The idea that time is your most valuable commodity is not new, but it is often overlooked. I’ve done a lot of research on the importance of focusing your attention in the last year.
I call this emerging science Timejacking.
The idea is that you don’t exist within the accepted constraints of time as other people in the world do. These people don’t let the unimportant eat up their time.
When compiled, designed, and published The Art of Being Minimalist in under 2 weeks, I also employed a number of Timejacking techniques for greater effectiveness. I plan on writing at least one more ebook in the next two months, so Timejacking is on the forefront of my mind.
Many people choose to spend their time in ineffective ways:
- Watching TV
- Paying off bills they shouldn’t have acquired
- Working at low-paying jobs
- Checking email every 35.5 seconds
- Reading information that doesn’t matter out of obligation
I could go on forever about the ways you can spend ineffectively spend time, but that wouldn’t be an effective use of my time.
The Timejacking manifesto is simple:
- I will value my time to the highest potential.
- I will not engage in activities that do not contribute value to my life.
- I will focus my attention on creating great work which changes the world.
Here’s one Timejacking case-study:
When I was living in Portland, there came a moment in time when I didn’t have any money at all. I had moved there with $3000, and around November 1st I realized that I had reached bottom. I had very little income coming in at that time, and none of it automatically, like it does now.
Then I walked by a Starbucks, and they had a help-wanted sign up in the window.
For a brief moment, perhaps 17.7 seconds, I considered taking that job. (I’m confident they would have hired me, because I’m badass.) It probably could have been paid fairly well for what those jobs pay, around $11 an hour I imagine. I could have made just enough money working part time to pay rent and buy food in Portland. I would have been ‘set.’
If I had taken this action, it would have ended my writing career before it began.
By putting that safety net in place, I would not have had the incentive to start growing my small business online. I would not have hunkered down and spent a number of months banging out valuable content for my e-book.
Anyway, I don’t mean to say this to put down people who are working for 11 dollars an hour. For me, it just doesn’t make sense. It is a very safe way to live, you can pay the electric bill. However, it isn’t a way to be find artistic success.
The rationalization for me was simple:
If I spent the next two months working on creating what is essentially, a digital work of art, it will pay me indefinitely. The truth is that my e-book made far more money in the first month of launching, than I ever would have made working at Starbucks for the last four months.
I had timejacked my way to success, and I want to help you find the skills to do that as well.
I’ve written more about my success through minimalism in my e-bookThe Art of Being Minimalist. I highly recommend reading it, if you haven’t already.
THE NEARLY COMPLETE TIMEJACKER MANUAL FOR SUCCESS.
1. Reduce your email usage.
Internet communication is one of the biggest problems manifested in our era. Everyone feels they need to be on the internet all day long answering stupid requests and keeping in touch. The problem is, when you’re on email all day, you never get anything done. If you sit at your computer all day, hitting the refresh button your gmail, you will never get anything important done.
Stop checking your email please. I know, this is one of the biggest crimes that I commit as well. I’ve wasted countless years of my life checking email, and I’ve made the resolution recently to make it stop. I value my time too much to waste it the endless time-vortex that is email.
This should be a separate article, and I’ve written about a healthy approach to email before. But, here are a few basics:
Do not check email first thing in the morning.
This can ruin your whole day, because you might get an email criticizing you, or requesting a massive amount of information. Suddenly, it’s all you can think about.
You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s so easy for email to take control of your life.
Start by checking email twice a day.
Set two times per day that you check email. The 1st time should be around noon. I’m doing 2pm today, because I woke up at 10am, and I need at least 4 hours to write at least 4000 words of content. The second time is around an hour before the end of your work day. Anywhere from 4pm-6pm, depending on how long you work.
If you have a boss, which I know many of you still do. (You won’t for long if you start to apply these techniques.) Explain to your boss that you will see a huge productivity bump if you start to adopt these techniques.
Offer to do a trial period, where you check email twice a day for one week. Present evidence to your boss that your productivity has skyrocketed. If it hasn’t actually boosted your productivity, be sure to prepare enough material in advance so that you can successfully demonstrate that it has.
A Timejacker isn’t afraid to fake the evidence. It might take up to 4 weeks for you to see the results of this experiment, so it’s important to have enough time to see actual results.
Compose an auto-response to train the people who email you.
Write a very nice formal message explaining to the people who email you that you’ve started a Timejacking experiment. You’re free to copy and paste this one, if you need.
In order to produce the best possible results in my work, I’ve adopted a policy of only checking email once per day at 12pm EST. Email is a huge time-suck and I’ve discovered that by not spending all day checking it, I become a much more effective individual. If this is an emergency, please contact me at my phone number 555-555-1212. I hope you understand.
Thank you for your time,
Insert your name here
Quickly move to checking email once a day.
