312 – Zach Swinehart on how to get more done, aka being more productive – Part 2

Interview with Zach Swinehart and Nathan Wrigley.

On the podcast today we have Zach Swinehart in the second of an, unexpectedly, two-part episode. We talked for so long that I decided it was best as two episodes instead of a really long single episode.

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You really need to listen to episode 310 of the podcast before this one, so go do that now if you have not already!

We start off today where we left off last time, with my addiction to email and whether I could conquer that, then moving on to talk about Zach’s framework for Deep Work which is step by step guide to helping you to get your concentration back in a world that’s constantly trying to steal your attention.

Zach was kind enough to write his own show notes for this episode and so rather than reinvent the wheel, here they are:

Zach’s show notes:

Be sure to mention…

  • In the last episode, we left off Nathan promising Zach he wouldn’t check in til 12 – let’s see how it went
  • we also touched on Zach’s high-level framework for deep work
  • today we dive into some of our favorite tools for strategic deep work
  • If all this deep work stuff sounds cool to you, Zach’s got a free course where he walks you step-by-step through implementing it, which you can join at https://kickassfreelancing.com/deepwork

Tools Mentioned: 

The “Short Lists”

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The 5 tools Nathan and Zach use to get their best work done and couldn’t live without.

Nathan’s “Strategic Deep Work Tool Short List”

The tools that I just keep coming back to are:

  1. Google Drive – https://www.google.com/drive/
  2. Active Inbox for Gmail – https://www.activeinboxhq.com/
  3. Evernote – https://evernote.com/
  4. Day One – https://dayoneapp.com/

Zach’s “Strategic Deep Work Tool Short List”

In order of ‘I’d-be-absolutely-screwed-without-this-tool-ness’…

  1. Notion – https://www.notion.so/
  2. Ticktick – https://ticktick.com/
  3. Sunsama – https://sunsama.com/
  4. Habitica – https://habitica.com/
  5. Toggl – https://toggl.com/

All tools mentioned, broken down by category


These tools are best for people who thrive with social accountability.

Deep work guidance

These tools help you to be mindful of the need for breaks to help avoid getting into “code zombie mode.”

Routine management

How to automate your routine execution so that you don’t need to remember anything.

Task management

Keep track of tasks to empower deeper focus.

Impulse control

Goal of tools in this category: reduce the amount of willpower required to do the things you want.

  • Freedom – https://freedom.to/
  • Inbox when ready – https://inboxwhenready.org/
  • No inputs until XYZpm (for Zach, it’s 2pm ideally and 12pm minimum)
    • Close Slack, email, social media, etc. at the end of the workday so they’re not there when you start
    • Silencing all notifications on phone & computer
      • Turn off Wi-Fi (the full way, for iPhone users) the night before as well as mobile data
      • Put phone in drawer
      • Can buy an iPod or separate phone with no social apps etc. if you need a phone to use for authenticators and whatnot
      • Do not disturb mode on the computer
      • Do not disturb mode on the phone
        • on iPhone you can still have your ringer on and hear it if someone calls, while not hearing notifications from apps
    • Every time you fail to hold off on inputs until your chosen time, ask yourself why / what you “tripped over” and create new systems to help sort that out in the future
    • If an idea comes up that requires internet or contacting someone, don’t do it! Instead, write it down to get it out of your head (perhaps put it in ticktick), and then get back into deep work without having to remember it

Connection with most important work

These tools help you stay on track and make sure you’re working on the important stuff that’ll really move the needle.

Deep focus encouragement

These tools help you stay laser-focused on the task at hand.

  • Sunsama – https://sunsama.com/
  • Brain.fm w/ headphones – https://brain.fm/
  • Paper notes of top priority
  • No inputs / muted notifications
  • Strategic breaks (I’ll often do things like working out in breaks)
  • GTD technique: mark where you’re leaving off (can do this with notes to self in Sunsama, Notion, etc.)
  • Closing your workspace door and telling your spouse/kids that you can’t be accessed while it’s closed
    • Use an open/closed sign
    • Make a custom shirt
    • Have special shoes
    • Wear headphones
  • Batch your client calls / sales calls and set them for favorable times of day + favorable days of week
    • You can tweak your availability in Calendly so that your day doesn’t even open for calls until the afternoon – https://calendly.com/
    • Pro tip: set aside at least one day per week as your “deep work day” where you don’t do any calls whatsoever
    • Consider “theming your days”

It’s a lot to take in, but I hope you enjoyed, and learned some new things from the last two episodes with Zach.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:02.010] - Nathan Wrigley
Welcome to the WP Builds Podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your host, David Warmsley and Nathan Wrigley. Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds Podcast. You've reached episode number 312, entitled Zach Swinehart on how to Get More Done aka Being More Productive part Two. It was published on Thursday, the 26 January 2023. My name is Nathan Wrigley, and just before we begin, a few bits of housekeeping. The first thing to mention is that the Page Builder Summit is just around the corner. It's happening between the 20th and 24 February, and we're still looking for some sponsors. If your company is in the WordPress space, this is an excellent way to get your messaging out in front of a very WordPress specific audience who are very much into the future of WordPress. You can find out more by going to Pagebuildersummit.com Sponsors one More Time Pagebuildersomet.com sponsors and have a browse, see what you think, and you can always contact me on the WP Builds contact page if you've gotten the curiosity about filling up some of those spots. So one last time, pagebuildersummit. Comsponsors. And if you want to subscribe to what we do over here, head over to our subscribe page wpbuilds.com forward slash subscribe.

[00:01:37.070] - Nathan Wrigley
The WP Builds Podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. Godaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL and 24/7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits, to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by heading to go.me/wpbuilds. Once more. go.me/wpbuilds. And we really, really thank GoDaddy Pro for their ongoing continuing support of the WP Builds Podcast.

[00:02:16.170] - Nathan Wrigley
Okay, like I said at the top, this is episode 312. It's zach Swinehart on part two. It's a podcast in which he really goes to town on how to get deep work done, how to concentrate, how to be less distracted. There is a first part to this, and really, in all honesty, if you haven't listened to the first part, it's probably apropos that you do. I'd go and search for episode number 310 on the Wpbuilds.com website and search for that and give that a play because it kind of lays the foundation for this episode. We start off by going through whether or not I have kicked my email habit, whether I'm habitually checking.

[00:02:52.400] - Nathan Wrigley
That was something that we set up at the end of the last episode. And then we really get into all of the bits and pieces that make up Jack's tooling, the way that he manages to get himself into being productive. And he calls this deep work. And he talks about all of the different tools and methods that he's got for doing this. I list out a bunch of tools that I found useful over time and really it's just a guideline for some of the ways that you might be able to grab your own attention back and be more in control of your own focus. It's a really interesting episode and I hope that you enjoy it. I am joined on the podcast today again by Zach Swinehart. How are you doing, Zach?

[00:03:32.280] - Zach Swinehart
Oh, I'm just great.

[00:03:33.700] - Nathan Wrigley
How are you? Yeah, good. Zach, if you weren't listening last well, I was going to say last week, but it was a fortnight ago, two weeks ago, because that's the way we roll on this podcast. We intersperse them with interviews and then I have a chat with David Warmsy. So, two weeks ago, the first episode with Zach dealt with quite a lot of bits and pieces and I'm going to say this podcast is a follow up to that one. There may be some value in listening to this one in isolation, but I would imagine at the start of this conversation, I'm going to recommend, go back, listen to the episode from a couple of weeks ago, because you're going to then get some context about what it is that we're going to talk about today a day. The reason that Zach's back is essentially we had too much to say and about 50 minutes in, I called a halt and said, whoa, let's break this up into two episodes. And you left me with a bit of a challenge in the previous episode, didn't you?

[00:04:23.830] - Zach Swinehart
I sure did. So we ended the last one with you committing to doing deep work until what time was it that you were going to not cheque your inbox?

[00:04:32.530] - Nathan Wrigley
Essentially midday.

[00:04:34.170] - Zach Swinehart
All right, how's that been going?

[00:04:35.960] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, that's fine. Wriggly? Yes. I lie down on the sofa and tell me about your father. I have been very good. I disciplined myself because I kind of felt at the end of the last episode, we were analysing where time may get wasted. And I felt that, for me, at least, anyway, email was a great time suck. I could really get lost in email for ages and I had it up on a pedestal. I'd open it in the morning when there were probably better things to be done, so open it would be. First thing that happened on the morning would be to go through the email and I have no idea what's coming in there. I can't philtre what's in my inbox? It's just in my inbox, but because it's in my inbox, I would deal with it. So, yes, I've been very good. I didn't cheque it until midday each day, so in that sense, I was very good. But here comes the killer. Do you want to know what I did instead? Yeah. I read a book.

[00:05:34.010] - Zach Swinehart
Okay, well, it could be worse, you know, you could do and scroll Twitter or something.

[00:05:37.100] - Nathan Wrigley
Yes, I I spent. So I didn't read until midday, but I definitely did. I kind of thought to myself, okay, I'm saving a bit of time here. So I gave myself a bit of leisure time. I typically spent about 20 minutes not starting, so I'd normally sit at my desk at about 830, something like that, and begin the day. And I found myself kind of lurking in the kitchen with my Kindle, reading my book, and forgiving myself for that, and then beginning at 09:00. So in some sense it was a bit of a bit of a swing and a roundabout. In some sense I lost a bit of time, but definitely gained a bit of time. But yeah, I did notice, though, that there was literally no impediment for me doing it. There was no pull, there was no tug, there was no mental sort of beckoning towards the email. I didn't feel I needed to open it up. And when I yeah, and when I had that kind of instinct to go and cheque the tab where it normally is, because on my browser, it's always the far left tab, I've got a whole bunch of tabs openers.

[00:06:32.360] - Nathan Wrigley
I'm sure everybody has it's. The furthest left one, I found myself kind of automatically there was a bit of muscle memory going over there with the mouse and then seeing that it wasn't there to be opened and I just didn't open it. And so there was no problem. So in terms of productivity, I definitely got some time back. I don't know that it was a direct correlation to, okay, you saved yourself half an hour a day, or 40 minutes a day or whatever, but it was interesting to me that the and I'm going to say in inverted commas, the addiction that I had to that didn't present itself as a problem. I didn't feel like I was withdrawn from it, so I'll chalk that up as a success. Let's hope I can continue.

