Nowadays, most of our schedules are overloaded with tons of tasks, meetings, and other things we have to do daily. It’s tough for us to create boundaries around our time to accomplish what we truly want.
There are many things that we all have to do, even though they don’t bring too much joy to our lives. But when we tend to prioritize these things and have no time left for those that really make us feel alive, we are certainly not in a good place.
For most people, being a high performer equals having an overloaded calendar. We think that a busy schedule means productivity.
As weird as it might sound, it’s actually about under-booking our calendars.
Are you wondering what that means? Tune in for this Legendary Life podcast episode, and you will find out the answer to this question and much more from our special guest, productivity coach and author, Jeff Sanders.
Jeff will talk about how to create more free time for the things that matter, why being a “control freak” can lead to less productivity, and much more.
He will also reveal the secret to setting your priorities effectively and how to use your free time when you’re feeling unmotivated.
So, if you are a high performer feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with work, this is the right episode for you. Listen now!
Jeff Sanders is a keynote speaker, productivity coach, author of The 5 AM Miracle and The Free-Time Formula, and founder of The Rockin’ Productivity Academy.
Jeff is also the host of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast, which has been called one of the hottest productivity podcasts by Inc. Magazine, ranked #1 in Apple Podcasts in the Self-Improvement and Business categories, been nominated for 6 Podcast Awards, and exceeded 8 million downloads.
- Why Jeff ended up in the emergency room after taking on too many projects
- How to create more free time for the things that matter
- Why learning to say “no” can lead to better productivity
- Why being a “control freak” can lead to less productivity and time for the things that matter
- Why underbooking your calendar is a must to get more things done
- How to set your priorities effectively (so you know what to say yes to and what to say no to)
- When exercise isn’t stress relief
- Does making time to exercise get in the way of your career success?
- The #1 addiction of 90% of Americans (and how to break it)
- The best use of your free time when you’re feeling unmotivated
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: How to Find Happiness, Focus and Productivity No Matter How Busy You Are With Jeff Sanders
Ted Ryce: And I've got an amazing interview for you today. It's about something that causes us stress if we don't have it handled and it causes us to be less stressed and more productive when we do have it handled and it has to do with managing our time and who better than to have talk about this subject of productivity and how to manage our time better than my friend, Jeff Sanders, who is also the host of the 5 AM Miracle.
In fact, you may have heard about me through Jeff's podcast and you may have heard about Jeff through my podcast, and he's such an amazing guy.
So I've got Jeff Sanders back on this show. And again, he is the host of the 5 AM Miracle. You can find that out at www.jeffsanders.com. He's also the author of the 5 AM Miracle: Dominate your day before breakfast and both Gisele and I are big fans of Jeff and his book.
He's back today to share a personal story. If you've been listening to this show for a while, you know that I ended up in the ER at the beginning of 2017, in fact 2017 was a Rocky year for me. Well, it turns out Jeff was in the ER too. And he learned a lot from his experience.
He talks about the dark side of being someone who's obsessed with productivity. And he really is like the productivity guru. If you haven't heard him before, you're in for a real treat and again, he's going to be sharing this personal story of what happened to him and how his productivity, how his obsession with productivity kind of led to that.
He's also going to be talking about how ambition can backfire, although it's coming, you regarded as such a positive thing in our society. Oh, you're so ambitious. It can lead to burnout, to frustration, to depression and more.
He's also going to talk about the role of health and fitness and productivity. And he is going to talk about the number one addiction of 90% of Americans and how to break it. He is also going to share with you his new book, which is called The Free-Time Formula, which looks amazing. I've already pre-ordered it. I can't wait to read it.
And something I got to tell you, and this is kind of a personal message for me to you. And that is that the number one complaint about why people don't exercise and take care of their health in general is they don't have the time. And if that's you, then this episode is for you.
In fact, I highly recommend that you pay attention to Jeff's work for a little while or get his book and read it because you need more free time in your life so that you can prioritize those things, that are so important to you, but you haven't been able to fit them into your schedule.
Will Jeff is here to help you solve that. So let's step into this interview with productivity guru, Jeff Sanders. What's up Jeff Sanders?
Jeff Sanders: How is it going, Ted Ryce?
Ted Ryce: Good to have you on again, it's been over a year and a half, I believe since we've talked. And I'm really looking forward to catching up with you and hearing about your new book, The Free-Time Formula.
Jeff Sanders: Yeah, I'm excited to talk to you as well. It should be a great chat. I know that a lot as happened in the last year and a half or so with both of us, so yeah. Good to see you again.
Ted Ryce: Absolutely. And I heard something that, because I talked about when I was in the ER earlier this year, I know that you have a story too. And I'm just curious, before we dive in, does The Free-Time... what did that event have to do, what did you ending up in the ER have to do with The Free-Time Formula? Is this like a new epiphany that you had and you wrote a book about it?
Jeff Sanders: The answer is yes. I tell the story in the book in the introduction right away, because it was kind of a weird coincidence where about a year ago, last kind of… new year, into the spring I was working on a ton of new projects. I had said yes to a bunch of cool new things.
And so I was really excited, but of course the more ambitious I got the busier my calendar got, so I found myself super stressed out and like, there's just so much going on.
And then all of a sudden I got a book offer, like my publisher, you know, said, “Hey, let's do a book together!” And I was like, okay, let's just do a book together. That sounds awesome. All it did initially was add stress to my life. Cause I was like, oh my gosh. Now I have a book contract to negotiate and I have to write a book.
