I’ve just finished washing my dishes for the third time, my floors are spotless after I gave DJ Roomba the day off to personally mop the floors, and I’ve ironed all my clothes – I still see a crease, I might have to restart. I’d like to believe I am incredibly neat and persnickety about my cleanliness and hygiene but truth be told, I did all of this because I’m lazy – you heard me, LAZY!
I’ve started to notice a trend, every time I have something to do, or a deadline fast approaching, my attention to detail to the surrounding world is near perfectionist and it’s down to one thing – procrastination!
Everybody today seems to talk about professional purpose and finding your passion, I’ve honestly found it – now if I can only monetize it. But seriously, over the past few months, I’ve been watching myself and am astounded at the amount of time I don’t use efficiently. Procrastination, unfortunately, comes in many shapes and sizes, for example, something as simple as folding laundry or even filling gas in my car to studying for an exam or preparing for an interview, heck I’ve also spent the past 3 days trying to get this blog post together – I haven’t even finished my title (intentionally this time obviously, but you get what I’m saying).
I laugh at myself most of the time, but this particular habit is worrying – the only time I don’t want that stupid upward trend. I feel like one of those alcoholics who tell people that identifying that I have a problem is the first step…. and then do nothing about it, NO, I can’t and neither can you!
Even though I’ve identified the problem, I can’t seem to get to the bottom of it.
I’m very metric driven for the most part and decided that the only way to scare myself into regularity was to collect data to show me what I’m doing. I embarked on a little social experiment and over the past few months, decided to log religiously how much time I spend doing what I need to, how much time I realistically need and how I spend my time and found some shocking results. So every day when I get back from work – I draw the line at seeing my workday efficiency, I’m trying to improve, not depress myself – I log the amount of time I waste.
To give you a little insight into what I’d like to do with my free time after work, I’d like to go to the gym, write blog posts, learn how to code and even spend me-time on planning for days as well as life direction. These are very achievable through a given week and I find myself pressed for time more often than not. What I found with all the data I pulled together is that I end up sacrificing sleep to get things done and that’s not healthy. My efficiency is at an all-time high of about 40% (the number of hours I use effectively over the number of hours I should have awake and still get 7-8 hours of sleep) and honestly, that should be illegal!
Enough is enough! I quickly started to plot out my day and tried to optimize my time to get sh*t done and you know what happened? That’s right, I made 20 thousand different iterations of how to optimize my time, it’s 3 am and I’ve made no progress. I decided to get help and started discussing it with my family and friends – in particular, my good friends at Bizlatte. They helped me set targets and talked me through the various stages of efficiency and gave me homework. Now, I don’t know what it is about producing a deliverable to somebody else, but I actually did my homework – unsurprisingly, many pages of the internet are dedicated to people who have similar predicaments.
I started simple and increased the amount of time following leaders on LinkedIn and take note of what successful people do. The main thing I read over and over is scheduling and figured there must be something to it. As hard as it was, I devised a formalized plan detailing not what I was to do in as many hours, but to map out the things I wanted to achieve.
The first thing I realized was that I was being too ambitious with end targets and that alone was putting me off. I continued to break down a given task into smaller, more manageable goals and noticed that reaching these goals released some endorphins – everybody loves that feeling of achievement. This not only got me to my end targets faster but more efficiently and something I’d highly recommend.
This was difficult and didn’t happen overnight, but the sheer metric of my efficiency toyed with my emotions and I powered through, improving in small steps but I can safely say that I am now better at achieving goals. But it’s not the only thing I had to change.
Even though I hypothetically always wanted to be productive, I needed time to unwind and relax. Taking breaks and lazing smartly also helped – we’re not robots and should not treat ourselves as such. This involved me taking time out to do things like play with Tuco – my partner at Babz Blabz HQ – read random things on Facebook (I really mean stalking people’s lives) and playing PlayStation. The important difference this time was hard stops. I had to train myself to switch on and off, no matter how important saving the world was or watching that video of the dog chasing its tail. This was definitely the hardest to implement with regularity. My next target here is to selectively wean and reduce the time and use free chill time to read or educate myself about things I enjoy and essentially make me-time more fruitful.
Finally, I reached an impasse when I found that most days of the week, I’d come back from work and be super tired. This was a culmination of a commute and work itself. I laid siege to my work efficiency and tried to adopt a few of the techniques I use at home, at the workplace. Now I know that a lot of you think that work is work and there isn’t much you can do about it, and a commute is not in your hands – or is it?
The fact is, we’re not always working, we spend a large chunk of our time thinking about what we have to do and scare ourselves to work that extra hour, stay in during lunch or work at home. I started to set myself blocks of 10 minutes spread through the day to walk around and interact with others at work. Because I felt like I was not being fair to the company for taking breaks, I decided to talk to different people at the workplace and just catch up and find out what they were doing, This was mutually beneficial because I was learning more about operations, and vice versa, that were important to the company and we could exchange banter with minimal loss in productivity. I also started listening to podcasts on my commute home to take my mind off the terrible quality of drivers in Houston.
I got home feeling a tad more refreshed each time and found that my rebound time between getting home and doing something useful went down. It wasn’t huge, but the extra 30 minutes a day certainly add up.
In conclusion, I found that while work is important, so is play. My efficiency over the past month, compared to the months before increased to almost 60%. While it isn’t near my eventual target, its steps in the right direction.
To summarize what we’ve learned here:
- A schedule is super important, it can work for you too!
- Inspire yourself through the feats of others, don’t just look at what they achieve, but how they did it, apply it to your life and see what works for you.
- Set smaller, tangible goals as opposed to star-line targets.
- TAKE BREAKS TO DO MINDLESS THINGS – we’re not cyborgs…. yet. And most importantly, set hard stop times.
- Try to optimize your free time to research things you like, its educative and will take you further.
- Take small breaks through your work day and try to make the most of it.
- LOG YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF.
While I acknowledge that there is no one size fits all, we are all capable of doing so much more with our time than we give ourselves credit for. Take the stigma out of responsibility and enjoy yourself along the way.
You can achieve great things, self-awareness is a process and doesn’t have a definitive finish line but you can work towards a goal that satisfies all your weekly and monthly desires.
Till next time y’all!
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