What I Learned About Business From a $10 Box of Lego

So I was at an event, a business event. We were in tables of 6 and most of us didn’t really know each other, definitely not at any personal level.There were about 15 tables. In the middle of every table was a box of Lego, a specific set. It was a train engine unopened.

The task was, as a team, everyone involved, build the train as fast as we could and call out once we done; the first team wins.

Ready, set, go and off we all went. We were frantically grabbing at pieces. Some people were looking at instructions.

The phrase “too many chefs in the kitchen” comes to mind, right?

In the end, our team (as did most of the room) took about 5 to 6 minutes before we had it constructed.

In those moments the box of legos looked somewhat like this. It felt like there were millions Lego parts for us to put together.

Scary-Lego

Then organizers said to do it again, 2nd time round, we got a little bit faster.

The 3rd time just a little bit faster again, but still about 4min 30 seconds.

Cool, good improvement right?

Well,  then they explained to us that the best team to have done this previously had done it in under 2 mins!!!

Pfffffffft, what???? Seriously? That’s impossible, or so we thought.

After a period of wondering how the winning team did it, they explained what they did. As it turns out, no one in the room was doing the task as a team. Nobody planned what they were going to do before they started.

Ohhhh light bulb!

Ok,  so now we were allowed 3 more rounds.

This time, as soon as the timer started, we stopped!

We put our hands on the table and just talked. We decided we could each pair up and focus on a different section, and then assemble the 3 bits at the end.

Then we started building. As you might guess we got A LOT better.

We did it this way for 3 rounds.

Everyone knew what they were doing, and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. Things started clicking for us.

On the last two rounds, our team actually won, both times, our final score being 1 min 34 seconds.

Now that’s fantastic improvement. To come from 6 minutes to under 2 minutes. The odd thing is that we only needed one simple tip to achieve this.

So often in life, it’s just like that. I hope this article will be a valuable resource for you as we dig deeper into what happened there.

Sometimes the most precious lessons come from the most simple life event.

#1
No matter how good anyone was, we could only get a little bit better by just trying harder

People often say you should push harder in everything. They say pushing harder will get you results. That’s not always correct and it can bring a lot of problems.

If you take a world-class athlete in any sport you’ll see that he does push hard on the field. But when you look at his/hers daily routine you’ll most certainly see that everything is planned out.

We need to get smart about the way we do things. Planning, grouping, executing, analyzing everything.

To be honest, this is one of the reasons I created Ninjodo. I knew there had to be a smarter way of doing things.

I made Ninjodo as a small business owner who wanted to get everything he needs in one place.

#2
The second we started to plan we got incredibly efficient and the results were amazing

There is a big problem with planning and business owners. People think of us as heroes. We are made of action.  That’s why people at the business event jumped on the opportunity to take action.

We learned in an interesting way that you shouldn’t do it that way. The lesson that day was to plan things first.

It’s an odd feeling when you start to plan. You’re so eager to start executing that even when you start planning you feel like you’re wasting time.

That initial instinct is something to get over. Be patient and stick with it. The result will be worth it.

After we got over that feeling and actually sat down to plan, the right direction gave us so much positive energy. It’s nice when you have a structure to follow.

Even if you’re solopreneur, you still have to coordinate with other people to get business done. You have to communicate with customers, suppliers, contractors etc.

Planning these activities will give you the much-needed edge. You’ll be much more reliable and get things done faster.

#3
At the beginning planning was a little slow, eg 20 seconds, but each time we did it we got faster and faster

There is a big problem with planning itself.

You don’t actually see the results right away. Too often people start planning, and then when they don’t see the results immediately, they give up. That’s what frustrates even the best of us.

But who can blame them for that? It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. You can get yourself into that state of mind over it.

You went against your instinct to get into action right away. You’ve done these seemingly mundane steps and things still don’t get better RIGHT AWAY! Who wouldn’t be on the verge of quitting the habit?

You have a feeling that it’s an activity with diminishing returns.

But I have realized is that it gets better with repetition. Much better, actually.

When we tried the Lego excercise a few times more, we got progressively better.  Planning gets your thoughts aligned perfectly. You don’t need to think about what you have to do next. You know what you need to do next, and that free’s your mind to do the most

Planning gets your thoughts aligned perfectly. You don’t need to think about what you have to do next. You know what you need to do next, and that free’s your mind to do more impactful things.

#4
When you get into a rhythm of planning, you not only get better, you actually get better at getting better, exponential improvement

The first three lessons are basically big hurdles to jump over when you want to plan. I’m sure you’ll crush all of those easily after this article.

As important as they are, I want to address another important thing here.

This one’s a beauty.

The planning process is just like learning anything new. It’s tough at the beginning, but there is a moment when things just click for you. You start to get it. From that moment on, things get much easier.

Your brain is a wonder of nature. Constantly adapting to whatever you throw at it. It can handle even the most interesting curve balls.

The fascinating thing is that the brain actually gives you new and improved insights into whatever you’re doing.

When you plan things you get better at planning and that way you get yourself even more time to do what’s important to you.

The fact is that planning is a huge stress-reliever. It gives you a chance to relax because you have a certainty and familiarity about things. And for the brain, that means no need for adrenaline and stress.

It’s all well and good getting lessons like these, but I’m the kind of guy not just to talk the talk, but actually WALK the WALK.

It felt nice coming home from that business trip. I had all that positive energy and life lessons. But I wanted to use it for something that would improve my life quality over a long period of time.

That night I planned out a process that enabled me to crush it in most important parts of life. I set out a plan for success THEN AND THERE.

That’s exactly what you should do yourself right now.

Most of the stuff I find online is about setting big goals and then reverse engineering it. I struggled with using this method to get down to business on a daily or weekly level.

One thing that stood out for me is this. You should make your goals SMART (Specific, measurable, action-oriented, results-oriented, time-based ).

That will be useful whether you’re planning big or small goals. When you make your goals SMART, you’re more inclined to take action and to keep it going.

Plus, SMART goals don’t make you intimidated because they are so simple and easy to make.

As far as other methods go, for me, there was always a disconnect between my goals and actions and every time I reviewed them I felt like I hadn’t reached my goals.

That feeling sucks when you keep feeling it.

So I decided to try another approach.

I call this one Bottom-Up Planning.

A lot of books, speakers and gurus talk about BIG thoughts, which can be motivating, but they can also be intimidating and lead to wanting to quit, and feeling like a failure.

That’s not the point of all this.

The point is to get better, and you choose the way that works best for you. The way YOU operate.

Introverts, extroverts, fast movers, strategic thinkers, we all do and learn things differently so don’t expect to just go and do something new in exactly the same way someone is teaching you.

Try it on first, see where you didn’t quite do it well, try again, or try a different approach altogether.

I like this method because it shows people how to get a quick win. I’ll give you some small examples to try first, then work up to larger things.

Start planning on a daily, hourly basis. Pick a thing you want to tackle, break it down into steps that you can tick off within the hour.

If your task list cannot be ticked off within a small time frame (I’m talking 10mins or 1hr or 4hrs of active work on it, then it’s too big, chunk it down, so you can get momentum.

How To Get Started With Planning

#1
I always plan in the morning

I plan in the morning before I start work. DEFINITELY before I open my inbox. Your inbox will destroy your planning attempts. Try not to look at emails straight away. Do your plan for the day first, then after you’ve ticked off some things from the plan you create, then check in on your inbox.

Your inbox will destroy your planning attempts. Try not to look at emails straight away. Do your plan for the day first, then after you’ve ticked off some things from the plan you create, then check in on your inbox.

Do your plan for the day first, then after you’ve ticked off some things from the plan you create, then check in on your inbox.

Here’s a tip, your email never goes away, and your business doesn’t collapse like a house of cards if you stop and take time to focus on what’s important BEFORE other things try to tell you what’s important.

The beauty of the morning plan for me is, it’s right there for reference all day. I tick things off as I go, it’s fresh in my head always.

For others, night time planning might work better, to get them ready for the next day without having to think what they will need to focus on.

I’ve done both, and to be honest, depending on the task/activity, you might choose one over the other.

#2
Block everything else

SMB owners do most of their work on the computer or mobile phone. That includes planning. There is a huge problem with that. You are constantly bombarded with distractions.

Facebook notifications, Twitter notifications, Youtube and even the “new tab” can be problematic, to say the least.

The good news is there are a lot of solutions for this problem. You can prevent this problem completely. Here is what you should do…

Block all your notifications on your smartphone. A Smartphone can interrupt you whenever there’s something new going on. And there is ALWAYS something new going on. When you have your notifications on, your smartphone is the master of your

When you have your notifications on, your smartphone is the master of your time. You should be the master of your time.    (Smartphone screenshot)

And if you have a fear of missing out on something, you can easily check your important updates when you plan for them.

If you need to be able to receive phone calls, just turn off Mobile data, to allow SMS and phone calls through, but no internet.

