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Ask HN: Time Management Tricks and Tips
219 points by wasi0013 79 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments
I have seen numerous Software Engineers, Web Developers and, tech people working on various domains in different renowned companies, who are literally active in everywhere! For example, they are extremely good at their fields of work. They are equally active on Social Media such as Twitter or, Facebook etc. Also, maintain blogs with quality contents. Most of them posts valuable answers to Stack overflow, Quora etc. They also Attend conferences/ meetup with slides full of gems and, not to mention about their high quality presentations(indicates their dedication in preparation). And, actively posts update about recent series/movies/musics they watched or, books they have finished reading! I might have missed some other things they do but, I just wonder how do they manage their time to such extend! How do they do it?

>they are extremely good at their fields of work.

Be careful to make the distinction between the people that talk a lot and the people that do good work. A lot of people talk a lot on the conference circuit, know all the cool new technologies but never really own a project for a length of time. Its easier to be PR master when you don't have to deliver and support a critical system.

Edit: Of course some people are a few great devs and do have some great: blogs/videos/presentations/twitter accts. But I dont think you can do everything and have a partner and/or family and stay sane/healthy. It isn't an achievable goal.

There are plenty of ppl who are better at selling themselves than the actual effectiveness of the technics they sell.

I need not name names (but GaryVee comes to mind.)

To be pedantic you just named a name.

Nah. Just casually mentioned what came to mind. I coukd have said ice cream ;)

Most large companies like Microsoft have a title called Developer Evangelist or similar whose only job is to know all the newest and greatest and do the conference circuit and have blogs, videos and presentations.

It’s not really time management, but rather energy management thing.

Every thing that you do is going to leave you with either energy gain or loss. The idea is to either sustain energy level or spend what you have then gain it - just like charging a battery.

Tricky part is doing things that give you energy gain. One thing might be very exhausting in the evening, but give you a lot of energy in the morning. It achanges with setting and context as well (for example after 10 days of constant socializing you might want to be left in solitude for a few days, or after spending week in solitude you might crave for social interaction).

So, a lot of things you’re seeing online are people for which professional socializing is an energy gain. After full day of work (or even during work break) they get an energy boost from sharing, answering and attending conferences.

This isn’t for everyone - though. It might be that for you doing stuff like this is actually energy loss. If you’re expending your energy throughout the day and at the end you need to spend bit more to write a blog post or prepare for the conference you are going to subconsciously push it away from you making an illusion of “not getting enough time of doing it”.

In concrete scenario imagine situation where a person has exactly 10 minutes (of non-allocated) time (let’s say wait for doctor appoinment). One person is going to open a game on their phone, other is going to browse the news, someone else is going to open a laptop and write 5-6 lines of code for the stuff they are building and other is going to browse stackoverflow. Such timeslot isn’t usually planned, but it builds the result from small blocks and (usually) is following "energy gain" or at least not a energy gain.

(Note: even if for someone doing social stuff is constant energy loss there is no reason to fret. It’s not really a requierement: while you aren’t going to be internet famous you can still earn a very decent living without having to take part in professional/non-professional social networks).

>> The idea is to either sustain energy level or spend what you have then gain it - just like charging a battery

I am beginning to believe this is a dangerously misleading analogy because what we describe as energy in productivity terms is definitely not a resource that is depleted and refilled, but something that behaves very differently.

For example, lets say you are in a productivity slump but then a few nice words from customer turns it all around, you feel full of energy and motivation and crush your work with enthusiasm. The customer has not handed over a resource, instead, their words have changed ideas in your head. The ideas in your head are dictating whether you feel full of energy or in a slump, not a quantity that follows the rules of conservation.

An example of a different analogy that conflicts with the battery version is to describe energy/motivation as a fly-wheel. If your don't put enough energy in, it will stall and all energy you put in is lost. However get it up to speed and it can be self-sustaining - you seem to get more out of it than you put in. I find that more interesting than the battery but its also pretty weak.

Addressing the true causes of productivity requires understanding how our thoughts lead to feelings of energy and motivation. The battery analogy is tempting because it is easy to understand and makes the problem seem tractable but its actually disguising and hiding the hard problem.

>>Addressing the true causes of productivity requires understanding how our thoughts lead to feelings of energy and motivation.

According to psychologist Jordan Peterson, moving towards a goal that you value while seeing things working out during the journey is what produces positive emotions. Positive emotions are not a result of attaining things. Infact there is evidence that people sometimes get depressed once they reach the destination.

