I had the great fortune to not work for all of 2017. I was able to take time to disconnect and eventually, relax. What was interesting, was that it took four months for the phrenetic energy in my head to slow down so I didn’t feel like I was supposed to be doing something else.

By month five, the guilt I felt for picking my daughter up from school earlier than in past years, at 3:30 instead of 5:00, dissipated.

By month eight I was in love with not rushing all the time and being able to investigate what really fascinated me. It was at this point I committed to never rush again. I drew up a plan of how I could make this idea of not rushing a reality.

The challenge with simply implementing a not rushing policy is you might not accomplish a lot. I still wanted to make shit happen, I just didn’t want to feel like my pants were on fire all the time. I set out to create a strategy where I could get more done than the average person every week, while working fewer hours.

Here are the four things I’ve put in place to ensure I don’t ever feel rushed again.

Here are the four things I’ve put in place to ensure I don’t ever feel rushed again.

1. Scheduling The Non-Negotiables

There is a finite number of hours in each week, that, I’m sure does not come as a surprise to you. The problem is we don’t put enough thought into determining what are the right things we should be doing during those limited hours, then prioritizing those things with zero negotiation around execution.

Let me explain further.

The first thing I did was open my calendar and fill the non-negotiable slots.

Family time – there is no getting around the childcare, the driving to and from school, the after school activities etc.

The Winslowe times get slotted first along with weekly family meals such as Tantalizing Tuesdays where Winslowe and I cook for Meg.

Next up from a priority stand point is health. I’m a firm believer in what gets scheduled gets accomplished so all my fitness goes into my calendar next.

With the non-negotiables in place I started to think about how I would spend my time working on Vegan Labs and my passion project, The Veginning Magainze. I realized that before I started slotting in work time I had to think about what had stood in my way previously, why did I always feel rushed and why did I always feel the list of things to do was insurmountable? That’s where number two comes in

2. Concentration – Shutting Down Channels That Distract Me

In order to determine what matters I examined first what didn’t matter and in turn I labeled these things distractions. It was essential to be able to concentrate for long periods of time without distraction in order to reach my goal of doing more in less time.

Email doesn’t matter, it’s a tool that I consciously chose to own. Whereas in the past it had owned me. Whether a browser tab or an application, it does not need to be open all the time. A simple concept right? But one that takes guts to implement.  When I do have my email open and I don’t want to be distracted, I use Boomerang to pause my inbox  so I can still send messages and search, but not receive.

Facebook and social media doesn’t matter. There are thousands of engineers  working in Silicon Valley  that work to convince me that it does matter by creating addictive features. But I had an honest conversation with myself on whether it was useful or not useful and that resulted in Facebook being removed from my phone and using Freedom App to block all social media from 8am-8pm.

Missing out doesn’t matter. There is always an event or a gathering that I could go to, but missing it will not impact what I’m trying to achieve.  I gave up on worrying about missing out on anything that was outside of my home or my new business.

All of this lead to what really matters and that was learning to concentrate for long periods of time producing fantastic quality work in less time.

3. Uninterrupted Flow Time

Now that I saw how to concentrate for long periods of time and how to remove things that didn’t matter, I had to look at scheduling time to leverage the skill.

It became clear to me after my last few gigs that people only produce or ship real work for about half the number of hours they put in at the office. So, if they were physically at the office for eight hours they really only worked for four. It’s no secret that companies lose massive amounts of productivity to all the wasted time by employees doing other things than meaningful work. The worst culprit, too many meetings, then of course, social media and the constant of being distracted by co-workers. I wanted to work for five hours, but produce in those five hours what most people take 10-20 hours to accomplish.

Im January I set out to launch my new company but only work 28 hours a week.

I decided, that on Wednesday and Thursdays I was going to work three 2 1/2 hour slots uninterrupted. These slots became non-negotiable, nothing else can be scheduled on these days.

These two days are eight hour days in which I believe I get done what takes most people two weeks to accomplish, simply because I’m focused and tackle one project at a time for up to three hours.
Next I slot in repeating, critical weekly meetings. I have product development, editorial and art direction, as well as social acquisition. I also have a two hour block for writing, an important weekly activity for me.
If you are interested in reading more about what happens wen you improve your ability to concentrate check out this article.
  1. Weekly General Admin And Next Week Planning
Quite possibly as important as my Wednesday and Thursday flow time slots is my Friday General Admin and Next Week Planning calendar event. This is two hours of mostly small, important, but not critical tasks that I have, with great discipline, put aside during the week. During this time I get my inbox to zero, choose what I will work on during my six flow time slots for the coming week, choose a few podcasts I want to listen to next week and fill four 15 minute slots for drive time phone calls.
These four things have been essential to me getting enormous amounts of creative work accomplished and still having lots of  play time. Onward and upward.
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