SLT 030: Buying Time, and Where Do I Start?

You’ve Got Plenty of Time, and Where Do I Start?

You can’t buy time. Some may want you to think you can, but you can’t. Time is most likely the most democratized asset we have. As we live our lives, it doesn’t matter who rich or how poor you are, we all get the same amount: 24 hrs in a day 168 hours in a week, 365 days a year…and so on. It doesn’t matter if you’re the wealthiest person in the world, none of your wealth can buy you one more minute of time.

You've Got Plenty of Time

So how do you get on track to really making the most of the time you have? Knowing where to start sure helps! Well, it’s time to take charge! Read more…


Dan’s Topic: You’ve Got Plenty of Time

So again, you can’t buy time. Sure, there are ways to pay others to do things you don’t want to do, and we all do that. We buy our vegetables already picked, our meats butchered, and some foods prepared. And that does allow us time to do other things, but that time is filled with something else. And that’s where I’d like to focus today…how we choose to structure that time. We certainly structure how we spend our money, but often leave how we structure our time to chance.

So, today I’d like to share some of my own definitions about time and how I’m trying to be a bit more careful with how I spend and structure my time in case you were considering that yourself. So, I’ll put a few things out there for you to think about if you’re looking at being a bit more mindful of your time as you simplify, as well.

So, since we can’t really buy “more” time, we should certainly allocate how we spend the time we do have. And as we go through this I’m going to define some terms that I set up for myself as a framework. Now these are my definitions so they’re not set in stone. You can certainly opt to define them more stringently or more loosely or however you want. It’s your time, your world, right?

So, I’ll go through my definitions first, and then we’ll break things down just a bit, OK?

The first term is HABIT:  I think of habits as simple tasks that have become almost completely automatic. Do you really think about how you brush your teeth in the morning or in the evening? Probably not…you just do it automatically. But there was a time when you did have to think about it, right?

  • Remember when your Mom or Dad first let you brush your own teeth?
  • Or those little red pills that highlighted plaque? We got those from the hygienist at school

  • Measured your effectiveness at the task

  • Quickly became automatic

Well, lot’s of things we do, we do out of habit. And we’ll get back to habit’s and all these definitions in a little bit.

The next term is ROUTINE: Like a habit, a routine is also automatic, but often a system of many habits. If brushing your teeth is a habit, the things you do to “get ready for life” life in the morning is probably a routine. A typical morning hygiene might consist of:

  • Showering

  • Brushing and flossing teeth

  • Doing your hair

  • Putting on makeup

When I was in the military, at the unit level when we were in the field, we also had “routines”, such as “Routines in Defense” where it was scheduled when weapons were cleaned, camouflage was replaced, communications were checked, etc.

OK, the next one I want to cover is RITUAL:  Mindful act or actions that have an overarching benefit. I think of a ritual as much like a routine, but something you’re much more mindful and appreciative of, and where you derive some benefit or satisfaction by doing it. In my opinion, the ritual is the sweet spot…it’s something that needs to be done that you enjoy and are better for doing.  My goal is to see what routines I can convert into rituals. Some personal examples:

  • Making coffee used to be a routine when we had a drip coffee maker and merely a habit when we had a Keurig

    • With the AeroPress, it’s become a ritual that I enjoy

  • For over 20 years, I spent an hour a night ironing a uniform and spit shine my boots

    • Others may consider that a dreaded task, still others may choose to outsource that, I chose to ritualize it

    • Ironing was “my time”…it was where I’d get in the zone, evaluate the day’s events and contemplate tomorrow’s

    • While I don’t spend an hour a night anymore, guess who still does the ironing in this house?

