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A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 47 - The Value of Time

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As somebody with a mild form of ADHD and an attention span of about 2 hours if I’m really focused, I’m forced to continually understand and evaluate my own productivity habits.

As I study those habits, I realize more and more why the people of the world waste so much time.

How you choose to spend your time and what actions you chose to focus on will ultimately determine the impact of you have.

Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns

If you ever watch anybody in any TV show or movie, the sniper always seemed to accomplish his or her goal in one shot, while the people shooting machine guns seem to get caught up in a whole world of nonsense that results in nothing but a big mess.

In many ways, I think our own attempts to be productive are similar. The worst thing I think we do is that we try to do too many things. I’ve become more and more of a strong believer in the idea of quality over quantity and when it comes to the actions you take, I think many of the same principles apply. I may not work 16 hours a day (ok, maybe 10-12), but I’m always trying to make sure during the time I’m working I focus on only the activities that will have a high impact.

High Impact Activities

Writing: In the context of blogging, the highest impact activity that you can spend your time on is writing. If you are an early stage blogger you should be writing and submitting as many guest posts as possible since that will have more impact than publishing posts on your new blog which nobody is currently reading. Even if you have been around for a while writing is one of the activities that will have the highest impact.

Brainstorming/Mind Mapping: Some of you might question this one, but done the right way brainstorming and mind mapping can be extremely high impact. An hour brainstorming or mind mapping session could give you a month’s worth of content. Many of these articles developed that way.

Reading: I believe that reading can be an extremely high impact activity depending on what you are reading. I’ve recently been spending time going through Dave Navarro’s Launch Coach system and reading his mini-courses and actually going through a few of the worksheets. It is something that can have a very strong impact almost immediately. It’s highly likely that you often come up with an idea for a post while reading another person’s writings and if you use something like Evernote and keep reminders of post ideas you can significantly increase the impact of your reading. I also keep notepads everywhere, just in case.

Networking and One True Friend: Networking events are an interesting place to test the productivity principles I’m talking about here. There are many people who will go to a networking event with the goal of talking to as many people as possible and getting as many business cards as possible. Personally, I’ve never been comfortable with that. In my mind that’s a complete waste of time because you don’t give any value to the people you are meeting. I usually aim for one true friend or one genuine connection. I never concern myself with how this person can help me because it’s really not important. Genuinely connecting with them will ultimately have a much stronger impact in the long term.

Insights vs. Hours: Last week I was able to spend some time on the phone with an old good friend of mine and during our talk we were discussing the way I’ve setup my life. In this strange hybrid blend of entrepreneurship and a “real job”, one of the things I realized is that I get paid for insights more than hours. This is largely the reason I don’t even bother with hourly projects anymore because it’s not an efficient use of time. One insight that makes a big difference is worth way more than countless hours spent on pointless nonsense that doesn’t have any impact.

Low Impact Activities

Email: I’m at the point now where I’m beginning to think I could get away with checking email a little less often each day. Email is one of the biggest time sucks I currently have. In many ways those of who have to check email constantly seem to have created a false sense of urgency. I’ve had a habit of checking my email the second I get it, and there’s rarely any sort of crisis that requires my immediate attention. The truth is if I checked email a little less often each day, then I think I would be good. I also realize it’s easier said than done because I’ve self-generated that “leash” and cultivated it for years. I’m not going to break that chain easily. It’s a work in progress. The smartphone and tablet that’s always near me doesn’t help.

Facebook/Twitter: As a marketer I do think that Facebook and to some extent, Twitter, play an important role in things. But, if you don’t use them strategically, they can be a real time suck. It’s really easy to get distracted by something that is completely irrelevant to what you are doing especially when people share links that grab our attention almost immediately. If we batched our time on these sites I think we’d be in much better shape and get much more done. And yes, I’m just as guilty of that as many of you. There is an addictive and slightly voyeuristic quality to watching the lives of other people unfold in front of you daily. I can do better…..maybe tomorrow.

To Do Lists: I create to-do lists but I try to keep them small. Have you ever spent so much time creating your to-do list that you didn’t have time to actually do anything on the list? Seems ridiculous doesn’t it? Talk about a low impact activity. If you are into to-do lists, I would say limit your activity to the 5 things that will have the biggest impact today. Imagine if you spent half the amount of time working that you currently do and worked on the things that had twice the impact. You would not only work less, you would get more done, and you would be working on the things that actually make a difference. Give a try and let me know what happens.

Thanks for reading…