The Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet.pdf
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Hey, I am Zdravko, but you can call me Z. In this Productivity Cheat Sheet, I want to show you my approach and strategy for using my time so that you can implement it in your lives. By using these principles, I've taken Zero To Skill from 1 subscriber (myself) to 140,000 subscribers under 12 months, got featured in Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, New York Observer, Yahoo Finance and many others, wrote an article that had over 16,000,000 views and was translated into 13 languages, and many other things (some of which include book deal offers, script writing and so on). So, before you get frustrated with me, you need to hear me out. I am not special; I did not have any advantages growing up. I just happened to realize the importance of using your time early, and started working on it at the end. It took me years to implement these systems, but for you, it does not have to take as long, I have taken care of that. I want to help you answer this question: How to use my time in the best possible way? Everyone has an idea of what their goal should be, whether is it becoming healthier, productive, starting a business, being happier, spending more time with family and friends, traveling, becoming financially free, improving relationships, and career. So let me help you with this cheat sheet, which contains practical steps that will give you desired results. You will learn four things from here: 1. How To Assess Time & Set Goals 2. How To Stop Doing Activities That Don't Support Your Goals 3. How To Optimize Activities That You Have To Do 4. How To Efficiently Execute Activities That Support Your Goals Bonus edition: I’ve added additional sections, for dealing with stress, parenting & productivity, communication skills, and others. It’s time to get excited!
INTRODUCTION Do you know what is the best thing about time? Everybody has the same amount of hours per day.
Talk about an ideal democracy! In the realm of time, there is no aristocracy of wealth and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. There is no punishment. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. Moreover, you cannot draw in the future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you. – Arnold Bennett Stop for a moment and picture the most successful person you can think of.
Got it? Perfect. What makes that person incredibly successful is that he/she has learned how to use his/ her time efficiently and (has) created a habit out of it. And one thing he/she has in common with you is that they have the same 24 hours within a day. That is a beautiful part about it. I read this quote couple of months back, and I was so stoked:
Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become – Anonymous
Imagine if nothing existed, only you and a person that’s walking towards you – an ideal version of you. This is the version of you that kept on going and tried to make the best out of his/her time on this Earth.
Here comes the good news.
The moment you wake up, you have a clean slate. No matter who you were the day before or what happened, the moment you open your eyes, you have a whole new beginning. However, you must learn how to use the most valuable resource, because you can never get it back.
So, let’s start.
1. HOW TO ASSESS YOUR TIME & SET GOALS We are in the age of distraction. For that reason, you need to pay attention particularly to what you spend your time on, especially if you do not want to wake up in 12 months, with another year going so fast, and the majority of important things remained the same. Most people do not take action, because of two reasons: 1. Fear of failure 2. Fear of success (lesser known cousin) The reality is that the failure is just a natural component of our lives, and if you take it as such, not only that you will fail less, but when you do, you will try by default to learn lessons, and apply them to your goals. On the other hand, fear of success is a bit odd and unusual fear. Biologically and socially, we are wired to be part of the community. To belong. Anything that's different gets misunderstood and outcasted eventually. Moreover, most people are not willing to express their uniqueness because they will be alone. Therefore, don't try to suppress the thing only you can give to this world. First, you need to see where you invest your time.
PERSONAL TIME ASSESSMENT Let’s assess how many hours you spend on each daily activity. Once you have total daily expenditure, multiply it by 7. That is A total time spent on that activity in one week. Do this for every action, and then add all these times for the total.
# of hours (per day)
# of hours (per day) x 7 = _______ X 7 = _______ (your weekly total)
_______ X 7 = _______
Socializing with friends:
_______ X 7 = _______
Spending time with a partner:
_______ X 7 = _______
Spending time with your children:
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
_______ X 7 = _______
Finally, add up the totals: _______ and subtract them from the total weekly hour: 168 – ______ (your weekly total) = ______
This will give you the overview of how you spend time, but will also show you a gap that you are not aware of. Next thing is to define biggest time wasters (activities that you spend time on, which are not contributing to your goals). Go back to that list and be honest with yourself.
Which one of those activities is a time waster, and which serves you well? I was spending a solid 5 hours per day on these activities before I learned to use my time more effectively. One useful way for me to combat this was to utilize Google free extension called StayFocusd (not misspelled). This allows you to set a limit on time and websites you do not want to spend time on. It does not mean you need to get rid of those activities. In fact, now that I have limited my time on Facebook to just 10 minutes per day, I instantly write back to important things that matter to me and can stay more connected and focused than ever. Evaluation of these items can give you many insights and can help you prioritize what is truly important to you. Now that we have assessed where you currently are, we will move to the second important piece.
