Welcome to Cloudlandia

Ep119: Mastering Time Management

February 7th, 2024

In today’s episode of Welcome To Cloudlandia, Dan and I reflect on the lost art of letter writing and how corresponding through history has helped shape our podcasting discussions across time.

We speak about the meaningful routines that have guided creative minds, from the structured elegance of Victorian letters to our own cherished Sunday rituals.

We also explore memory-boosting techniques like visualization and repetition, applying them to maximizing focus and managing time efficiently through life’s challenges. The discussion spotlights approaches for evaluating routines that enhance well-being as work dynamics evolve, touching on parallels with societal shifts like the Great Depression.


  • Dean reflects on the joy of podcast recordings and the historical significance of letter-writing, drawing parallels between Victorian correspondence and modern podcasting.
  • Dan discusses the role of structured routines in creative individuals' lives throughout history, including segmented sleep schedules influenced by lighting and caffeine.
  • We explore the ABC questions as a tool for personal growth, helping to identify challenges that lead to immediate development when addressed.
  • Dan compares time management to a strategic investment, emphasizing focused work sessions and revisiting effective past habits for increased productivity.
  • We examine the impact of COVID-19 on workplace habits and the lasting effects, akin to those experienced during the Great Depression.
  • Dean highlights the SELF acronym for personal efficiency and discusses the changes in commuting and work relationships due to the pandemic.
  • Dan emphasizes the importance of aligning with one's natural rhythms post-retirement and the significance of consistent sleep schedules for overall well-being.
  • We delve into the life game analogy, illustrating the impact of 'crowding out' bad habits with good ones for a harmonious existence.
  • Dean discusses the importance of delegation and efficiency in daily routines, sharing his meal planning strategy that ensures balanced nutrition and time-saving.
  • Dan speaks on being selective about new habits at his age, focusing only on those that will last or reinforce existing beneficial habits.
  • Links:



    (AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)

    Dean: Mr Sullivan.

    Dan: I'm Mr Jackson.

    Dean: You know, I look at my calendar and I get this little ding on my phone that tells me we're coming up to podcasts with Dan, and it's always this little spur of joy that comes over me and I wonder where will our adventures take us today?

    Dan: Yeah, it's a tough bet.

    Dean: I'm guessing it's going to be somewhere wonderful and I'm betting on that. Yeah, yes.

    Dan: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know it's a nice structure because, other than my podcast with you, sunday's not a very interesting day for me.

    Dean: Exactly. It's the highlight of the day and we've picked a good time.

    Dan: We've picked the perfect time.

    Dean: It kind of invisibly, you know, non-obtrusive in the day, we get the morning kind of ease into it, and then right around now is when we start thinking, okay, what are we going to do today? And here it is, and then we've got the rest of the whole day after this.

    Dan: You know I read the last year a history of Victorian England. So this is basically 1830s till you know 1890s and 60 years, and there are people, you know very notable leaders and you know notable for other reasons, who would write up to 30 letters a day. Yes, and have them delivered by courier if they were in the city.

    Dean: Yes.

    Dan: If in London and there were some individuals that they wrote to virtually every day and then we get a return, yeah, and so the interest, the interesting thing about it is that the stain in touch with certain people and trading ideas goes back a long time.

    Dean: Yes.

    Dan: The UK probably had the first best postal service, you know which, and they had great courier services. Since I said, yes. And so our podcast is like sending a letter, you know, and, but you don't have to wait for the response.

    Dean: I really like that. You know, because all the way back you think about all of that. You know the back as far as we can see, even almost. You know, every book of the New Testament in the Bible is letters. It's, you know, letters to, to. You know Paul's letters to the Ephesians or to the Colossians or to that's. It's an interesting thing.

    I read a great book Richard Rossi turned me on to it years ago about the daily routines of notable people, like all the way back in time, and it was very interesting to see. You know, in the 1800s and the 1700s there, whatever is kind of known about the routines of, you know, different composers or writers or artists or whatever. It is pretty, pretty similar among creative people all across the board. They would, you know, they would kind of wake up and ease into the day with some coffee and you know, reading or whatever. Then they would do some, they would do some work and then they would break for lunch and maybe go for a walk and then do their. There was almost exclusively. They all did their correspondence where it was. You know what you were just talking about. They'd get their letters and they'd write their letters and that was the equivalent of.

    Dan: And read their letters. And read their letters.

    Dean: Yeah, read their letters and then in the evening they would meet with friends and you know and not, and then read or whatever before going to bed and they were pretty much typically all in bed Pretty early. That was the routine of the thing. Because there were less dopamine, I think was harder, you had to earn dopamine back then Right, yeah, yeah, I mean, I didn't get excited.

    Dan: What keeps you excited? Did you also you know, when you were reading about the letter writing habit to do also come across the fact, which I found interesting, that and this obviously would be, you know, upper class people, because it required light, but that they wouldn't sleep through the night, like they wouldn't go to bed and sleep. They would have couple of sleeping periods where they'd go to bed and then they'd get up in the middle of the night and required light. So they obviously could afford candles or oil lamps, and they would.

    They would spend a couple hours writing and reading and then they go back to bed for their second, for their second night time, did you?

    Dean: come across that I did a couple of a couple of times and that was, I think, a pretty common practice back when people would kind of go to bed with the sun right and as the sun went down they would kind of not long after that go to bed. But it wasn't I don't recall it being the most common thing because a lot of these people were I don't know when that practice. Actually I'm familiar with it. I'm not sure when it was popular and when it stopped.