I'd like to point out, that you shouldn't link energy with productivity but instead of how compatible person is with the workflow.

I can have a lot of energy, but be totally unproductive. Good example are students, who (usually) don't have as much obligations as work force people and procrastinate a lot. There's is joke they're going to do everything except studying - mostly because anxiety of studying for exams creates somewhat mental barrier that in turns into perception that studying takes much more energy than it actually will.

On the other hand - one can have almost no energy and still be productive (have you ever worked so hard, that you fallen asleep 10 minutes after you'd finished?).

Obviously, battery analogy is not 100% true, because humans don't really have a full/empty condition. You can borrow your energy almost ad infinitum to the moment that you're going to experience burnout and heavy depression. And even then people can still get some energy in crisis situations. As always when talking about people's psyche there are a lot of conditions and baggage to discuss, yet, on basic level battery analogy usually works fine.

You need to be aware of your energy and need to take care of yourself. Both physically and mentally.

Its a good point - I think the language being used in productivity discussion is painfully informal and wooly.

I think energy in this context is often used to mean "enthusiasm" or "motivation". Its the energy that can be applied in a desired direction - a combination of actual gas in the tank as well as a panoply of psychological factors.

> You can borrow your energy almost ad infinitum to the moment that > you're going to experience burnout and heavy depression

Sama says something quite interesting here that indicates the psychological rather than the energy aspect of burn-out. He believes its impossible to burn-out if you are experiencing success. I think there is truth there, failure to progress and dis-satisfaction is a common feature in burnout cases. I suspect burnout is often a protection mechanism to get us to stop a behaviour rather than an actual state of energy depletion. Its a bit like the growing evidence for psychosomatic backpain occurring in response to psychological not physical factors.

As a useful model, however, I think it works. Regardless of whether or not it's real energy, all I really want to know is if some things make it difficult to work (say social media) and some make it easier (working out). The battery is as useful a way to do this day to day as anything else, in my opinion.

I can empathise but wouldn't you prefer to know the true causes rather than fictional ones?

For that particular pairing, it might be self-esteem, how the individual handles other people's perception of themselves etc. If they can get a handle on the real causes, they can then build techniques to use SM without it being a drain and extract more benefits.

The reason I think its important and not just an optimisation is that one day, the gym might stop being positive. When the positives stop working, you then have a limited time window to fix the situation before you enter a downward spiral. IMHO better to get your hands on the real tools earlier.

I think the takeaway from "social stuff = energy loss" is that you need to carefully ration the time you spend on it and recharge for it.

Doing "social stuff" might not be a requirement for success (for certain values of success), but it can make a lot of things in life a lot easier. To the extent you believe this to be true for you, the rational approach then is to figure out how you can get the energy you need to do the social stuff you want to, and make sure you only do those things.

Yes, being social is helpful and it's rational to do so.

Yet a lot of people don't recognize how huge energy spend is for introverts to actually write stuff (which is actually with most of the things because we, as humans, are very egocentric).

This expenditure is not a "point-in-time" purchase, especially - if it comes to social sharing. Pressing is one thing, but then one have to deal with feedback or even the lack of it. This is continuously expending the energy and can make a person severely unhappy even a weeks after piece had been shared. There are major internet personalities, with hundred thousands if not millions of followers on social networks that couldn't handle negative feedback from fraction of their fanbase, even though they decided they want to live such lifestyle. Imagine what negative feedback can do to a person that don't want (internally) do this in the first place.

I talk with a lot of people in IT field. Quite a bit of them don't really want to share but they feel pressurized by both common media and some of their extrovert peers. I always reassure them, that - while everything on the internet looks like you need to share or die - I know a lot of people who made stellar careers while dealing with social stuff only through hired PR teams or not at all.

Totally agree. For me answering a question on SO is an energy boost and used to do that earlier on my career. Now I answer questions on my OSS projects githubs.

On the other hand Email, Twitter and similar are quite draining and only do that when I really need to. So even "socializing" can be quite divided and mean different things for different people.

Love the battery analogy. Energy gain, energy loss. I’m going to try this out and see if it can switch my mindset about work - at the moment, a lot of it seems to be energy loss!

I think that the way we spend our time is also mostly personality-dependent. Maybe that explains why given ten minutes spare, some people do a bit of MOOC, and others play candy crush or just stare and fidget ... it’s a way of giving the mind a bit of a break!

