Hack your Day; Find More Time To Thrive

Originally posted on Medium: Check it out below along with other recent posts!

Matthew Wetmore: Medium

Productivity Hacks: Find More Time And Motivation To Thrive!

There is no doubt that all of us (even Gary Vaynerchuk…I think?) need downtime.

The world moves fast. We live in a business economy which is “always-on”. This 24/7 lifestyle has allowed us to innovate and grow businesses in new and creative ways. Problems have also been created which eat away at our most valuable asset: time.

The depths of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the many other social outlets we use to share interesting yet often purposeless information with each other, deprive us our this valuable asset.

Many of us are in front of a screen long before sun up and far after sunrise. To dig into the negatives here requires an entire post of its own. That will be later this month.

Today I want to focus on how to hack into your daily life and make the necessary changes to find more time for whats important to you. Whether it’s time with family, playing with the kids, a forgotten passion or hobby, anything.

I also want to identify ways which I have learned to motivate myself when I feel the body and mind begin to fade. We all know the feeling at 2–2:30PM when the mind melts from existence into the ever too familiar food coma/sugar crash. You rush for caffeine but sometimes that’s no use. The damage has been done.

I write this with 0 intention of sharing diet/nutrition tips for energy maintenance, that also deserves its own article. Another good idea for later this month.

Let’s start with a few I’ve applied in my life and am yet to feel even slightly “disconnected”.

Quit The TV

This is sort of the “have your cake and eat it too” dilemma except with devices.

We have too much! Phones, laptops, tablets, TV’s, monitors, our lives are far to encompassed by screens which often eat away at our dreams.

The day I sold my TV was also the day I was no longer the “I read before bed” type of guy. That guy never learns.

Can you think of anything else you could do instead of melting into mind-numbing television each day of your life? With a little willpower, I’m certain you can; you’ll be glad you did.

Exercise

Write

Read

Cook

Clean

Organize

Work more..? (I know, this is not specific enough for you, me either but it’s staying)

I’m not saying TV is bad. I’m saying I hear so many people say they don’t have the time yet Netflix shows and Criminal Minds is a “priority”? Please don’t complain.

I credit the removal of my TV from the bedroom with improved sleep, better focus, improved mindfulness, and a deeper understanding of my goals and purpose.

I also credit it for the 50+ books I’ve read in both audio and paper format this year. I’ve learned a lot… I’ve never been more grateful for this in my life.

TV sucks anyway. With our phones and laptops able to access practically everything on cable TV, what’s the point? I’m not saying to spend MORE time on your laptop and phone watching TV, but avoid the distraction all together and establish disciplines with your TV consumption.

Detox from Social Media OR Limit Its Use With Intent

A TED talk I watched about the negative implications of social media fascinated me. I realized I was no longer posting on Instagram or Facebook and that Snapchat was just a time-suck. I told myself, “If I’m not adding or gaining anything of substantial value, why am I using it so much?”

I deleted them from my phone that day. I still “check” both, often at night, but only on my personal laptop instead of my phone all day.

No more rabbit hole. No more lost seconds, minutes, hours, and probably days of life. The lack of distractions alone has been tremendous.

Instead, I read and review articles/content/news on sites I prefer. Oh, I do use LinkedIn which has been rather engaging as of late.

Try a week away from social media. Try the “desktop only” method.

If it’s apart of your brand, business, or maybe you’re striving to become an influencer of some sort; fine. This isn’t for you.

For me, the lack of true productivity on these platforms led to a decision to give it up and see what happens.

The major downside? Lack of contribution to communities and groups I belong to. Facebook, for example, I will sit and comment/engage in one sitting opposed to checking throughout the day. I find I add more value this way.

I personally never had a problem with Twitter, nor used it very often, so I decided to keep it and actually start “tweeting”.

It won’t be easy and you may not even like it yet I’m certain you’ll find the same value as I did.

Listen To Motivational Videos/Programs

YouTube is king here.

Whether you’re into “self-help” books or not. Motivational content is a great way to find inspiration when energy is low.

