I’ve Fallen In Love With Work Again

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Well, it’s winter. I’m almost done my wedding photography obligations, and as usual, there are no bookings in December. From here on in, I can just coast into 2018 with entire weeks off if I wanted. It’d be my reward for a job well done after an entire summer spent scrambling for more clients, new marketing materials, and the perfect shot. Yep, it’s time to lay low, and do nothing…

The only problem is I can’t sit still.

In fact, I’ve never been more motivated to ride this wave of productivity straight to the bank. Here’s what I’ve got going on.

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I’m almost 30, and reading Debts To Riches last month inspired me to crush my debt and increase my net worth in a huge way. In November, I took on extra shifts at my side job, knowing that every $1 I invested would eventually be 10x more. I cranked out three 500-word articles for a startup in my spare time, and made a quick $225. I sold off old hard drives that were gathering dust, and made a few hundred there too! My tiny RSP then ballooned to a solid $20,000+, and I’ve also set the stage for future productivity! I’m finally redoing my photography website, and it should be live by the start of 2018! It’s been go-go-go!

Though I could relax with some cheap entertainment after all this, I found that riding my wave of motivation was actually more fun. With 30 just around the corner, I wanted to start off as the best 30-year-old I could be. I even reexamined my fitness goals, and did a replay of January. Through healthier eating, intermittent fasting, increased exercise, and temperature manipulation, I finally brought myself to a healthy BMI for 5’ 8”: 162 pounds! It’s not just money-making work I’m doing; I’m also putting a lot of work into myself.

For me, this never would’ve happened if I didn’t surround myself with people and messages that encourage self-improvement. I spend more time with personal finance nerds now, and less time with people who naysay or joke about being shitty. This was perhaps the best decision of my adult life. I don’t say this lightly, but being a literal millionaire is within reach now! (On our Facebook, I’ll happily show you the math.) All it took was being around people willing to become the best versions of themselves they could be.

If you make self-improvement a hobby, you’ll be fucking unstoppable. You can always make a buck. You can always burn a calorie. You can always learn a new skill.

What do you want: more screen time, or a better you?

See you at the top!

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My Secret to Hyperproductivity

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A few days ago, I had all of the following done by 12 noon:
– took 15,000 steps
– listened to 90 minutes of “The 48 Laws of Power” on audiobook
– wrote ‘Why Eating Out Makes Me Sad’
– read Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” cover to cover
– grabbed office supplies for my photography business
– and most importantly: even had two beers at the pub!

At no point did I feel rushed or stressed, and I’m happy to say mornings like this are a regular occurrence for me now. I exercise, expand my personal knowledge, do a bit of work, and even take time to relax… All before some people take their lunch break.

Sure, Ben, you’re probably thinking. You can do all that before 12 noon because you’re an entitled douchebag without a day job. Try working for 8 hours a day like the rest of us.

Uh, well, I do. By midnight that day, I was up to 28,000 steps with a 7-hour liquor store shift behind me. Even then, no rush and no stress. I felt more productive than ever, and it was all due to a simple idea I like to call “compound tasking”. Here’s how it works.

Compound tasking and multitasking are completely different beasts. The first distinction is that compound tasking comes into play when you have both a professional goal and a personal goal, and want to work on both at the same time. Multitasking tends to be all about work. Examples of multitasking include Elon Musk’s version of productivity – “he sends emails while scanning invoices, holds meetings and takes care of business on his phone at the same time, and even texts with his children on his lap”. (One could argue he’s also spending time with his family in the last example, but let’s come back to that in a bit. There’s only one hard no-no about compound tasking, and we’ll talk about that at the end.) On the other hand, compound tasking looks more like this – I get my exercise by walking 5 kilometres to the office supply shop while answering business texts on my phone, and I listen to mind-expanding audiobooks at the same time. My work obligations are taken care of, I’m looking after my health, and I’m actively learning… ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I try to adopt compound tasking in all my activities. Even my shifts at the liquor store involve it, and I deliberately chose that side job with compound tasking in mind. For one, it expands my knowledge of beer, wine and spirits, which is a hobby of mine. On top of that, it provides me great exercise as I unload the weekly orders. It also gives me just enough downtime to actually stop and think about things. The job isn’t very mentally taxing, and I often formulate new business ideas and write post drafts as I work, usually while pacing the store to burn calories. And SOMEHOW, I’m getting paid for it all just by being present and stocking the occasional shelf! Compound tasking even reinvigorates me as I work because I’m working on a personal goal at the same time. I volunteer for the most physically active tasks to get more in shape, and end up looking super productive in the process! You can do this too!

