whereas if you’re in a corporation or so on, you know, you have to be accountable to your manager, your manager has to be accountable to their managers to the board, blah, blah, blah. So it’s a little different. That’s why themes can be good for some people, if you’re one of those people who does great with resolutions, probably not for you. But if you’re like me, and like Paul…

Paul Harvey  1:56  
And most people, statistically speaking

Frank Butler  1:58  
And most people statistically speaking, we really do need the idea of themes. So we can feel like we’re actually making progress.

Paul Harvey  2:07  
And so we CAN actually make progress. You know, most people fail in their New Year’s resolutions, us included, partly because they’re so specific. And there is that accountability issue. And you combine those two things, even if you hold yourself very accountable. It’s so easy to fail at them. You know, the folks on the Cortex podcast, this year’s theme episode of their show, used the example of a very common new year’s resolution: losing weight. So if you set yourself a goal, they use the example of 20 pounds. If you lose 19 pounds, well, you failed didn’t you. Or to further steal from their example, maybe losing weight becomes less important than some other aspect of your health, quitting smoking, exercising more. So having a theme allows you to come at a an overarching goal from a lot of different angles. If you fail in one specific angle, you can still be making progress towards the theme, you can still be getting yourself healthy, even if you didn’t lose the 20 pounds.

Frank Butler  3:13  
And what it also does is it also opens the door to going in these other directions. Right?

Paul Harvey  3:18  

Frank Butler  3:18  
The example they used in a video that Paul shared with me was novelty, right? He found that he was getting really repetitive in his actions and his day to day. So he’s themed out his year as being novelty and this is CP, uh, CGP Grey.

Paul Harvey  3:35  

Frank Butler  3:36  
It’s from the…it’s CGP is what I’m seeing off of this.

Paul Harvey  3:39  
Huh, I had it wrong. I’m sorry.

Frank Butler  3:42  
It sounds better as CPG.

Paul Harvey  3:43  
I think it does.

Frank Butler  3:45  
It rolls off the tongue a little easier.

Paul Harvey  3:47  

Frank Butler  3:48  
But with that he was talking about novelty and how he chose one year to make it the year of novelty, which just meant that he would say yes to some of the things that were something he might not have said yes to usually or just anything, you know, to just give himself a little difference versus saying, “Oh, I’m going to make this the year of ‘I have to do X amount of novel things.’” Well, you know, things come up as you go through the year that you might not anticipate. You go well, you know what, I should do that. For example. I had a buddy who was like, “Hey, you want to help me dig a car out of a barn that collapsed to take a look at and see if it’s worth anything?” You know, that just came up. That’s completely novel. I’ve never dug a thing out of a thing like that before.

Paul Harvey  4:28  
I didn’t know about that

Frank Butler  4:29  
That I got a car?

Paul Harvey  4:29  
I want in on this car digging out. 

Frank Butler  4:31  
[laughter] It was great. I brought my weed whacker with me. You know we’ll hack down the tall grass till we got to this car that had been sitting there in the grass for a little bit. It was pretty cool. If it was a slightly different car, we probably would have taken it that day. But given the work needed and the value once restored, wasn’t worth it. So but that you know, again, that goes down to that idea of novelty, right? It’s you don’t know what comes up and that actually classifies as something being novel. And that’s why a theme for a lot of people might work better. You know, again, you can take that idea of I want to lose weight. And that could mean multiple different things, right? It could be, I’m going to change my diet to do that, or I’m going to exercise more…combination thereof, maybe use Weight Watchers or taking less caloric intake

Paul Harvey  5:21  
Or maybe you want to build muscle, and that’s going to actually add some weight, but it’s still a healthy thing to do.

Frank Butler  5:25  
Absolutely. Right. It’s that…so many different components to that. So just broadly speaking, for folks like me, a theme works a little better, because I can say for a fact that having that idea of structure last year, helped me start positioning myself for what’s gonna be this year’s theme, which I’m going to hold off on. But what I can say is that having structure and getting more organized in a way.

Paul Harvey  5:50  
Set us up for

Frank Butler  5:51  

Paul Harvey  5:52  
This next step, which we’ll talk about a few minutes. So how did your year of structure go? Where did you introduce structure into your life and found it to be effective?

