Here are some of the highlights from our discussion:
We should try to approach our personal lives with more of a business mindset. Thinking in a business mindset encourages us to value our resources in terms of tracking our time, tracking the value of our time and evaluating whether the relative return on investment is positive based on your own outcome measures, mission statements, metrics and goals. Business modes of thinking are characterised by valuing time and return on investments and trying to optimise for deploying your resources most effectively.
In business you also approach things in terms of systems and processes which would equally be a helpful approach to adopt in our personal lives. Systems can be seen as a collection of habits but they are key in relation to automating actions in our personal life. James Clear discusses the value of focussing on systems in his book Atomic Habits. Whilst goals are good for setting direction, systems are better for making progress and system-thinking will ensure more sustainable progress in the long-term.
But there is a strong bias in society against having systems in your personal life. There is a pervasive narrative that the more systematic you are, the more robotic you are especially if you have systematised what many people assume to be spontaneous ordinarily. Many of the systems and processes that we have in business are seen as strange in our personal lives but they could add value. For example, taking notes in meetings is seen as essential but making notes about what was discussed at a social interaction is somewhat frowned upon when, in reality, having a record of these conversations might enable you to have more lasting memories of the interaction.
The systems that translate from business to personal life most clearly are calendars and to-do lists. Calendars are incredibly important for personal productivity and time management whereas to-do lists can help to keep structure and purpose to our days. The reason that people run into problems with to-do lists is that many people fail to trust the system enough. One of the key insights from David Allen’s seminal book is that when you have a to-do list you need to put everything that’s on your mind on that list and completely offload your own brain. Ali adopted this technique a few years ago and he’s noticed how it feels like a physical load has been lifted off his shoulders.
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