The Company We Keep

In this week's episode of THE COMPANY WE KEEP podcast, host Jason Pearl is talking all about focus. He drops the four tactics he's employed in his business and personal life that keep him on track on a daily basis. It's guaranteed you'll walk away from this episode with at least one new tool to implement into your routine that will drastically improve your ability to stay focused.

Show Notes

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Show Highlights:
(00:00) Introduction
(02:32) Live by your calendar
(06:09) Determine your daily "Key Performance Indicators"
(11:21) Work in sprints
(15:36) Making space to rest and recharge
(18:28) Recap

This Episode is Sponsored By:
Harbortown Financial Group
To learn more: Reach out to John MacDonald at and 716-276-7613.

Mentioned On The Episode:
Casio G Shock Watch

What is The Company We Keep?

Jason Pearl is a second generation entrepreneur, bootstrapping business owner, loving husband, devoted dad, and raging Bills fan. He tosses aside the idea that you can't have it all and devotes his life to proving it wrong. Grab a cup of coffee and join Jason every Tuesday morning as he dives into topics to help everyday business owners and entrepreneurs think differently about growth and success, and how to achieve a better balance in both business and in life. He’s also shining a giant spotlight on some very smart people in his inner-circle that have helped ignite his success along the way.

[00:00:00] All right. All right. Welcome back to another episode of The Company We Keep podcast. I am your host Jason Pearl. This is a podcast for everyday business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders who want to think differently about growth, want to think differently about success, and want to find better balance in both business and in life.

[00:00:34] And this episode and every episode of season three is sponsored by my good friend John McDonald in Harbortown Financial Group. John and his firm work with individuals, families, and small businesses to build customized financial plans using their holistic, goal-based approach. If you want to contact John and his firm and get any other details about him and what he does, you can visit my website at Go under the show notes tab in the podcast side, and you will get all the information you need there.

[00:01:09] Excited for this episode today, 'cause we are going to talk about something that I know that I struggle with and I'd imagine a lot of you out there struggle with this, too. We're going to be talking about focus. Yes, we are talking about focus as we close out 2021. It's the holiday season. I'm recording this episode the weekend of Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, it is not easy to stay focused during holiday time.

[00:01:37] I for one will raise my hand and say that I lose focus. And when I lose focus, I'm not as productive. And when I'm not as productive, I actually work longer and I'm less productive. So today, we want to talk about all things focus. And I want to leave you with four takeaways that after you listen to this episode, you can try and figure out how you can implement these items in your daily life and in your work life to make sure that you're the best version of yourself and to make sure that you are hyper focused. this isn't just for holiday time. This is for anytime.

[00:02:16] But I know for a fact that when I implemented these four tools in my daily life, I became much more effective as a leader, much more effective as a business owner, and certainly [laughs] much more effective as a human being in my personal life as well. So the first thing I want to talk about the fir-, point number one is if you're anything like me, you live by your calendar. I happen to be a digital calendar type of guy. I put everything into a calendar. Sometimes, I feel stupid doing it, 'cause I'm like, "Take the dog for a walk," or, "Do these, like, menial little things that I know I have to get done." But I use technology to my advantage.

[00:02:58] My wife is a paper calendar gal. She loves the big, you know, huge calendar. It's in a, a really visible place in our house. she's got all of our names, and then she writes in pencil all the different activities we have. And that's all fine and good. We actually butt heads a little bit on that, because I am such a digital guy and she's such a paper gal that sometimes, what is on my digital calendar doesn't go on paper, because [laughs] I forget to put it on there.

[00:03:24] But because we're talking about me and how I do things, we're going to talk about digital calendars, all right? I have multiple calendars actually, because I have different clients, I have different emails for different clients that I have, as well as I have, personal as well as work emails.

[00:03:40] One of the things that really helps me out is utilize, uh, Google Calendar specifically for making sure that all of my day is worked out in the right way. I also have an Outlook email, but I have abso-, actually merged them all together. And for me, I, I do everything on my calendar. That includes blocking off time for both business and personal stuff, okay?

[00:04:05] And the reason that I say that's so important is because if you want to stay focused, you need to be able to wake up in the beginning of the day, do whatever you do to get your day started. the first thing I do is I flip up my calendar and see what I have going on for the day, right? Because knowing what I have going on for the day helps me schedule everything.

[00:04:23] And I don't only just do this in the morning of the day. I actually, I'll talk about it in a little bit, but I do it at night, the day before as well, so I can make sure I'm prepared and focused for hitting the ground running when it's time to work the following day.

