Want to be your own Time Lord? Implement those 3 simple habits
As I am turning 40 this year, I can better grasp the feeling of dying at just 43 years old as Chadwick. He was diagnosed with colon cancer at stage 3 in 2016. And he has done in the last 4 years of his life what I will never be able to do if I was given 100 years.
Each time I am confronted with death, it reminds of how valuable my time is. I have spent so many days, months of my life, binging movies, TV shows, videos on Youtube, memes on Facebook, procrastinating on my phone for countless hours. At some point, I forget how precious my time is. I forget that the time given has no price tag. It cannot be claimed back, no matter how much money I have.
In this article, I will share 3 habits that I have integrated in my life to make the best use of my time in both my personnel and my professional lives.
From all the tips on how to manage time, these are the 3 hacks that I have implemented:
- Owning my calendar.
- Focusing on what is important first.
- Compressing my time.
The 3 habits above are saving some minutes every day, adding up to maybe some years in the span of my life.
1. Owning my calendar.
“What gets scheduled gets done.”
In my private life:
I have had a Google account since 2007 and until 2017, my GCalendar was just a nice feature that was sitting there, empty. It never occurred to me that I could use my Google calendar in 10 years to schedule things to be done in my private life.
I would just wake up and let the wind of the day drive me. For more than a decade, I had an easy and free tool to manage my time and I did nothing about it.
When in 2017, I woke up to myself after a personnel reminder from life, I started using my calendar.
I am scheduling my sessions for workouts, my reading time. Using the time in that calendar is helping get things done. I scroll my agenda widget on my phone and get ready mentaly for what I have to do. And when it is time, I just start.
The one thing that I have not implemented yet is a meeting with myself. The idea behind that is that we are always setting up meetings with other people in our life, yet not the most important person in our life: us.
Having blocks in my agenda has made me more focused in my personal life.
In my professional life:
Before reading the 4 hours workweek by Tim Ferris, my professional agenda was an open time bank account without any key. Anybody within the company would come and take whatever they wanted without asking. After all, I was giving it for free with no strings attached.
One of the tips of the book is to block my agenda at work. The idea behind is that I will try to avoid as much as necessary the unnecessary meetings popping up in my agenda.
Often people will try to set-up meetings with me, and always I will hear: your agenda is full, you are never free. I wonder if they were to look to the agenda of our CEO, they would have raised the same concern.
By reclaiming my time at work, I can drive the tasks of the day. I avoid unnecessary meetings where I have to sit and listen to people for 50 minutes and talk just for 5 minutes tops.
THe funny part is that people expect me to give them 90% of my time for free. And they do the same. Yet I wonder how many of us are ready to give up 90% of our salary for free.
Because I am the CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of my life, this is reflected in my CEO agenda at work.
2. Focusing on what is important first.
“Always put the big rocks before putting the pebbles in the bottle of your life.”
In my private life:
I used to wake up at the same time as my wife, even before my son was born. I would take my shower, have my breakfast and then go through my day. No that isn’t totally accurate. Before going to bed, I would be on my smartphone, scrolling the Facebook app. I would put it on my bedside table, just on silence mode. When I awaken from the daeds, I would reach out to my phone and start scrolling before even saying a word to my partner.
Contrast it with today. I have scheduled my phone to turn off automatically a quarter to midnight and it turns on at 07:00 a.m. And it sleeps in my living room, not sharing the private bed with my wife and me.
Each morning I wake up half an hour before my wife and my son. I exercise for 20 minutes. I sit down and write my morning journal for 10 minutes. I set a goal for the day, reflect on my emotions, capitalize on the lessons I have learned that day, and remind myself how grateful I am.
It was a challenge for me at first. Waking up early, “forcing” me to write a page in a journal, sweating before eating. Yet it has given me a more clear vision and more power on how to manage my time for the day. This routine helps me setting priorities for the day and managing my day in an efficient way.
In my professional life:
I would arrive at work. I would turn on my computer. While it was booting, I would go “faire la bise” to my female colleagues and a lot of handshakes to my male colleagues.
This was so before Covid-19!