And so I was just like, my stress was mounting like crazy. And then I was in the middle of a product launch and I got food stuck in my esophagus. I was eating a big salad and I didn't chew it well enough. I wasn't choking on it. I could breathe, but it was stuck right in my esophagus.
And so it felt like a heart attack, like I was literally, like shortness of breath, chest tightness. I had gone to the gym that day so my muscles were already a little bit sore.
So I just had this real sense of like complete panic. I freaked out and I went to my wife in the kitchen and she was like, “Oh my gosh, are you dying?” Like I looked horrible.
So she called 911. I had paramedics in my house and then 30 minutes later I'm in the ER, have doctors poking me and take X-rays.
And the whole thing turned out to be an esophageal spasm, which is basically where your esophagus kind of closes in on itself. And like, if you have food in there at the time it gets lodged and then it feels like a heart attack.
But the doctor was talking, he was like, “Well, you have no signs of someone who has poor health, like you seem totally healthy. You're young. This makes no sense unless it's esophageal spasm thing. “
And so this happened literally three weeks after I'd signed the book deal. And so I had this, we were already in discussions about what's the new book gonna be about.
And I was like, “well, I've got a great idea. Let's talk about stress and being overwhelmed and killing yourself on accident because that's exactly what's happening to me. “
So I had to then create a book based upon my entire life switch that was happening. I had to go from this guy who was over-programmed and highly productive to someone who was going to find the balance that was going to make more sense for being sustainable long term.
And that smack in the face that I got was what I needed in life. And for this book and the whole thing just kind of fell together at the exact same time.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, man. And I'm so glad we're going to start off talking about this before we dive into what you go into in your book. Because one of the things, I have a health and fitness show.
One of the biggest complaints about not being able to get in shape is I don't have enough time. And when that happens, Jeff, I'm like, well, you need to go check out Jeff Sanders show.
You need to go listen to him. You need to follow. You need to figure out how to organize your life better because it isn't that you don't have enough time. You're not prioritizing things properly.
And you're spending too much time doing things that are probably not as important to your life. Can you just talk about that as something that keeps coming up?
Jeff Sanders: That is the number one thing I discussed with my clients, with the people listening to my podcast is that they want to do so many things and they feel like there's just no time for it. And the simple answer is, of course there's not enough time for all of that.
You can't do everything. So we have to make cuts. We have to make choices and so if you, for example said that health and fitness matters to me. I don't want to die. I want to feel great.
Well then that has to be a priority on your calendar. And not only just like in theory, like I scheduled time for it, but then to actually follow through the day and go do it, which is another side of the coin, because it's not just, you know, I'd love to work out every single day.
You have to actually stop doing what you're doing now and go choose to do the thing that matters most. And I feel like that transition is so complicated and difficult because there's a lot of moving parts. Life is a messy puzzle.
My calendar is constantly shifting around. Life is challenging in that sense. So you have to have clear priorities upfront that says, “now I'm going to do two things today. And those two things are going to get done before anything else happens. And when they get done, then I could be a little more flexible.” But like, you have to really say like, I am choosing upfront the kind of life I want to live. And then everything else gets shaped around that vision.
For most people though, that vision's not shaped upfront. It's just kind of this back of your mind fantasy. I'd love to do X, Y, and Z, but I don't have time because of all this other stuff. And it's this constant like game you're playing and you're losing all the time because there's too much happening.
And the only solution is you have got to back the whole train up and say, I'm only going to do a couple of things. And that's all you're going to have time for, because life is finite.
There's 24 hours in a day, like you're not going to get more than that. And so when you're making those choices, it has to say like I'm going to do the workout. I'm going to do my most important family goal, most important work goal, like it's as simple as that.
And when those things are clear and you have planned for them and prioritize them and schedule them, they actually get done. And I love those days when I have that moment where I've said, this is what matters to me and that it happens because the light bulb goes off. You're like, man, why did I not do this before?
Why was I saying yes to so many stupid things? Why was I constantly agreeing to things that just fill up my time as opposed to being more intentional about it, which is a big switch that has to happen? Once it does that. It's like magic on your calendar and you get those results and it feels fantastic.
Ted Ryce: I was thinking, could you tell a story about someone who was struggling with this and how you coach them through it? Because I know I, I'm just listening to what you just said. And I'm like, man, that makes so much sense.
And I feel like I have a good, I feel like I'm kind of doing that. Of course I could be way more productive and sure I could learn a lot from your Free-Time Formula book, but for someone who resembles that picture that you just painted for us where it's like, yeah, I have 8,000 things to do on my list. And like, probably not even one of them gets done because they're so flustered and overwhelmed.
Can you talk about someone you worked with who was like that and the steps that you took them through to get them to where they could start taking more action and getting to the point where they can fit in more things and be more productive?
Jeff Sanders: There's one client I was thinking of off the top of my head that I was working with a couple of years ago, who, as the CEO of a small company, he had basically everything on his plate.
He was one of those entrepreneurs kind of like I and probably kind of like you are too, where we have said yes to everything, because we feel like we're the only person that can do the job. And so because of that, you wear every hat.
You're your company's lawyer, you're your company CPA, like you're going to take on all the rules and do everything. And the very first thing that I did with this client, let's say like, you cannot be everything to your business, like it is never going to work.
And he had this vision of running a triathlon. I'm like a triathlon by itself is going to take up an enormous amount of time. It's very physically challenging, it's an amazing goal, and I'm in full support of it, but it's not going to happen with your current workload.
And so the only solution is delegation and cutting as much as possible and getting these things off your plate that you're not suited for, which really speaks to this idea that we are designed to do a few number of things well in life.
