Listening to Ray Dalio on the James Altucher Podcast yesterday and he said something very true. Although he has accomplished a lot, it is not the accomplishments or the work he remembers but rather the people and the relationships that helped deliver it.
When someone leaves a job after working at the same company for a long time, they often say that they will miss the people and the friendships they have made. We often spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our husbands, wives or children, so it is important that we get along with them.
It might be obvious that it is easier to build a relationship face-to-face despite the advances in technology making it easier remotely. So, is it right that we should spend more time with people we did not actively choose to spend our time with rather than loved ones? How can we manage the balance of needing to have face-to-face time with work colleagues to achieve something without resorting to endless meetings becoming a talking shop?
Be mindful of your time. Use a timer; see your time ticking away. Focus on what you want to achieve in a given amount of time and make sure that you achieve it without spilling over. Use future regret-based decision making: am I going to regret leaving this meeting before it is finished (on time) or am I going to regret getting stuck in traffic and missing my kids Birthday before they go to bed? Which would your loved ones regret more?
Plan, do, review. Set time; stick to time; see where you spend time. Repeat.
I recently joined the Best Life Ever Facebook group. They were running a daily challenge at 4.44am and joining made me realise that it is easy to wake up even a little earlier to get more done. Also, that it is illogically satisfying to see all the 4s in a row when you wake up. Tim Ferris says he has lots of phone screenshots of 5.55pm as he has a superstition about that number after finishing his first book at that time of day.
4.44am to me seems the best time to wake up. It still feels like you are part of the 4am club but it is really closer to 5am and you can get still get so much done before anyone else is even awake.
Get up earlier. Go to bed earlier. Nothing good happens at night in the week anyway. What else would you be doing? Would it move you closer to where you want to be?
To sacrifice the morning is to sacrifice the day. To win the morning is to win the day. Try it and see what happens for two weeks.
It is not until you are ill that you value your health. It is not until you are injured that you consider being able to do exercise as a privilege and not a chore. It is not until we run out of time that we value it.
Is there a better way of realising these things ahead of time? Writing in a journal every day helps. A practice of gratitude helps. Meditation helps.
In a world where we can get anything we want at the touch of a button, creating habits that cultivate mindfulness is key to cutting through the bullshit, so you can "see the matrix: of what is actually important to you.
Think about what you would miss if it were gone. Are you doing any actions today that will make the most of it or anything that will prolong it?
If you are likely to regret your health deteriorating, are you going to have the burger or the salad for lunch? Are you going to take the stairs or the lift? Are you running today?
Likely to regret your wealth? How much are you saving? Do you know where your money is going? Have you researched the best passive investments? Could you get a second or third stream of income?
Likely to regret love leaving your life? Have you told your wife or kids that you love them today? Do your actions back up your words? Are you spending enough time with them?
Onto the biggest regret of them all - running out of time. Are you spending your time how you want to spend it today? Are you stuck in a meeting instead of playing with your kids? Did the meeting run over so you cancel your workout and have a fast food lunch?
Make time for the important, not the urgent. This is a keystone to all other areas of your life. Regret nothing, use every minute.
Time is relative. A year for a one-year-old is her entire life. Asking them to wait a year seems like a lifetime away because it is. Even when you are ten years old, waiting for the next Birthday is ten percent of the time you have ever known. This is why the years fly past faster and faster as we get older. Yet we value time less and less until the very end of life is in sight.
A toddler can barely manage 20 minutes of attention. It is a really long time for them and they do not want to waste it on this one thing when there are so many other possibilities to explore. When we are adults, at work, we flitter away 20 minutes as if it were nothing. We do not even give it a second thought. It goes faster for us than a toddler so logically we should look after our 20 minutes slots as if we were guarding our life against an attacker. But for some reason, the faster time seems to fly by, most people value it less. We have this the wrong way around. We should be valuing it more and more.
And of course, your life is being attacked. By Jean who just wants to "pick your brains for half an hour." By Derek who holds the same meeting every week despite not knowing why and having nothing ever come out of it. By Margaret who never picks up one-to-one with anyone and just invites swathes of people to a half-day workshop without knowing what their jobs are or how they can help (but also copies on everyone's bosses to make her feel important).
Your life is under attack. Your time is under attack.
No one will care when you get to the end of the week, the end of the month or the end of the year and you have not achieved anything because you went to other people's meetings.
Get free. Give the gift of MeeTime.
