Phone calls, meetings, emails, orders, support, development….  the never ending to-do list!

One of the biggest keys to stay productive and actually accomplish-ish all of the tasks we do in business is to stay focused, and focus on what matters, first.

Have you ever eaten a worm? – I know, weird question…

I’ve never had the super-human ability to be an early riser… My brothers and I just the other day had a competition to see who could tell the best story about the the many ways our parents used to frustratingly try to get us out of bed in the mornings for school.

Lights, Alarms, Sirens, Water, Squirt Bottles, Ice Cubes, Frozen Marbles (they are actually kind of nice), Pulling Mattresses, Whips…..

Maybe not whips, but they probably should have!

Consensus was – I was the worst, and worse yet at going back to bed after they had drug me out of it.

…. I’m not a morning person.

Even today, I still suck at it.

Wife, Three kids, Dog, 2 Cats, and a Bearded Dragon all agree – Daddy isn’t a morning person.

I’ve tried just about every tactic and hack there is, still no luck…. (any ideas?)

One of the biggest benefits of being a business owner, for me, is that I get the privilege of driving my kids to school every day… Sometimes I’m in a robe, others I’m in sweats… but, I still get to do it and my kids still like that I do it….

sorry kids – not all dads get up at 5am wearing suits while drinking organic-nongmo-gluten-free-green-coffee…

When it comes to getting things done, I normally get a LOT accomplished each day, but it has nothing to do with how I get up each morning…

Worms are gross – Let the birds have them – I’m not a bird.

I once ate a snail on a trip to Africa a very long time ago, while it’s not a worm, it wasn’t a great experience… gastrointestinally speaking…

You don’t work to eat worms, and you aren’t a bird.

I worked for a contracting company many years ago – they were extremely successful doing what they did.

My boss showed up at 5am every. single. day. As if the world would stop turning if the sun saw him before he was at the office…

I admired that level of dedication, but I’m not getting up at 430am to be  there at 5….

So, I made a deal with him…

“If I show up at 7am, and get all of my work accomplished by 11am – can I go home?”

“You’re a moron…. and you look funny…” 

That’s not really what he said, but it was close…

We ended up having an arrangement to where If I got all of my weeks’ tasks accomplished by Thursday, and the company continued to see growth from my efforts, then I didn’t have to come in on Fridays..

The company saw an $8 Million Dollar increase in revenues, and profitability jumped by 20%….

Was it entirely me? No, we had a really good team, but the word spread, and everyone became so much more productive because it was the right motivation to create the right systems to get the right work done… fast.

Getting up early in the morning isn’t what makes you productive. Does it help? Sure. But you can also burn the midnight oil, light the candle at both ends, buy coffee when you close sales…..

What makes you productive is what you can get accomplished, in the right priority, in the smallest amount of time possible.

So – If you have to eat worms early in the morning – make sure you eat them first so you can get the gross stuff out of the way you didn’t really want to do. Then, focus on other tasks.

I’m not perfect at it every day, and the way I do it may not work for you… but it DOES work if you stay consistent.

Processes Make Systems, and Systems Make Money.

I come from a family of extremely hard working people with farming and industrial backgrounds. They are all early risers, I’m not. (Except one of our dogs, he liked to sleep…)

I read about this rancher a while back who had the same problem – his entire family was comprised of ranchers who all thought you were the laziest human being on the face of the earth if you weren’t out of bed ready to go before sunrise.

I can related with being the different sheep in a family of “GET UP LAZY PERSON!” types…

He had just became the president of his family’s company…

So, instead of waking up and spending 27 hours each day driving around and making sure his cattle were fed, watered, and healthy.

He installed remote cameras, bought a couple of drones, put automatic shut-offs on his water wells / tanks, and ran the feeds to a server he could access remotely – with alerts any time something looked off.

The sun comes up, he rolls over, checks his alerts and feeds, rolls back over, back to sleep. I’m sure he still has to drive around and get his boots dirty sometimes – but he also had the time to start other businesses, and work ON his cattle business, instead of IN it.

There’s a reason drones are so popular in the agricultural industry right now.

If you are an early riser and have a secret formula for how you do it, PLEASE Share! (I’d love to be one of you magical humans, I just can’t seem to get there yet)…

1. Gmail  

So many people I work with use Outlook, or, Windows Live Mail…. I’ve yet to work with anyone who really loves either of them.

I think so many businesses use them because Microsoft does such a good job at branding and saturation – when I ask business owners or employees why they are using Outlook – the reply I usually get is “What else are we supposed to use?”


I’m not sure if I was or not, but I like to think I was one of Gmail’s first users all the way back in 2004, when one of my friends invited me to use it.

Having multiple businesses means you have a lot of emails, and a personal email to go with it.

