‘Time’ is the first of three articles. The following two pieces of writing will be published in the time to come focusing on three of the most critical topics in my life for almost a decade. I’ll do my best to make the first article great, make the second not suck and make the third piece coherent with the two others.
Imagine, it took me half a lifetime to realise that time is running out.
— Liam O’ Connor
In the past decade, I’ve realised that time — the universal element which never stops — is crucial to me. As being a part of the creative industry, I feel that on more occasions than not, there’s not enough time to do the creative things I want to achieve. When saying this, I’m mostly referring to my spare time, which is time spent outside of the advertising agency where I work. If I want to be able to create more in this specific time, I have to look at how I did things before to be able to improve on them moving forward. When I look back, I’ve done things to be more efficient with my time in my strive to create and do more. I firmly believe that right now I’m at an all-time high in regards to creating more within the time I have. Throughout the three articles, I’ll get more into the details of what I’m precisely trying to achieve and what I have already succeeded in doing up until this point. One of the first things I did was to get all the thoughts out of my head and into Evernote. By using the application, I suddenly had a clear aerial view of what I wanted to do and how many assets each project needed. It soon became an extended to-do list with clear priorities of what needed to happen. To no one’s surprise, I began with the most accessible asset in the most straightforward project on the list and moved on from there.
Never not working
I’m not the first to declare that, and I won’t be the last. I see this grammatically wrong written headline as a great thing if you like what you do on a day to day basis. In my ability to create more time I’ve deliberately not signed up for neither Netflix, Foxtel or Stan. Through endless conversations about these three platforms, I’m well aware of the high-quality content these platforms offer, but I don’t feel like I have the time to sign up and get involved. Don’t get me wrong; I watch plenty of various videos on YouTube including talk shows about American politics, documentaries, music videos or cartoon series (Family Guy, Big Mouth, The Simpsons, Fugget About It, Archer and so forth). However, this entertainment is enjoyed when eating or right before I go to sleep. I find YouTube easier to control than the auto-playing function I see on Netflix, where you sit and stare at the countdown until the next episode begins. Overall, it means I spend more time creating stuff and less time procrastinating.
Furthermore, I’ve heard and read the following statement multiple times before, so I’m assuming it is not new to you either: “we all have the same amount of minutes per day three-hundred-sixty-five days a year.” There is not a lot to argue in regards to the statement itself, but it lacks a bit of context. It’s important to remember that some people have personal assistants, some people have extensive financial assets, while others are struggling to find a job and pay for next week’s rent. The statement applies to all of us, but we’re not all in the same position to achieve things in the same pace. Nevertheless, it’s up to all these people — including myself — to decide what to do with those one-thousand-four-hundred-forty minutes we all have per day. Overall, I reckon the critical perspective is what you consider to be significant on a day to day basis. I’ve found a mantra which works for me;
I would rather do it today than tomorrow.
I’m convinced that procrastination is a universal thing, and it will never stop to exist. I also believe there are levels of procrastination and at the moment it’s probably at the same level as my bank account, low. Even though I often spend time sitting on a surfboard in the ocean for a couple of hours, I don’t consider that as being a sign of procrastination or a waste of time. If anyone argued that it is, I would say it’s a different kind of time waste. The thoughts behind a couple of paragraphs in this article were thought of while sitting there in my wetsuit waiting for the right wave and the right time.
A good friend of mine told me about the days she spent doing absolutely nothing and that they were some truly memorable days. As far as I could understand doing ‘nothing’ included sleeping, laying in bed, watching series, eating takeaway, scrolling and falling asleep. An important reason why these days were memorable was that they were spent with a person close to her. For example, do you remember what you did over a year ago on a Tuesday in May? Neither do I, but I do remember a random Monday in May last year doing absolutely nothing. Once again, ‘nothing’ includes the same things described above by my friend. However, about that random Monday in May, a girl came to my house Sunday evening for Netflix and Chill — yeah, I didn’t have Netflix back then either — and after spending the night, I assumed that she would leave the following morning. On that Monday she asked me if I had any plans for the day and I responded that I didn’t. My original plan had probably something to do with running, doing assessments, eating, laundry, and all the other glorious things you have to do on Mondays. However, we spent the entire day sleeping, laying in bed, watching movies, eating takeaway, scrolling and falling asleep. Tuesday morning she left, and honestly, I look back at those thirty-six hours as well spend. This scenario completely contradicts what I’m aiming to archive in regards to time, but I guess there can and should be room for both.
