How much time does something really take to accomplish?
Before answering that question, a better question is: How much time do you actually have?
Once you’ve answered that question, you’ll then be able to ask: Where is all of your time going?
Only then can you determine how long something really needs to take.
How much time do you have?
The average month has 720 hours (30 days X 24 hours).
- If you slept 8 hours per day (8 hours X 30 days = 240 hours), you’d have 480 hours left.
- If you worked 40 hours per week (40 hours X 4 weeks = 160 hours), you’d have 320 hours left. However, as will be shown, working 40 hours per week is optional, but certainly not optimal. And definitely not necessary. In fact, in the knowledge-working world we live in, your best work will generally happen while you’re away from work. As research has shown, only 16% of creative ideas happen while you’re sitting at work. Most will happen while you’re relaxing, commuting, traveling, spending time present with loved ones, etc.
- If you spend 2 hours eating per day (2 hours X 30 days = 60 hours), you’d have 280 hours left.
So, the question is, what are you doing with those 280 hours?
If you spend those 280 hours listening to audiobooks, you could listen to approximately 45 books! (average book being 6 hours).
280 hours X 12 months = 3,360 hours … what are you doing with those 3,360 hours?!
If you spend those 3,360 hours listening to audiobooks, you could listen to approximately 560 books! (average book being 6 hours).
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Of course, listening to 560 audiobooks would probably not be the best use of your time. Listening to 100, though, would probably be life-altering.
Of course, there are far more powerful ways of learning than simply reading books. If you get stuck with one method of learning, you will certainly stunt your growth.
Reading books should stimulate new ways of thinking and ACTING in the world. If you’re not acting differently, you’re not actually learning, and thus not changing. Your behavior is what shapes circumstance, confidence, personality, and relationships.
You read for instructions and inspiration. You then immediately apply what you learn and adjust accordingly. If you’re willing to fail fast, break things, and deal with problems (mostly people problems!), you can then learn what’s immediately relevant at that time.
For most people, learning has become an escape from doing. Filling your head with useless information is the opposite of hard-won wisdom and understanding, which can only happen via the application of knowledge and re-application based on experience in the real world.
What do you do with your 280 hours?
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter Drucker
If you don’t know you have a problem, it probably won’t change.
If you don’t believe you have a problem, it probably won’t change.
If you can’t admit you have a problem, you’re living in denial. We all have problems. In today’s society, we’re all addicted to something (probably many things!)
You can’t purposefully change what you’re unaware of. Hence, the need for education, experience, and accountability (to both self and others). If you track and are required to report something, you’ll become heavily conscious. If there are immediate consequences to not performing, performance will raise even more.
The moment of awakening happens when you:
- Acknowledge to yourself that you have a problem
- Openly admit you have a problem
- Begin seeking out information and help
- Get accountability
- Create an environment that facilitates your desire to change
- Begin investing in more healthy alternatives and solutions
With that said, let’s take a look at your current use of time. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING???
To be completely honest, you have no idea where it’s going. That’s because you’re unconscious of where it’s going. The only way to become conscious is to begin tracking your use of time. Which for most people isn’t fun. It’s hard. It’s a chore.
So you give up after 1–3 days.
For example, research has found that most people look at their smartphones around 100 times per day (I’m sure it’s at least double that). Yet, most people BELIEVE they look at their phone only about 30–40. So, at least half of those times looking are mindless and unconscious.
The difficulty with today’s environment is that it’s heavily trigger-laden. We are so used to being on technology and being distracted that it’s hard for us to imagine being fully AWAKE and present for long periods of time.
That’s got to change if you want to start achieving your 10-year plans in the next 6 months.
The idea of achieving such big goals in such a short time might seem totally crazy and unrealistic to you. However, if you stick with me through this post, you’ll realize that it’s actually VERY doable.
It’s not doable though, if you continue operating with the same mindsets and approaches you’ve been accustomed to.
You absolutely cannot achieve things 10X or 20X faster if you’re distracted on social media even one hour per day.