Can you do double duty on your goals and attack personal accomplishments during your workday? Harvard Business Review suggests that “walking meetings support cognitive engagement, or focus, on the job”, but maybe you just want more Fitbit steps like I do. Look into them. Maybe you’re a security guard and most of your job involves just staying in one place. Can you listen to an audiobook or podcast instead of just throwing on Top 40? Trust me, the Adele lyrics never change. What if you’ve got a side hustle in addition to your day job? Write down ideas for your 10-to-2 while you work your 9-to-5!

Ever wonder why achieving a personal goal seems so hard? IT’S BECAUSE YOU PRIORITIZE THEM LESS THAN YOUR GODDAMN DAY JOB. STOP THAT.

A final note: Don’t attempt compound tasking with your friends and family. They’re not “a task that needs to be done”, they’re people. Spend time with them fully, and engage them with undivided attention. If you follow my advice on compound tasking, you’re gonna end up with more time anyway. Don’t forget to use it wisely.

Life is Measured in Progress

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Well, I’d done it. I’d caught up to my friend, Drew.

This is really fucking silly, but it’d taken me five years to get here. In December 2011, he bought me my first PS3 as a Christmas gift. I decided at the time I’d surpass him someday in PlayStation achievements, and proceeded to waste thousands of hours and dollars trying to meet this arbitrary goal. A few nights ago, I knew I was close. One more gold trophy and I’d match him, so I broke out “Spec Ops: The Line” and went hunting for the Intel Operative trophy: find all 23 collectibles scattered across the entire map. It was easy. As I tracked down the last one, I heard the little bleep-bloop that signified my victory. I hurried over to the trophy menu and saw what I’d been working for all this time. I’d matched Drew! A rush of endorphins later, I realized something terrible. UH, WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO NOW?

That was a month ago. Some of you may have seen my Facebook rants about feeling lost after realizing my entire life was a series of progress bars. I’ve still barely touched my PlayStations since matching Drew, and I’d also filled up my professional progress bars since I’m also all caught up on editing wedding photos. Without progress, I no longer had something in the background I could plug away at every time I felt bored. Even reading is a literal progress bar to me now, since my Kindle tells me exactly how far I am in my current book, and I’d exhausted my reading list too! Tony Robbins has often said “progress equals happiness”, but what happens when you run out of progress? You get shit like this.

Luckily, what I’ve been reading has helped. Productivity guru Jason Bell recently penned “Agile Timelord”, a guide to personal development that’s just the right level of nerdy to appeal to tech-savvy millennials. About 29% in – (see what I mean?) – Jason shows us a Life Wheel, a more dynamic way of looking at life progress instead of as a bar. Where a progress bar shows us linear progress in only one goal, his life wheel offers a more complete look at a variety of goals, ranging from Self-Image to Family to Wealth, and so on. Suddenly, I realized I -ALWAYS- had something to work on. I’m sure some of you knew this already, but for those of you who didn’t, LOOK AT THIS FUCKING WHEEL. The same way you can ALWAYS make an extra buck, you can ALWAYS move towards self-improvement! Do a few pushups. Take a nap. Call your mom. It all helps!

Linear progress is great for temporary goals. Dynamic progress is best for life goals. You know what the best part is? You don’t need to measure dynamic progress! As long as you’re making progress, you’re winning! I was bored a few nights ago, so I broke out the wheel. Hm, I’d been neglecting my love life for a bit, so I went out and put together a romantic night for me and my lady. Cheesecake, wine and flowers later, I realized I felt great! I was making progress!

Dynamic progress is not always easily measured, and that’s okay. It’s also okay to focus on specific areas as long as you’re flexible enough to not neglect any other part for too long. Remember, it’s a goddamn wheel. If it gets too oblong or misshapen, you end up like a CEO who dies alone. Remember the wheel.

In the meantime, buy Jason’s book! It’s a quick read, and if it changed my life, it can change yours. Let us know what you thought in the comments.

Editor’s note: Ben did not receive any payment for recommending these products.