[00:07:10.570] - Zach Swinehart
So the question I'd have on that last bit about if it was a net gain, do you feel that by because if you didn't cheque the inbox and you read the book, when you did cheque the inbox, did you process it in the same amount of time or less? Or did you essentially just differ inbox time from the morning to later in the day and it took just as much?

[00:07:32.100] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I hadn't really thought about it like that, but now that you mention it, yes, I definitely had a different relationship with it because of the time of day that it was at and my day was already busy. And let's say, for example, so midday, typically I would go and grab a bite to eat. So it's lunch and I'm already halfway through things. I set the alarm or whatever it may be, midday comes along, stop, pause, the task halfway through. And then when I came back, I was already halfway through something. So I was eager to finish that off, if you know what I mean. Yeah, there was definitely a change in the way that I dealt with email. That's true. I was far more efficient, shall we say, and less dauding. Yeah.

[00:08:10.410] - Zach Swinehart
And then when you did process your inbox so let's say your normal vibe would be to cheque your inbox for I don't know what it would look like, but say 15 minutes every hour.

[00:08:20.190] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Maybe less. Maybe if you aggregated it, it would end up being sort of like five minutes every hour. But in the morning it could be anything up to like 30, 40 minutes, easily. Yeah.

[00:08:29.190] - Zach Swinehart
Okay, so suppose old Nathan style, we added up all those separate blocks, counting the, like, the context switching and stuff. Do you think that if you add up those blocks, let's say it comes out to an hour, did you still spend this same hour even though you did it in a condensed time, or did it come out to less? Do you reckon?

[00:08:49.450] - Nathan Wrigley
You're going to have to rephrase that, because I didn't quite understand that. Where was the target of that question? I wasn't quite sure where you were aiming it.

[00:08:56.830] - Zach Swinehart
What I'm driving at here is you got to read a book that you enjoyed in the morning. And if you did that, and the consequence of that was that you just created more work for yourself later because your inbox took just as much time as it would have before the experiment, then you didn't really get, like a quote free book reading. You instead just got a book reading that caused your work to take.

[00:09:22.050] - Nathan Wrigley
Right, I deferred the problem until later. Yes. No, that's not my experience. I felt that I got through the exact same amount of time with an extra bit of time in the day to read a book.

[00:09:32.060] - Zach Swinehart
Oh, so that's a huge win.

[00:09:33.500] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I think so. Yes, I would say so. That's definitely true. The efficiency that I had, the sort of drive to get it done, because I knew I had other things. And in my case, my time is very much constrained by the family. So at a certain hour of the day, the the children who've been at school, and so the children depart the house, and by 830, essentially, the house is quiet. That's when I can begin. So that's when things begin. But in the afternoon, there's a certain time on a particular day, it's it's different because the kids do different things in clubs and all of that kind of stuff. I have this I have this moment where I know that I'm going to be possibly derailed for the rest of the day until maybe they've even gone to bed. And so given that I hadn't looked at the email until midday, the amount of time I had left in the day was typically much shorter. Yes, I think it did have an impact. Well, put it this way, I'm going to keep doing it.

[00:10:29.420] - Zach Swinehart
Okay, well, that was going to be my question. That's the true demonstration of value.

[00:10:34.360] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. And it's interesting because I removed it from my phone a long time ago. I can't remember if we went into this, but essentially my phone is now derelict of anything that can reach out to me. There's no notifications, there's no Facebook, I've disabled email. I've got rid of absolutely everything which has a social component or a notification component, except text messages, because I want to be in touch with my kids and my wife and so on and so forth. And I was able to do that years ago and it had no impact on me whatsoever. But it's interesting that on the desktop, I kind of make excuses to keep that stuff going. And I think maybe you've shoved me in the right direction to also make the endeavour there, just block it into time, chunk it into I don't know. In my case, it'll probably be after lunch now, cheque them. And then maybe just before I knock off in the evening, have a quick cheque to see if anything catastrophically urgent has emerged. But typically it won't. So, yeah, bit of a win.

[00:11:28.620] - Zach Swinehart
Nice. Yeah, I'm going to count that as a win.

[00:11:30.980] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Okay. Where we ended off last episode, zach went through his sort of bullet pointed list. I think it may be six, possibly seven, I can't exactly remember. And you were finishing that episode describing your little six or seven point plan as to how you go about achieving things. So do you want to just begin this episode, reiterating what it was that you said toward the end of the last episode?

[00:11:55.150] - Zach Swinehart
Yes. Defo. So the first step, very forest through the trees, is to just determine what your big goals are. And I think that Nathan's example of having some time with his kindle is a great illustration that your big goals don't necessarily have to be business goals. It might be that you want to free up more time to spend with your family, or free up some time to read a book or just enjoy your life. These efficiency gains don't necessarily need to be harnessed to just become some task executing robot. So if we start with the big goals, and it's helpful in the context of business goals because we're going to reverse engineer them, but if you start with your goals and then you look at what needs to happen to get there, the next step is to do the work that moves you forward towards that daily. And actually, Nathan, I'm sorry, let's cut this, because I think the bit about the personal life doesn't make sense here, because the point is that we're reverse engineering them. Sorry.

[00:12:52.630] - Nathan Wrigley
So when you say, let's cut this little bit, what do you mean?

[00:12:56.200] - Zach Swinehart
I'll just restart the framework. Okay, I'm just for number one, I'm not going to say any of that stuff about your family. I think that will come later.

[00:13:03.100] - Nathan Wrigley
Okay, so my little bit that I just had, you can keep it and.

[00:13:07.160] - Zach Swinehart
I'll just start again.

[00:13:07.710] - Nathan Wrigley
That's fine. Go for it.

[00:13:10.590] - Zach Swinehart
Totally. So the first step, very high level force of the trees is to determine what your big goals are. So for you, if you're trying to scale your agency or something, you might have the goal of scaling the agency. And the second step is to determine what needs to happen next to get there. And if you don't know that's where you might be able to say work with a mentor or take a course and maybe working with a mentor, taking a course is what needs to happen next to get there so that you can determine the next steps from there. I like to make a point to do the work that moves me forward towards that goal daily. So those things that we determined in step two that we need to do, work on those daily. When I have my best energy, for me that means working on it before I do anything else. Very first thing in the morning, no notifications, no, not a thing. Just wake up, drink coffee, start writing or start coding or start building processes. And then step four is only after you've spent this important time on what's going to move your business forward should you spend time working, quote, in your business.

[00:14:21.620] - Zach Swinehart
So if you're trying to grow your agency, for example, but you're still doing all the fulfilment yourself, that work in the business is the fulfilment. Whereas the work on the business would be processes or whatever you need to prioritise. Step five is just kind of a little it's almost like a friendly version of a knife twist, I guess. If there is a friendly knife twist, which is just that being mindful of the idea that if you do want to grow your business, which I don't think it necessarily is a good fit for every freelancer to want to scale an agency. Certainly not for me. But if you do, each week that you spend kind of stuck in fulfilment is essentially just treading water and you might look back after a year or two or five or whatever and see that you're kind of in the same place you've been for a while. And that's why it's so important to prioritise that time on the business. And from there last step is to optimise your time and support yourself with tools and systems to help pick up slack where you naturally are a little bit weak.

[00:15:25.180] - Zach Swinehart
Instead of shaming yourself and feeling like you should have a lot of willpower or a lot of self control or just be able to handle it all on your own. And we'll talk today about tools and strategies as well. Okay, that's the high level overview.

[00:15:36.580] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Thank you. That's great. I'm just going to just quickly go on to step six. I know that's kind of about face but I just want to dwell on it because it's kind of interesting to me because the optimising of the time kind of implies that you've been through all the other five points first, and then you've decided to, you know, you've decided, okay, there's things broken in here. I haven't been working on the business so much as in the business, I need to juggle this and figure out how much time I want to do this. Do you revisit this on a sort of daily basis? Are you trying to optimise the time on a daily basis, or do you try to do this over a week or a month? In other words, have you got things like working on your business, not in your business? Do you dedicate a whole day to that or a whole week to that? Or how do you sort of divide all of this up?

[00:16:25.950] - Zach Swinehart
So for revisiting, I revisit both daily and weekly. Okay. I think last episode I might have linked to my daily journal template, but if I didn't, I can link to it today, and I'll link to it today anyway. So one of the things I have in my daily journal template is like, what went well, what needs work, what could be tweaked moving forward, and when I noticed myself getting knocked off. Like, for example, something I've been currently struggling with with my no notifications thing is that whenever I turn my phone on to do my evening routine, which I have to do on my phone with data so that I can connect to my symptoms and nutrition tracking app, sometimes I'll get notifications when I don't want to be getting notifications. And so I have to debug this. And so I kind of log this as a weakness, or if I got distracted by something when I was meaning to do deep work, I can kind of make a note of that and then think about how I might tweak that moving forward. So I think it's one of those just ongoing, evolving processes of honing a framework.

[00:17:33.210] - Zach Swinehart
Obviously, you can't spend 30 minutes or an hour or whatever researching tools and journaling every single day. But I think it's one of those things where if you notice, you keep having the same problem. Like, a good example is you and I both use different tools for hiding the inbox feed. When you go to Gmail, it kind of adds an extra step. So that's a great example of one where it's like if someone notices that just out of habit, they keep clicking the little Gmail icon on their phone. The little optimization to theirs is just remove the Gmail icon from your home screen, or if they click, keep clicking to the Gmail tab on their computer, install one of these little plugins. So little optimizations like that I do very often broad ones I like to revisit on weekly or monthly journal.