Because that’s a very low-level use of time. Recovering and resting and playing for several hours per day is GREAT! It’s stimulating and fulfilling and leads to growth and deepening of self and relationships.
Yet, on the statistics, the average person spends between 3–8 hours on the internet every day.
How much of that time is deliberate, purposeful, and goal-oriented?
When was the last time you got on the internet for a specific purpose, and then got off when that purpose was complete?
The internet is more distracting and hard to evade than a Las Vegas casino.
When was the last time you had a full day where you ate exactly what you wanted, without impulsively grabbing something like sugar, carbs, or caffeine out of habit?
These examples are only to show how unconsciously we generally live.
If you can’t say what exactly you ate yesterday, and where you spent every moment of you’re time, you’re probably less healthy and less productive than you think.
- How regularly do you sleep 8 hours per night?
- Do you go to bed and rise the same time each night?
- Do you unplug for technology and screen-time 60–90 minutes before bed?
- When are your most optimal hours for mental and creative work? Do you do your most important work during those optimal hours? (by the way, for most people, it’s during the first 3 hours of their day, and just before bed).
- How much time do you spend with your family and friends without having your smartphone on your person?
- What are the most meaningful activities you do with your friends and family?
- How regularly do you do those activities?
- When was the last time you did those activities?
- What are your current goals for 2018?
- What are your current goals for Quarter 2 of 2018?
- What are your current goals for May of 2018?
- What are your current goals for THIS week?
- Are those goals stretching you?
- What if you only had 3 months left to live? Could you accomplish your 2018 goals during those 3 months? My guess is, that you probably could. Of course, if you only had 3 months left to live, you might re-assess those goals. You’d probably realize that many of those goals are brainwashed into you by cultural norms.
- If you only had 3 months left to live, what would your goals be?
- Who would you reach out to?
- What EXPERIENCES would you seek to have?
- What “unfinished business” would you get done?
What if you only had 6 months left to live?
“Nothing will fill your heart with a greater sense of regret than lying on your deathbed knowing that you did not live your life and do your dreams.” — Robin Sharma
Is it possible to actually live with a “deathbed mentality?”
Of course it is.
But the stakes need to be high enough for you.
You need to actually VALUE your time, and to appreciate the brevity of your time on this planet.
In order to properly value your time, you need:
- A belief system about the purpose of your existence (“If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none” — Jim Collins). You can’t have priorities if you don’t have a value-system.
- A belief about how should you be using your time
- A desire to live and learn
- A disregard for how (most) people perceive you. As Allen Carr said in his extremely important book, THE EASY WAY TO CONTROL ALCOHOL: “I would define cowardice as: failure to act as my conscience dictates, because of fear of physical injury or ridicule.”
- A willingness to continue learning
- A goal you’re striving to accomplish (a “mission” or “purpose” that gives you something to dedicate yourself to)
If you have a true goal, something that is extremely valuable to you, and that you believe to be very important, ONLY THEN can you begin to properly value and use your time.
If you don’t have a guiding purpose, you’ll be aimless with your time. As Ryan Holiday has said, “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”
Very few people can optimize their time because very few people are clear on:
- What they believe
- And what they should do because of that belief
- And how to most effectively accomplish that belief
Once you know what you believe you should do, then your next task is to:
- Get really, really good at learning and filtering through information
- Give yourself a very short time-line
- Use your most important time, every single day, for moving toward your goals
- Remove everything from your life that hinders you from achieving your goals. From a holistic perspective, taking lots of time OFF is actually key to productivity. Your best ideas will happen while you’re away from work. Your motivation to succeed will be heightened if you have deep and meaningful relationships with friends and family. Your thinking and creativity will be better if you exercise daily. From an essential-perspective, you want to have lots of stimulating, stretching, entertaining, and beautiful areas of your life.
However, none of the areas of your life will be optimized if you don’t focus. Most people are distracted while they are at work and distracted while they’re home.
Most people don’t see a reason to eat healthy.
Most people don’t see a reason to evaluate the quality of everything they put in their mouth and in their heads.
But when you know your time is limited, you begin to ask much harder questions. You begin to be a lot more honest with yourself and with others.
