|It's not easy to save time. We all know that.Yet, time management isn't just a factor of getting a fancy to-do list. Sometimes it involves some pretty odd things that you have to do.At Psychotactics, I didn't always have time. Now my workload has more than doubled, but I have a lot of time. How did that happen?|
Hi, this is Sean D'Souza from Psychotactics.com.
And I am his evil twin.
And you're listening to the Three Month Vacation Podcast. This podcast isn't some magic trick about working less. Instead, it's about how to really enjoy your work and enjoy your vacation time.
I want to start today with just a little boast. I write several courses every year, like 200 pages and then we do the course where we have sometimes 20 or 30,000 posts on a single course. I'll write articles, I'll do workshops. Not lots them, maybe once a year, but it takes a lot of planning. Then I'll be in 5000bc.com which is our membership site. Yes, there's lots of other work-related activities but I also mentor my niece, which means that I stop work at about 12:00 every afternoon. I'll take a break, often take a nap, and I'll explain that in another show and why it's so important. Then I will work with my niece until 7:30 that evening.
The point is that I was boasting there. The other point is that it's all true. Now granted, I do wake up at 4 AM but I also take three months off every year. Where do I find the time to do all this stuff? There are certain things that I've learned over the years, and when I go back to who I was back in 1990 or in the year 2000 or 2005, I was not the same person. I was always battling for time and always struggling with stuff. I had to figure out what am I going to do. How is this going to change? Why is it that I'm always battling with this factor of time? I realized that some people do things slightly differently. On today's show I'm going to talk about three things that would seem radical in a way. I would ask you to try it, because it works really well.
The first thing that we're going to talk about is just the factor of keeping things ready. We'll find out what this is all about. The second thing we're going to cover in the show is just to leave the office, which sounds really odd. The third thing is to spend about an hour or two hours so that you can save five minutes. As you can see, this is pretty radical stuff, but it will save you enormous amounts of time during the year. Let's get on with the show, shall we?
Part 1: Keeping Things Ready
Back in 2010 I started watercolors. I went to a watercolor course nearby. In fact, it was my third or fourth watercolor course. I had never succeeded in painting and so I decided I'm going to get this done. But it was the guy who was conducting the watercolor course that made a difference to me. His name was Ted and he said “Sean, why don't you get a diary and why don't you just put your stuff in there everyday? Just draw what happened to you.” I thought that's a good idea. I thought wow, that's a good idea. I could do that. I could just take something that happened to me that day and put it in the book, in the diary.
Now the good thing was that I already had a whole bunch of Moleskine diaries that I'd put earlier a couple of years ago, never used them. Now I could use them. I started to use them, but soon enough chaos reigned. I would forget the diary somewhere and I would sometimes have to diary and not the pens. Then I realized that the reason why I wasn't getting anything done was I didn't have all my stuff with me open at all times. Now this sounds really odd but if you don't have your stuff open and ready to go, you simply lose momentum. If I we're to go into my bag, even if I had my drawing, and then get it out of the bag and then open the book and get to the right page, and then open the pencil box, and then sharpen the pencils, it's five or seven minutes or eight minutes – if I get everything right.
What I started doing was I started keeping everything open. I started keeping all my watercolors there ready to go. I started keeping all my paints ready to go. As a result I have now done a watercolor almost every single day for four years. That's, wow, 365, but I end up doing a little more so maybe about 1,200, 1,500 watercolors that I wouldn't have done, had never done before. Where do you get this kind of time? Just the fact that you have to open stuff takes up a lot of time. I have Scrivener on my computer and when I do my courses, what I do is I keep Scrivener open all the time. I know this sounds crazy for people who want to close everything and keep it neat, but having to open Scrivener, find the file, put in all that assignments that I've written for the course, all of that takes just five minutes. There's five minutes here and five minutes there and five minutes everywhere. Yes, it adds up to an hour but what's more debilitating is that it actually ends up with a couple of hours, because the energy required to do this mindless exercise is fascinating.