[00:18:18.890] - Nathan Wrigley
I guess it's true to say that everybody is going to be different in this, in that you'll have different constraints in time. You'll have a different relationship to your work in the evening. It may be that you're quite happy to work throughout every evening and you're a bit of a bit of a workaholic in inverted commas, but you might not want to do that. You might want to switch everything off and demarcate tonnes of time to the family or whatever it might be. Maybe it's nine to five, in which case you need to be constrained. Just another one quick thing before we go into the whole dig deeper into each and every piece of that puzzle do you kind of include leisure time in this? Do you kind of block your leisure time in the same way that you do all of the other bits and pieces to do with work? In other words, do you allow yourself, say, 4 hours in the evening on a Monday, 2 hours in the evening on a Tuesday? Or do you just say no, time out, finish, start again in the morning?

[00:19:11.810] - Zach Swinehart
Both. So sometimes I don't and I regret it. I like music production, it's my designated hobby. Yeah, it's my chosen productive hobby and when I do music production, which I usually do on Saturdays as my music production day, I won't do my work cycles, I won't be notification free, these sorts of things. I don't think that's good, because part of me is like, well, this isn't work. I shouldn't do all this crazy stuff. But at the same time, the quality of that experience is kind of diminished. I spend an hour and a half responding to things on Facebook or whatever, and it's not adding any value to my life, and it's not helping me feel recharged. So the answer is, sometimes I do. I try to block off time during the day for leisure, but it is something I'm currently still working on and having challenges with. Because one of the things I want to talk about today is that once you're really dialled into deep work, it can be easy if you have an ADHD hyper focused personality like me, where you actually need to be really intentional about building in enough shallow work time.

[00:20:21.810] - Zach Swinehart
So what I'll keep doing is my deep work time will bleed over. I don't have enough time to do my shallow work, which means I have to do all this shallow work, and it bleeds into the evening, which means that the thing that came last, aka my leisure, takes the hit and gets cut out. And so I think that's a big weakness in my system that I need to improve.

[00:20:38.450] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah. For me, it's more of a simple switch off and then decide the family kind of orientates my leisure time, not just me deciding what I can do with things. There's often other things which I know I've got to do. It's interesting because my calendar is full of events that I know I've got to be a part of, but they're not something that I am directly a part of. So it's taxiing children to various other places, and they can be at all sorts of curious times of day. So I've got to be a little bit flexible, and I guess that's the same for anybody who's a sort of freelance. Okay. All right. All of that being dealt with, let's just hand it over to you and see where this episode wants to go, because I know you've given it quite a bit of thought. Where do you want to begin with your sort of deep dive into the deep work?

[00:21:23.450] - Zach Swinehart
Well, I think the sexiest thing here is probably tools.

[00:21:27.890] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:21:28.750] - Zach Swinehart
Even though it is last of the protocol, I think most people listening will be quite keen to learn about tools and strategies.

[00:21:33.670] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:21:35.790] - Zach Swinehart
I think that the one kind of concept that I'd really love to impart before we dive into tools is with the idea of those little daily tweaks and honing and stuff. I think that the biggest mindset shift here that's made a huge, huge difference on my life is this idea of building a personal protocol. I actually, in Notion, have a handbook for habits and things to do to live a good life. And the idea of building a protocol is really valuable because it's like a system that you can tweak over time, that if you just follow the system, you don't have to think about it. You can just reference your system and things just kind of work. So when we're talking about these different strategies and you're thinking about where you have your strengths and where you have your challenges, I think if you'd always be oriented towards building a protocol, that will probably be really helpful, depending on your personality.

[00:22:26.650] - Nathan Wrigley
All right, so Notion you mentioned, I confess I've not used Notion.

[00:22:31.640] - Zach Swinehart

[00:22:32.140] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. I mean, I've seen it, everybody's raving about it, but I had the merest look at it one time and I figured, actually, I've got things which do basically everything that I want, and I have that, actually. I am a kind of reformed and recovering app sumo addict years and years ago. Honestly, it's not been for a while, to be honest. But I kind of bought all the tools and tried everything, and I've ended up settling on some probably less than optimal, but optimal for me, set of tools. So I know that Notion does a whole load of whiz bang interesting things, but I'm not entirely sure that there are things that I'm all that interested in, given what I've got to achieve each day. But just outline, maybe, if that's what you want to do, outline what Notion brings to you.

[00:23:20.770] - Zach Swinehart
Sure. So Notion I'm not sure is necessarily critical for my deep work specifically, which is the idea behind this episode. But I will say I love Notion for just organising everything. I use it for organising personal projects like music production. I use it as project management for all my client projects. I use it for like a content calendar for blogging. I have the notes about this podcast episode in there, I have my daily journal in there. Just everything you ever need to keep track. It's a second brain. For me, it's not built like that as much as gosh, what's that one that starts with an R? I don't know. There's one that's a software tool for literally a second brain, but okay, no.

[00:24:01.410] - Nathan Wrigley
I'm not sure, but yeah, maybe we.

[00:24:04.430] - Zach Swinehart
Use this to pivot into tools. So I think with tools we can kind of break tools into a few different categories. Do you want me to recap the categories?

[00:24:17.310] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, why not? That's a good idea.

[00:24:19.650] - Zach Swinehart
So in thinking about it as it pertains to getting good deep work done, I feel like the categories are accountability, deep Work Guidance, which I'll explain in a minute, routine Management, task management, impulse control, connection with Most Important Work and Deep Focus encouragement.

[00:24:43.370] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:24:44.410] - Zach Swinehart
And so for accountability, I think that this is more useful for some people than others. I think most people know whether or not they benefit from accountability. And when you and I were talking last time, I remember you said something to me, like, if I tell somebody I'm going to do something, I will definitely do it, because I just always do something like that, right?

[00:25:03.970] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, 100%. Yeah. If I've promised something to somebody, I feel awful if I don't deliver it. So for me, it's a very effective way of keeping myself in cheque promise something to somebody is going to work for me every time. Nice.

[00:25:20.790] - Zach Swinehart
And I think there are probably some people who the accountability thing works really well, others, they might shy away from it a little bit because they'll feel shame if they don't do what they said, which I guess can be can pour you into a kind of a bad cycle.

[00:25:34.670] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I think you have to be mindful of that, in that if, for example, it's bound by a deadline, missing the deadline has the same impact for me as not completing it at all. I feel like I've totally failed. So I have to be a bit mindful of that and kind of have workarounds. If I realise a long time in advance it's going to fail, then I'll get on the email or the phone or whatever it might be, and make sure that the person on the other end of that promise knows that I'm likely not to fulfil it and then I feel fine again.

[00:26:04.700] - Zach Swinehart
Okay, good. So you have good coping mechanisms, you don't just fall into a shame viral.

[00:26:09.100] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:26:10.230] - Zach Swinehart
Okay, so I have a few tools within the accountability department that I've found quite helpful. So if you're listening and accountability is helpful for you, there's a tool called Focusmate which basically pairs you with somebody over video. And at the beginning of this work session, you say what you're. Going to work on and they say what they're going to work on, and then you're screen sharing and then you cheque in at the end. So if at the end you're like, oh, actually I didn't work on that blog post. I just watched Rick and Morty read a book.

[00:26:44.520] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:26:46.050] - Zach Swinehart
So that's a cool one. Another one that I've been really loving lately that's going to come up in a bunch of contexts is a bunch of these categories, rather, is Habitica, which Nathan, I think I was telling you about that last time.

[00:26:57.020] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, you were. You definitely mentioned that last time. Yeah. Interesting.

[00:27:00.250] - Zach Swinehart
It has a nice accountability component that I kind of want to disable, actually, because I think accountability for me doesn't work that well. I think I I find, I find it very triggering sometimes if I'm like holding a group back.

[00:27:11.840] - Nathan Wrigley
Okay, yeah.

[00:27:13.210] - Zach Swinehart
But with Habitica, if you don't do your daily routines, you actually damage your other party members. It's like a Gamified RPG kind of habit thing. So it's a nice little accountability stick.

[00:27:26.850] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:27:28.190] - Zach Swinehart
And then a couple of others in the accountability category that might give you ideas is an accountability buddy. I had somebody back in the day who I would cheque in with every day on Skype, back when people use Skype. That was pretty cool goal setting, buddy. And I feel like the ultimate accountability. If you want to know where your time goes is something to track time like toggle I've been lately playing with not just tracking time I spend on client projects, but tracking time I spend on breaks, eating food, things like that, to see where it is that my time is actually going versus just where my client work time is actually going. It's been very illuminating.

[00:28:06.070] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. So interestingly with that one. Do you switch the timer on when you begin your work and then switch it off? And then do you begin another timer when your, let's say, lunch break or whatever it might be, begins and then you end that and then start the work in? Or do you just keep a track of the bits between when you were working? So knocked off at twelve, started at 110, I've had an hour and ten for lunch, that kind of thing.

[00:28:33.090] - Zach Swinehart
The former.

[00:28:33.870] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:28:35.010] - Zach Swinehart
The way I'll do it is if I have and I guess I feel like I'll have a good guide for tracking this, so I can link to that in the show notes, too. But the way I like to do it is I'll create and toggle a client for myself. So it's like a Zach Swinehurt client and then projects within that client for work on the business. So for example, marketing, outreach, content creation, things like that. And so then if I'm writing a blog post, I'll track it to the Zach Swinehart content writing one. And then if I have work in the business so, like, work for a client site, I'll switch the timer and that's attached to the client as the client and project and toggle and then I have a set of projects for my personal life. And that's the one I need to develop a bit more as of today, where I'll switch to this, like, Zach Swinghart personal life versus Zach Swinghart on the business. And that will have projects.

[00:29:29.980] - Nathan Wrigley
And presumably if you're working with an hourly rate, your personal one is just clocking time and nothing more. It's just giving you an oversight of all of that. Whereas the client ones are also presumably leading into some sort of billing system which calculates how much time you spent and how much you need to bill and those kind of things. That's interesting.

