Cross 50% Off your To Do List

So many professionals struggle with time management because they feel like they need to be available to their clients at all hours of the day or night. The truth is you can keep clients happy. And you can protect your time. That’s the topic of today’s video.


Doug BrownCross 50% Off your To Do List
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Easy! 3 Steps to Success in the next 7 Days

Each week is a new opportunity to succeed.

You get to define what must happen for you to feel like you advanced your practice by this time next week.

Here’s how:

  1. Decide on your top 3 practice-building priorities. Pick things that provide you leverage in your practice. Things that strengthen your foundation and increase your capacity to get more done and make more money. It might be updating an important process, like how you close the deal with new clients. Or maybe finding an additional support person for your team, or finally doing the outreach to your network to get more referrals. Just pick 3. Save others for next week.
  2. Make an appointment with yourself to work on your Top 3. If it isn’t on your calendar it won’t happen. Block 45 minutes each day to work on one of your top 3. Do it at a time when you are at your best – for me that’s early morning, and not mid-afternoon. When the appointment comes, stay in the work for the full 45 minutes. When you get to the 40-minute mark you can decide whether to continue or make notes so you can pick up quickly in tomorrow’s block.
  3. Create an accountability loop. If you really want to succeed, share your top 3 things and your plan with an accountability partner. Give them permission to follow up and give you a nudge if you need it.

You might have heard this advice before. And if you are like most professionals (including yours truly), you know that it’s not enough to hear the tips. You need to practice them. And be reminded, often. It’s why the world’s best golfers have caddies and coaches.

So go forth with these easy tips today so you’ll have the success you want and deserve by this time next week.

P.S… If you don’t have an accountability partner and want to give it a try just hit “REPLY” and let me know what your plan is for the week. I’ll check in with you next week to see how it went.

Doug BrownEasy! 3 Steps to Success in the next 7 Days
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How to Set Goals that Actually Work

How would you like to make more and do more in less time? Wouldn’t it be nice to have your business support your life rather than living to support your business? What if you knew one of the most important secrets to actually making those wishes come true? Read on …

Setting effective SMART goals is one of the most important practices for financial and personal success. Sadly, I find that most professionals are not using this formula – which makes their lives much harder than necessary. It’s most often because they don’t really understand why goal setting is so important.  

  1. Goals help you focus and prioritize. Goals give you something to shoot for so you align your energy and attention on the right things. SMART goals give you a clear and compelling outcome to achieve. The clearer the outcome the more powerful the goal.
  2. Goals help you avoid SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome. Let’s face it, we encounter lots of distractions and shiny objects that tempt us to change direction. Goals give you mental barriers so you stay on the road you’ve chosen. They provide a context for you to decide if that distraction helps you move toward or away from your ultimate objective.
  3. Goals help you Eat the Elephant. You may know the saying: “How does the ant eat the elephant? One bite at a time”. Goal setting helps you take your big hairy audacious dreams and put them into manageable and achievable steps. This helps you build momentum and do more in less time.
  4. Goals keep you in Action. The best plans do not get the best results. Results require action. Action pursuant to a great plan will get you great results. Goals help propel you forward and keep you motivated – especially when you break big goals into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Goals make you better. Having clear goals and measuring your progress towards the goals will help you improve. It is one of the benefits of persistent, consistent, and tenacious work. The accountability that comes with SMART goals also helps propel you forward and focus.
  6. Goals make you feel good. When you set and achieve goals you will feel better – physically and mentally. Your brain releases dopamine as a reward which causes a good feeling. That feeling gets associated with accomplishing goals, which will cause it to happen more often.

How to create a SMART Goal

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.


A specific goal is very clear and tangible. Goals like  “make as much money as possible” or “make more than last year” or “work fewer hours” or “leave the office at a reasonable hour” are not specific. The goal must be clearly defined and identified – in rich detail.  The five “W” questions will help:  What do I want to accomplish?  Why is it important? Who is involved?  Where it is located? What resources or limitations do I have?


