How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including Anthony Iannarino, Dave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.
Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m really excited to feature Dave Crenshaw. I first saw him speak at a luncheon in Seattle, and have been extremely impressed with his business, his work ethic, and his balance. He limits his travel to focus more time on his family, dedicates 30 minutes at the end of his work day to playing video games (to transition out of work mode and into family mode), has written three books (so far), has been quoted (quoted!) in a book written by Chuck Norris, and on and on.
Dave, suffice it to say, gets stuff done. Here in his own words is how he does it.
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Current computers: Custom PC laptop that’s had several modifications. It’s super fast. One of the things that I’ve found is that 2% slowdown on your computer can result in an entire work week lost every single year. So, the computer has all solid-state hard drives, all the memory it can get, so it’s extremely fast, extremely quick for me.
Current mobile devices: Android Note 3 phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for my teleprompter and for other big needs
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? That’s an interesting question because I actually actively teach that people should not be dependent upon apps or software. One of the biggest problems that people have with productivity is they’re constantly looking for the next app that’s going to make them more productive, when in fact, it’s not the apps, it’s not the software that make us more productive; it’s how well we live basic principles. For instance, how well we reduce the switches that take place in our day—the attention switches. So, really there’s nothing that I have that I can’t live without. I think the only thing that I have that comes close to that would be Evernote.
What’s your workspace like? I work from home. I have a soundproofed office. I have one half of it dedicated to filming my videos; we have a custom studio set up inside my office, so I don’t have to drive somewhere to film our videos. The other half is my workspace where I have a large computer monitor and wireless keyboard to which I connect my laptop. Behind me I have books and an array of items on small little shelves that either are trophies of great experiences that I’ve had such as speaking at events or are items that teach me a lesson that I’ve learned in life and remind me of it every time I look at it.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Not surprising, it’s everything that I teach in my book, The Myth of Multitasking. The point is: reduce the number of interruptions that are taking place in your day. Reduce the number of “switches” that take place in your day, and one of the best ways to do that is to not attempt to multitask. You actually get far less done when you do that. You make more mistakes, you increase your stress levels, and if you multitask on a human being you damage the relationship. So I do my best to practice what I preach and absolutely avoid multitasking at every turn.
What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else? Taking very complex ideas, making them simple and easy for people to understand and then helping people take action on them. So, in other words, when I talk with small business owners every day, when I do my coaching, I’m taking extremely complex issues, and I can see all the different angles at once and then boil it down into one or two actions or statements of truth that can be used to make a good decision. For instance, one example of that is I teach my clients the rule of three when it comes to marketing, which I know you specialize in. The rule of three says that when you spend one marketing dollar, you need to make sure that you’re getting three dollars back to the bottom line. That rule may not apply for big business, but for small business it’s critical because they have to make every dollar count. And that one simplified concept sticks with my clients and they use it every day to jump past a lot of complex decision making and get to the core.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager? I smile as I’m reading this because I actively teach against to-do lists. I believe to-do lists are outdated and should be left in the past along with VHS tapes, The Cabbage Patch, and all other 80s paraphernalia. The reason why to-do lists are poor is because they cause us to operate outside of the calendar. We’re not taking a good assessment of how much time we actually have in our day, and so the answer is the calendar, and I teach people to use the calendar. Why I don’t believe in to-do lists and why I actually believe in to-don’t lists: www.davecrenshaw.com/to-dont-list
What do you listen to while at work? I listen to absolutely nothing because for some people, music can help them be more productive, but for other people it can cause them to “switch task” or have lots of attention switches. I used to be a musician and so when I listen to music, it’s a very active thing and it actually pulls my attention away from work. In the rare cases where I listen to something, it’s usually white noise to help me focus and block out anything else that’s around me, which kind of goes back to the idea of why I have a soundproof room. I’m working from home, I have young children, so blocking out that noise during the time when I’m supposed to work helps me stay focused at work.
What are you currently reading? I don’t read as many business books as people may think. Really there are two things that I read: 1.) Inc. Magazine. That just helps me stay on top of the latest trends and thinking on what’s going on in small business and entrepreneurship. And then 2.) I read fantasy books, which gets to the second question. So currently I’m reading (I’m a huge fan of) Brandon Sanderson and all of his fantasy books.
What’s your sleep routine like? My brain is extremely active all the time, 24/7, and so in order to be able to go to sleep I have to turn it off. If I try to read business books before going to bed, that’s going to just crank it up and make it extremely hard for me to go to sleep. So what I do is I read fantasy books, which are usually light, not extremely challenging, and that helps my mind relax, turn things off so that I can go to sleep. I actually need and try to get more sleep than probably most people do. I try to get around 9 hours of sleep, a little more if I can. Funny thing about that: the idea that the average human being needs 8 hours of sleep is actually a bit of a myth. That’s not true. Every person has their own necessary amount—some people need a little bit less, and a lot of people actually need more. And so they’re thinking they’re doing well by getting 7 ½-8 hours of sleep when they’re actually getting less than they really need. There’s a lot of interesting research about that.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Gosh, there’s lots of great advice, but I’ll just come from the standpoint of an author: The best advice I’ve ever received is that in order to write a book you need to have an iron butt. What that means is, the idea of writer’s block is an excuse and a fallacy. By having an iron butt, that means you put your butt in the chair and you write during the time that you have scheduled. So when I sit down to write books, I’ve written three so far, I actually schedule on my calendar “iron butt,” and that says to me, “Put your rear-end in the chair and stay there and write.” It’s been very helpful for me, and I’ve shared that with others and it’s been very helpful for them.
Anything else you’d like to add? You know, a lot of people look to me for advice on time management and productivity and so the best place to get all that information is through Lynda.com. There you will find my courses. “Time management Fundamentals” is one of the more popular courses on Lynda.com, and many people have reported that it’s changed their life in terms of their productivity in a matter of a day or two.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ______ answer these questions. Tony Hsieh of Zappos.