[00:29:48.620] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot. So I've experimented over the years with charging hourly and I'm now going more towards per project, more value based pricing kind of thing. And the thing is, calculating effective hourly rate, obviously in both instances is really important to know which one is having better results for you. Yeah, so having that kind of Zach Swinehart business one for tracking stuff that let's say I was doing an hourly client project and there was some work that I didn't want to charge them for but that I did on the project. So maybe I made a bad estimate, something took way longer, but it was my fault, not their fault. Maybe I wouldn't want to charge them for that, but I still want to keep track of how that affected my total time on the project. I might switch to a Zach Swinehart project that's labelled as something like excess time or something. I don't have one set up for that. Currently ideal day would be toggle running all gosh darn.

[00:30:51.130] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Just flicking between one and the other.

[00:30:53.120] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, and I mentioned that Habitica come up a bunch of times. So I've been using Habitica to help incentivize myself to do things that I want to do but don't ever seem to actually do. And so I created a little habit thingy in Habitica for track time on a non work project. So every time I track time on a nonwork project, I get to go in there, click the little plus and I get a little happy celebratory sound and I get experience points and I.

[00:31:19.950] - Nathan Wrigley
Get gold, all the important stuff.

[00:31:23.690] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, that's great.

[00:31:24.620] - Nathan Wrigley
But these little incentives, they can kind of work. I'm just going to circle back on the first one that you mentioned, which was the well, I don't know if it was the first, but an accountability partner, a real world on Skype. I did that for a while and then the kind of projects moved and the way that I was working moved and all of a sudden it became obvious that that real world interaction wasn't really working anymore. For me, it's more, or at least it was. I would make promises to clients and so the client was the person. So there was never that kind of how to describe it. There was never that kind of particularly friendly approach towards accountability. It was just that I owed them something by then because I promised it. But I know that a lot of people do get a lot of success from having a friendly face on the end of Skype or whatever it is now, zoom and helping each other, giving each other a bit of support and camaraderie at the end of a long and busy day where you may feel you failed. Just having that little pat on the back can be quite nice.

[00:32:19.240] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:32:19.550] - Zach Swinehart
And it can be so lonely being a freelancer all week from home. So it's a nice kind of nice way to see a face consistently.

[00:32:25.960] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Okay. They have a fantastic set of tools. Do you want to carry on in that vein? Are there other tools in different spheres? Yes.

[00:32:34.160] - Zach Swinehart
Unless you have anything you want to add.

[00:32:35.540] - Nathan Wrigley
No, I think that was good.

[00:32:37.250] - Zach Swinehart
So the next category I have up is deep Work Guidance. And what I mean by this is like a category of tool that's going to kind of help nudge you and remind you of what you're supposed to be doing right now. So one of those, which we already mentioned in the accountability section is also Focus Mate. So Focus Mate is structured either on a 50 ten cycle or a 25 five cycle. So like a 50 minutes work cycle, ten minute break.

[00:33:04.200] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:33:04.560] - Zach Swinehart
Or 25 five would be 25 minutes work, five minute break. So that's kind of a way to manage your cadence. I noticed, at least for myself, I don't know if you can relate to this or listeners can, and this actually happened to me just earlier today. If I start working and I hyper focus on something, like I'm coding or I'm writing or something and I don't take breaks. I'll get into what I call code zombie mode, where my eye just kind of glaze over. I'm not making intelligent decisions and just bashing my head against the wall until I can get the code to compile. Do you ever have this? If you just sit down and crunch for 3 hours, your brain just gets fried?

[00:33:41.250] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. 3 hours for me would be almost unachievable. I think I'm definitely in smaller chunks than that. For me, the solution is get out the chair and if possible, get outside. It's a good one, being outside just fixes so much for me. I mean, obviously if I'm going out into the pouring rain, that's really not that's going to have the exact opposite effect. But if it's a nice day and I can go for a quick walk round the block a bit further, I forgive myself that many times a day, but typically it's not that long. Ten minutes, just something to clear the air and I come back and I find that things that were annoying 20 minutes ago have suddenly got less of an annoying complexion to them.

[00:34:24.070] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, I love that. And I've had success with that, too. And, you know, the good thing is that since you live in the UK, as I understand it pretty much never rains there.

[00:34:32.090] - Nathan Wrigley
Oh, that's right, yeah. It's very dry. I never have to carry an umbrella. No, it's a constant battle, that one. So I'm pretty good at not kind of getting deflected by going down and watching tele or something like that, you know, in other words, substituting entertainment for work. I'm I'm very disciplined with that. I simply do not do it. Apart from this book thing, which is like a new, slightly strange habit. But if it was raining and I didn't want to go outside, I would just find something else to do. I might do some dishes or a bit of some of the household chores, doing just something to just to get my head off things, really something I've.

[00:35:10.550] - Zach Swinehart
Been experimenting with lately. I read somewhere, I don't even know where that in your breaks? As a computer worker, it's really helpful to look at something that's like at least 20ft or metres, 20. Some unit of measurement away I've been playing with. Sometimes, like, I'll go to the back porch and I'll work on writing some lyrics where I'll look off into the distance, write the lyric down, you know, something like that. Just or exercising in the living room, looking far away.

[00:35:33.900] - Nathan Wrigley
Do you know, this is really interesting to me because more recently, and I do think it's a product of my age, but it's definitely something I need to deal with. If I've been in front of the screen all day and I haven't given myself those breaks because I haven't felt the need for them, I spend about 20 minutes having to readjust my site. So I'll go down and I'll be, let's say, preparing some food or something like that, and I suddenly realised all of it's out of focus. And it genuinely takes about 15 to 20 minutes for that focus to change and then I'm fine for the rest of the evening. But I do think that's a curious thing and I don't see any good coming of that.

[00:36:12.170] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, it doesn't seem like a good.

[00:36:13.450] - Nathan Wrigley
No, not at all. But it's really recent. But it is slightly troubling. So I feel that, medically speaking, I need to make those breaks as much as anything else because I don't want my eyesight becoming permanently fixed on something 24 inches away from my face.

[00:36:27.480] - Zach Swinehart
And I do think that that is the idea behind the look at something 20ft away I thing.

[00:36:32.720] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:36:32.930] - Zach Swinehart
So it might be helpful.

[00:36:33.990] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, good point. Okay. Thank you.

[00:36:36.620] - Zach Swinehart
But yeah. So all of these specific techniques aside, scaling us back, the the idea of taking breaks, at least for Nathan and I, seems to be really important. I think everyone's different I have explored the Pomodoro technique before, which is the 25 minutes working five minute break. And I don't like it a lot. For me, I feel like 25 minutes isn't enough time to really get into it. I find that what works for me best is somewhere around 50 or 60 minutes with a break. I rebel against it, but yeah, go ahead, Nathan.

[00:37:05.680] - Nathan Wrigley
No, I was just going to say I completely agree. 25 minutes. To me, I've tried that technique, but it was a long, long time ago and I became frustrated by how short 25 minutes was. And I didn't really realise that there was a similar technique over longer periods of time. I just thought that's the technique, I'm not going to use it. So for me it's generally hours. I'm quite happy doing hours at a time.

[00:37:24.430] - Zach Swinehart

[00:37:25.010] - Nathan Wrigley
And I don't really notice a drop in the first hour. Probably in the second hour, it's starting to taper off a little bit. So I should probably enforce something a little bit like you 50 minutes or an hour or something that probably would create more productivity. I've just gotten a little aside because I know there's quite a suite of tools out there that claim to be able to extend almost for free your attention span. So things like, for example, if you come across it, there's a web app called Brain FM.

[00:37:55.760] - Zach Swinehart
Oh, it's on the list.

[00:37:56.900] - Nathan Wrigley
Okay. So the idea of that is basically it plays you music which is kind of benign in a way. It's kind of not really there, it's just this sort of gentle thumping beat with some kind of I don't know how to describe it, but there's no melody. You can't sort of get caught up in singing the lyrics. And the intention of that is that it enables you to concentrate for a greater length of time. And I do wonder about that because I don't really want to trick myself into working longer if the result of that is it's just nonsense and I've just worked longer and the music's just been just pulled a veil over my head and realised when I pulled the veil back, actually, you've just cheated yourself. You've worked for 2 hours and it felt like 2 hours and you've convinced yourself that this music was in some way helping.

[00:38:43.350] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah. So brain FM interestingly. As I understand it, the company that makes Brain FM is primarily a research company that's researching nonmedicative treatments for ADHD. And so they created Brain FM as like a product that is backed by their research. So they're trying to use audio to help with ADHD.

[00:39:03.910] - Nathan Wrigley
So the science behind it, which they actually do go, to be fair, it's a long time since I looked, but they do make that clear. There's quite a lot of documentation on there. Some of it is almost impenetrably hard to read, but yeah, that's interesting.

[00:39:16.020] - Zach Swinehart
I think you do speak to an important term. I think that more important than deep work is strategic deep work, spending your deep work time on the right stuff. Because if you spend 4 hours uber concentrated on something dumb, that doesn't mean, yeah, you can be as focused as you want, but if it's on the wrong thing, it's not going to move your business where you want and on this idea of break. So I love brain FM Part of it is that I was producing EDM before and now I'm producing metal, and those are like the two things I listen to. So now whenever I listen to music, it's really distracting because I'm a music producer now and so I'm like, oh, I wonder how they made that sound. They opened up ableton and spend 6 hours on that. So for me, brain FM is just a really helpful, non distracting thing. But what I do find is that regardless of how hyper focused I am, if I don't take breaks, it will feel like I'm getting more done in the short term, but I'm a lot more prone to going down rabbit holes where I spend too much time on the wrong stuff.

[00:40:16.600] - Zach Swinehart
And then the lack of breaks aggregates and costs me time. And I can share an example from just today, if you want. Yeah, so I really struggle with writing short form content, if you couldn't have guessed that by the fact that we broke this podcast into two episodes. So I really want to get good at just writing a blog post that takes five minutes to read. And I set out to do that today. So I was like, all right, Zach, you've got it. Two work cycles to write this post. And then it came to the end and I was like, oh, but I'm almost done, so let me just keep working on it. And then I bled beyond my 50 minutes timer by like another 40 minutes and doing that two hour break plus the 50 minutes cycle before I was fried, I didn't have any more capacity for really good work. My eyes were kind of more glazed over, whereas if I hadn't done that and I'd heated my 50 ten blocks, I can usually these days do five deep work blocks on writing without getting too burnt. So everyone's different. You, dear listener, I think just ask yourself what works best for you.