  • You probably have lots of family rituals that you practice at holiday time or other special times; such as how you celebrate birthdays, traditional meals at certain occasions, etc. And that leads me directly in to the next definition…

And this one is RHYTHMS: So I totally made up this definition and it may be more of an explanation. I think of rhythms as the sequence of events that are repetitive. Of course, they’re often seasonal in nature, too. In military combat units we used a “Battle Rhythm” to help provide some predictability to an often unpredictable environment. The Battle Rhythm tells HQ staffs when staff meetings are, when reports are due, when actions happen, etc. It provides some stability at the macro level.

  • In everyday life we often look to the season to provide us rhythms. As I mentioned, holidays serve as milestones for the rhythm, as do sporting seasons, planting seasons, hunting seasons, gathering seasons, etc…  And rhythms are often hosts to many rituals. So, since we tend to enjoy rituals in our lives, I think it’s pretty natural think it’s pretty natural that the rhythms of seasons bring comfort to most people.

OK, so now that we have some basic definitions, let’s move on to how we can take advantage of HABITS, ROUTINES, RITUALS, and RHYTHMS

So let’s go back down the list:

First off, HABITS:

  • What habits have you formed?

  • When was the last time you evaluated whether they were positive or negative habits?

  • What habits could you eliminate?

    • When was the last time you looked at your habits and asked yourself why you do them?

    • Pot roast story: (I looked everywhere and have no idea who to attribute this to, but it’s not my original work)

One day a woman was preparing a pot roast for Sunday dinner. Just as she always did, she unwrapped the pot roast and cut off the ends. Her husband asked her, “So, why do you always cut off the ends of that perfectly good pot roast?” The wife said “I don’t know, that’s just how my Mom did it.” The husband called his Mother In Law and asked her why she cut the ends of the roast off. The MIL replied, “Well, I don’t know, that’s how my mother always did it.” Determined to get to the bottom of the story, the husband called his wife’s Grandmother and asked, “Grandma, why on Earth do my wife and your daughter always cut the ends off a perfectly good roast?” Grandma responded, “Why, I have no idea!” The husband said, “Well Grandma they said they learned that from you!” To which Grandmother replied, “Well I only cut the ends off because my pan wasn’t big enough.”

  • OK, so that’s just a little story, but sometimes that’s how habits form sometimes, and taking some time to look at what we do and how we do it can can be time well spent.

  • What habits can you form?

    • Many opinions out there on forming new habits

    • I think much of it is conjecture

    • I just tell myself that if it’s worth doing, give it one month

    • Don’t try to take on too many changes at once

So, how about ROUTINES?:

  • When you think “routine”, do you think positive or negative?

    • It can be both!

    • But it’s typically what you make it

    • Are your routines effective? (Do they get the job done)

    • Are you routines efficient? (Are you doing them in the optimal way?)

  • Ways to get proficient at new habits and routines (not rituals)

  • Remember the Laws of Learning

    • Primacy

    • Recency

    • Repetition

  • Make it fun or make it a contest

    • Disassemble, reassemble and function check an M4 carbine in <2 minutes

      • Covers 3 main areas: take apart, put together, still works!

    • Teach kids how to clean up with a race against each other or a stopwatch

    • We do this with fitness all the time, by using a stopwatch, distance, etc

  • I’ve found this technique doesn’t work with rituals

    • Rituals are more personal or mindful and the rewards are intrinsic

Now, my favorite…RITUALS:

  • Turning routines in to rituals is a something I’m really trying to work harder at.

  • I think though that it’s easier to do this when you’ve freed up you time. A rushed ritual is really a routine. So, as you simplify your life and are able to be more deliberate with your time, find routines (or tasks within a routine) that you like or enjoy and try to build a ritual around that.

  • I’ll admit, this seemed a little “touchy feely” to me at first. I’m not naturally “tuned in to the universe.” At least, that’s not how I’ve spent most of my life. I’ve been a “complete the mission” type of guy…so, it’s a transition for me. That’s why I’m talking about it and why I’m sharing it because chances are you’re probably a lot like me.

  • I’ve found that some great candidates for rituals are things that you have a hard time rushing through and still doing a good job. At least that’s worked for me.

