“I’ve started keeping a running list of personal open loops: buying plane tickets, getting my hair cut, getting a chair for the guest room, buying new sunglasses.
I then assign myself one big project, and two smaller projects per week. Three projects is doable, so I don’t feel like I’m mentally overloaded. On the other hand, three projects is enough to make progress.”
“It’s important to take some time off to recharge, even if it’s just a day or two. Sometimes my girlfriend and I will go to Disneyland, just to take a day off. If you feel completely exhausted while working, though, I’ve survived a long time on taking 20 minute naps. It just gives you a refresher. If the goal is to get the most quality time in, I’d rather set 20 minutes aside to get three hours worth of good work than just go through it all at 40%.”
“I don’t use web surfing as a filler at the end of the day, nor do I leave early if I find I’ve finished my main tasks 15 minutes before I usually leave, even though no one would notice or care if I left early. I believe in making full use of the ‘small time’ at the end of the day. One of the things I learned from my years as a contractor, charging time in 15-minute increments, is how much you can get done in 15 minutes.”
"They’ll likely find hours in their weeks—hours lost to activities that aren’t meaningful or enjoyable in any sense. Everyone has time that could be repurposed. Hours pass whether or not we are aware of where they go. Best to figure out where they go, so time—the ultimate limited resource—can be allocated to what matters, rather than what doesn’t."
Author and time management expert Laura Vanderkam says if you keep track of exactly how you’re spending your time, 15 minutes will seem like nothing.
“The first thing I did was keep an honest accounting of a week (168 hours) of my time. As if I were a dieter logging every morsel, I wrote down every activity: every email check, every work distraction, every unnecessary errand. I used a notebook for this, though some time trackers use spreadsheets or apps such asa TimeLoggerand TimeTracker.
When I looked over the log, I saw a lot of activity, of course, but I also saw surprising amounts of space. Turns out 168 is a lot of hours.”
“As the company grows larger … you will require more time than ever before to just think: Think about what the company will look like in three to five years; think about the best way to improve an already popular product or address an unmet customer need; think about how you can widen a competitive advantage or close a competitive gap, etc.”
There are little pockets of solitude in any schedule. You just have to know how to find them.
As Nate Silver describes in The Signal and the Noise, there’s a difference between knowledge and information. Knowledge is a verifiable, articulated signal, while information is ambiguous, coarse noise. And if we’re going to make wise decisions and awesome products, we need the signal, the knowledge.
But you don’t need to be Nate Silver to know that a key to processing signal versus noise in your own head is by having enough space and time to think. And as Ben Casnocha notes on LinkedIn, even us Twitter-addled technorati can find a little headspace. It’s not that you need to pull a Rodin and put your fist in your forehead—though style points if you do—instead, he says, you want to “obliquely engage” in two kinds of thought jogging—directed and undirected thinking.
Directed thinking is what happens when you take that monkey mind of yours and give it a job to do, like understand itself.
Do something with a minor mental load and let your mind creatively wander.