Frank Butler  6:01  
First and foremost, in my emails, right, I spent some time taking all the junk emails and actually having them sort into specific files based on what I was interested in. And I’ll give an example on my Gmail, for example, my personal email, I kept actually a couple of days of emails unread, that were not important, I just read that were those kind of, you know, emails about promotions, or something I might have interest in, but really got stressed out by having them add numbers to my inbox. So for example, my wife and I are huge into Lego. And I get the daily Lego email. And I don’t always want to read it daily, I don’t want to see it with the other 30 emails in the morning when I first wake up, right. So I went into my Gmail, and that gets filtered into a sub folder, whatever they call it in Gmail is not folders, but basically, it goes into a Lego folder gets marked as unread. But I can then go in there and check it when I’m ready. And so it doesn’t show up in my inbox, but it’s got its own sub folder, I also have one for things that are unimportant, you know, northern tool and supply or whatever it’s called harbor freight, those kinds of emails go into that, again, they get marked as unread, they get passed into that I can go check him when I want. But it’s things that I like, and that I know that I’m eventually going to use, and I don’t want to just completely hang up that, you know, unsubscribe from that email. But I don’t want it to go directly in the trash either. So you know, creating some structure around my emails, school emails, in particular to I started to you pass student emails off directly into a subfolder for student emails through work. So that way I can keep track of the semester. So anyway, like I said, I just, I just did that, you know. So that was part of it. And then of course, using my calendar a lot more, using my my to do list on my iPhone and computer a lot more. I found that all those things have helped. And then another thing too, using my iPad, and my Apple Pencil, to start doing things like grading and taking notes and doing paper reviews, as a starting point, I actually found to be very helpful. And that created some structure, right? Because it gave me structure around something that actually simplified, something that I dreaded doing a lot of times just sitting in front of a computer, and having that iPad and Apple pencil instead. So again, trying to find techniques that work for me to help make it easier. Right? What about you?

Paul Harvey  8:28  
So one thing I found this past year of structure is that it probably need a second year of structure. [laughter] But partly that’s because I did a lot of experimenting with things, different techniques and different apps and different philosophies. And I feel like I’m still sort of in the, in the weeds on some stuff a little bit. Like to do lists, for example. I still haven’t quite found something that I think jives with, with how my brain works. I’ve been using Omnifocus, which is a heavily recommended task tracking app.

Frank Butler  9:02  

Paul Harvey  9:02  
But it really wasn’t until the last few months of the year that I started noticing, I’m not really using it the way it’s meant to be used, you know, I don’t really have the need for…it’s like being a project manager. You know, if you’ve got several very complex ongoing processes with multiple sub-parts and sub-lists. It works really well for that. As far as, you know, remember to grade the exams by this time, remember to respond to that email by that time. It’s kind of overkill, and to some extent, I think that’s okay, but it does cost money and I think there’s probably something out there that syncs with me a little bit better. So, in some ways, I haven’t quite arrived at where I want to be yet, but just going through the process of trying out a lot of things has, yeah I have found some things I liked and you know, it’s helped me to sort of weed out some things that didn’t work so well for me. Email-wise, I still am a fiery train-wreck when it comes to responding to emails. But I started using Sanebox back towards the beginning of the year, and it does a lot of what you were talking about Frank: automates it in the back-end, sends different things to different folders. In part based on how it observes you doing stuff with your email. I find that to be really one of the most successful forms of automation and structural automation, in that I forget it’s there. It’s just made life easier and a bit more efficient without me having to give it much thought after the initial setup. So I call that a win, I just need to start doing more of my part. Unfortunately, it does not respond to emails for me. But that and automation in general, I spent a lot of the year tinkering with different forms of automation. Mostly we’re talking computerized stuff, Homekit type, you know, smart device things, but primarily workflow things. Keyboard Maestro is a program I spent a lot of time getting familiar with over the past year. And I like that a lot for taking multi-step tasks that you do a lot over and over again or frequently and assigning it a keyboard shortcut, or I use a Streamdeck, which I think is my most successful purchase of the year in structure. So there’s a lot of things that are multi-step processes that I now just push a button, and it does all the busywork part – the click, click, click, open this, save as that, and then puts it there for me to do whatever I’m supposed to do with it. So I’m a big fan of automation. And I’ve gone down that road, I still have much to learn, but I’ve been happy with that.

