Mindful Memos
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Mindful Memos

Death by Distraction: How I Plan to Save 41% of my Life

I did the math. I’m on pace to waste 33 years of my life.

Rewind to Moncton, New Brunswick in 2010

Before I show my results, let me rewind to 2010 when I was employed as a productivity consultant with Grant Thornton (I know, the irony). My job was to go into any kind of manufacturing facility from furniture warehouses to lobster processing factories and uncover lost productivity.

Sample breakdown by employee of productivity
  • People were just plain non-working. In my experience, people were doing even less than I caught them not doing. I often found people with upwards of 60% idle time in their day and they would be actively searching for work while I was next to them! The sad thing was 1. the job was probably demoralizing for them and 2. it was costing their employer money. Everyone was losing.
  • People were doing their job ineffectively. This includes them not having access to the right tools and information at hand.
1928 Ford Rouge Complex Model A assembly line

Turning it on myself

Ok, so how does this apply to the average person? Over the last few weeks my productivity had fallen significantly but I also knew that only when we see the size of the problem will we do anything to change it.

Daily recordings of activities for 6/14 days
Value-added time was only 31% of two weeks
Actual vs ideal breakdown of daily activities

What is my wasted time in years?

I need to put this 41% into the context of dollars and cents or years of my life otherwise its just another nebulas number that won’t mean anything to me. If I can see how many years of my life my bad habits will cost me, I can get the sense of urgency I need to deal with the problem.

Quick wins

Given that TV is my biggest drain of time and it won’t be easy to go from 31 hours per week to my ideal of 11 hours or less right away. I needed to transition myself — here are two strategies I’m using that you can employ as well:

Going on a good diet

What you feed your mind with, you eventually become so I started this playlist on Youtube of motivational videos featuring Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Tim Ferriss, etc. If I am going to watch something I may as well look at things that get me pumped and in the mindset to change my habits. I’ve cancelled my cable already and now just use a Chromecast to stream this to my TV.

My motivation playlist

Perspective statements

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was to become conversational in Spanish. That means I’ll need to learn 2000 words to get 80% coverage of the average text. It takes about 3 months or 90 days with 20 minutes of focused practice daily.

  • Become conversational in Spanish
  • Watch 10 Storage Wars Episodes, 5 made for TV movies and 5 hockey games (I’m Canadian)

Dangers of just hacking

Everywhere I see “10 Productivity Hacks to SuperCharge Your Day” or “15 Ways to be More Productive Now” and frankly, they have some good ideas.

Final thoughts

Is going through this process really worth it? Absolutely — if you want to do something with your life. I personally needed to see how bad things were to give me the urgency to change — you’re probably very similar.

  • Being 15% overweight = 777 days = 2.13 years
  • Smoking a pack per day = 2250 days = 6.16 years
  • Being distracted for the next 50 years = 1521 days = 4.16 years



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