In the first part of this series, we talked about how to find where our time was leaking and how to declutter our routine. It “bought” us time to devote to meaningful work. We then covered a couple of hacks you can use to optimize the things you have to do.
And now we’re in the final part of this course, where you’ll learn how to develop new skills and invest your time wisely so you can be more productive than ever. Today, we are going to talk about a trait shared by top performers in every field.
The Power of Compound Time
The majority of people fail at building life-changing habits because of one reason: They start strong but give up early. But you see, behind the accomplishment of every goal are months of effort. You can’t focus on achieving something and wanting it overnight; you need to put effort in, day after day, for months. Even the tiniest of efforts, when consistently done, bring massive results in time. Let’s call this compound time: small investments today that will bring you amazing returns over time.
Here are two main questions:
• “What skill do I need to develop in order to reach my goals, e.g. to advance in my career?”
• “What activity can I do on a daily basis that will help me develop that skill?”
Let’s focus on the first question for now. Here are a few examples:
• Do better presentations.
• Learn a specific programming language.
• Be a better communicator/writer with your team.
Figure out your skill. It will depend on your industry, experience, ranking, etc. Once you know it, it’s time to think about the best way to develop that skill.
For our examples:
• Read online 30 minutes a day about the best presentations.
• Sign up for an online course and practice one hour per day.
• Have a one-on-one meeting every day with someone from your team.
Once you zeroed in on the skill and activity, you can apply Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity hack commonly known as, “Don’t Break the Chain.”
No Zero Days
Jerry said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used, and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
Here’s how it works:
1. Find Your ONE Thing: Do you want to master SEO? Do want to become a superb programmer? Or do you want to be a stand-up comedian, like Jerry himself? You need to figure it out.
2. Put Up the Calendar: Hang a huge annual calendar at your workspace, office, or home. I do this with a sheet of A4 paper, and it works just fine. Or you can use this app.
3. Mark the Days: Put a big X across each day when you devote time to working on your one thing. This creates a chain of X’s showing your progress. Focus on growing your chain longer and longer.
4. Keep the Chain Going: Your only job is to NOT break the chain.
After a few days, you’ll have a chain.This hack works because it helps you become more consistent with your most important skill or talent.
For example, writing is a big part of my work. The more and better I write, the more successful my business is. So, I built up the habit of writing every single day, no matter what. I get 500 words down, and I get in the zone to continue writing. To make sure I stay on track, I have a paper with my writing chain. Every day, I make a big X on it. I’m currently past 200 days and I don’t intend to break it.
A simple yet very powerful hack.
Tomorrow, we will talk about how to optimize your “idle” time. “Gap times” are those in between meaningful activities but aren’t normally long enough to get more done. I will uncover a simple strategy to take advantage of those forced breaks.
To a Productive Day!
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