[00:04:37] But again, you, you have to create a behavior of making sure that you're scheduling your time and you're scheduling your activities in an organized way. Reason being is because when you know what you have to do, it's much easier with less redi-, resistance and full preparation to just go directly into what you have to do, as opposed to being like, "Oh, I totally forgot that I have to do this today, so I need to stop and I need to, you know, get this organized, or I need to go get this document, or I need to go put this in my car, or I need to, like, I need to actually drive to this meeting because people actually still have face-to-face meetings in a COVID world, And I wasn't, blocking that time off to travel," or whatever it is.

[00:05:15] You, you become chaotic when things are not scheduled. And I do understand that some of you struggle to use calendars, 'cause it doesn't feel natural to you. But I promise you, you will be much more organized and focused when you do. I know that seems so basic in, in the world that we live in with technology being rampant. Um, people have s-, all sorts of different things that they do. What I would tell you is make one calendar your personal bible. I don't care how many email clients that you have. I don't care how many calendars you have. Make sure you have one that merges everything together and has you set up for your day, so you know what's happening every moment of every day, whether during your work day or even in the evenings. So number one, scheduling. Make sure you use your calendar properly.

[00:06:03] Number two, this is something that is really business focused, but can be used in personal life as well. But we're going to talk about it as a business application. Understanding your KPIs. KPIs is a business terms. It means key performance indicators, okay? So whether you're a leader of a company, uh, you're an employee of a company and you're leading other people, or whether you're a business owner, you need to understand your key performance indicators on a daily basis to ensure that you are prioritizing the right amount of work.

[00:06:40] I know I work with some clients, they have really awesome dashboards, they have KPIs completely built out, and there's all sorts of tracking mechanisms to show you, like, right to the minute how the business is performing. And that is awesome.

[00:06:53] But if you're not that sophisticated, you can still achieve this point with having a little additional work put in to understand what you have to do on a daily basis to be successful.

[00:07:08] So early on in my career, and I've talked about this, I believe, in season one, where I talked about the concept of daily vitamins, right? Um, and daily vitamins was something that, back to my Wells Fargo days, a wise manager that I had set up a program that I adopted, made it my own, and kind ran with called The Daily Vitamin Program. Think about it as, like, a one-a-day multivitamin. You have a vitamin every day, it keeps you healthy, right?

[00:07:32] So eh, in your business or in your day-to-day world, whatever you do to earn money and, uh, to provide for your family or to provide for yourself, there are certain things that you should do every day. And those could be identified as your key performance indicators. And what you should do is you should ensure that it's maybe three, maximum five, things a day that you want to prioritize that you get done, and that's going to make you successful for the day. And if you repeat that every day, it's going to make you successful for the month and the quarter and the year and so on.

[00:08:08] So you have to understand and prioritize what is the most important thing to do, okay? When you do that, you're going to start to understand how you could be more effective in the timeframe that you have throughout the course of the day.

[00:08:25] Another thing when it comes to your key performance indicators, if you're a leader or a business owner, there are things that are hitting you every single day. You're putting out fires. You're doing all sorts of stuff. What you need to do in those situations is you need to delegate, because if fires and issues and other things come up that distract you from your key performance indicators, those need to be delegated to someone else on your team.

[00:08:50] This is a podcast for everyday business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders. So you can't do everything. If you're a solopreneur, there are other ways that you can delegate, right? There's virtual assistants that you could get. There are 1099 contractors that you could get. There are people that could help you offload the work that you don't really have time to do or not prioritize, but still need to get done to make your business successful, and you need to focus on those things.

[00:09:20] Time is money. If you're wasting your time on things that are not your key performance indicators, it is worth the money to pay someone else to do it. Or it's worth spending a few hours to train somebody on how to do it so you don't have to do it moving forward. You have to delegate certain tasks. You cannot do it all on your own.

[00:09:43] And here's another point. If you're a leader or a business owner, you need to make sure that you are hiring people within your business that are not the exact same as you, okay? What I mean by that is if you're super good at doing something and you're a small company, you don't need to hire other people that are really good at the same things you're doing, okay? You need to make sure you hire people that are, that are really good at things you don't want to do or you're not very good at, 'cause let's be honest, none of us are perfect, okay?

[00:10:12] So you need to hire people for your weaknesses. You want to hire people that have strengths that are your weaknesses. I know it seems like a really basic concept, but it, all too many times, I see leaders hire people that are exactly like them 'cause it makes them feel comfortable. They understand those other people, They understand how to communicate with them, 'cause they're very much like them.

[00:10:34] The problem is if you have a bunch of people that are strong in what you're strong in, they're likely weak in the areas that you're weak in as well. So you have gaping holes in your business and your operations because everybody on your team is just like you and they're weak at the things you're weak at. So you have to hire for your weakness being someone else's talents, okay?

