⏰ Make time
4 min read

⏰ Make time

To get anything done, you need time to do it. That can be especially challenging for activities which are not part of your routine, such as side-hustles.

In the literal sense, we can neither make time nor find time since we all have the same 24 hours at our disposal.

But through the years I found some productivity techniques that are sur surprisingly effective to free up time to get things done:

1) For me, the golden rule of productivity is timeboxing. If I specifically allocate time to a task and put it in the calendar, more often than not it does the trick.

The key here is to take myself seriously and start working on it when the time comes.

If that's a challenge, I make a binding commitment to start working on it for at least 3 minutes, no matter what. This combines a low barrier of entry with a very different mindset once you started working on a task.

Recently I extended this technique to have more frequent meetings with friends. Before parting ways I suggest to already set a date for the next meeting (even if months away). This proved to be far more effective than the traditional "until next time" approach.

2) Another gem that I return to, again and again, is the two-minute rule from the Getting Things Done (GTD).

If something can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it right away and don't schedule it for later. This simple but powerful rule generates more time for me.

Postponing, scheduling, reminding myself about something, etc. multiplies the time investment for simple tasks. (Not even talking about the follow-up work, if I happen to forget something and things go haywire).

A powerful combo move for challenging tasks is this: when I think of something that I desperately want to get done, I apply the 2-minute rule to schedule right now a time in my calendar.

When the time comes, I at least start working on it for a couple of minutes. More often than not, this helps me to get unstuck.

3) What seems to work great for me is committing to a special routine, ideally one with a catchy name, and use it repeatedly to work on a specific category of tasks.

When I experimented with writing a blog in 2016, I started by waking up one hour earlier than my usual time to write for the blog. Sandra - who does an exceptional job building up her knowledge entrepreneur journey - recently referred to this as Miracle Mornings. I like this name!

These days, I turn Saturdays into Dragon Days. This is a meticulously structured protocol that gives me up to 11 productive hours from a single day.

I use my Dragon Day to work on an daunting tasks or those that I tend to procrastinate during the week. (It is 5:36 am on a Dragon Day while I am writing these lines, so guess in which category the newsletter falls ;).

I recently did a Dragon Day with my friend Reddy and we talked about the protocol extensively in this Twitter thread.

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The punchline of everything I mention above is this: if you need to carve out time for an activity that is extraordinarily important for you, there are ways to do it.

Try out different things - even (or particularly!) if they sound audacious at first - and see whether they work for you. Also be kind to yourself. It's normal that things don't work right away. Just keep on trying.

It took me years to find a couple of things that work well for me and the journey itself, including frequent setbacks, was the crucial part of getting there.

These are exciting times to show up as an expert, creating for an audience while earning an income.

Make time for it to happen! 🙂

Guides and Growth (Julian Shapiro)

I was reminded of Julian last week (thank you Finn!). Julian is not a typical knowledge entrepreneur and that's exactly what makes him a particularly good example to study. He has a successful tech company (Demand Curve is a growth marketing company launched in Y Combinator) yet he maintains a personal website julian.com and is very active on social media. He is not (yet) earning anything from his side-hustle but you can see how he uses all his knowledge to position himself as an expert, create useful content to grow an audience, and he asks frequently for your email to stay in touch. He does everything a knowledge entrepreneur needs to do and uses this to fuel his professional career. He also could decide to earn a living from it anytime. I highly recommend to look into one of his handbooks (building muscle, writing, or growth marketing) and follow him on social media.

Show, don't tell (Skitch)

After 20 newsletters I have to look harder for essential tools and services to highlight here. One of the tools I use daily sounds mundane: I use Skitch to take screenshots on my computer, annotate them, and send them to my team, friends, or family. These days a screenshot tool, including annotations, is part of every operating system. However, nothing comes even close to Skitch! The reason is in the details. Skitch makes it very easy to snap a screenshot, create a large arrow and write in a bold font that is easy to read. This makes it effortless to "make a point" in an image. It is hard to describe but the contrast to other tools (including the ones from Apple) is huge! If you frequently find yourself explaining something to an audience or other people in images, consider to try out Skitch.

Small things from the web

Shein: The TikTok of Ecommerce (notboring.co) - The article makes a compelling case that Shein, a mostly unknown Chinese billion-dollar company, has a competitive edge over all the fashion companies we currently regard as successful.

Waiting For A Star To Fall: A Tribute to 80's Entertainment (youtube.com) - What a great example of the power and tangible value of curation. I come back to this video again and again to trigger a shower of my childhood memories 🤩

That's it for this week! ✨

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Achim