by Niall Doherty

After traveling solo for almost a year and a half, it’s been cool to live with a bunch of friends the past few weeks in Bangkok. One of the biggest benefits of living with other people is seeing up close how they manage their lives. Inevitably you discover that they do a lot of things better than you.

Living with Anthony, Johnny and Will, it’s become undeniable that I’m simply way too busy much of the time. I already knew that I needed to lighten my schedule, but seeing how those guys manage their work lives and can take extended time away from their businesses while still earning much more money than me… well, I feel like a virgin living amongst porn stars (you’re welcome, fellas).

Three of the four horsemen: Myself, Will and Anthony at a Snoop Dogg concert in Bangkok

Three of the four horsemen: Myself, Will and Anthony at a Snoop Dogg concert in Bangkok

One of my biggest priorities for the first quarter of 2013 is to automate much of my business and cut down on distractions. I hired an assistant a couple of weeks ago, which is already helping immensely. I also experimented with abandoning Twitter, turning off comments on the blog, and saying no to more things, like invitations to meet up with whoever sent me an email.

But not all of these changes are ideal. Recently I asked myself, would I mind responding to comments and meeting up with random people if I wasn’t so busy all the time? And the answer is no. Those are some of my favorite things to do. But when I’ve got a lot on my plate, something like “read and respond to latest comments” just feels like another chore on my to-do list, something getting in the way of life beyond the laptop. Same deal with chatting on Facebook or Skype. I stay signed out of online chats because I worry about getting distracted and spending even more time online than is necessary. Sometimes I’ll accidentally sign in to chat and someone might quickly say hi to me and I get all flustered and wonder how I can politely exit the conversation and return to getting shit done.

I realize now that it’s not these “distractions” that are the problem. The problem is mostly me. Or more specifically: my mindset, my attitude, my approach to work. I grew up learning that it’s good to be busy all the time, and I find it challenging not to feel lazy or irresponsible when I take time off. I have a hard time feeling like I deserve something if I haven’t worked long and hard to acquire it. So much so that I often deny myself easy wins. Not good.

So it’s a high-level mindset shift that I need. Not less distractions, or a better GTD system, or more hustle. And this is why I’m so grateful right now to be living with the guys I’m living with. Their mindsets and attitudes can’t help but rub off on me. Just a month in and I’m already feeling my brain being rewired.

Alright, two things for you, a lesson and a question…

  • They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, for better or worse. Take a good hard look at the lives of the people you spend the most time with. Do you want that type of life for yourself? If not, best start surrounding yourself with better models.
  • In the comments, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the busy mindset and its opposite. What do you think are the high-level differences between people who always feel rushed, versus people who seem to have plenty of time for everything? I’m not looking to identify tactics here (don’t tell me to try a different to-do app), but for your thoughts on the fundamental, psychological differences. How do busy people view the world compared to non-busy people?
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