You have just spent all day in that meeting. The one that, at best, kept you from doing actual work and at worst kept you away from family, friends and anything else you would rather be doing with your time - the gym, a side business, the pub. You are getting paid to sit there in that meeting, the one with no outputs - or worse, actions that are so benign as to be utterly meaningless. The organisation is spending a huge amount on this hidden cost.
What should you do when you are in a meeting like this?
1. Move towards the contrary to find balance. Recurring meetings have two schools of thought - either never miss a recurring meeting or never have a recurring meeting and just hold them when necessary. For me, it depends what the meeting is for. If a meeting is required, ask, "is this a meeting we want to be in every day or every week?" If not, it is probably not a very good use of time. In contrast, if you already have a regular meeting, ask, how could we reduce or eliminate this meeting - what tools, people or processes could we use to not have this meeting or to halve the time? Continuously thinking of the opposite is what moves towards the best solution.
2. Review the inputs before the next meeting. Ask the organiser one on one, "so how will this change things if we did all of these?" Better inputs to think of: what can we do today, and every subsequent day, that will move us closer to our goal. Why do we need a meeting to do these? If we need a meeting, what needs to be true to do it in half the time? And half the time again?
3. Help the organiser be more action-oriented. Is everyone clear on when the meeting will finish? Bad meetings do not even finish on time. Great meetings finish when the objective is met ahead of time. Is everyone clear on the output we are trying to get? Is everyone clear on the actions we are trying to drive?
No one comes to work trying to do a bad job. No one is trying to trap you in meetings that go nowhere. Using a tool like MeeTime can help if you or someone you know is struggling.
If you read this far, thank you very much.
As a Valentines special, so you can get back to your loved ones today, we have five promo codes to give away to the first five people to do the following: simply visit the website (www.meetimeapps.com), go to the support page (top right) and send an email or fill in the form asking for a promo code and including your job title, where you work, how the app might help you and also mention where you consumed this article.
First come first served - good luck.
More On Meetings
More From The Blog
How do we define the best? Rankings, metrics, striving to get ahead? Life is filled with competition. What is the best book? What is the best blog post? What is the best phone to get, the best TV, the best laptop?
Why does not everyone have the same stuff? Know the same things? Behave in the same way?
Now we can share information so freely, why is not everyone operating on the best way of doing things - just like pushing out an operating system upgrade. Why do not all humans already do the best thing for themselves?
Firstly, the best is subjective. What is best for me might not be best for you.
Secondly, there are outside forces not wanting us to be our best - tax law; governments; special interest groups; companies who sell arms, kill animals, stuff humans with sugar.
And thirdly because we are wired to fit in. We want to do what everyone else does. Standing out is dangerous. But standing out is what is necessary to be the best you. You will not make it to the top of any list if you do what the majority of people do.
Most people use any "free" time to consume - media, chocolate, fear. To whittle away their time on purpose - with chores, with a day job, down the pub - rather than living like mortals and using their short time with purpose.
We try to emulate the results of others without putting in the effort - this is how the middle class was created. To buy the car that they see others driving as a status symbol, not realising that the rich are buying the car using money their money has earned whilst they themselves are doing the opposite - paying for both the car and the interest on the credit they took out to buy it. Same with their house and their lavish holidays.
If you want the life of your dreams, then you better put in the work rather than dreaming. Life is a balance of effort and expectation - you can get in balance by raising or lowering each end.
The Wisdom Of Doing Something Small But Consistently Is Never Taught In School Or: Why Entrepreneurs Are Currently Born And Not Made
Entrepreneurs are currently born and not made Can it not be taught or is it just not currently taught? At the moment, school teaches you just the opposite of real life - that all energies should be focussed towards pulling a "one-off". There is no consistent trying needed in school.
Everyone should try to set up their own business, just to have the learning opportunity to do it. It does not need to make money - you can do it on the side of your day job or even on the side of formal learning, but you will learn how life actually works by doing this rather than guessing and watching from the side-lines.
What you will probably find is that your focus shifts from one thing to another in a way that is much unlike school. In school, periods are set. You have to spend as much time doing biology as you do mathematics, whether you are interested or good at it or not. Most of school is merely a memory testing we usually remember what we like or are interested in most.
When learning something to set up a business, I have found that I have an intense period of learning, only in order to fulfil a specific need. Once that task is done, if it is not repeated or cannot get better then I do not need to learn anymore.
Not sure which legal entity to start your business as? Learn the pros and cons of each then pick one. Job done. Move on. No need to do a four-year law or finance degree to understand this. If you do - hire someone that can do it for you in an hour or so.
Learning what you need to know and then putting it into practice is not how we got taught at school. Learning was its own end. But putting things into practice, whether in action or in the mind (learning about bettering ourselves) is what really matters.
