Putting more hours in the day: Part One - Why and How.

Putting more hours in the day: Part Two – Tips and Tricks

So last time we talked about why it is important to structure yourself and your time. We went over how important it is to get right and how catastrophic it is if you get it wrong.

On a lighter note, this week, I’m going to share two tricks I use to make sure I stay on track.

1. Keep a tally

Okay so this first one is more of a practical tip on how to maximise your time. I recently picked this up from a Youtube channel called ‘Practical Psychology’, but it’s called the red ‘X’ system. I did not think of it and I do not take any credit for it – I just think good advice is worth sharing.

Basically, you nominate three things you want to do long-term, and do a little toward them each day.

My three things are;

1. Exercise regularly

2. Keep a journal

3. Learn something useful every day

Now, what’s good about this process is it doesn’t break it down into hours or achievements. The learn something new could have been something more like “get 10 Universities to be using the website within a year”, but if I’d done that I’m veering too close to old James – the one that stuck to a plan for the sake of sticking to a plan even though it wasn’t working.

You can’t control events, but you can control yourself.

What if the Universities I approach all like the website, but none have the budget this academic year? What if all the heads of school decide that peer mentoring and student well being is well worth the investment, but they cant get hold of enough money right now, so they’ll roll it out next year? Am I a failure? Under the old system of “get ten Universities within a year”, I strictly speaking am, regardless of how much I’ve learnt and improved along the way.

Putting more hours in the day: Part Two - Tips and Tricks

Taking exercise as the example, this system isn’t forcing me to go to the gym at 5am and banging out some reps everyday as I once did, it’s flexible. On a side note I’d like to clarify that exercise is excellent for body and mind and i do encourage you to get involved, but all things in reason.

Continuing with the exercise example, if all you have time for is ten push ups before you get into the shower in the morning, that’s fine. Complete something for each of the three things, and you get to put a big old red X in your diary for that day (its really addictive).

See it works that, at the start it’s will power that gets you going, but gradually, you just don’t want to break that red chain.

So what’s the point of all of this?

The point of all of this is that ten push ups doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to your day, but the cumulative 3,650 push ups you do over the course of one year – they’ll make a difference.

Using the other example, ten minutes of a podcast or lecture recording or whatever, again, doesn’t make much of a difference. Replacing iTunes with an Audiobook on your way to work in the morning isn’t that hard, but over the course of the year, the near-on 60 hours of knowledge you have consumed could change your life in an uncountable number of ways. 

Putting more hours in the day: Part Two - Tips and Tricks
Here’s a screenshot of my total audiobook time. I only started in June or so and I already have almost 100 hours of learning banked. (I should mention there was a trip to Australia in which a lot of flight time was killed by listening to Game of Thrones so these stats are probably fairly skewed)

In a small amount of time, you’ve made a huge investment into your own well being.

2. Leverage

“Oh now he’s just going to plug his website some more” 

Yes I am but please don’t leave just yet.

For so long I tried to do it all myself, and as a result, law school was hard, I wasn’t learning things at work as quickly as I should, and the website was well, dead. Then I learned that it’s much smarter to leverage what other people are good at for your own benefit, and in my experience they appreciate you for it. 

As an example, I had spent a good week and a half trying to get the ‘Find a tutor’ page to read:

“[Name] is a [something] year studying [whatever] at the University of Nottingham”.

Putting more hours in the day: Part Two - Tips and Tricks
Looks cool right?
(thanks to Meg for letting me use her picture)

So I’d read every inch of the online tutorials, watched every Youtube video, and checked out every other free resource you can imagine. Except, of course, for asking for help.

Ask Dr Terri Holloway if you don’t believe me, but I swear that entire time, sat across from me was a young man called Dennis. And guess what Dennis did?

Dennis was a computer scientist.

I had spent a week and a half of my life, from 9 -6 then 7 – wheneverifellasleepatmydesk slaving away over this one technical problem that I just couldn’t solve, my writer’s brain just could not do it – Dennis had it cracked and running within an hour.

This little anecdote demonstrates my point far more than I ever could. Everybody around you has something that makes them special – an area of knowledge unique to them that, if you ask nicely, they normally don’t mind sharing with you.

So okay, here’s the bit where he starts pushing his website… Tyfy is all about putting you, the entrepreneur or the student, with people who know more than you about something you need to know more about. Or, put more bluntly, we’re here to put the Jameses with the Dennises.

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