Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Save a Million Years of Time in a Life Time

This is the last article in the “Save a Million” series — for now.  

All the articles have been building to this point.  In fact I have a big spreadsheet with the number of minutes versus time frame versus number of people required to meet each of these “Save a Million” goals.

But building exponential articles is not my goal.  Nor is building a nice spreadsheet.

Building a greater vision for myself and others is really the bottom line.

As so I’d like to introduce how to save a million years of time in a life time.
Every year I listen to my favorite books to keep my ruder steady.  I just finished listening to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  It’s a very densely packed book where every other sentence is a quote I should paste on my wall or share in a blog post.

Covey’s center piece for discussing time allocation is the 4 quadrant system. The time allocation matrix is composed of “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” columns, and “Important” and “Not Important” rows.  The intersection of these columns and rows creates 4 quadrants that include “1-Important and Urgent”, “2-Import but Not Urgent”, “3-Urgent but Not Important” and “4-Not Important and Not Urgent” as depicted in the diagram below.
Time Mgmt Matrix
The next diagram takes the grid and applies real-world examples. An interesting exercise for you is to contemplate the time matrix and find one additional example from your life for each quadrant.
Time Matrix Examples
Notice the red arrow on quadrant 2?  That’s where time savings takes place.  And of course, it’s impossible to save time, so we are really investing our time in things that will produce the joy and results that we desire in life.

Covey goes on to describe how to approach these different areas so that we can do the things that matter.  
Time Matrix Actions
It’s very exciting for me to think about the vision of a million people living more effectively, that is a million people living daily in Quadrant 2 activities.  

Which brings us back to How to Save a Million Years in a Life Time.

Let’s do a little math to see how a million people cumulatively save a million years of time in a lifetime. According to my spreadsheet are 525,600 minutes in a year

      Multiply this by 1,000,000 and you get 525,600,000,000 minutes in a million years.  

                Let’s call it 526 billion minutes.  

Stay with me.

There are 14,600 days in a 40 year lifetime (365 * 40 = 14,600).   

        Multiply the days by 1,000,000 and you get 14,600,000,000 people-days in a lifetime.

So now we just need to divide the total minutes to be saved by the people-days and we’ll get minutes per day saved.

526 billion minutes / 15 billon people-days = 36 minutes per day per person.


In the previous article we talked about numerous ways to save time.
To make this type of savings sustainable, we need to create systems that enable good behavior.  

Component #1: Written Vision

I discussed vision statements in the article, “How to Save a Million Minutes in Your Life Time”.  Writing this down on paper or in a word processing application will force you to think sequentially rather than randomly.  And those sequential thoughts about what you want life to look like in the future will challenge you to do some work inside yourself.  

The internal examination that you do will sharpen your self-knowledge and also bring tremendous humility when you compare your goals to your current situation.  The humility is good because you will see more clearly what needs more focus to move closer to the goals and what must be abandoned because it is wasteful.

One method to extract a simple written vision is picking out high level principles and then identifying the associated behavior:

I want to be a person of Integrity. [Principle]
At home I want to demonstrate consistency to my children and not be emotionally reactive. [Behavior]
At work when I say I will do something I do it. [Behavior]
My life exhibits humility [Principle]
When I find out I’ve misunderstood or done something wrong, I will absorb the moment with a sense of learning rather than becoming defensive. [Behavior]
When there is a conflict or argument with my kids, I will listen closely to learn why they think or act in a certain way before I judge. [Behavior]
You can easily write down have a dozen or more of these vision statements and behaviors.  This is Quadrant II work, and it will challenge you.

Component #2: Committed Time

This is a must.  At first this may be hard but it gradually gets better. The goal is to create time blocks in your calendar for your time savings (investing) activities.  Start by getting up earlier. Put “Run” or “Yoga” on the calendar when you want exercise.

Some say it’s hard to go to bed early and that’s a huge barrier to getting up early.  Someone else said, “If you get yourself up at 5 am for 5 days in a row, you won’t have any problem going to bed early.” 

The time block is the best way to block off the calendar.  The second best mechanism is the “all day” event that will ride along the top of your Google, Apple or Outlook calendar.  This acts as a checklist for you.

Component #3: Daily Reminder

Keep yourself on track by creating an acrostic or note that expresses your vision.  Put this somewhere public or just remind yourself periodically.

Some like notes on their mirror.  

Some like sticky notes on their monitor (not the every changing urgent moment sticky notes, but ones that contain your higher goals or reminders about good behaviors or how you want to be).

Some have a mantra they repeat to themselves in the morning right when they get up.

Some like an acronym for their purpose that then use to remind themselves how they want to behave and who they want to be.

Component #4: Reinforcing Environments

Habits contrary to your written vision increase the struggle to move in positive time-savings direction.  

Reduce Counter Productive Environments

For example, if you really like TV and you have 1000 digital channels available to you, you will have a hard time saying no to TV.  A very positive step for you might be to cancel your cable subscription and/or digital satellite service. 

Embrace Reinforcing Environments

Instead, consider a steady diet of really good books that can help change your thinking (which is the how you will steadily and exponentially achieve better results with your time and energy).

There are so many good books it’s hard to say where to start, but you can find a few of them in my previous article, “How to Save a Million Days of Time in a Lifetime”.

Please leave me a comment and tell me the following:

  1 - counter productive environment that you want to change.
  1 - reinforcing environment that is working well for you.


In case you wanted to see a summary of my spreadsheet…

Save a Million Spreadsheet

  To Save a Million …  …In a … Requires this many people to save this many minutes per day for a total of this many minutes in a total of this many days
Milliseconds Day 1  16.67  16.67  1.00
Seconds Year 1  45.66  16,667  365
Minutes Lifetime 1  68.49  1,000,000  14,600
Hours Century 25  65.8  60,000,000  36,500
Days Lifetime  2,000  49.32  1,440,000,000  14,600
Years Lifetime  1,000,000  36.00  525,600,000,000  14,600