Frank Butler  11:26  
I just need the one that says you know, the shortcut that’s like “read the syllabus” or “it’s in the syllabus.” [laughter]

Paul Harvey  11:32  
Did you hear about the…sorry to our non-academic audience. I think you already know what I’m talking about, the guy who had $50 or something in a locker.

Frank Butler  11:41  
Guess where he’s a professor at?

Paul Harvey  11:43  
Oh, he’s a UTC!

Frank Butler  11:45  
He’s at UTC.

Paul Harvey  11:46  
Right! I forgot about that.

Frank Butler  11:48  
So that was kind of cool. My cousin who’s also a professor, too, he texted me, he’s like, “Hey, man,” he’s like, I saw your school in the news. Apparently, we hit it. So yeah, basically, what happened is a professor here, had hidden $50 in a locker and actually left instructions in the syllabus about how to get to that $50. And it was still there at the end of the semester. And it was just further proof that they don’t read the syllabus, which keeps making me think maybe I should have a quiz that’s just on the syllabus and make it like 80% of their grade.

Paul Harvey  12:22  
I understand that temptation. And again, apologies to the non-academics listening, but I sort of…I feel like at some point, you kind of got to look in the mirror and say that no one reads the syllabus in any class. That means that this is a format of conveying information that’s not working.

Frank Butler  12:39  

Paul Harvey  12:40  
Something,apparently, needs to replace it. And I don’t know what that something is. And that’s the kind of off topic for the show, but…

Frank Butler  12:46  
I don’t know about you, but our school, I feel like requires so much in the syllabus that’s…

Paul Harvey  12:51  
So much boilerplate

Frank Butler  12:52  
And really not relevant to it. So like, and not only that, like, because the syllabus, they require us to have all this blah, blah, blah, and, versus having just a button where all that gobbly gook can be sent to where the students can go, because they all know, “okay, for every class, this is gonna have all the gobbly gook.” And the problem is that we have to put in our syllabus, which makes the syllabus like 10 pages, nobody’s gonna read it.

Paul Harvey  13:14  
And what a perfect example, by the way, of that form of busywork that we often talk about, where ever-expanding layers of administration levels of an organization that have to kind of justify their existence and push requirements onto those who are actually producing the thing of value that your company or school produces. The syllabus requirements, I think are a great example of that. Someone somewhere, probably spent 10 months going through multiple drafts of multiple boilerplates.

Frank Butler  13:43  
Well, you know, you figure it’s probably a committee, right? It’s probably-

Paul Harvey  13:45  

Frank Butler  13:46  
People who have wordsmithed this thing to death.

Paul Harvey  13:46  
Yeah, good point.

Frank Butler  13:50  
You know, it might have even gotten to legal depending on what, what that is.

Paul Harvey  13:53  

Frank Butler  13:54  
I mean, it’s just crazy. But anyway, quick aside there. We appreciate you listening to it, but it does tie into our busyness theme.

Paul Harvey  14:01  
It does

Frank Butler  14:02  
That said, any other structure stuff, you’ve been using, tools you’ve been trying to automate, create more structure in that sense?

Paul Harvey  14:08  

Frank Butler  14:08  
I’ve been doing it more through similar type things, some automation type aspects of things, little low hanging fruits, anything else you’ve done that has helped you with some structure?

Paul Harvey  14:17  
I have had some success with time blocking, which I think we’ve talked about a little bit here and there, where you block off…it’s almost like having a theme for your calendar on a given day, instead of saying one o’clock this two o’clock that. Of course, to some extent you have to do that. But during those chunks of your day where you’re kind of at your own devices of how you want to get work done, what do you want to work on, that kind of thing. Blocking off chunks of time. So from 10 o’clock in the morning to 12 o’clock, I’ll be focusing on task A and then from one o’clock to three o’clock be working on task B, that kind of thing. So you put yourself in that mindset in that mode. Get yourself all set up with whatever equipment or material You need, and you’re just kind of in that zone. So it helps you get into like a flow state, I’ve had some success with that. I should be doing more of it. The one thing I found for 2021 and 2020, is that, paradoxically, they’ve been years where it was very hard to create that kind of structure, because of all the chaos pandemic stuff going on, on in the world, but also they’re years where I think we most benefit from having that kind of structure. You know, we’re working from home, a lot of us, we don’t have a lot of the structure that we used to have from our jobs. So we have to provide a lot of it, create a lot of it ourselves. So in that regard it’s a good year to have a year of structure. But because there’s been so much unpredictable…unpredictability, I found that time blocking sometimes worked better in theory than in practice. I would kind of have a day mapped out or a few days mapped out, and then something crazy happens, and it all goes out the window, which is okay. Time blocking is meant to be flexible for that kind of thing. But between that and you know, Frank’s probably more familiar than anyone with the cognitive ups and downs I still have from my medication to eradicate my mysterious tick-borne infection from a few years ago. That made things difficult to, you know…there was a good chunk of the year where I was up at five o’clock every morning, raring to go. So I would time block that like 5am to 12pm window and get all kinds of stuff done. In the last few months, sometimes I have to pry myself out of bed with a crowbar at like 10 o’clock in the morning. So there’s been some things beyond my control, that kind of got me a little bit discouraged, and I sort of wandered away from time blocking. Easy for me to say, because I’m feeling real good right now, but I do plan to double down on that effort in the coming year. I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, but those were the big pieces of structure for me.