So, back to some things I’ve made rituals:

  • Shaving: For most guys, rushing a shave job is like nuzzling a chain saw anyway. So why rush it. I used to have to shave every day so I often did rush it. Now, I take my time and enjoy the experience. I’ve even considered going “old school” and using an old school safety razor or straight razor and a shaving mug and brush. I have my grandfather’s shaving mug and sometimes think it would be  pretty cool to give that a shot. But, I’ve decided to stick with my disposables for now. Maybe someday. I think it would turn shaving into even more of a ritual.

  • I’ve already mentioned making coffee, so you know I’m hooked on the AreoPress because it makes the best tasting, low acid, no silt pressed coffee I’ve ever had. But the ritual part comes in because of how I like (and am a bit particular about making) my coffee.

    • I like my coffee between 180-185 degrees so at home I microwave it for a known length of time

    • I found a special stainless steel coffee pot for my camping coffee. I tracked down a weldless brewer’s thermometer, bored a hole in the pot and threaded the thermometer in so I can get the water to the perfect temperature; blossoming, not boiling.

    • I hand-measure the coffee and place it in the AeroPress

    • Then a fill the press only to a certain point

    • I vigorously still this to a count of 10. Not 9, not 11…10.

    • Then I wet the AeroPress plunger rubber ring & insert it in the AeroPress

    • I then press the AeroPress plunger down, feeling resistance as I do

    • I don’t rush it and don’t force it down…I simply maintain pressure

    • At about ¾” from the bottom you hear the coffee begin to aerate…that makes the crema

    • Once the plunger bottoms out, I keep it perpendicular to the lip of my mug and scrape the remaining foaming crema from the bottom of the AeroPress, and into my mug

    • As clean up is part of the ritual, I take the press over to the trash, unscrew the aerating cap, pop out the coffee ground puck, and rinse the press, the cap, and the measuring spoon under the tap

    • Now that’s the ritual. It doesn’t sound simple, but it is. Something can be simple and still have multiple steps. Best of all, sometimes being present and doing something for yourself lets you enjoy the simple things in life.

    • My ritual goes something like this guy’s:

    AeroPress “Ritual” from Sandwich Video on Vimeo.

 Finally, my second favorite: Rhythms

  • I love the rhythm of the seasons and the natural ability to mark time by rhythm

    • Of course I enjoyed Summer as a kid, but my favorite season was Fall

    • I especially love being in the woods in the Fall

    • Hunting season was really just an excuse to be in the woods with my older brother in law or my best buddy growing up, Matt.

  • Here in San Antonio we have a rhythm of celebrations throughout the year we measure time by, too. Rodeo season, Fiesta, and lots of others

  • So learn to identify and enjoy the rhythms of your life. They’ll be marked by tradition and give you a sense of anticipation throughout the year

So, as you simplify, really take a hard look at how you spend those 168 hours per week, those 365 days per year. But don’t forget to be more present for those minutes, hours and days, as well.

  • Remember all those times in your life when you wanted the time to pass more quickly? School days or semesters, the days until Christmas or whatever Holiday you celebrate, birthdays, etc? We’ll at the end of your life you’ll be doing just the opposite…wishing it would go slower!

  • I’ve always joked that life is like a toilet paper roll…seems like a lot at first, but sure seems to run out fast at the end!

  • Find one routine that you can try to turn into a ritual. Give it 30 days. I’ve found that one month is long enough and short enough when giving most things a “try.”

  • I’m not a big believer in “You have to do something X times for it to become a habit”. If that works for you, great. For me, I usually say to myself “Give it a month”…if it’s worth doing, a month isn’t so long…and at the end, you’ll know.

  • So quit trying to make time for things. You can’t make any more. You have to find it in the time you already have.

