If you’re like me and an enterprising, entrepreneurial, excited go-getter coming up in the tech start-up world, you’ve probably experienced a lot of the same frustrations I have. You ask yourself: How can I be more productive? How can I maximize my output? How can I KILL IT every single day? These questions were plaguing me, so I went to work to answer them.
With these simple life hacks, I’ve added hours to my day, made it so that I don’t waste a single moment, and basically just KILL IT like I never have before.
First, I’ve spent the past two years training myself to only need four hours of sleep a night. How? I did it like any sane, rational person would. Every week I set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than I did the week before. Simple! Within a year, eight a.m. turned to six a.m. In two years, six a.m. turned to four a.m.
(How do I make sure I fall asleep every night at exactly midnight? Good question. Simple solution. Every night at midnight I asphyxiate myself until I pass out from lack of oxygen. Boom! Head on pillow. See? Another simple life hack!)
So now I’m sleeping four hours a night on a perfectly regimented sleep schedule, meaning I have twenty hours of time I can devote to hacking and developing my amazing start-up idea and basically just KILLING IT. But how can I optimize that time? Even with the extra awake hours, I grew frustrated with how I was wasting several hours a day doing idiotic, time-wasting things like zoning out or online shopping or talking to people or eating. Those are precious hours just wasted. I knew I needed to hack my life better to take advantage of all those “dead” times.
So I set up a simple routine. Every morning I wake up at 4 a.m. and immediately turn on my computer and load up my GMail. Then I turn off G-Chat and make sure I’m completely invisible and unreachable by chat. Then, for the next hour, I categorize every email I received into one of six categories: Answer Today, Answer Tomorrow, Answer Two Days from Now, Answer in a Week, Answer in a Month, and Answer Never.
Now, it’s five a.m. I get my first Red Bull of the day, which I keep in a mini-fridge that I have positioned under my standing desk. (Of course I have a standing desk. What do you think I am? A neanderthal?!) After I drink my Red Bull, then I get to the task of answering all the emails. First I answer the ones I have in the “Answer Today” category. Then I go back to yesterday’s “Answer Tomorrow” category and answer those. Then back to the ones from two days ago marked “Answer Two Days from Now”, then a week, then a month, etc.
Organization and efficiency. It’s the name of the game.
Now it’s seven a.m. I drink my second Red Bull of the day. Then, because I read in Steve Jobs’ biography and a Gizmodo blog and like six other websites that you should devote some free time every day to being creative, I devote some free time to being creative. I have an entire other section of my room hacked out to be my Create-O-Space, and so I go over that side of the room and start creating. There are Magic Markers and kid scissors and another laptop in case I want to be creative with coding, because coding is totally creative just creative in a different way.
After 35 minutes of Creative Time, it’s time to get Back. To. Work.
7:35 a.m. to noon is my Serious Work Time. The way I prepare for Serious Work Time is to close down every browser window I have open, turn off all the lights in the room, close the shades, and then I drink six (6) Red Bulls in rapid succession, and then I just work for the next 4 and a half hours. What am I working on? Well, it varies day to day, and to be totally honest I’m usually blacked out from a Red Bull rush during all of this time, but when I emerge from my caffeinated haze at noon I’m amazed to see just how much typing/work I got done in the previous 4.5 hours. Efficiency!
Now, because I read Walden in high school and because I know how vital it is to get outdoors, I take a mandatory 25-minute walk outside every day. It’s really important to get out there and see the wonder of nature, you know? Because what are we really living for?
During those 25 minutes I usually just frantically pace up and down the street outside my San Francisco apartment, but it’s really good to get outside and smell the air. Plus it reminds me I’m in the tech Center of the Universe, and I can just feel the energy buzzing around me!
Or maybe it’s the Red Bull. I’m not sure.
Now it’s 1 p.m. so I eat my delivered lunch. (I can’t waste a minute cooking…who do you think I am? Julia Child?) I re-open GMail and go through the categorizing process again, and then go through my answering of the categorizing process again. It feels so good to check things off!
Now at 3 p.m. I make my to-do list. Why not make the to-do list earlier in the day? Well, it’s been proven that mornings are when you are more “Creative” as a person. I read that in a Science Journal or blog, I forget which. So I usually save my administrative tasks for the afternoon. I make my to-do list using three (3) apps I have for to-do listing. Each one utilizes and takes advantage of a different part of the to-do process, and each app is really great. (Posts coming soon on how/why I use each one…AND how I hacked them!)
At 5 p.m. it’s time for me to Connect With My Team. We hold a Google+ Hangout and make sure we really connect with each other, voice our concerns about our secret start-up (NO details yet…but soon!), and just catch up, tell jokes, ask about each other’s lives. It’s important to get to know your team! These meetings last 15 minutes, because we don’t want to waste time with the inefficiencies of interpersonal connection. Who has time?!
Then, after delivered dinner, I drink six Red Bulls, and it’s back to another Serious Work Time to actually get some stuff done. That usually lasts until midnight, and then it’s asphyxiation time. Another day in the books!
So I know I just gave you a step-by-step life hack guide, but it’s really important to remember that this is just the how-to. This is just the hourly guide, but it’s really about giving your life over to the process. It’s about believing in the power of efficiency. If you just try to follow the how-to, there’s no way you’ll succeed. It’s about believing in yourself, and really wanting to MAXIMIZE your day and KILL IT.
Like this past year when my dad shot himself in the head with a shotgun, you might think that taking some time to process that and mourn would be necessary. But where is the efficiency in that? Nowhere, that’s where!
The most important thing is that you stay committed to the plan. Stay the course. It’s so easy to deviate! One day you might want to go see a movie, or a friend might be in town, or you might have to plan your dad’s funeral, and then next thing you know it’s three weeks later and you’re totally OFF the plan! It’s easy to make excuses! Don’t let yourself!
The MOST important thing is that you are committed to working on something really amazing, that’s going to change the world, and also that you are doing things for the right reasons. Life is SO short. You have to remember that.