How to Use Visualization to Improve Your Productivity and Achieve Your Goals

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

You have so much to do, your action items list is a mile long. You want to achieve great things, but get bogged down in the everyday shuffle of things that need your attention.

How do be productive when your plate is full, you’re overwhelmed, and you’re only accountable to yourself? Moreover, how do you set goals that will help you succeed while not being totally out of reach?

Today we cover one very effective way to set goals for yourself (hint: it involves a little time investment but has HUGE payoff). Then we delve into specific, time-tested techniques from some of this world’s foremost thought leaders on how to be productive and get the most work done out of each work day.

Links to resources:

Five Minute Journal
Eisenhower Method
Ivy Lee Method
Batching Method


Pamela:    Hey everybody I’m Pamela

Tracy:    and I’m Tracy

Pamela:    And we are here to discuss How Business Really Works.


Tracy:    Today our topic is going to be on goal setting and productivity.

Pamela:    It’s such a big subject matter and there’s so much to discuss and I think this is a topic that overwhelms a lot of people.  There are so many things that we have in our minds that we want to accomplish and I think a lot of us feel like “how am I ever going to get all this done”? We’re here to help you with that.  So don’t panic, we’ve got some techniques you can use so let’s get right into it.

Tracy:    Well to me, the first thing is you got to know where you want to go in order to figure out how to get there.  So I think it’s really important that you have like a visualization and idea of what you want your life and business to be like one year from now and five years from now.  So I visualize into the future exactly how I want to be living every day and all the interactions I want to have with people and what I want my relationships with people, whether they be family friends or business associates.  When you’re self-employed, when you’re an entrepreneur, business is a lifestyle, so why separate the two?  What do you think?

(Time – 1:15)

Pamela:   Yeah, I agree.  So, I’m actually a really good example of this because I have a YouTube channel where I am trying to grow an audience and create content around lifestyle, and eventually I want to create a business out of this.  So it’s in the fledgling stages right now and I’m starting to get some good response but I’m nowhere near where I want to be and I need to figure out how to get there to grow my audience and it’s all based on a lifestyle business.  This is a future that I’m trying to create for myself, not only a business future but a personal future. How do I want to live my life?  And I think that’s what Tracy is really getting at.  It’s not enough to say I have a business idea here is how to implement, and of course you need to do that, but if you’re trying to create your own business and be your own boss you need to envision how every aspect of your life will unfold in the next few years and up to five years.

(Time – 2:15)

Tracy:    Yeah, I totally agreed.  Because if you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know that this is how my life is going to be if everything goes perfectly the way I want it, this is where my life is going to be five years from now.  An opportunity could rise today that doesn’t even fit into that but you’re going to go “money” and you’re going to go down that path.

Pamela:    And I have.

Tracy:    Because you don’t know that I shouldn’t do this because this has nothing to do with how I want my life to be five years from now.

Pamela:    Exactly, and I am in that situation right now.  So I’m starting up this business.  I do have very strong vision maybe not as detailed as it should be, but we’re going to get into that.  But I do have a strong vision of what business I want to build and what I want my life to be like in five years and how to get there.  On the other hand, I am NOT making a regular income and I need to support myself.  And I find myself in this position of, I look for jobs that hopefully won’t take up too much of my time, but still helped me kind of float along while I’m building this.  But often, I will get these job interviews or offers or something that are full-time.  Like I would have to be gone 10 hours a day and I have to do the whole commute, be there, commute back and it would, I know it would suck up my life.  But the money is really tempting, it’s really tempting.  As much as I would like the money, I know that these positions are not going to get me where I want to be.  They’re not going to serve my life the way I want it to be in five years and 10 years and the rest of my life.

(Time – 3:54)

Tracy:    Let’s talk about the conversation we had the other day.

Pamela:    Oh yeah, okay.

Tracy:    So Pamela calls me up and she goes, “Tracy I need to talked to you”.  “I’ve got these two job opportunities that I can’t figure out what I want to do.”  But the first thing I asked you is like “Now which one of these is going to allow you to get where you want to be in five years?”  Can you get by on the lower paying job in order to get where you want to be in five years?  What do you want to do?  You’ve got to weigh these things out.  You’ve got to weigh these opportunities out but you always weigh them against the scale of “Where do I want to be?”

