• Drew Dillman

#17: Productivity

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Welcome to the Coach's Blog powered by Dillman Coaching. I am Drew Dillman and I have been racing bikes for over a decade including road, mountain bike, cyclocross and gravel with my primary discipline being cyclocross. I own and operate my own coaching business which exists to push athletes to their limits, encourage them every pedal stroke of the way and be the guy in their corner through it all. It is my goal as a coach to see each athletes hard work and suffering pay off. I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge over years of racing and coaching and this blog is where I get to share that information.

We are taking a small break from the Racing Weight series and have landed on the topic of Productivity. In Blog #16 I talk about why it is so important for you to be effective before you

are efficient. We could potentially be very efficient, get a lot done and accomplish goals only to realize that those goals weren't even the ones we really cared about in the first place. Having a clear mission statement and life goal will help direct our everyday actions.

In this blog we'll be jumping into some of the specific methods and systems that you can start implementing to become a more productive and efficient person and therefore athlete.


Why do we need productivity? Why would we waste time on the Coach's Blog talking about productivity. Isn't this blog about helping athletes accomplish their athletic goals and pushing them to get faster on the bike? Yes. And that's why we are talking about productivity. Productivity will help you get faster on the bike. There are a few reasons I believe this to be true.

We are lazy people. Let's be honest. We don't want to go for that long endurance ride our coach is forcing us to do. What we really want is to order pizza and watch Gilmore Girls. But what we really REALLY want is to win bike races. And that's why we ride and train and eat a healthy diet. When we clearly define our goals, we can set up strategies to help us get there. Because unfortunately, intention and self-determination just isn't going to cut it. Systems trump intentions. I often see athletes who have big goals and even have the self-determination and motivation to accomplish those goals, but what they lack is a system or method that keeps them striving after those goals each and every day. Productivity helps us to set up systems and structures that push us to accomplish our goals.

Productivity saves time. And when you save time in other areas that means you have more time for bike riding, training and healthy meal prep. Perman writes that "being really good at something is a huge time saver." So what this means is that hopefully you can find a career or goal that is not only something you're very passionate about, but also something that you're really good at. This will help with productivity. Perman's advice is that "you want to be doing what you do best every day."

It forces you to get serious about your priorities. This goes back to the last blog on effectiveness. Before you can be efficient at what you do, you must actually figure out what it is you want to be doing and accomplishing. This forces you to look at all your different roles in life and the goals you want to accomplish within each of those roles. Then having a structure allows you to prioritize those roles and the goals associated with them.

A plan propels you into preparation. When you already know what tasks you have to accomplish tomorrow you can already start preparing for that today. If you have a crazy hard workout on the schedule tomorrow, you can be more prepared both physically and mentally because you've already thought about it and can do what it takes ahead of time to properly tackle it. Maybe this means eating a good dinner and getting good sleep.

Make a Weekly Schedule

"We need to go into our weeks with a deliberate plan." -Matt Perman

On my productivity journey over the past few months, the best thing I've learned to incorporate into my planning is a weekly schedule. Cal Newport in his best-selling book "Deep Work" even says we should schedule every single hour of every single day. I tried that method and it didn't last long. I've always wanted to try and put together a daily schedule, but found it way too burdensome to sit down every single night and plan out each day. The solution was simpler than I expected, yet I didn't discover it until reading "What's Best Next."

Make a weekly schedule. Now I only have to sit down and plan out a schedule once a week instead of every single day. This method is much more realistic and easier to make into a habit.

Here's How you do it:

  1. Create a graph that includes weekdays on the top and hours down the side. Like the one below. This will be your permanent template so make it into something you can easily view and edit each week. We all operate a little different so create it in the way that makes the most sense to you.

  2. Insert required events or meetings. These are those rock-solid time commitments you can't avoid or put-off. For example: Friday Leadership Meetings at 2pm. That's immoveable and required so schedule it.

  3. Insert Daily Workflow. We will define daily workflow more in depth, but it's basically the most important things you should be doing every single day. These should be several hours long and in the mornings.

  4. Insert everything else based on their priority. If working-out is high priority, plan it next. Then just keep going from there. I usually have my TrainingPeaks account pulled up as well so I can make sure I plan the right amount of time for each days scheduled workouts.

Here is what my weekly schedule looks like:

Helpful Notes:

  1. Don't put this off. This may take 15-20 minutes on Sunday night or Monday morning, but the time you'll save is well worth that investment. Just do it. The times we feel too busy to create our weekly schedule are the times we need it the most.

  2. Don't cram too much into your weekly schedule or it won't all get accomplished. Figure out what's most important and make sure it gets scheduled. It just won't work if you try to force too much into it.

  3. Make it easy to access. I use Numbers, Apple's version of spreadsheet. I create my weekly schedule on my computer and it automatically syncs with the Numbers app on my phone so I can easily access it at anytime.

  4. Keep it flexible. Don't make your schedule so rigid that you can't spontaneously do something fun with your wife or take the dog for a much-needed afternoon walk. This should just be a guideline or a template for you to refer to and keep you on track and on task.

  5. Be smart about your time allotments. Things always take longer than we think. We get distracted and off-task a lot more than we like to admit. To help combat these distractions you can allot yourself a specific time limit to accomplish a specific task. Almost like a time limit. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand and avoid allowing it to take half the day.

  6. Attach your mission, vision and roles to this document. You can notice at the top of my weekly schedule that I have 2 other pages. These have my mission, vision and roles listed and defined so I can easily refer to them each week when I'm creating my schedule. This helps make sure I am prioritizing the right things each week.