Once you’ve established the barrier of only checking email twice a day, move as quickly as possible to a schedule of checking email only once per day. This will double your productivity instantly. Choose the middle of the day option, because it will give you time to respond to email that require action without spreading over into your off-time.
2. Automate social media.
I do NOT use Facebook or LinkedIn, but I have a presence there. Because of my work, it is absolutely essential that I have as many outlets as possible for people to find the work that I’m doing. However, this doesn’t mean that I spend endless hours poking around on Facebook.
How to automate social media:
- Turn off all notifications except incoming personal messages from real people.
- Make the Wall on Facebook 1-way. People often leave messages on your wall, and you don’t want to have to spend time policing that location. My wall is one way, and only displays my blog posts. This way, anyone who visits my Facebook page is almost guaranteed to read my blog, instead of interacting with me on Facebook.
- Program LinkedIn to pull in your Twitter feed and your blog feed. This will funnel people into interacting with you at your blog (your home base) and your Twitter, which limits their ability to write you five paragraph long emails that don’t say anything.
- Delete any profiles that you have to work very hard to find value from. There are a million social networking sites out there, if you’re not seeing significant returns from them, you need to delete your profile. For instance, I used to be on a photographer forum/social network called Lightstalkers. I recently deleted my profile because it wasn’t contributing any value to my life. Stick to the powerful social networking sites that give you results.
3. Value your time properly.
A Timejacker doesn’t do work unless they’re being paid at the absolute highest rate. This might sound like laziness, but it’s not. A Timejacker isn’t using their off time to watch TV or eat chips, instead they use the time when they’re not working to train, learn, and grow their strengths.
For instance: I value my time around $100 an hour. This means I can do ‘work’ around 10 hours a week an make at least $1000. This is more than enough to cover all of my expenses for that week. I plan to grow this amount until my time is worth at least $500 an hour. This way I can earn around $5000 a week for 10 hours of work.
In the above mentioned Starbucks story. No matter how hard you work, you can never reach the potential of earning $5000 a week. Pushing the Frappachino button just doesn’t scale into high-impact income.
4. Don’t do meetings.
Once you interact with more people than yourself, you introduce the concept of bureaucracy. This is why many bigger organizations have a hard time maneuvering and growing, because you need to sit a committee down on a Friday night for four hours in order to endlessly debate whether or not to order a new snickers bar.
Simply avoid interacting with other people when decisions are being made. The section details how to solve this problem:
5. Make decisions on your own.
Take initiative and make important decisions for yourself.
The reason for this is one of a Timejacker’s biggest strengths. If you introduce an idea to another person, they will almost always have some reason to argue about how it can be done better, or how they think it will fail.
For most average decisions, you can reasonably assume that you can make the logical decision yourself, and get the minor decision done and out of the way. This way you can move on to the next decision. For important decisions, or ones that might potentially lose a lot of money, you may need to interact with other individuals if you’re working in an organization.
Knowing the difference between important decisions and squabbling over stupid decisions is one of the most important elements of any successful Timejacker. Act on decisions that have simple answers without asking for an opinion.
6. Eliminate as many unnecessary tasks as possible.
Many people simply do things because someone told them to. Don’t accept the status-quo; if you can eliminate or automate a task you must make the decision to do so.
For instance: if you’re still updating a spreadsheet that lists all of your business expenses manually, you must stop doing this and outsource it to an automated financial program.
I don’t care if you really enjoy the task of reading all of your receipts for coffee last week and typing them into Excel, doing this is effectively killing hours of your time. Use an account at Mint.com for your personal finances, and Outright.com for your business expenses. These services automatically keep track of cash flow and budgets for you, and you can see your exact net worth in a matter of seconds.
This can apply to any number of tasks though. Do an audit of your time and see where you’re wasting it, then destroy those time wasting elements. I did this with email, and it’s helping my ability to focus on the important immensely.
7. Focus on your strengths.
A Timejacker acknowledges that they cannot be good at everything.
Many people spend their entire lives trying to be as balanced as possible. We’re encouraged in schools to get high math scores, even though 80% of us will never have to do algebra again after high school. Why are we wasting all of this time learning math, when our cellphones can do it for us?
Focus on becoming the absolute best at your good abilities, and stop focusing on fixing your problems.
We all have problems, and I know we can be very insecure about them, but it’s okay. There are other people who are better at these things.
If you’re bad at giving haircuts, don’t try to fix your hair-cutting ability, instead find someone who can cut your hair for you. There are a million other ways that people focus on fixing problems instead of focusing on becoming the best at their strengths.
All of this is wasted time. You could pay someone to do the little things, or not do them at all.
8. Use existing infrastructure.
I went over this in depth in my article on simplifying your start-up. It got a huge positive reaction, and I can understand why. Everyone thinks they need to reinvent the wheel, but the truth is that making that decision can keep you in Starbucks-land for a very long time.