[00:10:56] So point two, understand your KPIs. Make sure you have three to five things that you know you have to do on a daily basis, to make your business successful. That is called focus. That is understanding what is most important in your business, know, I used to say "What makes the cash register ring in your business? How do you make money? How are you, how do your clients stay happy, Those are the things that you need to focus on. So know your KPIs.

[00:11:21] Point three on how to stay focused is working in sprints. Now, this is a concept that actually changed my professional life. when I became more organized, right, with my scheduling and understanding my KPIs, I was able to then start working in sprints. And what I mean by that is productive bursts of time, normally between 30 and 60 minutes, where you are hyper focused on a very specific task, right?

[00:11:51] Now, during these sprints, to be hyper focused, you need to make sure that you cut out all outside dis-, distractions, right? So that means no emails, no phone calls, Technology allows us to put our cell phones on Do Not Disturb, our emails on Do Not Disturb, making sure Slack says that you're away. It won't show you notifications.

[00:12:12] If you're one of those people that is, like, always distracted by things, shut them off. I happen to be wearing a watch right now. It's a really basic Casio G-Shock, right? One of the old school G-Shocks. Loved them when I was a kid, love them now. Used to have a Fitbit. Actually still have it somewhere in my drawer. But used to have a Fitbit, had, all the text message capabilities on it and all those things. And I'd get alerts and calendar alerts and text messages when they were coming through. And it's sometimes it's my buddies on a text thread and they're just, like, going back and forth, And it's distracting, 'cause you keep looking at it. I bought this watch because it's got all the step stuff in it that I wanted to get from a health standpoint. But I can't get my text messages on my watch anymore, and that's okay. You know why? 'Cause I'm not distracted. I can focus better. consciously went out and bought a less productive watch, like an actual regular watch that just does regular watch things And tells time, because I did not want to be distracted.

[00:13:07] Uh, there was a time in my career, six, seven years ago, where I was just always, I wore getting back to people like a badge of honor, right? When you're working in sprints, you have to get really comfortable about not being the fastest to return phone calls or text messages or emails, because you're being And that's what people think. They say, "Oh, I'm trying to be the best. I'm trying to be the best person, eh, as far as response and customer service." actually, what you're doing is a disservice to the client, 'cause you're setting an expectation that is not real. And getting back to somebody extremely quickly, even, you know, after hours and at night and in the morning, it's not okay.

[00:13:43] Create boundaries, shut off notifications, and work in sprints. It works, I promise you. If you start working in 30 to 60-minute sprints, you will find that what normally took you eight to 10 hours in a day will now take you six hours. And then you basically won two hours back. Time is money. Those two hours is either freedom or ways that you could be more productive in other things.

[00:14:07] Talking about working in sprints, it also means that you should be scheduling meetings less than one hour. I work with a client right now, we instituted something where we don't have more than 45-minute That gives you 15 meetings at the end to get your stuff ready. Maybe you'll use the facilities, you go get a glass of water, or you take the dog out. You do whatever you have to do.

[00:14:23] But you are working in a sprint, even in that meeting. And when you go into that meeting, um, again, a CEO of one of my clients, Dave Marshall, he's notorious for doing this, but it's so great what he does. He'll walk in, he'll say, the first thing he'll say is th-, and he, he cuts small talk down, 'cause he wants to get to business. It doesn't mean he doesn't want to know what's going on in people's life. He allows that for a period of time. But if it's a productive meeting, he says, "The purpose of this meeting is," and then we get into it.

[00:14:50] And, and it's a 45-minute meeting, and we know that 40 minutes in, we should be wrapping up and talking about what the takeaways are going to be, So schedule meetings for less than an hour so you can stay focused and work in sprints.

[00:15:01] During these sprints, you should only be working in what is prioritized in this sprint. You should not be focusing on doing multiple things during the sprint. If you get the sprint done, if you get the work done early, you could create another sprint, and get something else done. But you can't be multitasking during that sprint. I promise you, it will make you more effective.

[00:15:21] Try it. Send me a message. Send me an email at Jason@Jason, eh,, or shoot me a note on my website. I promise you, this will work.

[00:15:30] And when you are working in these organized, scheduled sprints, again, you're going to find a ton more time in your day. And then finally, w-, what helps people become more focused, what has helped me become more focused is a point that, may seem weird when it comes to focusing, but it's creating space to rest and recharge, okay? That means that the minute you wake up, you don't look at your phone and start answering emails. That means that when you're laying in bed, getting ready to go to sleep, you're not firing off emails to your employees or to your peers or whatever the case is.

