⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
In this edition (part 3 of a 4-part series), you’ll understand the difference between intelligent effort and how it will serve you better than constantly hustling and grinding as a strategic performer.
In this post, we’ll dig into:
- The meaning of intelligent effort.
- Four specific ways to reach maximum intelligent effort.
- How to unlock maximum intelligent effort consistently.
Maximum Effort Doesn’t Mean Constant Hustle!
Ever wonder what sets the A-players apart from the rest?
How do top SaaS sales performers blow their targets out of the water each year while others struggle to meet the minimum expectations? One obvious key to success lies in our effort level.
And no— it’s not based on hustle alone!
Effort is Part 3 of my personal operating framework and system called PREP: Plan, Rest, Effort, and Perform.
Make no mistake, it’s not Part 3 because it ranks third in importance. It’s Part 3 because giving your best effort every single day is not humanly possible without proper planning (Part 1) and rest (Part 2).
Rethinking what effort means
Effort is defined as a vigorous and determined attempt. Also, a conscious exertion of power.
Effort without conscious exertion is just work, or put another way, manual labor. And manual labor for knowledge workers is hustle. We did not get into sales to just churn out manual labor in front of a computer – that would be a complete waste of our talents.
Effort needs some enlightenment in order to consistently perform at the top of our industry.
The level of effort we are capable of giving on any given day depends on our state of being. If we are tired, for example, we are incapable of operating at the same level as if we are well-rested and fully recovered.
Further, if we aren’t sure what needs to be done, our efforts won’t be as effective as if we have a clear plan.
The PREP framework guides us to plan in advance, so we can mentally check out of work, rest, and have a very strategic and meaningful to-do list ready each morning.
Then, when it’s time to turn on, put in the work, and make progress, we are able to truly give 100%.
This is intelligent effort because we are aligning five critical components in our work life:
- Time: We all are given the exact same amount of 24 hours on the clock everyday. Top performers are just more strategic with how they use theirs.
- Energy: This is purely dependent on our own habits and routines. Top performers, like how a pro athlete would behave, ensures everything that they do harnesses maximum energy potential (another warning to those constant hustlers out there thinking 4 hours of sleep a night gets them ahead in life).
- Motivation: Our vision, values, and targets. Top performers’ motivation is a blend of personal and professional – they are integrated, not in separate silos (what the myth of work/life balance would have you believe).
- Priorities: These are our most important tasks that fuel our motivation. Top performers make room for their priorities first when their energy level is at its peak.
- Right Focus: How we apply our effort on the what and when. Top performers are able to show up to work and execute immediately because they’ve harnessed their energy for the day and don’t waste any precious time planning out their strategy for the day.
But how do the best of the best take effort optimization even further? How did I turn effort into a science that enabled me to join and stay in the 7 figure annual earners club consistently?
Success strategy for SaaS sellers: How-to reach your maximum intelligent effort level
Becoming highly successful in SaaS sales really comes down to getting granular with how you spend your time, energy, and attention. Every action, thought, and minute on your calendar matters to top performers.
They aren’t the ones scrolling endlessly through Instagram and playing games on their phones because they have crystal clarity in knowing exactly what an hour of their time is worth.
They view these finite resources very differently than everyone else.
Because they consistently plan out their time, energy, and attention the day before and have had a chance to fully relax, rest, and recharge, they can get more out of 8 hours of work per day over the long arc of a year than the hustle and grinders do getting 4 hours of sleep a night and pushing the limits on 16 hour workdays.
Yes, that is 2x the effectiveness in a year when you measure intelligent effort against hustle and grinding!
Here are four practices that can unlock your maximum effort level so you can maintain a healthy work/life harmony and achieve long-term, sustainable, and predictable results.
1/ Plan and rest
If you want to take it a step further to gain more insights into unlocking your potential, try using a sophisticated wearable, like WHOOP.
Schedule when you go to bed and when you wake up and stick to a consistent schedule. This will help to ensure your mind and body are ready to take on the full brunt of effort required for each day.
2/ Keep yourself on-task
Staying focused on your priorities for the day is another must. As the day goes on, ask yourself this simple question:
“Does what I’m doing align with my targets, vision, and long-term goals?”