Be aware of the applications and services that are available to you, and use them to Timejack effectively. One way that I do this in my business is by using e-junkie to handle all of my transactions. My digital goods are transmitted, and payments are received instantaneously with no interacting from me. I can simply check my cash flow every night and adjust my strategies properly if I need to.
The old way to do this would be to rent a space in the real world, hire someone to run your cash register, and have them manually handle all transactions. This is costly, and ineffective in the modern world. A Timejacker doesn’t do brick and mortar unless absolutely necessary.
9. Make it hard to contact you.
With my new-found minor fame over the last month, I started to receive a huge amount of email every day with questions from readers. I love interacting with readers, but many of these questions could have been resolved by the person if they had just sat down and thought for 30 seconds.
In order to cut down on the amount of email I received, I installed a ‘contact me’ form that lists a couple of expectation that I have for incoming messages. For instance: keep it short. Don’t email me asking me to promote stuff. Contact me on Twitter first.
I plan on writing a brief Q&A for some of the most frequent questions that I receive.
If you make it more difficult to reach you, it will make sure that only the people who really need to contact you will. This way you can get more important work done, and spend less time answering mundane questions.
10. Avoid consuming information for information’s sake.
The majority of the information on available, especially on the internet, is valueless. Do not consume it for the sake of feeling like you’re reading something.
You are not reading anything of value.
Chances are you won’t remember what you just read. I only subscribe to 15 blogs, and these are the blogs that contain information that is incredibly valuable to me.
I suggest, as I did in my article on focusing your digital attention, unsubscribe to as much information as possible. Do not follow people on social networks just because they follow you. Focus your digital attention on only the sources that create worth for you.
How to stop reading newspapers (they’ll be dead in two years anyway.)
I recently stopped reading newspapers entirely. I used to have a sizable New York Times addiction, because I felt like I needed to read that information.
I did a month-long experiment in order to see if the information in the New York Times was really contributing to my life. I simply stopped reading it. After a week, I no longer missed reading the endless flow of useless information that comes out of the Times.
Instead I dedicate this time to reading books, because the level of information contributed is significantly higher in value quality.
I found that when important things happened, like the quakes in Haiti and Chile, my Twitter friends did their best to notify me. If something happens that actually effects me personally, I imagine I’ll be able to walk out my front door and ask a bystander what’s going on, and they will tell me.
I think when the New York Times puts up their pay wall, they will see just little society values the information that they contribute. Which is to say, not very much at all.
What information are you consuming that doesn’t contribute value to your life? Turn it off.
11. Only work when you want to.
A Timejacker doesn’t work for the sake of working. They focus their attention on activities that are incredibly important. If you find yourself sitting at your computer, and no ideas are coming to you, stop sitting at your computer! Go read a book. Go outside and sit in the park. Go to a yoga class or to the gym and exercise your body. Cook yourself a healthy lunch.
There are a million things you could be doing besides sitting in front of your computer with a glazed over look on your face waiting for ideas to come. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that the ideas won’t come in when you’re in front of the computer.
I wrote this entire article in my brain yesterday as I walked down west side of Prospect Park. I stopped at the bookstore and pursued the stacks. I got a cup of coffee and watched people do what people do.
I decided that Timejacking was the most important element of success as I was NOT sitting in front of a computer. The next day, I simply sat down and wrote a nearly 3500 word article in an hour. Because this article is so valuable, it will no doubt return an incredibly high value to my business.
If I had spent yesterday staring blankly at a computer screen, I never would have written this article. Take this to your own life though; how often do you sit at a computer screen just waiting for ideas to come?
Go out into the world and experience what it is to be alive.
12. Don’t do things you hate doing.
A timejacker doesn’t do things out of obligation. If you’re sitting at your desk right now, just waiting for the clock to strike 5pm. Stop, get up, go outside. The best decision you could ever make is to stop doing anything that you hate doing. Especially for a pay check as small as $11 an hour. If you hate your job, you should be working towards finding a way to leave your job, instead of just being a zombie.
13. Focus only on what is truly important to you.
A timejacker recognizes exactly what activities are important. Almost all of my income comes from writing professionally at this moment, so that is one of the most important activities to me.
Take a moment and determine exactly what is important to you. I like to pick four areas of my life which are most important. Right now I’m focused on writing, cooking, yoga, and reading.
Make a resolution to only focus on your areas of interest on any given day. Many people choose to spend their days focusing on many different things. Like they spend five minutes tinkering with an art project, and then they spend five minutes shopping for shoes, and then they spend five minutes thinking about philosophy. This leads to a day worth of little useless activities.
A timejacker focuses only on the important, and harnesses their strengths in order to become incredibly successful.
If this helped you, the most important thing you can do is to hit that retweet button, so more people can be helped by this information. Thank you.