Frank Butler  16:47  
Yeah, the time blocking is hard. You know, it’s it’s one that, again, if it’s just you that you’re accountable to, that’s problematic in some cases, right? So that time blocking really is about you still having to be accountable to yourself and going, “Okay, I’m setting this time up to do this. I’ve got it blocked off my calendar to do it.” And sometimes you’re just like, “Nope, I can’t do it.”

Paul Harvey  17:08  

Frank Butler  17:09  
I think the key though, is that it’s sort of there as a reminder of something that you should be doing. Sometimes that’s a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good thing. I mean, you know, you and I have, for example, time blocked our podcast times when we do our work, pre meeting, and then our actual recording times, you have that blocked out on the calendar, good to have again, but we know that we’ve had to be flexible with it from both sides of it. Because, you know, either I’m having something come up or Paul’s had something come up or whatever. And you know, the more things you got going on, you know, you’ve got to make those adjustments and be flexible. And again, that’s a critical component.

Paul Harvey  17:42  
And again, it’s kind of like a theme as opposed to a resolution. Yeah, it’s got that flexibility.

Frank Butler  17:48  
Well, and that’s the thing, right, is that time blocking is still a form of structure, it gives us some structure, even though we’ve not been perfect at it, we’re still doing it because there is value in it. So I think that’s good. I think the one last thing I would add is that I actually picked up an organized lot of stuff. So one of the things is my garage was a mess. It was chaos. I had a car that was in a bunch of pieces. And it was stressful for me, it was stressing me out. And actually what I started doing was going in and just doing little bits of picking up, like every day.

Paul Harvey  18:19  
Five things at a time.

Frank Butler  18:21  
10 minutes. Yeah, yeah. Man, I tell you what that…

Paul Harvey  18:23  
Before, you know it

Frank Butler  18:24  
changed everything. Yeah. I mean, just to do a little bit, just to do a little bit. And I think that’s a key too, is that you can’t just set aside and go, Okay, you know, I’m gonna go work out for two hours and start my new year nope, that’s not if you’re not worked out in a while. Two hours is going to kill yourself. You got to…you got to, you know, build it up. And you got to get back into a habit of doing things right. You got to make things habitual, in a sense. And so be reasonable with that. And that’s why again, themes are better

Paul Harvey  18:52  
Than resolutions

Frank Butler  18:53  
Right. Although, again, you know, goals are good to have. But then there’s also times that themes are probably a bit better to work with, and will contribute more to an understanding of yourself and make you better understand what helps, what doesn’t help. And if it doesn’t work, you know, like time blocking, while it’s got its benefits doesn’t really work well for, I think, Paul and I really all that much. It’s still good to have because it means that we know that we do have carved out times that are specific to what we want to do. And so that’s at least we know that time is there, right? So just psychologically, I think it’s important to go, “oh, you know, I’ve got that time there.” Even if I move it somewhere else, it’s still there and I can get to it, I can do it.

