I bet you don’t know too many people who roll out of bed at 4:00 AM, even on Sunday, and are seriously at work within minutes, do you? I mean besides the one who is offering you these “insider notes for a high output life”?
Being successful in life is not particularly difficult. Must be present to win. But, over seven decades here are some of the no BS “secret sauce ingredients” that I’ve found really work.
Secret #1 Have a Purpose
Be Purpose-Driven. The very first thing that goes through my head on waking is “How can I live a perfect life today?” The “right answer” to that one is having a major purpose driving you. You can pick as many purposes as you want, but remember, more than two to five “big purposes” will land you in the quagmire I’ve been dealing with in my life: Too many big projects and goals means not enough time.
I know a couple of doctors – great people. They are generally blessed with one big focus in life. They want to “master their specialty.” Whether that’s being the best at corneal transplants for an eye doc, the highest success rates for a general surgeon, of catching life-ending disease while its trreatable for a country GP, all of them seem to have one major focus.
On the other hand, serial entrepreneurs I know leap from one business model to another, harvest a lot of dough along the way, but then move into a completely new and different venture in an unfamiliar vertical market. Having gotten the accounting and business processes down, they take over new markets through either founding a new company, doing a roll-up, a turn-around, or simply acquiring a company they think they can do better at. One of my friends is on about his 10th business model, 8th industry, and so forth.
So, secret #1 is really simple: Focus. The first thing in your head is where your day tends to go. So manage the hell out of that -ride toward your purpose- and be crystal clear with yourself on what your “Main Project” is for today that supports your Big Purpose.
Secret #2 Plan Like Made
Plan Your Day for Action. I am always shocked by the lack of planning people put into their day. The “average person” is average because they fail to have a plan OR because their planning is not “real.”
What I mean is related to the military concept of “Becoming decisively engaged.” Militaries don’t lollygag from day-to-day. Everything is an order and has a purpose so, as a result, they can be very successful.
Planning your day – becoming 100% committed to each of, say 6-things in a day – is critical to success. It’s the old “When the going gets hard, the hard get going.” Most people never start.
Secret #3 Slice Your Day
Day Part Your Life. Another way of putting this is “time blocking” your life. So much time to do this, so much for that….
It makes Elaine crazy sometimes. “You’re always doing things like you’re on a clock!” Truth be told, I am. Because I have a daily “hit list” I’m going to (by-God) get ’em done today. And if I feel like I’m running late, I double-down on the work at hand, becoming ever-more focused.
Obsessive? No, driven is slightly different, though the wife might argue the point.
Secret #4 Do “Deep Work”
Plan 5-6 Hours of “Deep Work.” One of the best time management books ever written, in my view, is Cal Newport’s “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.”
The main idea is simple-enough: When you have a “big purpose” make sure that every day you spend 5-6 hours doing that one thing that moves you toward your goal to the exclusion of everything else.
Lots of “time management gurus” have preached “golden time” in the past, but Cal’s book really nails it in simple, easy-to-apply terms. If you want big results, you need big projects. And you need to get them done. Small or trivial projects get (no coaching here) guess what kind of results?
Secret #5 Kill Small Stuff
Dispatch Small Tasks Quickly. Around 30 acres and too many hobbies and distractions, there is a huge temptation to get bogged down in “little stuff.” Death by minutia. Some people, living an essentially unscheduled life, don’t mind. If they maintain a large-enough pending pile of “small stuff,” They won’t get to the Big Important Purpose and that seems to suit them just fine.
That’s because people who don’t plan for an outcome are either afraid of a successful outcome, or they don’ really have one. When you see someone without progress toward their professed “big project” every day, it means they are committed to it. Not really, no matter how they talk their game.
Secret #2, part 2 (becoming decisively engaged with Life) doesn’t matter to them. Their life, but it’s only 18,000 days, so WTF?
Secret #6 Multi-Task, But…
Multi-task on Small Stuff, Not Big. I noticed a really graceful arrangement in my personal time use just this morning.
There was no coffee to make, since I cut coffee-making (and clean-up) in half by making one big pot of coffee every-other day. Bought the best quality large Thermos I could find, so the coffee took 30-seconds to get back to piping-hot in the wave.
While the coffee went to work waking up my brain, Zeus the Cat came in and ate his breakfast. While he was doing that, I was getting my 30-minutes of light crown (deep red 660-700 nm) photobiomodulation. This plus coffee, plus Huperzine A 200mcg (Third Party Tested), was making sure the brain was chemically-ready.
I still had “machine time” that could be added – could have put some wash in, thawed a roast…not of it utilizes the brain and that waste leads to addictions like social. And now we’re at….
Secret #7 Kill Noise and Social
Really Manage Information Flows. This may be a hard one for many people because becoming “addicted” to time-wasters like social media is what average people do. If you want to be less average, you have to stop running with the back of the herd.
Turn off the phone. Let voicemail deal with things. Turn off the “mail pop-up” because you can look at email when you come up for air after your “deep work” part of the day.
Skip social media completely because if something really big happened, like a death in the family, you’d get a phone call. Besides, social media is just a scam to make a small number of computational psychopaths rich by suckering people like you into providing them with free content for their websites. Screw ’em.
Same thing with texting. Except for “Honey, I just ran the truck into a ditch come get me…” there’s no reason to send a text.
