Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad; whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
- John le Carre
- John le Carre
So I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal time and how it's being spent. I'll be the first one to tell you that I use entirely too much of it watching movies and staring at a computer screen.
I wouldn't say it's wasted time since I love and enjoy watching films and reruns of old shows. It's the way I relax and de-stress.
As for staring at the computer screen - 3/4 of the time I'm actually working on my businesses but you all know how distracting the internet can be.
I've read my share of productivity tips from various blogs but it almost feels like you have to be some kind of a superhero to be able to perform these tasks and get a lot of stuff done.
Ok, check this: The average person is likely to be employed @ a job where he/she has to work an 8-10 hour shift. Let's say the commute is between 30-45 minutes both ways. That's about 10-12 hours of the day gone. Then that person gets home, changes into comfy clothes, eats dinner, winds down for a bit - that shaves maybe another hour off their time. More if you have a spouse/partner, children, and pets to spend time with and take care of. So for the most part that leaves you with around 3-4 hours to get the productivity magic to work for you before you gotta head off to bed.
Then you have your days off. But you have the usual stuff to do then: grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, tidy up your place a bit, spend more time with family & friends, go out and do something fun, you know...that sort of thing.
So if you're an aspiring entrepreneur and want to start your own business, a creative type who wants to start earning money on the side or just finish that special project you have - when are you supposed to do that thing that you do in order to achieve your goals? You can't just magically tack on more hours in a day but you can use your extra time wisely. It would be nice if everyone had the disposable income for a personal assistant - I know there's virtual assistants out there that are very affordable but if money is tight then you'll have to do things on your own for the meantime.
This is why I suggested planning ahead when you can.
So here's a couple of other suggestions for all you working class lifestyle designers out there.
And no, I'm not gonna tell you to wake up earlier. Because I don't do it unless I really have to. I hate waking up early. Never been a morning person and I never will be. The last thing I want to do at 5:30 in the morning is draw, write, or come up with a marketing strategy. I just want to hit that snooze button and catch another 15 minutes before I gotta rise and shine.
But hey, if you're a morning person then go for it. Everyone has their own methodology. Which brings me to my first tip:
1. Do what works for you. (I know you're thinking, "kinda vague there aren't ya? Thanks for nothing jackhole.")
I'm just saying that the formula that works for Tim Ferriss isn't necessarily gonna work for you. You have to twist and bend and make the formula your own based on your habits and current lifestyle.
In order to do that you have to take the time to dissect and create a rough timeline of your daily activities. Do this for your workdays and days off. There's no right way of laying this out. You can do a flowchart, write a bulleted list, or whatever appeals to you. Take me for example: I'm more apt to remember things if it's presented in a visual manner. So the flowchart idea would work best in my case.
Once you see how your time is actually spent, you should get a feel for how much time this leaves you to pursue your goals. Which brings me to tip #2.
2. Define and focus on one goal.
This is probably gonna be tough on a lot of folks. I'm guilty of this myself. I'm always juggling multiple projects. But I can tell you right now from experience that having a laser beam focus on just one thing can really propel you forward and help your momentum. It's awesome to have tons of goals you want to achieve - but I suggest writing them all down in a journal for future access. It's nice to just keep it simple - the stress factor is heightened when you place such high expectations on yourself.
When I say goal, I'm talking about a short-term goal. Like something you want to accomplish in a short amount of time - let's say 1-3 months.
i.e. I will have enough material to complete my short story collection in 3 mos. NOT I will have my book up in amazon.com in 3 mos.
I will have my portfolio and store front up in 3 mos. NOT I'll make enough money selling my artwork in 3 mos. to quit my job.
It's good to aim high. You should always aim high. That's what the whole zero to rockstar site is about: aim high, think big. But you gotta be realistic as well. It's not enough to know what you want. You have to be able to execute it.
3. Be an action figure.
Do things. Don't just plan it.
Start a simple and small daily list consisting of actionable tasks that you can easily do. I would just stick to 1-2 items to start off with.
i.e. 8-9pm: Start on a new short story. A couple of pages at least. Rough draft. No editing. No distractions: no music in the background. Cellphones in silent.
8-9pm - do rough pencil sketch of new illustration. 5 X 7 bristol board. (Prepare reference photos prior)
This is an exercise to increase your awareness of how you spend your time.
It also helps build a habit of doing.
You can't put a schedule on creative inspiration but you can at least get the ball rolling and train yourself to be responsible and proactive when it comes to your aspirations.
The daily grind can often blur things in a way that time just kinda slips by and keeps going and before you know it it's been another week, month, year. This method has helped me keep the fire lit with my personal endeavors. Feel free to give it a try and I'd love to hear how it works for you. I'd also love to hear how you've remixed this formula to make it your own.