5 tips for tackling overwhelm. EP #154 - Den Lennie


Resource Links:


Today, Den dives deeper than a Hokkaido pearl diver and pulls up some shiny pearls of wisdom on time management and productivity that even the most organized and efficient of people will benefit from.  And... he reveals some little-known ways to reduce stress. 

But first...

Here's a sneak peek at what you'll hear:

  • Two bloody tough situations a couple of Den's friends are facing that might make your current issues seem like a slight inconvenience. - 1:50


  • Den's "how to extract gold from shit" lesson. (This lesson can help you glean life-changing insights from disastrous situations such as being sued, losing a loved one, or becoming severely ill. - 3:30


  • colossal blunder people make when goal setting that's almost guaranteed to disappoint, irritate, and frustrate the hell outta you. - 6:45


  • An awfully good Tony Robbin's quote that, if taken to heart, can help you hit all your business or life goals even if you have a history of never achieving the goals you set. (This has to do with how you mentally approach setting your goals. Most people do the exact opposite of what Tony advises. - 7:00)


  • Why trying to manage your time is futile, and what you should manage instead. (This is something Den picked up reading Elon Musk's biography -8:50)


  • Quite possible the best morning routine ever invented. Don't scoff until you hear this one. - 9:40


  • How to reduce stress by "tweaking" your work schedule. (Best part: not only will you feel more relaxed and in control of your life when you implement this,  but your productivity will go through the roof! - 10:40)


  • A little-known App that can help even the most dithery of people get their time under control. (If you feel like time just slips through your fingers, then get this app mentioned at 11:20)


  • Den's reveals his seemingly lazy-arse work schedule. (But don't be fooled. Although Den works fewer hours than Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, he gets more done in a day than most people who grind and hustle all day long. Here’s how… - 12:00)


  • What to do to your Kindle if you read at night. - 13:30


  • The single most important thing you can do to ensure maximum productivity. Nothing even comes close to this one. Listen up at 13:50


  • The absolute worst thing you can do when starting your workday. (Doing this can derail your day faster than you can say "What just happened?” Sadly, this is what most people do first thing. - 16:50)


  • Tim Ferriss's ridiculously simple (but very effective) method for achieving fortress-like focus when working. -17:30


  • The #1 productivity law that must never be broken. (Unfortunately, most people break this law before they've been crawled out of bed! - 18:00)


  • The "two-hour-a-day" habit that can potentially have you sitting pretty for the rest of your days. - 20:00


  • A productivity tip everyone talks about but almost nobody does. - 22:00 


  • A proven way to program your mind (like a computer) for success. (This may sound a little woo-woo to some people, but neuroscientists are now saying that doing this is a big factor in achieving success. - 23:00)


Connect with Den on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/denlennie/
Get more great resources over at https://www.denlennie.com/ 


Episode Transcription

Den Lennie (1s):
eGood day, guys! Den Lennie here, host of the How to scale a video business podcast, coming to you here with episode number 154. If they want to talk about overwhelm, I'm going to give you five tips for tackling overwhelm, because it's a really serious issue that gets a lot of people dying. You know, it's, if you don't get a hold of your time and your energy, you can just spin around in circles and that can be so disruptive to productivity. So today we're going to discuss that and help you come up with five ways of overcoming that and becoming more productive and more effective. And you'll be doing that. And then in the next 20 minutes or so You know, this is something that you have to work on.

Den Lennie (51s):
This is not something you're going to just be able to nail straight away, unless you're an extremely disciplined discipline. Should I say individual? And this is something that I want to encourage you, that you can train yourself to become better at and like anything in life. You've just got to actually put some processes in place, build some new habits. And from there, understand what's causing the overwhelm and actually, you know, do something about it. So, you know, people tell me that they often just, there's not enough hours in the day, you know, lotto to do all these things, but, you know, I'm just so busy with production and editing and clients that it becomes a very challenging thing to overcome.

