Thanks to Kait Curran Palmer for the Photo.

I guess everyone want to be a little more carefree in life or at least look like it to other people. I am also sure that many of us are just the slightest bit jealous of those that seem to be very carefree, especially those that are also seem to have done everything as well at the same time as being annoyingly carefree.

The Carefree Secret

Well here is a little secret. If you analyze a lot of successful carefree people you will find that actually underlying this happy go lucky surface is usually a very systematic and process driven structure for achievement. Sneaky I know but before you go out and lynch them I want to share some insights into this underlying structure that can be adapted to you own life.

Appear Carefree Through Carefully Planned Systems

Personally I am an avid promoter of systems, especially ones which are used to structure the repetitive tasks in your life allowing you to appear more care free and spontaneous on the surface. Systems are great for saving time, removing stress and being productive.

If you asked anyone who knew me for a short or long period of time they would generally be more than readily enthusiastic in highlighting how rarely I seem to plan things and generally act in very spontaneous ways and seem to drift through life in a very carefree manner, rarely letting issues or problems derail me. This is a great brand and one that I strive to develop every day but is also easy to achieve.

What also surprises people most is that under this carefree, devil may care approach to life I actually do an incredible amount of stuff and get through far more workload than most. I owe this mainly to the systems and processes in life that I am constantly honing and tweaking to allow me to get the very most out of each and every hour I invest while still living a great spontaneous life.

It is all down to Structure and Systems

It is all down to how I structure the day to day running of my life so that I can focus on the unexpected turns of the journey. After all, that is where the real fun happens and I want to have as much time available to me to enjoy LIFE.

To help paint a picture of the systems I use to make my life easier I have highlighted some everyday ones below.

Systems I Use To Free Time And Be Productive

  • I always check email, blogs, social and stats once a day in the morning – NEVER more than once.
  • I Always backup work once before shutting down in the evening. ALWAYS last thing in the evening so I don’t feel tempted to wait for 10-15 minutes till it completes so that I can work.
  • I Leave Saturdays unplanned to finish off any outstanding work. If there is nothing to finish, then I take the day off. This gives an added incentive to complete all my work during the usually Mon-Fri.
  • I use my 7Life system to structure my days to ensure that I am getting the key tasks I need done to achieve the vision I have for my life and the goals to get there as well as factoring in time for a social life, entertainment and continued learning.
  • I worked out that I operate most effectively on 6 hours sleep so I have timer that ensures I get exactly 6 hours a night. If there is a deposit at the end of the week I catch up on Sunday.
  • When I travel, I travel light with a single rucksack and I have a place for every article and I know everything I have an where to find it. This saves untold amounts of time when I don’t have to constantly check every pocket to  find something make sure I haven’t left anything.
  • I always keep my wallet, phone and ipod in separate pockets and always the same ones so there is no fumbling around. I also place them in the same place and the same order when not in my pockets. I have never lost my wallet, phone or ipod in years because of this system. While in India I have adapted the system and now always carry a few rupees in my back left pocket to give to the beggars in passing instead of fumbling around my wallet.
  • I spend exactly 1 hour on almost all blog posts – 30 Minutes to Skeleton and Flesh out the post, 15 minutes to skin and 15 minutes to polish. I time box it with a Countdown timer.
  • I work in 2 hour productive pies. 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break, 25 minutes etc as studies have been shown that this is the most effective way of working. Generally I do two pies a day, one in the morning and one in the evening focussing on just 2 key things I need to get accomplished.
  • In any given day I tend to focus an hour on reading, four hours on 2 key “Work” tasks, another two hours on a non work related task, around an hour on “Housekeeping” and the rest of the time on entertainment and social activities. It works well for me.
  • Sundays are for organizing, improving systems and washing etc. I don’t work on a Sunday as I believe a day of rest per week is essential to a happy and productive life. On Sundays I like to spend time alone, organize my room, improve the systems and sort out washing as well as catch up on some reading, watch some movies and spend a few hours planning the next week and update my ipod with new podcasts. Basically relax and take some time off.

Developing Your Own Systems For Success

These are just some of the systems that I use and are they are constantly adapted and tweaked depending on the situation. Hopefully they give an indication of how being structured and systematic on the back end of life allows you be appear more carefree and spontaneous on the front end.

