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!

Lessons Learned From Julia Camerons “Artist’s Way Morning Pages”

Lessons Learned from Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”

Discipline

It takes willpower and discipline to wake up every morning early enough to write three hand-written long-form style pages each morning. It takes anywhere from 45–60 minutes on most days (sometimes more).

In order to do this productively I would; wake up at 5AM, drink a bottle of water, wash my face, brush my teeth, make my bed, write my 5 minute journal, make a cup of coffee or tea, do 10 push ups(at a minimum), stretch for 5–10 minutes, and then sit down to write.

With ambient sounds or acoustic music playing, I would gently flow into the art of writing my three lovely, sometimes irksome, morning pages.

The act of waking up early and focusing on important areas of my life has been and remains key to my joy each day.

I Can Write

Thanks, Jeff Goins. Check out his book, “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

I wrote for years without much intention or purpose. A lot of which for personal growth, reflection, and education. It helps me find meaning in business, books, relationships, and life.

Then I started freelance writing and realized I had a LOT to learn. Grammar, copywriting, print, advertisements, email marketing; the list goes on and on.

I’ve written well over 400,000 words (maybe more, maybe less) this year which is an accomplishment I’m rather proud of.’

Much of this has been from my daily habit of writing. Thank you morning pages for the confidence to call myself a writer.

Enhanced Creativity

I never thought I was creative even though I always craved creation.

I enjoyed art, liked poetry, loved the design, and was a passionate writer. The problem was my lack of education to make things of my own.

Morning pages expanded my curiosity, creative capabilities, interests, and most importantly understand myself.

Use morning pages to plan your day, settle your emotions, think of new ways to work on relationships in your life, identify skills to work on, and unleash the power of your creative mind.

Be creative with your writing. Don’t judge your own work. Let yourself break the rules and do things against what you were taught in school.

Try writing in cursive, different sizes, do a bit of drawing, make lists, set goals, and anything else you can think of.

Try New Things

One of the best parts of the morning pages experience is the infamous “artist date”. An individual 2-hour exploration of a creative interest of your desire.

This can be a drawing class, yoga, meditation, painting, acting, a tour of a local attraction; anything you love to do and that will inspire creativity and new ideas.

Cameron says this is the most important aspect of rediscovering your creative interests. The only way to find comfort in creativity is to try new things.

The best artist date for me this summer was a chance to be on TV! I made it!

I appeared in several episodes of Good Behavior, a TNT show, as a club patron and pedestrian!

This was by far my favorite experience of the year and something I will be grateful for and remember for the rest of my life.

If you are interested in expanding your curiosity, creativity, or maybe you want a unique way to discover more about yourself; check out Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way!

Follow me on my blog or find more of my writing on Medium!

How Do You Find Joy In Life?

Skydiving on my 25th birthday. This brought LOTS of joy to my life =)!

How to Find Out What Brings You Joy

What pulls you from the comfort of your sheets each day?

Is it your job? Your family? School?

Maybe you’re tired of your job and it’s time for a change. The autopilot life can be tough to break.

Joy exists everywhere, much like gratitude and appreciation, but can require a bit of effort to discover (or rediscover for some of you).

The feeling of being stuck can prevent you from pursuing things you love; even those which make you the happiest. I’ve realized this is something that will continuously occur in life. No if’s and’s or buts. It’s out of our control.

You get one life. If you’re suffering, frustrated, or struggling to find joy, it’s time you invest in yourself for the betterment of your future.

Take Time to Reflect

Start with an honest reflection of your life. Evaluate the failures, successes, wins, losses, and the deeply personal details of who you are. If this is a bit much, try just 6 months, or a year.

Make a list of all of the things you are proud of, failed at, learned, and accomplished.

Understand what you love to do and the things that bring you the most joy. Maybe you always wanted to be an athlete, a writer, painter, on TV, a comedian, you get the point.

Find ways to explore your childhood passions with a childlike sense of curiosity. I loved video games as a kid but realized I no longer find the same fulfillment I did when I was young. Writing, reading, hiking, mountain biking, and music are only a few of the hobbies which bring joy to my life.

Evaluate your life and what fires you up! Do you want to write a book, travel to another country, learn another language, learn how to draw, practice an instrument?

What is it you desire to achieve or accomplish in your life?

What are a few of those things you could do today which would bring you the most joy? Don’t wait. Figure out 2–3 things you can do TODAY, at the latest tomorrow, to find joy in your life.

Then take action!

Time To Take Action

Don’t wait, don’t overthink it, and please, please do not complain and go take action. Life is a surplus of opportunity waiting to be discovered. As Jim Rohn says, “Doors of opportunity comes to those who continually knock”.

Don’t stop knocking. The ‘you’ which you haven’t met yet is waiting to be found. Go find him.

So many of us reflect on our lives and learn of what brings us the most joy only to fall short of ever taking the first step.

I struggle with this every day; I’m already fighting reasons why I shouldn’t publish this but I am anyway. Even if nobody likes, comments, or even reads it at all.

Try something new, if you’re struggling with ideas here are a few examples:

►Journaling, Writing, Blogging, Reading

►Yoga, Crossfit, Spin Class, Pilates, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Etc

►Programming, Web Design, Photography, Video Production

►Take a class; Acting, Dance, Film, Creative Writing, Programming, (Anything!)

The simple commitment to something you enjoy will bring you joy. Be proud of your commitment to self-improvement and FOLLOW THROUGH!

Serve Others

Find a way to volunteer for a cause you believe in, offer your services to a non-profit, or get involved in your community.

When you offer to help others with no expectations of payment or reward, magic happens. You take action in things you believe in with passion, excitement, and energy because otherwise, you wouldn’t do those things.

Indulge in service to others in a way which you do things with no expectations of anything in return.

There is no easier way to express joy, gratitude, and appreciation than the gesture to help others.

Ask around the office for volunteer opportunities. I’m sure a quick Google search of “volunteer opportunities near me” will provide ample results.

Find a cause you’re passionate about; a surfing charity, volunteer golf sponsor, offer advice in a field you are an expert in; anything along those lines.

Have Fun

Joy, much like love, comes from doing what you love and doing it with who you love most.

Meaningful connections with others engaged in the things you value most will make you happy.

Make the time for what you love. Give up some TV or other non-productive tasks for an investment in your personal joy.

Find a way to escape so deep into an activity so you achieve a “flow state”. Check out this TED talk on flow states. This is a deep state of focus achieved by athletes, authors, and many more. You become immersed in the moment without any thought towards any other aspect of life except what is happening right now.

What is your thing? What do you want to try or rediscover?

I write, meditate, practice yoga, mountain bike, hike, play golf, and spend time with loved ones to find my joy. How do you find yours?

Rediscover what brings you joy in life and enhances your life, you’ll be glad you did.

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.