To those that dropped out of school and had to make their own way, you are luckier than you know. Being good at school and then finding out that it doesn't matter takes years of adjusting to - if people manage it at all.
What will you do with your life? What will you do with your time? Our time on this earth is short and fleeting, yet it is still enough to those that spend it wisely.
How you spend your days is how you spend your life. What are you doing today?
How you spend your hours is how you spend your day. Which hours are being wasted by you or by someone else?
How you spend your minutes is how you spend your hours. Do you really want to spend ten minutes in the shower instead of five? Do you really want to watch just one more YouTube video before you start? Do you really want nine more minutes of snooze time (why is the snooze button always nine minutes anyway?)
Being mindful of your minutes is where you can carve out vast amounts of time if you know where to look. But if you do not know how to spend your time in the first place, you are unlikely to even want to try this out.
What do you want from your life? What would you do if you could not fail? What would you do if you already had $100Bn? What would you do if you thought you were better than you are?
Whatever you came up with you can do all these things now. You can be all of these people now. You might not have all that they have yet, but you can be the same type of person that you need to be and do the same actions needed. If you do these things, then you have already won. You will be the person you want to be, doing the things you want to do. Therefore, you cannot fail. You might not be able to have the things you first thought of, but if you are doing the things you want to do and already feel like the person you want to become then you are likely to not be bothered about having those things anyway.
Take the pressure off. Focus on the inputs (being and doing) and the outputs will likely come anyway.
Which Fires Are You Putting Out And Which Are You Keeping Going Or: The Real Job You Need To Undertake To Be Successful
Everyone has their own shit going on. At home, at work, in their own minds. It is worth remembering this throughout the day. As you also have your own shit going on too.
Before you launch into a tirade, before you react to someone else, you always have the option. The option of adding fuel to the fire to the option of extinguishing it. It depends what the fire is for.
If the fire is anger, conflict, hurt, then adding fuel to this is not going to be very constructive. Do you think that when two people are feeling this way that they are going to be in the right mind-set to resolve anything? Are they likely to feel better during or even afterwards? Probably not.
What if the fire is a fire of change, of possibility, of creativity? Then better to be the person adding to this fire, to make it burn as intensely, brightly and as long as it can before it goes out. Ideally, this type of fire should never go out - and you should take responsibility for being the fire watcher.
Anyone can be a leader. It does not matter what your role on an arbitrary hierarchy is. The only decision you have to make is which type of fires are you going to keep going and which ones are you going to help extinguish? There is not much more to be done.
When people are busy, they liken this to going around putting out fires. Small blazes set alight by others who are seeking to harm you in some way. If left unattended, their fires may grow larger, they may join together in a massive blaze of negativity. On the other hand, they may just go out themselves. Others might not keep them going and they run out of fuel.
But if you go around putting out other people's negative fires, you are unlikely to have the time to start, tend to and grow your own fires into a massive blaze of creativity and positivity.
Which is easier? Which will be more successful?
No one will care if there are a few small pockets of negativity against a blaze of positivity. All your job boils down to is to manage the relative difference in size between the two.
Do the biggest. Do the hardest. Do the one that will make the most progress.
Even if you can only get part of it done. Just start.
Do it first thing in the morning, with no distractions for 90 minutes and see how much you can get done.
Do the top priority then move onto the second for 45 minutes. The move onto the third for 45 mins. Do all these things before checking email. Turn off your phone and Skype. Obviously turn off your email, but it already will be turned off, won't it?
Shortcut to productivity: Proactive in the morning. Reactive in the afternoon. I have not read makers schedule managers schedule but the principal sounds similar.
You cannot get much actual work done in tiny chunks. Do not let other peoples meetings whittle your time down into bite-sized bits. And don't let them go over your most productive time - usually the morning.
In the morning you can usually go for 90 minutes without a break. In the afternoon only 45. Schedule accordingly.
Once you have done work on your top 3 priorities (or it may just be the top 1 depending on the day) then forget the rest. You are done for the day.
Most people never get this much done in a whole day. Congratulate yourself that you have just done in 3 hours more than anyone else because you took the time to carve out some uninterrupted block of time big enough to actually do something meaningful. Most people scatter this time throughout the day - checking email. Making tea. Chatting. Getting overwhelmed with other peoples agendas.
Remember, just because it is important and urgent to them, does not mean it is automatically the same for you.
What if you were on holiday? What if you were off sick? What if it was the middle of the night because they are in a different time zone?
They will cope for 90 minutes. Look after yourself first.