  • I’ll leave you with this: Most people mistakenly believe they will have more free time in the future than they have now. More time to play, more time to organize, more time to work out or read. It’s just not the case. It doesn’t happen that way. Almost every invention in the history of mankind and that’s marketed to us today is something that was supposed to save us time. Well…how’s that worked for you so far? It hasn’t. That time just got shifted to something else. And who shifted it there? I did, you did.

So, it’s my life and it’s your life…and as we already established, you can’t buy time. Not one second. So, let’s shift it back to where it makes us happier and our lives simpler.

Vanessa’s Topic: OK…Where Do I Start?

Have you ever wondered why your dreams seem like…well…just dreams and never quite become reality?  Or felt like you were  running around in circles but never being able to complete a project because you can’t seem to get clarification on what the heck your boss wants. Or maybe felt like you’ve been working so hard, doing the right things and trying to navigate through your life one day at a time but without any real clarity on where you are going?

Well, I know I’ve felt this way before….many a times…and for many a years.  But over the past couple of years, I’ve learned to embrace a way of seeking clarity of my goals and projects by doing one thing…and that’s by Beginning with the End in Mind…or the End State.  Shocking isn’t it?  I know it’s probably because Dan and I have talked about it on previous episodes.

Many of you are probably familiar with Stephen Covey who really popularized this concept in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…where he talks about Beginning with the End in Mind.  It’s not a new or earth-shattering concept.  Heck, even Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there!”  Brilliant isn’t it?

Well, I’m sure most of us have exercised or have been exposed to this way of thinking but maybe didn’t know it because it can be loosely disguised as other terms like: goal setting…commander’s intent…mission statement…objective…envisioning…or visualizing just as some examples.  All of these things in some way, have you looking forward and ahead at where you need or want to go.

So let me kind of describe this to you specifically using  Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…at…Begin with the End in MInd is habit #2.

“It’s the idea that all things are created twice…there is a mental (first) creation and a physical (second) creation.  The physical creation follows the mental much like a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstance to shape you and your life by default.”  

He goes on to say…

“One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and secure the future you envision.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty powerful statement…enough to make me want to take this concept…or habit…seriously.

Other folks have adopted this concept in other ways as well.  You’ve heard us talk about Michael Hyatt who has a great blog about intentional leadership and he hits on this concept when he talks about creating a Life Plan. Basically, by looking at the end…or how you want your life to look…you can live a life on purpose and be proactive instead of reactive.  Honestly, his basic life plan guide (as well as Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love) played a significant role in Dan and I creating our 5 pillars (Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances and Future) and getting us to focus on shaping the life we have and want to live.

But this concept is also useful in other areas outside your personal sphere.

Project managers live by this concept.  I found an excerpt online that said:

“To succeed in a project, you must mentally start at the finish . . . and work backward” Hmmm…that’s another concept Dan and are very familiar with…backwards planning.”

“The clearer you are about the end result of your project, even though it may change, the more effectively you can plan the best way to achieve it.” 

And I love this example…

“Ever worked a jigsaw puzzle? You’ve got a thousand pieces to the puzzle—all the necessary resources to complete the project. How do you begin? By looking at the cover of the puzzle box and studying the picture of what the pieces will look like once they are assembled properly.”

Companies and business owners should and do have a vested interest in using this concept.  Listen to this I found on

“Designing for sustainability requires that you heed the thinking of Stephen Covey and “begin with the end in mind.” To reduce costs associated with energy consumption and waste generation, companies must maximize their investment using life cycle asset management methodologies. Life Cycle Asset Management (LCAM) is the basis for making sound decisions from “conceptual design” through the disposal of any asset type, and is measured based on the long-term impact on your business. It examines the shortest time to market for a capital improvement project while delivering the lowest total cost of ownership in order to maximize returns.”

Ok…blah blah blah on the last part but you see…gotta start with the end state…that conceptual design.  And companies recognize this because they know it will save them time, effort and most of all…money!

