So I just realized that I’ve been a mechanical keyboard nerd for nearly a decade. (Wow.)
Anyway, I’ve got a plethora of keyboards in my office, and the one I have now is my favorite by far. It’s the Keychron Q2. My model is the Silver Grey A, with the knob, and blue switches.
Myth: “Taking the time to schedule my time is a waste of time — the schedule never works out perfectly anyway”
This common myth is tricky because there is some truth mixed in with it.
While it’s true that a schedule never works out perfectly (nobody’s does — the mess of real life always plays a factor).
- With a schedule you’ve got a plan for when you’re going to do work that matters. This means you’re FAR MORE LIKELY to do the most important work in your day.
- With a schedule you can budget the time you need for other important activities ( family, exercise, rest). And these are HUGE contributors to your overall health and baseline level of happiness.
It’s okay if your schedule doesn’t work out perfectly. In fact, that’s normal. Your schedule is just a blueprint for how you’re hoping to spend your day. It keeps you moving forward and helps you stay proactive instead of reactive with your time. When things come up, take longer or shorter, etc. that’s fine. Just roll with it.
Least Important: Tips and tricks and hacks and shortcuts.
Very Important: Habits and routines. Your daily actions and behavior. Your system of execution.
Most Important: Vision and values. Your purpose, your priorities, your why.
Here are a few alternatives to what I call the “Just Checks”.
- Scroll through your Day One timeline and read a previous journal entry or browse some old photos and memories.
- Launch Day One and log how you’ve spent your time so far for the day. Doing this for a few weeks can also be super helpful for getting a perspective of where your time and energy are being spent.
- Write down 3 new ideas. These could be articles you want to write, business ideas, places you want to visit or photograph, topics you want to research, date ideas for you and your spouse, gift ideas for a friend, etc. These ideas never have to to be acted on — the point isn’t to generate a to-do list, but rather to exercise your mind and build your idea muscle. Ideation and creativity are muscles, and the more we exercise them the stronger they get.
- Send a text message to a friend or family member to tell them how awesome they are.
- Don’t get out your phone at all — do some stretches or take a 5-minute walk.
Take advantage of those moments of down time in between meetings, calls, or whenever. Allow your mind to rest for a bit or engage it by doing something active and positive.
My pal Brad sent me a box of these 10 years ago and the rest is history.
They say there are no stupid questions (only stupid answers). But not all questions are equal. A GREAT question can go a very long way in getting you to a GREAT answer.
Over the past year I’ve been compiling a massive document full of questions for life, business, and growth. Here are a few that have been especially helpful to me:
- What should I keep doing that is producing good results in my life?
- What am I nervous / anxious about right now? Why?
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I start doing?
As you plan and prepare for 2023, consider the Law of Tradeoffs. If you are going to add a new goal or project or focus to your life, what will you stop doing in order to make space for it?
(Side note, a whole bunch of clever people are making their annual planning process easier and more fun by using this fantastic little notebook.)
At my grandma’s funeral several years ago, I remember reading her short list of the things she tried to live by. They were these short phrases:
- Be the first to say hello.
- Compliment three people every day.
- Live beneath your means.
- Let the first thing you say brighten everyone’s day.
- Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.
- Always think the best of other people.
Dual focus is trying to do two things at once and thereby limiting yourself from doing either well.
Here are a few ideas for how to avoid dual focus:
- Break a project down into smaller steps that feel manageable, then do one step at a time
- Use this Show Up Every Day Worksheet to set your focused intention.
- If you’re using a computer, close all the apps besides the ones you need for completing the task at hand.
- Time Block your day.
- If you feel stuck, ask yourself if you’re trying to tackle more than one task. If this is true, isolate the one that has the least complexity and start there.
A few years ago I was in Nashville at the Tribe conference for writers and creators, and I took a ton of notes. They’re posted online for you to glean from here.
If you’re feeling suck on a task or project, ask yourself: What would this task / project look like if it were easy?
Clarity comes through action and experience. Thus, you should focus on getting started and taking action more than you focus on the perfect end result. Optimize for the starting line instead of the finish line.
Instead of committing to a giant, year-long undertaking. Commit to something small and simple so you can get started and get some experience. Then, when you have more clarity about what you are doing and working on, you can continue to mature and build upon that idea, or you can pivot.
There are 8 Laws of Focus. As we enter the final few months of the year it’s important to remember The Law of Tradeoffs.
As David Allen said, you can do anything but you cannot do everything. In order to give your perpetual devotion to any one thing it will require the perpetual neglect of many other things. Focus, therefore, requires tradeoffs.
You can only focus on so many things at a time. And you can only focus for so many hours during the day. Instead of ignoring the limitation on your energy, embrace it and find ways to routinize and automate the non-trivial areas of your life so that even when you are not giving them your full attention and devotion, they are not being fully neglected.
(“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”)
“We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.” — Gretchen Rubin