Can you juggle?
How many things can you keep from crashing to the floor? Two? Three? Or just one like me?
More importantly, how many things can you juggle in your week? After work it’s tough to squeeze in even the basics like eating, cleaning, and staying up to date with news and social media.
So apart from, you know, surviving and keeping your place pest free, are you finding time to do what you want?
Look at the top google searches for “how to find time to …”:
What would you search for? Everyone’s got something they’d like to do, but no time for it.
Time is the only scarce resource in our proud modern society.
But you know, I’ve discovered something that can help. I’ve discovered that it’s possible to create more time, to literally add hours to your day like stacking pancakes on a plate.
With a simple technique, I’ve been able to add about 6 extra hours to my day. And it has completely changed my life. Imagine having 30-hour days. What would you do with all that time?
Best of all, I no longer feel like I’m drowning in a sea of stuff I need to do.
Wanna know how? It all sprouts from a simple idea.
Creating Time is Like Growing Beans
Did you plant beans in high school?
We did for biology class. They’re among the fastest-growing plants on the planet. After just one month, you can collect your first beans.
This (obviously) means that if you have a bean in your pocket, you can use it one of two ways: you can devour it (although I don’t recommend eating the one in your pocket). Or you can bury it, invest it, to create more beans.
Interestingly, it’s exactly the same with time: you can invest it to create more.
Sounds a bit weird, I know. But you intuitively already know this. We’re just not used to putting that way.
Let’s look at an example.
You’re usually just using up time, devouring it, because everything takes time. Wake, shower, breakfast, commute, emails, work, scroll facebook, cat videos, emails again. Having time for these is what makes them happen. Everything eats up time.
However, if you freeze your routine for a bit, and instead spend time improving one of the above activities, you’ll finish that sooner tomorrow.
Said another way: spending time making daily things better and faster will save you time in the future. And you can use that time for something else.
See what I mean?
Imagine you type a lot. Emails, reports, presentations, code, whatever. To invest time, you could practice your typing skills for an hour, so tomorrow you can be faster.
If you keep practicing, you’ll eventually type much faster, and finish reports earlier.
And puff! With that time investment, you’ve created new time. You see? That’s time you didn’t have before.
Ever thought of it that way?
This (obviously) means that for every hour you have, you can use it one of two ways: you can devour it, or you can invest it to create more time.
Just like beans.
How to Add Up Your Time Gains
Typing faster clearly won’t change your life.
But doing a bunch of little improvements like it, will.
If you do this over and over, consistently, time will add up to hours before you know it.
But do you think time created will add up just one at a time? Is it like stacking fresh warm pancakes on a plate one by one?
Interestingly, it’s not. Time created adds up much faster than that.
It’s more like each pancake that lands on your plate is larger than the last. That might create a pancake dome, I guess, with the ones up top drooping down the sides. I’d love to jump on that fluffy thing if I saw one.
This each-larger-than-the-last phenomenon is called compounding.
And “compounding” should ring a bell. It’s how investors make their money.
And it’s how you’ll make your time.
The Only Math Concept You Need to Grasp
When you invest time in improving, what you’re really doing is increasing the output of your work by a percentage.
For example, let’s say after an hour of improving your typing skills, you’ll be 1% faster. You’ll type 101 words in a minute instead of 100. So your output has increased by 1 per minute.
Next time you do that, though, you’ll add more than just 1 word per minute, because it’s a percentage over a bigger number.
This continuous increase by percentages is the well-known compounding formula.
And let me tell you, it’s the most useful math concept you’ll ever learn. This stuff is gold.
Because of compounding, if you bump your work skills by 1%, 90 times, you’ll be able to finish all of your work’s load – your 8 hours’ worth – in just 3 hours, 16 minutes.
That’s it. You could go home before lunch every day.
Or stay and get a promotion.
I calculated this using the continuous compounding formula (check my math at the bottom). But you don’t have to know the math. You just need to remember this:
Improving little by little, continuously over time, adds up like a mother f*****. Waaay more than you think.
That’s the official description of this formula. Check your math book.
Many Are Already Doing This, Are You?
So I hear you.
This sounds too hand-wavy. Too theoretical. Where’s the real proof?
Let’s get to the meat of it then: real life examples.
First, I see this with my own eyes at work all the time. Making software at Amazon, I interact daily with some of the top brains in Europe. I get a glimpse at the habits and tricks of the hyper-productive, and everyone in this competitive environment is constantly improving.
These folks always make time to invest in themselves, not just produce code.
And it’s what I do too. It’s the only way to stay in the race.
But my example pales in comparison to the absurd story of someone you may even know: Sir Dave Brailsford, coach of the British cycling team.
Sir Dave looked for 1% improvements in everything his cyclists did. From the weight of their bikes to their physical training to the food they ate. He made every single thing just a tad better.
And with this strategy, in just a few years, his team went from decades of winning nothing (except for the hearts of their own mothers), to winning basically everything.
They brought home the Olympic gold. Twice in a row: 08 and 2012. Then went on to winning 3 of the last 4 Tour de France. Moms almost fainted.
Now they’re the best team in the world.
All with pathetically modest gains, repeated over and over, without fail, through years.
I told you this was gold.
Invest Time And Fly; Or Don’t, And You’ll Flop
Remember the graph showing compounding?
With the flat red line at the bottom and the blue one rising skywards?
Scroll back to it for a second. It’s an important mental image you should carry.
The blue line is the time you’ll have if you invest in yourself regularly, for months. Like Sir Dave.
The red line shows what happens when you don’t. When you just do what life throws at you.
Now you know, you don’t need big jumps. No need to change everything at once. No one can do that.
Tiny, almost invisible, little steps are all you need.
These steps will sure feel invisible, insignificant even, but trust that you’re riding that blue line to the clouds.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you answer one simple question:
“How will I use the next hour?”
You’ve got two options.
Thanks for reading! I hope it was worth your scarce time.
See, I’m taking my first awkward little steps as a writer, and I’d be deeply thankful for your feedback in this quick 2-minute survey.