"Wow, it's really been a while since I've had the time to sit down and write a blog post."
What a pleasant trap it would be for me to fall into, if I actually believed that sentence above. I could use the same format to justify just about anything: "I'm too busy to learn anything new about my craft", "I'm too busy to spend time with my wife in the evenings", "I'm too busy to keep up with technological advances", etc, etc.
But I don't believe it, not at all. Working on a startup is hard, no doubt, and it consumes a lot of time; but it certainly does not preclude any other activity besides work. If I allow that to happen, it's only because I myself choose to not make time for other things that are important to me, and mostly it's because I'm wasting time in other areas of my work. Want an example? Here's a common one for me:
I'm working on a new feature for my product, and I hit a snag. Unsure of the best way to solve my problem, I fire up my browser and google for similar examples. As long as I've got my browser open, I open a 2nd tab to check my email, and a 3rd tab to examine my RSS aggregator, just to see if anything has come up. If I have any new emails, I'll probably go ahead and read and respond to them, and then I'll read the 2 or three news articles or blog posts that have showed up in my RSS client, and THEN I'll take a look at the google results to my query. POW! I just lost half an hour of time that I didn't need to spend right then (yes, I know email can be important, but nobody needs to check their email 14 times a day; anything urgent enough should result in a phone call).
So after 12-14 hours of "work", I've probably only spent 7 hours actually producing. Of course, by that time, I've lost the majority of the day, and whatever's left I'm forced to use for other daily tasks (feeding pets, feeding me, paying bills, etc). Now, am I really "too busy" to do anything else, or am I being a poor steward of my time?
I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious; I'm wasting a lot of time.
Time is a resource both abundant, and precious. Until the day you die, you will always have more time; but by the same token you cannot HELP but spend it. You can't be conservative with your time during one month, and then splurge another; you will spend the 16 hours you have in a day on SOMETHING whether you intend to or not.
So my feeling is, if you're going to spend that precious resource so freely, shouldn't you at least be benefiting from it? Shouldn't you choose to spend it on activities that are meaningful, rather than on admitted "time wasters"?
In light of the above revelation, I have modified my approach to my day as follows:
-I spend at least 8 hours of the day working.
-During my "work" time (which I take in 90-120 minute intervals), I work hard. I don't check my email, or browse the blogosphere; I take care of business.
-I have several goals I want to accomplish throughout any given day, and I use my breaks between work periods for doing so:
--1/2 hour of physical exercise
--1/2 hour of honing my craft (technical research or code-reading)
--1/2 hour of studying Russian (the language)
--1/2 hour of musical practice (piano, usually)
Altogether (work plus goals), that's 10 hours, less than I usually spend in a workday, but infinitely more rewarding. After only being on this plan for a week, I can highly recommend it to anyone who feels "too busy". The rewards of taking ownership of your time are best described by a shedding of the general malaise that is an all-too-common part of American office culture. So if I were you, I would stop reading this blog post and go do something you'll be proud of when the day is over.