How to Get More Done in Less Time

Today, I’m going to share with you a few tips that have helped reduce my anxiety by three fold.

Three fold is my girlfriend’s assessment of the shift in my energy over the past month.

But, before we get into that, let me tell you how this all came about.

This all started one night on a Mastermind call.

Susan Jones looked into her webcam and threw down a gauntlet.


She had placated me throughout the summer as I proposed plan after plan. She grew tired. It was time for me to decide.

“By next fortnight’s call, you will pick one or the other, and then after that the only thing you’re allowed to discuss is that one thing!”

So here we are. I’m typing. You’re reading. Thanks Susan.

What happened that night didn’t create some drastic change.

No switches were flipped. Plans didn’t stop. Clouds never opened. Clarity took a few months

But, something happens when you decide to make this thing, the one thing you do every day for the next few years.

When you carve out time during your day and dedicated that time to just one thing, that one thing becomes real. When I started to apply investment principles to my time, things changed. Hopefully, this will makes sense for you too.

  • We all have 24 hours in a day.
  • Subtract 8 hours for sleep and
  • 1 hour for preparation and you have
  • 15 hours per day.
  • If you take 10% of your actual day,
  • you get 1.5hours.

Ways to Help Anxiety – Tips & Strategies

Invest 1.5 hours of your day, doing that one thing you want to do.

My one thing is this website.

And over the course of the past few months my focus has wavered on the range from clarity to scattered. But, more often than not, I’ve stayed on point for my 1.5. It seemed logical that if I commit to at least 1.5 hours to it every day that sooner or later progress will happen; so far, so good.

Change seems hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

Last week, we discussed the key to making lasting changes (belief), and how that applies to the process of Hacking Your Habits.

The process of changing habits is delicate. At times you’re moving along and everything seems fine. You’re firing on all cylinders, and then a glitch in the matrix.

A minor setback becomes a major derailment.

You lose focus. You fall back on old patterns. Your new habits didn’t stick.

If you’re anything like me, when that happens, you beat yourself up. You put it on the pile of reasons that you’ll never amount to shit. And you don’t even realize it’s still just a pile of shit.

You treat those reasons as if they are the foundation of your existence. You’ve woven those reasons into every fiber of your being. Then you look for outside circumstance to save you from the stink.

It’s Easy to Feel Overwhelmed.

You think the way out of your situation is to keep yourself busy. Get back to what you call work, which goes like this:

  • Check your email,
  • Read things people share on Facebook
  • Letting your Google-itis get out of control.
  • Check back with Facebook.

The circle of busy does not equate to productivity. You fooled yourself to think that you are just too busy. You don’t have time for things that make a difference.

You think that you can’t even sit down and enjoy a nice quiet lunch.

You rarely take time out of your day to reduce noise.

It’s bad. So bad that when someone suggests meditation, you either roll your eyes and keep scrolling, or you think, yeah I’m going to start tomorrow.

Tomorrow never comes.

Today, I’m going to share with you a few tools that have helped me reign in my adult ADD, get focused, and reduce anxiety.

You’re going to learn a few ways to help you create the habits that support the vision you have for your life, one thing is what people like Sir Richard Branson attributes to his personal and professional success.

In the next Saturday Soul Surfer Session, we will take this habit that you’re about to create to the next level. Next week’s focus is how to get more done than you think is possible, without feeling stressed out.

People who know me best, know that I overthink just about everything.

I have a gift.

My brain makes connections, sees things from a lot of different angles and can spit out strategies to get from here to there along with all the pitfalls along the way.

My gift is my curse.

My brain makes the simplest task and multiplies its complexity to the nth degree. I overthink a lot, and overthinking seems to be a default mode for me. It’s just the way my brain operates.

That’s why this series of articles exists.

My mission is to overcome overwhelm, drastically reduce my level of anxiety and focus on what really matters.

Since, I love to write, it seemed like a good idea to share my journey with you.

Another quirk of mine is note taking. It could be a full time job to go through the piles of paper scraps, napkins, and notebooks in my office and our library/den.

These notes make me feel productive. In some instances, this habit has helped me do a lot of cool things, including this website (and this series of articles). But, in most cases my note taking is a distraction.

Feeling productive and producing are two different things.

I needed a system to collect and process these notes in a linear fashion.

“Get Organized” became my mission.

While cleaning the office, I found this old faux leather notebook and decided to carry it around the house with me rather than write on the closest scrap of paper. After 7 days, I opened and read the pages. Talk about an eye-opener.

When you read a week’s worth of random thoughts, patterns became clear.


