How do you track your systems and values?
Design Your Day
The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. — Michael Porter
The same principle applies to time management. If you have trouble saying no, try these two tips from Naval Ravikant:
- Set your hourly rate and stick to it: Twenty years ago, Naval set his hourly rate to $5000. Looking back, he found that it worths at least $1000/hr. If you are not sure where to start, just pick one until you can get enough items off your plate.
- Have a clean calendar: Be too busy for coffee. Try to cut meetings out of your life and reduce the remaining ones into phone, email, or text. I have been cutting down on video calls since COVID and found it very liberating.
Start an amazing time journal
Do you know which activity gives you the most/least joy?
Do you know where your time has magically gone?
We are cognitively biased to overestimate the time spent on challenges and underestimate the time spent on play. It is impossible to plan for things without knowing how long things actually take, so start tracking how you spend your time today!
👉🏻Check out my amazing time journal template here.
Dream Day Design
Every morning, write down how you want this day to unfold, hour by hour, in the past tense (as if it has already happened).
Start your day with the most important things: sleep, exercise, meditation, core work, and fill in the rest. Make sure every important thing, including rest and play, has a time slot in your calendar.
At the end of the day, debrief what worked/didn’t work and what you want to keep for the next day. Do this repeatedly for the next 1-2 weeks.
If you are uncomfortable with the structure, it might be because you already knew that you signed up for more than you could do. If that’s the case, go to step 1 and say no.
My Monthly Review SOP
Complement: Notion Systems of Life.
Why Conduct a Monthly Review?
- Take a step back from the day-to-day operations and review my life from a longer time horizon.
- Review my values and set new directions for life.
- Honor my past, recognize my present, and prepare my future.
Step 1: Review My 10 Pillars
Here are the ten pillars that best describe my current stage of life:
For each pillar, I would ask myself the following two questions:
- Why do I believe what I believe?
- Were there any stories behind my current beliefs?
By asking these two questions, I can find out the core beliefs and replace the limiting ones with empowering beliefs. Do you know that the subconscious mind runs 95% of your life?
In addition to getting in touch with my internal dialogue, I will also update each pillar with the most updated resources:
Step 2: Create New Knowledge Trees
The sources of my knowledge trees come from my online classes and weekly reflections. In June, I completed four new online classes, one coaching program, and created a PM course for LivingOS University.
Step 3: Update PARA Master List
After consolidating my systems and knowledge, I would update my PARA master list.
Starting with projects, I would note the key progress, insights, and people. If any project is completed, I would go over a project completion checklist to archive the project. Then I will update my areas of responsibility accordingly.
Step 4: Review 1-Year Dream
I start by imagining the perfect day 1 year from now and identify what is missing. Then, I would create new areas or projects to address the missing parts.
Step 5: Housekeeping
This is sort of a catch-all for me to clean up all the loose ends, unstructured workspace, and random notes here and there. I don’t intend to finish this part because there is just too much stuff. I’d usually spend 30min cleaning up a few parts and call it a day.
Here are a few highlights of the month:
- Launched LivingOS University with the inaugural PM course. I can’t believe this baby is already 1-month old!
- Hired five awesome people
- Hosted 7 workshops from dream resume writing, design your career, group mentoring, confidence building, to PM interviews
- Coached 15 folks
- Got this pretty website made by Chris
- Article selected by editors and Medium staff
- Interviewed and wrote stories for my book Model Breakers
- Nailed an important interview
This is just the beginning of the awesome journey. Can’t wait to see what’s ahead!
Rewiring 12 Life Categories In Six Weeks
Here’s my life assessment before and after I rewrote my life categories.
Interestingly, my life quotient has dropped from 132 to 125 after I rewrote my life values. Looking back, the original score might have been inflated by my irrational optimism. After more deep reflections, I begin to notice areas that could get even better. This awareness is key to my progress in categories such as health & fitness, spirituality, and social life.
Remember that life value is a dynamic game plan. You want to keep it updated with new knowledge, consciously balance the 12 categories, and review it at major life transitions.
I found it helpful to find a structured goal-setting rhythm such as daily habits, weekly reviews, and monthly check-ins.
With this extra clarity and strategy, you can move toward your life vision and are set to live the best version of your life.
Managing Time and Stress
I used to have a terrible relationship with time.
Even though I loved optimizing and creating, my relationship with time was manifested in my broken calendar. I used to miss meetings simply because I “forgot” to check the calendar.
It took me a while to trace this resistance back to my senior year of high school. During that dark age, I was overwhelmed with college admissions while trying to stay afloat at school. I didn’t have a college counselor, so I ran a lot of experiments based on random Internet advice. I had to fight hard to get things scheduled on my calendar.
Subconsciously, I developed an extremely stressful relationship with the calendar—the living proof of my constant anxiety and fear.
The old story I stopped telling myself.
Kelly McGonigal defines stress in her book The Upside of Stress as what arises when something you care about is at stake. “You don’t stress out about things you don’t care about, and you can’t create a meaningful life without experiencing some stress.”
Stress keeps us alert and focused on yourself. When we are under a lot of stress, it is really hard to switch off. Over time, this can lead to chronic physical tension and mental strain. To change our default state from “fight or flight” to calm mode, we need to learn to relax.
Once I stopped telling myself that “stress is good,” my relationship with stress improved. I am now able to enjoy life more. Perhaps, stress is just a disempowering story we tell ourselves.
By practicing these 4 steps, you will be able to see stress in a new light.
- Take a deep breath. This will calm your nerves and expand your awareness.E.g. Take some deep breaths and meditate 30 minutes prior to an interview.
- Be aware of how stress affects your emotions and body. Notice how it may trigger flight-or-fight responses.E.g. Sometimes I’d get extremely upset about little things. I even asked Chris to ask the neighbors to be quiet. I asked myself: Was the noise really that loud, or was it just me being stressed by the upcoming interview?
- Recognize the source behind the stress. Why do you care so much about the things at hand? Why is it so important to you?E.g. I then reminded myself how far I had come to earn this opportunity. I celebrated the progress I had made along the way.
- Repurpose the stressful energy. Instead of worrying about the stress, can you shift the energy to deal with the situation at hand? How would someone who is good at stress management do differently?E.g. Now that I knew why I deserved this great opportunity, I was able to channel the stress into positive energy.
The result? I nailed the interview and went to take a good long nap!
Resistance points to what needs the most attention.
The sooner you acknowledge the problem and accept your past behaviors, the easier it is to move forward.
Here’s how I track my time:
- In addition to RescueTime, I tracked my workout, meditation, and sleep schedule on paper.
- I planned every activity with a buffer. For example, I would have a 30-min lie-down time to recover from the 60-min of hosting a workshop.
- I scheduled creativity time to coach people, write my book, and spend quality time with Chris every day.
- I scheduled positive things in my calendar to make it more delightful.
Clocking in 1000 creative hours
One of my experiments is to have 1,000 creative hours (which comes down to 4hrs every working day). I have managed to made 50% of my work creative, and I’m excited to share more lessons from this experiment with you after I hit the milestone.
If you want to improve your relationship with time, start by spending two weeks tracking everything. Then, you can find the plan that best fits your lifestyle.