How Goofing Off Will Make You More Productive And 7 Other Tips For Better Time Management
The premise of Freetostart is that by building small amounts of passive income you can gain more control of your life. We reject the Silicon Valley myth that you need to quit your day job and take a massive risk that could lead to failure. We want you to optimize and do things better. To do that you need to manage your time better. While this is a simple sentence to write, I know it is not easy. There are so many things – job, family, friends, hobbies, etc. – vying for your time. But if you follow some of the below suggestions, you’ll go to bed each night knowing you maximized the shit out of your day. And believe it or not that simple feeling will have a huge psychological impact on your productivity.
Value your time
The difference between people who make a lot of money and those who just do well is that people who make a lot of money put value on their performance and not their time. Most of us get paid a salary and so we feel obligated to put in our 40-50 hours per week. Since we have to be in the office that long, we don’t necessarily move like our ass is on fire. We go grab a coffee, chat with the guy from accounting, and stretch out our tasks so they fill that previously agreed up 40-50 hours. Screw that timeline. Be honest: if you really hustled could you accomplish your weekly work in 30 hours? 25 hours? Do it. Always work like having more time is valuable because it always is. With that extra time you can start generating additional income, which is great. Or you could spend more time with your family or pick up a hobby or something that adds additional richness to your life. Of course the key though is how not to waste that extra time.
This may seem like a baiting headline but the reality is it is true. We’re all human beings. We’re not machines that can be focused and productive every second of the day. Thinking and working hard is tiring. You need breaks to remain fresh. Otherwise you’ll burn out and your productivity will suffer.
So take breaks. Catch up on Facebook. Watch a squirrel water ski. Do whatever. But do them at structured moments throughout the day. Don’t do it constantly. Every time you’re in the middle of working on something and stop and check Facebook, you have delayed yourself 10x the time it actually took to check out that latest post. You’re interrupting your workflow, your creativity and when you do that it takes a long time to re-enter the groove.
We have to remember that as human beings we have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Technology is at our fingertips, which leads to an unlimited amount of distractions.
Be honest: how many times have you checked your email, slack messages, online bank account or IG feed while reading this article? We’re only on the fifth paragraph. The internet is awesome. It can also suck you down a black hole of procrastination that is not only difficult to climb out of but can become your new norm. Fight back.
One way to do that is by turning your internet and phone off when you’re working on a particular project. By actually eliminating the potential distraction it can help you remain focused. Here’s the problem with distractions: they prevent you from accomplishing things.
Personally, I have been working on an editorial or a PowerPoint deck and then in the middle – for no reason – I check my email, which prompts a new task that I rush to finish and then 30 minutes later, I forgot what I was even working on to begin with.
That is not efficient or productive. I would estimate that this wastes, if I am being honest, at least 90 minutes each day. If was able to get that time back then suddenly I have plenty of time to start that new income source.
Learn to say no
I bet that every day people are asking you to do things without any regard for your time. I used to have a boss that was sort of a whirlwind of energy. Every project was the most important project. Until the next one came alone. All of these grand ideas needed a comprehensive deck to support them. Yet by the time you finished, she was on to the next idea. She once scheduled a meeting for me to present a deck. I built the deck. I practiced the presentation. She rescheduled. I repeated the effort prior to the next meeting. She then rescheduled. Rinse and repeat one more time before I finally woke up, said screw and didn’t spend any more time on the meaningless presentation.
If someone stole money from you on a regular basis would you still be friends with them? No. You’d drop them like a bad habit. Yet we all know time is our most precious commodity. We have to look at people who drain us of our time in the same way. It is time to say goodbye.
This isn’t easy in the corporate setting. Yes men often seem like they succeed. But they are not succeeding in the way you want to. Don’t be afraid of “no.” It is a powerful tool that will open up your schedule for better things.
Good is good enough
We’ve all read stories about the people who are obsessed with details. Whether it be Tom Brady practicing the same play for the 10,000th time or Steve Jobs fussing over the dimensions of a perfect cube, we admire people who are passionate (borderline psychotic) about their work. But here are two things to think about:
- We often admire these traits from afar but don’t actually want them in people we know, especially ourselves. This is a great article by Chuck Klosterman from several years ago that discusses this specific topic in the context of Bode Miller and Michael Jordan).
- For most tasks, this fanatical behavior, is a waste of time and you’d be better served to complete the task and move on. Rarely does that extra 5% make much of an actual difference on the project you’re working on. But it can delay you from starting the next one, which means your overall workload is slowed.
Most people think that to finish something they have to start. It is sound logic but that attitude also means we rush into things too quickly. This can be useful in the beginning but it usually catches up to us. That’s why it is better to spend more time brainstorming up front. While this may seem like it slows things down, it will help you better develops your ideas, which will make the tactical elements either to execute and will, in the long run, help you finish the project more quickly.
Set deadlines. Then forget them. Then finish early
We are always playing with time to help give us an edge. I set my clock five minutes early. Of course, I know this so take that into account when judging my arrival time. I once had a friend who used to change his alarm clock setting every month. One month it might be seven minutes, the next month three minutes and the month after that nine minutes. Eventually he’d get so confused that he would just get up immediately. So he was always early.
Do this with your deadlines. Set a time to finish your task but always try to creep it up. If you finish early not only will you have extra time to focus on your passive income business but you’ll feel proud of yourself. That feeling of success can carry momentum over to the rest of your life.
Quit while you’re ahead
Most writers end their day when they’re completely exhausted and don’t know what else to write. Of course, Ernest Hemingway wasn’t most writers. Hemingway would stop for the day when he knew exactly what he wanted to write next. That way when he started in the morning it was like he had a jump start. As I’ve said before so much of success is just continued momentum. Once the ball gets rolling it picks up speed and can become unstoppable. But in life it can be pretty hard to get the ball rolling. Hemingway understood that. He knew to start his day knowing what he wanted to write would get the ball rolling. He wasn’t starting from scratch. The same can be said for your passive income. You don’t have to start a brand new life. You just need to carve out a few extra hours each week, which is exactly what these tips will help you do.