We have this skill set where like we can execute on certain things really well and everything else somebody else can do really well. And somebody else should be doing those other things for you. If possible. Now not everybody is a CEO of a company can delegate to other employees, but we all have things on our plate that somebody else should be handling that we can offload.
And then with this client, I kind of walked him through the process of figuring out where's your time being spent? How many of these tasks you've said yes to could go to somebody else or could be not done ever and you'd be fine?
And after that process, we freed up enough time in his calendar for daily exercise, fitness, triathlon training. And then a few months later, he actually ran the race and finished it and was just like blown away that he could do that.
And his business did just as well as before. He didn't lose progress in his business, he didn't lose money. He actually just gained more time to take care of himself. But it's a process, it's kinda messy because you have to go through your life piece by piece to get there.
But every little win feels fantastic as he's like, oh, here's this thing I've been doing myself, that this guy could do, or here's this task I could just stop doing. And all of a sudden the wheels start turning like, oh my gosh, there's time on my calendar. I can physically see freeing up.
And then you get excited because then you're like, now I can fill that time with something that's more valuable to me and then the results can come from there. And it's really cool to see that.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. I love that you brought up that story and that particular piece of advice that you gave him to delegate because Jeff I love that idea. I think I'm one of those people who naturally gravitates towards, “Hey, I just want to do my thing. I don't even want to know about your thing”.
And one of the reasons why I want to, you know, make more money is to outsource the things that I'm not good at so that I can focus on the things that I am good at talking with people like you, doing research on nutrition and physical health and training.
But a lot of people are the other way. They will make 150,000 a year. And if you bring up, Hey, maybe you should hire someone to clean your house or get someone to come to your house, to clean your car instead of you doing it. They're like they scoff at you, like, what is this elitism you're talking about?
And it's like, listen, if you don't have any money, I get it but you're complaining about time and you have this, but you're spending so much time doing these things. What's behind that? Jeff is that just control, freak?
You've dealt with this so much I would believe in your business, helping people become more productive. What's behind that? What's the mindset behind that? And how can people change?
Jeff Sanders: Or you're talking to that guy, like I am that guy who holds on to things. I am a control freak. That is me. I'm the guy, I mow my own lawn. I do my own laundry, like I pay my own bills. I do all of that stuff myself. And it is 100% a control freak issue.
And I'm saying that as the guy that does this. The issue is like, you have to get to a point where you're saying, like, not only is it a bad use of my time to do these activities that somebody else could do better, but it's affordable for you, like your time is worth more to you than your money in a lot of cases.
If you could pay somebody 30 bucks to mow your lawn and you spend that same hour making $200, you have just made a lot more money and it's a better use of your time. It's like, it's a math calculation of what's your hourly rate, what are you worth per hour and then align that to how much you could pay somebody else to do these things on your behalf.
And it doesn't make any sense to not hire someone. It only is just you latching on to things emotionally, as opposed to using the math and the numbers and the finances to prove to yourself that it's actually better for you long-term to let this stuff go, to offload somebody else.
So you can do those few things that matter, that bring in the most money that bring in the best results. Well now you're in the business sense, just like a life sense. Do you want to spend your time doing your own laundry, mowing your grass?
Ted Ryce: I'm terrible at the laundry.
Jeff Sanders: The question is like, what kind of a life do you want to live? Are those the things you want to spend your time on? If the answer is no, then find someone else to do it or stop doing it altogether or just deal with that.
It sounds simple to say that, natural practicality can be a little bit, you know, difficult to work with the numbers to figure it out, but it's worth the effort of doing that because then let's fast forward six months from now, all of a sudden, you're not doing those things anymore.
You're spending more time on what matters to you and you're getting the results from that. And like, that's the transformation that can take place if you're willing to let go emotionally of the stuff that you've held onto for such a long time.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, that's a perfect answer. And I start to get it when you talked about it like that, and I love how you brought up data because people are like, you just said, you're emotionally attached to controlling everything because you trust yourself so much.
You're like, I know I can get this done. I'm not sure if that other person can. But you've got to trust in the data and just using the data and showing yourself, okay, well now I'm able to do this and make more money. I love that.
I love that you brought that up. And I hope everybody listening puts that into their life and starts thinking about Hey, is the 30 bucks that I pay really that big of a deal compared to not even making money? But even that downtime that so many people need that's such a great example.
Jeff, I want to ask about something that I'm sure you and I both share while I may not try to control everything. I definitely say yes to too much. And I know in your new book, you talk about the necessity of under booking your calendar. Can you explain why that's so important and what exactly that means? How our calendars should look?
Jeff Sanders: Well, it's a great topic because I was at a party recently, like a holiday party. And I was talking about my book with this guy who was just like, you're really poking my brain on those thing.
And I said, the word, you know, under booking your calendar, I use that phrase and he stopped me. He's like “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Say that again!” because he was just like, “That's not how I live my life. I've never seen my calendar underbooked. What does that it even mean? It's like a foreign concept.“
And what it really is the exact opposite of overbooking. If you're overbooked, you have no time. You said yes to too many things, which is a very common scenario.
Most of our calendars, if they don't look overbooked now as the day progresses; it will become overbooked as the day just continues. That's the way that things go.
And so knowing that things are going to show up, that you don't see coming yet, good things, bad things, all things are going to show up and you don't, you can't predict. There has to be margin built into your life to account for that stuff.
And so to intentionally underbook your calendar says I'm going to only plan, let's say 50% of my day and leave the other half totally wide open knowing full well that I'll have to address emails that come in, phone calls, you know, a new meeting I need to take today cause it's really important.