Den Lennie (1m 40s):
And I get it, you know, there can be a lot of things vying for your time. So today what I want to do is just break down a few things for you that I hope will help you manage the sense of overwhelm. Now, there are two key things that I want to focus on. One is, you know, stuff or things that you have no control over. And then there's stuff that you do have control over. And, and oftentimes in business and in life, you know, the answers are pretty simple. They're usually fairly simple solutions. It's just that we seem to want to over-complicate everything all the time. So what I mean by that? Well, a friend of mine recently lost his grandfather and he's really sad because he had a really close relationship with his grandfather, but he realizes there's nothing he can do about the passing of him.

Den Lennie (2m 30s):
It's, it's kind of set in stone. He has no control over that. Another friend of mine, a colleague of mine has just been sued for 10 after a hundred thousand dollars because of a problem that occurred when his company used a third party piece of software for a piece of client work. Now, again, there's not much, they have control over it in this process. What they can do is learn from it and both situations and process information. So they can take things away from it. And that might seem extreme. Let's go through this and details. Number one, Charlie's grandfather passing, what can he take away from that? Well, what he can take away from it is the fact that he wished he'd spent more time with him.

Den Lennie (3m 12s):
You could take away the fact that he gained a lot of great insight from his grandfather and that helped him and will continue to help him as he goes forward in his life. But the important thing is to use this as a time for reflection and when someone passes or you get sick, it's usually an opportunity for us to slow down and reflect. You know, just the beginning of last year, I had a really, really bad chesty cough. And it was just around the time when COVID started and it wasn't covered, but it was a really bad chesty cough. And I'd had that kind of for a while. And then, you know, I remember one particular night coming home from the office and, and it just had like massive sweats, goosebumps, massive fever, literally went to bed and felt really, really ill.

Den Lennie (4m 3s):
The next morning still felt rough. So, and the doctors, they checked me over and nothing really other than a bit of stress and the compound effect of maybe a cold and a viral cough than the bacterial cough. Anyway, the details are such that when you get sick, you may really makes you stop and reflect on what's important. And so, as a result of that, I realized I had to rest. And instead of going for my morning, walk the last two mornings back then, I just stayed in bed and recharged a little bit, but it's always a shame that some sort of sickness is what's required to make us stop and reflect and appreciate what we have and appreciate how we're using our time.

Den Lennie (4m 45s):
That moves on to the next thing. The thing you do have control over that this other friend of mine who's being sued. What, what they're learning is, is the whole process will provide a really valuable lesson than putting something stronger procedures in place, putting stronger processes in place to make sure that they have a stronger contract in future. So if something goes wrong with a third party piece of software, it doesn't fall back on them. Now, granted, these are quite extreme examples, but they're real. And when I heard about both of these, I suddenly realized that my challenges pale into insignificance because at the forefront, no one's died recently is close to me and I'm not being sued. So it's perspective.

Den Lennie (5m 26s):
You know, when you hear other stories of other people's adversity, it really puts your own challenges into perspective. And I'm not seeing that your own challenges aren't serious and you can't feel them in a very real way, but what's important is what happens when stuff goes wrong and what you can learn in the process. And more importantly, how do you plan to do things differently in the future? And that's the real core message I want to touch on in this episode today because everyone has challenges. I want to think it's really helpful to do is when you can put them into some sort of perspective, because the only thing you can control is how you actually respond to those challenges.

Den Lennie (6m 6s):
Now, going back a few years, I used to have, you know, tempers the wrong word. I didn't have a temper. I used to be someone that would react at really badly to something negative that happened to me. I take it really personally. And I think probably that's when I discovered I had suffered from a degree of anxiety and a bit of panic, especially it came around to if, if money, if revenue is done in the business, you know, like, you know, the talking back a few years ago, I, and, and, and how quickly I wanted to grow. And sometimes in the past, I'd put myself under unrealistic expectations. So when they actually achieved some success, I didn't never felt satisfied because I never felt I'd hit a unrealistic target.

Den Lennie (6m 52s):
I wanted to. And, and the truth is I have, I have hit it because I've achieved so many other things in my life, but I hadn't achieved the unrealistic financial target because in the first place it was unrealistic. I'd put myself under too much pressure to achieve a financial target. We're talking, you know, 10 years ago and I was starting the business. But, you know, it's really important that we're realistic about the targets we set for ourselves and the timeframe in which we hope to achieve them. And, you know, I think Tony Robbins is famous for saying, we're wildly over ambitious about what we can achieve in one year, but we wildly underestimate what we can achieve in five, in five years. Go up. It's not just about what five years ago, Sam and I were living in England.