What I tend to do is I keep everything ready. When I go for my walk everyday, and I go for my walk everyday because if I don't go for my walk everyday I'm not just fit but I don't listen to the podcast. I don't listen. I don't educate myself. I don't listen to audiobooks. I don't do a lot of stuff. All the podcasts, all the audiobooks, all of the information that I need for my trip, I'm learning languages – all of that is there on my iPhone. When I'm on the walk it's there. I switch on the iPhone as I leave the house. I speak to my wife a little while and then we start listening at a specific point.
The first point I'm trying to say to you is if you're writing a sales letter or you're writing a article, or you're doing whatever you're doing, you have to keep the stuff ready. You have to keep it ready to go. If it's the previous night or the previous day or on your computer or on your desk, keep it ready to go. That saves an enormous amount of time. That sounds like a really simple tip but it's very powerful. The momentum – that's what you're really battling with. The fact that you have to go and you have to put on your shoes to go for a walk. If your shoes are already halfway out of the door, you might as well just put them on and then when you do that you go for a walk. When you go for a walk you listen to the podcast. When you listen to the podcast you get smarter. When you get smarter you're able to implement stuff.
Really that is what it's about. Preparation makes a huge difference. The people who succeed consistently are people who are prepared long before the opportunity arrives. The people who struggle all the time because they're opening their books while somethings going to happen. They're opening their program while something's happening. The prepared ones, they're already there. That's the first tip: just keep stuff open. Keep it ready to go. Keep it there the previous night or whenever. Keep it ready.
Part 2: Just Leave the Office
The second thing that has been of enormous use to me in saving time has been to leave the office. Now this sounds totally counterproductive. Why would you leave the office? Office is where your computer is. You get a lot of stuff done. Why would you leave the office? For one, because the office is your execution place. It is not your thought place. It is not your learning place. When you leave the office you will find that all of your great ideas, all of your fabulous money-making schemes, they all happen in the car or when you're going for a walk, or you're doing whatever you're doing. My wife and I, we sometimes go to the café. Not sometimes, we actually go to the café a lot. The trip there and back is the most productive part of our day. At the café we probably read something or draw or plan. I'm getting to that shortly.
The point is that the office is the least productive place.
To be fair, he doesn't get very good coffee in the office anyway.
The office is where you execute, not where you think. In fact, if I'm doing presentations I will take a pencil and a paper and go out. I'm really good at doing everything on the computer but I will still go outside and do it all. It's the thinking, it's the planning that makes a big difference. That takes me to this whole concept of planning. We make elaborate plans. We plan monthly, weekly, yearly. Every Friday we have a couple of hours of just planning. We just go to the café and we plan. You think well, I keep planning as well but nothing comes of those plans. You'd be surprised that if you just keep at this exercise of planning on the same day every week you will find that you are moving ahead at a far brisker rate than if you didn't plan at all. You have to do this almost methodically. You have to do this on a regular basis. You have to say Wednesday 3:00 to 4:00, that's all I'm going to do. I'm going to plan. You go “I don't have enough time to do stuff,” but planning is what clears your mind. When I did one of the planning sessions I realized that I was just going nuts.
Now Pscyhotactics has been around since 2002. We've got lots of articles. We've got courses. We've got products. We've got all that stuff. Then suddenly it occurred to me that I could do podcasts. Suddenly I wanted to write some books for Kindle. Then I wanted to do this and do that. When I sat down at that planning session I realized that I was stupid, that I could never get all of that stuff done. I had been spinning for a couple of weeks just trying to get stuff done, hoping I could get it, and in the process getting absolutely nothing done.
The plan revealed my weaknesses. That's what I say to people. I say this to clients, I say this to my friends, I say this to everyone. Keep on planning, because planning is priceless and plans are useless. But the person who has the planning, you have to fulfill this goal of yours. If you don't have that goal and that goal is not reviewed on a regular basis … This is not a to-do list. It's a plan. It's where I'm going. Leave the office. Get all your ideas in the car. Go for a walk. Get fit. Yes, spend time planning. You'll say why is that such a time-saving device? Because it gets rid of all the million things that you plan to do and you couldn't fit in. Now you can do the things that you could do or you want to do.
