After I quit, I lived off my savings for 6 months and literally had no schedule of any kind. I woke up and did whatever I was interested in. I got more work done in these 6 months than in the 2 years before.
What did you end up doing? Any advice?
PS: if you are really unhappy with your job (to the point where it affects you physically), don't think it will magically get better if you stay. It won't. This hope wasted 1 year of my life.
Is it just me, or does this come off as exceptionally arrogant? It's literally just telling people to plan their lives around yours. It just seems like time spent with this individual is a token of charitable _grace_. This is the opposite of what I'd expect professional behavior to look like.
Regarding this, and also not answering the phone, and turning off email, it depends on what sort of job you have.
For me this is all about: my best work comes from when I'm in the flow. So I'll do anything to avoid being taken out of it.
I am a software developer, freelance, mostly work from home. I have deadlines, and I mostly work in fixed-price projects so the longer it takes the less I earn per unit time. I can get high-quality work done the fastest when I'm in the flow.
Is it the right of the customer to call me and interrupt me from my flow? I've agreed to deliver the software by a certain time for a certain price, that's it. They might be my client, but I did not agree to be reachable at any time for any impromptu meeting on any topic of their choosing. I agreed to deliver software, not reachability.
It's literally a zero-sum game. They want help planning something, or they have a question, they're in the flow about that, they don't want to be taken out of that flow. On the other hand, I'm in the flow about my thing, and don't want to be taken out of it. It's perfect for the other people if I always do what they want, but sometimes you have to stick up for yourself and do what's best for you.
Calling them back a few hours later when I'm out of the flow, or emailing them back 6 hours later the same day, has always worked out well for me.
I understand that not all jobs are like that. What I mean to say, it's nevertheless wrong to assume that no jobs are like that. Mine is like that, and the approach to using the phone outlined in the article. is great advice.
Scheduling isn't meant to be some Randian, individualistic practice. It's a collaborative effort between people that should say something of the effect, "My time is valuable, as is yours. You seem to be interested in something I'm doing and I'm interested in telling you about it. Let's find a time that's agreeable to both of us where we are both unencumbered and can freely associate."
If you're not interested in meeting, then you have options: 1) Ghosting (controversial, but some requests deserve this response), or 2) Refusing to meet.
Instead this reads as, "I value my time far more than anyone else I associate with. If I so happen to be available, then I'll reward you with the charity of my time."
One of these is professional and makes other people you associate with feel valued, the other makes you look like an arrogant ass.
>Or, if it's important, say, "You know what, let's meet right now."
This would become the messaging for every meeting, at which point you've now limited all issues to being category 1 issues and can expect a meeting on anything at any time. It's like how during UAT when you tell the client you're only going to deal with critical issues, suddenly they are all critical.
* Keeping lists: This one is huge. I have lists all the time which track what I need to have completed and when. I have watch lists for tasks like "get birthday present for this kids party", etc. I have a job list at work.
Procrastination: I use this all the time. It's currently 7:23pm here, I'm wasting time now and I have been since 6pm but my deadline is I wake at 4am tomorrow to work.
Food: This article touches on food but I feel it's really important. I eat low carb because I find carbs make me far more tired. I also avoid large meals because they make me tired.
Something that isn't touched on in the article: Find ways to save yourself time. I get angry when I see an office worker earning 6 figures typing one finger looking at the keys. Touch typing doesn't take long to learn but it saves so much time and effort. Everyone has little quirks that take time/effort to fix but pay off in a big way once fixed. Do it, it's worth it.
How are you doing this? This can't just come from keeping lists and or touch typing?!
Can you give me some background on what you are doing?
- 8 hours of work (a generous estimate).
- 4 to 6 hours of parenting (between children's wake time in the morning and the evening).
- Commute time? Is she driving? Public transit? Other? We'll neglect this.
- 3 hours on study (an hour per day per semester hour).
With a two hour commute, that's a 19 hour day. Without, 17 hours.
That leaves no room for other daily necessities, though those could be built into the 4 to 6 hours of parenting time? I don't know. Alls I have to parent is a dog, and she's pretty low maintenance.
Now, suppose she front-loads her decision making onto those lists a la the Getting Things Done method. Then, she doesn't have to put much thought in to what next for this or that thing?. She can just look at her list for whatever thing, see what's next, and do it.
 I think what she claims she is doing is possible, I just don't "have what it takes". I'm not even sure "what it takes". [/edit]
Personally, I struggle with focus, energy, and decision making. I've tried lists, and other things. Sometimes I think it is a discipline issue, other times I think its diet, lack of exercise, or maybe even my semi-regular sleep schedule. I'm not really sure, and I'm too tired to figure it out.
I see or hear of other people who perform at this "three full time commitments" thing and I wonder at what I'm doing with my life that leaves me so far behind.
It's heavily about time management. On Monday and Tuesday nights I don't have my children. So Monday I wake at 4am, do 3 hours of uni, spend 30 minutes getting ready for work and have 30 minutes to travel to work. I work 8 hours but I have an hour for lunch (which I study in), getting home takes half an hour. That leaves me about an hour of free time and 3 more hours of study. 7.5 hours sleep.
