5 Minutes to Living a More Fulfilling Life
9 votes, 5.00 avg. tacos (96% full)

Here’s a nice 5 minute introspective project.

Look at your life, and think about all the things that are most important to you.  Stuff that would cripple you emotionally if they were no longer around.

List them.

Then list how much QUALITY time you actually spend every day on them.

QUALITY TIME should be measured in quality hours spent.

That means 100% attention, getting lost in the moment and not wanting to do anything else.

If the majority of your time gets spent on things that actually matter to you, you can’t help but be fulfilled.  If most of it doesn’t, then go and make a plan to change it.

My results

I did this at the start of the year, and the things that matter to me, in order,  are:

1) My wife and kids

2) Spending time with close friends

3) Fulfilling work (stuff that helps add value to people’s lives, not just make me a quick buck)

4) Exploration (usually through travel)

5) Soccer.

Everything else to me I could do with or without.  If you stripped me of all my money and all my possessions, I’d barely notice.

My quality time breakdown

Before NoHatDigital was formed and we setup offices in Valle de Bravo, my daily schedule was waking up at 7am, getting the kids ready and delivering them to school (this does not count as quality time in my books, as it’s stressful and rushed), then working from about 830-230 (when the kids were back from school).

Though I had meant to stop working when the kids came back, I’d be drawn back to my computer and usually do a combination of money-based work and play (League of Legends) until late into the evening.   I’d be present for dinner and occasionally helping with homework, but aside from a tuck-in at night, there was zero quality time spent with family.

This routine was broken up by soccer which was about 3 days a week for 2 hours each day.

Needless to say, 12-14 hours a day scheming in front of a computer is not healthy, and I found myself cranky, anti-social, selfish with my time, and unfulfilled.    I was ignoring most of the things that were important to me.  So I made a couple of changes.

Change #1 2:30 – 7:30 is computer free time.

This forced me to actually spend time with my family/friends!   And knowing I can’t check the computer (or any device) means I actually put 100% of my energy into this time. I’ve done it for a few months now and it has been great.  I’m so much more patient with my kids!

I taught my 9 year old son how to write HTML and he’s even designed a business model for his first site (he’ll be learning some basic database programming next).

Change #2 More fulfilling work

I redesigned my work flow to spend a minimal amount of time on money-oriented projects.  The funny thing about this is that if you focus on value and limit your hours, you often get much more done as you approach the problem differently.

Make a list of what needs to be done.

Then trash the items that aren’t truly necessary (the Timothy Ferris question “If this was the only thing you got done today, would you be happy with your day” is very apt here).  With everything else, figure out how you can get everything done in just 5 hours a week.  You’ll find a way.

Change #3 Only consume media with friends/family (video games, tv, etc.)

Media doesn’t really add anything if there is no social element to it.   Empty calories.  With change #2 I’d rather be writing blog posts or working on fulfilling projects over consuming media by myself anyway.

As mentioned, these were changed I implemented about 6 months ago.  I now work a bit more (til 4:30), as the work NoHatDigital is doing also satisfies my social and exploration needs.

I hope this process helps you as much as it has helped me.    Have anything to add to it?  Leave a comment!

5 Minutes to Living a More Fulfilling Life
9 votes, 5.00 avg. tacos (96% full)
  1. Did you have withdrawal symptoms when you instituted change #1? I’ve been trying to go 90 minutes each day unplugged and it’s actually painful not being able to at least check my phone for emails.

  2. Great Post Hayden,

    This is the kind of stuff I think about all the time. I usually will start thinking about some business idea, then move from that to thinking about why I want to do this, then move over to thinking about what is really important to me. Then I jot down a list similar to what you have here (I usually have something about religion and dieting in there) and finally try to rededicate myself to do what is important to me.
    It usually only lasts a month or so for me then I get forget about it.

    So congrats on the 6 months and hope you can keep it up for the long run. Its motivating to me Imma start today.

  3. Awesome Introspective man. It usually takes a significant life event or death of someone close to rethink things and realize what’s actually important. Stoked to see NoHat is moving towards really fulfilling work.

  4. Robert Atkinson says:

    Nice read! There’s been way too many times where work has blended with my “regular” life. I’ve struggled to be present with my fiance, admittedly having work thoughts on my mind.

    Also, I’m not a father (yet), but will be making the effort in the next couple of years.

    What’s it like to have kids abroad with you? Do you homeschool?


  5. Hi Hayden!

    I’m reading the Tim Ferris book now, have been ignoring it for so many years since it was published first. This is amazing book so I see it impacted you as well :) Pretty funny that you managed to combine working with playing an online game! I never played online games, they should be really time-and-energy-consuming

  6. Thanks! Hayden to remind me to myself, was too busy with my PTC dazzle. Really I forgot my favourite quote by Lee Iacocca.
    “No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?”

  7. Great thoughts Hayden. I really like the idea of declaring some no computer times and focusing on the things that matter most to you.

    Love your site and your focus on productivity. I’d love it if you would take a look at GTDNext (http://GTDNext.com) my online productivity app. I think you and your readers would like it and benefit from it.

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