The planning really clears your mind. It focuses you in the right direction. That is a huge time-saving device. When I leave the office I often try to find a café that doesn't have an internet connection. Sometimes it's a real pain because I really want to check stuff and I want to see stuff, but not having that internet connection is really cool. If you can find a café like that, that would be really good. Leave the office and plan obsessively.
Part 3: Time Management
This takes us to the third idea of time management, really. That is that you often have to spend two hours to save five minutes. Now that might sound really crazy but let me give you an example. I have a program called Text Expander. Now Text Expander is a tool where if I just type in a couple of letters it can expand into a whole paragraph. For instance, if you asked me “What is your address?”, then I would type addx and it would spill out the entire address, my postal address, my home address. Say you had a problem downloading something from our website. Now a lot of people have issues, especially with Internet Explorer. There's a browser issue. In this case it's not downloading. Often you just change the browser and it downloads the product. There's nothing wrong with the product or the server. It's just a browser issue.
I have to then go to this browser, do this. It's a whole couple of paragraphs, maybe three paragraphs. These are just instructions. All I have to type is browx, which is what I've set up obviously. The point is it spills out all of the information and now that person gets the information, they're able to download that product. But it took me three seconds. It took me half an hour or 45 minutes or one hour to learn how to use that program effectively. Because a lot of programs are very effective and we learn 1/10 or 1/100 of that program and it can do a lot of stuff. That's what we don't realize. I type a lot in forums when we have our courses, like the article writing course or copywriting course. There is formatting to be done. The top subhead has to be in bold and red and italics. Then you go around formatting all of that and you've gone and done five clicks. I can do it in one second.
The reason is had to spend a couple of hours going through a tutorial learning all the stuff so I could save three or four minutes in a day. But what happens is then those three and four minutes expand everyday. Suddenly you wasted hundreds of hours, hundreds of hours every year. But it's not just a concept of hundreds of hours. It's also wasting a hundred or more hours just getting tired. All of that typing and retyping – and you can say “Okay, I can cut and paste,” but you're learning Photoshop, you're learning programs. You need to spend a couple of hours that you don't have right now to save those five minutes. You will realize how much faster you are.
This is true especially for the technology that you have on your computer, that you use three, four times a day. I would really suggest this. In design I use Photoshop, I use a whole bunch of programs. Every time I educate myself on it it has saved me enormous amounts of hours in the day. I hit myself on the wall.
He doesn't really do that. That would be an amusing sight, wouldn't it?
I think why didn't I do this earlier? Why didn't I actually spend some more time learning how these programs work? Every time I do it saves me time. That's my recommend to you. Spend two hours and save five minutes.
Let's summarize. The first thing that we did was just to keep stuff ready, keep stuff open, keep it open all the time. It's really cool. Don't keep too many things open. You don't have to have 25 tabs open, but the stuff that you really need, the programs, keep it open. Keep your books open and it saves you an enormous amount of time. I know it's a crazy suggestion. Try it.
The second things is leave the office. The office is just a place where you execute. You waste a lot of time at the office. Go out there, get your plans together. Planning saves enormous amounts of time. It tells you what not to do. Your stop-doing list, it comes out in planning.
Third and very important is to make sure that you learn the technology that you use everyday, whatever programs that you use everyday. Take a tutorial on it. Spend time on it. Don't do all your programs. Just do the ones that are most critical, things like Text Expander or Scrivener or programs like that which you're going to use on a regular basis. You will save enormous amounts of time.
This brings us to the end of the third podcast. We have reached podcast number three. If you haven't got the first two podcasts go to iTunes and download them. Be sure to leave us a review as well. It helps me stay focused and get this job done well. Thanks again for listening, and this is brought to you by Psychotactics.com and the Three Month Vacation. You can't have a vacation if you don't have time, so might as well start saving time now. Bye bye.
You're still listening. Well, if you have any suggestions or any feedback, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be paying attention to it for sure.