[00:41:16.820] - Zach Swinehart
I think that there are some developers out there who maybe thrive on just like, 5 hours. No bathrooms, no water, I don't know, just automaton, basically. But it's not me.

[00:41:27.760] - Nathan Wrigley
No, and you make a good point about water as well. I took that on board, oh, a long, long time ago, and I really don't know that I could live without it. I always have a paint glass next to me and it's basically full of water, and when it's empty, I just go and fill it up. I have a sink within like, ten metres of where I'm sitting and I just go fill it up and come straight back down. The whole journey takes like 12 seconds and I get through a lot of water and I have no medical reason to believe it's powerful, but certainly seems to help.

[00:41:58.540] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, I mean, water is good. I'm right there with you. I have like a one litre bottle and every time a 50 minutes timer is up, I pee and fill it back up. So I'd probably drink like five or six litres a day.

[00:42:08.410] - Nathan Wrigley
I met somebody at WordCamp US recently who had a gigantic bottle. I'm going to say, like three litres. It was truly huge. You almost couldn't get your hand around it. And the outside had times on it, so instead of measures, it had times of the day. And the further down the bottle you got, the later in the day it was. And the intention was to get to the mark by a certain time of the day. Now, I'm not that serious about it. I just take a sip when I feel like I need it. It's really good for when I'm talking like this for an hour. It really helps loosen the throat. But I thought that was curious. They'd actually gone to that extra level. It's a bit like the Pomodoro timer, only for water consumption.

[00:42:49.980] - Zach Swinehart
I thought that was interesting. So it was like a big one gallon.

[00:42:54.070] - Nathan Wrigley
Absolutely huge. I mean, I work in sort of pints, really. I'm sure it was like four or five pints. It was enormous, but I've just never seen one of those before. And they were very, very persuasive. It was obviously something they believed in passionately, because I kind of almost mockingly said, what are they for? And they explained very carefully and I was like, okay, yeah, got it. Makes sense.

[00:43:15.220] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, makes sense. One of my friends who uses he's in my Habitica party, he gives himself a little Habitica checkmark thing whenever he refills his water bottle because he struggles to drink enough water, so he aims to click that little cheque mark four times a day. So there are lots of cool systems from this.

[00:43:32.400] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:43:33.490] - Zach Swinehart
So, yeah, within this category of deep work guidance, we talked about folks, mate. We talked about Pomodoro timers. Another thing that works really well if you don't want to talk to humans, which I often don't, there's this company called Ultra Working that I like. They put on things like Focusmate and they put on events and stuff, and they have this thing, it's like a Google Sheet template called Work Cycles. I'll make a note to include the link in the show notes. It guides this 50 ten cycle or 25 five or whatever you want. You can just kind of customise the Google Sheet. What I personally use is I use this app called Tiktick, which we'll talk about more in the task management section. But TikTok is where I just kind of put all my personal life tasks. And it has a customizable Pomodoro timer thingy built in so you can just type in. I usually type 50 ten. Lately I've been experimenting with 60 ten because now that I'm not doing focus mates, it doesn't have to end even on the hour, you know, so and then final one is an app which I'll talk probably again about called Sun Sama.

[00:44:39.520] - Zach Swinehart
I've been really loving that lately. I was resistant to it for a bit. My girlfriend turned me onto it, like most of these apps, and it allows you to show yourself your day at a glance and then zoom in and focus on one task. And if you're starting to fall behind on your day or your estimates, it'll encourage you to move on to the next one. It's primarily like a time blocking app, but it ties in your time blocks with your weekly goals and stuff like that. And I just really love it.

[00:45:06.290] - Nathan Wrigley
So I'm looking at the website for that one now and it seems to have one of the things which every task management app that I've used never sort of seems to have, which is it kind of collates for you in a day the amount of time by the looks of things. So if you've got a certain amount of time logged for, let's say, four tasks and they all add up to 4 hours, then it presents you with that as 4 hours. And if you move one of those tasks onto the following day, it adjusts the amount of time you've got to dedicate to that. That's interesting. That's interesting. I am so guilty of letting tasks overrun. And you know that thing that I'm sure you've been there before, you get to the end of the day and only half of the things are achieved. And so what do you do? You just push them all to the next day in the vain hope that that's going to work? Ultimately, yeah.

[00:45:53.730] - Zach Swinehart
And it has been a really it's not cheap, this app for what it does. I think it's like 20 or something bucks a month of 40, I don't know. But it's quickly become one of my very few short listed go to. Because what I love about it is the simplicity. If you have too much on your schedule, it's like, are you sure you want to put 11 hours of work on your schedule today?

[00:46:15.670] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, it's helping you.

[00:46:17.300] - Zach Swinehart
But what I love especially is that you can associate a given task with a weekly goal. So it gives you a way to kind of see how the time blocks that you're putting on your day tie into your weekly goals. Because what will often happen is I'll set a bunch of ambitious weekly goals and I'll get to the end and it turns out that I didn't make enough progress. Whereas with this, if I see that my weekly goals are, I don't know, write two blog posts do one outreach and work 5 hours on client work. And then we're getting to Wednesday and I haven't touched client work yet. Then I know I need to prioritise client work time blocks or whatever the layout is.

[00:46:54.240] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, it looks interesting. Sun Sama. We'll stick all these in the show notes. Yeah, yeah.

[00:46:58.760] - Zach Swinehart
And I think one other one likes Sunsama. Now, I'm forgetting the name. Motion. Motion with an m notion with an N motion. Like Mary.

[00:47:08.490] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:47:08.860] - Zach Swinehart
It does like what Sunsama does, but it has some AI thing where it manages your time blocks for you. I don't like it as much, but I know some people do.

[00:47:14.880] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:47:15.520] - Zach Swinehart
So next up, routine management. So for me, part of that concept of building a protocol involves understanding what I need to do to be at my best. And especially for me, I'm extremely sensitive to getting thrown off by poor diet choices. And I'm ridiculously sensitive to getting thrown off by, like, not even a bad night's sleep, just a sub optimal night's sleep.

[00:47:44.750] - Nathan Wrigley
Interesting. Okay.

[00:47:46.070] - Zach Swinehart
And I think everyone knows what they're kind of or everyone has a sense, probably, of what their number one most important habit is that affects their life the most. If I were to just put you on the spot and say, nathan, what do you think? Like, your number one self care habit is what comes off your gut?

[00:48:06.330] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. I don't know if this is because of what you've just been talking about, but it is sleep.

[00:48:12.190] - Zach Swinehart
What's your how much do you need to sleep?

[00:48:14.150] - Nathan Wrigley
Eight to just eight is optimal, but I can function very, very well on significantly less for a finite amount of time.

[00:48:22.690] - Zach Swinehart
I guess you do have kids.

[00:48:23.900] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just you are the luckiest human alive if you don't have to adjust your sleeping regimen when you have children. Yeah, definitely. I can survive on less, but it's eight is the, is the the real, like, the sweet spot and is do.

[00:48:42.100] - Zach Swinehart
You use something like an aura and you're saying 8 hours of actual sleep, or it's like if you go to bed at ten, wake up at six, that kind of eight.

[00:48:48.390] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, it's it's more the be asleep for 8 hours. I've got to be honest with you, I would say I'm a 50% on the target there. I'd say half the time I don't actually manage that, but that's the amount of time where I wake up and I feel like if I if I've achieved that, I wake up and think, yeah, that was good. You ping wide awake and you're ready to hit the ground running. Yeah.

[00:49:12.290] - Zach Swinehart
And I'm with you. If I I notice that sleep sleeps at the top for me, even though diet is huge, because when I'm tired, I have lower willpower. When I have lower willpower, I eat things that mess me up even more.

[00:49:23.320] - Nathan Wrigley
And the thing about sleep is it's a cumulative thing and it can't be redeemed in a matter of minutes, whereas for me, food can. I don't mean if you're feeling hungry, you can shake the appetite by just putting food in your mouth. Obviously you're probably talking more about a healthy, balanced diet over a longer period of time, but the sleep thing is just a cumulative drag and you're really going to struggle to get yourself out of that hole if you've had weeks of poor sleep. Almost everything. In fact, I was listening to a podcast episode of completely Nothing to do with WordPress, but it was a sleep expert. He's one of the few sleep experts and it was about 4 hours long, all about sleep. And it was absolutely fascinating. I think he works at MIT, so he's got chops and he was saying, without sleep, you are 24 hours, you're on the edge a little bit, 48 hours, you're in trouble. 72 hours without sleep, you are literally clinically insane.

[00:50:23.040] - Zach Swinehart
Is this the dude who wrote Why we Sleep?

[00:50:25.510] - Nathan Wrigley
Possibly. I couldn't tell you that. He definitely had academic materials. I don't know if he was publishing a book at the time, but yeah, it was fascinating. The sleep deprivation, the things that it does to your brain over time that you if you claim to be able to sleep 4 hours a day and carry on, there's all sorts of problems that you are storing up for later on in your life that you you can't possibly foresee now. Yeah.

[00:50:48.770] - Zach Swinehart
And apparently even 1 hour of sleep deprivation per day, like massively ups. Your risk of, like, cancer and autoimmune diseases by Matthew Walker.

[00:50:57.820] - Nathan Wrigley
He's the Why we sleep, I can't remember. I'll look it up when you talk about something else. I'll have a quick look here, but yeah.

[00:51:03.190] - Zach Swinehart
So for you listener, what's your number one self care habit? Is it sleep? Is it diet? Is it exercise? Is it journaling? Meditation? What is it? I've noticed I keep a log of different experiments that I'm running on my body and brain and I don't think I'll ever find anything as effective as just going to bed at 1030, waking up at 730. If I can do that, I'm just golden.

