The Art of Stopping Time

In The Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai, the author, shares something we all know; our most treasured resource is time.  So how do we leverage it?  Stop it!

What we get out of time depends on mindfulness, energy, and how we focus and spend our time.  For all of us, time is the great equalizer—we all have the same amount of hours in a day.

The first step is to determine how we are spending our time to begin an assessment to maximize time.  Is time spent on something meaningful or pleasurable?  Next, consider energy to invest in worthwhile endeavors versus low-energy tasks like doom scrolling social media.  Last, Are we mindful?  Are we living in the moment?

The author reminds us to cut bait on goals or activities that are no longer relevant and deserve our time.  Then, use this newfound time in rewarding areas and produce results.

What’s your ROI on time?  In investing, there’s a return strategy.  What’s your time investment strategy?  When time pops up, say an appointment cancels, or a commute is faster than planned, there’s a decision on how to use this extra time.  Like investing, knowing how to “invest” this spare time is essential.

We have more power over our time than we may initially think.  While some obligations are required—say, paying taxes or feeding our pets—others are at our discretion.  These discretionary activities could include letting go of relationships or no longer relevant or essential activities.

For time, the “how” is as important as the “what.”  Are there ways to get two things done at once?  Say you want to exercise and spend time with your kid.  Could you have your kiddo join you for your run or bike ride?  Or, if you have a conference call and need to drop off your child for a playdate, could you drop your kid off while having your conference call?  Small decisions compounded make for big-time impacts.

Our mobile phones are a double-edged sword.  While they can be productive, it’s a quick way to be distracted or entertained.  The next time there’s a fleeting moment, resist the temptation to grab the phone and use it to think through a current problem or reconnect with a past friend.

Be mindful.  Be present.  Be thankful.  On vacation or at work, wherever you are, think “this is the last time I’m ever here.” If this was the case, how would you be present?  Being mindful lets us live in the moment and stop time. 

While no one can stop time, we can prioritize, organize and be mindful.

The 5 Second Rule

In The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins shares how to stop procrastinating, eliminate worrying, and make dreams a reality.  From waking up to starting a challenging project, count down from five to one and get out of bed or start the project.  While simple, this approach redirects to what we should be doing.  If you need motivation or inspiration to take action, the five-second rule gets you moving.

Further, Robbins uses the five-second rule to compliment a co-worker or make a decision at the moment instead of waiting for the right time.  From the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, to the Fifty Shades of Grey author, the book shares they went from waiting for the right time to taking action.

Instead of focusing on how we feel, the five-second rule focuses on taking action and moving away from distraction.  Smartphones and other devices were created to make us more productive, but because they can provide a convenient distraction, they can have the opposite effect, resulting in destructive procrastination. 

As the book Mindset states, our minds and personalities are flexible.  To get the results you want in life, take action in “five, four, three, two, one.”

Think Like a Rocket Scientist

I just finished, Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol.  He shares the main ingredient for being an original thinker and why being bored is OK.

The best way to be an original thinker is not to conform.  To be an imaginative thinker, practice divergent thinking.  To be divergent, throw out rational thought.  Take an approach where no idea is a bad idea.  Then, with your list of innovative ideas, turn back on critical thinking and select your best ideas.

Along with being original, setting aside time for just daydreaming is good.  This is in line with another book I recently finished Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee. An example, cited by Varol, is J.K. Rowling in 1990 spending four hours stranded at a train station.  She used that time to let her mind wander and came up with Harry Potter, a $1B+ idea.

Productivity Tip: My Best Way to Take Notes

Growing up, my dad was a big note taker. From the calendar in the barn with upcoming farm appointments to 3M pads in the house with reminders for the day to a journal of rain and crop results, he believed in the power of the pen.

I too capture thoughts and memorialize meetings with a pen and paper. But, there’s a twist. I use something not available in dad’s day called Livescribe. Livescribe uses a smartpen and a tablet, that looks like a “normal” pen and tablet. But, there’s an upside.

Everything is OCR’d, so handwritten notes are searchable. More importantly, the OCR’d notes are instantly synced through the cloud to Evernote. Evernote is where I keep all my thoughts, important emails, pictures, or really anything I may want to reference in the future.

I have no financial interest or upside in Livescribe.

Time for Life Planning

In The 100, I dedicate a section to life planning. Similar to using this time of year to plan next year’s business goals, this is a good time to plan next year’s personal goals.

Goals transform vision into reality. Practical goals are SMART: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. While many of us make long-term goals; specific short-term goals drive us to achieve our long-term goals.

Writing goals down is essential.  A study by Dominican University professor Gail Matthews found writing down goals, making an action plan, and communicating to others results in being twice as likely to accomplish the goal.

Here are some goal setting tips:

  • Write down your goals.  Then, wait a few weeks to test your conviction.
  • Break your long-term goals into short-term goals backed up by a plan
  • Look at your goals every day
  • Include dates. A goal without a deadline is just a dream.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz are a couple of great books on goals.

Here’s a goal setting template.