Jocko Willink, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Joe Rogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, I could go forever.

Search their names on YouTube combined with motivation and listen to a few. Not only will you be motivated but inspired to continue to improve yourself.

Do this when you’re feeling the day get away from you. It’ll help you maintain focus and prevail when the chips are down.

It’s easy to work hard when it’s easy, it’s how you react when things are NOT going well which defines you.

Take control of you’re time and own your day. Don’t allow your precious life to dwindle from the constant stimulation of input from the lives of others.

Creative and curious people can change the world. It’s difficult to be curious OR creative when we are constantly stimulated by other peoples ideas instead of our own.

Pay attention to the world and make more progress each day!

A Book To Build Creative Skills And Become A Writer

“Empty Your Mind To Free Your Soul” — Matthew Wetmore

A Book Recommendation To Build Creative Skills And Become A Writer

One afternoon I perused around my local bookstore to poke around at some of the latest book releases. This happened to be right around the time that I desired to become a better writer but didn’t have many tools.

I was missing the classics; Elements of Style, Writing Tools, On Writing, and many others.

I’m glad I can say I’ve since read, applied, and continue to use these almost every day as I work on my craft.

Again, I walked around with no intention at the time but one book stuck out.

How to be a Writer — Building your creative skills through practice and play, by Barbara Baig

I almost didn’t buy it. I googled it and only found a few results and nearly psyched myself out. But I did; this book never left my side all summer.

Barbara Baig is a devoted writer and teacher. She was the Writing instructor at Harvard Divinity School for 20+ years and is now teaching in the MFA Program at Lesley University.

Freewriting

If you have any desire to write you need to start here.

Freewriting does WONDERS for your creative skills and helps you escape your mind. When you freewrite you allow yourself to think freely and your mind to flow into new dimensions of thought that are unable to be obtained unless you enter the deep, focused state of mind.

Do this for just 10 minutes. Write about your day, your week, your life, your relationship; anything you want.

An important thing to note is not to stop writing. Keep the pen or pencil moving. This won’t be easy at first but you’ll learn that the more you “think” when you write, the harder it is for words to come to your mind.

Focused Freewriting

This is an excellent way to study, prepare for a meeting, learn new subjects, and assess your own level of knowledge.

No matter what subject you are studying or interested in, focused freewriting can help you find information and knowledge on a particular subject that you may not be aware you know.

Often times our subconscious mind holds on to a TON of information with which the only way to access it is through deep stimulation.

A good example of this would be remembering character names from movies, books, or TV shows. Another would be the quote you loved so much by your favorite philosopher.

Write your topic at the top, set your timer for 10–15 minutes (or however long you’re comfortable with) and begin. Don’t stop writing until the time is up.

Try writing about a favorite vacation, experience, memory, or freewrite for new blog ideas.

Another way to use focused freewriting is to apply it to get in the “zone” for your job. I worked in cyber security and used this method to learn the technology, lingo, and get my mind ready to discuss security with people much smarter than I.

Why I Recommend Her Book

This book forever changed how I approach writing. It’s made my 1,000 words/day goal a piece of cake. I’m somewhere around 3,000 words today.

I’m also up late on a Monday writing this for my day 4/30 posting on Medium and my blog.

This book showed me how much I had to learn about writing, the world, and myself. Writers are vulnerable people who often see life through a lens which only words can explain.

Barbara will teach you how to look at the world in a new way. Take the journey into this book to expand your curiosity, learn more, have fun, and continue to grow as a writer.

Whether you write blogs, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry there is a place for Baig’s book in your library.

Have you read it before? What did you think? Share below or comment and let me know how you use freewriting in your life!

Strategy Without Execution = Death

Writing is hard.

The lessons I’ve learned haven’t come with ease. I’ve overcommitted and underdelivered, a sure recipe for failure with clients who rely on you to produce. The hard lesson of entrepreneurship or any solo business venture; failure is inevitable and you’re responsible for ALL of the work.

