Optimization Mindset

If you improved your life 1% every day, you would improve your life 3778% in a year. In other words, you would improve your life 38 times in a year with 1% improvements every day. Believe me, we all have 1% improvements in our lives, a lot of them, almost as much as 365.

“How would your life look like, if you improved it 38 times in the next 365 days?”

  • If you increased your income 38 times?
  • If you improved your health and fitness 38 times?
  • If you improved your social and romantic life 38 times?

“All of that is possible, if you commit to 1% daily improvements.”

Profile How You Use Your Time

My day job is software development. When we detect a performance problem in our software, we carry out a process called profiling. In the profiling process, we inspect the resources consumed by each part of the software. Once we have those results, we try to improve the performance of the part that consumes the most resources.

If you want to optimize your life, I recommend that you start with optimizing how you use your time. You can apply the profiling method to how you use your time. The best way to do that is to log your time usage for a week and then look for leaks in those logs.

“Log your time usage for a week and then look for leaks in those logs.”

I keep my time management profiling very simple. I divide a sheet of paper in 24 lines. Each line corresponds to an hour of the day. In each of these lines, I write down how I spend my time in that hour.

You will get lots of insights from the time use profiling exercise. You might find out that you spend four fifteen minute sessions per day on social media. That might not seem too much. If you do the math, that adds up to one hour a day, fifteen days a year, and a complete year in 24 years. Do you really want to wake up one day and find out that you have spent a full year of your life on social media?

My Own Regret

One of the things that I regret the most about my college years is that I spent most of my afternoons with the same friends in the same café. Socializing is great, but spending your time with the same people, in the same café, talking about the same things for four years is a huge waste of time. I could have socialized with different people, gone to another café, participated in clubs, learned and practiced extracurricular skills, started a business, worked in a part time job, and so on. All of these would be more beneficial than repeating the same afternoon for four years.

Evaluate the Results

Once you do the profiling exercise for a week and look at the results, you realize how much time you waste. You come across many 1% improvements. However, you might find it difficult to plug those time leaks. The best way to do that is to ask yourself the following question.

“What would be the best use of my time during that period?”

Plug the Leaks with Quality Activities

Suppose that you spend half an hour on social media on your after lunch dip. Ask yourself the following question. “What would be the best use of my time after lunch? What could I do in those thirty minutes?” Then make a list of all the activities that are more beneficial than surfing on the social media. I bet you can come up with at least a dozen activities that are more beneficial than surfing on the social media. During your next after lunch dip, just choose one of those activities and commit to it for thirty minutes. If you feel the urge to pick up your old habit, just remember that wasting an hour a day is wasting a complete year in 24 years. Who would want to waste a complete year in their lives?

Commit in Advance

The problem with our minds is that we cannot stay in a conscious mode for too long. We eventually switch to a more energy efficient, auto-pilot mode. That’s when our past habits and urges creep in. In order to prevent them from taking over control, you need to commit yourself to staying with your new habit and not give in to the old habit. Just promise to yourself at the start of those thirty minutes, that you will stick with your new habit and won’t give in to your urges.

Develop an Optimization Mindset

If you carry out the profiling exercise for an extended amount of time, you will develop an optimization mindset. You will go through your days looking around and searching for 1% improvements that you can execute immediately. When you internalize the optimization mindset and live your life accordingly, you will experience quantum leaps in your life, maybe not overnight but guaranteed within a year.

Don’t forget that 1% improvements a day result in a 38 times improvement a year.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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