Paul Harvey  19:36  
That’s the great paradox of structure that it took me a long time to realize, again, paradoxically, structure can give you a lot of flexibility. So you can time block or whatever, and say, “Nope, I need to do this instead of that.” But you’re not completely just throwing whatever you had time blocked, whatever that task was. You’re not just throwing it into the breeze,

Frank Butler  19:56  

Paul Harvey  19:56  
Because you’ve got the structure in place, been doing something towards it already. And you can just slot it into some open spot in the future or something. So it’s anxiety reducing, and flexibility increasing, which is ironic, because we often don’t think of structure as, as doing those things we discussed in one episode, I think, you know, there’s such thing as too much structure, and everyone has to find their own happy spot there.

Frank Butler  20:21  
The paradox of too much structure means that you fill your day with more and more. So I guess with that, though, it leads us to our next element, getting it done. What’s the theme for this year?

Paul Harvey  20:31  
Getting <beep> done

Frank Butler  20:33  
That’s right

Paul Harvey  20:34  
Our 2022 theme is the year of getting <beep> done. We’ll say getting stuff done or something.

Frank Butler  20:40  
And one of the things I can already say is that that’s sort of how my year ended. I already started in December with getting a lot done, the car I refer to as being in a bunch of parts. I got it put together a car, see, yep, it’s a car, it runs, it’s got it properly registered again, you know, because it didn’t move for a while. And I’ve been making progress on a lot of things. I’ve built a couple doors for built-ins by the fireplace they had the prior owners had…don’t even…my OCD, because they had two different sized doors,

Paul Harvey  21:11  
Oh God that’s horrible 

Frank Butler  21:12  
Left built-in versus the right built-in, the right built in had smaller doors, and looked crazy. And it just always just assaulted my senses. And

Paul Harvey  21:20  
I’m not very OCD and that would drive me crazy.

Frank Butler  21:23  
Yeah, yeah, you know, I just I’d like some symmetry in there. And so I built some doors and actually had to learn how to make shaker style doors. And that my first cut out wasn’t great, but it was a good start, right, it kind of again, helped me start creating a skill set. So that way, I go, “Hey, I got some confidence now.” And so that’s helped me go, You know what, let’s do, let’s start doing, having the structure getting organized has helped free up time. And for me to now start building in a get stuff done. The other end of today is that, you know, talking about losing weight earlier in the episode, and I’ve dropped this joke before, maybe not on the show, but I’ve gained the COVID-19. And so my wife and I are trying to work out again. And so yesterday was our first day of working out because it was our first day kind of back fully. And so that’s starting to be you know, we did 30 minutes. And we’re just gonna keep trying to do that on a regular basis. Because we’re getting stuff done.

Paul Harvey  22:25  
Getting stuff done. And that’s the great thing about, like you said, why having structures set you up so, so nicely to actually get stuff done is that you’ve kind of got the infrastructure in place now. And the spare time that that gives you to start knocking stuff off your list.

Frank Butler  22:42  
And that’s key, right? Just getting stuff knocked off the list and just start making progress. And that’s what it’s all about.

Paul Harvey  22:48  
Now, I do want to draw a distinction between our theme and the what would you call the the philosophy of getting things done? You know, there’s GTD we’ve talked about a couple times, like when Steve Robles was on the show, that’s a little bit more of a very specific type of approach to getting things done. And we can put some links in the show notes for those who aren’t familiar with it. But I’ve always felt that the GTD method is not really for me, the approach that I’m thinking here is, like, your example just a minute ago was perfect, you see something that’s been kind of nagging at you or needed to get done, instead of saying, God, you usually got to do that. It’s like, make a plan on the spot, how am I gonna get that done, then execute the plan.

Frank Butler  23:30  
Well, and that was it too, because I think what it’s forced me to do is also say, you know, what, I need to have clear distinction between work time and personal time, I always felt like, oh, I need to be doing this, I need to be doing that. And I’m like, you know, I need to I need to create space. And I’m going to focus in on doing things that need to get done around the house that needed to get done around the house, I’m going to get off my booty and start really trying to get back to taking care of what needs to be done. And it makes me feel better, right, I’m starting to feel more energized. The structure is certainly helped. You know, I don’t think I’ve implemented structure to the extent I might have envisioned I should have but I’m not taking that as a loss. I’m saying, Hey, I did more than I ever have in a while. And again, that’s helped me then with what I’m doing now. And I’ve not lost momentum either. You know, yesterday, now that I get that car put back together and it works like a car again. Now I was able to go take it to the emissions place, get the emissions done. Get it you know, I head over to the county office tag office, so I could make sure to renew it. Because it had been expired for a year. You know, it was it was fun. It was good. It was like making me feel like “Oh good. I’m taking some weight off my shoulders.” But I started small it wasn’t with just getting that car done. Right. It was starting small doing small things like oh, let me get that garage picked up and organized so I can get into it again. Let me let me just start saying you know what? I’m going to ignore these other things. But I think one of the biggest things that helped this is the structure piece was starting to put down a list of things that I needed to do. And start really attacking the easy ones first, like little low hanging fruits, I need to get my email sorted, I need to start dealing with all this garbage email. I don’t want to wake up to 30 emails that I’m constantly deleting. And so it’s those little steps, those little low hanging fruits that helped me then start addressing these bigger pieces, because it was it was starting to make me feel like I’ve got the time I’ve got the capability, right, the time blocking. Oh, I blocked off time to do this. Now let me go do something. You know, it’s like, I know it’s there. I’ve got that time.

