Straight to the point — Weekly Update #8

I wish that was me —

No preamble this week. Let’s go!

The greatest asset we have

It is intangible, tough to acquire and once you spend it, you cannot recover it. Without a doubt, time is among the most valuable assets we possess. However, we often do not act accordingly. We waste our time by spending it without consciously figuring out what to spend it on. After reflecting on my past weeks, I noticed that I had no idea how many hours were devoted to activities I value. Additionally, I was sure that I waste a lot of time on processes I could do more efficiently. For example, my morning routine took way too long. Cooking fresh every morning is pleasant but maybe not necessary.
 Looking for an analogy, the idea of financial management popped into my head immediately. I am certain that most of you use a certain amount of mental energy thinking about your income stream and where you would like to spend your money. Some people use a very structured approach and scribble down every single expense in detail, analyzing their spending habits every month. Other people just weigh the two options of going on a summer vacation or buying a new laptop. Notice that the first is an ex-post approach while the second one is an ex-ante approach. When you track what you buy every month, you look at what actually happened in the past (ex-post), planning ahead (ex-ante) implies focusing on the future. I argue that most people exclusively use the ex-ante approach when thinking about their time. Appointments are scheduled in a calendar, people plan on spending more time with their family, and maybe they block three hours next Saturday to read a book they recently acquired. This looks somewhat similar to the ex-ante version of the financial plan. This, however, is where the analogy to financial management breaks down. How often do you look back at your week and accurately depict how many hours you have spent on what? Do you know if your time allocation is aligned with your priorities? If you are like most other people, probably not. If you are not, congrats. Write me a message with your own time tracking system.

Since I am as guilty of losing track of my time as most other people, I decided to take action. I restructured my usual productivity system. On a simplified level, I usually worked with a to-do list and put any fixed appointments in my calendar. For the upcoming weeks, I want to switch from a goal based approach with a to-do list to a time-based approach where I allocate specific time-frames for specific tasks. Every Sunday, I define the number of hours I want to spend on certain activities during the next week. At the same time, I will track the time I spend down to a fifteen-minute level. My intention behind this system is to maximize the time I devote to activities that I value and minimize it for the rest. Note that valuing an activity does not imply a monetary value. I will also allocate enough time for my daily workouts and meditation practices.

Building positive habits and an analysis of the M&A-Deal of the month

I noticed that a lot of my readers have at least one of the following passions: Self-improvement or technology companies/startups. Therefore, I have one content suggestion for each area this week. 
 In terms of self-improvement, I would encourage you to read an article by James Clear about building positive habits. James is a master of building new habits and overcoming old ones. His weekly newsletter is a combination of useful advice and a constant reminder to keep going. The linked article is a collection of different articles that elaborate on several aspects of habit building and can help you to get a good overview of the topic. You can also find James on Twitter and follow his tweet storms about the topic.

For the startup fans, I have a real gem as well. Some of you have probably heard of stratechery before. It is a technology blog by Ben Thompson that focuses on strategy and business. Whereas a lot of other blogs are either very technical or only publish news, this one offers regular in-depth analysis and original thoughts about the tech industry. If I had to design a degree for aspiring tech entrepreneurs or startup employees, this blog would be included in the core curriculum. Read one article a day, and you will get up to speed very quickly. This article focuses on the recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon and explains it in the context of Amazon’s overall strategy.

One adjacent thought: The only thing that prevents me from spending more time reading blogs is the format. I don’t like to read on my laptop/smartphone. I think I will work on transferring my favorite blogs to my Kindle. My notion is that blogs often offer the same amount of useful knowledge as comparable books in a more concise form.

Feel free to reach out on Twitter or comment below the post. If you liked it, pressing the heart would mean a lot to me.