Hard to believe we’re already in the final month of summer. In fact, some of my co-workers will be returning to college within a week. How can this be? I still have so many unfinished summer plans and projects!
Alas, time waits for no one, and anything worth pursuing always takes longer to complete than expected (for me, anyway). Time governs how much you can accomplish on any given day no matter how hard or fast you work. And, as much as I’d love to crank it up to 11 and operate at full throttle all day every day, I know that the bill always comes due. There are consequences to pushing things for too long, and those consequences seem to get a little more severe and longer-lasting as I age. Gone are the days of relying on my youthful body with limitless energy coupled with the belief that I have all the time in the world.
Months ago I enacted a moratorium on my evening extra-curricular activities to carve out more time to get more stuff done. It has helped, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. And no matter how streamlined I plan my schedule, I still have to eat, sleep, go to my job, and do the laundry.
So how do I create more time? Well, since I can’t bend the laws of space and time (yet), I’ve developed a workaround. Realistically, though, it’s more of a shift in perspective and recalibration of my approach to getting shit done.
Borrowing a principle from my martial arts training, I try to use leverage instead of strength when scheduling, planning out, and working on projects. The idea of using leverage instead of strength is based on creating an environment where applying the least amount of pressure creates the maximum result. For example, I feel most alert and inspired in the morning and least inspired and willing to tackle challenging projects in the evening. Therefore, I wake up early and work on the more complex projects for a couple of hours and then save the mundane tasks for the evenings. This is not rocket science. However, this is a discipline.
Inspiration or creativity (or whatever term you prefer to use) is not easily harnessed. It’s a river that never stops flowing, and all you need to do to tap into it is simply reach down and touch it. Be forewarned, however, because with but a single touch you could be swept away by its current. This is why I don’t work on complex projects in the evening. Once I warm up my creative engine, it takes a long time for it to cool down. This means that it’ll be difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, which then effects the next morning (i.e. I’ll miss out on the following morning’s creative session and be grumpy about it all day).
Waking up between 4:30-5:30AM no matter what time I fall asleep the night before has been my reality for years. It just took me a long time to stop fighting that fact of my life. And a big part of that fight was dealing with the guilt I felt for not working longer into the day. But to do so is essentially an act of using strength rather than leverage. Occasionally it works, but usually it just results in the production of garbage.
So instead of wasting my time trying to find more time, I now practice using what little time I have more wisely. Again, this is a discipline and, although everyone is unique, the principle of using leverage to create a maximum result is universal.
In what circumstances could you maximize your life experience through the application of leverage rather than strength?