Like those kinds of things show up and if you don't have that margin built in, then those opportunities disappear completely or you're scrambling to squeeze it all in. And that's where the stress shows up. That's where you're overwhelmed. That's where you feel like you've lost control of your life because you set it up in a way that was going to fail.
And so the best solution is you have to walk into your schedule saying, how can I make sure that I have the fewest number of things booked that matter and intentionally leave large blocks of time every day for those things that show up.
And that takes some time to get to there. It takes some finagling to be able to slowly but surely, you know, say no to things and walk away from stuff. But as you do that, you can look ahead of your calendar a month from now.
Like I can do right now with my calendar and be like, okay, two months from now, it looks really open and free and I want to keep it that way. I don't want to see myself when that time actually shows up scrambling and feeling stressed out.
And to guarantee that I got the book blocks of time to say like this Wednesday afternoon is going to be left open for phone calls, for meetings, for whatever I know is going to show up so that when it does, I just walked into it. I take care of it. The day is over and I feel good about it.
But it takes that proactive nature of scheduling your life, knowing full well that more is going to happen. Then you can visualize and predict today, which takes a bit of forecasting in your brain, but we know this is happening. We see it every day. We live that way. So just be intentional about it and make sure you have time guaranteed for it.
Ted Ryce: So important. In fact, I'm suffering from that this week, I had to rebook an interview that I had today Wednesday that we're recording this. On Friday, I'm like, I've got way too much to do. Why did I even say yes to that?
Because I wanted to do it. I love doing interviews. One of my favorite things to do, but sometimes I gotta put down the fun stuff to go do the work for launch and everything. So I'm so glad you brought that up and I've never heard of under booking before either. I tend to like, yes, yes I can do that. Let's try to do, let's just try to do it all, you know?
And it's so good to hear that because it's a lesson I need to hear. And I know everyone listening to this, they're all achievers. They're all high achievers, are striving to achieve more.
And they probably say yes to too much because that's kind of what you feel like you got to do. I got to say yes to opportunities in my life. When should we be saying no? Do you help people with their priorities and how to really weigh the opportunity cost of their time decisions?
Jeff Sanders: Yeah, the thing that I discussed in the book. I have this whole breakdown of 13 different filters you can use to actually figure out what to say yes to, what to say no to, but the simplistic way to view this is that your default answer is no to everything, whatever it is.
Ted Ryce: That's so hard to do.
Jeff Sanders: Which is so insanely difficult. So if someone emails you, Jeff, can you do, no, I don't care what it is. The answer is no. And by default, if that's what you're going to say in your head to yourself at first, then when you view it through that lens, what you're doing is you're saying yes once again to the few things that matter most, and you have to then weigh, is this new thing that just showed up even close to as important as the few things that I've said yes to.
And the answer is no, then to continue to move things in that direction. I have on my vision board in my home office, I have this little posted note that says, is it a 9 or a 10, if not walk away.
And so I'm asking myself like, is this new thing that showed up like a 9 or a 10 on my scale? Is it an amazing opportunity? And if it's not life-changing, I just want to say no to it.
And what happens over time is then your calendar could just be a few key, amazing things. And wouldn't that be a great calendar, if all you're going to do is like one thing a day, that's super amazing. Like that's what I'm going for as opposed to 85 things to do today, most of which are probably not important at all. And a few of which might be, we're not really sure yet.
I don't want to live in that constant busy-ness that happens for having said yes so many times. And so by default, the answer is no. And then I weigh the opportunity against what I'm currently saying yes to, and the vast majority of the time no is the final answer. And it's hard to do.
I hate saying no, like I'm really bad about doing it. So I created like email templates for myself. It just pop in and it's just like, this is the answer because I can't, like, it's hard to say no to something.
Ted Ryce: So hard.
Jeff Sanders: It's so difficult. Especially if you care about the person, you know them personally, like it gets even more complicated there. But what I have found over time is that I've told some people no, that it hurt me to say it, but then they thanked me afterwards for doing it.
They literally said, like, I can tell you have priorities. I can tell that you've set some boundaries and people respect you for that, that you're going to stick to your guns and do the thing that matters most to you.
But you have to know that upfront so that when you're saying, no, you're doing so confidently, because you've already said yes to those things that truly are what you value. If you don't have those things and you're not confident yet, then your nose are gonna feel weak and they're not gonna feel appropriate.
So the first thing before you can say no to everything, is to choose those few things. And when you have those priorities and they're crystal clear, then you know how to filter your life intuitively, you know how to make sure your calendar stays true to your values because they are already solidified for you. But that's really kind of the big first up there.
Ted Ryce: I always love talking to you Jeff, it's been, like I said, over a year since we've spoken and I can just tell how you've leveled up your game, how you were already doing well with your previous book.
But now you're like, okay, you've just dialed it in even more. And talking about these things that so many people need myself included. And I tell people, when they start, you know, this is mostly a health and fitness show.
I have a lot of health and fitness guys on here and supplements and all types of different areas of health, but one area of health that is underrepresented and underappreciated is no matter how much you know about nutrition or working out or what supplement to take, you will never reduce your stress. You'll never be able to sleep at night as soundly as you could, unless you get this, your life handled like you're talking about right now. And that's why I love having you on to help us with this and to kind of segue into our next topic.
I want to rewind a little bit to that stressful period where you found yourself with that esophageal spasm that you had to go to the ER for. What did that experience tell you about stress management and what about the role of health and fitness in productivity in general?