So Monday hits 7 hours of uni, so does Tuesday. I also have Wednesday morning and 3 more lunches so now I've done 20 hours. Since I wake at 4am I can get 2 hours in the days I have kids and now I've hit the hours needed easily. If I have a lot of work due I can take a day of leave (maybe twice per semester).
I also have Sunday nights free and one Sat night + Sunday day free per fortnight. That's a lot more hours. I typically get most jobs done when I'm parenting. Parenting is actually really busy because after school pickup I have dinner, cleaning dinner, baths, homework, etc.
I'm glad this works for you, but for me (and I imagine many) a hyper "productive" schedule and life seems to be missing the simple joy of living and the flexibility of unscheduled opportunities. Again, if it works that is great but for many people the time management approach is not viable.
I know this life isn't for everyone, for me this is a necessary thing I need to do if I want to change from military to software development. I can't stay in the military forever as a single parent, it's simply not feasible, so I'm doing what I can to set myself up post-Army. It's not the most enjoyable life but it's temporary and it's an investment in my future. I'm not trying to say it's the solution for everyone but if you have goals you want to achieve then it's certainly a possible life for most people.
I think what a lot of people, especially parents, lack is energy. There is a reason I do most of my study in the early morning with a very early nightly bedtime, it's because I have more energy before work than after work. After 7 hours of study and 8 hours of work, I'm exhausted. When my head hits the pillow I'm out. It's probably a good part of the reason why so many people rack up 30+ hours of TV per day, they want to sit on the lounge doing nothing of a night. Having daily PT at work has been a blessing, it's kept a high level of fitness up and I feel this gives me more daily energy.
Oof. Feels like I could have typed that myself.
Many of these "the power of scheduling" posts seem to be written from the vantage point of either a newly begun regimen or a high water mark that isn't reflective of the mode. I say this less as a judgement on others and more anecdotally for myself. I've had those weeks of high output, and they always came coupled with proud forum posts giving thanks to and detailing my careful scheduling. This is never sustainable and quickly crumbles apart.
Maybe I'm not trying hard enough or I'm missing some crucial detail. Or maybe a life of every detail planned isn't the right life for me.
With kids it's usually possible to do something either productive or fun alongside the whole kid-taking-care-of thing. It's just very hard to do anything you like that is productive or fun. You gotta roll with the punches. Typically things that require few unpredictable interruptions and that can't be done with your kid(s) (which varies greatly with their age) are out of the question unless they're in bed or someone else is watching them. Or you turn on Babysitter Television, of course.
I think this is mostly an illusion, unless your job is writing. For stuff like SW, typing is usually not the limiting factor. Thinking is. For management, typing a lot usually equates to a large bureaucracy (and lots and lots of pointless emails).
Me? I can type without looking at the keyboard. One of the stars in my team cannot.
Flip the principle over: How many people have suddenly become more productive and "moved up" because they learned to type faster?
And I see the same clumsy slowness when others touch type in front of me
I don't know too many people who would be happy about being told you value their time so much. I keep a tight schedule and I plan around it instead. I also don't feel the need for an index card each night. I already have my lists of jobs that I need to get done and some of those jobs are due tomorrow.
A: "Let's schedule a committee meeting."
B: "I don't keep a calendar."
A: "So what you're saying is everyone else on the committee has to find time just for you? Fuck you, do your job."
Arnold Schwarzenegger could get away with that crap because he's a fabulously wealthy A-list movie star. The rest of us, not so much.
The advice is for free persons, not for us salaried workers.
(Not to mention that TFA already covers this: "I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't" and again later: "Clearly this only works if you can get away with it. If you have a structured job, a structured job environment, or you're a CEO, it will be hard to pull off.").
See also: https://medium.com/incerto/how-to-legally-own-another-person...
But the conclusion seems wrong "It's productivity when there's little value on said productivity." -- the productivity of the affluent has even more value (at least monetarily) than the productivity of some office worker.
>Want to spend all day writing a research report? Do it!
>Want to spend all day coding? Do it!
>Want to spend all day at the cafe down the street reading a book on personal productivity? Do it!
These are not things someone who needs to work for a living can do, picking and choosing activities at their leisure.
Regarding "little value on said productivity", I meant value to the individual, not to society as a whole. If you can afford to squander opportunities clearly whatever you're producing isn't as vital to you as for others who need the productivity to continue be able to afford to live.
It's not what someone who needs to work on somebody else's spec can do.
A writer living off his books, for example, even if they make just 50K/year, can shape their days however they want.
Or, to return to the freelancer, if you have a specialty, and people can to you, you can be picky about what jobs you do and when.
I know people that are like that and they are by no means rich.
Not committing to a schedule greatly cuts down on the number of meetings. Most meetings are unnecessary, a huge cost to productivity. He also doesn't advice avoiding them, more like if it's important and high priority enough, everyone can agree to do one now.
It cuts out the fat of scheduling an important meeting 3 days later because a bunch of execs had 3 days of not so important meetings already scheduled.
