Recently, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to partake in a small side project with him. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to commit to the project so I politely declined.
He responded with:
Dude I totally understand. I’m single at the moment and pretty much have my ass alone to take care of and I can barely remain afloat. You are a rockstar. I don’t know how the hell you can do it.
What he’s saying is that he has no idea how I get so much stuff done with my situation (Married, 2 kids, consulting, founding a company, a podcast, presenting, writing, 3 dogs, 3 cats, etc etc etc).
So how do I get so much stuff done?
Time optimization, 100%.
Don’t get me wrong … I’m not some zen-productivity-master, not at all. I just value my time.
The way I see it is like this:
Time is your life.
Life is Finite
One time I did an exercise that scared me: I took a look at the average life span of a US Male (~78 years) and I calculated the days I had left in my life.
Hint: It’s not that much. 😯
After seeing that number it catapulted me into action. To check yours go here: http://www.countmydays.com/
I’m not being morbid about life, it’s merely factual.
Seeing the Number of Days Left in Your Life is Scary
My friend replied back with a shocked face:
I calculated the waking hours I had left in my life.
Holy cow, this freaks me out … 😮
I know the feeling. Every time I look at the number, it’s smaller. 📉 It never goes up. 😢
Not many people look into how many days are left in their life. They should though – as it’s a humbling exercise. I think it’s important as it helps keep yourself grounded and keep your ambitions high because, well, your time is limited. You have less of it than you think.
There’s a popular blog post titled The Tail End in which the author draws little pictures of how many months, weeks and days he has left. He goes on further to outline how much time we have left with loved ones, time left doing things you love, face time with children, etc. Read it, it’s worth your time (pun intended).
You probably never thought about this, but around 90% of the time that you will have spent with your parents was done from the ages of 0-18. So if you have kids – remember this. My daughter just turned 9 and I realized that I’m already 45% through the average time that I will spend with her in our combined lives. That really sucks, but it also puts urgency into what matters – being with my children as much as possible and not taking it for granted.
So … Why am I harping on this so much?
I’m doing so because your time here is finite. You only have so many at bats and then the game is over. That’s it. All done. Why not give it all you have, all the time? Why not chase those ambitions and dreams? Fix those broken relationships? Say sorry instead of being stubborn. You get what I’m saying.
The value of my time is a primary driver in my decision to work remotely. I know I only have so long with my kids, my wife, my family. Why waste that valuable resource commuting to and from work just to sit at a desk? To me, that’s absolutely insane.
Unfortunately, even though this information is quite eye opening, sometimes people will still avoid doing what they want to do due to fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of success (yes, it’s really a thing).
Break Down Your Fears and Do It
One of my favorite things to use to combat fear is to utilize a technique known as “Fear Setting“. I picked this up from Tim Ferriss, and you can watch a video on it here – Fear Setting by Tim Ferriss (Ted Talk). It helps you determine what you’re scared of and helps you realize it’s usually not that big of a deal. The video is very important, so please take a few minutes and watch it. Queue it up while you eat your lunch, etc. One of the quotes he uses in the talk is this one –
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
This is so true. Using quotes like this and a mix of Stoicism to remind you of important things in life makes it easy to appreciate what you have, and how much time you have left and what you can do to maximize it.
Lastly, Steve Jobs has a quote that I often refer to:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005 Commencement Speech
I’m not a huge Steve Jobs fan, but this speech really helped ground me. I have a recurring calendar event every 3 months to watch this speech. It always helps course correct me when I’m wandering in the sea of life.
Yeah, I know … you’ve heard that life is short, but seeing it in numbers is humbling and action inspiring, no doubt.
So, how do I get so much done?
I remind myself that life is finite.
I’d like to thank Kaushik Gopal for reviewing this article.