One morning, during my reading hour, I re-read  a story about a study that showed how Journaling helps people lose weight and keep it off.

The premise is simple.

When you write down and keep track of what you do, it’s more difficult for you to overlook where your principles are skewed.

In the dieter example, people started to notice that certain snacks happened at certain times of the day. The simple act of tracking food intake inspired those people to make small changes to their daily routines and food habits. Those small changes lead to more small changes and throughout the course of a year, they realized their ideal weight.

I decided to apply that principle to time management.

On 11/22/2014, I woke up, boiled water for coffee and stretched in front of the kitchen sink, then came to the living room, pulled out my notebook and wrote down the time (8am) and proceeded to sip coffee, meditate and write for two hours.

And every two hours, notes are put next to times.

For a few days…

The journal was nothing more than a time tracker. But, it didn’t take a genius to see that something needed to shift. It’s a weird feeling when you realize that some sort of communication sucks away a good portion of your time and attention.

It does not serve me to spend the day scrolling.

You search for answer that you already know. You read things that have little to no positive effect on helping you reach your goals. You get lost in the comments, debates, and emails links.

It’s easy to drown in the Stream of Data coming at you every day.

Because I’m a note jotting addict, my journal got a little out of control after about three weeks. What started out as 2 pages per day, became 5 before I knew it. And, when I spent some time to go through it once a week triggered even more anxiety. But, I felt that this would help me reach a new level, so…

…to the all-knowing-all-seeing Google!

Ten minutes later… Cue heavenly music.

I found this awesome video. By Ryder Carroll.

What I like about this system is that it focuses one month at a time. What I don’t like about the system is that it’s so freakin complicated.

My Achilles Heel is that I see too big of a picture. According to my Strength Finders Report, my main strength is strategy.

Strategy as defined by Strength Finders

People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Sometimes strengths turn into weaknesses.

Being able to see strategies and pitfalls is great as long as you take action.

Lack of self-confidence leads you to believe false assumptions which then leads to lack of action.

The bullet journal system helps “pull it in” and focus on the here and now.

But, it’s a bit too constrictive for my tastes, and way too complex.

I need to doodle, mind-map, brain dump on a regular basis.

Fast forward a month.

Today, I have two journals.

One is a small bullet journal, and the other is a hybridization that leaves more space for my mind to roam.

One thing that 2014 taught me was…

Your life is a reflection of the quality of questions you ask yourself on a daily basis.

You ask yourself questions all day long.

You run through scenarios of potential future out comes.

You replay past conversation and practice the things you wish you could say.

Left unchecked, my brain becomes a tyrant that fills my body with anxiety, as if the core of my being rises from the pit of despair.

My default mode is shame.

My inner voice comes from a place of anger, rage and regret. But, for the past few weeks it’s been different.

My mood is lighter. I’m more playful. Full of hope. Confident. Sure.

My ideas are becoming clearer, simpler and doable. I’ve been more productive and less stressed.

The following combination seems to be working for me.

  • Stop frequently to check in with yourself. Breathe mindfully. Look around and enjoy the here and now.
  • Track everything that’s important. Block out everything that’s not.
  • Keep running lists.
  • Cull Weekly and
  • Ask Better Questions

Strategies & Ways to Help Anxiety

Keeping a Journal has Been the Key to my Transformation.

A journal helps you see blind spots in your daily routines, so you can identify time sucks and eliminate them.

My NOT to Do List grows daily. And best of all, I’ve been able to create my own set of rules for how my day operates, but not in as controlling as it may seem.

This process helps me stay focused and get clear on what really matters to me, and what I want to contribute to the world.

Over time, I imagine that I will actually stick those rules ;).

Your Journal Doesn’t Lie.

When you centralize all your notes, ideas and insights for a weekly review, clarity becomes your modus operandi.

  • You find your flow.
  • Discover your productivity zones.
  • Stop taking on more than you can handle at any given time.

Whenever I “get into” anything I go all out.

It boarders obsession, I love to fully immerse myself in the concepts.

Keeping a Journal is no exception.

On my search for better examples of a journal habit, I discovered that many people throughout history have sworn by a daily journal.

Great men and women throughout the ages have kept a journal of some sort.

One person, Sir Richard Branson, is somewhat notorious for carrying his journal around with him.

He takes notes about everything.

He’s adjusted his business strategies, life strategies and mission throughout the years based on his quiet time with pen in hand.

I couldn’t find specific details about what he writes in it. Somehow, my brain kept coming back to the thought,

What’s in one of his notebooks?

So, I asked my self a series of questions to help discover the reason behind my newfound obsession with Sir Richard Branson’s Notebook.

