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10 minutes with Kevin Kruse: Extreme productivity for beginners

Are you drowning in emails and meeting requests? Working long hours every day? Feeling guilty when you (don’t) work on Sundays? Then, keep reading.

We live in a culture that values and promotes hard work. And to a lot of us, working hard means working 24/7 . . . but maybe there’s a better, smarter way.

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Kevin Kruse – New York Times best-selling author and LEADx CEO – combined his skills as a CEO and a journalist to search for common bonds of success by surveying people of great accomplishment. The product is his best-selling book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.

Now, it’s Kevin’s turn to be interviewed. We had the chance to sit down with the productivity guru himself and discuss the age-old productivity question: To-do or not to-do?

getAbstract: How did you come up with the idea to interview hundreds of successful people and discuss their productivity secrets?

Kevin Kruse: Back in the day, I was working 7 days a week, 18 hours a day. And my first companies failed. Later, I learned from mentors that it’s more about energy, focus and bringing your best self to a limited number of hours, than trying to work in a weakened state every hour of the day. As I got better at ‘extreme productivity,’ my companies did better and I ended up selling several multi-million dollar companies. When I sold my last business, I decided I wanted to share the message that there’s a better way. Not to pick a time management fight, but I learned that a lot of what we’ve been taught about time management is wrong. So, I wanted to write about my own experience, but also about the experience of other highly successful people in different areas—Olympic athletes, students, entrepreneurs. That’s how it all came about.

getAbstract: We found it very interesting that you interviewed such a diverse group of people. It seems that no matter their profession, many share the same productivity secrets.

Kevin Kruse: I can’t say that everybody uses all 15 secrets and, of course, each group had unique habits. But, you’re right. In the book, I say that the number 1440 can change your life. That’s because there are 1440 minutes in a day, and the fundamental thing I discovered is that highly successful people truly understand the value of time down to a single minute. With money, you can make it, lose it, and make it back again. Even with things like friendship and love—you can love people and they go away and you fall in love again. But with time, you can never get it back. A lot of people book an hour here and there without thinking about it, but extreme productivity people think in minutes. They schedule their days in 10- and 15-minute chunks.

getAbstract: That’s actually one of our favorite secrets from the book – getting rid of the to-do list and living from your calendar. Is there one secret that is your personal favorite?

Kevin Kruse: Yes, you just mentioned it! The one secret that is most powerful and the one that most people reject as impossible is to throw away your to-do list and put everything on your calendar. I get emails every single day from strangers who say living from the calendars has changed their lives. They’re more productive and less stressed. And that’s what the book is about.

I know a lot of people are skeptical because all the time management books out there say your calendar is for phone calls and meetings and your to-do list is for your tasks. But when I talked to these 300 highly productive people, I was surprised none of them use to-do lists. If they want to do something, they schedule it. It’s not an easy habit to adopt, but once you get there and start scheduling, everything starts to fall into place.

getAbstract: In the book, you also mention something we should all start to schedule, our MIT. Could you tell us about this morning routine?

Kevin Kruse: In an ideal world, I’d like everyone to have a recurring time block for an hour at their start of their work day for their MIT – their Most Important Task. Every morning, block the first hour to work on your MIT. And you can change what your MIT is. Think about that one domino you can tip over today that will get you closer to the big goal for the year. In an ideal world, during your MIT hour – your hour of power – you shut down email, turn your phone off, block out the world and single-task on your MIT. It’s easier when you’re the boss or working remotely and of course, life happens. But you can start having conversations about it and changing the culture. This should be a team conversation.

getAbstract: You mentioned that you used to work 7 days a week, 18 hours a day and that didn’t work. Does that mean hard work isn’t really the key to success?

Kevin Kruse: I’m still a fan of hard work and entrepreneurial hustle. There will always be times when you have to work on a Saturday or work 12 hours, but that’s the exception not the rule. Extremely long days can work in the short term, but long-term you have to find a balance. Working smart is more important than working hard. Start getting really clear about your values. Then decide how many minutes a day or a week you will invest in those values. You need to design your life, think about your ideal week, month and year to get the life you want, then take those 1440 minutes a day and drop them into each bucket. That’s your calendar. All the people I interviewed aren’t stressed out and worried about time, because they’ve thought about this and they have really clear values.

getAbstract: We have one last question, what’s your next book project?

Kevin Kruse: I just signed a deal with Rodale. They focus on health and fitness. It’s going to be a about leadership principles that you can apply to any area of your life. It’ll be out in 2018.

getAbstract: That’s a very interesting topic. At getAbstract, we love the idea of Everyday Leadership. You don’t need to be in a position of leadership in your company to act like a leader and think like leader.

Kevin Kruse: That’s exactly right. And I love that, it’s everyday leadership. That’s part of the message of my podcast, The LEADx Show. Leadership is not a choice. Leadership is influence. You influence people with your words and with your silence. You also influence people with your actions and if you choose to be a bystander, that encourages people in a different way. So, we’re all leaders. I say, lead with intent and lead carefully because everybody is watching what you’re doing and not doing, what you’re saying and not saying, at home and at work.

getAbstract: That’s a great message. And with that, thank you Kevin for your time. We’re looking forward to your new book!

If you want to learn more, watch this exclusive getAbstract webinar with Kevin Kruse and learn to be productive, the way highly successful people do it:

About Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse is an Inc. 500 entrepreneur and the CEO of LEADx. He helps people all over the world become more productive. In his book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, he reveals the habits of self-made millionaires, Olympic athletes, entrepreneurs and straight-A students.

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