Like Magic: Pulling Time Out of a Hat! – With Brandon Miller
Eight ways to optimize your 26 hours, 8 days a week.
The sub-title isn’t a typo, I really feel like I have more hours in a week than you. That’s probably because you aren’t using your time as efficiently as you could be.
On average, I get the question — “how do you have time do everything you do?” or, “You must not sleep, what’s your secret?” once a week.
On my end, I feel like there’s so much more that I could be doing; but, I’m really only getting started. I credit a good deal of my efficiency to building solid, committed teams of equally determined and talented individuals, a portion of my efficiency to using collabetition as a resource, and that last bit of efficiency to my knack for magically creating time.
Check out eight ways I go from managing the time that I have, to efficiently creating more.
1. Make the mornings your b**ch!
I hope you read my Momentous Equation post, we dissected how:
An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. — The homie, Isaac Newton
A huge part of your daily momentum is ensuring that you start your day off on the right foot, here are some tips:
- Pleasure before business — Set aside time to go through and prioritize your emails, or answer the emails that you won’t be able to in the office (your personal / side-work emails) is very efficient and effective.
- Feed your passion — one of my imaginary mentors, Richard Branson, said, “passion breeds energy.” Read for fun, exercise, or doodle first thing in the morning — use what excites you to give you that extra push to start your day.
- Free your mind — My fake uncle, Russel Simmons stated, “[Meditation] also gets you past “success” and “failure,” while also making you more creative.” Download the Headspace App or follow Mako Mindfulness to start your day on the right foot.
For more tips on owning your mornings, check out this Scheme Team Post.
2. Screw it, just do it (Part 1).
We are going to talk about to-do lists a little later in this post, but I’m going to tell you what your problem is right now. You spend too much time worrying about adding things on to your to-do list that you could have completed the moment you thought about the task.
I looked at a friend’s to-do list once, three of her tasks were:
- “Text mom to check on her”
- “Send email to John Doe”
- Add call with Jane Doe to calendar”
Stop stressing yourself out by putting off tasks you can do right now. It takes thirty seconds or less to text your mother, five minutes to email John Doe, and one and a half minutes to add a call to your calendar. But instead, she spent the whole day stressing about why her to-do list is so long and how she can never finish everything.
I challenge you to create more time, by doing tasks when you initially think about them.
3. Be More Decisive (Screw it, just do it — Part 2).
My motto really is: ‘Screw it — just do it!’ I know many people say ‘no’, or ‘let me think about it’, as an almost Pavlovian response when asked a question, whether it’s about something small and insignificant or big and revolutionary. Perhaps they are over-cautious, or suspicious of new ideas, or simply need time to think. But that’s not my way of going about things. — Richard Branson
It’s time to learn to commit, be decisive, take action. This is coming from what used to be the most indecisive person I know — that person is, myself. Do you understand how much time you spend thinking, analyzing, pondering, considering, and deliberating decisions you know you want to say “yes” or “no” to?
You are literally wasting time when you know you’re going to say “no, thanks for considering me, though,” or you know deep down you really want to do it. Build a habit of saying “yes” or “no” on the spot, as soon as someone asks you for something. No more, “let me get back to you,” or, “I have to check my schedule first.” Your schedule is on your phone, check it now, give a response, and stop wasting everyone’s time (including yours).
4. Schedule tasks
You’ve been told to start utilizing your calendar more efficiently for years, and you still suck at it. I’m very much an impromptu, “fly off the seat of my pants,” type of person — but my Google Calendar game is practically revolutionary.
I have a calendar with calls, meetings, and events for each of my businesses. I also have a personal calendar where I set up reminders to meditate, go to the gym, and has my flights and hotel accommodations. I have my work (9 to 5 calendar). All of the aforementioned calendars sync to one “master calendar” which syncs to my devices and my Calendly account (which I use for people to schedule calls with me).
You may call it overboard, but I don’t ever have to waste time trying to figure out where I need to be and when or have to habitually re-schedule tasks and activities due to conflicts.
5. Turn the bathroom to your office
This is what I like to call, “The Clean and Scheme,” my best ideas come in some of the most comfortable places (everybody poops, by the way).
A recent study shows that the average person spends 1.5 years of their life in the bathroom and a total of 92 days sitting on the toilet. That’s a lot of time perusing your social media timelines while you handle your business. If you learn how to optimize those 92 days, you can really catalyze some productivity.
6. Shut it down
Get off your phone.
No really, take a break from the internet — and from working! We get so “fake busy” bouncing from Instagram to Snapchat, from our work email to our personal email, to catching up text that you lead on unread, to bouncing from GroupMe to GroupMe putting in our two cents on every conversation. You are tired, and you are slowing yourself down.
I actually put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” while I’m doing cardio at the gym to unplug, my phone automatically goes on “Do Not Disturb” at 8 pm, I have all of my social media notifications and badges turned off, and I turned “Vibrate” off when my phone is on silent. Once I made all these decisions my productivity hit an all-time high.
I’m also a lot less distracted by “time wasters,” such as social media.
7. Optimize gap time
What do you do when you‘re waiting for your YouTube video to buffer, while your oven is preheating, or waiting hours at the county tax office because you need to change the title of your car?
Are habitually posting memes in GroupMe? Or, are you reading, learning, and creating?
One of the most efficient ways I magically pull more time out of a hat is by utilizing “gap time.” When I’m standing in line preparing to go through security, sitting in the backseat of my Uber, or talking a “walking break” outside the office to avoid conversations about President Trump — I’m usually brainstorming blog post ideas, going through my Flipboard App trying to find diversity-related posts to educate myself, responding to emails, or watching the latest church service.
8. Make a list, check it twice, cut it in half.
We all love to-do lists, though I prefer success lists. There’s some sort of cathartic euphoria that accompanies crossing an action off your to-do list. Hell, if you’re like me, you add already completed tasks to your list, just to check them off.
The downside to these lists is, as you’re brainstorming what you need to do — you keep going, and going, and going, and now the list is impossibly long, so you give up, grab a beer, and turn on Netflix. I’ve gotten into the habit of making a to-do list as soon as I get up (either in my journal, my notes app, or I text or email myself — weird). Then when I get to the office, I cut the list in half, and remove all the useless items and tasks that aren’t urgent. Then, after lunch, I pick two items that I have to get done by the end of the day for the day to be considered “successful.” Today’s task was finishing this post (if you were wondering).
Turn your to-do list into a success list. Save time and stress less.
Have you mastered the art of performing magic with your time? Drop some of your tips and tricks in the comments, I’d love to hear them!