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!

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.

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

 

How Nature and Overcoming the “Bad Days” are Connected

We all have those days. You know, the nights where you told yourself you’d be in bed by 10 PM only to lie sleepless until well past 1 AM. That was how my day went today.

I plan to wake up at 5:30 every morning of my life. This is the only way I know to create true personal time. Whether you write, play guitar, exercise, read, or whatever. The early morning hours before most of America is awake have proven to be my BEST times of the day. Maybe you are the same.

But… today was different. This was no ordinary day. I’ve been in NC for around two months. I can count on ONE hand the number of times I’ve slept past 7 AM.

It’s four, well now five.

Today – it was 9:30 AM. What in the hell happened? I could’ve stayed negative and dreaded doing anything, watched TV and sat on my ass all day.

Instead what I did, was start my day as if it were 5:30 AM after taking care of pressing obligations for the day. I exercised, ate a healthy breakfast, meditated, wrote my journal and morning pages, and read for 15 minutes.

See, for most of you, this isn’t a problem. For me, however, my off-days crush me. I feel defeated and vulnerable. These aren’t good feelings.

Exercise is the FIRST way I combat any signs of mental overwhelm or anxiety. Second, it is to write. I write every morning. I consider this my mental therapy. I get my cluttered morning thoughts onto paper and organize my day. Therapy one day, goal setting the next – this writing organizes my day and adds structure to a life where most of us are highly over stimulated.

Why did I choose this photo?

For one, I made a commitment to write, schedule, or publish a blog every day. I wasn’t sure what to write about today so I figured I’d pick a nice photo.

Secondly, this photo was a great day and it reminded me of how much I love nature.

I spent a portion of my afternoon today walking through this amazing park near me to clear my mind. Again, today was NOT my day. I walked with no music or audio book for the first few minutes to connect with nature.

From the trees, birds, and insects to the children and families playing in the playground laughing. Walking amongst Mossy Oaks and large Pines while soaking in the sun and enjoying the fresh air. It is intoxicating!

Sometimes – all we need is some exercise, fresh air, to bring us back to our prime. Our best self.

Final Thoughts

Before I head to bed for the evening and get some MUCH NEEDED rest, I want to share something.

I listen to an audio book everywhere that I go. In my car, walking or running around my neighborhood, folding laundry, basically anytime I can or find myself idle.

This lifted my spirits and changed my mood. I was uplifted by a new sense of wonder and possibility. The sun, the air, and nature helped me overcome one of my least productive days since I’ve lived in North Carolina.

Audio books have changed my life and inspired me in more ways that I can begin to describe. Instead of watching TV or playing a video game, try to find more constructive ways to be inspired. Throw on some headphones, go for a walk, while getting lost in an amazing audio book. I never regret learning, but I always regret the hours of my life spent binge watching a show or plain sitting on my ass.

Here are a few in my library:

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

For you fiction lovers:

The Absent Mind, by Eric Rill

The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson