Known as the “goddess of operations” and “master of time management,” productivity expert Marissa Brassfield works with some of the most transformative entrepreneurs, visionaries, and innovators across a multitude of industries, helping them become, as she puts it, ridiculously efficient.
Her passion for generating freedom of time through high performance has sparked an impressive resume and skill set; Brassfield co-created and oversees Peter Diamandis’ elite mastermind program Abundance 360 – all from her backyard shedquarters.
“Manage your performance like a professional athlete; like an elite Olympian,” she says. “And what that means is paying attention to what you do best of all and making it even better.”
In this episode of Project Luminary with Kristen Aldridge, learn how to go from surviving to thriving, in and out of the workplace.
As a productivity expert, you’ve worked with incredibly visionary leaders like Peter Diamandis. You’ve also worked for companies like Lifehacker, PayScale, and Monster, to name a few, to help them become, as you say, “ridiculously efficient.” What inspired you to become such a master in productivity?
Marissa Brassfield: If I am totally honest, it was out of necessity. Coming out of school, I knew that I didn’t want to have that traditional sort of corporate life, so I immediately started freelancing. One of the first things I discovered was the faster I could write, the faster I could edit, the more I could do, the more I could earn — so time management was my way to sort of level up my lifestyle. This year I’m going to double my income. Next year I am going to keep that income but cut my work hours in half. Then I repeat the process again. So for me being productive is the how, and the why is the constant pursuit of expanding freedom.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about productivity?
Marissa Brassfield: I wish that everyone knew that they could be effective. Most of the time when people aren’t, they are working on things they have no business doing. They’re focusing on, “Why can’t I write well? Why can’t I…?” They’re so locked in on this idea or pattern that they have to be good at this thing to be successful. And I think all of that is crap. What if you took instead that same energy, and effort, and time and put it into your strengths? The single message I would love to say is, “Anyone can be effective, it’s just what are you working on, what are you focused on, and what are you committed to?”
As a society, we are more stressed, busy, and overwhelmed than ever before. What are the tasks that everyone should be outsourcing no matter what?
Marissa Brassfield: There are so many little things that we do in our day. For example, there is a site called x.ai – all it is an AI assistant that focuses on scheduling meetings. So you know how when you initiate the request to a meeting, and you go back and forth, and it’s so exhausting – a colossal waste of time. This AI goes back and forth with the person who’s on CC and just does all of that for you. Here’s another one: If you can write a really detailed check list – I mean a really good, solid check list – of how to do the thing perfectly, such that someone else could do it cheaper than it would for an hour of your time, always delegate it.
You talk a lot about being able to tackle your inbox, so what’s your best strategy for managing all those emails that we get every single day?
Marissa Brassfield: So the first one is unroll.me, and it’s basically this service that bundles all of your subscription e-mails into one single digest. So that’s one e-mail hitting, instead of 20 to 50 e-mails a day. The second piece: every single piece of communication must catalyze action or create progress. If you use that little guide in your head, “How is this catalyzing action?” then you start to look at what you’ve written, and instead of, “What do you think?” it’s, “Let’s jump on a call in ten minutes to discuss.” If you can try and train the people that you e-mail the most, you get less e-mail, you get better e-mail, and then the e-mail that you do get, you can act on right away. And then the third one is: anything that will take two minutes or less to do, just do it right away.
Some days we just don’t feel like working. One of my favorite quotes from Mel Robbins is, “You’re never ever going to feel like it.” This is so true, but we have to do it anyway. So what are your tips for maintaining consistent productivity, even when we really don’t feel like it?
Marissa Brassfield: So I’ll answer this a couple different ways, but first, I proactively sort of recharge, even before I’ve even done anything that is stressful. The first three hours of my morning are focused on nothing that has to do with work and everything that has to do with filling me up and making me feel recharged. So I wake up, I get out of bed, and when I have the most energy of all that’s when I’m recharging – I’m reading, I’m journaling I’m exercising. Before I’ve even started anything related to work. I feel great, I’m relaxed, I’m excited, I’ve done something that a lot of people push off ‘til the end of the day. Eat dessert first.
And then the second part of it is, when I am working, and I know that I just don’t have it in me to keep going, I do something I call “productive procrastination” which is – I’ll do whatever I can to make the next morning start off really powerful, really focused, my best morning ever. So I sort of allocate resources to setting the next day up for success. So I’ll make lists for what I have to do the next morning, and then in that way I can go, “Ok, well today was kind of a wash in the afternoon, but tomorrow I’m going to kick ass.”