How will you measure whether you’ve achieved your goal? You must be clear on what you are going to measure (like money or time) and how you are going to measure it. Questions to help you: How much? How many? How will I know I’ve reached it?

Achievable / Attainable

If you set the bar too high then it won’t be an effective goal. You don’t want it too easy that you’ll hit it no matter what. And you can’t have it be so hard that it is impossible or unlikely. When I was in logistics my customers wanted to set metrics (measures) like 100% on-time delivery. That sounds great, but it means that one miss caused us to fail without the possibility of recovery – which had the opposite effect. Consider questions such as: How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is it based on the constraints and abilities I have?


Your goals have to matter to you and they have to be in alignment with one another. Answer these questions to test relevance: Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? How does it match up with other things we need to do? How is it connected to my other goals?

Time-bound/ Time-based 

Having time boundaries will help keep the goal of taking a back-seat to other priorities. Set an ultimate deadline and specific milestones. If your goal is to increase revenue by the end of the year you should break it down into smaller increments, like quarterly and monthly or weekly. This will help you keep track as you go.

It can be hard to set SMART goals without the input and accountability of others. That’s true even for people who have done it before. If you are new to this, and you’d like some support just reach out and we’ll talk.


Doug BrownHow to Set Goals that Actually Work
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A Strong Finish & A New Beginning

With the end of 2020 in view, you have an important choice to make.

You can relax and coast over the finish line and focus again in the new year. The idea of that is really tempting, isn’t it?  Especially after the mental, physical and emotional exhaustion of the Pandemic.


You can use this time to accelerate through the finish and carry positive momentum into the new year. You can have an advantage over those who coast and set yourself up for success in the first quarter – rather than using the first quarter to get back up to speed. Getting moving from a stop requires far more energy than maintaining your speed.

My kids were ski racers through high school. They were trained to accelerate through the last turn and power through the finish line – because the difference between a podium and 5th place was measured in hundredths of a second – even at the junior level.

Here’s what you need to do to power through your finish line for this year:

#1  Stay Focused 

Maintain your focus on what you are trying to accomplish by the end of the year. Watch out for distractions or interruptions. Cull through your to-do list and prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact this year – especially around maximizing revenue and cash flow. If your list is like mine there are plenty of “nice to have” or “I’d love to get to” items that are not essential. They have waited this long so they can wait until the new year.

#2  Commit to the Future You Really Want

Decide once and for all that you are finally done tolerating what doesn’t work and playing games or settling for table scraps. Decide that this is the year you will achieve your potential. You will build a great practice that you love. You will have more time. You will have less stress.

Create a vision for what you want your life and your practice to be like 12 months from now. Get really specific – in Technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound (yes, I know I’m dating myself with those references). The more clear and specific your goal is the more likely you are to achieve it.

Once you’ve got the vision – break it down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals or milestones. Make it really concrete. But don’t get so hung up in creating the perfect plan that you don’t start. You need to be in action. 

Once you have decided: Don’t waffle. Don’t equivocate. The future you will create for yourself cannot be a “should” it has to be a must. Once the decision is made. Once you have committed, you can be in action.

#3  Create Ambitious Deadlines.

If you really want to get something done you need a non-negotiable deadline. If you make it easy on yourself it won’t get done. A deadline gives you a tangible sense of urgency that will drive you to accomplish more than you thought possible. The end of a calendar year is a great non-negotiable deadline.

When you make the commitment to others then it takes away your wiggle room. When you set a tight deadline (like the end of the year) it creates a sense of urgency that you need to get into action. And that’s a good thing. 

#4 Get Comfortable Saying “No”.

There is only so much of you to go around. If you are like most professionals I know then you are over-committed to things you are only marginally interested in – typically out of a sense of obligation to others.

