The CEO of Rock Blog

The Quest of a Student/Entrepreneur to Add Value in Music and Business

Getting Stuff Done Without Dying

A friend of mine is a lifecoach who spent thousands of hours both paid and volunteering to help others find emotional healing and reach their life goals. Right now he is in the process of transforming his coaching model from a ministry model to a business model so that he can better provide for his family, who has recently been on the receiving end of some unfortunate medical emergencies.

Yes, it seems that “life”, that thing my pessimistic parents talked about all the time, happens even to coaches/gurus.

I mentioned that the fact he has kids and a wife probably affects how he works with his “new” business. While I am not a fan of kids (11 and under), a part of me was still focused on the positive with his situation.

I didn’t know how to explain what I was thinking, yet an article I read today said it perfectly:

“The baby turns ’shoulds’ into ‘musts’…In the past I used to put off key decisions, or saying ‘no’, because I didn’t want to deal with the discomfort. Now I have no choice. I have to make the decisions because my time has been slashed in half.”

What I was trying to say: having kids forces your subconscious brain to focus so much that you can get more done even though you have less time.

The big question: how can young, ambitious, youtube-generation twenty-somethings replicate this form of productivity without impregnating all the women and marrying all the men of the world beforehand?

Enter the world of Cal Newport, Parkinson’s Law, and overall badassery.

Cal Newport, author of Study Hacks, gets tens of thousands of visits to his site every month, and for good reason. In one summer, he managed to write six peer-reviewed academic papers (the long tedious types), Completed his Ph D. at MIT, with his dissertation, and turned in the manuscript for his third book. We read about people like him, accomplishing a lot, and we may have even seen a few in person, and it is tempting to think they pull all-nighters and never stop working.

Cal stops. In fact, he doesn’t work after 5:30 on weekdays. He takes Saturday and most of Sunday off. He also includes daily exercise and walking his dog (an additional hour) in his 8:30-5:30 weekdays, even further demonstrating his freedom from overwork.

This link to Ramit Sethi’s blog takes you to the full article about Cal, which takes about 25-30 minutes to read. I will summarize what I got out of the article, as usual, and you are always welcome to check it out.

1. To-Do list= bad – If you simply use a to-do list, it is possible to add so much to that list that the list’s length starts to rival that of ancient religious texts. Don’t do it.
2. Parkinson’s law – All activities will expand to take up the time you have allotted to do them. This can cause you to procrastinate for weeks on an assignment, or do a week’s worth of work in a few hours. Play with tasks based on their size by changing the amount of time you give yourself to do them and see if any different results are reached.
3. Fixed Schedule Productivity – This is similar to how the U.S. army plans their own missions. Fix your own schedule, find out what you need to get done, and then work backwards to figure out the steps needed to get there. “Ruthlessly cull obligations, turn people down, become hard to reach, and shed marginally useful tasks”.
4. Have a time where you stop working – the amount of stuff you can do will always exceed the time you have. Set a time that you stop working, giving you time to socialize, read, pursue interests, or rest.

Good stuff. Getting an efficient plan for getting a lot done and still having time for living is necessary, especially in a business as demanding as music.

As I am finishing a week of finals, I am humbled by how much I need to organize.


November 24, 2009 - Posted by | Personal, Productivity/Goal Setting | , ,

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