The @Nerdist Way: A Review – Ti-i-i-me Is On my Side
Before I dive into the next section, I just want to take a few moments to beam with with self-pride. After last weeks review, I received this from Chris Hardwick:
Now that’s classy. Thank you, Mr. Hardwick.
Now on to tonight’s review. Right now, I am listening to ELO. Why? Well, it’s because of this video:
It brings together two of my favorite things. ELO and anime.
Did you see what I did there? I dropped you into a YouTube vortex. Time gets sucked from your life every time you sit down at a computer. Time gets lost when you turn on the Idiot Box. Time goes blowing in the wind when you pick up a game controller. None of these are bad in and of themselves, but each can consume precious, precious time.
The final section of The Nerdist’s Way is about time and financial management. Without either nothing gets done. Last night, I read the first three chapters of the final section. They are short, but to the point and about time management.
At the risk of sounding like a suck-up, I agree with Chris here. If you have no idea why you are accomplishing so little of the goals that you have set, then you might need to look at how your spend your time. He does recognize that many people either have structured and unstructured time.
Structured time is the periods of your day that are hard scheduled. You execute tasks during that period of the day or you lose the roof over your head. Unstructured time is time not devoted to any particular tasks. Now Chris’ life, I would guess, contains a lot of floating structured time. Meaning that he can’t really say that his hours of business are 9 to 5. I, on the other hand, have anchored structured time. It happens from 7AM until 5PM most days.
For me, my evenings and weekends are full of unstructured time. I plop my asymmetrical ass in front of a computer, blow through the RSS feeds, turn on the boob tube, and assume a vacant stare. Well, that was the pattern several months ago.
A little backstory: Over a year ago, a friend and I set out to start a business. It was humble stuff with big vision. What’s more, both of us would need to acquire new skill sets to get this business off the ground. At first, I put my time in as I could. So long as I didn’t get too distracted, my part of the projects were getting done. But, I spent a lot of time distracted. So I had to start figuring out what I could do to mitigate it.
Chris recommends tracking time. Time lost to non-productive tasks are like empty calories consumed. Sure it was fun and satisfying, but what do you have to show for it? Track time as vigorously as you would track calories. Then you can sort out what activities are soaking up your unstructured time. For me, it was my nemesis TV.
I realized that in order for me to get better quality work out my head, I needed to kill distractions like TV. First, I killed cable. Every bit of sugary mindless episodic goodness I could stream in one format or another. That means I can enjoy those shows at times when I have the unstructured time to do so. The next thing I did was to learn how to close browser windows. I know! Freakin’ weird, huh? Finally, I needed to treat this business like a business. I setup business hours for myself.
The job I work is not my life. It’s an ATM that wants me to dance for it. The business hours I keep after my job are the life that I want. It’s full of silly stuff that I am pretty good at. One day, people will pay me to keep doing the silly stuff that I am good at. So, to recap, I cut a huge hunk out of the ass of my unstructured time and turned it into structured time.
Now, when it comes to unstructured time, it can be found everywhere. Coincidentally, Chris and I use drive time as learning time. I spend it with podcasts and books. I do want to warn that not all unstructured time should be allocated to to structured time. Humans worldwide are working themselves to emotional distress and physical collapse. We have forgotten how to be idle.
There is this perverse notion that idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. I call bullshit! Big insights come when we are idle. The uber-nerd Einstein was said to have some of his greatest insights in the bath. (now shake off that image). Being idle is not a bad thing. It’s like being asleep, but awake. The mind rambles through all the stuff that you have been trying to shove into and pull from it. Then while you are strolling in the arboritum, you will get some great flash. It’s those times that you want to have a notebook for. Those moments when you are idle can have a profound impact on your life.
Here is little known fact: Until the mid-eighties, the Kellogg Cereal company only demanded a 30-hour work week from its employees. It was one of the last corporations to go to a three-shift 40-hour week. Since the mid-20th century, we have systematically allowed our unstructured time to get eaten up by someone else’s interests. If we are going to allow that, then we had better make sure that that sacrifice is well-worth it. If the sacrifice isn’t worth it, then we had better make damned sure that our unstructured time is put to uses that will make us truly happy not just numb to what we are not doing with our lives.