11 Things You Can Do to Be More Present and Productive


I’m obsessed with efficiency. I’m not necessarily proud of it since it’s a natural compulsion. I think it came from playing drums at a very early age. I loved choosing just the right notes to add to a song, but not distract from its essence. This compulsion extended to everything in my life. If a microwave meal called for two minutes, I’d set it for 1:59 so my finger could take the path of least resistance en route to the “Enter” button. 

You get the picture. I’m a weirdo. I’ll save you the more embarrassing things I do and share with you some of the more practical things I’ve found to be especially helpful when it comes to running a gym. 

This list is broken into three sections with a heavy emphasis on technology-related administrative tasks. My assumption is your diet and fitness are on point, so I’ll forego any tips there. 

1. Your Phone

Turn off all notifications. 

Ignorance is bliss. If you’re not in front of a computer, chances are you can’t deal with the shit you just got notified about. Turn them off, except for calls from your significant other.

Fix your home screen.

Here’s what should be on your home screen: Notes for new ideas, a mindfulness app — I like Simple Habit — your calendar, your text app, your phone app, and some type of music and/or education app. 

Hide social media.

But I use it for business! I’ve tried that one on my wife, too. Hide it in a folder deep on screen three or four. Your phone is designed to consume, not create. 

Use “Do not disturb.”

The best piece of advice on productivity I’ve ever received was “touch it once.” Meaning, if you don’t plan to fully take care of a task, don’t look at it. 

2. Your Schedule

Take your own classes.

We provide the most efficient fitness protocol in the world. Utilize it to improve your efficiency. If you have a 30-minute class, take that one. 

If you answer email, only do it twice a day.

I’m trying my hardest to only answer 10 percent of my own email. I’d like it to be zero. On my way there I had to create two “batches” of email time – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The 10 a.m. slot is used to button up the stuff you needed from the 4 p.m. and vice versa. 

Batch your brain.

This is the second article I’m writing for Box Pro in the same hour. But it’s not due for two months. My brain is fully into writing and I will complete this article in half the time I completed the first. Why? My brain is already in writing mode. 

3. Becoming an Executive

Hire a housekeeper. 

The best financial advice I’ve ever received was to take the first $100 of monthly profit and hire a housekeeper. It still feels weird. But I learned it is more valuable for me to buy back my time than it is to put $100 into my checking account. If you’re gaining time, it’s an investment not an expense.

Pre-make as many decisions as possible. 

I’ve had a ridiculous wardrobe routine for about 15 years. I own 16 T-shirts — two per day plus two back-ups — four pairs of pants, 16 pairs of socks and underwear, and about 70 hats, for no good reason. Each week, the pant/shirt combination is “bumped” to the next day. So, Monday’s combination will be Tuesday’s combination next week. By pre-making this decision, I have not only gained an extra 15 minutes a day, but I have one more important decision in the chamber. What decisions can you “pre-make”? 

Not all meetings are created equal. 

I created a questionnaire for all potential meetings — Acuity Scheduler or Calendly are great tools. If someone wants to “partner” with the gym, I want to know if it will be a mutual partnership before I have a meeting. If a physical therapist wants referrals, I’ll be upfront in asking if it’ll be a one-way street. 

Put a sign on your door and earbuds in your head.

After I finish these last few sentences, I’m going to walk the entire diagonal length of the gym to use the restroom. I’ll be asked somewhere between 26 and 1,243 questions on my way there — none of which I’ll be able to address in the moment. Try to maintain some sanity. Tell people around you when you’re available and when you’re not. I’m guilty of walking around with unplugged earbuds, but don’t tell anyone. 

Focusing on your productivity can absolutely help you accomplish more. If you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty driven. Hopefully increased productivity will help you experience just a little less stress and allow you to be a little more present. 

Anything you’d add to this? Anything that’s been a game changer for you? 

Matt Scanlon
Matt Scanlon is the owner and founder of CrossFit Memorial Hill and TheHillKC in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the co-founder of BUILD — a CrossFit program and research project dedicated to improving health outcomes for cancer survivors.  Matt's professional career began in healthcare management. As a result of this experience, Matt is focused on using CrossFit to improve health metrics for a broad population of people historically underserved in the fitness industry.  Located at the base of the National WWI Memorial, CrossFit Memorial Hill was founded in 2011 as a free community fitness resource. After gaining a following of nearly 1,300 participants in community pop-up WODs, Matt Affiliated in 2012.  In 2016, CrossFit Memorial Hill expanded to incorporate a private coaching business, BUILD, a TRX and bootcamp series, and various other specialty programs under the umbrella of TheHillKC.  Contact him at matt@thehillkc.com.