Pamela:    Right, Right.

Tracy:    So yeah, one would be like really, really, good money but you have to put your entire business plan on hiatus for a little bit.   So, you know, you have to make choices in life, and when you know where you want to be, makes it a lot easier to make those choices.

(Time – 4:50)

Pamela:    It does and that one question pretty much eliminated the answer for me. I mean it took me a little more discussion to come around the answer because it’s hard to let go of that money and it’s hard to let go of that kind of lifestyle or immediate lifestyle gratification.  But when Tracy asked me that question, “Which one serves you where you want to be in five years or helps you achieve your goals?”  It was pretty obvious.  One was part-time, one was full-time.  The part-time job, even though it was less money, it was still enough to, that I would be comfortable.  You know, I wouldn’t be living in high style but I would definitely be able to meet all my bills and not worry about anything and I would still have time to pursue other things like what we’re doing here.  So, I think that’s probably our first  lesson is that in envisioning your future make sure that the yardstick against which you measure all of your decisions is,  “Will this helped me get to my five-year goal?”  What about for those who don’t know maybe?  Maybe they have some vague idea where they want to be?  What about those people?

(Time – 6:00)

Tracy:    Let’s do some exercises then, on visualizing.  I have this one exercise that you hate and actually everybody hates it until they do it.

Pamela:    Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, augh.

Tracy:    And it’s called “Writing the Story of the Day Five Years from Now”.  So you flipped open the calendar and you pick a day five years from now.  It doesn’t have to be exactly five years but you get the point.

Pamela:    That’s the easy part.

Tracy:    Yeah, and you probably wanted to be a weekday.  So you’re going to write a story, and this is not going to be short story even though it’s only one day long.  Because this story is going to start from the second you wake up to the second you fall asleep.  And in this story, you’re going to tell things in extreme detail such as exactly how you feel when you wake up.  What you see when you first open your eyes, your emotional state, what’s the room like that you’re in, what’s the lighting, what’s the furniture. Give extreme detail.  Talk about color, talk about everything that makes that a happy situation.  And then you walk through the entire day.  You discuss the food you eat, every place you go, what it’s like, in detail.   I want, when I say details, I’m talking about descriptions of things, colors, size, emotion, how it makes you feel, the whole nine yards.  Every interaction you have with everybody, personal, business, stranger on the street.  What is your day like?  What’s the emotion surrounding all those interactions?  And you are going to take me right through to getting ready for bed, brushing your teeth, and going to bed.  What kind of pajamas are you wearing?  Are you wearing pajamas?  You know, what are the sheets like?  How does it feel when you cuddle up?

(Time – 8:00)

Pamela:    That I can envision.

Tracy:    If you are into those like multi-thousand thread count sheets and you want to be able to afford that and all this other stuff.  Let’s talk about it.  Put it in the story.

Pamela:    I know one thing that would be in my bed is a lot of dog and cat hair.  I already know that.

Tracy:    When you can get that emotionally involved in the story of the detail of one day of your life, once you’ve created that perfect life.  Once you’ve done that exercise, and I understand that is an extremely hard exercise, and it will probably take you several days, and you’ll probably change it as you are going because you think “Oh, no I want that too.”  “And I want that too.”

Pamela:    Yeah you’ll think of things as you go.

Tracy:    You’ll just keep adding to it.  The thing is once you’ve done it, it’s in your head.  And as you move through the rest of your life for the next five years, that vision is going to be in our head.  And you’ll be so shocked at how you make decisions.  You make buying choices.  You make saving choices.  Everything you do is to get to that day.

(Time – 9:10)

Pamela:    It does sound overwhelming because it is a long exercise, but even while you were talking and you were saying envision the sheets and envision how you wake up, blah, blah, blah.  So I was envisioning those things in my head and I like this is actually kind of fun.  I haven’t dared to dream this big before and now that I’m on my own and created my own lifestyle business, it’s fun to envision a future which is just so much better than the present.  So you know, don’t get caught up in, “Oh my god, she’s asking us to do this big task.”  It is a big task but if you want to create a future you have to know where you’re going, where you can optimize your time.  We all have a limited amount of time and you can fuss around.  You can kind of take baby steps towards your goals, and that’s fine if you want to do it that way, but if you don’t there are techniques that you can use to really optimize your time and use it effectively and not just puttering around kind of crawling toward your goals.