I’m happy. I get to write blogs, articles, network with new, like-minded professionals who share the same mission: Produce remarkable content, grow their business, share their story with more people, and of course, generate more revenue!

What about when someone needs a well-written 1,500 word SEO optimized blog post on an unfamiliar topic? You need to do research, craft an outline, write a draft, edit the draft, format, add internal/external links, insert quotes, oh wait, shit. I forgot an image. Search for an image – 20 minutes later – you find one you like!

A headline, crap! Wait, what is the purpose of this post? Why did I write this? Why is my client’s audience interested in this?  Does it make sense? Does it flow? Ah!

See, I enjoy this sensation. The slight stress promotes creativity for me to think on my feet and make decisions. It forces me to write, no matter what.

Should I write a blog post about what goes through my head under the pressure of a tight deadline? What about the editing process? How do you handle writing about projects which you aren’t an expert in?

My point? I can talk a big game and over back it up but sometimes I don’t. I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it. Learn how to execute on your strategy and anything is possible. I’m always working on mine.

Reaping the Harvest of the Fall – Daily Recap

I rarely post on Facebook.

Last night after a remarkable day I felt I had a lot to share.

Some of the highlights include;

  1. Woke up at 5:30AM, made my bed and wrote my 5 Minute Journal (small wins)
  2. Ate a healthy breakfast and wrote two blog articles for current clients before noon.
  3. Quick 30-minute workout to boost my energy which fueled my crazy afternoon!
  4. A successful interview for a short-term contract project which I am excited about.
  5. Two hours later – phone call with an offer for the job =) woohoo!
  6. Strategy call with a Business Partner related to our prospective marketing agency
  7. Wrote 1,000 words on a potential business plan, 1,000 words of a book I’m working on.
  8. Saw Brandon Stanton, Author of “Humans of New York” speak at UNC-W about life lessons, personal development, and leadership. His story was remarkable to hear in person.
  9. Finished my day with a healthy dinner, wrote my “morning pages” at 10-11PM, and ran 2 miles with a friend to calm down my mind and prepare for bed.
  10. Time to reflect. I MADE time to reflect on my day, recall the memories, emotions, and experiences. I want to remember them as vividly as possible.

Today the momentum has continued nicely and productivity is at an all-time high. Momentum is critical to accomplishing major projects. A consistent effort towards specific goals is vital. Make sure you make progress every day.

I woke up at 6AM this morning again. Sure, I’m a little tired today, but you cannot rest in times of greatness. That’s when you need to be humble and remember what it took to get to where you are today. When you start seeing results and making progress, wonderful things will happen.

The seasons are a great analogy for life. Plant the seeds in the spring, water them in the summer and reap the harvest in the fall. Right now, I’m grateful for the seeds I’ve nurtured over the last six months, for all the blessings that continue to find me.

Point is – the fear I had of taking major risks to drastically change my life, was purely fear. I’m one day closer to a life that I desire to live and work which I want to do for the rest of my life than I ever have been. We all strive for self-awareness, and it is the most powerful asset you could ever possess or obtain.


Original Facebook post – 9/26/2017 around 10PM EST



I don’t share much on Facebook and am working on growing my blog as a place to share interesting content and experiences in my life. I was fortunate to learn about Brandon Stanton, Founder of Humans of New York this evening at UNC-W. I’m sure you’ve seen his images and read his stories at some point in the depths of the internet.

His stories are of the lives of strangers, but more importantly the power of listening to someone and allowing them to talk about things that are often uncomfortable to discuss.

The journey of his life as an artist is one I’ll never forget and I highly recommend his blog.

Today was an amazing day. One of those days where you feel a small sense of reward for the consistent hard work we put in each and every day. I just want to say no matter what you love to do, go 110% in on that ONE thing and pursue with all that you have.

On a completely unrelated note since I’m tired, today was the 2nd day in September that someone said, “You remind me of Tony Robbins”, or “you should be a motivational speaker”. I only enjoy helping people become better, and love the reference of course.

I love being able to think in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. If I can help even in a small way, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I’ve been through and continue to go through my own problems.