Thanks for this. This is a great way to think about things. It makes doing things that I don't find particularly fun (aka energy loss) more palatable since it may be able to be resolved by some energy gain.

To combine multiple comments into one...

It's helpful if you have a sense of purpose or Mission (the Elon Musk comment).

Using GTD, or something like it to manage your own task pipeline is really useful. Trying to figure out the exact next step wastes a lot of cycles. I've found that when I'm in that state, it's because I haven't broken down the task into small enough chunks.

Manage your energy (this has something to do with the tasks themselves, and a lot to do with what you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise, and your general mental state).

Offload, automate, or drop tasks that you don't actually need to do (yourself).

Remove distractions to make it easier to focus and control your attention. (I've been thinking a lot about this quote lately: What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. -- Herbert Simon)

I agree with everything you say. The one thing I would add (going again mostly with the GTD approach), is review and self-evaluation. On a weekly basis, go over your goals, your tasks, and everything you need to do. If you can keep everything in one system, your brain can trust it and you can feel a lot less stress due to not having to remember everything.

First off, don't measure your productivity against what others are doing, measure it against yourself. Perhaps some of these people you're seeing have "developer evangelist" or "architecture" roles, allowing them to spend more time posting on social, writing articles, giving presentations and less time producing software artifacts.

Second I think meditition is extremely important. Yes it'll take time from your day but you'll start training your mind on how to focus, so the hours you do spend trying to produce work artifacts are more focused (and free of depression, anxiety and mindless thoughts). You can try apps such as Calm or Headspace to learn more about how meditition can be practical for your daily life.

Second plan out your work and goals for each day and hour or whatever your relevant work unit is. Set a timer so you take frequent but planned short breaks. Go for a walk or make some coffee. Don't get on social media or Hacker News on your short break. When your break is over stay focused on your work, using mindfulness techniques that you hone during meditition.

Lastly figure out ways to block out distraction. If you like to daydream, set aside time to do so and keep your notes in a journal. If there are really noisy Slack channels, mute or leave them. Turn off email notifications, and only check it when you start the day, around lunch time and before you leave for the day. And put your phone on airplane mode during the day if you can.

The only thing I don't see covered in other comments is that writing and public speaking are skills. At first, they're really hard - you'll spend a month or more making a good 30m speech, or writing a high quality but short blog post. However, after years of writing high quality blog posts, it only takes 4 hours. That hour-long speech in front of your peers takes only 10, spread across a few weeks.

More, high quality talks given at conferences tend to be talks that have been given at a few different conferences, allowing those speakers to take advantage of the long tail of even 80+ hours of effort over a few years.

Think of your programming work. When you first started, how long did it take to create a correct CRUD app. How long does it take you now? The same will apply to your speaking and writing skills, once you build them.

Time management: #1 tool is GTD. Not so much GTD itself, which is for task management. But it's a great start, and leads to other thinkings and evaluations that make you more effective at the things that matter to you.

But a lot of what stop us is not time, but emotions. Especially if you're trying to do creative ventures. And for that, a great read is "the war of art". my favorite quote: "Hitler found it easier to start WW2 than stare at a blank canvas".

Another vote for GTD -- I started a week ago. For me, the real change came with breaking down goals into small tasks that can be completed in about 2 minutes. That effectively neutralizes your inertia to pick the next thing out of your "next" list to work on.

E.g. "Write an email to X requesting 2 servers for Y", rather than "Get more hardware for Y"

There was a comment a few weeks ago in another HN thread about the fact that GTD naturally prioritize low hanging fruits and random tasks. GTD is great, but should be complemented with a regular prioritization and task pruning exercise.

GTD has this: the weekly review. I think people tend to focus on the next action part of GTD, which is probably the concept I found the most useful, but the book goes into detail on regularly evaluating your priorities and goals.

Is GTD a software or philosophy? Could you please provide a link ? I could only find the link to a book .



* Write everything down that comes to your head. Review that information.

* Categorize everything into actionable tasks, or waiting items within a project (Anything that takes more than one task)

* Clear your inboxes (Physical and digital) often

* Weekly review of how the system is working for you

Coming along with that is a lot of software to try and make it really easy to follow. I personally use Todoist, a lot of people in the Apple ecosystem like omnifocus, but really any task-app and a calender can do (paper works as well).

I suggest reading the book if you are someone who struggles with productivity or wants an imporoved system. I like the book because even if you don't fully adopt the system, just about everything in the book works independently (You don't have to do EVERYTHING in the book to get an improvement, as I see often with other similar books).

