Running errands. Waiting in line. Waiting for a train, bus, or flight. Commuting. Driving in your car.
There's a lot of dead time, you might not even realize how much there is. If you can fill this time up with valuable things, you're going to have a much better life.
I used to try bringing a book with me for dead time, and it works sometimes. Now I listen to audio, which can be done pretty much anywhere. Waiting in line at an airport? Audio. Commuting? Audio. Getting groceries? Audio.
I can't stress enough how big of a difference this makes. Fill up the dead time. There's lots of it. You'll be amazed at all you can learn in the time that's normally slipping through the cracks.
Maybe the biggest problem really intelligent people have is that they spend more time being clever than being effective.
I used to suffer from this disease of the mind. I'd want to do something new, novel, and fascinating - instead of just getting something done.
The really effective people I know, the people who make the biggest difference in the world, who make the best things, who get the most done, who live the best lives - they all are more concerned with getting something done that fits than with making it clever.
Over-researching relatively minor things is a great example. Take a quick look, get an understanding, choose one. Change later if it becomes an issue.
Trying to reinvent the wheel constantly.
"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system." -John Gall
I built a pretty good daily tracking template, and I evolved it over time. It's serving me pretty well now. I'd like to show you the evolution.
Version 0 - I realized that tracking my time would be a good thing. I started writing down just one or two things per day.
Here's what my first day of tracking looked like:
26 May - Success
It's a rule I have. Every place I spend time should be better because I was there.
Everywhere. A table at Starbucks? I'll wipe it off with a napkin when I sit down, and pick up my mess when I leave.
Be friendly to staff everywhere. Tip great service well. Point out terrible service politely to a manager, because terrible service is bad for everyone (the server, manager, business, and customers are all worse off if terrible service is happening).
Lightly clean any room you go to.
Don't trash a room just because other people are going to clean it.
From The Proverbs of Solomon,
20 Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. 21 She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: 22 “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? 23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise. 24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. 25 You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. 26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. 28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. 29 For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord. 30 They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. 31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. 32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. 33 But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”
If I ever had a son with some Jewish ancestry, I think I'd name him Solomon Marshall. I'm a big admirer of King Solomon.
So long, Hong Kong, it's been fun. I'm sure we'll cross paths again sometime soon.
I'd have shaved if I'd known I was getting some photo ops...
About three years ago, I read the excellent book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. At that time, I made a list of the top 5-10 people in my life that I was to and had similar goals with. I sent out emails to them every once a month with what I was working on.
Eventually, I fell off from this habit. Not sure why - I'd had gotten good advice, stayed in touch with people I like, and it was a positive experience. I started re-thinking building my counsel a little over a year ago.
The challenge is, I've got a diverse set of goals and ideas. I write, I do business, I travel, I create art, I adventure, I'm looking to establish a strong family, and so on. I have friends who are writers or artists that aren't interested in business. I've got friends in business that pretty much always stick to their one city. I know guys who are pretty simple, work a normal job, don't make any art or do any entrepreneurship, but have very strong and good families. I know very successful businessmen who travel and adventure, but aren't interested in having kids.
So I was thinking - how do I balance this all on my counsel?
And eventually, the idea hits me. I need multiple, relevant counsels.
I'm amazed at what can be done in one focused day.
And we all get 24 hours each day.
It can hard to spend all that time on meaningful things, but I think if you gradually quit things you don't want to spend time on, you gradually spend time on more important things. If you systematically eliminate things that are a waste of time, pretty soon you're doing things with at least some value.
Tracking time helps a lot with this. Just jotting down on paper once an hour what you did the last hour or so. Often, when it seems like forever has passed when I'm trying to work out something frustrating, it's only been 5 or 7 minutes. On the other side, a lot of high-stimulation websites, it'll seem like 5 minutes have passed, but it's been three hours.
Try tracking your time sometimes. It's huge. I realized I was spending way too much time following sports, so I quit spectator sports. Haven't been back. Don't miss it.
I'd like to introduce you to my all-time favorite comic series, Lone Wolf and Cub. It's incredibly deep philosophically.
Ogami Itto, "Lone Wolf," is on a quest for revenge after something terrible happened to him. With him is his little son Daigoro. Itto is doing assassinations to raise money for his quest.
In book 3, "Flute of the Fallen Tiger," Itto comes across a fallen samurai named "Sakon." Sakon left being a samurai and now makes money begging and playing carnival games. With his money, he eats nice food and drinks, and he cares very much about people. He buys little Daigoro a toy.
Daigoro is in training by his father for the quest they're on. Itto cuts the toy in half with his sword:
Most people start feeling bad for themselves when something goes wrong in their life. The way I see it, something going wrong is an expensive lesson I already paid for - might as well take it.
A few years ago, I was doing squats in the gym with bad form and a fairly large amount of weight. I had two plates on each side and the bar... that's 4x45 + 35 lbs if I remember correctly = 205 lbs. That was fine, I had legs like tree trunks back then. But I had slightly bad form - when you do squats, you're supposed to push your ass backwards, not bend your knees forwards. Slight difference, but it wears on the cartilage.
One day my right leg started to buckle. I was in a power rack, and what you're supposed to do is drop the weight. But y'know, you don't necessarily think about that when your leg starts to buckle. So I threw all the weight onto my other leg and pushed up hard to re-rack the bar. Ripped some of the cartilage in my knee. Rehab, massive amounts of anti-inflammatories, and I have to stretch 5-10 minutes each day or my leg starts to hurt. Doctor said knees never fully heal, so it'll cause problems on and off forever. Ouch, kind of a bad thing to have happen in your 20's.
Last year, I was doing some Krav Maga. We were doing dry run drills of where you'd aim if you were hitting the other guy. These were common, but my shadow sparring partner was a little bit too macho and going really hard and fast and pretty close to me. Whish A fast elbow uppercut, almost connecting. Whish. Close again. But I didn't want to speak up, y'know, we're training martial arts here, not being soft.