The day I began listening to understand instead of respond, was the day I changed my entire belief system and put my life into perspective.

What a great day.

The Law of Attraction Strikes Again…

What is a coincidence?

I’m a firm believer in “The Law of Attraction”, and the idea that what you choose to think about is what you will become. This isn’t strictly positive thinking to help refrain from negativity, we all have that. With that said, I realized that I used to focus on things that were not constructive to the growth of my life. I needed to focus on things that I could control instead of complaining about my problems. I created my problems for myself.

Where I spent my time and who I spent it with was defining the person I was becoming. This wasn’t all bad, but much of my life was controlled by habits and routines that I couldn’t even explain. All I knew at the time is that change was necessary to make even the smallest of progress.

I want to share this story because for reasons which are inexplicable to me at the moment. People and ideas continue to come to me as I focus more and more attention on the problems, as well as potential ideas that I have in my life. I had a very unique experience over the weekend and I feel that sharing it may provide some value.

I’ll do my best to keep it brief.

My financial situation has been rather interesting since I left my job, moved to NC, and started a business as a Freelance Writer. Of course, I knew this transition would not be easy. I left a lucrative field in a thriving market to pursue a passion project… what in the hell was I thinking? The answer to that I’m still not sure, maybe I’ll go back soon…

Anyway – I sat at a local coffee shop running through my finances, debts, student loans, credit cards, etc… As someone who didn’t grow up wealthy, I’m sure you understand this is not a “fun” thing to do. It is necessary, however, in order to find ways to make the changes to improve my life. I made some phone calls, texted some friends, and decided that a Financial Advisor is a great option to help me with this decision.

But wait, what business does a Financial Advisor have with an in-debt 24-year-old college graduate? Not much…

I was fired up, ready to tackle the financial elephant of my life and take control. After finishing up my 2nd coffee and some work for the day, I headed to a driving range to clear my mind, hit some balls, and think about what I could do.

I happened to strike up a conversation with a guy on the range as I walked up, not unusual for me, but odd at first nonetheless. After a little small talk and some “closest to the pin” games, we talked business. Let’s call him Jim (his name wasn’t Jim).

Jim turns out to be a retired Financial Advisor who consulted for major organizations for over 25 years. Jim took a liking to me and since I had all of these major questions on my mind, I pitched him. A 30-second overview of my life, financial situation, and major life goals. I saw no value in holding back, who knows if I’ll see Jim again. Though I’m hopeful our paths will cross again.

The only way I can describe such an experience is divine timing. I trust that everything in life that happens to us happens for a reason. Today, I’m confident in saying that I have a goal plan to tackle my finances and focus on my business with a clear mind.

The poor decisions I have made and adversity I have faced have gotten me here today. I now realize the importance of seeing opportunity in adversity. Be mindful of your decisions, they will shape who you become, and there is a reason you are where you are today.

Why a CONSISTENT Morning Routine is Essential

What are your morning rituals?

Human beings are capable of remarkable achievement in life if we CHOOSE to MAKE time for what matters in our lives. The choices we make define us, which starts each morning that we pull our tired bodies out of bed to start the day. I get it, you’re probably saying “I’m not a morning person”, or “I need my sleep”, and I understand. I also believe that you don’t NEED to consider yourself a “morning person” to achieve better results in life – be it professional or personal growth.

Below are a few morning rituals to help find joy before anything could possibly go wrong in your day. Things always go wrong, prepare for them and do something important before it gets the best of you.

  • Exercise (fuel my body)
  • Reading (stimulate my mind)
  • Writing (organize thoughts and empty the mind of all morning clutter)
  • Studying (a desirable hobby, skill, or important daily practice you are learning)
  • Meditation (practice gratitude, appreciation, and mindfulness)
  • Practice creativity (creative writing, learn an instrument, drawing, painting, etc…)
  • Prepare breakfast for your family (I’m certain your kids will love you)
  • Tell your family members you love them (genuinely)
  • What brings you joy? What can you practice for 15-30 minutes that would make your day a PERSONAL success? Do that one thing. Put a smile on your face and keep it with you all day.
  • I hope you see my point…

Find a REASON to wake up early. Many people say “I don’t have time”, or “I’m too busy”, when in reality that often means – “I don’t care enough to make the time”. Turn your morning into something you look forward to doing something you love.