DEVELOP A MINDSET FOR TRACKING YOUR TIME & EVALUATING RESULTS Keeping a time log of your most important activities and evaluating it at the end of the week is an important technique.
This will allow you to see what causes the inefficiency and whether or not you can do it better next time. Once per week, sit down for 30 minutes or so and go through the week: • When was I most productive? At what hour? • What made me productive? • What was unproductive? How can I improve? You can also ask yourself these questions after every day.
SET GOALS Just like everything in life, when you have clarity, it’s easier to accomplish what you set out to do. However, if you are uncertain, and without a focus, the path towards the accomplishment of your goals looks blurry. That is why you need to intentionally set direction in life, without allowing the life, environment and dynamic change to set it for you. You should be smart about how you distribute resources. If you do not have goals, it is quite easy to waste time “by accident.” Goals work like a lens of a camera. If you set the lens and focus correctly, you will be able to take a clear picture. If it is out of focus, your picture will be blurry.
That is why it is so important to purposely allocate your resources so they line up with your long-term goals. This is important because if you know what you are striving to achieve, you will be able to direct your attention toward it. When it comes to setting goals, there are tons of guidelines. However, I would keep it simple here. Make your goals specific, and phrase them in a way as if you have already achieved them.
An example: I have lost 10 lbs (5kg) by May 1st, 2017. Focus on one year ahead, and set three primary goals. You can define more goals, but three should be your keystone goals, for which you know that during execution and through accomplishment, it they will have a massive impact on every area of your life (i.e. becoming financially free).
Does this mean I cannot do other goals? No, but it means that whenever you have time, it first goes to things that can drastically improve your life, and then if you have extra hours in the day you can focus on good-tohave goals. It will often happen that when you accomplish your primary goals, some of your good-to have goals will happen as well.
An example would be: Buy a new car or a house, this is a good-to-have goal. By accomplishing your primary goal, financial freedom, you will be able to accomplish this goal as well and buy yourself a car of your dreams, or a house next to a lake.
DEFINE YOUR HIGH LEVERAGE ACTIVITIES Now, for each one of your primary goals you need to define three high leverage activities. Here you can implement Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule.
This principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of your activities. To make this easier, I suggest you asking yourself: 1. If I could do only one thing from that list all day long, which item would add the most value and help me get closer to my goal? 2. Then, ask, if I could do one more thing from my list, what would that second activity be? 3. Finally, ask yourself what is the third most important task. Then, every night before bed, list down your main priorities for tomorrow, and when you will dedicate yourself to these activities.
DEFINE YOUR HIGH LEVERAGE SKILLS Next to high leverage activities, you should define what skills you need to learn to accomplish your goals. When I started Zero To Skill blog, I needed to learn over 30 skills, from things like content writing to setting up a blog. Not only that it helps you accomplish your goal, but it makes you grow and gives you additional skills which you can use anywhere else. So ask yourself: What skill can I learn that will make my number one goal easier to accomplish?
HOW TO USE THE REST OF THE PRODUCTIVITY CHEAT SHEET There are two ways you can use this cheat sheet: 1. Scan through it and choose a technique that makes sense for you 2. Consume it in the exact sequence I designed it The first way is shorter and will provide you with results. The second way is longer, but if you do it as I suggested, and additionally adapt it to your life, the results will be compounded.
You have the choice.
2. HOW TO STOP DOING ACTIVITIES THAT DON'T SUPPORT YOUR GOALS In the assessment, you have listed down how much time you spend per day/week on things that not only don't support your goals but push them away. So your priority should be to slowly start reducing each one of them, starting with the one that takes the most of your time. Gradually reduce it, until it is eliminated, then you do the same thing with other harmful activities. Write down the items you want to eliminate from your life (and this becomes your GIVE UP LIST): • The Social Media • Television • Poor Diet Moreover, choose which one of this takes the most time out of your day, and then tomorrow reduce it. And every day from then on. Don't start eliminating all of them at once; it will overwhelm you. Start small, with just one.
3. HOW TO OPTIMIZE ACTIVITIES THAT YOU NEED TO DO There are certain activities that we have to do, but don't support our goals directly. I am referring to basic needs, our need to sleep, eat, drink, have a shelter and stay healthy. Since they happen by default, most of us do not think that these activities can be optimized. However, they can, here's how.
