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Sam Davidson's blog

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Posts in Time
Protect Thy Calendar

I protect my calendar more than I protect my wallet.

While certain fiscal experts may take umbrage, I've always found there is more money to be made. But, there is yet any more time that can be created.

I schedule meetings and even calls. Yes - if you dial me up, it may very well go to voicemail and I'll return your message via email so we can set up a time to talk. No, it's not sexy, but to me, what's scheduled is sacred.

As Annie Dillard reminds us so well:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.

I can't get back these hours and this hour matters because I'm trading in the opportunity to do something else. 

So when you want to see what matters to me, please check my Google Calendar.

Editing Your Life

As I read through this link-bait article on "104 Ways to Boost Your Energy," I'm reminded by how much misery or stress in our own lives could be eliminated by us merely taking charge and reclaiming the time and space to be ourselves.

Check it out - from the article, here are all the suggestions that have to do with editing or getting rid of something in our lives that isn't beneficial and that could be contributing to our own lethargy or unhappiness:

  • 28. No email first thing in the morning
  • 40. Do less
  • 42. Eliminate advertisements
  • 43. Limit use of electronics
  • 44. Say no
  • 46. Shorten emails
  • 51. Buy less packaging
  • 65. Take a news fast
  • 74. Release fear

The beauty, of course, is that all of these can be taken out of our lives with simple initiative. None of them require major surgery, large investments, or even years of our lives.

They just require the will to act.

Which will you eliminate this week?

What a 16-Year-Old Can Teach You About Work and Life

What Tavi Gevinson has done with her personal brand and the brand of her website/publishing empire is nothing short of astounding. Making her success even more remarkable is her age, accomplishing all this at just 16.

In every interview I read about her, I continue to be impressed by her wisdom, work ethic, outlook, and values.

Case in point: this piece she did with Adweek. Go read the whole interview; it's fantastic.

One of the highlights for me is this take on not looking back. I think it applies to creatives:

There were a lot of comparisons made between Sassy and Rookie. How do you think you speak to your readers vs. how Sassy did in the ’90s? 
Our medium allows us to put out more content, which means putting out more points of view. I haven’t looked at my issues of Sassy since before I started Rookie just because I thought Rookie needed to have its own life. And it’s hard to compare because we have a lot more leeway. We don’t really have to please advertisers the way that a print magazine did.

Or her opinion on balance, passion, and work:

Outside of Rookie and going to school, do you even have time for a personal life?
Yeah! After I get off the phone with you, my boyfriend’s coming over [laughs]. I just don’t really have time to slack off, which is fine, because I feel really unhappy when I’m idle or when I procrastinate. Everything that I do is either something that I love or necessary to doing something that I love. There’s a lot of decision making, but for the most part, I’ve kind of figured out a way to do everything I want without exhausting myself. 

Read the full piece here.

Getting Slower

The default state of the world is speed. The quest to do things these days, whether it's flip a company, travel to an island, or make a bunch of widgets is the continual quest to do it all more quickly than someone else.

"How long will it take?" seems to be more important than "Is it worth it?" or "Does this matter?"

I've started slowing down my mornings. And my evenings.

I rise early, but no longer is my morning pursuit about speed, seeing how many emails I can answer before daybreak. My mornings are about the slow creation of content, the slow sipping of coffee, and the slow intake of wisdom I find online or in books.

At coffee last week, I had the luxury of slowness. My schedule was open all morning, so I sat and talked with new friends and didn't worry about what was next. We talked about parenting, travel, marriage, God - the stuff of slow conversations, topics that if rushed lose any sort of meaningful application.

It's spring here and the days are slow as the sun takes its time before setting in the evening. Nature doesn't rush, you know. So my family enjoys the slow preparation of meals and the slow stroll around the block after eating or the slow drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. Besides, there's no point in rushing a three-year-old through anything.

Slow is our natural state. That's why we humans do very poorly when things get faster. We make mistakes, overlook important processes, and neglect crucial things that take time to grow: gardens, relationships, legacies, community.