Stop it. Stop doing things that do not serve you. Make “no” your default answer. I know that is easy for me to say, and difficult to do. That doesn’t make it less important.  When you start saying “no” to others then you have more bandwidth to start saying “yes” to what matters.

Give yourself the freedom to make a “stop doing” list. If it doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t have a direct and proximate correlation to achieving your goals then add it to the stop doing list. It will be a bigger list than you think.  Even if you took just 1 or 2 things off that list you can probably save significant time and mental energy for what really matters.

If you would like help with this step then check out my Guide to Saying No Without Being Negative 

#5 Get into Action – Massive Action

Once you have decided what you want to do then get going. There is no time to waste. You don’t need a perfect plan to start. You need to have an idea of where you want to go and the first and maybe second step to getting started. Then do it. Don’t just “dip your toe” in the water. Dive in and take massive action. 

You’re probably trying to break years of habits of incrementalism or tolerating a less than an optimum situation. The only way to do that is with massive focused and persistent action. You will probably stumble and fall. Most of us do. That’s not a reason not to be in action. 

#6 Commit to Self Care.

Don’t wait until January 1st to (re)start your self-care routines.  Sure, you’ll have some cheat days through the holidays, but there are still days to get good habits going. Get up at the same time each day, hydrate, meditate, eat well, sleep more. You are your most important asset. You are worth at least the same care that you give your car, right?

#7  Do your Annual Plan

We’ve got a wicked good annual planning template to help you create what you really want in the new year. Create some blocks of time in each of the next 3 weeks to create your 2021 plan. Part of the process is celebrating your wins from this year. Don’t skip over that. 

Doug BrownA Strong Finish & A New Beginning
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Celebrating Success Reduces Stress: Why it’s worth stopping to recognize your wins

When was the last time you stopped to appreciate and celebrate the accomplishment of an important goal or milestone?

Maybe it was a great result for a client, a breakthrough with your staff, or even quality time with family? Perhaps it was just keeping it together for another month.

These days business professionals spend a lot of time obsessing about the future. Yet we’ve been conditioned to immediately move from the completion of one goal to the next – pressing forward, accelerating to whatever is next. After all, who’s got time to stop when there is so much to do and so little time?

I was stuck in that loop too. 

I’d get things done. Big things. Important things. Things that took a long time and lots of energy. Things that made a real difference. And then I’d go “check” – what’s next? And move on to the next thing.

I never took the time to appreciate what I had accomplished, what I had learned, and the difference I was making for others – and myself. It was exhausting. It became harder and harder to stay motivated and it felt like I was burning out pretty regularly – and more frequently.

it wasn’t sustainable. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was.

Then I found it. It hit me in the head like a 2×4 when I saw these questions in an annual planning process: 

“What were your wins last year?”

“How did you celebrate them?”

“How will you celebrate your wins in the coming year?”

I had never seen those questions put that way as part of creating a plan. It made me see that the celebration was the missing piece. It made me dig deeper to learn how time to celebrate really helps – and I found there are real tangible psychological benefits that I’d been missing.

According to Psychology Today, Celebrating is really good for us in a number of ways.

Celebration helps meet our need for inclusion, innovation appreciation, and collaboration. Our brains are designed to be social – and the need for human contact is even greater than the need for safety. Making time to celebrate with others – even if you can’t be physically together – gives people the confidence to do new things, take chances, and share new ideas with others. It also allows our brains to create new neurological connections – and then work to reinforce those connections with more success.

Celebration releases endorphins, and oxytocin in the brain which creates a sense of well-being and safety that we need to experiment, learn, and handle the challenges of our professions. Serotonin helps your brain focus, increase motivation, and transform negative stress into positive stress. You also get a dopamine hit that helps you pay attention, ignore distractions, and solve problems. All that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  

It absolutely is worth having. Getting started is as easy as Stop, Look, and Connect & Celebrate..