OPTIMIZE SLEEP Oh man, this took me four years to establish as a habit. Luckily, you do not need to go through this by yourself. You can use my learning lessons. By “optimizing sleep,” I mean that you should find the perfect time you should go to bed each night, and discover the ideal time you should get up to maximize energy and health. Try to hit sleep cycles, which lasts for 90 minutes (1.5 hours), (and) it would look something like:
1.5 hours > 3 hours > 4.5 hours > 6 hours You know how sometimes you sleep for like 11 hours, and you wake up groggy? That is because you woke up during the sleep cycle. On the other hand, have you ever woken up after sleeping for 3 hours and you felt wide awake and energized? Again, sleep cycle. For me, establishing a habit of getting up early had the biggest impact on my life, because it allowed me to focus several hours on myself and my biggest goals. When it comes to getting up early, my suggestions are following: • Go to bed at the same time. • Get up earlier gradually
If you are currently getting up at 8 am, and your goal is 6am, start with 7:50 am, then 7:40 am, and so on, until you reach your goal, and then work on maintaining it. Note! You might experience energy drops in the first couple of weeks. However, that is normal until your body adjusts to the new schedule. Pro tip: if you experience a sudden drop of energy, take a 20-30 minute nap.
RECLAIM DEAD TIME
Dead Time = time spent on activities that you cannot eliminate at this moment, but can be used more productively.
Example: Commuting/working out/buying groceries/cleaning/cooking To be productive, find something you can do while being engaged in these activities. Possible options include: listening to audiobooks/podcasts/reading books/using apps like Duolingo or Memorise for quick language learning. The main idea here is to do something that will give you value while performing items that you already are committed to spending time on.
Now that you have found some ways to supplement your current time expenditure let’s go onto…
BULK UP ON YOUR TASKS Dedicate specific time of the week to do the following: • Grocery Shopping • Apartment Cleaning • Decluttering This way, you will save a massive amount of time a week, instead of going every day, buying/doing one thing at the time.
OUTSOURCE Outsourcing becomes one of the most useful tools for your life when you realize the value of your time.
Example: If your hour is worth $100, and you are still cleaning your apartment (which takes 2-3 hours), you are wasting $200 - $300. However, if you hire a maid, who you pay $20 per hour, you can use your time for other more valuable things. Not related to money, but family, spending time with your children, partner, friends and/or just doing what you love doing.
So, what are the activities that you have financial possibility to outsource, and in return get more time? Having someone deliver groceries for you, instead of you going to buy them, would be one of the examples. Just imagine the amount of time you could save for yourself.
SAY NO TO THINGS THAT AREN'T SUPPORTING YOUR GOALS Beyond diligently tracking your progress, the biggest thing that will help you stick with your resource allocation is learning to say no and keeping your life as simple as possible.
Remember that you are not saying NO to others, you are saying YES to yourself.
SAY NO TO MEETINGS THAT DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC OUTCOME DEFINED On average, I have three meetings a day, each 30-60 minutes. I usually ask what is the desired outcome, and in case one isn’t created, I ask to be excused until they need me to discuss my area of expertise. In the meantime, I focus on high leverage activities. If I need to attend the meeting, I make sure that we strive to end the meeting efficiently and with a specific outcome.
SAY NO TO EMAIL UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR MORNING ROUTINE Don’t check email more than two times a day (bulk them up). PS: Don’t worry, if people need you urgently in the office, they will come to you.
4. HOW TO EFFICIENTLY EXECUTE ACTIVITIES THAT SUPPORT YOUR GOALS Finally, this is the point where you are aware of how you spend/invest time, you have started giving up on things that don't support your goals, and you have optimized the necessary routines.
Now, it is the time to focus on how to efficiently and effectively execute things that directly support your goals. My suggestion is to list down your goals, and below each one of these list down high leverage activities. Then, I will guide you what to do to make it as efficient. I suggest looking at your day in three parts. 1. Morning Routine 2. Daily Routine 3. Evening Routine
Here’s how my day looks like: Morning Routine: 5:00 AM: Wake up after sleeping for six hours 5:10 AM: Drink water & make coffee 5:15 AM: Meditate for 15 minutes 5:30 AM: Read a book or watch a course for 60 minutes 6:30 AM: Workout for 60 minutes
7:30 AM: Shower & Prepare Food for 30 minutes 8:00 AM: Work on my blog for 60 minutes
Daily Routine: 9:00 AM: The first work block for 90 minutes 10:30 AM: Meetings & Lunch for the next 180 minutes 13:30 PM: The second work block for 90 minutes 15:00 PM: Nap for 30 minutes 15:30 PM: The third work block for 90 minutes
Evening Routine: 17:00 PM: Work on my blog for 120 minutes 19:00 PM: Socialize for a couple of hours 22:00 PM: Detox time for 60 minutes (reading/priorities for the next day)
Note! This is my standard work day when I am employed.