If the answer is no (like if you go down a rabbit hole of scrolling on your LinkedIn feed), ask, “Is there something better I can be doing right now?” This is a question you need to get into a habit of asking yourself often every day.
The answer is never far, as all you have to do is look at your plan for the day. Building in this self-awareness and accountability helps you to pivot back to your trusted space where you built your plan.
This practice helps you stay focused on the right things and keep moving forward.
3/ Match tasks to your energy levels
After I warm up for the day using my Daily Start Routine, I’m all about attacking my priorities with all that I have.
Just like a professional track star might be asked to give 100% effort on each of their 100m sprints at the beginning of practice after a thorough warmup, I give 100% concentrated effort to the most important tasks on my list right after I have gotten through my groggy stage (typically 90 minutes after we wake up) to take advantage of my peak energy state for the day.
As the body wears down, track athletes may follow up sprints with flexibility and body conditioning work. As I tire mentally, I transition from key strategic work, like developing a creative proposal, into admin work or CRM cleanup.
Despite what it may seem like, top SaaS sellers aren’t superheroes with some special ability or sales skills you are missing.
They also don’t have an endless amount of energy. Instead, a key is to understand your personal energy patterns and match your highest value tasks with your highest levels of energy. As the day goes on, adjust accordingly.
In my case, I start off the day able to give my most concentrated effort. Then, I enter a dip after lunch and often rebound in the early evening.
🚀 PEAK – priority tasks and strategic work that align to revenue generation and life vision
😓 DIP – admin work, low value/brainless tasks (like CRM cleanup and quick emails)
📈 REBOUND – strategy, creative work like a pitch deck, planning tomorrow
List your daily tasks and schedule them on your calendar according to your peaks, dips, and rebounds. Gaining awareness from something like Rise will help you see these patterns so you can plan accordingly and time block your calendar the evening before.
Rise helps you identify your energy peaks and valleys and then align appropriate tasks to each.
4/ Perform work sprints using the Pomodoro Technique
When you lift weights, do you perform as many reps as you physically can and then quit? No. You do a set of reps, then you rest, then you do a set of reps, then you rest. Similarly, knowledge workers need breaks to rest and recover throughout the workday.
I use the Pomodoro Technique to work in highly-concentrated 25-minute efforts. After each 25-minute work session, I take a five-minute break. Then, after three sessions (not the four recommended in the article above), I take a longer 15-minute break.
Overall, I target six to eight 25-minute efforts and strive for no more than four 1-hour meetings per day. In strategic sales, four meetings worked well for me. In other SaaS sales roles, that number might need to be higher for you to reach your targets.
This approach is critical if you want to put your best effort forward as it helps you stay focused and mentally fresh.
Unlock maximum effort and SaaS sales success
Are you putting in every ounce of effort you have but not seeing results?
This secret comes down to understanding yourself and working in the way that enables you to be most effective. You can’t just power through life, deny your needs, and expect sustainable success.
Remember, when we do things becomes just as important as what we do.
The PREP approach recognizes and respects your individual needs. It works with the mind, body, and emotions to ensure that the conditions are right for you to give your highest quality effort to the priorities that deliver the most value in work and life.
We hear this cliche all the time, because it’s true: It’s about working smarter, not harder.
When you apply intelligent effort consistently, it prepares you to reach a higher level of performance, which we will dig into next week in Part 4!
- Maximum effort isn’t constantly hustling and grinding
- Working intelligently helps you get more done, more effectively
- The keys to intelligent effort are:
- Plan ahead and be well-rested
- Keep yourself on-task by asking “does this align with my long-term goals?”
- Align tasks to your appropriate energy states
- Perform work sprints using the Pomodoro Technique
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
- Get the exact system I’ve used to go from earning $200K to over $1M a year in SaaS sales without burning out here. (1,900+ students)
- Join a community of Purpose-Curious™ sellers in the Make More Hustle Less Club where we develop a personal operating system together here. (300+ members)
- Book a 1:1 coaching session to up-level your performance here. (Limited spots available)