Jeff Sanders: It's a great question because the irony for me at the time was I had amped up my game to go work out more. And so I was hitting the gym six days a week during that time period.
And so what I had, I turned to exercise as my stress relieving activity, so a stress inducing activity. It literally just became another thing on my list that I had to do. And I would leave the gym feeling more stressed out than I came in with.
And because of that, like I was just filling my schedule with nonsense, that's how it all felt, even though these individually were all important things. I just felt like a bunch of noise as I was trying to figure out, how do I make that balance fit? And so once I went through my calendar and cleared a lot of the clutter, I then began work on doing the activities that gave me the most value. If I were to go to, like, let's say I go to the trail and go for a run today.
And I schedule that in my calendar, knowing full well that a few hours after that, I'm going to have more energy feel better. I can take that energy into my work, be more productive and more positive with it. And then see that balance, say here's a day where I prioritized a workout. I had a schedule that was well-balanced. I got the work done. The work was high quality. This is a good day.
This is an ideal scenario. How can that be repeated every day? How can I make my whole calendar look like that? So that the few things that are scheduled are things I'm looking forward to, and that add value to my life.
And that's, you know, it was a bit complicated at first, but I worked through the mess in my calendar, figure that out. And now I'm able to actually say like, I'm not going to the gym out of stress or obligation I'm going because I'm looking forward to today's workout. I'm looking forward to feeling healthier.
I'm looking forward to the balance I'm achieving here. It's tough to pull that off, but that's where I've been headed for the last few months, especially.
Ted Ryce: So you were working out six days a week and I know you pinched a nerve in your low back. Is that when that happened, when you're having that high frequency.
Jeff Sanders: Yeah, that happened a few months after the ER trip. I pinched my sciatic nerve. This is the second time in life that's happened to me. Basically, I wasn't stretching enough. I didn't have the right balance of my workouts.
I was putting on too much weight. I was a little, I mean, I'm overly ambitious, I'm overly aggressive when I do things like, I don't tend to have a no button at the gym. I just say like, bigger way, let's go for it, which is not healthy. It's not smart.
That's just kind of, that's why I end up in the ER in the first place, because my natural tendency is to say yes, more, bring it on. Let's do this, like, that's how I approach everything, which backfires in a big way. And so I've seen that firsthand. And so I have to set my own very restrictive boundaries to make sure that I hold myself back so I don't get injured again. So I don't get too stressed out again.
And so if you're a type A person like me who probably drinks way too much caffeine, who probably pushes themselves too hard. There has to be controls in your life, built in to guarantee that yes, you can still be productive. Yes, you're still ambitious, but you're doing it in a way that's sustainable long-term, that's going to allow you to keep being like this years from now in a healthy way, without the injuries, without the ER trips, without the burnout, but that takes some intentionality and some planning to guarantee that possible.
And if you don't take the time to plan out being sustainable, then you'll have the results that I got and those suck.
And so you're really striving to not just avoid the negative, but get the positive of what comes with that, which is a life that's, well-balanced, that's productive, that gives you the achievement that you want and the health you're going for, but that takes being proactive, intentional, upfront.
Ted Ryce: Yeah. And it's interesting that you mentioned that. I injured myself too at the beginning of the year, as I talked about on your podcast. And it helped me apply productivity and risk assessment to what I was doing.
So I was just like piling on more. I need to lose fat. Don't really feel like dieting because I like to eat and I'm stressed out. So I'm stress eating. So I had to restructure everything that I did and a lot of good things came out of it, but I don't think it had to be so painful.
I could have learned that a different way, but you know, it's so funny how like it's those moments of pain and setback that really drive us forward sometimes, but they really seem unnecessary.
Jeff did you get back to where you were working out six days a week with that schedule restructure? How many days are you dedicating to the gym? What does your health and fitness routine look like now?
Jeff Sanders: It's similar, but it's changed in the sense of what I'm doing now when I work out. So I really think that the large cause of my sciatic nerve pinch, which is a lack of balance of what I was doing.
So I was pushing hard the gym, but I wasn't really running. Wasn't really stretching. I didn't really have the flexibility built in. So what I'm doing now is more along the lines of four to five days a week of exercise. And that includes a few days at the gym, a few days running on the trails.
Every single day, spending time with a lot of yoga, a lot of stretching, a lot of like taking care of myself. It's more of a, like a self-care approach than it is a trying to run the next marathon approach.
Which is, I feel like an old man saying that because it's like, I don't want to be just kind of like the old guy in rehab my whole life, but at the same time, it's like, but that's, what's going to allow me to be healthy in 20 or 30 years is saying that I'm taking care of myself, knowing that I want to still be active decades from now.
And so the approach I'm taking is much more holistic and well balanced in terms of my whole body. So I'm not trying to just like, just get big biceps or just run a fast marathon.
It's like, I want to take out the trash today with a lot of extra gusto. I want to do, like live my life feeling good. And so I know that when I work out, I feel good. I know that when I'm well balanced with the workouts, I don't get injured.
So I'm striving forward that sense of, yes I have time for the exercise. Yes. It provides me value. No, it's not too intense. No, I don't feel burned out because of it. And I can balance that with a workload, with sleeping eight hours a night and having those things work well together.
So that's what I'm striving for, I always hit that perfectly every week now, but I am much better now at the balance of the whole picture, as opposed to just kind of the short-term mindset of how can I go hit it hard today?
It's like, that's the old mindset of me, that's not where I am today. Yes. I'm still hitting it hard, but I'm doing so in a way that was pre-thought out ahead of time, to be more effective long-term.