Do you use the Todoist Windows app? I like Todoist and have used it for a few years but the Windows app is crumbling! They moved to the Windows Store and the new app has tons of bugs. I keep losing tasks while trying to edit them. I will rearrange a task only to find now I have a duplicate. I try to delete one and I lose both. So, the whole ‘task list’ idea has been undermined by the app’s bugs.

The legacy Windows app still works but is getting it’s own set of bugs as time goes by.

Have you had these experiences? Just wondering. I’m currently shopping for another solution. I have e-mailed them and the customer service seems to be waning along with the software support.

No, I use the Chrome App.

All Chrome apps are coming to an end in the next month or two :(.

The book is the best place to understand it, in my opinion. There's plenty of summaries, but the book is good.

But if you take nothing else: next action. When planning a list put the next physical thing you need to do (call, draft, debug a specific routine, etc), not abstract concepts.

That was by far my favorite quote too.

Thankfully, I remember it was near the very beginning.

One secret is a lot of these people have help.

I know people who are active on social media, who have other people post for them.

They also flesh out articles, and have other people edit and polish them up and so on.

What are you trying to do compete with multiple people being paid to build a brand.

They are also employed in jobs where they are allowed to do these things in work time. They are not heads down workers.

> They are also employed in jobs where they are allowed to do these things in work time. They are not heads down workers.

This, 100%. The big names in Tech are definitely not heads-down engineers or aren't on a daily basis. They are paid to travel the country/world, give talks and write books because they are a passive inbound sales engine. Talks, books, etc. generate a LOT of inbound revenue because they establish credibility.

Visit their LinkedIn profiles sometime. You'll notice that a giant swath of those big names don't report to Engineering; they report to Sales/Marketing.

It's surprising how far down the responses this answer is, because those who achieve at the level and across the channels, disciplines, practices you describe most definitely have help. Seriously building a personal brand is not a one person job.

A lot of what you list is output. Output is actually not that hard once you actually know your domain very well. It's just putting what you already know/understand well onto paper.

Input or synthesis based activities are much harder and take more voluntary investment imo. For many of us, becoming very good at our craft (ex: day job) will be the input activity, and the retained knowledge can be channeled as output over multiple mediums.

Also, the skill of making tech talks, or blog posts, or even tweets is equally something that must be learned. I've had the fortune to hang out with well known tech speakers several times, and I observed the same things again and again:

- It took a long time for them to get good at public speaking

- Each talk takes a lot of prep, 20 to 40 hours easily, for people already very skilled at crafting talks who already know what they want to talk about.

- They have a drive towards perfection and often tend to feel like they aren't really good enough by their own standards.

And: they do the same talk quite a few times.

You can do the same talk first for your team, then the company, then a small local conf, etc.

In agreement, this pretty much sums it up - it really isn't hard if you already have something to say. The hard part is building internally so you actually have something to say. Related poem. [1]

[1] https://allpoetry.com/So-You-Want-To-Be-A-Writer

While this may be the case for the poet and many like him, it isn't true for all writers. Not having something to say can be a good starting point and shouldn't discourage those who want to practice and improve their writing.

That's a good poetry you've got there.

That’s rather modest of you! Quality output still requires time and effort.

1. Automate. If I find myself doing something more than three or four times, I look for ways to automate it. The obvious way is some sort of script. At other times, the solution is to write a script for a human being -- a detailed guide -- and offload/delegate to someone else.

2. Think ahead. A lot of my time-wasting interruptions used to be due to things not going according to plan (mostly in the form of bug reports). I've since learned to do extensive error handling and unit testing. Fewer interruptions mean more time in flow.

3. Break your tasks down into small (preferably 2-minute) slices, as I've commented elsewhere in this thread. This neutralizes your inertia against picking up tasks from your todo list. You can build up a nice personal velocity.

Internet shrinks the world and make those that are absolutely amazing and ahead of most others more visible.

I think it's good to not fall into the trap and compare oneself too much with the best. Just consider if it is a net benefit for you, and realize that on the web you risk not just trying to be the best in your room, your school or city but in the wide world.

Pretty much this, I'm a good not great programmer, I know this and I accept it however because I hang around the communities of the various languages and projects I'm interested in I get exposed to the great programmers and so I find myself comparing myself to them and the result is unflattering.

Then I remember that I'm dealing with a collective group that represents the top end of the community (self selection pays a part, people who go home and carry on programming with passion are not representative of the average programmer I've worked with).

