One year ends and another begins. 2018 is here along with the hopes, goals and ambitions we bring with us. But this year is different. At least it is for me. In the middle of 2017, I became a father. And to say the least, that’s led me to spend some time reflecting… about a lot.
Those who know me, know that my mind kind of just keeps running. It hasn’t always been clear what to do with all the energy but over the past few years, I found an outlet by creating businesses and jobs. Again and again and again. And don’t get me wrong. I love what I do and I still do in fact have plans to create dozens of businesses before I reach the days of my life where nature has run it’s course and severely limited my capabilities. But the 12-14 hour work days that made sense a year ago, don’t make sense now. I’m a father and I have no intentions of missing my son’s childhood.
This brings me back to my recent reflections. I started to ask myself a question over and over again. The question was, “how can I get more done in less time”? Long story short, I read a lot of books (yeah, I like reading now… a lot), did a lot of delegation, and set some new goals for my career that would better accommodate my focus on fatherhood. In a nutshell, I now work 8-10 hour work days instead of the 12-14 I used to work. This change alone nets me an extra 20-25 hours a week at home with my family and it’s been wonderful. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make this a reality though. It didn’t happen overnight. With that being said, I want to share the changes I made in hopes that you’ll find them beneficial.
- Turn Off All Phone Notifications By Default
Towards the end of 2017, I decided to remove text message notifications for everyone except for my wife. I also disabled my phone’s ringtone for everyone unless I explicitly decide to give someone a ringtone, which I do for employees and family. If something’s not extremely urgent, there’s no reason a notification should interrupt whatever or whoever currently has my attention. If something is urgent, people will find a way to reach me. But allowing myself to be in a constant state of distraction 99% of the time in order to be available in the 1% of the time when emergencies occur is a trade off that I won’t accept. These changes allow me to do more in less time because I’m able to do everything with more attention. Does this get me more time at home with my family? Yes. Change made.
- Remove Social Media and Games From Your Phone
Social media is a time waster if not kept in check. The same can be said for games on your phone. Personally, I saw no reason to have access to games and social media in my pocket at all times of day. I also removed all apps that I found myself checking aimlessly on a regular basis. By making these changes, I’m able to be more present and also able to save the time I would have spent endlessly checking endless feeds for no particular good reason. Does this get me home sooner? It does. Change made.
- Less Low-Quality Netflix Binging
I love Netflix. But I noticed that I used to watch shows that really weren’t that great. And don’t misunderstand me. When Stranger Things season 3 comes out, I WILL be watching. But it’s very rare I’ll watch Netflix unless I’m with my wife now and it’s something I intentionally try to limit. And if I become indifferent about something I’m watching, I’m done with it. Does this get me home sooner? No. But does this get me more time with my family where I’m more present and engaged? Yes. Change made.
- Automate Your Scheduling
I meet with a lot of people each week. A lot. Easily 15-20 people a week. With that number of meetings comes lots of scheduling. Even when my assistant started handling the scheduling, I would need to confirm her suggestions. The irony is that I would often be distracted from being present in a meeting I was currently in as I was trying to coordinate meetings for the following weeks. In addition, I often overbooked myself. So I spent a few hours configuring a tool called Calendly.com and selected ideal times and days each week for different types of meetings along with rules and limits. Now if anyone wants to catch up between the hours of 7AM and 5PM even if it’s for pleasure, I send them my Calendly.com link and they can choose the next time I’m available (family is the exception). By using calendly.com, I have nearly zero back and fourth time coordinating on meetings for the future and I can’t overbook myself because of the rules I’ve set. Everything syncs to my Google calendar. It’s heavenly. It saves me time and helps me be in the moment instead of thinking about the next moment. Does this get me more time with my family? Yes. And I have more energy left to spend with them. Change made.
- Do Emails In Chunks
Create a culture of people calling you if something’s urgent and set an email schedule. I used to check my emails every 5 minutes. But now, I check mine around 3-4 times a day in chunks. Initially this will rub some people the wrong way but eventually people will realize your flow. If something’s an emergency, they’ll call you. Otherwise, most things that are emailed can wait 2-4 hours. I also personally removed email from my phone. When I want to check it, I hop on my computer. I no longer check my emails and get pulled away from my family every evening and during the day I have stretches of focus time instead of being sidetracked every few minutes by a new email. This gives me way more time and attention at home. Change made.
I made all of these changes to help me do more in less time and make it easier to be present in the moment. Less Netflix, automating my scheduling, being smarter about emails, and removing games, social media, and notifications from my phone all freed my mind drastically, unlocked my productivity and helped me give more of my attention to the tasks at hand in less time.
I’m entering 2018 with a new focus that I’m excited about. I’m able to give better attention to my companies in less time and better attention to my family in more time. I hope the business leaders and parents out there find these strategies just as impactful. I wish you a fantastic 2018!