Tuesday, 16 August 2016 10:12

Optimizing The Time You Have To Get Things Done

In the last Lifestyle Design post called "How To Find Time To Get Things Done", we looked at finding times where you could feasibly do things to get closer to your dreams and goals.

We found that some of the times that are all your own are:

  • The commute to work and back
  • In the bathroom "taking care of business"
  • On Breaks and Lunch
  • Rare times when family is occupied and your participation isn't required
  • At night after everyone else is sleeping

Just having the time doesn't get you any closer to your goals, however.

What you do with that time will.

The first thing you have to do is eliminate anything from your personal time that doesn't bring you closer to your goals. Watching TV, playing Pokemon Go and reading a fiction novel might be fun and enjoyable, but save those things for after you've accomplished what it is that you're trying to do.

Since a few of my goals involve traveling like Anthony Bourdain and eating foods from around the world, I have to ensure that income is coming in every day/week/month. The way that I choose to do this is through passive income streams. The passive income streams are websites and blogs that review products, both good and bad.

I spend a lot of time working towards this goal.

Since I work a 9 to 5, and have a very busy family life, the amount of time that I have that I can work towards these personal goals in extremely limited. Every second counts in my book, so I have to make sure that I'm not wasting time on something that doesn't help me reach those goals I have.

I Split Personal Time Into Two Types Of Time:

  • Unplanned Downtime
  • Planned Downtime

Lets take a closer look at each one

Unplanned Downtime

Unplanned downtime is usually very short. My cutoff is an hour or less. It's those bathroom breaks and perhaps while waiting in the car while picking up your wife from a luncheon with her friends. Even though these types of downtimes can be somewhat planned, they're essentially too short to think you can get anything done, but you can.

I have a list of things that I can do in my notebook that don't require much time, but are essential to-do's to help me continually move forward. Here's a few:

  • Research potential products to write a review on.
  • Create short video
  • Write a paragraph for a blog post
  • Look for stock photos for an upcoming blog post

Those, of course are a bit generic, but they all can be done in 5 to 15 minutes easily. You want to fill your notebook with small tasks that will keep you on track and get you to where you need to go personally to achieve your dreams. 

Planned Downtime

These are the longer periods of time that I get in the day to work on my goals. Planned downtime is an hour or more in my book. These times often include the commute time to and from work and then late at night after everyone is sleeping. These are the "Git-R-Done" times.

I use planned downtime for items that require longer time commitments:

Generally speaking, I'll take the pieces of work that I accomplished during unplanned downtimes and now assemble and use it to make things go even faster during the planned longer length downtime here.

The idea is not to just fill the time with work, but very targeted and meaningful things that make it faster and more streamlined when you have the time to work late at night. Working endlessly is not the point. Not even close. For every task, great or small, one must ask themselves whether the activity is really going to help or not.

There are two types of tasks I group all the work into:

  • Direct Tasks - The tasks that directly affect your progress
  • Indirect Tasks - Tasks that are necessary, but don't impact the progress on their own

There is actually a third group of tasks. I'd call them "Meaningless Work", but I don't even include them because if what I am doing has no effect on the progress, why am I doing it in the first place? These tasks are immediately stopped or stricken from the notebook.

Everything you do, whether you have 5 minutes in the bathroom stall at work, or 3 hours late at night should be purpose driven. Optimize your time for maximum effective progress.

In my next Lifestyle Redesign post, we'll look at the system of note taking I use, including the tools and how it's done. Of course, you should do whatever works best for you, but if there's something you see in any of my posts, feel free to use it if it can help you achieve your dreams and goals.