I, like a number of Americans, tend to procrastinate when it comes to hustling or doing any sort of production that involves “work”, outside of their job. It’s understandable, think about an average week for the average Joe. It might look something like this:
- Wake up an hour before work –> take a shower & eat breakfast on the way out to work
- Work 8 hours with a couple of breaks in. Depending on the job, you’ll become exhausted
- Head home or straight to happy hour for a couple of hours
- Relax and eat dinner either with yourself, family, and/or friends
- Browse the internet / play Xbox / play on the smartphone to cleanse your mind
- Sleep to reset
Tuesday through Friday
- Repeat said process with a couple of variations (go to gym, pay bills, watch kids, etc)
Saturday and Sunday
- Rest and recover from the week and enjoy your time off
- And/or family activities and spending time with loved ones
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. If you enjoy watching Netflix and are happy doing it, more power to you! But if you are someone wants to be more productive but tends to get bogged down by the 9 to 5, usually feels exhausted most of the time mentally and physically, and finds it tough to get “free time” to yourself, it get’s tough.
On top of that, even if have “alone” time, you still feel like there isn’t enough time to do the things you want to do. It could be a side hustle, a Udemy course, getting exercise, writing material for stand-up, it doesn’t matter. You still need to motivate yourself to do what you want to do, and to have the discipline to follow-through.
I’ve managed to find my own way to be productive in my free time. I call it the “8-hour Blitz”
The whole idea behind the 8-hour blitz is that you will start to look forward to the free time that can be utilized as opposed to “time” that’s been taken for granted.
The first thing you need is a free block of time. It doesn’t have to be eight hours, it can be the 45 minutes you have while your family is out and you’re home alone or the 3 extra hours you have before a UFC fight. Some of us have more free time than others, but almost all of us can find some sort of free time if we look for it.
Recommended Items – Whiteboard or Notepad + a writing object (such as a dry erase marker or a pen). I personally love my using a whiteboard, you can get a small 18″ x 24″ whiteboard for about $15 online.
Remember, you have to be willing to find your free block of time. This free block of time is essentially a timer that will keep track of everything that is accomplished. It’s not about the free time, it’s about the remaining time you have to make the best use of. The 8-hour blitz turns tasks that take up time, into a gamified framework of production and accomplishment. For me, it’s one long game with a time limit.
How To Do It
1) Grab a whiteboard
2) Write any top level tasks you want to achieve during your available time block. I usually have 5-10 things that I write down (it could be small chores, errands, self-tasks, etc). Then pick two items that require the least effort and complete them. I recommend doing this because you will get in the motion of completing tasks and you’ll start building momentum in completing more items.
3) Begin adding additional tasks as they pop-up or start creating sub-tasks from your top level to-do’s. You can see below that after 2 hours, I completed a few more tasks and added additional ones that I was ready to tackle. I was in the zone!
I usually cross out an item that I have completed and would put a check mark next to items that are in progress. Here is after 3 hours (lots of in-progress items at this point).
After 8 hours, you can see that the list kept expanding as I thought I could finish all of these tasks given the allotted time. This time, I wasn’t able to complete everything I had intended to do.
What started out as about 7-8 tasks turned into about 25 after 8 hours. I managed to complete 17 of them and I can proudly say that I did a lot of work in my free time. The biggest takeaway is that I can visually see the accomplishments as I progressed. I managed to mix quite a variety of to-do’s between social media items, marketing related items, and errands/chores.
Can you do this for work as well?
Sure you can! However, I usually keep it super simple. The biggest reason why the 8-hour blitz is more effective outside of work is that you ultimately can decide what you want to accomplish with limited constraints (except time) that brings motivation. Someone who already has a job usually has an incentive to be motivated (often money, or passion of work).
I highly recommend creating some sort of to-do list at your job so you can plan your day accordingly. There are tools that can make this easier such as Wunderlist, Todoist, or Trello so you don’t have to carry a whiteboard everywhere you go (though I’m not opposed to that personally).
Why use a whiteboard if there are list tracking tools readily available?
This is a personal preference for me. Sitting down and writing the to-do’s helps reinforce the goals I want to accomplish and it makes it that much harder to slack off. I don’t feel the same way with an app when I’m pushing buttons.
Let me know if this was able to help you boost your productivity. I’d love to hear your thoughts & comments.
Link of the Day – “Scrum – Silicon Valley (HBO)“