All right, so over the past ten years I have read basically all of the books around productivity and time management and in that time there are 10 things that I still use in my life, genuinely used to help make my time management more efficient. Let’s talk about them one by one in this blog.
Tip number one is that we absolutely own all of our time now, this is like a big one. When I first had this realisation, my life genuinely changed because I used to think I don’t have time to do stuff and I don’t remember where I read it, but I came across this like probably like a fortune cookie somewhere which said something like at any given moment you are doing what you most want to be doing. And that was a very empowering thing for me because I was obviously in need of empowerment and it helped me realize that my time is entirely within my control. Like right now I’m writing this blog because that’s what I wanted to do. I could not have said, I don’t have the time to work out today. And so when it comes to time management, like step one is always to recognise that we are always in control of our own time. Yes, you might have a boss. Yes, you might have parents telling you what to do, but fundamentally you are in control of your own time and you can choose to do whatever you want with that time. If you don’t have the time to do something, that something is just not a priority, which is fine, but don’t pretend like the reason you’re not doing it because you genuinely don’t have the time.
Tip number two is the title of this book by Derek Sivers – Hell yeah, or no. What’s worth doing now? The vibe here, Hell yeah or no. It kind of says it all in the title. When we’re young and we don’t have many opportunities in our lives, we should probably say yes to the majority of things that are coming our way. But as soon as we get to a point where we’re starting to get more inbound leads than we have time available, we start operating with a hell yeah or no maxim. And the idea there is something is either a hell yes or it’s a no. And so if I get an email from someone saying, hey, do you want to do this thing? And I’m thinking maybe it sounds kind of all right, then my default position is going to be no. If I get an email from someone saying, hey, do you wanna do this thing? And I’m like, hell yeah, then I’m going to do the thing and I’m trying to get better at using this principle in my life because even now my calendar is full of a lot of things where I’m like, oh yeah, kind of rather than hell, yeah too. And now it was regret doing it when it comes down. So hell yeah or no, just like learning to be okay with saying no to stuff is another really important principle of time management.
Thirdly, there’s a tip I picked up from this book called Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. Um, and this tip is called the daily highlight. This is like deviously simple. Basically the idea is that every day we decide this thing, This one thing is going to be in my highlight of the day. This is the only thing I need to get done today and on the days where I set a daily highlight and I try to do this every day. I always get the thing done and I’m always really happy at the end of the day, but if I have a day where I don’t set my daily highlight, then I kind of drown in my to do list and I have this image in my head of like, oh yeah, I need to do this and this and this and that and it’s a lot harder to get stuff done. Whereas on days where I have the daily highlight, I have that just one thing that I’m focusing on, you know, this is the most urgent or the most satisfying or the most fun thing I have to do today and then it just really, really helps with my time management.
Tip number four for time management is to use a to do list. That means like every morning, once I figured out what my daily highlight is, I make a list of the other stuff that I have to do that day and I shove it on a list and then I take them off and cross them off with physical pen as I go throughout my day, it doesn’t really matter what system you use for a to do list. But again, there’s a general principle of productivity which is that our brain is for having ideas, not for holding them. And a big part of why we let stuff slip through the cracks when it comes to managing our time and managing a productivity is because we haven’t written them down. And so any time I need to do something, I write it down into an app these days.
The principle number five of time management is the concept of time blocking. Apparently this is something that Elon Musk does all the time. Basically the idea there is any time we need to do something, we put a block for it in our calendar. And I think the more time I spend managing my productivity system, the less time I spend actually getting stuff done and then it’s just all completely pointless. But the one thing that I always schedule into my calendar at the start of the day is my daily highlight. If my daily highlight is make changes to my blog, I will schedule it at like for a block in my calendar. And that’s like really nice and reassuring because it means that that one thing that I’ve decided is really, really important is always going to get done because it’s always on the schedule and then if I need to move it around, I’ll move it around if something comes up. But at least it’s there on the schedule by default. And this thing where you combine the daily highlight with time blocking in the calendar is just incredibly useful. Everyone always kind of thinks that like, oh, but only one thing a day, don’t you have to do more than that? And yeah, you do kind of have to do more than that in most of our lives. But imagine if every single day for the next year, you could actually do the one thing, the one most important thing to do that day. You’d make a hell of a lot of progress over the course of the year. And it would just be absolutely game changing principle.
