Work Hard, Play Hard

Working hard and playing hard while working remotely in fun, new environments has been a challenge. In Argentina, we wanted to have the flexibility to ski when there’s fresh powder while still maintaining an assemblance of our work week.

We’ve been personal development junkies for years and have compiled a list of our favorite techniques to make sure the job gets done. As my mom likes to say, “Do first things first and never halfway.” Here are our best tips on how to master the work-life balance and work hard, play hard.

how to work hard, play hard

1. Your frog is my b*tch.

After reading the book, Boss Bitch, written by a fellow Northwestern grad, Nicole Lapin, I decided I needed my own business mantra and identity. I settled upon, “Your frog is my b*tch.”

If you’re not familiar with Brian Tracy, the renowned public speaker, and personal development guru, one of his central tenets is to “eat that frog.” Frogs are your biggest, most important tasks for the day. These are the tasks you’re most likely to procrastinate on (because they’re intimidating.) Don’t wait for them.

Don’t think, “I’ll just tackle some easy items on my to-do list firstly to get myself warmed up, and then I’ll spend the whole afternoon on my frog.” We all know that days get away from us and soon that frog is pushed back another day.

A conservative $800 billion was estimated on time wasters alone (like email pop-ups and social media) when a study came out showing American workers wasted 1/3 of their workday. I’ve seen estimates as high as several trillion dollars for what procrastination costs the American economy yearly.

Think of every time a worker, corporation, or politician drags their feet to make a decision or follow through on a project. Think about what happens to people who wait even just a few years to invest in their retirement.

My work mantra of, “Your frog is my b*tch” is meant to signal that not only did I eat my own frogs, I’m not afraid to eat yours too. Be part of the solution and differentiate yourself by taking action.

Read more: How to create and manage a winning to-do list.

2. Maximize with the Ivy Lee To-Do List Method.

Still cited as the “100-year-old to-do list hack,” the Ivy Lee Method has been used since the early 1900s. Ivy Lee, a consultant, first helped the Bethlehem Steel Corporation increase executive productivity. Sitting down with each executive, Ivy Lee gave them the following instructions:

  1. After each workday, create tomorrow’s to-do list with your six most important tasks. Include six tasks only, no more, and no less.
  2. Rank and prioritize each task by importance.
  3. The next morning, complete the first task. Don’t move onto the next task until you’re done.
  4. Continue this process throughout the day. If any tasks aren’t completed, move them to your new list of six tasks for the next day.
  5. Repeat.

Not only does this force you to face your ugliest frog first, but it also ensures that you make tough decisions in the morning. This is when your brain is at its most focused and does not yet have decision fatigue. Make sure that whatever gets onto your to-do list aligns with your long term goals. Then, tackle them head-on!

Read more: How to create and manage a winning to-do list.

3. Use a Stop Watch.

In addition to our longterm goals, there are daily administrative tasks that we have to do. We book flights, calculate expenses, get groceries, read the next chapter in our personal development book, etc.

Next time, decide how much time each task should take. Set a timer. Whenever the timer goes off, be disciplined, and move onto the next task. Or, if you were caught surfing the web, finish up that task ASAP.

Not only do timers force commitment to the single task at hand, but it also breaks larger, daunting projects into smaller chunks. Also, if you can complete the task in the allotted time, do it and don’t worry about being a perfectionist.

For the majority of things, it’s more important to get it done well than to agonize for hours on it getting it done perfectly. If something takes too long, it’s a sign that you need to ask for help.

Speaking of time, did you know that it’s possible to slow down time?

4. Take Breaks to Exercise.

Did you know that exercise increases focus and concentration? A 2017 study shows that people learn a second language faster while pedaling a stationary bicycle instead of sitting in a classroom!

While working throughout the day, make sure to take breaks and exercise. Whether it’s getting your workout in, moving to a standing desk, or dropping down and doing twenty push-ups, the endorphins released from exercise boosts brain function, concentration, and creativity!

Read more: How to work out together and get results.

5. Buy These Books.

Although we all know that self-help books don’t work, implement what you read in the following, and you’ll be working and playing harder. 

The Slight Edge: Secret To A Successful Life by Jeff Olson

“The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”

Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin

While not directly related to productivity, I found this book to be an excellent summary for managing finances and even sent it as a gift to several girlfriends. Everyone should read this book as early as college (yes, men can read it too!) Personal finance is something you should never procrastinate on!

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “happiness engineers.” After eight years working as corporates engineers internationally, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — leading couples to engineer their best lives. The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship, as a couple.

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