You no doubt have your own systems to a degree and I would suggest developing more to help reduce the time and effort that does into running your life on a daily basis so that you can dedicate more time to focussing on what is really important to you in life.

19 Comments

  • February 16, 2010 Reply

    Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick

    Ha! Isn’t it funny how being structured is seen as a way to kill freedom when in reality it gives you more freedom? That’s one misconception busted right here. Living in the moment all the time, with no plans, priorities or structures is a sure recipe to get nowhere.

    • February 17, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      True words Eduard. Structure does bring with it a tremendous amount of freedom because it helps you to focus and stop wasting time saving more of it for what is really important in your life.

  • February 16, 2010 Reply

    Liz @ Extreme Telecommute

    I’m with you on the specific pockets for each gadget! There’s trouble when something is not where it should be. :) Great tips–I have the tendency to spend too much time being overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks on my to-do list and not enough time actually doing them. Maybe I’ll put them to work.

    • February 17, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hi Liz, Welcome to the site, great to have you hear and glad that the tips helped. I find focussing on anymore than 3 major tasks everyday means very little gets done but if I focus on two big “pies” as I call them and one small “pie” a day I end up having a very productive week.

  • February 16, 2010 Reply

    Nathan Schmitt

    Link to the rucksack you use? I’m going to start traveling in the relatively near future and am going to start looking around for the best supplies. Also, if you haven’t read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts (though chances are you have), it’s awesome and I think you’d really like it.

    • February 17, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hi Nathan,

      Yeah a read Vagabonding and was also incredibly impressed by it. The bag I use is a 34 litre NorthFace Big Shot. http://tinyurl.com/y8pqk6f. It’s on the pricy side but I usually invest in the long term and plan to have it for many many years across varied climates and terrains and so needed something reliable. Highly recommend it mate.

  • February 17, 2010 Reply

    Adrian

    I definitely need to be more systematical..thanx for this post. Still, it’s all about discipline, which most of us people lack! :)

    • February 18, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      That is true Adrian however what many people fail to realise is that discipline is easily developed when taken in small steps.

  • February 18, 2010 Reply

    Ash

    You’re so dreamy.

    I like this idea, although I have a feeling I’d start to rebel against my own systems. I’m really bad with feeling obligated to do something for only X amount of time–even though this would absolutely help me, in most cases.

    Show off. :p

    • February 20, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hello Wifey,

      Lol, showing off is all I have to offer. As it happens I am actually rebelling against my own systems this week and taking a break from being structure and from time to time it is awesome to be completely useless as I can now enjoy the Indian sunshine now. When are we meeting up then?

      Btw, love the new site design. I am jealous and now will have to rebrand to compete.

  • February 18, 2010 Reply

    Gleamer

    You don’t have any kids, do you.

    • February 20, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Lol, that is true Gleamer and thanks for visiting thelifething.

      I don’t have any kids but if one does, all the more reason to get structured and make more time for them.

  • March 21, 2010 Reply

    Nate

    What is this 7Life system you refer to?

    • March 21, 2010 Reply

      Nate

      Never mind. I see you explain it on one of your other posts. I’m new here, sorry. Good stuff.

      • March 22, 2010 Reply

        Jonny

        No problem my friend, feel free to look around.

  • April 9, 2010 Reply

    Brian Gerald

    I’m a big advocate of systems and repetition too so I enjoy learning what others are using. Thanks for sharing.

    • April 9, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hi Brian,

      Systems and repetition is part of my geeky makeup although I try to keep it quite with the ladies, it is not as big a turn on as one might expect.

      Thanks for the comment and I like the design of your site. Very in your face but easy to navigate.

  • April 10, 2010 Reply

    Jordi Franken

    Hey Jonny,

    Good post, enjoyed it.

    I wanted to recommend a book for further reading if people want to know more about the state of flow. Maybe you’ve already read it:

    The book is called “Flow” (conveniently) and is written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (try to pronounce that the first time). I really enjoyed the book and the writer is brilliant in my opinion.

    Cheers

    • April 10, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hi Jordi,

      I am pretty sure I have speed read flow once before. From what I vaguely remember it was a good read, perhaps I will go back and have another flick through.

      Thanks for the added value mate and thanks for the comment.

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