Also one part of how Andreessen-Horowitz operates is that they absolutely cut out the wait time for founders trying to meet them. This is a part of that efficiency. They have to leave the rest of their hours open.
When the oxygen mask falls from the ceiling of the airplane you're instructed to put yours on before helping others. You're not going to be helping anyone if you pass out.
And by the way, both you and Arnold Schwarzenegger are human beings and able to have some of the same experiences. Putting yourself down is not helpful.
You have to be willing to work with people, and you have to work with more powerful people on their terms.
One day we may need to call a meeting that no one thinks is worth their attention. There's plenty of hoops that one must work through in one's day to day that we just have to put up if we want to keep the business moving.
Most meetings are a waste of time, true.
No decisions are made in most meetings, also true.
But the former is not caused by the latter; making decisions isn't the only productive reason to have a meeting.
I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't -- this simple tip alone can make a huge difference in productivity.
Before I break down some of the advice, keep in mind that he is talking about productivity. There are some jobs where his advice will not work. But I contend those jobs are designed in a way that necessarily limit your productivity. As an example, SW developers complain about context switching. I assure you, there are jobs where context switching is more or less necessary. I wouldn't criticize Marc's advice because it won't work for that kind of a job. I'd point out that the job is fundamentally one where productivity is limited.
Getting to the details:
Later lists are essentially Someday/Maybe in GTD, so it's not a radical concept. Personally, I've treated it as a dumping ground of things just to get them out of my head. If I'm not going to do it any time soon, I want it somewhere that is not my head. Now I've never found the contents of the list useful. It's usually so huge that it's not worth my time to go back to it.
As for Anti-Todo list, it's a psychological hack, so I'm not sure how you can say it is useful or not. It's strictly not a productivity technique. If it eases your mind, it works. Otherwise not.
I'm not anti-phone as he is, but if I substitute phone calls with texting and IM's, I fully agree. They are usually productivity sinks. I've found phones to be good for things where one cannot reasonably wait. Obviously, this is not going to work for projects that require continual, quick decisions. I think he is merely self selecting: He does only projects where phone calls are not as important.
As for strategic incompetence, he makes the criterion clear:
>Of course, this assumes that there are other things that are more important at which you are competent.
Look around your workplace. In mine, this is what more senior people do all the time. They have more important work to do, and they'll first try to convince managers the annoying work they're being asked to do is not a good use of their time (takes time away from more important work). 70+% of the time, this is enough. When it isn't, it's not unusual to see them do a poor job, at which time managers assign the work to a more junior person.
It does work, as long as their is a junior person who can do the work.
Limiting email time is effective. Whenever I've interviewed, I've asked whether I can do the job if I check email only three times a day. In reality, I check it a lot more often. But I've been burned by having a job where too much work was done over email with an expectation to respond quickly (e.g. within an hour). Having to drop all your work several times a day to answer lots of questions is not good for productivity.
It was really quite bad at my previous assignment. I'm in a much smaller setting now and I'm really trying to avoid it from becoming a thing. If someone asks you for a meeting, always consider if you can discuss it right there and then.
For a lot of people, discussing it right there and then is already an issue because they're spending what little time they have in between meetings to coordinate other meetings. That is, they don't have five minutes to talk about a five minute thing because they have a meeting in five minutes.
There are other good ideas in this post and for me they're timely. I'm crunching on a business where I teach programming through art work. I'm definitely going to borrow some of these ideas for that. If that sounds interesting to you, checkout https://splashofcode.com
how often are these two the same thing? Which are you supposed to do when you've got all this open-ended, distraction free time?
And the whole "no schedule" thing comes off as cherry-picking data and situations. Even when Arnold was making blockbuster movies do you think they just filmed whenever he showed up, keeping an entire crew on standby?
Did you notice how all of his examples are individual activities? that's great, but it's tough to accomplish meaningful, revolutionary work without collaboration. Schedules are super-useful (and I'd argue required) for short/mid-term planning and prioritization across teams where everyone is important.
The approach here is for when there is huge asymmetry between parties - like an emergency room and patients. You show up with everyone else, then they triage (hopefully by importance, not interest) and process. Guess what? even the specialist still have schedules so they can work within a broader system.
The approach here sounds like the "schedule" of a lot of affluent retired people.
In the emergency room, the pathologist will be interested in the sick kid instead of the guy with the broken leg, even if the latter is "more important". Unless the staff are getting overwhelmed by a mass-casualties incident, that's probably actually the right approach. (I'm no doctor though.)
I like email and other asynchronous/recorded communication for collaboration where possible, in lieu of synchronous meetings interrupting flow. But as you point out, there's a lot of cases where this doesn't work. And even a bunch of lone wolves working on solo projects can benefit from synchronizing lunch with their coworkers for some socialization and facetime. I schedule that. It's flexible and not super rigid, but it's still a schedule.
Some of my favorites that I compiled over time.
The only thing that works is somehow doing getting work done, rest is irrelevant. And that's why I don't see a point on self-help book in general.