It happened again this weekend. After delivering my presentation titled “Moving Data with Azure Data Factory,” at SQL Saturday – Raleigh (which was awesome, by the way!) – one of the handful who stood because the seats were filled (I am humbled) approached and said, “I read your blog. How do you find time to keep up with so many different topics?”
I have several responses. Some responses are questions like, “How much time each week do you spend consuming entertainment?” That question has morphed from, “How much time do you spend watching television?” because people spend less time watching television and more time consuming online media. I watch very little television. Game of Thrones? Haven’t seen it. Avengers: EndGame? Not yet. I will see Avengers, but it’ll be a while. And I will schedule the time to watch the movie, not go at the first opportunity.
Are you bad and wrong if you’ve seen Endgame already? Goodness, no. Go, enjoy. For me – and for most – it’s more about spending time with family. And that is Awesome.
Vegging in front of a screen is a time sink.
Other time sinks are bad habits. Sleeping in can be a time sink. I go to bed around 8:30 PM each evening, read a little, and go to sleep. My alarm is currently set for 4:00 AM. I wake up, do my morning routine, spend some time reading (or listening to) God’s Word, enjoy some coffee, and go to work. I usually arrive in the home office between 5:15 and 6:00 AM.
Is sleep important? Yep. You should get enough. Some folks are evening people who like to stay up late and get up late. I am not advocating getting up early over staying up late. I am personally more productive in the morning. If you are staying up late, it’s worth considering whether you could push whatever you’re doing until early the next day, and then do it then. Your answers will vary, and sometimes the answer will be “nope, I need to do this task starting at midnight.” That’s cool.
The Time Between Tasks
Another thing that helps me is (attempted) efficiency. If I start each day with a list of tasks I want to accomplish that day, I find I almost always get more done. Why? I believe this reduces the friction of moving between tasks.
The time between tasks is the time between finishing one task and starting the next task. Reducing the time between tasks means I have more time on task.
Several methods have helped me reduce the time between tasks: pomodoro, GTD, calendar reminders, checklists, a little app I wrote called astreams (pictured above). The goal is to invest some time at the beginning or end of a day thinking and planning what needs to get done that (or the next) day.
I leave a list at the end of the day and revisit it the next morning. Things that don’t make the list still get done because, well, life happens. Checklists help. I found the book Better by Atul Gawande helpful.
In conclusion, do what the nice British lady says when departing a train on London’s Underground and, “Mind the gap.”