Habits

A 7-post collection

Episode 11 of Lost and Founder — What to do when Everything Breaks

After a brief hiatus, I'm back for the eleventh episode of Lost and Founder.

This week I share why it's so important to take a break, to rest, and recharge your batteries.

I’ve spoken a lot about habits and healthy routines on the podcast in previous episodes, but this week I wanted to change the focus to what happens when you fall out of touch with those routines and start to feel overwhelmed.

It's so important to give yourself time to rest and recharge — it's only by pausing you can truly reset and move forward stronger.

As the renowned street artist Banksy once said: "Learn to rest, not to quit."

Actions / take aways

  • Find ways to check in with yourself to understand how you're feeling.
  • If you feel you're overwhelmed or struggling, don't be afraid to pause and rest.
  • Every so often a reset is what you need — take the time you need to get back on track.
  • You might not need a holiday — sometimes just a day to yourself can help.
  • If you've been stuck in the same surroundings, try getting into a different environment — a coffee shop works for me.

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.

Episode 10 of Lost and Founder — Time Management

We've reached the considerable milestone of episode 10 of Lost and Founder — thank you, dear listener!

In this episode, I talk through what I have learned about time management — from how I’ve been using my calendar instead of a to-do list, to the importance of making time for reflection each week.

I hope you enjoy the show — even if I say so myself, I felt like this was a good one.

“The secret to doing good research is to always be a little underemployed; you waste years by not being able to waste hours.” — Amos Tversky

Actions and take aways

  • Take time each week to reflect, and map your time. Book in 15 minutes this week.
  • Try using a calendar instead of your to-do list to plan your tasks.
  • Keep meetings to fixed days in the week — like Mondays and Tuesdays, to free up your other days for deeper work.
  • Wrap up meetings with 5-minute breaks in between to refresh and re-energise.
  • Close your email and only open it at fixed times in the day.
  • Enable "Do Not Disturb" on your devices.
  • Don’t be afraid to pause, and make time for you. You can’t spend every waking hour being productive — you will eventually crash.
  • We each have different limits — so try to find what works best for you.

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.

Episode 9 of Lost and Founder — Finding Focus, Writing, and Habits

In episode 9 of the Lost and Founder podcast, I share why it's so hard to find and regain focus in a business and how I'm working to address it.

I also explain how writing helps me break down complex topics, and revisit some of the habits I've been working on over the last few weeks.

Focus

  • It's really hard to gain once you lose it as a business.
  • Loss aversion can hold you back from making the right decisions.
  • You often lose focus for good reasons — regaining it can cause people to be short-term frustrated. Difficult transition, but the long-term benefits are almost always worthwhile.
  • Not everyone will be happy in the short-term, and that’s OK — as long as you take their feedback onboard, understand it and address it as best you can.
  • Focus is hard!

Writing to learn

  • How Ulysses (a writing app) has helped me achieve my goal of writing 200 words a day.
  • Writing helps me understand topics better.
  • Writing forces me to learn — if I want to teach and share with others I need to understand the subject better.

Habits

  • Skipping — not done enough in the last few weeks, despite feeling great when I was doing it. My goal is now to aim to do a shorter time skipping and bake it into my routine.
  • Writing — going well. Writing 200 words a day, thanks to encouragement from Ulysses.
  • Blocking time in my calendar, instead of using a to-do list — has changed a lot about my approach to time management.

Actions / take aways

  • Focus is about saying no to really good ideas.
  • Be clear on what you want, and what your priorities are — so spend time on those.
  • Don’t be afraid to take time out to get clear on what is important to you.
  • Challenging topic you're struggling to understand? Try to write it down. Scribble it, type it, and you’ll likely find it helps you clarify your thinking.
  • Try breaking down your habits into the smallest possible activity. Don’t give up.

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye Podcast hosting: Transistor

Should you use a todo list?

My todo list today.

I’ve lived my life with a daily todo list for over 10 years.

In fact, I put a video together to help you get started with Things for managing your todo list.

I get a small dopamine hit whenever I check an item off my list. I have built into my muscle memory the keyboard shortcuts to record anything anyone mentions to me that I’ll need to action in the future.

But every day I still finish with items unchecked. It gets me down and it stresses me out.

