Guard your time as if it were your life (because it is your life). Resolutions are simple to make, hard to keep, and easy to forget. I am taking back my time in 2019. Time vampires beware. Eric‘s making his peace with this piece in the new year.
“It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Steve Jobs
No more procrastinating
This is across the board. Examples include:
- If that article isn’t worth reading now, it probably won’t be in the future. Don’t slow down your computer or phone with 60 saved articles to read “some other time.” There’s always going to be new news (see what I did there?).
- Create a list for to-do’s, but make sure it’s actionable.
- Things can be a moving target, but getting something done is better than nothing.
- Spam? Take action and unsubscribe/block/etc. in your digital world (especially when the same information arrives in multiple accounts). A cleaner digital existence will help you focus on what matters.
Clean your physical and digital life
We wrote about it here, but as we said in that post, “Spring isn’t the only time to clean up your home (and more).” To keep your life in order, you should clean out your baggage every few months.
Turn off all notifications
Yes, information wants to be free (per Stewart Brand) . . . but maybe you should think about freeing yourself. Notifications are attention vampires. If it’s urgent, call me, text, then email.
- Learn to email bundle. (It’s the only boldface item here). That means you only check and engage with email during certain hours (see Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week for an example). Not everything requires an immediate response. It actually is hurting your productivity by being 24/7 on-demand with email. We are not made to multitask.
Create an order of communication
Marshall McLuhan insisted that the medium is the message. Creating a waterfall system of communication preference has really helped with my productivity (and goes into the power of “No,” discussed later). So let’s do a breakdown of how I prefer to communicate:
- Phone: Emergency, business call, customer service, or I want to catch up. This is utilized for immediate need or just to hear a real voice.
- Text: I’m in a place where I can’t talk (or the person I’m with shouldn’t hear something private), or I require quick information. (Pick up the phone if you want to make plans or if you expect a text conversation with over four texts back-and-forth.) The “What are you up to” is just a garbage bin text.
- Email: I need this documented/it requires a larger response (but is not immediate). Again, if I’m out-of-pocket, expect a Twitter-character-limited response.
- Voicemail: Why, oh why!?! Just text!!! I know that most services now transcribe, but millennials will not even listen to the message or read the transcription. It’s archaic. It’s cancelled. Text.
- [Tele]fax: Take a long walk off a short pier. Are you even speaking English? Let me get some pigeons to light the lanterns so that the dictaphone translates it to the telegraph in hieroglyphs.
Create “screen-free” days
Turn off the phone/silence it and put it in a different room. On-demand information is like the most delicious candy, but you really don’t need it 24/7 (and it takes away from a healthy mindset). I can only claim to be halfway to recovery . . . I only see messages when I pick up the phone/am on it. Unless you call me (again, either it’s urgent information or you want to talk), it’s not happening.
Be clear with no
No, your immediate needs do not always trump mine.
- If I’m focussed on something, I don’t need unnecessary distractions. Let me get the work done. Science shows that it can take up to a half an hour to regain focus after a distraction . . . . When people interrupt you, they are literally stealing your time.
- Multitasking isn’t a thing. If someone asks you to do multiple things at once that should really be done by two people, say no. You can work on one high-cognitive task at a time, but trying to do two things well at the same time just doesn’t work.
- Sometimes, it’s not that I can’t do something, it’s just that I don’t want to or can’t afford to (like going out to an expensive restaurant or taking time away from my side hustle, etc.). Be honest with your time (it’s an asset) and your finances.
- There’s a power in saying NO. It’s quite liberating.
Remove toxic people
Create and defend your boundaries. This is with friends, relationships, and employers. You need to value yourself first.
- If someone can’t change a behavior that is toxic to you, call it. You’ll regret all of the patchwork you’ve done to repair something broken. Spend your energy on building, not repairing.
- Derive your worth from yourself, not from others.
Be more present (with yourself and others)
- This feeds into less noise. But what about the real-time feed that comes from friends, society, and social media? No more FOMO. Many social posts just show the optimistic side of people’s lives (or aspects of their lives that are “paid for” by more debt). Stick to what works best for you, and don’t be influenced by your network. Digital lives are just that.
- Know thyself (Socrates) both IRL and online. (And don’t be thirsty, especially for hemlock.)
- Enjoy what you have (and spend less in the process).
- Success comes in many forms. Enjoy yours. Otterwize recently launched . . . and we have already written a number of posts while in pajamas or travel hacking through Europe. This lifestyle may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us, it works. That’s just one way our happiness equals success.
- Create a meaningful zen space around yourself. Act with intention (such as not mindlessly checking your social media accounts to pass the time or, even worse, when you are with someone else). Not only will you be better off, but the people around you will feel it too as you will be focussed on them and not dividing your attention with the digital void. Try being mindful for a day with those around you and see how they react. You may surprise yourself.
Don’t let the fear of failure stand in the way of your aspirations. Everyone fails from time to time, and that’s a necessary step towards success. If you hear that voice in your head saying “no, no, no,” tell it to just zip it. You won’t succeed in every endeavor, but if you don’t even try, then you’ve already failed. One step and a stumble is better than standing still. Living in bubble wrap (whether it’s a job, self-doubt, or any emotional handcuffs) gets you nowhere.
No one owns the future, and no one owns you. Be the master of your own fate. Decide what your goals are, create a plan to get there (one that includes specific actions), and then take that first step. If you hit a roadblock (and you will), update your plan but, most importantly, keep moving ahead. Pursue your passions without fear. That, in itself, is success.
So . . .
After all of the ups and downs of the past year—failures and successes, setbacks and small victories—we’re happy. That’s what we want for everyone in 2019.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!