Ted Ryce: I'm glad you bring that up. So many people, one of the things that I've dealt with a lot in my career is, especially with guys, is they're like, Hey, my shoulder really hurts. So what's an exercise that I can do to help with my hurt shoulder?
I'm like exercise you can do, no. You need to look at what you're doing. You're doing overhead presses where you don't have the proper mobility. You keep on adding weight. You max out on the bench press on every Monday.
It's not about adding. It's about really restructuring things in a way to work with your body. And that's exactly what you did. You were like, Hey I hurt myself doing it this way. It's obviously no matter what book you read or what guru says that routine is the ideal one. You tried it out, it didn't work for you.
And you had to restructure it to something that would allow you to be in shape 10, 20, 30 years from now. And I'm glad you brought that up, man.
What would you say to someone who feels like they need to be focused on all their goals and they don't have time to work out because they really need to be productive. And they think that exercise is taking away from their productive.
Jeff Sanders: Great question, because that's the most common question I get from high achievers and people are overly ambitious, is that they just feel like exercise gets in the way.
I have the same mindset a lot too. I sometimes I feel like, oh, the workout is just delaying my progress on the work I need to get done. And there are two sides of that coin. The first side is you've over-scheduled your work. There's just too much going on.
And second, I think it's, you've fallen out of love with the value of exercise, because I know that firsthand when I do workouts, I love, I absolutely want to do it again.
Like I leave the workout feeling so refreshed and my mood is enhanced and I feel so much better. I just want to get back and do it again. And if you don't feel that way when you leave your workout, I feel like there's something, an emotional side that that's missing.
If you're not in love with your workout, you're probably doing it out of obligation or because someone told you to do it versus you actually care about it.
And the other component is that if your work schedule is so filled up, you don't have time to take care of yourself. That work schedule is not gonna last very long because you're also going to be in the ER with me, where I was a few months ago.
It's not a plan to last. It's a short-term burnout plan, that's not a sustainable long-term thing. If your schedule really is that busy, like can't let go of these things. The answer to that is there are things you can let go of. You just don't see it yet.
So you have to just like, get a real good look at the calendar and figure out what can I delegate? What can I cut? What can I postpone? How can I restructure this so that exercise is now a priority.
And one way I look at this too, is like, let's say for example, you had a health scare, you went to your doctor and your doctor said, you know the solution to your prescription is not a pill. I'm going to require you to go to the gym for 30 minutes per day.
And so 30 minutes per day is your new prescription, five days a week. Now your doctor said, you have to do this, like taking a pill would be the same prescription. Well, if your doctor says, you have to do it, your priority has just shifted.
Now you feel like it matters and you can't miss it. I really feel like you have to change your priority of saying from, you know, I don't have time for it to, well, what if I actually had to do it? What if it was a requirement as part of my schedule, how would that look on my calendar?
So let me go to the calendar, let me add in a 30 minute workout per day, and then restructure my life around that and see how to make that work. Right there you're asking the question, how is it possible to live the life I would like to live?
And then we can see it and start moving things around. You see the solution. It begins to show up. You find the answer, but you have to actually go through the motions to figure what that would look like. If you don't take the time to do that, then you're left with just the mental block of saying, well, it's not possible.
Move on to the next thing. When in reality, it probably it is possible if you take the time to figure it out and then you have those benefits. So I think the real shift here is the mindset shift of how could this work for me. And then when you ask that question, you get the answer.
Ted Ryce: I love that Jeff. I should hire you to be like the spokesperson for what we do here. Because I feel like I lose, I've been in this so long I kind of lose perspective about it, but what you said, it's like, that's the thing that people need to hear so much. It's like do the things that, that's why I always refer people to you whenever they start talking about like, Hey, you know, I'm not sure if I have time to do this, but I want to do it. I know it's important for me.
It's good for my health. I'm like, you don't need me then you already know what to do. You need to sort out your life, go and check out Jeff Sanders, go listen to his podcasts, go get his new book, the free time formula. And that's what you need to be focusing on.
And once you restructure your life, then you can come back and say, okay, well I've built the habit of exercise because I was able to redo my schedule. I was able to say no to some things and you know, squeeze it in now, how do I optimize it?
That's when you come back to me. So if anyone's listening right now and you have that problem, you don't need to be listening to my show. You need to be listening to Jeff's. You need to sort your life out. And come back to me when you're ready to optimize your workout when you want to figure out, okay, well, what methods should I use?
Or how do I get better results than what I have right now? I just always appreciate talking with you. Jeff I want to switch gears a little bit. I know in your book, you talk about the number one addiction, 90% of Americans have and how to break it. And I have a feeling, I know what we're going to be talking about here, what your answer may have to do with.
Jeff Sanders: We're talking about caffeine. I've got some tea in here. This is a green tea actually. So there's lower caffeine. Thank goodness because what I did, this is actually kind of weird stories of when I had the ER trip, you know, I had this whole esophageal spasm, weird issue.
The doctors at the ER weren't as concerned about my diet, they didn't really care about my exercise level. They care about the things that I'm very confident were the primary drivers of this. And so in the few months, following the trip, the ER, I had went through a lot of series of experiments.
I tried different diets. I tried you know, bringing fruits my diet, I tried adding in different things and ultimately I decided, you know, I'm going to take 30 days off, no alcohol, no caffeine, no extraneous processed foods, just like super simple, super clean. And let's see what happens. And it floored me. It felt like a truck hit me in the face the first couple of days, because I was so tired, so exhausted because I was so addicted to caffeine and the stimulants and the busy-ness.
