Superhuman – Optimize your time
Part 1.: Optimize your time
When I was a kid, I wanted to do everything at once. Be an athlete, a politician advocating for youth entrepreneurship, a Noble prize winner scientist, an angel investor, an animal rescuer, and of course a fighter jet pilot. I quickly realized it would take a superhuman to do all of these in a lifetime, therefore, I spent countless hours studying how I can do things more efficiently and optimize my life. My goals changed during the years, however, the great systems stayed. Superhuman is a three-part series in which I will explain
- How you can optimize your time?
- How you can build systems which optimize your time?
- How you can build a system which optimizes your systems?
Work smart, not hard, we all heard that phrase, right? What does it mean to work smart? How can you achieve twice as much with less effort and time?
Before we would go into a more complex process I would like you to sit back and think for a moment about the following questions. What do I enjoy doing? What do I need to do? What activities I didn’t mention?
After analyzing your existing activities, divide them into 4 categories. Eisenhower’s box is a great tool to use for this. Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States. He separated his tasks into these 4 categories to deal with them in the most efficient way (Clear, J.)
- Urgent and important: Start doing it now.
- Urgent but not important: Delegate it. You can ask a friend, hire a freelancer from Fiverr, Upwork or create a program where a machine executes your given task automatically.
- Important but not urgent: Put it on your calendar and set a reminder for it.
- Neither important nor urgent: Eliminate it.
You don’t have to think academically or careerwise when you divide the important tasks and not the important ones. If building great relationships with your friends are important to you then you can put it in the category according to that. What is important is based on your inner values, what is urgent is more based on the outside world.
Define the problem for each activity you would like to improve. Are you in a hurry to read a book and write an essay about it? You don’t have time to sit down and just read through it? What is your goal if you could solve this problem? With these questions, you will see there are many other ways to solve a problem if we aren’t fixated on „the regular way of doing things”.
Problem definition: Reading a book takes too long.
Goal: Understand 2 books/ week while applying my time in the best way possible.
Solution: Convert the book into audio and listen to it twice the speed while working out/ on public transport. This way you don’t disturb your weekly schedule but still, achieve the goal of understanding two books per week.
Most people are familiar with the Pomodoro method but they use it in the wrong way. Before you would start the 25-second sprints and 5-second breaks, first record how long you can focus. I would suggest at least 2-3 occasions where you sit down and try to focus on one task. Record everything, when, and how often you get distracted. Based on this data from multiple occasions set your own Pomodoro sprint time lengths. It can be 10 minutes or 50. Start applying the Pomodoro method based on that and increase your focus time as you practice. You can try it out here: https://pomofocus.io/
If setting strict times down to the minutes doesn’t work for you, you can try another time blocking method. Divide your free time into 2-hour long blocks. 2 hours is enough to get even a more complex task done but short enough to manage without longer breaks during the 2 hours.
Now you can manage your time but still can’t perform? It all comes down to knowing yourself and your body, if you know that in the afternoon you are usually tired, it’s better to schedule a meeting for the morning or the night. Both the Pomodoro and the 2-hour blocks work only in a time when you are able to focus. Alcohol, lack of sleep, bad nutrition, and lack of exercise can affect your attention span a lot. This is why it is important to take care of yourself first so you have the capacity to take care of other matters. Experimenting with your circadian rhythm will not only allow you to be more productive but also enjoy the precious moments with your friends and family.
A common theme in all of the practicalities I mentioned above is that you need to collect as much data about yourself as possible. Journaling or using Excel are both good ways to see where you need to improve. For more advanced systems https://www.notion.so/signup is a great tool because you can create lists, and pages, store data, customize and create your own system and most importantly, it can be synchronized across multiple platforms. Before you start organizing your data, ask this question: What do I need in order to spend the least amount of effort and time to do it but achieve comprehensive, in-depth results?
- Know exactly where is what. Where do you keep your pictures, your daily logs, Pomodoro times, audiobooks, and so on.
- Synchronize data and use tools which are accessible on all of your devices.
- Use scheduled, automatic backups.
It’s important to experiment with tools as much as possible to find the best match for you (Pullein, C. 2020)
In the first part, I focused mainly on how you can build systems in which you can work the most efficient way. In the second part of Superhuman, I will explain how you can build systems that will work for you.
Clear, J. How To Be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the „Eisenhower Box”. https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-boxces
Pullein, C. Collecting and Organizing Data for Maximum Productivity