Those things which were invisible to you now become very apparent.
If you had 6 months to live, how much of that time would you spend on Facebook?
If you had 6 months left to live, would it be difficult to wake up at 5 AM?
What’s the difference?
Why would it be easy to wake up at 5 AM and stay off Facebook if you only had 6 months left to live?
That’s the difference.
You’d be far more honest with yourself about what’s important to you.
Would it be hard to give up a bad habit if you only had 6 months left to live? Probably not.
Would it be hard to drop everything you don’t love and focus exclusively on what matters?
Would it be hard to “find your voice” or market your ideas? Not at all. If you believed you were doing something very important, you’d shout from the rooftops. You wouldn’t hold back and restrain for fear of what others think.
You’d get to work.
Short-term experiments can help
Tim Ferriss doesn’t set long-term goals (at least, that’s what he claims). Instead, he pursues short-term “experiments.” The reason he pursues short-term experiments is because he doesn’t seek “happiness,” but instead, “excitement.”
I think another reason Ferriss pursues experiments is because he understands the value of time. He’s learned how to optimize his time. He knows how to set goals and achieve them quickly. He knows how to surround himself with a “tribe of mentors.” He’s set his life up to live on his own terms.
Therefore, he’s willing to take risks.
He’s willing to experiment, to try new things, and to fail.
He’s willing to pursue things that excite him. He’s willing to do something even if he doesn’t know where it’s taking him.
Importantly, Ferriss isn’t living this way BECAUSE he has freedom of time and money. Rather, he has freedom of time and money BECAUSE he operates this way.
When you have a short timeline, and something meaningful you’re pursuing with vigor — you learn a lot. You adapt. You face problems in real-time and deal with those problems in real time. You learn only what you MUST learn.
You BRUTE-FORCE learn in a hostile and immersive environment.
Pulling it all together
“How can you achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months?” — Peter Thiel
How do you achieve stuff 10X or 100X faster than “normal?”
- You must have something that drives you
- You must operate with a “deathbed mentality” and not undervalue your time
- You must be willing to experiment and fail continually
- You can’t be a coward, which means you go against your intuition because you fear what others think (the scientific definition of courage means you deliberately confront risks to achieve a “noble goal”)
- You need to be an intense and wise learner, which means you get the best information from the best resources and apply immediately what you learn
Even if you have a full-time job and 3 kids, you can achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months.
You just need to start FINDING time to match toward your dreams. If you have less time, you actually need to be more bold. You need to learn faster. You need to reach out to the right people quicker. You need to put your work out there and face an audience immediately.
If you start doing all of these things, you’ll get feedback. And that’s all failure is. Failure is feedback.
Without feedback, you won’t know what to do. Once you get feedback, the next move becomes glaringly obvious.
Get feedback. The harsher and more honest and more direct the feedback, the better.
Use that feedback.
Get better information.
It is an absolutely amazing feeling to be living your life as if you only had 6 months left to live.
You absolutely can start living this way now. Once you do, you’ll stop putting up with petty stuff. You’ll start treating people differently. You’ll actually look them in the eyes. You’ll actually listen. You’ll express love and interest. You’ll lift those around you.
And you’ll stop dealing with stuff that no longer makes sense. You’ll act with far more purpose, persistence, and boldness.
You’ll put first things first.
You will act on instinct and intuition, not impulse and addiction.
When you start acting in accordance with your intuition, you develop confidence. Conversely, acting against your intuition can often produce short-term dopamine, and a long-term lack of confidence.
If you want more confidence, start striving toward the life you want. Even if you fail, you’ll be proud of yourself. And if you’re committed, you’ll begin to succeed. You’ll eventually get so much momentum that it becomes your new normal to operate at optimal levels.
Because you’re congruent.
When your internal and external worlds are congruent with your values and vision, you can be highly productive WHILE living with ease. It’s easy because you’re not trying to force yourself to do it. Instead, it’s hard NOT to do what you want to do.
Ready to upgrade?
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
This article first appeared on Medium.