THINK ONLY IN THE 24 HOUR SPAN OF TIME Your job is not to think three months or a year ahead.You have already done that. Your job should be to focus on 24 hours ahead of you and do the best you can to get closer to your goals, by improving 1% every day. When your day starts, just focus on the morning routine. Once it’s time to start working, make a transition to your daily and finally to evening routine.
This way, you have small milestones, and as long as you do small habits, you will have a sense of accomplishment, which will give you motivation. And they will compound, beyond your belief. Before we go on designing a morning routine, I want you to revisit your high leverage activities. At this point, you have made many changes in your life, and then maybe there is still time to adapt your focus.
ELIMINATE, DELEGATE & AUTOMATE We usually think that we need to do everything on our own. We maybe can. However, we do not have to. Out of all of the activities that you have to do, look at the ones which are not your HIGH leverage ones. Moreover, run them through these three filters: 1. Can any of these activities be eliminated? 2. Can any of the remaining activities be delegated? 3. Can the remaining ones be automated?
SET PRIORITIES FOR THE DAY What's left, becomes your priority for the day. I suggest defining three things you need to accomplish in a day, and then figure out where you want to place time in your day, when you will focus on them.
Pick one activity, which will become part of your morning routine. Start small, and then, over time, increase time invested in this activity.
DESIGN A MORNING ROUTINE An effective morning routine is an incredible way to kickstart your day. Your rituals should be created out of the high leverage activities you have defined above, which help you achieve goals.
Example: If your goal is to start a blog, a high leverage activity would be to write an article every week. Below, you can find several suggestions which you can implement in your morning routine.
• DRINK WATER (500ml) Your body just went 6-8 hours without the water; it is time to renew it.
• GET A SMALL WIN Do something that will make you feel proud (like making the bed).
• MEDITATE Some people have resistance towards meditation, but let's make this simple. Take 10 minutes of your day, preferably in the morning, and sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Just relax and be aware of yourself and the environment. Thoughts are okay, embrace them. Then just focus on your breathing.
• READ Try to establish this as a part of your routine, that every morning you read several pages, or a chapter. By the end of the year, you will be reading over 20 books.
• EXERCISE Nothing can kickstart your day like working out. It can be any physical activity (a gym, yoga, walking, jogging, swimming). Making a transition to a Daily Routine In the beginning, you will not notice the difference, but later as you create each one of these routines for yourself, you will have a sense of accomplishment after each one finishes, especially if you did more than you wanted to. Just imagine how three big wins throughout the day would make your day feel like. For the majority of people, Daily Routine is usually a time where you focus on your work. So let's see how to create one for yourself.
DESIGN A DAILY ROUTINE When you come to your working environment, make sure to revisit your priorities for today. Then choose the main one for the daily routine, and break it down into 1.5-hour blocks. Where you willfully dive into (and I know what you are thinking, “but meetings, people, and distractions”, but don't worry I have addressed that as well). So let's start with time blocking.
BLOCK TIME (SCHEDULE A MEETING WITH YOURSELF) (This comes from a book called The One Thing by G. Keller) You should schedule a meeting with yourself based on the high leverage activities you defined, and start with the first activity you defined. For me, that is 60-90 minutes of my time devoted to my blog. Once I am in the office, I work with 150 people from 40 different countries, so I have many interactions. Because of that, I schedule two or three meetings with myself, where I completely focus on my most important priorities. However, before you start, take care of decluttering, automation and applications first. Here's how.
DECLUTTER YOUR ENVIRONMENT (PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL) Make sure that your working environment (both home and office), is simple and contains only the items that you need for the task at hand.
Create a habit out of this, because it will save you much energy in organizing items. My personal preference is to have only the laptop (maybe an additional screen, if needed), headphones and water on my table.
