Pursuing Value In Everyday Life

A year or so ago I went through a real podcast phase. I was commuting in and out of central London every day, and the only way to really keep myself sane was to a) memorise and implement a solid strategy to get myself a seat at Canary Wharf and b) listen to podcasts that really engaged me. My absolute favourite was The High Low (or as it was called in the very early days, The Pandolly Podcast), and I have vivid memories of walking down the icy steps of my DLR station, rugged up in a blanket scarf and listening to them discuss the pros and cons of a wellness retreat, as I weighed up the pros and cons of being a few minutes late to work so I could pop back up the steps to grab a Festive Starbucks. I get oddly emotional when I think back to mornings like that, partially because I really love frosty winter days and toffee nut lattes, and partially because I remember them so clearly that it’s strange how much my life has changed in the time between then and now.

Those podcasts were a big part of my journey, both literally and figuratively. Once I’d got up to date with The High Low I started to explore new avenues, and found fast favourites like Nobody Panic (then called The Debrief), as well as some I’d grab an episode or two from every now and then. I’d wait for my bus listening to Dawn O’Porte or block out the commotion of London Bridge with Oprah talking to Deepak Chopra about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. As time went on I started getting pickier about what I listened to during that hour or so every day, and following another Oprah episode - this time with Tony Robbins; love him or hate him he's got some interesting things to say - I finally put my finger on why that was. I’d found a way to consistently introduce additional value into my every day routine. I was learning, whether about current affairs, self development or just another person’s view point, and it made those journeys feel worthwhile.

Once I identified it, that feeling really stuck with me and I started to actively pursue it. I would seek out opportunities to incorporate more value into my day - sometimes in the form of a podcast, others by consciously taking notes to look back on as I read a book or spending my Saturdays in a Starbucks where I knew I would get a lot more work done than at home. Optimising my time became a source of real fulfilment to me, and I realised that I had time for a lot more than I thought I did.

Once I quit my job and moved back to Melbourne that drive and that structure crept away without me really noticing. When you have all the time in the world, it can be very difficult to create the sense of urgency you need in order to work to your full potential. I would go days without ticking a single thing off my to do list, and I started to feel incapable. Learning to take control of my own time without someone else’s structure to rely on (or a sense of scarcity making every hour seem more important) has been a process, and I still definitely have days where I do a lot more time wasting than maximising, but I feel like it's time to start reintroducing that mindset. History has taught me that (up to a certain point) the more I take on, the more I can fit in, so I'm going to try and start introducing more and more into my days to recapture that respect I used to have for my own time, and in addition to that I'm going to look for opportunities to fit more value into my days.

Maximising my time is going to be a learning process of its own, but as far as the added value goes I have a few ideas. I've started reintroducing podcasts when I'm doing anything more physical than intellectual, like cooking, cleaning and scheduling my Pinterest queue. Instead of mindlessly letting one random Youtube video roll into another, I'm going to start curating a playlist of videos by people I actually want to learn from, so that when I do want to switch off for a bit I'm still using that time productively. Over the last year I've done a phenom.com job of reading (36 books so far in 2019 thx huns) and setting aside specific time to sit down with a book has been one of the most rewarding changes I've made in a long time.

I also want to start choosing one person every fortnight or month to study in depth. By that I mean taking a prominent, interesting figure in business, self improvement, writing or another area I care about and dedicating real time to reading articles, exploring their work and seeing what they have to offer. It can be massively overwhelming trying to look into a hundred different recommendations at once, and I really do think that information overload does more harm than good productivity-wise, so this seems like a good approach. There are a few other things I've started dedicating just half an hour or an hour to every day that I was previously neglecting entirely, like working on music, and those tiny timeslots have already made a huge difference to my overall sense of contentment and productivity. I highly recommend trying that out - setting one hour every evening, guilt-free, to dedicate to one area - if you feel like something that's important to you is being left out. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes. Sometimes half the battle is giving yourself permission to dedicate time to things.

If you have any thoughts on how to actively inject more value into everyday life I'd really like to know, so tweet me or DM me on instagram with your ideas. I'll let you know how my time maximisation goes once I've progressed past 'try to start working before midday,' and I'll see you back here again next week. x0x0