By making time in the mornings for things like toast I find I have more time the rest of the day, during those supersonic periods called workdays, where deadlines matter and efficiency is king. I'm rested and focused and can tackle a to-do list with prowess, knowing that my tango with quickness will eventually come to a close when I drive to school to pick up my daughter and slow time begins. The clock may have part of my day, but not all of it.

The earth will not spin faster or slower based on our rushing around or our napping. She rotates over and over, not asking if she's going too fast or we'd like to skip a turn.

We, too, need that methodical movement, something that both pulls and pushes us toward what's next, all the while understanding that the quest for speed is a foolish one, especially compared to the time-intensive quest for being. 

That Thing You Do

As it turns out, if you want to be known for that thing you do, you don't have to do it all the time. The best poets, carpenters, leaders, and teachers are also wives, dog walkers, vacationers, and parishioners.

There's more to life than what we do, but we can get caught up so much in our doing that we neglect our being. I often have to keep this at the forefront of my mind, especially as I work on Leadership Does. All of our doing - even doing the important things that leaders must do - is for naught if it's not also making us better people.

Do what you want, but only if it allows you to become who you must.

Got a goal? Shut up about it.

I had a little trepidation announcing my new book project yesterday. With a public announcement comes public accountability (due to public expectation). Conventional thinking tells us that if a friend or stranger can hold us to a public goal, we'll be more likely to make it happen.


Maybe not. Check out this quick video of Derek Sivers telling you why you may want to keep your mouth shut when it comes to sharing some big goal (h/t to Kneale Mann):

We all have the Facebook friend who's running a marathon, on a diet, starting a business, traveling the world, writing a book, recording an album, looking for a soulmate, building a house, going back to school - the list is nearly endless. Our timelines and Twitter feeds are full of well-intentioned individuals out to change their lives and even the world.

But, many fall flat. I've seen company ideas never make it out of the bar they were dreamed up in, fitness plans collapse on the first day of rising early, books end before words are even put on a page, job searches stall before a single resume is sent out, and grad school dreams die before writing a personal essay.

And so with some trepidation, I still decided to share my book plans, mainly because I didn't wait to begin the work until after a public announcement. My Evernote is chock full of snippets, outlines, cover ideas, promotional plans, and chapter samples. In other words, I've been hard at work - the announcement was merely a strategic part of this work process.

Do you have a big goal? Then get to work and save the announcement. Do this for the reasons Sivers shares in the video, but also do it because we don't want our social networks (digital and tangible) littered with the remnants of best laid plans.

We'd much rather have our lives full of completed projects that matter.

Now shut up and get back to work.

Beauty Should Give You Pause

I landed in Vegas, grabbed a burger, and then pointed my rental south toward Kingman. The high winds and low sun made the driving interesting, especially as I flipped through limited radio stations for a song I could hum along to as I surveyed this last great American wilderness.

Driving south on 93 you'll only find pop-up gas stations and a few other shops, all set close to the road while the carved mountains and rocky terrain provides a consistent backdrop. "This is where Cars was filmed," you think to yourself before you remember that Cars was drawn and designed in an air conditioned studio near other air conditioned studios. 

And as the sun sank lower, I noticed a pullover spot with a sign that read simply: Scenic View.

I had time on my side so I pulled over. "Let's see what's so scenic about this view," I said to myself as I parked, hopped out, and walked to the overlook.

And then I saw this:

photo (9).jpg

The Colorado River cutting so slenderly through the mountain pass, the sun falling lower into the sky, the wind blowing my hands and hair as I steadied my phone for a picture.

I pressed the camera button, which is a touch ironic since the average camera today doesn't look like a camera anymore, but rather like a phone.

And I took a seat.

Beauty should do this to you. It should give you pause.

Striking beauty, be it in nature, in a story, in a person's face, in a song, or in a scientific discovery should make you stop whatever it is you're doing. Beauty is so important that it should make other things less important.

This is how you know when the beautiful has arrived: It rips you out of your routine and forces you to question why you were going so fast in the first place. Our quest to do more and do it all more quickly is proven a foolish one; our quest should be to find more beauty in our world.