And this is even months after the ER visit, like you think I learned my lesson at that point, but I hadn't made the connection yet that like what I was consuming, the habits that I had formed were just feeding that addiction of just being up all the time and always going.
And so when I was able to take a step back and let go of the caffeine, like go the alcoholic, let go of the, you know, ridiculous foods I may be consuming. It was much more simplistic. And I had the chance to sleep and to think, and kind of slowly bring things back up again.
And so, yes, I'm drinking caffeine again, but much, much lower levels than before. And my energy level is better than before. I don't have that sense of stress and chaos that comes with over-consumption of caffeine.
What I have is a balanced of my brain is still alert. I'm still energized. I'm still getting stuff done. And I'm not having panic attacks. I'm not having freak out moments. I'm not feel overly stressed or anxious.
That comes with this busy-ness overachievement lifestyle, is this over-consumption of, could be drugs, could be pharmaceuticals, could be caffeine. We lean on these things to help us get through the next push. When in reality what we actually needed then was a nap. What we needed was to slow down. And that message is hard to hear when all you're doing is going, going, going.
On Facebook I was like, Hey guys, I let go of caffeine for the last few weeks. It was like, I told them that like, you know, the earth was ending. The world is over, cause that's the thing we're all hooked on. Most people are just, we can't picture our lives without it, but in reality, like we can and we should.
And we do. It's remarkable the clarity you get on, wow, I was drinking way more than I should. I can survive on less than I'm consuming.
I can actually be a better version of myself without the lifestyle choices I've been making. But that takes a willingness to try it and to put yourself through those first few weeks are kind of tough, but then you have this end result of clarity around how your body can operate, you know, in a healthier way with lower extremes because that's one thing that comes with it, a lot of caffeine has the high highs and the low lows.
You crash hard and then what happens? You're not productive anymore. You're not going to the gym because you're too tired. You have that sense of you've lost control.
And so my goal was to get that back, to not let the stuff I'm consuming control me, but I get to choose now what I consume and in what quantity in a way that serves me better.
And I feel like that's a place that I want to get to and stay there long-Term without myself getting back into the spiral again of just too much noise, which is really for me, what caffeine feels like.
It's just another thing that I'm addicted to, another trip to Starbucks this morning because I always go to Starbucks. Well, you don't have to always go to Starbucks. It's not a required part of life. We feel like it is, but it's not. And so I think my real mission with this process that I've gone through is to just speak through the book of saying, you know, there is a way to slow down and there's a way to live your life that's a healthier balance that can still have you achieving just as much as before, if not more before, but it takes a willingness to get there and try it.
Ted Ryce: I'm glad you're bringing this up. What's interesting is we both ended up in the ER. Where was your ER visit by the way, what part of the year?
Jeff Sanders: It was in May.
Ted Ryce: So I was in there right before my birthday actually, which was February 2nd. So it's kind of funny. The first part of the year, we were both ending up kind of in the same situation. I was like, you, I got hurt because I was like trying to, I was like, Hey, I need to do more exercise to burn off the fat.
And I was trying to put in some martial arts back in with the lifting and then I hurt myself stretching, which was not the thing that mattered the most. It was the straw that broke the camel's back to use that old adage.
So I quit caffeine too because I realized I was waking up early, drinking caffeine, working out and just high all the time. And I think people know more. They get more intuitively like, oh, I drink alcohol because I'm really, I'm stressed, I'm anxious. I get social anxiety and they feel the effects, but in our society and we know drinking under the influence, it's a big deal and people die because of accidents that happen while we're drunk.
But not the same thing happens with caffeine yet it does rig havoc on our lives when we're drinking too much.
And now I go, I don't even do green tea. I do a tablespoon of cacao powder in some almond milk, which works for me even sometimes I feel like I'm still, I get a little grouchy if I have too much caffeine.
And even now that I've been off of it for so long, even green tea kind of does that to me. You probably handle it a lot better than I do, but I'm glad you're talking about this. And I've had someone tell me one time. If I give up coffee, that was just really kind of a sad life.
That would be a sad day or words to that effect. And I was thinking, yeah, but isn't it kind of sad that you feel like you need this all the time and I'm really glad you talked about it. And if you're listening right now, get Jeff's book the free time formula. His first book was amazing. Jezel is a huge fan of it as well. And I can just see you've taken a huge step up.
I do want to ask you one question and then we'll talk about where to get your book Jeff, but free time, it's something that we feel like, oh, I've got this, this and that to do, take the kids over here, you know, make this call, try to get ahead in my career. Talk about the importance of free time and what we should be doing with it. When we do schedule it into our calendars.
Jeff Sanders: It's a great question. And one that I had to reconfigure myself when I first started working on this book and I had this epiphany while working on my calendar and thinking about this book, like where is it headed?
And I realized, it's not that I'm looking for an extra hour of Netflix to watch tonight. I'm not looking for an extra, you know, kind of night out on the town to go to a party.
Like I realized all of our time is free time. Every minute of every day is up to us, which sounds so ridiculous to say, because like, wait a minute, I've got a job to go to. I've got bills to pay.
I've got obligations and yada yada yada. It sounds insane, yet when you think about it, your life is your life. You get to choose what you get to do every single day. And whatever you choose to do will come with benefits.
There's pros and cons. You have consequences for your choices. That's how life works. But when you think through the lens of all of my time is free time. I get to choose what I do when I do it, how I do it with whom I do it. All of a sudden you get to rethink through your entire life and everything now becomes optional. I can say no to this thing. I could choose something else to do today.
