I bought Sebastian Marshall's book, Ikigai, when it first came out. His is one of very few blogs that I read regularly, so I had high expectations for the book. And, hey... even if it's not great, I like supporting people I respect.
As soon as I bought the book, I read the first chapter. It was the blog post that I mentioned in the isolation post. Oh, I thought, I guess this book is just a bunch of blog posts that I've already read. I stopped reading.
That was six months ago. These days I read about 2-3 books per week, which means that I have a really tough time keeping my reading list full. Last week I was searching through my Kindle to see if I had any half-finished books I'd forgotten about, and I decided to give Sebastian's book another shot.
Man, am I glad I did. I'm not sure I've ever read a book with lessons that can be applied so quickly for such immediate results. Ikigai is one of the top few books I've read in 2012.
The focus of the book is rational and efficient productivity. Or at least that's what I got most out of it. If you're into that sort of thing, definitely read it.
I now plan my day every morning. Sebastian shares his daily planning routine, which I used as a rough template for my own. Every morning I record the time I went to bed the night before, the time I woke up, the time I brushed my teeth, the time I finish planning, and the time I finished writing a blog post (I'm writing one every single day, but not posting them all).
Recording the time you finish these things is a bit of subtle genius from Sebastian. When you record the time you finish something, you tend to do it earlier. Today I woke up and had two immediate phone calls that had to be made, which pushed my whole schedule back. As soon as I saw the time, I started doing my few morning things, including writing this post. Morning used to be my least productive time of day, but now I jump right in and start producing.
The rest of day planning consists of making a todo list for yourself. You're supposed to create a list that you believe can be completed to 70%, but I've completed 90-100% every day, despite trying to make the list harder each time. It's amazing how much you can get done when you have a plan and start early.
I use the tasks feature of Google Calendar for my todo list. It's not amazing, but it's good enough and keeps me looking at my calendar, which makes me more likely to schedule things and see when they're happening.
At the end of the day, I do a quick five minute summary, as prescribed by Sebastian. I record whether or not I flossed, reflected on the possibility of death, and played my violin. I write down my key accomplishments for the day, my top life goals, a quick analysis of the day, and my top priority for the following day. Last, I record how many minutes I wasted, how many minutes I worked on SETT, and how many minutes I spent writing. RescueTime helps me come up with a rough estimate of these things.
There's a lot more than planning your day in Ikigai, but that was the big value that I got from it. He also spends a lot of time covering the same sort of strategy and philosophies that I'm a big fan of and write about here.
The great Alaska trip starts next Saturday. A few friends and I will be riding our motorcycles to Alaska for no real reason at all.
I was with you until "the time I brushed my teeth"
I've done something similar to this for 30 years, no lie. I used to travel for business, try to keep up with office work when in town and maintain a normal married life. So, to assure myself that I won't be surprised on any given day with appointments and other obligations, I plan tomorrow first thing today. Today was planned yesterday, and so on. The reason for this is that some things on the "TTD" (things to do) list require prep. Easier to bake a cake tonight for tomorrow's party--you don't want to wake up and see that on your TTD for today. There are a couple of parts to the planning process, but basically..look at tomorrow today so you have a clue about what's coming.
Hey, how was your Alaska trip? Next time you're coming out this way, please let me know. Would love to get the chance to meet you. :)
speaking of book suggestions, Tynan, do you have any book suggestions on social dynamics or social intelligence?
Tynan, dude, take some serious rain gear. And insulation! I lived in Alaska (Anchorage) for a year. The weather in May and June was fabulous, but by mid-July it started raining, constantly, and didn't stop until I moved back to the lower 48 in September. Fairbanks, farther north and inland, may be sunnier this time of year. Alaska is amazing, incredible, vast, but often cold and wet. Your RV is perfect. A motorcycle is not. Hotels are expensive. For a better time, drive your RV to Seattle, take the ferry up the inside passage to Haines (near Skagway), then drive up to Anchorage, Denali National Park, Fairbanks ... and if you dare .. the Dalton highway up to Prudhoe Bay.
Great post in Zen Habits, thank you.
I`m curious . . . . where on earth do you find all wool everything and what exactly do you mean by `everything`. (I`m writing from a French keyboard so please excuse the absence of question marks which I just can`t figure out how to get onto the page.)
Shane Bradley from Montreal
After reading "Make her chase you" i found this blog. Great motivating posts, i appreciate your work. Now after reading this entry i have bought Ikigai, im sure i will enjoy it. Are there any other books in the realm of self improvement you wholeheartedly recommend?
Yeah a bunch. Check out Ancient Art of Stoic Joy and Difficult Conversations. Those are two of my very favorites. Steven Pressfield's stuff is really good, too (just skip the last third of War of Art).
Alaska is great, I'm currently bicycling around up north for the summer. If your bikes can handle gravel, consider going to Dawson City and over the Top of the World Hwy to Chicken. Also the Denali Hwy, both great rides. If you see a guy on a bike with huge tires and a packraft strapped to the front, stop and say hi.
Ha. I actually grew up in Alaska. Do you have any plans once you're up there? It's amazing this time of year!
Bravo on your post today "
The benefit of having your subconscious make decisions isn't so much that it's a better decision maker than your conscious mind (it's probably not), but that it can make decisions much much faster than your conscious mind. You don't have to spend your focus and energy making decisions that you already have heuristics for.
For example, when I play poker, many of the decisions are made by my subconscious. This allows me to make many good analyses per minute, rather than just a few, and to dedicate my conscious processing to the most important factors at hand. It's not that I couldn't do all of the processing consciously, it's just that I wouldn't have time.
In the same way that offloading work to your subconscious helps you make decisions and opinions faster, I've found that implementing protocols has helped me take action faster, and has been a key component of my recent increase in productivity.
When you think about it, most of what you do is the same every day. The way you wake up, eat your meals, go to sleep, approach your work, and utilize your free time all follow predictable patterns. If that's true-- why don't we optimize these things for maximum efficiency?
I've been through all the task, checklist, and to-do apps out there. Evernote is supposedly working on one but until then I've found a nice workaround in my notebooks. Each day I create a note for tomorrow in my daily journal notebook. These notes are places for me to put one line items about what happens each day. If I make a phone call, have a meeting, or need to expand on what happens I link the one line to a new note.
How I've begun using Evernote as a checklist is to make up the list of thing I would like to do the night before then that day's note has my list. On February sixth for example, when I woke up and had an hour to work I wanted to complete those seven things. Usually I try to have only four things there but some of them were simpler and required less time.
Then I also try to plan my day. I've also found that when accounting for travel times my Google Calendar doesn't have enough details for me. For busier days then I'll make up a list of things I need to do and when I need to do them. For this note, my meeting at work didn't begin until 4PM but I had to leave my house at 245PM so I could do other things before my meeting. Same thing with going to church that night.
I once read an article about a new mother who was finishing law school and writing a book and she said that her number one productivity tip was to have her laptop out with a cup for coffee in the morning along with her list of three things to do right away. That way, when she woke up her list was prioritized and she was less likely to drop into Facebook for five minutes - which really means fifteen.
See more ways to use Evernote