Paul Harvey  25:39  
Yep, got the time.

Frank Butler  25:41  
And I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with is that, they’ll get up and they’ll see, “hey, I can’t do this, because I got to be somewhere at five o’clock in the afternoon. So I can’t take care of this in the morning.” That’s where that time blocking sort of does help by at least thinking, “Hey, I’ve got plenty of time, I’m going to go ahead and use my calendar.” I mean, I do this with my calendar, how much time is going to get me to get there? How much time does it take me, let me go ahead and block it off from when I have to leave to when I need to be there doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter if I’m walking 10 minutes across campus or driving 40 minutes into campus. Let me block out time off to so that way, I know what my windows look like.

Paul Harvey  26:16  
I’m racking my head against the wall. We’ve I’ve mentioned this book in a previous episode and completely eluding me right now. But there’s a few books out there and things on what you’re talking about, like the incremental steps, there’s actually a book called incremental improvements, change your life one small step at a time by Mike Brodsky, I don’t believe I’ve read that book. But I assume it’s the same as whatever I’m thinking of, oh, the compound effect by Darren Hardy. That’s what I’m thinking of. But that’s the idea that you just take these like little baby steps towards your goals. One, you start actually making progress on your goals, but they have that tendency to, they build on each other, you know, so you, you’ve made a few small steps that makes the next few steps seem more, less daunting. And then that makes the next steps and the bigger steps and the bigger steps. And next thing you know, you’re getting stuff done. Yep, chopping things up larger goals into bite sized pieces when possible. That for me, is the way to get stuff done. And I’ve always had the tendency like I think a lot of us do of letting something workshop or a home office here or whatever, go just completely to hell. And then diving into it all in one go, like spend an entire day dealing with something and finally getting something accomplished, but it’s exhausting. And it’s like you dread it for a while and you finally do it you feel better after it’s done. But if that same task had been chopped up into lots and lots of bite sized pieces that you could do here and there, it just would have happened without having to really give it much thought expend much energy. I don’t want to say like always be doing something. But I kind of feel that way. Now they say at restaurants like ABC, always be carrying something, I’ll try to do that, for example, my home office here, every time I leave, I try to take something with me that shouldn’t just be sitting around, like something needs to be thrown away, or something that needs to be put away somewhere. And you do that, you know, coming out of your office in this case, a dozen times a day, 30 times a day, I don’t know, all of a sudden, you’ve done a lot of stuff without even really thinking about it.

Frank Butler  28:09  
I think that’s a big thing that was like my picking up the garage is five minutes at a time. It’s like, oh, anytime I was in the garage, I gotta do a little something, even if I was working on something else. And in particular, when I was building the doors for the cabinet’s just to kind of test it out when they was waiting for the glue to trim area, it was one of those things like Okay, now we’re put together, you know, put away this other stuff. And it is amazing how fast that adds up to real gains. And then of course, once you start doing that, you start building confidence in yourself. And I think that’s where the real gains happen is when you start really developing that confidence and enthusiasm to get it done. And the enthusiasm because you just get excited. It’s like Oh, I did this. And then oh, look at this, I’ve done this. And that’s monumental.

Paul Harvey  28:52  
Things become exciting, rather than dreadful. You look forward to the next step of something as opposed to dreading it and procrastinating it and all that. 