People who have never been through formal time management training don’t understand the differece between Urgency and Importance.
“Sally just had a baby” is an example of something that seems “urgent.” In the BSOL (big scheme of Life), though, it’s not important. The baby is only important if you have an immediate family tie (or you’re on the financial hook as the dad). For everyone else, there’s “later.”
Secret #8 Boot Your Brain
Structure Your Morning Brain Boot. With noise turned down you can focus on getting the few “info morsels” that can really leverage you to max productivity. Elaine’s laptop (make dual monitors) just off the kitchen is where this work happens.
The cat was still eating, the red lights were on, the coffee still hot, and the brain coming up. This gives me 25-minutes to run my brain’s “daily Information boot-up.” Think of these as your day’s “constraints and opportunities.”
Constraints: Since a good portion of my life is spent in the unheated spaces of life (outside, on the property, or working in the unheated shop) I spend more time than most people looking at the weather. When I’m done, after 5-minutes, or so, I can adjust my day knowing an hour-by-hour forecast of what to expect, along with a high confidence outlook for tomorrow’s weather, and with declining confidence into the week.
Another of my constraints, back in my corporate days when weather study was more on the order of 60-seconds, was to look at the dfreeway camera systems. Washington State was well-ahead of the rest of the country so back then, it was easy to “model the day constraints.”
In addition to the weather and traffic cams, I tossed in things like the sports schedules. What could be worse than being in Seattle and expecting to meet someone for lunch down around the stadiums, only to find out there’s an afternoon baseball game and the closest parking is in Portland?
A quick check of a few news sites, like Drudge Report and my https://computationalfuture.com give me the daily dose of news and general awareness. On a morning when Drudge is leading with “30-Minutes that Defined a Presidency” I’m pretty safe guessing it’s another “re-write Sunday” because there’s been no real news other than the crooked power outages in California continue. No consatraints were visible this morning.
Opportunities: As you know, I have the ham radio hobby and I’m a tool-slut. So part of my morning routine is to look at what’s newly listed on eBay in ham radio gear, and I check to see if Amazon has new tools, or is Harbor Freight has changed their ad.
It’s also a good idea to be on the look-out for others who you love or care for. So, if I have not hit the 25-minute marker, a look at https://indeed.com to see if there’s anything our children might benefit from. If yes? A two-line email goes out.
Little Stuff: This includes 30-seconds of meal planning. What should I have this morning? Am I eating or skipping lunch today? Should I toss a pot roast in the crock pot? If I go off the ranch, anything I want to add to the shopping list?
“Alexa, add rosemary and Pledge to the shopping list…”
“This is a reminder…time’s up.”
Secret # 9: Life By Clocks
Work Expands to Fill Available Time. This is where the advice “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” came from.
That said, there is “hard time” and “soft time.” You decide which is which.
My “hard times” are 5:00 AM – my self-imposed, got to be out of bed time – and 7:59 AM – which is when a column must be published, if I’m going to do one that day.
There’s one other “hard time” – and that’s the stop watch on the computer that gets me up and walking around for at least 5-minutes every hour to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A polite way of saying when you’re over 70, working 12+ hours a day.
Depending on day, I will use the computer-based reminder, or Alexa. Just depends on the mood.
Soft time? Elaine and I have an afternoon toddy in the 180-degree view room (or on the screen porch, depending on weather). It happens daily but the time is “soft.”
If we’re both done with plans, it can be as early as 3 PM or as late as 5 PM. It’s holy in the sense that couples need an hour or more of “together time” every day (plus adult “play-times,” ahem…) but if it slides plus or minus an hour from four PM due to stuff, oh well.
Secret #11 Reading and Research
If You Want More Out, Put More In. As a writer (after a fashion) and stock trader (after a fashion) and tree farmer (ibid) and crackpot scientist (for sure…) it’s terribly important that three skills get used every day for at least an hour.
Reading: Because I’m peripherally involved in a cyber-security insurance firm, I need to get my Texas General Lines, Property and Casualty license. This means a book. This means reading.
Research: Since the time machine project is still underway, that means everything from reading obscure papers to understanding the owner’s manual for an HP Function Generator.
Learn a New Skill: You value is determined in life not so much by how your “feel” (sorry!) and not very often by what your “think.” The biggest payoffs are on what you can “Do.” Learn eat skills like potato chips and be that learning machine.
Secret #12 Daily Debriefing
What Gets Measured, Gets Done. So at the end of each day, before going into your “second life” – the one in dream realms – take some time and ask yourself from basic questions about the day.
- What did I get accomplished today?
- Did I stay “on plan?” What was my score, 0-100?
- Did I learn a new skill?
- Is the new skill useful in dream realms and should I use it when I dream tonight?
- How close was today to a perfect day?
And never go to bed angry. You should look forward to your dream realm adventures as much as you do life on this side of Life.
Secret #13: You Need Daily Music
Synch Your Brain Hemispheres. Sound isn’t just for music videos. Consciously chosen, sound can improve learning. Baroque is great, read Super-Learning.
In addition to conventional music, try white, pink, or my favorite: brown noise. Yeah, Alexa can loop brown noise. Surf sounds are good, too.
Now, does it matter that it’s Sunday? It’s 6:00 AM. And that means it times to…click and get and (skip the ads):
Write when you get rich,