A few people have commented that I am able to get a lot done and stick to a self-imposed schedule. I decided that it might be helpful to write down the habits that help me be as productive as I can be. This will be the first in a series of posts to teach you how I make and stick to a schedule.
First, I’d like to talk about time leeches.
I’m sure that you’ve heard that there are only 24 hours a day and time is the only resource that you can’t make more of. Therefore, it’s your most precious commodity. I guard my minutes like a vicious dog, and I’m very clear with myself. I have these priorities which are equal in my eyes: 1) Make a lot of art, 2) Stay healthy while I do it. 3) Maintain good relationships with the people I love while I do the other two things. If it doesn’t help with those three priorities, it doesn’t get done or it waits.
I’ll go over a few scenarios which I avoid like the plague but I see people fall prey to constantly. They are essentially instances in our daily life that suck our hours away like leeches. If you let the leeches suck your minutes away, you’ll have a tough time sticking to a personal schedule.
Scenario 1 – “I need a new towel” aka a useful item
Time wasting mindset: “The department store is only 10 mins down the road. I’ll run out and get one this afternoon.”
Time saving mindset:
3 mins to get ready, get outside, and get into your car
10 mins of driving to the store
10 mins to find and purchase the towel
10 mins of driving home
1 min to get back inside and put the towel in the closet
Total = 34 mins for a towel
Conclusion = Getting a towel wastes more than 30 mins. What could you do with 30 more minutes in your day?
– 30 – “one minutes gestures” which are then broken into 3 jpgs of 10 gestures and posted as 3 social media updates (using the last 4 mins to generate the jpgs)
– 6 chores that take 5 mins each: dishes, laundry part one, laundry part two, vacuum living room, wipe down countertops (last 4 mins used to do things like put away vacuum)
– 4 “eight minute challenges” from Jake Parker which are then 4 social media updates
– cook a meal and then break that meal into dinners and lunches
– walk for 24 mins, stretch for 10 mins
– 2 rounds of the 7 minute workout, 10 mins stretch, 10 mins meditation
– a 30 min writing session with a 4 min break at the end
…and I’m sure you have more ideas than I do.
My thought is “Do I really NEED the towel TODAY? Can it wait until I can pair the towel errand with another errand? Could I buy it online?”
Scenario 2 – “I’m at the grocery store, but do I need toothpaste?” aka an important, non perishable, item that you might have at home
Time wasting mindset: “I’m at the grocery store, but do I need toothpaste? I think I have enough at home to last me the week. Na, I’ll just go out and get some if I run out during the week.”
Time saving mindset:
“Buy the toothpaste! It’s $2.50 and can be stored under the sink for days. The grocery store is 10 mins away too and we don’t want another towel situation on our hands.”
This policy can be applied to anything non-perishable: toilet paper, canned goods, dry foods, condiments, toiletries, etc.
If there’s any doubt, buy it, and store it. These items are cheap and who cares if you store it for a few days longer than anticipated. You just saved another 34 mins in your week. We are now up to 68 mins saved in one week that would have been stolen by the trivial chores of getting a towel and some toothpaste on separate days.
Scenario 3 – “I need to go to the post office, the pharmacy, and the library.” aka things you must do to run your creative business, live, or improve as an artist.
Time wasting mindset: “I’ll just bop around town and grab what I need. All these stores are close.”
Time saving mindset: “While commuting home, I pass the pharmacy first, so I’ll stop there. Then, along the same route is the library. I’ll go there next. The post office is last on the line but out of the way. Hmmm. I’ll need to go to the post office before work, during lunch, or on another day.”
Figure out your daily routes. I have a commute so it’s fairly simple. To get many of these necessary but unfulfilling chores done, I can leave my home and take one of three routes to work, while hitting an errand on the way.
I NEVER make one trip to achieve one thing. I think of it like a video game, I want the combos.
It is imperative to avoid “have to” situations as much as possible. In the scenario above, I didn’t “have to” go to the post office that day. I didn’t leave it to the last minute, so I have wiggle room. I know this is tough, so don’t beat yourself up over it if it can’t be helped. But it’s important to try.
I’ll do out the minutes.
My home to the library, pharmacy, and back – 25 mins (if there are no lines)
Tack on a trip to the post office – another 25 mins, due to lots of traffic lights and lines
Total – 50 mins
I’m commuting home anyway, stop at the pharmacy (5-10 mins), stop at the library to get ordered book (2-5 mins). Forego the post office. Pair the post office with tomorrow’s morning commute or while getting lunch. (5-10 mins).