(Time – 10:06)

Tracy:    So we know exactly where we want to be five years from now.  We’ve got that movie in our head.  All right now,

Pamela:    the perfect day

Tracy:    we kind of know how to weigh and judge our decisions now against that.  But how do we get productive?  How do we make things happen?  How do you move forward?  How do we take those steps?

Alright, so we’re going to discuss three of the most commonly used productivity tools.  There are thousands of them out there don’t have to experiment around to see what works for you.  But the three we found people using the most often, that they get the best results with are 1) The Eisenhower Principle,  2) The Ivy Lee Method, and 3) Batching.  So tell us about The Eisenhower Principle.

(Time – 10:52)

Pamela:    The Eisenhower principal was developed by General Eisenhower / President Eisenhower and it basically categorizes your activities into two, well two main groups, and then four kinds of overall groups.  First of all, you categorize your activity according to whether it is important or urgent.  And there’s a difference between the two.  They sound the same but they are different.  So, important activities are those that will move you towards your goals.  So we talked about having your vision.  We talked about planning that perfect day five years from today.  So you know what your vision looks like and you have a yardstick now against which to measure all of your activities and whether you should be doing them for delegating them.  An important activity will be those that serve those long-term goals that you have now envisioned.

Urgent activities are those that have, usually have a time limit on them, they need to be attended to immediately or in the very short term and they are also usually generated by some outside source like a boss or a family member.  They’re usually not activities that you would set up yourself unless it’s something that you forgot to do or put off until the last minute.  So urgent activities would be the time limited ones and they need immediate attention but they don’t move you towards your goals.  So then the four overall categories are urgent, important, not urgent, not important.  And those get divided up into quadrants, so we’re going to tell you what those quadrants are and where you should be spending most of your time.

(Time – 12:30)

Tracy:     Okay, so like the most important quadrant is the important but not urgent.  This is top right-hand quadrant. Now a lot of people said well if it’s not urgent, and that’s because you spent too much of your life dealing with fires and that sort of thing.  But if you properly work this Eisenhower method, you’re going to find that in the future you’re always working in the important not urgent because you’re always ahead of the game.  So ideas of things that are important but not urgent.  Let’s say you need to write a book.  So, getting a chapter written is important but it’s not urgent.  There’s no time frame. Nobody is standing over your head going if you don’t like this chapter by Friday you can never write your book.  So these are the things that it takes discipline to do.  You need to write a blog post a week.  It does not hurt to be writing three and four weeks in advance.  If you’re working the system properly you’re constantly working in the important not urgent.

(Time – 13:35)

Pamela:    So the second quadrant is important and urgent.  So for instance, you get a call from a doctor. Your spouse’s ended up in the hospital after a car accident.  We hope that never happens to anybody.  Sometimes life happens that way and emergencies come up.  So this is an activity where we are assuming that you value your relationship with your spouse, you are going to drop everything and run to the hospital.  Because you’re you want, you obviously want to take care of your spouse.  They are important to you.  They are important to your future and your relationship and this has a time limit on it.  Your spouse is in the hospital, they need you right away, so no matter what you’re working on you’re going to go.  And it is important, like I just said, to serve your future relationship goals and to make sure they’re okay.

Tracy:    So as you notice, the first two – important not urgent, important urgent, involves you.  The bottom quadrant is

Pamela:    bottom left quadrant

Tracy:    is urgent but not important.  Now this is where you want to start delegating.  This is things were like other people are imposing on your time but you’re busy working on something that’s important for your long-term goal.  So now we’re talking about things like reading and responding to email, social media requests, anything, phone calls, whatever.  This is where you need your VA.  This is the person who goes through,  answers questions that they can answer, keeps things moving forward, but doesn’t involve you until it comes to something that only you and your skill set can handle.  So this is the quadrant you will delegate out as much as possible.  And then there’s that one last special quadrant.