Frank Butler  29:00  
That’s why I feel like this year of getting stuff done is going to be more effective. For me, in particular, than just the structure alone, I think the structure probably didn’t need all year, it took me a little bit to figure some things out. But for the most part, I think the getting stuff done is going to really pay off because I’ve really gotten good at these little ticks, right, these little couple minutes here, a couple minutes there and just doing something. And that really, really does make the difference. My opinion.

Paul Harvey  29:27  
The nice thing about structure, again, going back to what I was saying about automation, is that when you do it right, you don’t really notice it, you don’t think about it. So that’s good. But you don’t have these aha moments or these things that you can reflect on and be like, Oh, that was awesome, enables you to do other stuff, and to have those moments of accomplishment. But even though it is an accomplishment in itself, it kind of doesn’t feel that way. It’s more taking away impediments and bad things, not giving yourself good things, if that makes sense. So it’s kind of inherently a little bit more exciting to get stuff done. I too am looking forward to this shifting gears here.

Frank Butler  30:04  
You know, just to kind of go down this line a little bit as a whole. First and foremost, we’d love to hear from you guys. If you’re choosing anything you’re doing for your structure, if you are using resolutions, and you’re good with love to hear that too, or your themes, yeah, we want to hear this stuff. I think that’s important, especially because I think the other listeners might appreciate those kinds of things, too. But I also don’t want you guys to be discouraged by things that don’t work, right. The whole idea is that hey, yeah, the year structure probably wasn’t great, per se. But honestly, it helped a lot. I think this is what it’s important to do take that moment to really look back at those little wins you might have had, oh, you know, it seems like I didn’t do much. But then oh, man, you know, my email in the morning is so much more manageable.

Paul Harvey  30:50  
Can I just fast-forward to that point

Frank Butler  30:52  
Those…[laughter] yeah for you. You might actually want to just carve out an hour just setting up rules for your email.

Paul Harvey  30:59  
I really need to do that. Problem is I can’t come up with a rule that responds for me. 

Frank Butler  31:04  
Yeah, well, that’s… Fortunately, most of my emails, I don’t have to respond to I don’t think, at least not urgently.

Paul Harvey  31:11  
I hope that’s true. Cuz I don’t. Yeah.

Frank Butler  31:15  
We’re starting here in the next week. So anyway, have a year structure everybody or you know, not year of structure, have your year of whatever it is. If you want to have goals that you create under that thematic year do that, too. I think that’s a good one. Hey, you want to travel more? That’s a great feat. Because you can make traveling also be something like 35 minutes outside of town. 

Paul Harvey  31:36  

Frank Butler  31:36  
Okay, here, here’s a good one. I’m just gonna use traveling as an example. A lot of people are always like, oh, you know, I want to travel more. And then they move away from the town that they’ve been living in. And then they go back to visit that town. And they go on some tour, like, oh, you know, I never knew that. Because they never did a tour of that town. Right? They’re like, oh, there’s plenty of time for me to go and explore this town because I live here, right? 

Paul Harvey  31:58  
Man, that’s a great example.

Frank Butler  31:59  
Don’t do that. 

Paul Harvey  32:00  

Frank Butler  32:01  
Use that as your part of your travel. Hey, you know what, I’ve never visited my own town.

Paul Harvey  32:05  
You know what, you have a theme of exploration maybe. And part of that theme is to travel more. But traveling within your own town can take just as much importance as traveling outside and still be consistent with your theme of exploration.

Frank Butler  32:18  
Go to a new museum, you haven’t been to try a new book that you wouldn’t think that you might like, you know, because you’re exploring new things you’re exploring, and you’re trying to discover yourself in that process. Just some examples out there. Let us know folks.

Paul Harvey  32:31  
Let us know

Frank Butler  32:31  
Let us know what your themes are, goals. Let us know how you did on last year’s resolutions. And here’s another thing, let us know what you want to hear this year on the Busyness Paradox. Oh, that was my other thing. On that year of structure. You know, getting stuff done. This was actually kind of new. Paul and I built a podcast. And it takes time, right? I mean, Paul’s put in a lot of effort on the editing end of it, for sure. He’s gotten really good at it.

Paul Harvey  32:32  
Getting there. 

Frank Butler  32:33  
He’s done great work. That podcast sounds amazing. And actually, we’re above average, in terms of the number of episodes downloaded. So hey, we’re killing it. But that’s something about getting stuff done. And not only that, the structure to that, too. He’s created structure around it. He’s got a button on his little device, what was it called?