[00:51:24.270] - Nathan Wrigley

[00:51:25.150] - Zach Swinehart
So within this category of routine management, the idea is creating routines so that you can support yourself, making your best choices without requiring a lot of willpower and without having to think about it. So this has just two Habitica. Once again, habita is in all these freaking categories. But something else that's been really cool, once again learned from my girlfriend is there's this app. I have iPhone now, so I don't know if it's on Android, but it's called MultiTimer. It's not at all meant for this, but you can use it for this. It's basically just a timer app and they have these interval timers where you can create a bunch of interval steps for each of the items in your routine. So I have one timer. In there. That's my pre cat feeding morning routine. And then another one for after I fed my cat and I'm starting work. And then one for my evening. And so instead of me having to remember to brush my teeth and floss and lock the door and unplug the air philtre and just all those other things, I just start my little interval timer and it tells them what to do.

[00:52:28.910] - Zach Swinehart
I click the step, click the step, click the step. And that pairs really well with Habitica because there are certain things like flossing that I always lie to my dentist and say that I do when truly I don't do it. And I want to Habitica pairs really well because I created a daily in Habitica that I categorised as, quote, hard, so that it gives me more experience, more gold, more mana when I complete it. And so now I have this like, nice little dopamine incentive to actually do this thing that isn't particularly rewarding on its own.

[00:53:04.200] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I noticed when you put the show notes together, you listed out a whole bunch of things which typically most people don't add into the show notes. And there were all sorts of things that you wanted to ask me and things that you wanted to cheque at the end of the podcast and things like that. And I did notice a tendency for you to be very thorough in putting all these things down and obviously you've just given it some thought and in they go. And then it's part of what you want to do on that day. It's kind of you've outsourced it to well, in this case it was notion, but it could be anything else. But you want to sort of just take that, make it so that you don't have to think too much about it, but give yourself a nice hit when you achieve it as well. It's good. Yeah.

[00:53:40.890] - Zach Swinehart
And I think it's one of those things. A lot of the time our weaknesses can be alchemized into strengths. And for me, I have always struggled with a terrible, terrible, terrible memory. But I found a way to cope, which is just put stuff in place so that I don't have to remember. And my girlfriend still gets really annoyed at me all the time for forgetting everything. But at least I can not disappoint my clients and not drop the ball with my life and work by creating these structures.

[00:54:12.350] - Nathan Wrigley
This is genuinely a problem that I face. My memory is also atrocious, I mean, prodigiously bad. In fact, I'm going to say, Zach, I'm more or less certain that your memory is superior to mine. Mine is just appalling and for the same reason I've got all these apps everywhere. I honestly don't know what I would do without technology. I would just be going around with like a Bible, thick pad of paper, constantly searching for things that I'd written in town. If it wasn't for apps. So, yeah, I get it.

[00:54:43.320] - Zach Swinehart
Here's the test, Nathan. I often will go to email myself little ideas, like, oh, this is a cool app idea, I should code this up. And then I'll find that I actually already emailed myself that idea, like six months ago.

[00:55:00.910] - Nathan Wrigley
I don't have that problem, no, because I don't fulfil those sorts of tasks. But it's just the mundane stuff like what I'm supposed to be doing tomorrow. And the calendar tells me so there is a bit of me which wonders whether or not I have divested that. And so I've forgotten to care because the calendar takes care of it in the same way. That a slight concern maybe for some people, listening will be, well, if everything's in an app or I've offset everything to an app, maybe there's a bit of me which will give up on making a mental note of it. And I think there's probably a bit of truth in that. If I make more of an effort with the calendar, I would probably have more recollection of what was in it. My wife, as an example, who never writes anything in a calendar, remembers everything. It's absurd. She knows when everybody's birthday is throughout the year. She knows what's coming up in six months time. She knows the date of a concert that we've got to attend months from now and what time it starts and all of that. And I'm like, Hang on, I've got a Search concert in Google Calendar.

[00:56:04.210] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, I think it does make you worse. Literally just now, while you were talking about that, my coping mechanism is I wrote a little note notion, talk about memory making us, like talk about apps making our memory worse. I had to write that down to remember this 30 seconds later. But I think from everything I've heard, it's true. But you have to ask yourself, what is better? What is it better to feel like you quote should be better feel like you should be someone else and try your best to remember everything and inevitably fail because your brain is not just not wired that way? Or accept that we are all cyborgs because it's 2022 and our phones are tethered to us and literally all of us have offloaded some of our processing power and consciousness into these devices. And maybe that's just okay.

[00:56:50.040] - Nathan Wrigley
No, I have a very good anecdote. I used to play in a band with a guy and during the day he worked in It and he was quite senior and he showed up one day with this thing, so this is going to age me. He showed up with a Palm Pilot. Do you remember those? So Palm Pilot was like a really kind of almost like a prehistoric piece of technology, but it could sync to your Windows machine. So he sinked his calendars and he synced his contacts and he whipped it out in this band Practise, and we all just pounced on him, mocked him horribly about this thing, and he said to us all, yeah, but if I lose this, then I'll just get it back tomorrow because it's all on my computer at home. We just mocked him horribly. Anyway, it turned out the next week the drama showed up and said, yeah, I lost my contact book. I've lost them all. He had it written on a little paper book. So I think there is merit. And I am happy to have a calendar as a sort of surrogate memory. That's fine. Yeah.

[00:57:48.090] - Zach Swinehart
And I think that this little combo we're having now kind of ingest, really does speak to the broad thing I want to cover today, which is, like, I struggle with this a lot, personally, emotionally. Like, I feel like I should remember better. I feel like a bad boyfriend, bad son. But the thing that's difficult is, like, if you miss an event, there is something you could have done, you could have written it on a calendar, but with, like, remembering something, you can't remember everything. You can't make a note about everything. Like some stuff slips, and you have to kind of just accept that this is who you are. And instead of trying to shame yourself and force yourself into being somebody else, instead be strategic about what you can put in place to support you. And that's, like, kind of the theme of all this stuff. Today we're about to talk about impulse control. And for me, with ADHD ADHD people just always seek dopamine hits. And so if I sit here and I say, zach, you should floss. You're supposed to floss. The dentist said you should floss. Why can't you just freaking floss?

[00:58:51.590] - Zach Swinehart
That doesn't get me to floss. But if I say, OOH, gold and experience points, that gets me to floss. There's nothing wrong with that.

[00:58:59.930] - Nathan Wrigley
That's great.

[00:59:01.070] - Zach Swinehart
So I think that's the key is just own where you're at. Don't feel shameful about it. Look at it detached emotionally and just say, this is a problem. What's a potential solution I can put into place that doesn't require me to, quote, be better.

[00:59:13.640] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, okay.

[00:59:15.970] - Zach Swinehart
That's probably a good segue. So next category is task management, and then we'll talk about impulse control. So task management is simple. We don't need to dive too deep. But just basically, like, if you've heard of the getting things done framework, I haven't fully educated myself on it, but one thing I do know about it that I like is get things out of your head, have a place to put things and make notes about where you left off last time you worked on something. Those are my two things I know about getting things done.

[00:59:47.130] - Nathan Wrigley
I'm also a bit in there about getting the small things done quickly. Yeah.

[00:59:51.230] - Zach Swinehart
He says if it takes under two minutes to do it, don't make it.

[00:59:55.710] - Nathan Wrigley
The problem with email, I think, is that almost all email can be answered in two minutes. So you end up kind of getting sucked into it. But yeah, get things done quickly. Just before we move on from that one, I know that most people have got an app. My problem here, which is very much a first world problem, and forgive me, but is that I can't settle on an app, or a system, I should say, which is my perfect method. I've got probably at least four ongoing at the minute, so I've got one app for one kind of task, one app for another kind of task, one app for a family. It's just a mess. And that is literally that I haven't found the perfect one. I'm always thinking when I find the perfect one, I'll consolidate it all and it'll all go in there, but I've yet to find it.

[01:00:42.580] - Zach Swinehart
Also, is there some problem with having the four different ones beyond not wanting to pay for four subscriptions?

[01:00:49.310] - Nathan Wrigley
There is that the only problem is remembering which one the thing is in, because there's a slight overlap, and sometimes as I'm transitioning from one to the other, I fail to complete it because kids arrive home or something and I'm halfway through migrating the task from one to the other or something like that. So half of them live over here, half of them live over there, and I never quite complete that job, so I'm always shuffling between two. Yeah, it's a bit ridiculous, actually. You would be fairly shocked if you looked looked at the system on golf.

[01:01:16.730] - Zach Swinehart
Well, maybe I do use multiple things, but I feel like they have discrete boundaries, and I feel mine works. So maybe you'll get some ideas when I talk about mine.

[01:01:26.100] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, okay.

[01:01:27.040] - Zach Swinehart
And I want us to go fast because ultimately we're getting longer this episode anyway, and we're probably going to just talk about tools at this point, so let's still try to get through the system, and I won't go too deep on mine. But for my task management, what I really like is TikTok for small, dumb little random tasks like, oh, remember to buy toilet paper tonight that goes in TikTok. Or remember to respond to my family later that goes in TikTok. And this one is going to come up on the distraction ones. But one of the things I found really valuable for deep work, as I mentioned, I have a terrible memory, and so I have these habits where if I see a notification, I feel compelled to answer it immediately because I know that if I don't, it will never get responded to.

[01:02:08.700] - Nathan Wrigley

[01:02:09.460] - Zach Swinehart
Or if I have an idea, I feel like I have to do something with it because otherwise it'll go away forever. That's where TikTok is so good. Like, if I'm in a deep work block and I accidentally see some notification on my phone that I didn't mean to, I'll swipe it away on my phone so it doesn't distract me anymore and I'll make a TikTok task to go to respond to that person or do that thing. So it's like a control notification or if if I get an idea for a new blog post or some task I need to do for a client, all of that I just immediately put away. Get it out of my mind, put it in Tic tick. Don't have to remember it because I get a lot of anxiety and brain looping if I have to try to remember something, because I just I know I can't. The only strategy I ever actually remember is like I attach something weird to my body so that I look at it, I'm like, why the hell.

[01:02:51.110] - Nathan Wrigley
Why have I tied the knot in?

[01:02:53.590] - Zach Swinehart
So, for task management, tick ticks for all that small stuff, notion is for projects, okay?

