What do you choose to spend your time and energy on? Or do you invest time and energy in something? There is a big difference in spending and investing. I’ve written about this topic a few times before, but this is something close to my heart for several reasons.
Multitasking is something I’ve tried to cut out of my life over the past months. Running my own business has really made me aware of how important it is to be able to make out what’s top priority, and to act on that. It’s hard to stop multitasking after years of abusing my brain with multitasking, but fact is that the brain of an adult human is better suited for solving one problem at a time, even if it might feel better to work on a lot of things at the same time. I find myself to be quite addicted to information. My brain craves information all the time. It wants to read, to look, to talk, to listen, to experience, to feel. From the moment I get out of bed to the second I try to sleep. On one hand I guess this is a side-product of living in the digital age where all of your friends (and foes) are accessible at your fingertips, where you can read news updates all around the clock, or watch clips at Youtube for hours to no end. The amount of information surrounding me each day is probably more than an average person experienced during a lifetime just four generations prior to me. The concept of “spare time” is a quite new invention. If I look back just four generations my relatives almost didn’t have any “spare time”. They worked from before the dawn to long after sunset. They were kept busy all the time, and the only time you didn’t to anything productive was when you were sick or dead. True story, bro. My elder relatives often knit when they watch TV, it’s one way of combining “doing something productive” with having “spare time”.
But just because information is out there, or surrounding us, it doesn’t mean we should go with it. I like that famous sentence from Fight Club: the things you own end up owning you. The same thing can be said about your habits, what you choose to consume ends up becoming a part of you, consuming you. If you invest your time and energy in something constructive, it will come back to you in one way or another. This is not easy by any means. It’s super difficult. I try to think about the human brain as a laser. It works best when you focus on one thing for a longer time. If you constantly shift your focus, jumping between ideas and task you won’t get into flow or actually have the time to reflect and refine upon your process and work. Some people are better at concentrating at one thing at a time, shutting out everything else.
Here’s some stuff I’ve done lately to help me focus on getting things done here and now:
– Investing in a great calender. Writing down important times and notes saves me from so much stress. I can look at my calender and get an overview of my week in seconds. Stress kills your focus and creativity. I try to eliminate stress whenever I can.
– Using time-tracking software like Toggl to track my time when I’m working.
– Treat my mail inbox like a to-do list more than an actual inbox.
– Print out the articles I want to read, turn off my computer while I’m reading.
– Leaving my phone at home whenever I can, unless I expect a very important call.
– Keeping a very clean desk, both IRL and on my computer. Crap and dirt distracts me from working.
– Get rid of unnecessary material items. If I don’t need it I give it away or throw it out. I only buy things I really need or want. I try to own as few things as possible and rent stuff if it’s a viable option. Right now I don’t have any single material item I could not afford to lose. I have backups of all my digital stuff and insurances for other important things. I don’t have to think about stuff, I can focus on other things in life.
– I’m always trying to make conscious and informed decisions about my priorities. What should I really be spending time on right now?
– Some years ago I began to think about people roughly as drainers or sources. Some people make you feel good, they give you energy and let you invest energy in them in a constructive way. Others to nothing but drain you of energy, no matter what you do you always feel bad after meeting them. I try to avoid people who do not give me energy or that only are negative. I hide them on Facebook. I don’t start following them on Twitter. If spend all your time on the wrong people, you won’t be open to the opportunities and adventures positive people bring into your life.
– I don’t bring my iPhone to the bedroom. I sleep way much better! When I go to the gym I put my phone in flight mode. The time I spend at the gym is sacred to me, it’s one of the core pillars of my health, both physically and mentally.
– I have removed all bookmarks in my browser showing me pointless blogs or hateful web pages I used to visit just to argue with stupid people. I rarely read articles about topics that makes me angry anymore. I don’t have the time or the energy to. If I pick a fight it should be worth it.
– I try to eat clean and healthy. And when I chose to eat junk it’s a conscious decision. Just like you become what you think, you become what you eat. A healthy body helps me concentrate on what’s good in life.
This may sound harsh, but it’s just my way of focusing on what’s important on life. Doing these things helps me see what’s important, and to live here and now. I want to create more things than I consume, I want to invest energy ,not spend it mindlessly. I want to add value to my own life and to the life of whose I care about for real (and indulge in a Game of Thrones marathon every now and then – it’s not about being “perfect”, it’s about choices, what you choose to do with your time).