Time Management

Why Productivity Tips and Life Hacks Don't Work

Why Productivity Tips and Life Hacks Don't Work

Look, I write about different productivity, self-mastery, and organization tips almost every day.

Do you think I use them all, all the time?

Hell no!

I’ve used every one of these systems and tips at one point:

📆 I’ve used Kanban and Scrum to manage big projects.
❤️ I’ve used Pomodoro to manage my…

Be a Witness to Your Time

Be a Witness to Your Time

Your time comes, and then it goes, never to return.

Most people don’t even watch it pass. They simply notice, one day, that they (and everyone around them) are older. They look back fondly on their memories, wondering why they seem so distant, amazed at how quickly they came and passed.

This is not how you treat a non-renewable resource. It's not even how we treat some renewable resources!

Your Free Time is Disappearing... Here’s How You Reclaim It

“Zed, don't you guys ever get any sleep around here?” - Jay

“The twins keep us on Centaurian time, standard 37 hour day. Give it a few months. You'll get used to it... or you'll have a psychotic episode.” - Zed, Men in Black

37 hours in a day. Sounds nice right? An extra 13 hours to get shit done.

In reality, this would mean one of two (untenable) things:

  1. Your day would be the same length and your hours shorter, squeezing 37 hours in a standard 24 hour period.
  2. Your hours wouldn’t change but your days would expand by 13 hours, quickly reversing day and night. Your circadian rhythm would get all fucked up and you’d be a hot mess, or have a psychotic episode.

As it stands, you, your friends, Warren Buffet, and I have the same 24 hours in a day. No more. And sometimes it feels like less.

It feels like less because your free time is disappearing. And despite what I hear you saying, yes, you do have free time. The problem is, you’re spending it on activities of which you are not aware and for which you don’t account.

Translation: You have hidden, uncalculated free time in your day. Here’s how to extract it: 

1. Draw a circle and split it up into 24 segments... a pie chart with one segment for each hour.

2. Color in the number of segments representing how many hours of sleep you got.

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3. Color in how many hours of meetings you had.

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4. Color in how many hours of eating (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) you had.

5. Color in time taken exercising.

6. Color in time spent in emails and working on projects.

7. Color in time spent commuting.

8. Color in any other time you can account for.

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Don’t guestimate when you’re doing this. If you spent three hours emailing, but were really heads down for an hour, color in one hour, not three.

When done, you should have an accurate representation of where your day went and how it was spent. More importantly, you should see a free block of time remaining.

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This “free time” you see may come as a surprise since, of course, this wasn’t time you spent playing video games, relaxing, or otherwise bullshitting today. This free time was sucked out of your day because of distractions or poor planning. And there’s no way you could have known...

So where did this time go? Perhaps menial activities like Facebook, standing in front of an open fridge, or some other time-waster. It’s impossible for me to say, but with a bit of awareness tomorrow, you’ll easily see where your time is burnt on unimportant activities.

This is the time you can reclaim. This is the time you can budget tomorrow for important activities that will help you get closer to your goals. Even if it’s only 30 minutes, that’s 15 hours a month and 180+ hours a year! The possibilities for what you can do with that much extra time in a year, when used effectively, are endless.

Draw your 24 hour pie chart, identify where your time is being spent, find the free time, and utilize it more effectively tomorrow.

About the Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Efficient Time Waster Extraordinaire

Mike just went through this exercise, as he occasionally does, to identify where his time is most effectively spent, and where it’s being wasted. If you are a high-achieving entrepreneur looking to get more done and achieve more in your life and business, contact him to see how he can help.