    1. Stop. If you’re moving too fast you can’t see what is really going on. It’s how all the telephone poles seem to disappear when you’re moving really fast.
    2. Look. Notice what you have accomplished in that day or in that hour. What are you proud of? What kind of moment have you experienced? What experience have you provided to others? What have you learned?
    3. Connect & Celebrate. Connect with the moment and with those in your tribe. Toot your own horn. Share the wins with others. It might be as small as a high-five with a friend after a really good result. It might be a dinner or a vacation. It can be many things – as long as you allow it to happen, and do it often. Don’t put “celebrating” as another thing on your “someday” to-do list.

Include celebration in your plans. How will you celebrate achieving the milestones on the way to a larger goal? What will you do when you achieve the goal. Share the coming celebration when you share the goal with your team. Just doing that will help you achieve the goal. 

Building this habit can be difficult. It can take a while. And it’s totally worth it.

Think back on the last month.

What do you have to celebrate? It’s been a really tough year, but there must be something – right?

What will you celebrate at the end of the next quarter?


p.s. What if your annual plan included celebrations? Our template does. Get your Free copy at this link.

Doug BrownCelebrating Success Reduces Stress: Why it’s worth stopping to recognize your wins
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The Power of Daily Sprints

Is it hard for you to stay focused and on-task for large blocks of time? Do you wind up distracting yourself and getting off track or just running out of gas? Or maybe you hope for that phone call or drop in to save you.

You are not alone. Research shows that it is normal for people to need a mental break after extended periods of work. It also shows that we are far more effective sprinters than we are marathon runners.

Here’s something you can try right now, today to improve your effectiveness using the “Pomodoro Technique”.

The idea is to set a timer and sprint with intense, hyper-focused work for 25 to 45 minutes at a time. Then you take a break for 5-10 minutes and go back to it. After several sprints, you can take a longer break. During this time you shut out all distractions.

When you are in a sprint and thought pops into your head that isn’t on the task then reach for a pen and your handy notepad jot it down and keep going. Using paper and pen will keep you from distracting yourself further by flipping screens and seeing other shiny objects to distract you.

When you are in a break make it a real break. A break is not surfing the web or checking email or talking to a client. Step away from the computer and let your mind rest.

Start easy so you have some wins. A few times a day for 25 minutes at a time will lead you to the longer 45 minute time. Have the timer running with a bell that goes off. You can find a host of timers online by searching for ‘Pomodoro Timer’.

If you are a competitive person then try making the sprints a game to see how focused you can stay and how much quality work you can accomplish.

This works. Doing it can give you more productivity and more quality time working on the things that are important to build your business, improve your revenue and give you a better sense of control in this out of control world.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes

Doug BrownThe Power of Daily Sprints
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Get your project going

Sometimes you just need to start a project.   In a firm run by committee you may find yourself stuck in a legal version of red tape.  Don’t fight it.  Consider two ways to get going:

Get an early win.   Define what you want to do in concrete terms.  Identify the first win that will lead to others – and prove the worth of what you want to do.

Coach DougGet your project going
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Positioning Your Businesss for Success: Productivity @ Work

This is a piece I originally authored for and published in INC. Magazine’s Productivity @ Work feature.
People line up for all sorts of things—to get tickets to a hot show or sporting event, to buy the latest smartphone or tablet device, to rub shoulders with the rich and famous—and the best place to be in any queue is always towards the front. You should think of your business the same way. No matter what product or service you’re selling, when the time comes for your customers or prospects to make a buying decision, you want your business to be top of mind. Here are some tips for making that happen.
Coach DougPositioning Your Businesss for Success: Productivity @ Work
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How to Write a Business Plan – Getting Started

The first step in writing a business plan is to decide whether your idea is a business opportunity – or just a neat idea.

In this post I’ll share some insights on new venture creation as discussed in my class for Post University’s Online MBA Program.    I’ll also provide some links to simple Business Plan Templates to get you started.

Coach DougHow to Write a Business Plan – Getting Started
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