Earlier this week, several people sent me this post on how a CEO manages their time and it made me question my obsessive todo list usage. Is it really helping me? Is it contributing to me feeling down? Is it actually holding me back from focusing my time on what I need to do?

For the last few days I experimented with deliberately blocking my time on my calendar for the important work I needed to focus on. I have dabbled with this approach in the past but kept one foot in the “todo list” camp and it didn’t stick.

What I found from a few days last week was eye-opening:

  • I was more conscious of the tasks I put into my calendar (everyone on the team can see my calendar if they want to view it)
  • I blocked time to focus – and this time was protected from meetings. People couldn’t book / invite me to anything that clashed.
  • It drove my awareness of how much time I need to spend on certain important projects – time I wasn’t dedicating before.
  • It made me realise I go into every day, and every week, with an overly optimistic assessment of what I can achieve, that ultimately leaves me feeling like I haven’t achieved enough by the end.

I intend to keep this approach up. I am not ready to drop my usage of Things yet – especially not for my personal life todos.

I’m interested to find out after another few weeks of using my calendar more deliberately if I can learn about the following:

  • How much important work can I do? Not just the urgent work.
  • Can I get better at communicating with others around me what I can / cannot achieve by certain dates?
  • Can I feel better at the end of each day knowing I've focused my time in the right places, and achieved more with my time?

The clearer I can be with myself, the clearer I can be with everyone around me, and the more I can help people achieve their own tasks and projects.

Let’s find out!


Update: in episode 10 of Lost and Founder I share what I've learnt from using my calendar instead of a todo list over the 3-4 weeks since writing this post. TL;DR: it's helping.

Finding time and making time

People often say “I don’t have time”.

  • I don’t have time to write a blog post.
  • I don’t have time to learn to draw.
  • I don't have time to play a masterpiece on the piano.
  • I don’t have time to start a business.
  • I don’t have time to cook.

We all have the time. We’re all given the same 24 hours in every day, and 7 days in every week.

It’s not the time that’s the issue.

Our circumstances, attitudes, environments, goals, and clarity – those are the things that vary.

If your goals are clear, if your environment encourages you to achieve those goals, if your circumstances can be adjusted to allow you time and space to work on your goals – then time… time is made.

  • You make time for writing a blog post – one sentence a day.
  • You make time for drawing – with an open sketchbook, and a pencil at the ready, one 5 minute drawing at a time.
  • You make time for that masterpiece by time-boxing 10 minutes at the piano each morning.
  • You make time to start that business by sharing the idea with one person tomorrow and getting their feedback.
  • You make time to cook by drawing up a meal plan tonight.

Next time you hear yourself saying “I wish I had time to do that” ask yourself how much you wish you had the time. If you want the time enough then it’s really the motivation, clarity, focus, environment, and other factors you’re lacking – the time will be made.

Episode 6 of Lost and Founder – Planning and Habits

Another week, another episode of Lost and Founder. Really trying to keep this habit up!

Speaking of habits...

In episode six, I share my distaste for planning and how I have been reframing planning in my head to encourage me to do more of it. Setting a deadline, and making myself accountable for what I am planning has been useful for showing an outcome to my thinking and planning in the last week.

I've also been reading a helpful and practical book called Atomic Habits, by James Clear. It's all about improving your life by adopting positive, healthy habits, and trying to eliminate your bad habits.

I'm still reading it, but a rule I've already been finding helpful is the two minute rule – try adopting a new habit by breaking it down into the smallest possible task, something that can be done in just two minutes. If you can master that then you're laying the ground work for bigger things. We'll check in next week to see how we're doing – if you try it out, be sure to let me know!

Actions and take aways

  • Set a deadline, a format, and find someone to hold you accountable to your planning.
  • Try the 2 minute rule with habits – let me know what you can achieve and I’ll give a shout out next week to anyone who successfully starts adopting a new habit.

Thanks, and see you next time!

Episode two of Lost and Founder – strategy, tactics, and habits

Another tough week, and episode two of my new podcast, Lost and Founder.

My goal with each episode is to be open and honest, and give a side to the founder journey that often isn’t shared enough – the unglamorous, stressful, uncertain side.

Hope you enjoy the show, and thanks to everyone who tuned in for episode one and gave me feedback and support. I owe you!