Work / life balance is not that hard if you stop f*cking around

Hey man, we should get lunch sometime.

No, I take my lunch to work and eat the same monotonous thing all week to be time efficient.

Whew, you get in the office so early!

Yeah I get here before anyone else so that I can crank out work while it’s quiet.

Let’s hop on a call so I can tell you about what I’m working on.

No.

Let’s do a get-to-know-you call soon.

No.

Hey I wanna run an idea by you, let’s get together for a coffee sometime!

No, if we do that, I’m going to spend 20 minutes in transit, then we will catch up for 20 minutes before we discuss your idea for 20 minutes, and then I’ll have to spend 20 minutes coming back to the office, and then work to get back into my focus mindset. I love you bro but just email me your idea so I can write you back with my thoughts on my own time.

Hey how come you always have your office door closed?

So I can focus.

Oh but if you have your door shut, I don’t know if you’re in the office or not.

That’s wonderful to hear.

I never see you at the co-working space anymore!

That’s just a weird social club. I got an office by myself so I could focus.

I never see you at networking events!

I’d rather fall down a flight of stairs than go to those circle jerks.

Did you see that thing I posted on Facebook?

No, Facebook is a total time-suck, so I block it while I work so I can’t get lost in the timeline reading vapid nonsense.

We should team up on a new project, it’s about time we worked together!

I cannot afford to do that, as I must focus on building what I’m already working on.


I leave work around 4:30pm everyday, and I’m able to leave my laptop at the office and not work in the evenings, even though I’m growing a startup (userinput.io) and am the director of growth for my screen printing business (Vacord). I have tons to do, but I can get a lot done in a normal 8 hour workday, and actually relax at night.

It’s all about making your time at work as efficient as possible. Here are a bunch of tips that help me Get Stuff Done:

  • Cut yourself off. Shut the door. Don’t talk to other people.
  • Plan out your work in 12 week cycles. Plan out the weeks at the beginning on a macro level, then plan them on the micro level as they get closer.
  • Make lunches for the week and just eat quickly on-location. Going out to lunch kills productivity. Don’t work while you eat, give yourself an actual break.
  • Use Self Control app or Chrome Nanny or something like that to block time-wasting sites like Facebook and Reddit and whatever has no direct point and the ability to be a rabbit hole to fall into.
  • Don’t keep email open.
  • If you’re doing something offline like writing, turn off Wifi. You don’t need it.
  • Get up early. Go in early.
  • Coworking spaces with open floor plans can be extremely hard to focus in. If you’re like me and it’s not conducive, get a cheap solo office that you can focus all day in.
  • Stay on task constantly. This is hard. Find a way to do it. Sometimes I set a translucent, floating Stickie with my current task to be at the top of my screen. Or write it on a post it note and put it on the side of your screen. Whatever it takes.
  • A task will take up as much time as you give it. Use Pomodoros or some other timer method to try to confine tasks to a certain length.
  • Prioritize what really matters.
  • Unsubscribe from every newsletter that you don’t usually open.
  • Use Sanebox or a similar app to sort emails by priority.
  • Turn off all notifications on your phone.
  • Ignore Slack most of the time.
  • Reduce or eliminate your side projects.
  • Backburner whatever projects you don’t want to kill.
  • Start working on an important but not too intimidating task as soon as you get to work. If you tend to dick around in the morning, write a sign that says GET STRAIGHT TO WORK and put it up above your desk. Actually starting right away will feel rewarding.
  • If you lose steam or fatigue from a task, come back to it later, but find something else to do right away.
  • Start working by 8am.
  • Work on the weekend only if you really want to, and then limit to a few hours per day. You need to recharge by not working.
  • End your workday at the gym three days a week. Lift weights or run or cycle or whatever you enjoy.
  • Try to be a serial entrepreneur, not a parallel entrepreneur.
  • Listen to brain.fm or static in your headphones if you need a focus boost.
  • Say no to almost everything and everyone, unless it clearly moves you towards your main goals.
  • It’s fine to give up on a project, just don’t ever give up overall.

Stuart Brent is a free range micropreneur, founder of Vacord Screen Printing(they want to make your custom t-shirts and hoodies), userinput.io (an easy way to get on demand feedback for your app, idea or website), and StartupResources.io (a list of the best tools for your Startup). When he’s not glued to his laptop, he enjoys traveling, eating sandwiches, and trying to find decent espresso throughout The South.

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