Gmail lets me have them all, in one place, on any device, seamlessly.

I use filters, folders, and custom actions to tell each email what to do when it hits the mailbox, automatically.

Send me an alert for a new lead? Check – I get a push notification about it, and the email goes directly into my sales inbox and categorized by what company, and which marketing channel it was directed from.

All of my emails are directed and handled in a certain manner that allows me to take care of the most important emails first, in the shortest amount of time, and keep information overload from clogging my brain.

I have my Gmail integrated into most of the apps and software I use.

2. Trello

If you haven’t heard of Trello – Check it out. You’re welcome.

Trello is FREE for the basic version, which works great, and free is always good.

Or, it’s essentially $10 per month to get all of the integrations into other software and apps.

I’m a list person – I have a list for EVERYTHING – business ideas, todo lists, projects, leads, customers, post topics, family activities, reminders, my kids grades… yeah, everything.

They are all in trello, I’m pretty sure 3M saw a dip in their revenue when I stopped buying so many post-it notes…

Trello is integrated with everything I do – I’ve even used it as a CRM.

You can share boards with other users, collaborate, invite clients, and attach just about whatever you can think of.

I productivity hacked my daily tasks with a single board that knows how I work – it’s called “WEEK.”

Monday – Friday – the board is automatically, or manually by me, updated with tasks and organized for priority on what I’m going to do that day.

Emails from Gmail that are high priority – populated on when I’m going to handle them.

New client to follow up on – same thing – except I get a notification to go with it.

Reminders, books I want to read, follow-ups – all in there by the day and priority of when I’m going to do them. 

Trello is like my own personal business CEO that is constantly checking in on me to ensure that I’m the most productive member of the team, except it can’t fire me when I refuse to eat worms… 🙂

3. Teamviewer

This has to be one of my top 3 favorite apps of all time.

Teamviewer is a lightweight, resource friendly, remote access and virtual meeting software that really takes the cake in terms of ease-of-use and affordability.

Sure, you can use Window’s built-in remote-desktop function, but it’s not as versatile or device friendly.

I can access any of my computers, servers, file shares, or devices from anywhere with an internet connection, and act as if I’m sitting in front of that computer with little to no latency at all.

Hear the same audio, share files between connections – and more.

Meaning, I don’t have to have a super-expensive high-powered laptop when I’m on the road – because I can just access my office computer to do all of the heavy-lifting like design, video-editing, large files, databases, and spy on my kids when they are supposed to be doing homework….. wait, I don’t do that….

If you want to pay for a subscription to use it commercially (the free version works perfectly for everything you could do without charging clients), you can access client computers for remote support, demonstrations, repairs – and, setup remote meetings that everyone can attend, chat, and participate in. They even give you a conference call number to call in and talk to your gaming buddies… er, I mean clients.

I’ve used it to setup people’s email access on their computer, from my office – I just send them the download link for Teamviewer Quick Support – then they give me the ID and password and POOF! I’m in.

I even did some heavy video editing, from my phone, at church the other day during a break… had to be done.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox has really taken off in the past few years. I started using it in 2009, and for file sharing and integration – I haven’t found a better solution.

Makes my home-built file share server look like a tin lunchbox from the ’60’s…

I use Dropbox to house all of the client projects and work I’m currently working on, because I can easily access and sync them to any device or computer without any monitoring or tweaking.

It also integrates with Trello and Gmail.

In Trello, I’ll have a board for a project I’m working on, and if I need to show a file, or get a screenshot to a client – Dropbox helps with that very easily.

My wife uses the Plus package to store all of her photos that she takes of our family and the kiddos, It’s $9.99/mo and gets you 1TB of storage, which is like a bagillionzillion pixels of pictures…. or 1,000GB.

I use the free version, because there is plenty of space for me to store all the files I’m currently working on only – when I’m through with the files – I send them to my office server for backups, which are then backed up to my online servers, which are then backed up by an ancient alien race from the planet Zorgphflomaght to use as pillows on their spaceships…..

That’s what data turns into when you shoot it into space, it turns into fluffy pillows….

If you’ve ever lost files in a data crash, you’ll relate to that – some data recovery methods don’t work, and you don’t want to have to completely re-create something that took you 5 hours to accomplish.

Of course, you don’t have to use these tools to be productive, if you have other apps, software, notebooks, or alien races you use to stay productive – I’d love to hear about it!

Comment, or email me at:

At Upgrade, we use these apps and more to help businesses grow and succeed, but we don’t just push a few products – we make SURE that the software and systems we propose and integrate are the best fit for how your business is setup to operate.

You can get started with Matyx by CLICKING HERE ON FRANK’S MUSTACHE:  (more about Frank Later)

Or – email us:

Stay productive, and don’t eat worms….


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