It’s about time
I’m convinced that in the majority of cases the more time you spend on a creative project, the better it gets—at least up to a particular point in time where the graph then breaks. At the time when it breaks you’re either beginning to destroy the work you’ve created, complicating things or starting to steer away from the original idea. The specific breakpoint is often far, far into the future of where the initial thoughts for the project began. Not only does this description apply to the work done at the agency, but it also refers to the projects created in my spare time. Nevertheless, the issue at the moment is not spending too much time perfecting elements; it’s that I don’t feel like I have the time to accomplish all the things I would like to do.
Time is relative. I guess.
The bucket list on Evernote is getting smaller, but it’s usually two steps forward and one step back. The reason for is that I — presumably just like you — prefer to cross things off on the bucket list, but at the same time it’s also effortless to add more elements to it. In addition to that, I’m a single guy with no responsibility for smaller versions of myself, so I should have all the time in the world to complete my list and break the world record for getting stuff done. To be fair, it is precisely what I’m trying to do, but there is a clear priority which of course is work-related projects first and personal projects secondly. It often results in long days at the agency because I don’t have a critical deadline every day at 5.30 PM. I understand people in a relationship and who might have a couple of kids looks at things differently than I do, but in the end, I feel that it all comes down to prioritising the things in your life.
People are not wasting my time. I am.
I want to sleep less, as in way less. I read in the creative masterpiece Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) by George Lois that he managed to become an inspirational creative with just three hours of sleep per day. That’s truly impressive, but on the other hand as Tyler, the Creator said about smoking weed: “Not everything is for everyone.” I genuinely try to reduce the hours I sleep because I see it as being one of the elements which I can to some extent control. Humans need to rest, but there is a chance to optimise on the one-third of our lives which we in common dream away.
Airplane mode is on sixteen hours a day from Monday to Friday.
My smartphone is on airplane mode sixteen hours during weekdays. In the majority of the time between Monday and Friday, my phone is as useless as my tablet without a Wi-Fi connection. After I started working at the advertising agency in Surry Hills, I thought of ways to become more efficient with my time during agency hours and in my spare time. I felt I needed to find methods for achieving more by focusing intensively on things that matter and thereby deliver better results. To put things in perspective, first of all, I’m a Danish guy living in Australia. I barely receive any calls on my phone, and the messages I receive are usually not urgent. Neither is the content feed on my social media accounts. Therefore, I have decided to switch my phone to airplane mode every morning as I step into the agency. Occasional, I turn my phone back online during lunch or when we need to test the creative work on mobile devices. I’ve found airplane mode useful through work hours and without having done any extensive research I will conclude that my work performance and efficiency are better and higher than being online twenty-four seven. Secondly, airplane mode is also taking in to use every night before I go to sleep. The offline mode ensures that my sleep isn’t interrupted by messages from people back home due to the eight hour time difference between Denmark and Australia. In any case, the offline phone is still great for photos.
Just to clarify; I enjoy talking to people in Denmark, hanging out at Bondi, going to exhibitions, pubs, clubs, soccer games, beaches, because I genuinely want to and value it. The cost of that is time and sometimes money, but in the majority of times, it’s worth it. The older I get, the more I find myself embracing these experiences, surroundings and the new people I meet. I’ve learned to use these moments effectively as a break between work and personal projects. It’s not all about the bucket list, but you and I probably have some of the same things on that list, and it takes time to cross them off one by one. If you’ve found any shortcuts to get stuff done in half the time the rest of us spends on it, please let me know.
In conclusion, I want my creative projects to be more than the work I’m exposing online at the moment. I want to test creativity in new forms. I want to achieve something more meaningful with the help of my limited skill set and explore new creative areas. Now, all I need to accomplish these things is the one universal thing you can’t buy more of in this world…