No phone, chargers, wallets and other things. Just by implementing this, your distractions will minimize drastically, because we people are curious creatures, and, just like crows, we like shiny things. We spot something, and our mind makes the transition in focus, which is hard to gain again.
ORGANIZE YOUR COMPUTER After you finish decluttering, next step is to organize your computer. The first step, delete everything that you do not need - files, apps, and old movies that you watched two months ago. The second step, what remains, place in folders, that are specifically created based on your priorities. And when working, don't open ten apps, open only the ones you need for the task at hand. Once you finish, close off every app which isn’t needed for the next task. Same thing applies for open tabs in the browser, just imagine how much time you lose while trying to find the tab you need, when 25 tabs are open. These things add up.
USE APPLICATIONS EFFICIENTLY There is a variety of apps for productivity, focus, and habits. My suggestion is to keep it simple. I use Evernote (I am not an affiliate) because it has an option to access it offline. Here I have a list of high leverage activities in a sequence.
When I wake up, I already know what's the next one, and I start doing it. Once done, check it and go to the next one. Whenever you have a free hour, and you feel like doing it, just start with the first one on the list. That’s it. There are a lot of other apps, such as Pomodoro App for burst working, old habit-forming apps, but it depends on what your goal is. Know one thing, using these apps is also a habit you need to establish. That is why it’s good to choose the main one, and learn how to use it as a supplement.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PERFECTIONISM We lose much time because we want our thing to be just perfect. In most cases, this is perfectionism talking. In these moments, show it to someone and ask for feedback. If they say its good, perfect, go ahead and launch, if not improve. I used to do that, and it took me even 15 days to write an article. Then I just stopped, and kept writing it until it was great, published it, and then improved on the feedback. I’ve changed my article "13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful", more than 40 times after it was published. Because people noticed mistakes, and they were kind enough to point them out.
MASTER THE STATE OF FLOW Everybody has “THE ZONE!”, when they are completely immersed in the task at hand. I get into the flow when I am working on something challenging that is helping me reach my goals. Music can easily put you in the state of flow, just find the one that works for you.
WORK IN BURSTS This is quite interesting; your time is best utilized when broken into 2-3 bursts (per block). I find the “Pomodoro Technique” to be particularly useful. This technique was developed in the late 1980’s as a mean for time management. It typically involves 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break. This will keep you relaxed, but also highly effective in those 25 minutes. Note: if you are in the flow, disregard 25-minute technique and utilize it as much as you can. The more you do it, easier it will become to enter flow.
TAKE BREAKS When one block of your time finishes, stand up, stretch, drink water, interact with someone and take a walk. This will give you time to get another perception of the task at hand, and it can spark much creativity, beside the fact that it will help you rest. Have in mind not to do it too often, because each time you transfer from one activity to another, it takes several minutes to fully immerse yourself in that activity.
TAKE NAPS I am a big believer in naps. After you finish a big chunk of work, your energy will typically drop down. If it happens to you, simply find a corner of the office or your home where it is quiet. Just close your eyes. You do not actually need to fall asleep, but let your body relax.
CHANGE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT Often, being in the same environment makes our imagination stale. That is why it’s important to take walks, or completely change your work environment, so it allows you to think things through. This will drastically affect your creativity because it will enable you to have an entirely new approach to solving problems.
SET A BUFFER-TIME If you have an important meeting or a project. Always schedule a certain amount of time that you can count on, in case something does not go according to A plan. If the meeting is scheduled for 3pm, you come at 2:45 pm. Just to be safe. Alternatively, if the project official deadline is until 1.6.2017, yours can be 28.5.2017. Like a fail-safe.
DESIGN AN EVENING ROUTINE At this point, you have had the most productive day. All you need is a closure.
DO A TECH DETOX (i.e., enter “Amish hour”) An hour before you go to sleep, turn off your laptop, phone, and all electronic devices. Talk with your partner or read a book, and get yourself ready for the next day.
EVALUATE YOUR DAY & SET PRIORITIES FOR TOMORROW Benjamin Franklin always asked himself before bed:
What good have I done today? Think about the amazing things that have happened, and what can be improved for tomorrow. Set your clothes, top three priorities for the next day and then go get that well deserved sleep.
BONUS EDITION COMMUNICATION SKILLS One of the most useful tip I have learned along the way is divided into two parts: 1. Only answer what was asked 2. Only say what needs to be said When someone asks you a question, we often feel the need to explain and justify certain things. Instead of doing this, just answer the question, and if they have supplementary questions, they will ask. When you want to transfer a message, think about it before interacting with other people, and specify it in one simple sentence, that is straightforward and easy to understand. In the meeting, this will make it easier for you to say what needs to be said explicitly, and reach your outcome.