Den Lennie (7m 35s):
Now we're about to move into a house on the beach, you know, five years, six years later, it's, it's ridiculous, but then it's predictable as well, because that was our intention. So it, you know, the point here is, is that these are just kind of cursory examples that demonstrate that you have to be realistic about the goals you're setting for yourself, with the resources you have available to yourself. And additionally, appreciate what you have already, because you never know when it's gonna be taken away from you. So I want to touch on five key elements here, which I think will help you and to put this in some sort of perspective. So, number one, you can't manage time, but you can manage energy.

Den Lennie (8m 19s):
You can't make more hours in the day that have 24 hours in a day. And once they're gone, they're gone. But I just recently read Elon Musk's book and discovered what he achieved in the working week. So, you know, I'm going to guarantee that you are capable of achieving way more than you think you currently are. So step one is to manage energy by creating more space. Now, I'm not saying you can create more time here because while time is how we measure periods in space, it's not really real. So let me talk about this. So six years ago, when I was getting ready to come to Australia, I was about six months over from the move.

Den Lennie (8m 60s):
And I realized that had six months to go before we moved. And there's just so much to do. And the only way I could achieve more space and time to achieve more results was to get up earlier. And it was like January and it was cold. And I started getting up at 5:00 AM. Now this was after reading some posts by a mentor of mine, Robin Sharma. And he's got a book called the 5:00 AM club. The whole notion was that he got up at 5:00 AM. I had a routine, and that routine really set me up for the day. So when something like this, I got up at 5:00 AM. And as soon as the alarm went off, I got straight out of bed. Didn't hit snooze. I went to bathroom, brush my teeth, drank two glasses of water, because it's important to hydrate first thing in the morning because we're dehydrated from sleeping, your brain, that muscle, your muscles, they need water.

Den Lennie (9m 49s):
Then I went through a routine called 20, 20, 20. So the first 20 minutes, I'd literally get up, brush my teeth, drink some water, get dressed and go out for walk. The 20 minute Mark wakes up the body and it gets the lymphatic system moving, wakes your brain up. And especially in the UK, when I was living at the time in winter, it's cold, it really fresh and shop. So 20 minute walk, then I'd come back and drink some more water and look over my plan for the day. Look at what I wanted to achieve while I was fresh and alert. And then the final 20 minutes, I would watch something or listen and do something inspirational. So I'd watch some Robin Sharma videos or I'd look at something inspirational on YouTube. Something that gave me a sense of, wow, I could be achieving more than I am just know by thinking differently.

Den Lennie (10m 32s):
And so my 6:00 AM. And at that time, my office was the end of the garden. I'd go into the office, completely allowed at 6:00 PM. And from six till eight, I would have the most productive two hours of my day because there were zero distractions. And it's just, it was such a powerful antidote to the overwhelmed by just making that one change. So what I would do in more detail is I block my day into one hour chunks of six or seven, seven to eight, and I'd walk 50 minutes, six to seven. So like six or six 50, then take a 10 minute break and go stand up, stretch, whatever, and then do seven to seven 50. And then from seven 30 to eight 30, I take a half hour break. How breakfast is Sam, Pat, the dog, whatever.

Den Lennie (11m 12s):
And then this, this method should give you four to six hours of really productive uninterrupted time every day. Well, that might not seem like a law, but trust me, you do four to six hours of productive work a day at takes a lot of focus. And, and what I did at a time as I used to not called rescue time. And, and not that helped me do is track all the activity on my computer and my phone, give you a report at the end of the day to tell you how you've been spending your time and you can track it. So, you know, if you can't track it, you can't measure it and you can't measure it, you can't improve it. So I really recommend you check out rescue time and just put it on your phone and computer for awhile did a couple of weeks and just do a time audit.