"The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." -Stephen Covey

The Benefits of a Weekly Schedule

After a few months I've noticed a few benefits of a weekly schedule.

  1. It's easier. Now you can still have a schedule but only have to sit down and actually plan it out once a week instead of every single day.

  2. It helps you set priorities. Now you can figure out what's most important and make sure it gets scheduled, which is the first step to getting it accomplished.

  3. It helps you mentally prepare. This is especially true of those high-pain tolerance type workouts your crazy coach puts in TrainingPeaks. Knowing you have a crazy hard workout on Tuesday and Saturday and putting it in the schedule allows you to mentally prepare for it and show up ready to embrace the pain and get it done.

  4. It helps you plan. When you know you have a really long endurance ride on Saturday and you've got it in the schedule it helps you be more aware and plan ahead. When rides are that long you can't just wing it. If you're like me, you have to plan your nutrition the night before and make sure it's ok with your wife that you'll be gone half the day.

Define Daily Workflow

I mentioned earlier that knowing your Daily Workflow will help you accomplish more of your goals. But you don't know what Daily Workflow is, so here we go. Daily Workflow are the important things you have to do every day and the things you do best. Hopefully those two categories overlap.

Your highest priority items should be the first thing you do each day. This is so simple and yet so helpful. Again, something I had never thought about until reading "What's Best Next." When you do the most important things first, you can't procrastinate and keep putting them off. And this makes sure they get done. If they truly are the most important things, then they MUST be accomplished. Another great thing about this is that it takes off a ton of pressure for the rest of the day. When you've already accomplished that day's essential tasks before lunch, that means you have the afternoon to get ahead or work on projects that don't have high priority. This is great.

To give you an example I'll explain my Daily Workflow. For me this means getting my TrainingPeaks specific work done first. My athletes are the highest priority for my job so I make sure to put their training plans first on my daily workflow list. I'll also schedule any calls that may be needed with athletes and respond to important emails. It is my goal to complete all these tasks early so I have the rest of the day to focus on my workouts and projects I am currently tackling. This weeks projects are this blog and building a deck in my back yard.

I have my Daily Workflow tasks at the bottom of my Weekly Schedule as a reminder.

Create Lists

Another hot topic in the productivity world is lists. What lists should you have? How many should you have? What kind of list app should you have? What should be on each list? How do you incorporate those lists into daily workflow and productivity? Let's answer these questions.

Let's start with the app. I use Reminders, which is just the stock Apple app that comes on every iPhone and Apple product. It allows you to create lists and have them synced across devices via the cloud. I have 5 permanent lists.

The lists I use and how I use them:

  1. Weekly Priorities. These are the high-priority tasks and goals I would like to or need to accomplish this week. I've found it's easy to let this list grow rather long, but the goal here is to accomplish everything on this list by the end of the week so it's best to keep it pretty short. This also does not include my Daily Workflow since those are the things you should be doing every single day anyways.

  2. Master Projects. These are the ideas and goals I'd like to accomplish sometime soon, but not necessarily this week. The idea here is that I would weekly review this list and eventually move items from this list to the Weekly Priorities List.

  3. Backburner. These are the big idea projects or long-term projects. These are goals I'd like to accomplish for a long time from now. Eventually these will move into the Master Projects list and then onto the Weekly Priorities.

  4. Task List. This is where Siri stores all the "Hey Siri, remind me to..."

  5. Grocery List. Pretty self explanatory. I only use this list for "non-essential" items that I'll likely forget. So I don't list out every single thing I'll shop for.

Serve Others

One of my favorite takeaways from Perman's view on productivity was his emphasis on serving others through our productivity. Don't forget his book "What's Best Next" is a Christian perspective on productivity and one of the key features of Christianity is serving others. So this makes sense.

Often when we think about serving others, we jump to big conclusions. We instantly think we need to feed the homeless, serve at the local soup kitchen, donate all we own or move to a foreign country. But Perman makes it much more simple than that. He writes, "Good works are not simply the rare, extraordinary or super spiritual things we do. Rather, they are anything we do in faith." So what does that mean?

"A radical concern for others is to be at the heart of our productivity and at the heart of everything we do every day." -Matt Perman

This means that we should strive to do our best work because when we do our best work we are serving others. One of the greatest forms of generosity is to be excellent at what you do. This opens up your eyes to see people and distractions not as inconveniences to your work, but rather as opportunities to serve and love. Life is about God and life is about people. That's really important, even as we pursue our personal athletic goals and career goals. Don't forget to enjoy relationships and use the gifts God has given you to serve others whole-heartedly.


We all have goals. Effectiveness is all about making sure those goals line up with what you really care about and what you really want to do with your life and your time. Efficiency is figuring out the best method to accomplish those goals. You can have some pretty big goals and even have a strong motivation to accomplish those goals, but if you don't actually set up a system of attack then those goals will most likely remain unfulfilled. Productivity is all about optimizing systems and structures to help you accomplish those goals.

So give it a shot. Create your own personal mission statement. Come up with a vision statement and life goal. Try creating a weekly schedule. Define your daily workflow. Figure out what your different roles in life are and what each role requires. Start creating lists and referring to them periodically. And serve others through it all. And don't forget, these methods and structures aren't the goal, but rather just a tool to help accomplish the goals we're really passionate about.

If you've got questions about this blog on Productivity or any of my other blogs I'd be happy to answer and discuss any topics. And if your interested in what coaching may look like with Dillman Coaching than feel free to reach out and we can jump on a call to see what you're looking for and see if I can help. Thanks for tuning in and I hope this information is helpful as you strive after your goals both on and off the bike.


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