And the End State is key to a professional organizer especially during the assessment phase of a project.  The beauty about this concept is that it’s so easy! Peter Walsh of It’s All Too Much states:

“The most common mistake people make is starting with the stuff…just moving the stuff around into different rooms and new plastic bins doesn’t solve the problem…..the  key to getting-and staying-organized is to look beyond the stuff and imagine the life you could be living….it’s about how you see your life, before all else….imagine the life you want to live”

That’s a big picture approach to your life, which is great. But I even use it with my clients on a projects or space by space basis.  Common questions I ask are:

  • How do you want this space to function?
  • How do you want this space to look?
  • How do you want to feel in this space?
  • What do you think is preventing you from achieving those things?

So by asking those questions…especially by looking at where they want to go and how they want  the space to feel…then together, we’re better able to look around and identify the things that aren’t working and adopt new habits or bring in new systems and products to achieve those goals.

And speaking of goals…beginning with the End is an excellent way for you to establish your goals.  Having clarity on where you want to go will help you define specific, measurable, attainable and relevant goals and milestones.

So you can see how Beginning with the End in Mind is so useful:

  • It’s great for creating short term goals and long term goals
  • It’s great for managing simple projects as well as multi-faceted ones
  • Helps you better define specific tasks in a project
  • It can also give you clarity, balance and peace of mind…especially when developing your life plan
  • It allows you to see what’s working and what’s not working…at home or at work
  • It can help save you time, energy and even money…instead of aimlessly wandering around trying to figure things out
  • It can help you at work in both supervisor and subordinate roles…again, to gain clarity and purpose, without wasting time and effort. I mean…next time you’re struggling at work with a task your boss gave you…try asking her for some clarification.  Ask her what her vision, or end state is.  It’ll at the very least get her thinking about it…and help you get the job done….and in the meantime making you look pretty smart too!

So where do you start? Anywhere!  Start today!  At work or with yourself.  Think about how you want your career to look, your home life, education, fitness, home space or office space…what do you want those to look like?  Envision the end state and work back from there.

The best thing about this is that it’s so easy!  Eventually you’ll find yourself using this strategy in practically everything you do! It’s an incredible way to communicate and achieve your goals.

Thing Segment

Dan’s Thing: YouTube Playlists and How to Share

I’ve talked about how I like Playlists in YouTube before, but I find myself spending more and more time using them as a resource. I share a few of the playlists that I’ve curated on the “Curated Content” tab at, but I wanted to give you a few tips for finding and sharing playlists with others who may be interested.

  • In YouTube, in the search bar, type the subject you’re looking for followed by “playlist”. So, let’s say I’m looking for video about tiny houses… I just type in tiny houses playlist. The search results come up with all the findings of tiny house playlists.
  • To play, just click on the playlist title or the video and your lit will start playing. There’s even a setting to let them play back-to-back automatically, if you want.
  • But if you want to share the playlist, here’s where it gets a little weird. There has GOT to be a simpler way and I haven’t found yet, but what I do is:
    • In the search results with all the lists, click on the playlist title or the picture of the video as I already mentioned.
    • When that first video opens, click again in the name of the playlist.
    • That opens a homepage for that playlist and enables you to share it or embed it in your site. A little convoluted, but it gets the job done.

Vanessa’s Thing: Closing on our  land!

Two month process is finally complete.  We are now able to move onto a new phase in our lives and achieving those goals that yes…we envisioned..using our life plan…and concentrating on our 5 pillars.  See folks…it’s working!


Google Drive Tutorial     

Yay!  The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!


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Google Drive Tutorial

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Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love

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4 thoughts on “SLT 030: Buying Time, and Where Do I Start?

  1. Congrats on the sale, friends! I love how this event triggers a whole lot more events that you’re looking forward to. And Dan, I didn’t know you were/are paleo. Schweet!

    • Thanks, Joel! Yeah, we’re pretty excited about the whole situation. As for the paleo thing…I do my best and it just seems very natural to me. I don’t ‘crave’ things like I used to and it keeps me grilling, which is a favorite hobby of mine!

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