(Time – 15:20)

Pamela:    Not urgent, not important.  We’ve all been there.  We all get on Facebook and three hours later we’re in an argument with somebody on Facebook or just frittering our time away looking at pictures on Instagram, surfing YouTube, things like that.  These activities that are not urgent.  They are not important.  They will not move your business goals forward.  They usually don’t move your personal goals forward.  So there are a couple of exceptions to this, for instance, I’m growing a YouTube channel.  Getting on social media and promoting and putting my content out there.  That’s important because that serves my goal of growing my channel and growing my audience but that’s not to be confused with just, you know, chit chatting on Facebook for three hours.  You know the difference.  So you should not be spending any of your time in quadrant four.   I guess maybe you know if you

Tracy:   We call it the garbage quadrant.

Pamela:    Well, right.  So, if you really just need some mindless time to wind down this is where your entertainment comes in or your Facebook frittering. Then you really should minimize, I shouldn’t say shouldn’t spend any time, you should definitely minimize your time as much as possible in this quadrant.  It is not serving moving your life forward to that perfect day in five years.

(Time – !6:40)

Tracy:    And you also would never delegate any of these tasks because you’re wasting money.

Pamela:    I mean who can argue on Facebook better than I can?

Tracy:    And then we move to the Ivy Lee method.  Now the Ivy Lee Method was based on a gentleman named Ivy Lee who was kind of considered a productivity expert in his day.  In the early nineteen hundreds, he was hired by Charles Schwab to come into Bethlehem Steel to work with the executives to make them more productive.  So he comes in and he says all right we’ll give me 15 minutes with each of your executives.  That’s all you need.  And he sat down with each one and he said, how I am so productive is at the end of every day, I said down and I decide what the six most important things I need to do the next day are and I put them in order of importance.  And the next day when I come into work I only working number one.  That’s all I do.  I don’t think about number two or number three. I don’t let anyone interrupt me.  I work on number one and I work on number one until number one is complete then I can start on number two.  At the end of the day, if you have not completed all six you’ll move those to the new list for next day and you’ll add to it until you have your six and they’re in the order of most important.  You continue this on.  Now most people want to do this in their brain.  And the truth of the matter is there is something very important about that act of actually writing these down.  I don’t know why.  There’s got to be a scientific reason for it but I have found when I just in my brain go okay tomorrow need to do this, this, and this.  I wake up the next morning and I go, “Uugg?? Coffee, maybe coffee will make it come back”.  You need to write it down.

(Time – 18:35)

Pamela:    Yeah, yeah, it really cemented in your brain to write those six things down.

Tracy:    Okay and then third method that we use a lot of the time is the Batching Method.

Pamela:    So Batching is where you are grouping your activities into activities of very similar types that require the same skill set or a similar skill set.  So an example would be if again in writing if you are writing blog posts for the week or verses write a speech that you’re going to give maybe next month somewhere.  So those are both writing but actually they involve different skill sets because you are going to speak differently to people then you are going to write a blog post.  So people consume the written word differently than they do the spoken word.  You’re going to write differently and you want to Batch those activities in separate batches, so if you’ve got your six things and three of them include writing, you may work on the I’m going to write my blog posts first and plan those out for the week

or the month, and just spend a chunk of time writing those.   And then the next thing that you’re going to work on after you’re done with that, is now I’m going to write my speech for speeches or whatever.  Or you could put an activity in between those two depending upon where your priorities lie.  So you want to batch things that involve similar parts of your brain, similar skill sets and that way your brain isn’t switching between activities all the time and that causes a delay.  Even if you don’t think it’s happening, actually, this has been scientifically proven as well that when you switch between different kinds of activities your brain lags behind for I think it’s up to 15 or 20 minutes or something like that that you think you’re concentrating on the new task, but you’re your brain is still working in the past and it’s trying to transition to the new thing.  Even if you feel like you have that concentration, you’re not hundred percent there so that’s why you need to Batch your similar activities together.

