I have been tutoring a very personable high school junior for the past few months. A few days ago I was FaceTiming him and his mother (I was out of town and he needed a tutoring session) and they both said the same thing. “Kevin, you are ALWAYS grinding. How do you do it?” I laughed it off, but they were right. For privacy concerns I will not go into the details of the situation, but the circumstances of my situation were such that most people would not be worried about tutoring, or working, or “grinding”. He proceeded to tell me he was jealous that I was able to grind so hard all the time.
That struck me as odd. “Why are you jealous? No one is keeping you from ‘grinding’. If you want it, go get it. The only thing stopping you, is you.”
When I say grind, I mean maximize your time. Optimizing each moment, most often in the form of work, but also in the form of play. For those of you who follow my Instagram, you know I have been traveling a lot, most recently on an amazing vacation to South Africa with my significant other. The other half is working as intensely as possible to maximize productivity. When you grind like this, each moment is optimized. Play time is truly relaxing and rejuvenating and work time is incredibly productive, rewarding, and draws you back for more (yes, I actually enjoy my work).
But not many people grind. Why? It comes down to:
1) Grinding is scary, uncomfortable, uncertain, and usually not very “fun”. I use “fun” with quotations because work can actually be incredibly enjoyable once you gain some momentum – it just does not provide the immediate gratification of more traditional forms of play.
2) Grinding requires effort. It’s easier to just sit and watch a TV show or grab drinks with friends. Maximizing your time requires more focus, energy, and commitment.
My life philosophy boils down to the finite nature of time. All of us have limited time on Earth. None of us know how long we truly have, but we can almost all agree that it is surely not long enough. If I’m ever unsure of how I want to spend time, I bring this into consideration. Remembering that we are going to die can be one of our greatest motivators. If you have reason to believe you will die younger than average, consider yourself lucky – the fire under your ass will burn even hotter. Life quality over quantity.
For example, right now I’m on a plane that should be departing soon to Berlin (for my part 2 vacation). Our flight was delayed by 2 hours, and once we were leaving the gate the smell of jet fuel permeated the cabin. We’re still grounded and maintenance is figuring out what is going on – we’re now at 3 hours delayed. Looking around, most people have opted for TV shows or games to pass the time until we take off (and there is nothing wrong with doing that if you are deliberate with your decisions and how you want to spend your time). However, I do not feel that is a good use of my time. In fact, a few years ago I created a rule for myself. If I’m on a plane, I will either 1) work (traditional studying, research, etc), 2) sleep (sleep is necessary and a good use of time when stuck on a plane) or 3) read enriching books (currently on Grit by Angela Duckworth). That means no TV, no games, no nonsense. Chatting with friendly strangers is, however, a good use of time as it allows you to expand your mind and cultivate positivity.
You may now be thinking how this mindset sucks the fun out of life, is too limiting, etc. I would argue otherwise. Flights no longer feel like a time drain. I feel productive, happy, and reinvigorated rather than drained and irritable. Now imagine applying this to other aspects of your life – maximizing your time, whether work or play, in every moment. It’s incredibly liberating and exciting – I urge you to try it, and let us know how it goes for you. You’ll wish you tried it sooner.