Den Lennie (11m 55s):
Now, the other thing that's important and is with this method, you're using your time much more productively, so you don't have to work till eight o'clock at night. You know, I have the discipline now where, I mean, I started work today at midday and I'll wrap things up by about, well, technically six, I've got a call with a client a bit later tonight, which is quite unusual, but normally I work 12 till six and usually four days a week, four and a half days a week. So, you know, I went from a period of like working crazy hours, you know, weekends, the works to, you know, six o'clock walk the dog. And, you know, if you've got a dog that you'd like to be walked at a certain time of the day and they'll let you know when it's time for the walk.

Den Lennie (12m 37s):
And so what the dog, and I've got a break into the evening. So, you know, ideally, and what tends to happen now is by five, five 30, I'm like, I'm out with the dog. And that, that's my end of my Workday. Now this has taken discipline. It's taken time and it's, it's, you know, I'm just sharing with you. I've done. And so I was able to be, become more productive in less time. And therefore by like nine o'clock someone I have watching an hour of TV, but I typically don't touch my phone after like six o'clock at night. It sits in the dark in the office and I'm in bed by half nine, 10 o'clock, you know, read for 20 minutes and then off to sleep. Now, another quick tip is that if you read Kindle in bed, turn the back light rate down because those blue LEDs will trick your brain into thinking it's daytime and not nighttime, and it will mess with your melatonin.

Den Lennie (13m 29s):
And so I use a tungsten light by my bed and I read that tends to make me fall asleep pretty quickly, and then go through the cycle again. Now I get up here in Australia. I'm usually up by six. I pretty much wake up with the light coming through the window. And depending where you are, that will be a different time of the day, obviously. But the point is is that, that that was a really key sort of hack for me. And then getting a good 78 hour sleep a night saw critical sleep is the most important thing for productivity. And more importantly, health gives your brain a chance to re read charged. And so that's, that's really important to me, you know, so as I say, I've adapted it slightly different than Australia.

Den Lennie (14m 13s):
I don't get up at five. I get up at six. Sometimes I go for a walk or I take yoga three times a week and I do our younger yoga and that's pretty full on. So I do that three hours, three days a week on a Wednesday morning, I typically go for a promote and bike ride with Jamie for a couple of hours up to the trails. Our I'll get on the bike in the office. So, you know, it's about really harnessing and in yourself the time to think, and meditation is another one I do. I meditate most days for 20 minutes to 40 minutes. And it just helps me to kind of really prepare myself for the dates, but are they building a ritual at number two prioritize and you can't and will never ever do everything that's on your list, which is why the one thing focus is so critical.

Den Lennie (15m 4s):
So to give you an example, you got to start ignoring requests that come into your domain, that don't support your core business. You've got to know what your core business is. You've got to reject requests that don't support that because if you want to get the greatest return of your time to the minute, then you have to be disciplined. It's saying no. And that is, I remember Richard Branson saying they get, they get, so he gets so many requests. It's like, you, you just got to stay in your lane. You've got to know what your focus is and, and do it otherwise you're screwed.

Den Lennie (15m 47s):
So there's a book called the one thing which is really worth listening to and watching and reading. But that one thing for business critical, it's the hardest thing as a creative to overcome. But I have to tell you, when you focus on one thing and just on that thing at the expense of everything else, you get so much more done in less time. So number three, tip three is manage distractions. Distractions are the poison and our modern life. And we, you know, some things can justify distractions as a work, but it's not so limit social media time. And if you've using rescue time will show you how much time you're spending. I actually spend most of my day with a phone in airplane mode.

Den Lennie (16m 28s):
I learnt this from Tim Ferris and his book tribe of mentors. And which is, you know, when your phone rings or an email comes in, it's somebody else's priority, not yours. They want something from you. And if you are consistently checking your email, it's the literally the worst thing you can do. And, and especially if it's the first thing you do in the morning when you get up, because I know people kind of pick up the phone and check their email because one email can come in and completely derail you and set the tone for your day, which is really not your intention. If you've got a client project and it's, there's a problem. And their first email, you get as a client with a problem that you're going to just going to, it's going to derail you.

