Why We Are More Productive When Our Schedules Are Full

On leaving high school, I made an interesting observation: My grades were higher when my schedule was busier.

It was easy to make the distinction between busy semesters and less busy semesters. You may have guessed based on reading around here for a bit that I’m a nerd. Befitting that, I was in the marching band in high school.

A marching band that was regularly the number one band in New England.

For those of you who have not been in a competitive marching band, it is very time consuming.

We practiced for three hours after school two days a week and practiced all day on Saturday.

Once competition season started, we would bus out to competitions on Saturday and Sunday each week.

That’s a lot of hours.

Continue reading “Why We Are More Productive When Our Schedules Are Full”

Make Space to Be Wrong

Last week I attended an event hosted by the news organization Vox.

The event was a two-day nerd-fest of talking about policy called Vox Conversations. The goal was to get a bunch of policymakers, organization leaders, and nerdy wonks together to talk about policy in the Trump era. Continue reading “Make Space to Be Wrong”

You Do Have Time

It has become a sign of success in the modern world to say that you’re busy.

Being busy signifies that you are a hard worker. You have plenty of opportunities. You are important. And everyone wants to be important!

So you will often hear “I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to have a weekend away with my family, but I don’t have time.”

“I’d love to take up skiing, but I just don’t have the time.”

“I wish I could read as much as you do, but I’m always so busy that I don’t have time.”

You do have the time, though. We all do. We’re just choosing not to use it on that particular activity. Continue reading “You Do Have Time”

Do More in Less Time

Have you ever wondered why a project that you have two weeks to complete ends up taking the whole two weeks, when you can finish a similar project with a shorter deadline in 48 hours?

Remember when you had a whole semester to complete a paper for class? We would always plan to get it done early so that we weren’t writing our paper while also taking final exams. And yet, how many of us ended up still writing the night before the paper was due?

Continue reading “Do More in Less Time”

Make a Plan! (Or Don’t)

Here at Optimize Your Life we’ve talked about the need for more focus in our lives.

One way to achieve that, which we have explored previously, is to avoid multitasking.

But multitasking is not the only force assaulting our focus. One other major distractor is unfinished tasks. Continue reading “Make a Plan! (Or Don’t)”

Being More Productive By Doing Less (At Once)

In my last post I discussed multitasking as something to avoid. I pulled one quote and one experiment to show that multitasking was bad and then moved on with my point.

As a lawyer, I feel the need to double back and support my argument. While many of you agreed, I recognize that I have not actually done the work to convince you that multitasking is, in fact, bad for productivity.

Everyone does it these days. There is so much going on and so many different sources of media that you can’t always help it.

Plus, aren’t you getting more done by doing multiple things at once? Doesn’t squeezing more things into the same time slot mean that you can accomplish more?

Well, no. And here’s why: Continue reading “Being More Productive By Doing Less (At Once)”

How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

There is a quote attributed to Aristotle that is very popular in the online entrepreneur community lately.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

(It is actually a quote from Will Durant in a 1926 book providing his own summary of Aristotle’s position, but it sounds more powerful coming from a father of western philosopher than from a 20th century writer that nobody knows.)

The quote is nice. It sounds important and stresses habit building. Cool.

But it never clicked with me.

Continue reading “How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything”

Want to Get More Done? Go Back to Sleep.

Sometimes a key to solving a problem seems counterintuitive at first.

If you are pressed for time and constantly facing deadlines, the most helpful thing to do is often to step back and take some extra time to plan and prioritize.

If you find that you can’t stop spending too much, sometimes paying for a personal finance course is a good idea.

And, as we will explore today, if you feel like you are not productive enough with your days, you might want to try sleeping more.

Pretty sure this guy is sleeping, although it is possible that he is dead.

Continue reading “Want to Get More Done? Go Back to Sleep.”

Five Tips for Better Time Management in 2017

Last week I talked about some time management goals that I had for 2017 and some things that I still need to work on in that area. I said, “I’m pretty good at time management, but I want to be better,” and that “I’ve completed the entry level time management tips.”

I also said, while discussing my prioritization issues that I’ve read around 100 books this year, which was flagged in the comments as a lot of reading.

And it certainly is. There is no doubt that I did better with time management in 2016 than I had in previous years.

Today, I want to share with you five of the tips and tools that I used to get there. Continue reading “Five Tips for Better Time Management in 2017”

How Not to Fail at Your New Year’s Resolution

45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, while another 17% make them occasionally. Of those who make resolutions, only 8% successfully achieve their goals.

That’s pretty depressing.

We’re all about self-improvement around here. While I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions, I set goals and work to build better habits all the time. With that in mind, let’s look into making better resolutions so that you can set yourself up for success.

Continue reading “How Not to Fail at Your New Year’s Resolution”