Total – 12 to 25 mins
A savings of 38 to 25 mins.
So here again, we’ve saved roughly another half hour. With our 68 mins saved from the treacherous towel and toothpaste, that’s 106 on the high end to 93 on the low end of minutes saved so far this week.
Scenario 4 – “I really need to clean this pit of a house.” aka don’t live in squalor
Time wasting mindset: “I’ll do my chores to the absolute perfect standard that my mom taught me when I was ten.”
Time saving mindset: “I’m not ten anymore and I have books to write and things to draw. Sorry mom, never look in my sock drawer. It’ll make you sad.”
I learned this the hard way. Like many, I was taught how to do chores by my parents. My parents are perfectionists when it come to housework. I was taught how to fold the towels perfectly, make a perfect bed, how to organize my sock drawer, how to put the silverware away in neat little lines, etc…
Fast forward, I was in college and I needed to clean my room. It was a nightmare. I was in the middle of finals but I couldn’t take the state of my room any longer. Plus I didn’t have any clean clothes. I did my laundry and started to put it away.
Glancing at the clock periodically so I wouldn’t miss class, I discovered that finding the matching pairs for all my socks took me 30 mins. I was shocked. Thirty whole mins for stupid socks? Who cares about the sock drawer? Who cares about the perfectly folded towels? No one will ever, ever, be on their deathbed saying, “Yeah, I never wrote my novel, but my cutlery? I nailed that cutlery organization chore. They were in little rows, my whole life. Worth it.”
So now my socks are all white, get put in a pile and are unceremoniously dumped into the drawer. My towels are rolled up in a highly messy way and placed on a rack, and the silverware makes it into the drawer. After that, I guarantee nothing.
I apply this is all chores. I half-ass my trivial chores so I can whole-ass my art.
I’ll do out the numbers
Perfect socks – 30 mins
Perfect towels – 15 mins
Perfect silverware – 5 mins
Total = 50 mins
Half-ass socks – 1 min (probably less but let’s keep the math easy)
Half-ass towels – 2 mins
Half-ass silverware – 1 min (probably less but let’s keep the math easy)
Total – 4 mins
This is a savings of 46 mins!
Or total for savings of time this week is now 152 mins on the high end to 139 mins on the low end.
No one will care if you folded perfect towels everyday. Free yourself from that BS.
Scenario 5 – “I want my pet cat to have a new mouse toy.” aka completely non important items
Time wasting mindset: “The pet store is down the street or on the way. I’ll go grab one.”
Time saving mindset: “My cat can play with a ball of tin foil and I’ll pick up a new mouse toy when I’m running an errand at the place next to the pet store.”
“I’ll buy a toy from Amazon prime.”
This is basically the same as the towel but even more trivial. You probably need a towel eventually. Maybe you’re down to one towel and have to suck it up with three dish towels for a day or so, but the cat really doesn’t NEED a new toy. If you want to order it online, that’s cool. Spend the money, not the time. You can make more money.
Like the towel scenario this saves you about 30 mins.
The final total for one week is now 182 on the high end to 169 minutes on the low. Let’s make it simple now and take a number in the middle -> 176 mins / 60 = 2.93 hours
The Time Wasting Mindset would cheat someone out of 9152 minutes or 152.5 hours yearly with stupid errands.
What could you do with 152.5 hours?
You could make a Patreon to get the subscription cost to Amazon Prime and draw some red pandas!
But I need a towel, and toothpaste, and all those other things!
I know and this is how I minimize the damage.
1)Get Amazon Prime and use it for everything except perishable items.
After reading this far, I think it’s pretty obvious that you can afford it. Use some of those 152.5 hours to generate some additional revenue.
a) Products arrive in 2 days. Most things can wait 2 days.
b) If it’s not on Amazon, do you really NEED it? I’ve decided to not buy something after having that heart to heart with myself.
2) ONE day a week, go run errands. Get the perishables at the grocery store, IF the grocery store is near other stores, pick up towels and cat toys. Remember to get extra toothpaste because you won’t be back this week. Otherwise use Amazon.
3)Hell Yeah! or No.
a) This is so important to help prioritize what gets done and what doesn’t
But those minutes are all broken up! How will I use them?
That’s the topic for my next blog post! – Seeing the full picture.
How do you think about these time saving tips? Have any more? Have any tweaks?
*I live in Massachusetts, USA so I realize this is a very American lifestyle. If you’re not from the USA, I’d love to hear what time saving tips you have.
You could draw one frog a day too!
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