  • WHY do you want to know? Then,
  • WHY is that important to you? (Always start with WHY?)
  • What difference will knowing it make?
  • Do you REALLY, REALLY need to know?
  • How can you make it happen?

And shortly after that inner conversation, this tweet when into cyberspace

Richard-Branson1Ok, first off, how cool is that shit?

Second, did you notice that question!?

Now that’s a powerful question.

You can apply that question to every area of your life so you can make better decisions with your time, energy and focus.

“How will it make a positive difference?”

BOOM! Billion dollar question.

If you can’t find the answer, then you’re looking in the wrong direction.

Keep looking.

And Cull.

Cull is my new favorite word.

Over the next few weeks, my focus is going to get narrower and narrower.

If you’re a Facebook buddy, don’t be alarmed.

I’m ok.

More than ok in fact, I just have some things to get done.

Oddly enough, while taking a break from writing this article, I hopped into a forum for writers and saw a post about the Book Essentialism.

I’ve yet to read it, but Kevin Rogers, the Owner/Operator of CopyChief, shared a video that persuaded me to add the book next on my amazon wishilist. Feel free to gift it. I prefer actual books. 😉  Already bought it and read it! You should too. But, you can still click on the link and gift me a book from my Wishlist.

The forum discussion, linked to a few videos of speeches by the author Greg McGowen.

Essentialism goes hand and hand with my newfound favorite word:

I’ll leave you with this, you and I are give a finite number of moments.

It’s important to live a life well lived, however you define that. It’s equally important to look back during your last few moments and smile at a life well lived. And to be honest, I have some making up to do.

The last few years of my life scrolled by.

I projected my sense of being into Facebook (hoping for likes). I’ve been lost in my inbox. Searched for magic buttons to relieve problems of my own making.

I’ve been in mastermind after mastermind.

Planned things to exact detail that never made it off the white board. (outlined several books, started and stopped six businesses).

It’s easy to let yourself get carried away by anxiety, and just as easy to feel buried by depression.

But, good there seems to be good in most situations.

I met my girlfriend through Facebook. My close friend and business partner through twitter. Found Mentors, books and programs just when I needed them thanks to Google.

It’s all about balance.

Armed with your notebook and a few good questions, you will make the changes you want to make.

Day by day, a little at a time, your life will change.

This next video is last installment of Get Stoked TV: filmed sometime near February 2014.

The video covers:

  • How to Use the “If then… ” visualization technique to help you build your habits one tiny habit at a time.
  • 2 Different types of Cues that habits are built around. You can pick either one to help you create healthier habits.
  • My goal for Get Stoked TV, is now the goal for Soul Surfer School
  • Brene Brown’s TedTalk about Failure, Shame, and how it ripped into my soul, made me cry for 15 minutes and shifted some gears in my head.
  • A Gift of Imperfection Course on
  • The two stories I mention in the video are MIA. Sorry!!
  • I still want this to be your happiest year yet.

My hypothesis is that had I practiced the following 5 things last year, today’s post would be a very different conversation.

  1. Know exactly what you want…. Why you want it… and examine your beliefs around that topic.
  2. Ask yourself better questions all throughout the day.
  3. Keep track of important things. (Time Spent on What) (Money in) (Money Out) (Word Count) (New Creations) (New Ideas) (Things You Want) (Things to AVOID)
  4. Find your ONE thing and DO it every day.
  5. Limit the time you allow yourself to work.

That last one we’ll discuss next week, when I go over:

How to Build  Power of Rituals and Routines that Make Getting More out of Life Second Nature

If you want to be in on that conversation, let me know.

This is part 5 of an 8-part Series:

How to Stop Overthinking and Unlock Your Happiness Now

Part 1: The Over View to Happiness 101 and a Little About Me

Part 2:  My Favorite Coping Mechanism to Overcome Stress and Anxiety.

Part 3: The Key to Achieving Personal Goals isn’t What I Thought.

Part 4: [You Are Here] Get More Done in Less Time with this Old School Tool.

Part 5: [coming soon] Rituals and Routines that Make Getting More out of Life Second Nature.

Part 6: [coming soon] What are Your Keystone Habits?

Part 7: [coming soon] Know when to Stay the Course and When to Pivot because Time is too Precious to Waste.

Part 8: [coming soon]  How to be Fluid and Calm During Challenging Times so that You Can Get More Out of Life.

Ways to Help Anxiety

About The Author


Hi, I'm Tim McAuley the founder of Soul Surfer School where I help people learn how to get out of their own way so they can create the life they deserve by sharing proven techniques to create better habits so they can do the work to actually deserve the life of their dreams.

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