As an example on friday I took something that used to take 140s to render in the browser (not kidding - it also used 3GB of RAM per request and returned 27MB of 'XML' after I lifted the limit to stop PHP throwing an OOM exception) and made it take under a second (by adding indexes to joined fields, implementing server side pagination, tuning the mysql instance and then finally writing a vue component wrapper over the implementation of the datatables library the system uses).

Literally none of that was advanced nor voodoo, it's something I'd expect any programmer on here to be capable off but there are so many bad programmers who just skate by producing terrible code with no thought put into things at all.

The final kicker was that it now searches three times as many fields including sales lines (on a sales order you'd kind of expect it should have done that to start with).

Maker/manager scheduling: http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html

I find that most people who are active bloggers and on social media are at the top of the chain. They are more managers than makers. Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, Paul Graham, Marc Andreessen, Joel Spolsky... these guys were once great makers, but now they're great managers.

When on the manager schedule, your job is to basically be available to your team. You are an information router, you have to make sure information passes from one part of the organization to another quickly.

But there's a limited number of things to do in the manager schedule. So they plenty of time to do nothing but writing.

When on the maker schedule, they get into flow and stay in flow, avoiding all distractions. This is where all the programming happens.

It's also not uncommon to see people working two workdays - making late at night but managing in the day.

Here's some tips:

* They use tools like Buffer to be active on several social media accounts at once.

* They're active on Stack Overflow during working hours.

* They use work as fodder for blogs and presentations.

* They seek out challenges at work.

It just comes down to using your time wisely to achieve several goals at once.

If this is what you want, then I'd recommend every morning to plan out your day and keep track.

Also note, many of these people do not have children.

I would love some people who do all of these things to break down their day (days) at a quite granular level!

I wrote https://crushentropy.com/ for myself and I've been consistently using it for the past three months. It makes it easy for me to follow the scheduling technique recommended by Cal Newport in "Deep Work" and the unscheduling technique that Neil Fiore recommends in "The Now Habit".

I can say without exaggeration that this has massively increased my productivity, mainly by making me be more mindful of how I spend my day.

This looks cool. I don't suppose it's something that could be self-hosted, however?

Thanks! At the moment, it can't be self-hosted. Hope you still find it useful.

How do they do it?

Some people only need four to six hours sleep a night. Such people do a great deal more than folks who routinely sleep eight plus hours a night.

Some people have streamlined their life to cut out a lot of time sinks that many people believe are simply not optional. They, too, get more done than average.

Some people would die of boredom if they didn't have tons going on. Their many activities often feed on each other. Their blog posts grow out of other activities.

Here's a short list of some ideas I like to share when we start doing any "agile transformation" work with organizations and teams:

1) Recognize the difference of being "busy" vs "effective"

2) Work-in-Progress = Waste (until it's done - so 1 thing done is better than 1000 "in-progress")

3) Multitasking doesn't work

4) Parkinson's Law: perceived work will expand to the time you allot it. Break it up and set short deadlines.

5) Pareto's Law: 80% of the value is from 20% of the "features". Many things over that base 20% can be skipped or not undertaken yet still provide value.

6) Empowerment Failure: outsource some tasks but don't micromanage. Let smart people make decisions and help them learn how to do so.

7) Email: check it 1-2 times per day at a set time.

“Get off the cocaine pellet dispenser and focus on the execution of your top to-do’s instead of responding to manufactured emergencies.” – Tim Ferriss (The 4-hour Workweek)

8) Meetings: stop them whenever possible. Insist on agendas beforehand from the organizer when it's not possible to escape.

“Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate.”

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.'”

– Dave Barry (Pulitzer prize-winning columnist/humorist)

(Also listed here: https://www.scrum.city/article-categories/general-productivi... )

Well, you see all these activities separated, but many times preparing a presentation, attending a conference and being active on Social media can be done during work.

Also people with normal jobs (8h per day) need to sleep about 8h per day, then they still have 8h per day to do other things, not even counting the weekends !

Not exactly . I think you forgot about following

1. Getting ready

2. Commute

3. Eating

4. Work out

5. Errands

6. General daily stuff - calls, unexpected events

7. Family and kids (if applicable)

I guess during weekdays you don’t have spare hours more than 1 or 2 or at a stretch 3

I didn't, these are all part of the "8 hours for other things".

If you want to live far from your job, then you have a lot of commute, same for food if you want to take your time for eating. Working out is not mandatory.