[00:16:04] You need to create organized and scheduled space to rest and recharge. Why? Because when you are working in these sprints, hyper focused, hyper detailed, hyper dedicated to the task at hand, you use a lot of energy But when you do this and you, you start working in these sprints and being super productive and focused, you're going to find that you need to be able to rest and recharge, okay? there's a couple questions I would ask you. How do you start your day right now? Is it with work? How do you end your day? Is it with work? Is your entire day work from when you're awake to when you go to sleep? How do you think your family feels about that? How do you think your spouse feels about that? How do you think your kids feel about that?

[00:16:50] If you want to be productive in both business and life, you need to be focused in what you're doing. After the workday is over, and you should create start work times and end work times. So if you're a solopreneur or an entrepreneur and you're like, "Hey, I'm an entrepreneur, man. Like, I do whatever I got to do all day long to, make it happen and keep the lights on," that's all fine and good, but you need to create space to rest and recharge, 'cause if not, I guarantee you're not as productive and you're not as focused as you should be, okay? So you need to set work parameters.

[00:17:18] In this COVID world we live in, where work from home is so much more, um, prevalent now and it's not going to be changing, I've talked to so many professionals and really successful leaders of businesses that are like, "I find myself working all the time." And it's "I'm home now." And they love being home, but they're like, "All, all, I feel like all I do is work." It's 'cause they're not creating boundaries.

[00:17:41] And if you want to be hyper productive and focused, you need to create boundaries in your calendar, like we talked about. You need to block time off. And you need to set yourself up for success, okay?

[00:17:52] So again, you can't, I've said this before. I'm going to say it again. Y-, especially to the, the business owners, the leaders, the entrepreneurs, People that have others relying on them. This is even a, I'll, for you, for parents as well. You can't pour out of an empty cup. Rest, recharging, refueling fills your cup up. That could mean having coffee in the morning with your wife. That could mean dropping your kids off to practice. That could mean playing a game after dinner with your family. That could mean doing a puzzle. That could mean watching your favorite. It could be a number of different things.

[00:18:29] But the fact of the matter is you need to create boundaries, you need to rest and recharge. When you do those things, you will be able to be a lot more focused, as we've been talking about.

[00:18:39] So again, to recap, the four things that we talked about, to make sure that you can be focused and you can be more productive while doing it is you need to work your schedule really effectively, okay? Make sure you utilize technology or a paper calendar, but stick to it. Live by it. Scheduling, critically important.

[00:18:56] Understand your KPIs, key performance indicators. Know what makes the cash register ring. Know what's prioritized. Know what's most important for you to do every single day and do those.

[00:19:07] Three, work in sprints, 30 to 60 minutes, hyper focused, no distractions, no multitasking, only doing one thing, do it the best you possibly can, make it the best work it could possibly be, and then move on to the next task. When you do that, you're going to find a heck of a lot more time in your day.

[00:19:25] Four, super important point, rest, recharge, refuel. You can't pour out of an empty cup, so you need to focus on making sure that you're creating boundaries in your life, boundaries in your day, boundaries with technology that don't keep you so connected to work, 'cause when you're connected to work all day, all night, all evening, all morning, you are less effective. You're working too much. Nobody gets an award for working the most hours in a year, okay?

[00:19:51] The most successful people I know do this. They create boundaries. They have more time, more freedom, and they make more money. Try it out. You will thank me.

[00:20:00] Shoot me a note when you start implementing these and let me know how it's going, 'cause I promise you, it's going to work. quick hit on a podcast today to talk about focus. We all need it. I'm preaching to myself as well, So when I was putting this outline together, I was like, "Yeah, sometimes I slack on this. I got to make sure I do that." But I'm telling you, if you do this, no one's perfect, but if you start working on these things, it's going to work, okay?

[00:20:19] I'm here to help. I love you all and want to see you be the most productive versions of yourself, okay? So thank you for listening today. thanks for, you know, bearing with me as I preach about focus. I can promise you it has changed my life professionally, how I operate. I have more freedoms, more time with my family, and I'm more productive and I'm better at what I do.

[00:20:41] It's a blast talking to you guys every week. I love sharing my ideas and I love hearing from you. we've talked about this a lot. I have a new and improved website at We'd love for you to check it out. I've opened up some, consulting hours for you guys because I'm organized and because I'm focused. I have specific hours in my day and in my weeks to help you guys out if you have specific problems you want to work through or you need some quick advice. I've got those open for you. Visit You can book time right on my calendar and we can make it happen for you. Okay?

[00:21:13] So thanks for bearing with me today. Thanks for listening. I hope you learned something. Appreciate you keeping me company. This is The Company We Keep podcast. I'm Jason Pearl. Until next time, I'm out. Peace.