Before I share a few of my morning rituals, I want to share how much this morning practice has changed my life.

I found this guy JustinGuitar who teaches guitar online and decided I was going to practice every morning for fifteen minutes. Over one year later I can play more than I ever had imagined. Next, I wanted to start writing but wasn’t sure where to start. I loved writing and applied this same practice to creating 30 minutes of time every morning to free-write about a wide variety of topics. Sometimes freewriting, creative writing, stories, chapters of a book I’m working on, etc…

Recently I’ve been using my early morning study to learn HTML, CSS, and WordPress. My goal is to build expert level skills in web development and design to expand my skills as a Freelance Writer.

The driving factor for learning these skills is Automattic, an insightful company which strives to power over 50% of the websites on the Internet (28% now I believe). I’m pursuing a position as a #HappinessEngineer, which is the first line of customer support for all things WordPress and other Automattic products. This is a company I’ve been following since hearing a Tim Ferriss podcast (shocking) and I was fascinated ever since. It is a dream opportunity that I feel well-qualified and ready for. Maybe they’ll hire me…

I had a realization through my education that I could basically learn any skill or hobby I desired in a short period of time if I focused on one specific task each morning. I’m not saying you’ll be an expert, but I am saying the power of a consistent morning routine making time for important things to your life is vital to happiness. Maybe you make time after work, or at lunch, which is great. I use the morning because I love my solitude and alone time. I think, reflect, and analyze important aspects of life to find areas for which I can improve.

Here are five things I do each morning to put a smile on my face and crush each day. This doesn’t ALWAYS work out, I fail a lot, unfortunately, but it is always my way of looking at uncertainty in the face and saying “NOT TODAY!” I know that when things are going bad, I can look forward to the morning because I’m grateful to have another day closer to achieving my dreams.

  1. Wake up at 5:30-6 AM and make my bed
  2. Write a 5-Minute Journal and find things to be grateful for in my life.
  3. Brew a cup of coffee or tea (tea if I’ve been overdoing it on caffeine).
  4. 10 push-ups, sit-ups, and air-squats OR 10-15 minutes of a yoga sequence, typically Vinyasa to warm my body and stretch muscles.
  5. 10 Minute Meditation and write my 3 long-hand “Morning Pages” inspired by Tim Ferriss.

So I ask you, what do you do each morning? Do you lie in bed dreading the thought of leaving the comfort of your sheets? Or do you attack the day, do something you love, be grateful for what you have and CRUSH the day with a smile?

A smile, positive attitude, and optimism CAN change your life. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise and go crush the day!

10 Quotes of Inspiration

What is it that inspires you?

Each day I wake up and find inspiration through practicing gratitude and appreciation and looking at what is right in my life. I read, write, and learn each day to remember that life is a marathon and not a sprint. I could certainly use more patience than I have now.

I come across a ton of quotes that I store in my journal each day. Below is a list of my top ten most recent inspirational quotes.

What are your favorite quotes?

Enjoy! Please like, share, and comment below!

  1. “Being a giver doesn’t require extraordinary acts of sacrifice. It just involves a focus on acting in the interests of others” Adam Grant, Author of “Give and Take” and “Option B”
  2. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”Walt Disney
  3. “Those that are a friend to themselves are sure to be a friend to all” Seneca
  4. “It’s not that I’m smart. It’s that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
  5.  “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost how” – Victor Frankl
  6.  “On their deathbeds, people don’t think about their work or their life experiences or the items remaining on their to-do list. They think about love and family.” Rick Rubin
  7.  “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us” Herman Hesse
  8. “It means much not to be spoiled by intimacy with riches; and he is truly great who is poor amidst riches”Seneca
  9. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” – J. K. Rowling
  10. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them” – John F. Kennedy