I’ve spent a significant amount of time exploring various ways to improve productivity.
The irony is not lost.
I batch administrative tasks, like email, because significantly increasing the size of my “Sent” folder has never significantly increased the value of the businesses I run. I will get to your email at its regularly scheduled time.
I proactively assign blocks of time each morning to the priorities I consider to be most important. This forces me to be realistic about the time I have to invest and it keeps me from reacting to everyone else’s priorities throughout the day.
I’ve customized notifications on various communication platforms, which is to say I’ve turned most of them off. This ensures I don’t spend the entire day chasing chimes and dings like Dug, the lovable dog in the movie UP, chases squirrels.
I’ve made use of virtual assistants, extreme delegation, and audiobooks on the go, which I listen to at 1.25x speed.
I like to get shit done efficiently.
If you, too, are a busy ass person with a penchant for extreme productivity, it’s reasonable to assume that the great nuisances of your life are people and things that waste your time. Am I right?
You know what I'm talking about:
Requests for time to meet without any indication of why your time is needed.
Meetings you get blindsided by, thus leaving you with no clear exit strategy.
Texts from people that say, “Call me.”
Conversations regarding irrelevant subjects that won’t end without you being an asshole, no matter how obvious you feel slowly retreating out of a room should universally be interpreted as, “Let’s wrap it up here.”
I could go on and on. But that would be a waste of time, which I clearly hate. You get the point.
It’s not that I don’t care about other peoples’ priorities. It’s just that I know my time disappears if I’m not extraordinarily protective of it and I have a lot to get done.
I also recognize that time is the most valuable asset I have to invest. I can earn my capital back from a failed investment. No matter how hard I try, though, I can’t get my time back. It is finite.
Understanding this, I’ve built systems and safeguards to protect my time.
In fact, I occasionally hoard it, reluctant to share it with anyone or anything that doesn’t help me achieve a specific aim. When I am thrust into situations that aren’t self-serving, I may even be physically present while mentally conjuring up ways I can get back to my priorities.
This mentality of not being present for anyone other than myself, or as most people would call it, being a selfish prick, has led me write this reminder that there is more to life than maximizing productivity in a given day. And there is certainly nothing wrong with lending my fiercely protected asset to someone or something else that can stand to benefit from it, even if I get nothing in return.
Many of the personal and professional relationships I’ve developed over the years have included people that routinely gave me their time when I stood to gain far more than they did in return. My professional experience has been greatly influenced by these relationships, all of which I am very grateful for.
So, the least I can do is occasionally return the favor. I can invest my time into helping other people in some form or another, even if I don’t stand to gain much in return.
No, I’m not going to start giving up control of my day and reacting to everyone else’s failure to plan effectively. I will still evaluate my day for efficiency and guard my time, as I must, to accomplish everything I need to and still have time for family and friends.
But I will start using the control I have created over my schedule to build in some time to be less of an asshole and pay forward the incredible investment of time others have made in me.
I write this as a reminder to myself. I write it publicly in case it is a helpful reminder to anyone else.