Finding lost time

Plan Your Next: Letter No. 14

Writing consists of continually trying to find time to write. 

I’m pretty sure you could apply that to anything you’re wanting to do, but it’s not always easy finding some of that sweet, sweet time.

Finding time is like losing weight. If you’re focused on losing weight, 80% of the effort shouldn’t be devoted to working out to burn those calories, it’s about choosing not to take in those calories in the first place.

You have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else, but like dieting, you shouldn’t be trying to work harder, but rather focusing intently on what you’re doing within the same time constraints.

As I started writing this last week, I knew that I was going to miss my personal goal of not losing a week. I was in Northern Minnesota for a wedding, flying in early Saturday morning, driving for 3 hours out and back, then flying out Sunday.

I had planned to do what I needed to do during those small breaks at the airport, or on the plane, but I just couldn’t find the time.

As it usually goes, as soon as I have a title or an idea for a topic, I start to see cues all over the place to reinforce what I’m thinking about.

While having already started this late letter, this tweet affirmed what was currently on my mind. I ordered it immediately from Amazon, hardcover style.

You might know by now that I much prefer my kindle over my paperback books. But, when you see a cover designed like this, you just know that it’s going to be a book that you want to hold in your hands due to its illustrative style.

Some books are just meant to be read a certain way. I’m not a monster!

In the moment

It’s difficult to notice the shape of your day as it unfolds in front of you.

That type of self-awareness is not easy to groom.

You could be working on a project one moment, asked to jump into another, and that context switch is enough to set you back a few minutes, if not more.

Or you’re checking email, and that one particular link sends you straight into the wormhole which is difficult to escape.

Multiply those moments throughout the day and these small moments unravel more quickly as the day goes on.

Do you need a shock to the system? What happens when you place those electrodes directly onto the offender?

Finding ways to free up time

After reading through most of the book, “Make Time” I’ve been experimenting lately with a few things.

The first was to clean up my iPhone’s home screen. Right now I’m down to a total of 3, plus a folder called Future.

Which 3 apps are most important to me? My calendar, Google Maps, Halide (my default camera app), and a folder of necessary items labeled Future. And as I’ve done before, notifications are off for about 98% of all apps.

The one experiment that I decided to try out was removing my email application. What?!

Email is part of our central nervous system, and it’s become routine for me to dive into it the first thing in the morning. While I can’t fully give up my email for work, I thought maybe this would prevent me from checking it as the very first thing in the morning.

In fact, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a routine of just opening up my email from my phone and just deleting all of the spam. It feels rewarding in some extremely screwed up way. I’m not giving up email, but I’m relegating it to my laptop.

In the book, Make Time, they bring up the idea that the technology that we adopt into our lives has a default behavior set to get our attention. Unfortunately, it’s our job to try and limit its access to us.

Some ways I have helped gain free time and clarity

Highligting one or two things to work on:
Let’s get one thing straight. I struggle with using my time in the best way possible all the time. One thing that helps me focus is by just writing down a couple of high level things that I should get done for the day. This doesn’t always happen, and pushing it to the next day is completely fine. But

Becoming a morning person:
All my life I’ve been a night owl. Even though I haven’t always been that productive, I am a recent convert to the primal lifestyle since moving out west. Part of it has to do with my job, but it actually has a lot to do with my wife, who gets up at an ungodly hour. It’s easier to adopt a similar schedule. 

Not owning a TV:
I still have a problem with Netflix and some other subscription shows, but not owning a TV for the past 8 years has helped prevent me from sitting my ass on the couch and zoning out for too long. It was one of those devices that truly sucked me in.

This is a piece of software that gets installed on your computer. It can turn off certain sites that cause you to go down that infamous rabbit hole for amounts of time. It also gives you a report at the end of each week showing how much you slacked off last week. I’ve been using this for over a year, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about an app called Freedom.

Not belonging to a gym:
I haven’t been to a gym in a long time, and part of that is because the gene that some of you have to pack your bag, drive to the gym, and push yourself to have a decent workout in under an hour doesn’t exist for me. I have adopted a routine at home that utilizes some free weights, a kettlebell, and online instructors to help motivate me to do what I need to do. It helps me free up time that I would waste on going to the gym anyways. 

If it’s not fully apparent yet, this is a theme of mine that I’ve struggled with over the years. If you have some good resources or ways that you’re able to stay locked in, I’d love to hear about them.

I’m on a plane to Minneapolis for work as we speak, so if you’re in the area and want to meet up, reach out and let me know.

And selfishly, my wife and I are headed to Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka) in a couple of weeks, so if you have ever been, I’d like to get any advice or things we should do. (Yes, I’ve already ordered my rail pass, gotten my WiFi router, and decided on which camera I’m bringing 🙂 )

Hope you all have a great week!