Den Lennie (17m 11s):
So, and, and really limit your social media time. Be disciplined, you know, say you'll do it from 10 to 10 30 in the morning and maybe four 30 to five, check your emails if you want to use it for business. But we're all guilty popping into Facebook, seeing something and being wildly distracted for 15 to 20 minutes. And then when you go back, you're like, Oh, where was I? Oh, what should I be doing? And so, you know, it's, it's been sort of scientifically tested that it takes 15 to 20 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction. And so, you know, having a really clear strategic plan of what you want to achieve in your business and what you should be working on is going to make a massive difference.

Den Lennie (17m 54s):
And if you just limit the distractions in the first place, I mean that, that's your number one rule. The second thing is just don't consume any news. I haven't consumed any news for nearly three years. And I used to work as a news cameraman. And the reason you shouldn't consume the news is it's low level stress. And it's literally slowly killing you. I don't say that in jest either. It's low-level stress, which increases anxiety. If you read and listen to everything, that's on the news, you know, you want quick, what creates new Israeli materials, sensationalism, martyrs, crime, stabbings, negativity, money markets, feeling governments, feeling Trump, North Korea, you name it. It's all designed to build fear into us.

Den Lennie (18m 36s):
So you want to be consciously avoiding all negativity in your life. This is an absolute game changer, and I can tell you that not having consumed the news for the best part of three years, I'm no worse off. I actually find myself being more focused and okay, occasionally it's unavoidable to see the news, but I don't constantly spend time consuming it. I never go. I must watch the news. You have to protect what you consume. Your brain is a massive sponge. And if you consume negativity, then that negative is going to pack right through yourselves at a cellular level. You're going to feel more scarcity than abundance. And like, you know, if you want to be take out stage farther, I mean, I've taken all the apps off my phone. I've only got financial information on my phone.

Den Lennie (19m 16s):
So I'm looking at my sales every day and I'm looking at my data and my voicemail message says, Hey, it's Dan here. Thanks for calling. Please do not leave a message because I won't listen to it. Instead, if you need to get ahold of me urgently, please text me or email it. That's email address. And what this does is it tells people that you don't want to have your time interrupted by listening to a voicemail that's absolute game changer. You know, just because you can doesn't mean you should. So here's what happens as a result. People either don't leave a message and don't call back, which means it can't have been that important, or secondly, they'll message you, or send you an email. Then you can process that data when you choose. For example, I check my email once a day at 4:00 PM, that's it.

Den Lennie (19m 59s):
And I have a zero inbox every night. And you know, so I, I'm all about extreme execution and, and, and creating systems to create more sustainability for me and my business. And, and that means, you know, discipline and time and discipline on distractions. Number four is make sure you dedicate at least one to two hours every day for revenue generating work. Now that can be a prospecting or a sales call follow-up. And, and you know, this is, this is so important. And, and, and this can literally change your life because it's very easy to fill your time and your day being busy on stuff that you think is building your business, but unless it's actually generating revenue, you're not fueling your business.

Den Lennie (20m 51s):
Your cash is the oxygen that fuels your business. And if you're not consciously following up with prospects and conversations and people have made inquiries, then you're leaving sales conversion to chance. No, be honest with yourself about how you spend your time use rescue time, make sure you know, what you're spending your time on. And then this will take some practice. And I have really found this to be such a powerful tool that my time is so disciplined. Now, I know I am very, very protective over my time because I don't want to be distracted. And, you know, I have my sales all go through something called pipe drive.

Den Lennie (21m 37s):
I have an app called client Lee, which has follow up flows. I can trigger them. I can see who's opening them. I can follow up with people who are actively engaging with my content, but you want to have a solid follow-up process. You know, you want to make sure you can support people who need your help. Some of may have inquired three, four months ago. And for whatever reason, it wasn't the right time. But if you just drop them a line and say, Hey, are you still looking for help with video production? You'd be amazed how many people will open that email and say, Oh, actually, yes, that's how we, the project changed or something, something shifted. So, you know, this is what it, this is so important to, to focus on this and not leave it to chance.

Den Lennie (22m 23s):
And number five, be very clear on your vision. Like, what do you want? You know, what is it you actually want from your life? If you can't visualize that and put that into a document, then you're missing out on a powerful subconscious brain exercise. You know, vision board is a collection of images of aspects of your future life that you would like to achieve in the next 12 months. And you pin this up next to your computer, or you use it as a screen saver and you will be passively consuming this 50 to 60 times per day. And the human brain is far more stimulated by visuals and images than anything else.