A beautiful woman walks in the room and you see if you need to reset your watch because you swear time stood still. You let your phone buzz or blink and ignore it because your child is telling you about her day at school and what she found on the playground and do you have a place to put the treasure map she's drawing and when will it be bathtime and tonight let's put bubbles in the tub. You press repeat on the playlist because that third song gets you every time. Tears roll down your face at the wedding while she dances with her dad to the perfect song and it feels like it's just you and those two in the room and you want your daughter to stay three forever but maybe it's okay if she gets bigger if it leads to a dance like that for you, too. The golf shot, the homerun, the dunk, the backhand volley, the photo finish, the Ironman stories, the guy who pushes his son in a wheelchair in every race, those who scale Everest, those who would dare break barriers - it's all arrestingly beautiful and if we don't stop, we'll miss it.

Don't miss out on beauty. If you do, you'll miss out on life.

Because - as they say - life is beautiful.

TimeSam DavidsonComment
Investing in Yourself

Investment can be a great - but risky - way to create wealth. Whether you want to speculate in commodities, put some money in mutual funds, or write a check to a start-up, investing via ownership can make you lots of money (or cause you to lose it).

Of course, doing nothing creates nothing. While stockpiling cash under a mattress means you probably won't lose it if a company goes under, that money won't be making more money, either.

It's up to you whether or not to invest, but there's one entity that not investing in will make things worse - yourself.

Each of us has ample chances to invest in ourselves. A college degree, continuing education, conference attendance, reading books, sharing ideas, networking - these are all chances to invest in ourselves.

Each opportunity costs money, but if they cause your asset - you - to appreciate, it's money well spent.

Every year, I invest in myself and spend money and time meeting people, traveling, producing videos, and buying advertising so that I can get more speaking gigs, build my network, and grow the depth and breadth of my business. I consider it all an investment and so far, the returns are great.

I also love to see when companies invest in themselves, especially companies I'm a part of. That's why I want to turn your attention now to this job posting from CAMPUSPEAK, the agency that represents me when I speak to college students.

CAMPUSPEAK has posted an entry-level sales job, working in a fun environment with people and a business that makes a difference. You get to live in Colorado. You'll learn a lot. And best of all, you're working with a company that will invest in you. You can know this because it's willing to invest in itself by spending money on a position like this, growing its team so it can keep doing what it's doing well.

Learn more about the job and if it's right for you, apply.

And let this be a lesson that the companies worth working for are those willing to do what it takes to grow, get better, and be around for a very long time. Any company - or person - not willing to invest in itself is one you should be cautious of because its best days are behind it.

How to Simplify Your Life (video)

Last week, I had the please of leading a webinar in conjunction with GiftWorks, a company that creates software that helps nonprofits succeed.

I led a discussion about how nonprofit executives, managers, and employees can simplify their lives at work and at home and why we all need better integration of work and life.

The session was recorded and you can watch it below. You'll see my slides and hear my voice, walking you through why basing a life around your values matters and some ways you can start to do this. I also take questions at the end, and there were some great ones.

So, grab some popcorn and press play. Best of luck simplifying your life in 2013!

Time, WorkSam DavidsonComment
Where is work?

A few weeks ago, Kivi Leroux Miller posted an infographic detailing how we're all working when we're not at work. While I love the ease and convenience of technology, the facts in the infographic are stark:

  • Just 3% of people say they don't work while on vacation
  • A whopping 98% of workers send emails on nights and weekends
  • And almost 60% of us make business decisions at home

The trick, of course, is to stay balanced. If checking email on vacation lets you actually spend time away from an office for longer, then go for it. If you can attend to pressing personal matters during a typical work day because you can make up for lost time after the kids go to bed, then kudos.

But just because we can work from anywhere doesn't mean we have to work from everywhere. Check out more info in this video:

What do you think?

Is work just a state of mind now? And if so, is that a good thing?

Time, Family, WorkSam DavidsonComment