[01:02:58.720] - Nathan Wrigley
Because it's more feature rich. It's not just tasks. You can bind all sorts of things into one notion page.

[01:03:04.730] - Zach Swinehart
Exactly. It's hierarchical, that's the thing. So within my Notion, I break it down. Personal projects, my startups and businesses, client projects.

[01:03:13.640] - Nathan Wrigley
It's a nice easy separation.

[01:03:15.610] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, kickass Freelancing is in here. And my startups and projects for this episode, client projects. Like any website I build, personal projects would be like music production, singing journaling, whatever. And then Sunsama is kind of like a high level, focused in daily thing. So when I'm working during my day, I'll look at Sunsama and I might create a Sunsama task for like work on XYZ client. And then I could go into Notion to see exactly where I left off with that client, what the task, or I have to work on that kind of thing. So that's how I break it down. Do you have anything you want to add?

[01:03:48.220] - Nathan Wrigley
No, just to the sort of suites that I use. I've got this active inbox for email, which acts as a sort of to do list in a way. You can assign tasks directly and bind them to email, which is kind of nice, and they pop back up so you can say sleep this email for a week and then pest to me about it in a week, that kind of thing, which is quite nice. I also use Evernote quite a lot, which until recently I was kind of thinking of getting rid of. And they've done quite a lot of dev work and I think basically they've looked at things like Notion and realised they need to have the note. Doesn't need to be a note, the note needs to be sort of a point consolidating more other data types. So they've added in tasks and all these other things inside of notes. And so I'm staying in the course there, seeing if it ends up morphing into something like Notion. And then I also use Todoist as well, nice, which looks a little bit like TikTok. One thing I've noticed immediately about TikTok, which is really nice, is that they got the really nice, affordable annual plan.

[01:04:44.780] - Nathan Wrigley
So if you've listened to Zach and you're enjoying this, it's only $28 for a whole year, which is pretty decent in my book.

[01:04:52.280] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, I used to use both to Doist and Evernote, and I just kind of evernote was too long ago. It didn't really work for me to do it. I definitely ticked. Better.

[01:05:00.160] - Nathan Wrigley

[01:05:00.370] - Zach Swinehart
One note, you seem to think Sunsama is cool. You can actually I don't personally do it, but you can make tasks out of emails. In Sunsama as well. Hooks in with Gmail.

[01:05:08.780] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. You're able to do the same thing with Todoist as well. They had like, that extension which lives in the sidebar of Gmail, but Active Inbox is much more you can do all sorts with Active Inboxes. Much clever. You can sort of tag things and put dates on things. And you can see with clicks of buttons every email that belong to a certain thread. And all of this. It's pretty cool.

[01:05:32.640] - Zach Swinehart

[01:05:33.850] - Nathan Wrigley
Okay, there we go. We've done with that.

[01:05:36.040] - Zach Swinehart
So next up, we've got impulse control, which, as you can guess from what I've said, I'm quite excited about. We talked about a lot of these in the last episode, so we don't need to get too nerdy. But the main goal for the impulse control one is to just try to reduce willpower. So in Nathan's example earlier, he would look to that Gmail tab on the left, and it wasn't there, but imagine if he kept it there. Imagine all the willpower that would be required to not click that tab every day. It would just be unnecessary struggle. And so when you're looking for tools to help with impulsivity, the goal isn't for you to be, quote, better or quote stronger. It's for you to eliminate the things that will require you to have willpower in the first place. So a couple within this, we talked about the last episode, one of them is Freedom. It's an app, and it allows you to block certain websites on schedules.

[01:06:38.570] - Nathan Wrigley

[01:06:39.790] - Zach Swinehart
Inbox and ready is what I use. And Nathan uses something else. What's the one you use, Nathan?

[01:06:45.530] - Nathan Wrigley
Well, I've just got a system whereby I use firefox in order to block things.

[01:06:51.080] - Zach Swinehart
You mean in order to make it so that if you go to Gmail, it hides all your emails.

[01:06:55.530] - Nathan Wrigley
Oh, yeah. So that is also a feature of Active Inbox. It's called focus mode. And you click a little, like, on in the UI and it just gets rid of all of the things.

[01:07:06.710] - Zach Swinehart

[01:07:07.160] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, it's good.

[01:07:08.220] - Zach Swinehart
And something I was looking into the other day, I think the challenge with deep work, if you do reactive work as part of your job, like, let's say your whole job is to fix servers when they go down, you can't not cheque your email. And I get that. I get that not everybody can just zone out of notifications. I think it's about you seeking out the notifications versus letting them seek you out. And so there are other things that you can do that would be helpful here. Like I learned that there's a setting in Gmail that you can toggle to hide message previews. So message previews will hijack your attention, but subject lines alone will just tell you what the email is about. So if you were to disable previews, you go into your inbox, see what all the subjects are, make sure there's nothing that's like a fire that needs to be put out, close your inbox, get back to what you were doing. You could build a cycle where you've, you cheque your inbox for fires that put out every hour and you still do those 50 minutes work cycles. So if you do reactive work, it's not that deep work is not for you.

[01:08:03.800] - Zach Swinehart
You're just going to have to be creative. So that's one tool. And then the last tool within this impulse control is eliminating inputs and distractions. So if you cheque the news first thing, that's the kind of thing that can hijack your tension, mess up your creativity, stuff like that. If you cheque slack, email, phone, Facebook, Instagram, anything where you're exposed to somebody else's opinion or a potential problem is, in my opinion, a risk.

[01:08:36.140] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, like I said in the last episode, and I've said countless times on this podcast, I've taken the hammer to the knot, definitely, and just uninstalled everything. They literally are not on my phone anymore. So they simply can't interact with me, not for everybody. That though.

[01:08:50.910] - Zach Swinehart
And I heard one objection recently to this, which is that a designer said that it's extremely high risk to wake up, not cheque any notifications and to start design, because what if the scope changed overnight? So if you have the kind of work where that would happen, in my opinion, scope changing overnight like that can be sorted out with a better client interview process. But if you literally there's nothing you can do and your scope might change at the last minute, then I would challenge you to still lay out your tasks in advance. And maybe your first deep work, of the deep work block of the day is 30 minutes, 30 minutes notification free. And then you cheque your inbox. And when you do cheque your inbox, you don't read the news, you don't cheque Facebook, you don't do all that stuff. You just cheque your inbox. You just cheque slack. And you try to only look at subject lines. You just kind of have to curate that's the idea here. So we can move on to the next section if you want.

[01:09:45.050] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Okay.

[01:09:47.930] - Zach Swinehart
So next category is connection with the most important work. This kind of ties into the idea of strategic deep work. And within this category it's kind of less probably about tools and more about habits or lifestyle things or whatever. But something I find really useful is doing goal setting yearly, monthly and weekly, as well as daily connections in Sunsama and my daily journal. And the reason why is that a big yearly goal can be reverse engineered in the monthly, weekly and daily goals. And usually when I set my big goals, I try to have them be driven by something I can control, rather than something that's dependent on an end result. So, for example, if I said I want to earn $100,000 this year as a freelancer, that's not necessarily directly in my control, but I could spend 100 hours on outreach to agencies to seek partnerships, that's something that I can definitely control. I can control the time I spend doing that, even if I can't control the results. So having goals like that and engineering them into what has to happen at smaller intervals might find really helpful.

[01:10:56.810] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, yeah, that's really interesting as well. You got so many insights.

[01:11:02.370] - Zach Swinehart
It's quite something that perhaps overwhelming, I fear. But I think my goal here isn't for you to just take on 50 million things. It's just to find one that resonates implement it. If it works or doesn't work, choose another one, implement that, and then before you know it, you've got about a million things that you can't seem to fit into two podcast episodes.

[01:11:24.420] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, but also, I guess some people will have some of this stuff under control and it may be that they don't have other aspects. And totally not everybody's floundering in every sphere. So it's possible that you just need, I don't know, to take control of, like me, the inbox in the morning, but some of the other things take care of themselves.

[01:11:46.050] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, and everyone's got everyone, everyone knows, without having to really think about it. What their low hanging fruit easy win is that gets them a free hour per day. Maybe that's not checking the news first thing. Maybe it's not checking Facebook first thing. There are these sorts of things. We all know if we didn't do this, we have no worse of a life and we just have more time to do things we actually enjoy. And I feel like if you do nothing but that one little thing, all this other stuff doesn't matter. It's just like icing on the cake to get another little bit hot.

[01:12:15.450] - Nathan Wrigley
Tip you don't get an hour extra by going to bed later or getting up earliest. Stick to the eight hour bedtime regime. How are we doing? If we managed to get through all of that? I know there was a lot there.

[01:12:27.010] - Zach Swinehart
But we have a little bit left.

[01:12:29.680] - Nathan Wrigley
Keep going.

[01:12:31.710] - Zach Swinehart
So, on this connection with important work, once you've got your goals, I think it's just a matter of keeping yourself on task with them. And that's where, as I mentioned, I love Sansama. Because before, what would happen is I'd set my weekly goals and then I go out to do my daily task and there'd be no connection between my days of work and my week's goals. Whereasama the week's goals are kind of like always floating in front of me when I plan a day.

[01:12:51.930] - Nathan Wrigley
So that's cool.

[01:12:52.790] - Zach Swinehart
Last category we can end this thing is deep focus encouragement. And this is where, like, brain FM and stuff comes in. So these are tools that will just help you to be focused and stay focused. So one of those is naturally Sunsama. When you're in Sunsama, you can press spacebar when you're on a task and it'll pull it up into focus mode so you can't see any other task for the day. You can't see your week, you can't see anything. It's just sitting in front of you. Hey, Zach, you're supposed to be working on this, so that's really cool. Work cycle sheets are really great for this, too, because you type in advance what you want to work on this session. So if you ever kind of fall off, you just look at that you're referenced. Brain FM is really helpful because they have their magical science wizardry that helps you focus paper notes. Paper is a thing that exists, so if you have something you really want to do today and you want all your work to be in service to this one big ass goal, just write it on a piece of paper.

[01:13:52.590] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I am big on paper for the day ahead.