You can always optimize time, I work 10 hours per day, I workout every day and I still have about 2 hours of free time per day

It's just a matter of sitting down and doing the work. There are no tricks, but there are a couple of things you can do to help you build better habits initially.

I wrote a couple of posts about this at https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/learn-how-to-schedule-your-ti... and https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/how-to-overcome-procrastinati....

I call mine the "What would Elon Musk do?"

Would Elon Musk sit here watch Netflix?

I think Elon Musk would watch Netflix. The question is not if he watches TV. The question is when does he watch it.

My guess is the top of the line productive people use recreation as a way of recovering from stress and fatigue. Other people seem to tire watching things like TV.

I don't know about Netflix, but he said he likes Overwatch, and, if I remember correctly, he played Kerbal Space Program.

with the amount of money he has , maybe he does ;)

Gathering data on how you spend your time can help identifying windows of available time, or comparing one day to another.

Regular sleep, hydration, nutrition and exercise helps.

Also, reducing stress/anxiety is important. Take a moment and relax, stretch, breathe. Maybe have a quick nap.

Then, set small and attainable goals. And as you get more consistent and better, make those goals more ambitious.

Also, writing down what you are doing can help you resuming that train of thought later.

And many also have kids! My guess is they just don't sleep.

I could write down few tips about how to best plan your schedule, but being able to understand and manage one's own depression and anxiety is key for some people. It can really affect one's will to just get our there and do stuff versus putting something off until it becomes inconvenient.

It's been hard for me to tell when I've been in a "funk", but anytime I've come out of one, it's immediately obvious that something was wrong and I become much more productive in every area of my life.

For some people, it a constant battle, but it's easier to deal with if you have a core support group of friends and family who can help you realize when you're not quite being yourself, though, this is somewhat of a catch 22.

are literally active in everywhere! For example, they are extremely good at their fields of work. They are equally active on Social Media such as Twitter or, Facebook etc. Also, maintain blogs with quality contents. Most of them posts valuable answers to Stack overflow, Quora etc. They also Attend conferences/ meetup with slides full of gems

Answer: they don't. What you are seeing is the "technology evangelist", a sort of guerrilla marketing thing where people pretend to be an ordinary developer just like you who just loves the products of company X - and is supported in producing all this content by the marketing team back at the company. Don't be fooled, they are selling snake oil.

As a foundation, I highly recommend the book "Your Brain at Work" by David Rock. There are plenty of time management hacks. YBaW helps you understand why they work, or more importantly why for you they might not be working.

A few things I haven't seen mentioned already, a little bit of fuel for the fire:

Fear of failure. Actual, knee knocking, watery leg, deep child-like fear-of-the-dark, kind of fear. Not all the time, but certainly there. Tongue in cheek: do your best or an eternity of suffering awaits you.

Lack of pride. If you think you're shit you'll do anything to prove yourself. Well, you are, now do your mighty mighty best to prove me wrong. Your only real competition is your truest potential and your highest ideal.

Good luck, and don't fuck it up.

One day I would like to get good at this as well, but so far, with job and wife an daughter and attempts at still having a social life, thing that helped most was making it part of my job.

My manager knows that from time to time I will be working on a talk or a workshop during work-hours. I even have it as part of my career plan :)

So far, I have presented to ~100 people total and half of those were my colleagues on internal conference. I still like it, and one day I might have something worthwhile to say to a bigger crowd :)

One time sink I found was my morning news reading. I'd pull up WaPo and The Guardian and next thing I know, 45 minutes have gone by.

Since then, I've started listening to news podcasts (NPR and NYT both do a daily news summary, total runtime ~40 min).

I purchased a cheap shower radio[1] from Amazon, and by the time I'm dressed I feel like I've been relaxing rather than doing chores and more able to jump into work.

Little social life, lots of work-related RSS feeds, job that allows this kind of throughput.

1. Prioritize, then make sure you get at least your top priority thing done.

1. Use https://wakatime.com to feel good about the things you worked on.

Maybe these types of people are too busy to be on HN, but let's hope not.

use a calendar.

i don't mean for appointments. i mean get rid of your todo lists and all similar abstractions and explicitly allocate your time using a calendar.

i wrote this up with some more details here: http://rz.github.io/articles/2016/oct/time-on-your-side.html

Perhaps they are using Getting things done methodology. Have a look at it. It makes you more relaxed & productive.

Do they have kids?

Getting things done

Distraction is the #1 time killer. Put your phone on dnd and don't check email for 1 hour blocks. I guarantee a change.

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