Paul Harvey  33:11  
Stream Deck

Frank Butler  33:12  
The stream deck to help him with all of that.

Paul Harvey  33:14  
I have many buttons to help with all of that.

Frank Butler  33:16  
Mny buttons on that. You know, we’ve updated equipment to make life easier. I’ve got this Roadcaster Pro that’s helped quite a bit with the quality of my side of it. And actually, if we have guests and so on, we can have live calls even you know, so if we want to have phone calls.

Paul Harvey  33:31  
And it makes things easier. 

Frank Butler  33:32  
Yep, exactly. 

Paul Harvey  33:33  
So this is my first episode with my Shure SM7B, the microphone of Joe Rogan and sort of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. 

Frank Butler  33:42  
I like it. 

Paul Harvey  33:43  
But I guess that was the SM7, kind of the predecessor of this, but whatever. So hope, hope I sound better than Frank. Yeah. [laughter] Give us a feedback, which one of us is sounding better now? We do have a little bit of an arms race going on in terms of audio equipment, but it’s you know, I don’t know about you Frank. For me, I think approaching this podcast from a structural perspective has helped to keep it fun and made it…a lot of the stuff that I’ve learned how to do almost a hobby, really. I mean, I never gave a…I didn’t know anything about audio editing a year and a half ago. I didn’t know anything about microphones. I had a Blue Yeti and I thought I was like driving around in a Ferrari. Turns out I was driving around in, like, a beat up old Camaro. I don’t know. Yeah, I knew nothing about us. But now I….

Frank Butler  34:24  
It’s definitely the 70s Camero [laughter]. So it’s like you’re still wearing your high school letter jacket. And you’re 50 years old. That is that is the Blue Yeti, I think.

Paul Harvey  34:35  
[More laughter] A ringing endorsement. Ah, that was great.

Frank Butler  34:38  
I mean, they’re really good. Don’t get me wrong, especially if you’re like streaming on Twitch

Paul Harvey  34:42  
Especially for the money. B ut honestly, there’s some things about the way that you know, my voice sounded on that mic that I really like but the problem is a mosquito flies into a leaf 600 feet away and it picks it up.

Frank Butler  34:56  
Well, I think the other element too that doing this has also helped us with the job a little bit because we’re doing more of these virtual classes and online type things. And so the quality of our components and the ability to edit these things helps with us being able to deliver better in the classroom

Paul Harvey  35:10  
Been some nice, unexpected synergies between the two things. Yeah.

Frank Butler  35:15  
And then not only that, I think there’s gonna be some very interesting things that might happen this year for the Busyness Paradox. And

Paul Harvey  35:21  
Yeah, some exciting stuff coming up.

Frank Butler  35:23  
Yeah, I think so, we think so. If there’s a…again, if there’s things that you guys want us to talk about, or if there’s a guest that you would like for us to try to get, or there’s somebody that you know, that we should have on because you think it would make for an interesting conversation. Let us know.

Paul Harvey  35:38  
Apologies for having to cancel, or postpone, let’s say, the Keanu Reeves/Tim Cook Christmas special. They were all raring to go. Something came up on Frank’s end. And we just had to say sorry, guys. We’ll do it next year. 

Frank Butler  35:52  
I had to actually watch the matrix. 

Paul Harvey  35:54  
He was halfway through the matrix and you know, you don’t wanna…I understand. So, apologies to misters Cook and Reeves. Cool. We’ll get you on eventually.

Frank Butler  36:03  
Love it. Thanks for listening, everybody. Happy New Year.

Paul Harvey  36:06  
Happy New Year, the year of getting <beep> done. 

Frank Butler  36:10  
That’s it. 

Paul Harvey  36:11  
The Busyness Paradox is distributed by Paul Harvey and Frank Butler. Our theme music is adapted from “It’s Business Time” by Jemaine Clements and Bret McKenzie. Our production manager is Justin Wuntaek. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we’d love to hear from you. Please send any questions, comments or ideas for future episode topics to input@busynessparadox.com, or find us on Twitter. Also, be sure to visit our website, busynessparadox.com to read our blog posts and for links to the articles and other resources mentioned in today’s show. Finally, please take a moment to rate and follow or subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google podcasts or wherever the heck you get your podcasts.

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