Distractions are a huge problem on a desktop computer as well. When you first come into your browser you can expect something like this.

Browser-Distractions

Don’t get me wrong, there are useful stuff here. But the fact is that you are often tempted to click on some of the social networks or email apps. You should skip this and go directly on your top priority for the day. The thing you want to tick off. Cause once you tick THAT off, you’ll feel great.

That’s a good point, once you plan out what you want to do, if you have quite a few things, pick the thing that will make the biggest impact.

EG If you’re a bit stressed about cashflow, do something that will bring in cash. I.E get your invoices out to people, chase up payment, send those proposals, etc.

There is a simple solution for this. It’s called Currently. It’s a beautiful and simple Google Chrome extension which eradicates the New Tab nonsense. When you go to their site you get this.

 

Currently-Google-Chrome-Extension

 

Now all you need to do is click “Add to Chrome” button and Voila… You have a simple and distraction free New Tab on Google Chrome. With this particular extension, you automatically get your time and your weather. You can change those manually if needed. Here is how it looks.

 

Currently-Screenshot

 

Now, you’ve seen facebook on my previous “New Tab”. I use Facebook quite a lot for business. But, it has a habit of taking away a lot of your productivity. Once you start scrolling down that News Feed there is no turning back. You can loose up to half an hour with scrolling.

Once you start scrolling down that News Feed there is no turning back. You can loose up to half an hour with scrolling.

That used to be my problem too. Fortunately, I found a solution. It’s called News Feed Eradicator. That’s also a google chrome extension and it worked wonderfully for me. You just go to the link above and you’ll find this.

 

News-Feed-Eradicator-For-Facebook

 

Once you install it you get a simple looking news feed. You can talk to people if needed, but your productivity will be intact.

A cool thing you’ll get with this extension is the motivational quote part that reminds you about important things only. You can even put your own quotes in there.

The News Feed Eradicator helped thousands of people to become more productive in their Facebook experience.

Here is how your news feed will look like after you install this extension.

 

news_feed_eradicator_Simon

 

To be honest I don’t need to completely eliminate Facebook. I only had a problem with the news feed.

There are sites that can easily take hours of your time. They are just so addictive and it’s so easy to procrastinate on them. Some of those are medium.com, reddit.com, and growthackers.com.

But there is a way to deal with those as well. There is this neat Chrome Extension called StayFocusd. Click on the link and you’ll get here.

 

Stay-Focusd

 

After you add it to Chrome it’s pretty easy to block all the sites that take away your time. You can choose for how long you want to block them and use them later.

 

Stay-Focusd

 

You will save yourself a lot of time by installing these extensions. Plus, you’ll be able to focus on the task at hand. For you, that task is to create a plan that will enable you to crush all your long-term goals.

#3
Start from the next day and build on that

You can plan all the aspects of life this way. You can plan for your health, wealth, love and happiness. For now we’ll only focus on the wealth(business) part of planning. Once you have that plan up and running, you can do the same thing for all other aspects of life.

Once you have that plan up and running, you can do the same thing for all other aspects of life. It’s a process, so just rinse and repeat.

The best way to build momentum is to immediately write down the small goals you want to achieve the next day. If you have a goal that’s bigger than 4 hours, chunk it down.

As I’ve mentioned earlier I created Ninjodo because I wanted, as a small business owner, to have everything I need in one platform. So, first of all, I go and log into my Ninjodo account.

 

Ninjodo-Login

 

Next step would be to put in my login information and I’m already in my Dashboard.  If you don’t have a Ninjodo account, you can start your free trial today. Then all I need to do is to click on the to do list and start putting in tasks I have for the following day. Here is how it looks for me.

 

Ninjodo_planner

 

It really is as simple as that. Now I have a system set up which will help me crush all my goals. I like that list always in my eyesight, just like this.

 

 

So, that’s my story about the importance of planning and how to create a plan.

Everybody has their own way of doing this. It’s important to find out what works for YOU. I’ve tried a lot of methods that gurus are suggesting. I was never able to find a method that worked for me quite the way they were suggesting.

After years of trial and error, I polished my process of planning and revealed it to you.

Now, if you’d be so kind, I want your opinion on the subject. What’s the most challenging part of theplanning process? What tools do you use? And finally why not try Ninjodo? 🙂

Thank you for getting this far. Now that you’ve come this far, I know you liked the article. When you like something you should share it with your friends. 🙂

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About the Author

Simon Ogilvie-Lee, Founder & CEO of Ninjodo.