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Why Life Hacking Isn't Just For Businesspeople

"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." -Stephen Covey

I have to confess something: I sometimes feel frustrated by the lack of crossover between concepts of maximizing one's time and life hacking and creative living.

For example, I was once on tour with an actor who was deeply offended by the Mark Zuckerberg/Steve Jobs approach to fashion of wearing the same thing every day. While I don't think this approach to fashion makes sense for most artists, I do believe that decision fatigue can deplete energy that could otherwise go towards valuable creative endeavors. Behavioral economists have talked at length about "ego-depletion," meaning that humans have a finite amount of decision-making abilities each day. Just a little pro tip: for any of my performer friends going on tour, this tip actually kind of does work in that if you bring less outfits, you won't have to spend as much time agonizing over what to wear on the tour bus before you put on your costume for the day.

This is what Tim Ferris described as his "secret" to productivity" that I personally have benefitted immensely from:

1) "Wake up at least an hour before you have to be at a computer screen. email is the mind killer."

2) "Make a cup of tea (or in my case coffee) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper"

3) "Write down 3-5 things (AND NO MORE) that are making you the most anxious or uncomfortable. They're often things that have been punted from one day's to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually=most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict"

4) "For each item, ask yourself, "If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?"-Will moving this forward make all the other to-do's unimportant or easier to knock off later?

5) "Look only at the items you've answered "yes" to for at least one fo these questions."

6) "Block out 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow"

7) "TO BE CLEAR. Block out at least 2-3 hours to focus on one of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work."

8) "If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don't freak out and downward spiral. Just gently come back to your ONE to-do."

The reality is that most actors I know, myself included, are stretched too thin. Between day jobs, applying for projects on Backstage and the constant self tape grind, it can be exhausting! Therefore, I've found that focusing on what's the most important task every day, before getting distracted with emails, social media, etc. can really help me to hone in my priorities. As an actor, I've learned I have to block out the white noise. and concrete my mental energy in a concentrated fashion.


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