It’s time to stop stealing my time. Hacking the brain of Phillip Dews
Our time is finite people does that make you happy? It does me, dear pilgrim. I am currently the age of forty-six and if I am lucky enough to reach my eightieth birthday that means I have 12,351 days left to reach it (at the time of writing this). It is an egg timer that tells you we should stop wasting and squandering our time. Unfortunately for most of us, this is what we naturally do most of the time plus there are far too many distractions competing for our time and attention. It’s time to sort things out once and for all because I am no longer waiting for things to happen.
Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdowns, I have spent a lot of time reading books (you can see a few of them on the sidebar of this blog). I am somewhat obsessive about this hobby of mine and I have started building a huge library that I am naturally very proud of. One of the books I have recently finished is Happy Sexy Millionaire by Steven Bartlett. The eightieth birthday egg timer analogy I took from this book. This book really is not what you think, yes it touches on building a business and all that but Steven focuses more on our time and how to use it more effectively. This is one book I most definitely will read again.“There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.” Neil A, FioreClick To Tweet
A second book I have just finished reading is in-distract-able by Nir Eyal. A lot of the suggestions in this book I have already put in place to stop wasting my time like deleting social media apps on our mobile devices. I have gone a lot further and I only have my banking apps and one social media site called Goodreads on it. The rest I have deleted.
Let’s start hacking our brains.
It does sound a little weird right? But it’s a well-known fact that our brains play tricks on us and it’s down to us to control them. Something I amongst many others call hacking. Just like our body needs energy and sustenance from food, our minds also need sustenance from multiple sources. most of these are distractions. distractions pull our minds and ourselves in many different directions. What follows are practical solutions that I use to become more productive each and every day. For a member of the Gen-X generation, these suggestions are quite easy to implement but for members of the Millenial generation, you may find these are a little harder to achieve especially with mobile phones.
The Bedroom is for Sleeping in.
Well amongst other things that are known to happen in the bedroom I use it mainly for Sleeping and some reading.
I have barred all but one electronic device from my bedroom. All mobile phones remain in either my office or the living room and have done for well over six months now. The only thing I allow is my trusty paperwhite kindle device. I am a very light sleeper and often I do wake up during the night, I find that a little reading on this device helps settle the mind and fall asleep again. I normally hit the sack at 9.30pm and I’m usually up at 4am. I have found over the years that 6 hours of sleep is all I usually required during the week and catching up a bit more over the weekend with between 7 and 9 hours.
The old saying out of sight is out of mind and I have found that very true in this case. However last night I did a little experiment and left my mobile on the bedside table this time. Even though it no longer has my social media apps installed on the device I found that my old habits came back with vengeance, instead of reading on my kindle I was constantly reaching for it to check things like GoodReads and email on there. This leads me to the next tip…
Staying Productive while working.
I have two mobile phones, one for friends and family and one pay-as-you-go for Business and Clients. Naturally while trying to sleep with a mobile phone in the room I found in my little experiment that I was reaching out to grab it and so my sleep was disturbed during last night. However in the office, the same is true as they are both distractions. those beeps, buzzes, red dots and rings are stealing my time so the one thing I like to do is to put my phone in ultra power-saving mode when I need to do some work. This means that only Text messages and Rings only come through that may or may not be important. I also leave them across the room behind my two computer monitors, again out of sight is out of mind.
One of the best apps I have come across especially when I am out and about, in a social setting or if I am trying to be productive and need my mobile device next to me is the Forest App. I have found that this works brilliantly because it tells you off most of the time whenever you reach for said device.
The app tells you things like “Put down your phone!“, ‘Stay focused!‘, “Stop phubbing!“, “Leave me alone” and “Don’t give up“, you get the general idea and gist of it. I have found it really useful especially when meeting new clients as they are always intrigued by it. There is a paid version and a free version and the best thing about this app is that you are helping build a new forest with all the coins you collect on the app.
You can read more about Forest HERE
On top of the forest app, I like to monitor my Screen time and keep it to a minimum, as you can see from this screenshot I keep my screen time to a minimum.
Deleting my Social Media
Another excellent book that I highly recommend is Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right NowThis book took me just a couple of hours to read and I could not put it down. Jaron has some very profound reasons why we should delete our social media accounts.
I was of course very tempted at the time to go ahead and do this myself but then I thought that given my career as a Freelance Web Developer I would be shooting myself in the foot. Now that I have started blogging as well having no social media would be considered an oxymoron.
There had to be a much better way, like many of you out there I can get glued to my computer screens going down rabbit holes on YouTube and constantly scrolling all the crap that’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while I am meant to be writing new content or building a website for a new client.
The In-distract-able book recommended a browser extension called News Feed Eradicator by Jordan West I go too say this has made me a productive machine and best of all like the Forest plugin it is completely free. What this plugin does is… Well, I’ll show you instead…
It’s excellent ain’t it? I love this extension which incidentally you can get right here… This has been the single greatest tool for hacking and controlling my monkey brain. I have become a lot more present, a lot happier and more responsive. in the long run, it has made me become a productive machine that values my limited time on this earth. It’s our time so guard it because the accumulation of money is not the most valuable way to spend our time it’s using our time for Traction.
Block off your Time
One of the things I have also learned during this process is blocking off my time into small sections. I told you that I normally rise out of my sack at 4 am and I then fall into a routine. The very first thing I do is rise out of bed and make it, then it’s a cuppa coffee and finally brushing teeth and ablutions all within the space of about 30 mins. by 5 am I have done my emails and all of my social media. It’s then that I get to work. The best thing is that by Midday all of the important stuff is done (unless I have a really big project on that is) and the time is my own to use as I like and do what I enjoy doing. Of course not all of the time that is but at the end of the day all work and no play is not a good combination.
Stop Giving a F**K
One last book I want to recommend is The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**k by Mark Manson I am about to finish this and I goto say it’s another really easy and quick read, Marks gives out a load of advice like saying no and protecting your valuable time. I have just read about Pablo Picasso doodling on a used napkin at a Spanish cafe while being watched intently by another amazing customer. As Pablo was about to leave he screwed up the napkin and the following happened.
- Customer: Wait can I buy that off you?
- Pablo: Sure it’s going to cast twenty thousand dollars
- Customer: Why it only took you two mins?
- Pablo: No Ma’am it’s taken me over sixty years.
Makes a lot of sense does it not? I get clients call me all the time asking me to build them a website. When I give them my quote they invariably ask me why I’m so expensive when they can get a much cheaper deal off Wix or Squarespace. I say well sure you can go with Wix or Squarespace but it won’t be unique and you will eventually want a custom feature that they won’t provide. It’s taken me the best part of two decades to learn website development and what I do cannot be completed in a quick afternoon.
That’s it for now dear friend, what do you think? Anything you like to add to this post in a comment below. I would love to hear what you think or if you have any other tips to stop life stealing or precious time.