Den Lennie (23m 3s):
It's the most powerful way to communicate with your deepest desires and your subconscious. Now you can put anything on a vision board that inspires and motivates you. It could be a relationship goal. It could be a career, a financial goal. It could be a home life goal. It could be that ideal house you want to live in. It could be a travel oriented goal. If you're able to travel wherever you are just now, it could just be personal growth, including, you know, set up, you know, meditation or, or, or more health. And more time for health. It could be a social life could be sport. It could be education, whatever it is that you want to be doing more of. And you're not currently doing put it on a vision board. So you can actually, pre-visualize how your life might look.

Den Lennie (23m 46s):
If you got your business sorted out. And because they're from there, you can create a plan to achieve it. And it's something we do inside the VBA. We have a visioning exercise of very early on in this, in the process. And we combine that with an audit, a business audit, and we take the designers on the vision board, and we look at the data from the business audit and we identified the greatest profit opportunities. And from there, we create a strategic plan guide you to create a strategic plan to achieve all of that. And that is what's going to have the biggest impact on your business. So, so how you create it, where you just pages or Google images. I use pages and just Google images. And I Google things that inspire me to go to Pinterest and put them on a vision board.

Den Lennie (24m 29s):
And, you know, I've, I've used three or four now. And, and, and it's frightening how, how effective they are, you know, living in Australia, driving the car. I drive living in the house. We're about to live in, we're building a house, just know the beautiful beach house, you know, 250 meters from the beach in tropical Queensland. I mean, it's, it's beyond my wildest dreams, but it was predictable because I envisioned it, you know, back in 2013, I'd never flown business class by 2015, I was flying business on first through, through various, you know, projects I was working on. And now my defacto way to travel. If I travel for a client is business class. I don't even entertain it if it's not.

Den Lennie (25m 11s):
And that's because I've set up that way, I made it very clear. That was important to me. And I've done multiple vision boards since. I mean, we now live in Australia and we have a successful business. We have amazing friends. We have an incredible life that was all predicted. It was all predicted by us, visioning it, and then putting a strategic plan together to achieve it. And from there, it became reality. And, you know, I I'm actually needing to do that another vision board cause the one I did last November is all come true. So it really circles back to what you really want. Look, I, I struggled for a lot of years to actually write down what I wanted and, and, and, and I struggled to identify what that really was, but I think there's an element of fear.

Den Lennie (26m 0s):
And I think we limit ourselves by not necessarily feeling fully leaning into what we're capable of. And when we actually commit to writing this stuff down and creating vision boards, we're actually making a commitment. We're actually making ourselves accountable to, to achieving more than we realize. And once you're clear on your vision, you can craft a mission, which is the commercialization of that. Like, what does all that going to cost? Therefore, what do you need to make to be able to achieve that it balances your life with, with business, with, with everything else that you want to do and how much cash does that involve and, and what are you willing to do for that? And that's really just the question of doing the steps.

Den Lennie (26m 42s):
It's like, you have the same amount of time every day as anybody else, but what you focus on expands. And if you focus on the things that will achieve the outcomes you want, then you're not just staying busy. You're actually achieving a very strategic plan to achieve every goal either wanted. So I want to encourage you to, to spend this, you know, last period of January, in fact, we're almost in February now, you know, really getting clear on what you want from this year, because this, this could be the very best year of your business career and very best year of your life. You just need to choose to do that. All right, guys, I'll see you next time.

Den Lennie (27m 23s):
You've been listening to the how to scale a video business podcast with me, your host, Den Lennie. If you're a video business owner, it's hits a ceiling, we've benefited from mentorship, support and coaching and check out how you can work with me over at denlennie.com. Don't forget to subscribe and rate the shore over on iTunes. And we'd really appreciate you taking a few minutes to leave a review, and don't forget to share if you feel you've gotten value from this episode and you think it would be useful for other filmmakers, you know, and please do me a massive favor and share it on social media and in groups that you might be in. So thanks for listening. See you in the next episode.




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