Number six is related to something called Parkinson’s law, which is that work expands to fill the time that we allocate to it. So if I have to write a piece of code in a day and I give myself the whole day to write that, inevitably it’s going to take all day. Whereas if I only give myself half an hour or an hour to it and I fill my day up with other things, then inevitably I finish the coding done in that small amount of time. And so the actionable advice here is to leverage artificial deadlines, even when it’s something like taking your pet for a walk.
Point number seven is one I’ve started applying recently and that is having protected time when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re like working for yourself and all that kind of stuff. You end up basically being able to set whatever schedule you want. But if you’re like me and you and you’re like making connections and make friends with people all around the internet, you get to a point where your day is filled with lots and lots of zoom calls and I realised that for me, I need to keep my mornings completely free of any obligations or any zoom calls. And this has been an absolute game changer because in the morning that means I can wake up whenever I want. Usually it’s half past four these days and it means that for a solid like five hours at least I’ve got uninterrupted time where I can do whatever I want. So these days I’m focusing on my fitness and so the morning is my protected time for workouts. But even on days when I’m not going out, it’s just genuinely so nice to have that like time stopped where I can think about the business or plans for more blogs or learn some new skill. And sometimes if I’m not really feeling I’ll just decide, you know what, I’m going to use this protected time to sleep a little more 🙂 or to just kind of relax and read a book. So if you’re interested in better ways to managing your time, I would recommend figuring out what your protected time is going to be time. That is just for you and you alone and not for anyone else where no one is allowed to book something in your schedule.
Alright, principle number eight is delegation. Now this one is a little bit weird because normally when you say the word delegate people imagine that, oh well I can’t afford to delegate something, I don’t have enough money to delegate to hire someone and sure that’s probably true. But the way that I think of it is that like what is actually the dollar value of my time? How much, how much is my time actually worth? And when it came to running my business, I decided that okay, my time is worth $20 an hour or $25 an hour. And that means that anything I’m doing that, I don’t enjoy that I can outsource to someone that I can delegate for less than $25 an hour. I absolutely should do that. And that principle of delegation has encouraged me to get a cleaner, which has been great because now we have someone who comes in to clean the house every other week, which means I don’t have to do it myself and back in the day when I was building my businesses from the ground up and there was lots of things that needed to be done like data entry or things like that. I was able to delegate those to freelancers. It freed up my time to do things that we’re adding more value to the business and to my life than doing data entry for example. And so whatever your circumstances are, I’d encourage you to think about what is that dollar value of your time and potentially if you want, can you delegate stuff that’s cheaper than that to other people?
Potentially tip number nine for time management is to try and automate scheduling as much as possible. Now that we’re in the world of like zoom calls and like chatting to people over the internet basically every day I found I was wasting a lot of time in scheduling back and forth, where I’d be like, hey, I want to talk to you, but are you free this time pacific time, this time Eastern time, this time british standard time, all this kind of stuff. And we’d go back and forth with emails for like a solid 10 days before anything will get done. But then I discovered an app called Calendly and it is great. You can literally send someone a link and it has like all of your availability and they can just book a slot in your calendar. This feels a little bit weird to do. Initially it feels like a bit of a power move that hey, book a slot on my calendar. But anytime I get a calendar link from someone, I’m like, oh my God, I’m so grateful because this has literally saved me 20 minutes of my life time that I’m never going to get back in, not having to worry about scheduling back and forth emails. Even sometimes these days when it comes to like catching up with friends, I just sent him a calendar link and I’m like, look, hey man, I’m really sorry, but like, you know, here’s a calendly link. I know we’re never gonna talk because the schedules are never going to align. But if there’s a time that works for you, click on this link and book a time and we have a call.
And finally principle number 10 for time management. And this is something I’ve only recently started to appreciate, which is that like when you’re like a productivity nerd and you’re interested in like efficiency and getting more done, it’s very easy for us to get to the end of the day and to just feel chronically dissatisfied with what we’ve accomplished at the end of the day, it’s like, oh well I wrote one blog today, but I could have written three blogs, what’s wrong with me? I’m such a waste man and kind of internally beating ourselves up about this. But one thing I started to kind of tell myself recently is that I can choose to be satisfied at the end of the day. At the end of this day, I have written this blog, I was planning to write three more blogs, but I didn’t get around to doing those, that’s fine. I wrote one, I can choose to be satisfied with what I’ve done and that’s all good and like, it doesn’t change how much work I’ve done by me beating myself up about it, it just makes me feel bad and therefore I can choose to feel good with how I’ve managed my time.
Tell me in comments section if you have any other productivity hacks up your sleeve. Until next time, it’s Anikendra signing off.