[01:13:55.500] - Zach Swinehart

[01:13:56.970] - Nathan Wrigley
I can consolidate a lot of the things by just flicking through the disparate. Task managers just write down the most important ones. And funnily enough, as we've been talking throughout this whole episode, I've just been scribbling notes. It's just part of what works for me. I think there's something about the fact that you've engaged muscles in a certain way that seems to commit it more into my head and seems to give it more importance or credence. I don't quite know what I'm saying there, but it definitely has some impact, which is not quantifiable for me.

[01:14:27.770] - Zach Swinehart
And science actually backs it. Apparently, if you write something on a piece of paper with a pencil or a pen or whatever, it engages a different part of your brain than if you were to write the note on a computer keyboard.

[01:14:38.170] - Nathan Wrigley
I found that when I was at university studying, if I read something 15 times, there was a one in five chance that I would remember it. And if I wrote it twice, then there was a 100% chance that it was going to be remembered.

[01:14:50.580] - Zach Swinehart
So it was awesome.

[01:14:51.580] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, it really worked.

[01:14:53.870] - Zach Swinehart
So another one. Deep focus, encouragement. We already covered it is no inputs. Muted notifications. Don't let anyone contact you. You can't edit that out. You have to keep that. I'll let you go. Turn it.

[01:15:12.790] - Nathan Wrigley
No, I'm going to keep that in and let it just ring off. That's just brilliant. Could not imagine that being better timed. It'll be just some robo call. It always is. Please carry on. I think that's brilliant. Serendipity.

[01:15:27.910] - Zach Swinehart
Another one is strategic breaks as covered. So cue your brakes with pomodoro timers breaks in focus, mate, multi timer, or even just like a stopwatch on your phone, something to remind you just stop working, take a couple of minutes, look at something far away, maybe do some exercise, take a walk, whatever. That getting things done. Technique of marking where you're leaving off so that when you come to pick it back up, you have a note for yourself of what you were trying to do. That has been huge for me. Often when I'm working on a big software product or something, I will be like, what the hell was I even doing? And then I have to comb through all this old code. Whereas if you just make notes much easier. Another one, which Nathan has a good story on, that he might skip for time, is physically creating some sort of visual distinction, especially if you live with roommates, significant others or children to help them know that you're in work mode. So this might be physically closing your office door. Or if you don't have an office, my girlfriend once made a little curtain that she would slide closed.

[01:16:26.930] - Zach Swinehart
My mom has an open for business sign like that you'd see on a coffee shop, just on her office door that she'll flip. Nathan, do you want to share your story?

[01:16:36.190] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah. Mine is interesting because it's a personal one and when I was growing up, my father used to work at home. I had an office at home long before lockdowns and all of that. And he would typically get dressed into his suit, so the suit was largely the thing. But quite a lot of times he wouldn't because he knew he wasn't going to be seeing clients face to face. But the indicator to us, which was, please leave me alone, was a pair of shoes. He had a particular pair of shoes, and when those shoes were on his feet, we knew that don't trouble father because he's in work mode. And then he would flip him off and he would be back into sort of father mode. And he was engaged and engaging. He could chat with us. So that was a really good one and it worked because we all knew the rules. Yeah.

[01:17:23.630] - Zach Swinehart
And, you know, an idea that that gave me that I think is maybe on the ridiculous side. If I want to do that, I would get like a custom shirt made that literally says, I am in work mode. Do not talk to me.

[01:17:34.230] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I think you should get that made on a cape.

[01:17:38.370] - Zach Swinehart
Like a phone tells me my cape.

[01:17:39.900] - Nathan Wrigley
Might not mess with me. I'm working cape.

[01:17:46.310] - Zach Swinehart
So the last one in this category is batching your calls. Yeah, go ahead.

[01:17:53.960] - Nathan Wrigley
No, I'm just in complete agreement. I love this one.

[01:17:57.750] - Zach Swinehart
For me, if I take a client call or sales call or. Anything in the middle of the day. It just kind of screws up the whole day. It screws up the stuff before it, screws up the stuff after it. And so what I've found is really good is shoving them towards the end of the day for me personally may be different for you and Batching. Them having the hard start and end time will be helpful for everybody. And you can kind of condense your whole thing. If you use a tool like calendarly, you can tweak your availability so that it doesn't even show up as available in calendar until like 04:00 p.m.. Whatever.

[01:18:28.870] - Nathan Wrigley
That's exactly what I did. We need a call kind of calendar. It wasn't calendar, it was another one, but the principal was the same and I would just allocate a period of time and the slots would be ten minutes and there'd be like three at the end of the day. And yeah, it was good. It worked really effectively, actually. Strangely, just the impediment of and I never really intended it this way, but I have a feeling that that hoop to jump through sometimes made people second guess whether the phone call was even necessary because they obviously had to go through a web page to book something and consider the time implications for them. And very often they would phone up and I say, go onto the calendar and book it in and we'll have a proper chat and then it would never materialise. So obviously something wasn't quite as necessary as it purported to be.

[01:19:14.550] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, I feel like most calls end up actually not being necessary a lot of the time.

[01:19:18.100] - Nathan Wrigley

[01:19:19.410] - Zach Swinehart
One note on this that my girlfriend has found really helpful and freed up a bunch of free time in her work schedule is she themes her days. So she'll have one day. She's a copywriter. She'll have one day that's like her strategy and drafting day. She does that all day, another day that's like a meeting day, another day that's for blah blah, blah blah. So for me, I'm not quite so keen, but I might play with it a little bit more. But themed days might be something that works for you as a listener.

[01:19:44.330] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, I can totally subscribe to that. I do do that. I mean, the constraints on my theming is very they're not massively dissimilar, they're broadly the same, but I do do things like that. I have a day of a thing and another day of a thing and it keeps the interest going for me.

[01:19:59.980] - Zach Swinehart
Nice. So I reckon we could sure go for another 4 hours on this, but it seems like a pretty good place.

[01:20:07.400] - Nathan Wrigley
To I think we've done pretty well, I'd just like to say, first of all, thank you for Zach. Zach's been incredibly generous with his time, but also the the amount of preparation that Zach's put into it. You probably won't ever get to see it, but there is quite a lot of thought that Zachs put into this and like you said, we probably could have spun it out into a course or something, which probably segues into something that you may want to mention from my point of view. Thank you for the amount of time that you've put into it. It's a large subject and you've obviously given it a lot of thought over the time.

[01:20:39.290] - Zach Swinehart
It's been so fun to chat with. You laughed more on these cars than like in the past few days.

[01:20:43.840] - Nathan Wrigley
Yeah, well, I'm really pleased about that. So if people want to contact you, a little spark has been kindling a fire and you want to reach out to Zach and get more information and plunder his thoughts and probably fill out his calendar form, where would we go, Zach? And also feel free to mention any products, services or anything that you are promoting at the moment.

[01:21:06.310] - Zach Swinehart
Well, so I actually made a free course for all this. So obviously today I shared a bunch of information and if I were listening, I think I would be a little bit overwhelmed because it's just too much and there's not really a framework. We didn't even go through this kind of truncated framework. So if you've listened to this and you think it would be cool to implement strategic deep work into your business, if you feel like that's something you'd benefit from, you'll dig this free course that I made, which you can sign up for at kickassfreelancing. Comdeepwork. Just one word, kickassfreelancing comdeepwork. And basically it's going to walk you through all the stuff I shared today and on the last episode and a bit more that I had to cut even beyond this in a linear start to finish way. So I'll kind of help you get some easy wins early on, quick wins, and then I'll help you refine and get better and stuff like that and hopefully help you build a protocol that works really well for you. That's my goal. So if you wanted to join that, it's free and I think you'd dig it.

[01:22:04.710] - Nathan Wrigley
Do you want to share us? Do you do social? I know that it's probably the antithesis of what we've been saying, but if you get a social handle or anything sure.

[01:22:12.490] - Zach Swinehart
My Twitter, I'll have to remember here we go. My Twitter is Zach makes things and that's Zac H makes plural things. Plural. I try to make it to be podcast friendly, but as I read it.

[01:22:26.540] - Nathan Wrigley
It doesn't actually say that the things can easily get lost. The pluralization. That's fine. Well, honestly Zach, I really appreciate it. It's been great fun having a chat with you over the last couple of days. Really interesting, informative. It's been a nice to and fro me sharing what I think and you sharing what you think. It's been lovely. So thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

[01:22:46.260] - Zach Swinehart
Yeah, thank you once again.

[01:22:48.310] - Nathan Wrigley
Well, I hope that you enjoyed that lovely to have Zach on the show. Really interesting to talk to somebody about something. Well, not particularly in the WordPress space, but if you are sitting down at a computer and you're finding yourself distracted, I'm sure that the last two episodes will have been very useful to you. Obviously, Zach mentioned in the podcast the course that he's offering. Go to the Wpbuilds.com website, search for episode number 312 and you can find the links there to his kickass Freelancing.com deep work course. It's a step by step implementation of all of the bits and pieces that he's been talking about. Go and cheque that out. And also, if you feel like leaving us a comment, please do search for episode number 312 and leave us a comment there.

[01:23:31.810] - Nathan Wrigley
The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL and 24/7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me/wpbuilds.And once again, I'd like to extend my thanks to GoDaddy Pro for their ongoing support of the WP Builds Podcast.

[01:24:06.990] - Nathan Wrigley
We will be back on Monday for this week in WordPress Show. Please feel free to join us. I know it's very early for people in the US. It's 02:00 p.m. UK time, which is often, in many cases, very, very early in the morning. Perhaps too early for the US audience, but we're there live and we enjoy all the comments that come our way. You can collect what we produce as an audio episode the following morning if you go to wpbuilds.com. Subscribe and subscribe over there, or of course, do that on your favourite podcast player and consume the audio each time we produce an episode. One last quick mention, Wpbuilds.com sponsors, if you're into sponsoring the Page Builder Summit, we'd love to have you on board. But that's it. That's all I've got to say this week. I hope that you enjoyed it. Stay safe. Some cheesy music fading in bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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