Additional suggestions: • Focus on the person in front of you, what he/she is saying, and don't just wait your turn to speak.
• Ask questions about his/her life. • Ask questions about his/her next chapter in life. Good conversationalist surprisingly does less talking than listening.
HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS & DISTRACTIONS When things do not go according to the plan, chill. Always have in mind that there are some things you cannot control. Even if you become an expert in productivity and time management, you will still have many inefficiencies. This is usually because we often depend on external circumstances. If I schedule a meeting and someone is late, I just take out my Kindle or (watch/ listen to the) podcast and make sure to use that time efficiently. That is why you need to have a short-term strategy for things you cannot control, and a long-term one on how to remove them or learn how to manage them. Start with the short-term, what can you do at the moment when something goes wrong? Breathe, play your song, walk, go wash your face, drink water, calm down, call your "go to person," or just open your phone and read articles. These things can be specific for you, something like an emergency plan. On the other hand, long-term strategy is more important, because if you do it right, your short-term strategy will be needed less frequently.
So the question is, how can you plan a bit in advance, to prevent things you cannot control, or reduce them when they do? You can do it by planning ahead, and having a clear strategy to execute on.
BUILD YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM No matter what your goals, and priorities are, tell people around you what you’re doing. Moreover, explain it so they can understand why you are doing it, why it’s important to you. Tell them that you would appreciate the support and accountability. Trust me, people are willing to help if you are ready to commit. Plus, this makes a bit of exciting challenge for you to keep up with your goals.
REWARD YOURSELF Not every minute of your life should be planned out. After a productive week of work, reward yourself with a lazy couple of hours, just like a cheat day in fitness. Binge watch an entire season, stay in for cuddling time and eat that ice cream. Or, all of it.
DEVELOP A LONG LASTING MOTIVATION Always be aware of the Pain vs. Pleasure principle for each one of your goals. Be crystal clear on what is it that you can get from this goal, what is your pleasure from accomplishing it? And, what is it that you stand to lose if you don't? Make this as detailed as possible, and remind yourself why it is important to you.
PARENTING & PRODUCTIVITY So, before anyone calls me a hypocrite, I do not have children. However, I will address this from the perspective of pedagogy, perspective of how activities can be optimized, and how I will do it when I have kids.
Before embarking on this journey, you should talk with your partner, to set the right expectations. Communicate what you are trying to achieve and that it will be much easier for your relationship, if you optimize these things, so you have more time for each other, and more time to spend it with your kids. Define two things: • Things you cannot control. • Things you can control. For the things you cannot control, such as kids getting sick, or waking up in the middle of the night, develop a short-term strategy, so whenever something unexpected happens, you have defined procedure. For the ones you can control, develop a regular schedule, instead of adapting yourself to the existent one. You need to work with your partner to create a one that works for everyone, that everyone gets “me time”, but also much time to spend together, and bond. And then evaluate (everything) based on new circumstances, and adapt your plan. The main principle: The quality of the time spent with your loved ones will always trump the quantity of the time where your attention was divided.
It is better to spend an hour with your kids, where you are fully immersed. They will remember those moments, but they will forget three hours where you were also on the phone, watching television or something else. A couple of other tips: • Outsource as much as you can (such as cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking) • Use wisely every minute of your time, when the kids are asleep Know that all of these techniques in this long cheat sheet should be adapted to your schedule and situation. They are depending on many factors, whether or not you are divorced, single parent, have one or multiple kids, what age are your kids, if both you and partner have jobs, etc. So, start simple and small, and go from there.
FINAL TAKEAWAY Testing these out took me several years, and even today I am continually optimizing them to make sure that I am aware of how I spend time. Yes, every once in a while I watch a movie or two, but I always find my way home, just like Lassie does. I know I can never get time back, so because of that, I make sure that I am doing my best to become better every day and use it efficiently. The reality is that you will not be able to be perfect, and you should not strive to be.
Consistency is what’s important; it is better to do even a minute, then to skip it for a day. However, focus on the hour that’s ahead and make it count. You will see how much one of these techniques can change your life, but imagine how they can compound if you use to mix and adapt them to your life. Good luck out there, and let me know if any of this was helpful.