I could think about my life through that lens. And then all of a sudden you're scheduling your life more proactively with more intention. And then let's say that you're usually the kind of traditional definition of free time. You know, after work, I've got a few hours in the evening. What will I do with those few hours that aren't scheduled yet?
The way I then think about that kind of free time is the sense of, what's going to kind of replenish me to be able to go do my best work the next day. What's going to actually add value to my life so I can go be my best self tomorrow. And the answer to that usually is not watching Netflix.
Answer is usually not lay on the couch. It's not eating potato chips. Like the answer usually is like, if I've got a couple of hours, maybe I could say hi to a friend. I could go work out. I could take a nap. I could do something.
I could move ahead in a big project I really care about, that I'm passionate about. I can spend time on a hobby, like whatever it is. But I generally speaking, I'm going to choose activities other than my default response. And my default response is free time.
It tends to be a few certain bad habits. If we have a few extra free moments, we look at Facebook, we look at our email and we watch Netflix. Most of us tend to do those things. But if we change the default response and say, this free time is mine, I can choose. So why am I choosing things that don't add value to my life?
Why am I doing the same things over and over? And then that's when the wheels start turning. That's when you get to envision a new life that's based on the fact that you are in control of your time and then you can make different choices and then different results come from that. It's a big mindset shift because most of us feel trapped by our calendar and trapped by our obligations, responsibilities and, and whatever else that comes with that.
But when you turn that around and say, but I could choose not to do this, I could change my job. I could live somewhere else. I could do different things.
Then all of a sudden the possibilities are endless. Now your life is back in your control. Your time is your own and you get to live the life you want. And that takes a really big shift in the way you think about your life. I think that once you're there, it's like, oh my gosh, I can live my life now.
And that to me, want I love to see with someone who reads the book is to have that, that kind of empowering control over what they choose to do with their time. And if that's the end result you get from reading the book, like that's all I'm looking for because that's such a major breakthrough that most people never get to.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, it's so important. We feel like we're slaves to our schedule or we're trapped, but the reality is we chose all of it. At least if you're listening to it here, you live in the US or the UK, you chose it and you're trapped by your own choice, but you can also make a different choice.
That's an important thing to keep in mind. And like you said, a powerful, yet difficult shift in perspective to make.
Jeff, it's always a pleasure connecting with you. And your new book sounds amazing. Where can someone get it, if they want to go right now and learn more about the free time formula and to purchase it?
Jeff Sanders: Well, the best place is www.jeffsanders.com. It's my homepage with all my work that I do. And you'll see right there on the homepage, the big picture of the book, click right there.
And you'll see all the places you can buy it around the world, as well as the variety of options there. Jeffsanders.com is a place that you can learn a whole lot more.
Ted Ryce: Jeff, always a pleasure man. And I saw, you know, just talking to you, just seeing how you've leveled up over the time since we last talked. And I really love the cover art of the book.
I know it's such a small part, in a way it's really about the content, but man, I'd really love the cover art. It's just so cool. And yeah, I can't wait to dive into it myself because I definitely need some more structure in my life or to say no to more things.
So if you're listening right now, you want to know more about Jeff and you want to change your schedule. Maybe you shouldn't be listening. Like I said to this podcast, it's not for you. You're learning all this stuff, but you're not implementing any of the high level information we share about health and fitness.
Then why don't you go over to Jeffsanders.com, check out Jeff's book, check out Jeff's podcast and get your life sorted, get more organized, say no to the things that you should be saying no to.
And you know, use Jeff's strategies in the book to really carve out a life that serves you well and allows for those things that will really matter to you and will help you take your life to the next level.
Jeff, such a pleasure. Do you have any last words about what we talked about? Or I guess let's say this. What was the one biggest takeaway you'd want someone to bring away from this conversation that we had?
Jeff Sanders: Well, I think that's what we just talked about before, is that your time is your own. So with that in mind, take a look at your calendar today or your calendar this week and ask yourself, you know, what can I let go of? What can I stop doing? But I feel like that's the first big win you can get is removing things from your life that don't fit. And it's amazing just how you can then begin to envision the possibilities for what could go in that time. So if anything, today, look at your calendar and try to cut whatever you possibly can because that alone is worth the price of the book.
Ted Ryce: There you go. You got your challenge, Jeff Sanders, always a pleasure and looking forward to speaking with you next time.
Jeff Sanders: Thanks Ted.
Ted Ryce: Welcome to Ted's takeaways. This is the part of the interview that I break down the most important lessons from today's guest.
And I know it was a bit of a long interview, so there's just one message that I have for you before I get to that, I want to tell you, make sure you check out Jeff Sanders at jeffsanders.com, he's got a great podcast called the 5 AM Miracle, and make sure you check out his new book, The Free-Time Formula: Finding Happiness, Focus, and Productivity No Matter How Busy You Are
And the cover art of the book looks so cool. I can't wait to dive into this book because who doesn't need more time.
And what it comes down to is an ability for you to say no to the things that you should say no to and making time for the things that you need to say yes to in your life.
And if that's health and fitness for you, then I couldn't recommend Jeff Sanders more. If you are one of those people, who's listening to this show and you're like, oh, Ted, that sounds great. I'd love to do that, only if I had more time, then you don't need to be listening to this show.
You need to be listening to Jeff's show. You need to read his book to help solve that issue. Because if you can't get a hold of your schedule enough to squeeze workouts in and healthy eating, then there's nothing that I can share with you that will help.
So with that said, that is my biggest takeaway and biggest message to you. And that wraps up today's interview.
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