(Time – 20:35)

Tracy:    So the thing is, nothing is going to work perfectly for everybody.  So you’ve got to kind of experiment around with these different methods and seeing what works best for you.  I know I definitely have my own Frankensteined up version of this because I go from my five-year perfect day, my visualization.  I weigh everything based on that and put it into Eisenhower Principal and I do that with everything is not just business things.  So things that are really important right, like 1) moving my business forward, 2) dealing with my really, really, close relationships that matter moving forward in my life.  Not, you know, not just general friendship.  It’s not that I ignore those but I put the emphasis on those really key people, and also things like, you know, health.  That’s one thing we should have probably mentioned is the fact that exercise and proper diet really fall in the important not urgent because you’re not going to get immediate results for those.  But the cumulative effect of doing them every single day will have a huge effect on your life going forward and helping you achieve that five-year plan.  So I kind of weight everything based on the five-year visualization and drop it into the quadrants and I try to only work in the urgent, I mean the important – not urgent quadrant.   I do my list, but one thing I discovered was, I never completed it.   I never got through all six.

Pamela:    Oh, your Ivy Lee list?

(Time – 22:05)

Tracy:    I never got through all six and I started realizing I have like this little tinge of disappointment at the end of each day because I hadn’t completed my list.  So I started noticing I always do complete three to four of them.  So now, I only do three or four all my list, that way I don’t have that little tinge of disappointment at the end of the day.  And then I try to Batch all my work together.  So if I’m talking with a client and I need to do a proposal.  I’ll make my notes when to get off the phone with the client because that’s where my brain is right then and there, but I don’t get into writing that proposal because that’s a different mindset.  I wait and I might do three proposals for three different clients all at once one morning. So that way my brain is on the formal writing of the proposal.

(Time – 22:55)

Pamela:    So for me, I do Batching a little bit differently as well.  I do plan out some activities.  I usually don’t do six on an Ivy Lee list either.  I’ll do 4 maybe 5 depending on how long I think they’re going to take.  But for me, I seem to run into a mental wall somewhere between two and three hours into a task, if it’s an important task that’s going to take some time.  And even if I’m not done with it I put it aside and move on thing else entirely for another chunk of time.  For another 2-3 hours so that I can just make my brain take a break from that thing whatever it is and that focus and make my brain switch to something else.  And for me that works well.  I’ve done this, it kind of feels a little bit ADD at first, but I noticed that if I did that and I just allowed myself to break even if I wasn’t finished, when I go back to it, I’m fresh again and I can get it done by the end of the day.  But I don’t necessarily finish it all in one batch that’s just the way my brain works.  I need that respite and I can go back later.

(Time – 24:00)

Tracy:    So basically you kind of prioritizing Batching over the Ivy Lee, whereas I’m more inclined to do the Ivy Lee Method over Batching because if I’m involved in something, doesn’t matter of my time for that has run out,  if I’m really involved in it, I keep going.

Pamela:    Yeah, I don’t.

Tracy:    Everybody has to come up with their own thing and you’ve got to experiment around.

And don’t just say you know, oh well I know exactly what’s going to me.  Experiment,  try to do it the way they intended,  The way the creators intended.  See how it works for you and then over time you’re going to figure out what works best for you.

So anyway we hope this has helped you come up with some ideas on how to be more productive and move forward to where you really want to be in life.  We’ve got a worksheet that kind of walks you through all this.  And you’ll link to it under the video?

(Time – 24:55)

Pamela:    I’ll link to the worksheet which is free to download there’s absolutely no cost to it.  It will take you through some of these exercises.  I also have a resource that I use.  It doesn’t go into the same details as what we’ve been talking about.  It’s called The Five-Minute Journal and I will also link to that on Amazon.  That will be an affiliate link just full transparency, full disclosure.  So get it, don’t get it, totally up to you.  I do use The Five-Minute Journal and I find it helpful and really all it is, is you take five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night to plan on a high-level what you want to accomplish in your day, and when you’re done at the end of the day, how you think the day went and what you want to do tomorrow.  So it’s definitely along the same lines.  It’s a pared-down version of it, but if you haven’t used these techniques before I think it’s a great way to introduce yourself to a more disciplined way of planning your time, planning your day, planning your life,  So we’ll link to all that and please feel free to share your comments.  Feel free to let us know what works for you. If you try some of these techniques and you kind of fudge around with them a little bit and experiment and make your own Frankenstein version, let us know what you did and if it works for you.   Let us know what you think about this video and don’t forget to subscribe.  We’ll see you on the next one.


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