By the time I get back to my desk, I can see the login screen. I hit the credentials and before even the computer finishes starting, I click on the Outlook app pinned on the task bar of my laptop. I would scroll through the emails like a zombie and hit my mind with zombie requests from other people. From time to time, I was disturbed by the notification icon. I would jump on it and click to read the new email so fast as if my life depended on it.
At the same time, I would receive a lot of notifications from Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and mails from my personal phone. That was my constant hit of dopamine all day long while working to the best of my abilities.
Contrast it with my actual routine. I arrive at my desk. Thanks to Covid-19, no kissing, no hand-shaking. A simple “Hi” to my colleagues. I turn on my computer. I have deactivated all notifications from email, chat on my laptop. THe data are deactivated on my personal phone and I set it to vibrate mode.
I dedicate the first hour of my day to learning new things, new skills without any digital distraction. Then I look at the queries that I have to answer for my Customer services activities for the day. Already 2 hours have passed. It is 11:00 a.m. Yes I arrive around 9/00 a.m at work because I have to drop my son at the kindergarten at 08:30 a.m. I open my inbox and start labelling my emails depending on whether or not it is important, urgent, for me or for others.
I have dedicated breaks scheduled in my calendar with my colleagues. If I am having a break on my one, I activate the data on my phone and take my hit of dopamine in a controlled way.
By applying this method over 3 years, I have been able to do more than what I am paid for.
3. Compressing my time.
“Read and you will live thousands of lives.”
In my private life:
I have always been curious and eager to learn new things. Yet I spent most of my free time entertaining myself: playing video games, watching videos on social platforms, killing the time on my smartphone. If I happened to read I would only read maybe once a year a book, which can be a novel, a very short one of course. I used to hate books with no pictures.
I was just a content consumer. I was fed with news, other people’s lives while I was sitting and watching them live.
In 2017, I started reading books, mainly self-development books. I started consuming videos on how to improve myself on Youtube. I watched documentaries about great people in life that I admired. And for me this is the best way of compressing time.
As a Human, I cannot test and fail at everything and learn from it. Of course, I am not afraid of failing. The point here is to learn from other people’s lives and experiences. It is to observe what they have done, why it did work or not and use it as an inspiration to move further in my own life.
By turning my mind to those mentors, who have le-ived or are still alive, I am able to experience their life, understand it from their perspective. Finally I can compress time by living so many different lives at the same time and learning from it.
In my professional life:
In big corporations, we might think that playing by the rules will get us what we deserve. We see people from the same school as us, climbing the ladder of success and we say to ourselves: yes I can do it also.
What we forget is the hidden forces in every company, the unwritten rules that form 90% of all the rules. We forget the biases in all sizes and shapes, the unconscious ones, the group effect ones, the implicit ones and much more.
I was that person. I was playing by the rules, doing what I was paid for and always dreaming about that promotion for the next round. I waited for a long time, and with a lot of frustration. I did not have a map of my company’s culture and yet, I was expecting to arrive at my destination.
Spoiler alert: I did not arrive anywhere. I was still a crab among many others at the bottom of the basket.
From the various feedbacks from some allies within the company, I decided to get a mentor within the organisation to help me understand the unspoken languages, the codes hidden in plain sight. I did get some bricks thanks to my mentor. Yet just having a mentor is not sufficient from my perspective.
One conversation leading to another, I did meet a lot of people at the top of the pyramid. They have experiences ranging from at least 5 to more than 20 years in the company. Each of them took the time to share with me what made their career a success. I remember particularly one VP (Vice President) words: “Be yourself, no matter what and never compromise with your values.”
From all those people’s experiences, I have gained a century of experiences within Airbus. I can see what drove them to where they are. And for those I have met, it is all about integrity, authenticity and paying forward.
By applying those 3 approaches, I have become a master of my time. I am now a Time Load like Doctor Who. Owning my calendar, starting with what important first and learning from others constitute my TARDIS.
I might not accomplish as much as Chadwick Boseman in my life span. I just want to have enough time to leave my own mark on Earth.
What are you doing to build your own TARDIS?
What kind of time’s hacks are you using in your life?
How do you make sure that you are managing your time in the right way?
Leave a comment below.
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You can read my previous article on 3 ways to get rid of the ANTs eating your mind!