    Dan: I think you had to have light you know, generally speaking, light was hard to come by. You know, one of the things that I'm always a bit irked about when they show, you know, movies that are historical movies, you know, in other words, they're dealing with a historical period and it's, you know, it's a palace or it's a castle or something, and it's right. There's hundreds of candles, you know, like hundreds of candles or there's fires?

    I don't think so. I think it was pretty dark. I think it was pretty dark. I mean, the biggest thing which created nighttime you know, awake nighttime for us was probably kerosene you know, which you could have kerosene lamps and then gas lamps, you know you had gas systems and yeah, where you didn't have to individually fill the. And, as a matter of fact, we were both in London over the during the last 10 years when they were digging up the entire city to replace gas lines have been put in the 1880s and 1890s.

    So it was they had been in the ground for 130 years and my sense is that there is a case to be made that it was lighting and also caffeine that created sort of like a second day for people. I just talked about a second night, second sleeping night, but also the all of a sudden when you had light available or places that had light and you had caffeine, people would work. You know, into the evening people would work. I think caffeine to a certain extent created productivity. You're not well you're a coffee drinker aren't you.

    Dean: I am. Yeah, I have coffee in the morning. Yeah, I'd say two o'clock is the latest, but primarily it's only in the morning.

    Dan: Yeah, I don't have anything after noon, after 12 noon. I don't have coffee, but you were talking about the habits of famous people Coffee was a good piece of it. I have a new tool I'm creating, you know, just to get people in touch with kind of things they always do without really reflecting on it. And it's called best lifetime habits. Okay, and generally speaking, a lifetime habit is a habit where you do it pretty well every day.

    Dean: Yes, and I think that's. I have some of those for sure, like everybody does. Yeah, and you know there's. The thing is like. I think it was you that once said nobody looks for new habits except for the ones they are already accustomed to, right?

    Dan: Once we already have.

    Dean: And for me I've, because it's constantly the fun game, you know, of trying to systemize your.

    You know, systemize things, look for the best way to, you know, be get as much happiness and productivity as you can out of your days and kind of go with the flow.

    I've really determined that my the flow, for me it really falls into zones and I remember I had a great conversation with Ned hollow well, and you know he was saying and I've shared this with you before that you know he was saying when you think about my days, like a bobsled run and set up the bobsled track that you get in at the top and it slides and winds you through the course and you end up at the end with touching all the touch points that you want kind of thing, and otherwise we end up going through the day like a toddler and a picnic.

    And that is absolutely true of me and I'm sure of you. So my hybrid of that, my most recent iteration, because I'm constantly evolving it, thinking okay, this is the you know, this is the new routine here. So my, I've been looking into zones and the thing that is absolutely true always and will continue to be true, is the constant of life moving at the speed of reality, 60 minutes per hour, seven days a week, you know, 24 hours a day. That whole thing is very that's a locked in place system that we can't nothing we can do about that. We can only move through that time in in real time.

    And so there are certain things I look at that my I try and set up my hybrid of the bobsled run is a compromise. That is like setting up a slalom run for skiers. You know when you go you have to go through certain gates. You know you have to go around this gate to get to the thing. So my basic things are setting it up, that I like to.

    If I set a constant of waking up at 7am, which is a natural and normal thing for me to do, I don't think there's any reason for a human to wake up at 5am. But you are different than me and that's a total different world, right? So I wake up at 7am, I can do that effortlessly without an alarm clock and it feels good, right? Then this first zone I look at, my next like gate that I'm trying to get to is 10am is the perfect time for me to do focused you know, focus finders 50 minute focused sessions from 10 o'clock till noon, and that's a big zone for me. That if I can steer everything to that, where I am in my the spot where I'm gonna do whatever, the optimal environment for my focused work is 10 to 12 is the perfect time for that. I've. Recently I went through with Jay Virgin.

    I went over for dinner with Tim and Jay and you know we were talking about, you know I had her go through with me and we picked out some power meals for me from Grubhub and Uber Eats to have on rotation right. So we picked 10 meals which are delicious and wonderful and protein first sort of meals with protein and vegetables. And I found the. I've been using the pre-arranged delivery on the app where I can last night set up to deliver one of those meals at 12 o'clock so that I don't have to think about it. And at 12 o'clock I know that my first meal is arriving at noon. Then the next zone then is the afternoon, is the time for anything.

    Any appointments that I have or any Zoom workshops or client appointments or talking with anybody happens Tuesday, wednesday, thursday between one o'clock and six o'clock, and so that zone is reserved for any time obligations that I have for involving other people. And then six o'clock is the second time when either one of those meals arrive or I've been subscribing to a meal service called Factor 75 and they deliver these great meals that you get a weekly shipment of it. So I get seven of these meals, six of these meals, sorry delivered once a week and they're all hermetically sealed and chilled and all you have to do is warm them and they're delicious and the right calorie balance and everything like that. So it takes variation out of that process there. And then the other zone then is seven o'clock to 10 o'clock in the evening and then reading, and in shutting it down I'm in bed, basically, or on my way there, by 10 and lights out by 11. And so that routine, that zone is really the most natural thing.

    There's lots of ways for me to optimize within that, and I think that it really comes down to really preparing in advance for those two hour my focus sessions. I can tend to be ready to do the focus work but not know specifically what it is that I'm going to work on, so I've been really focused on using those times.

    To use my golf analogy a goal, optimal environment, limited distractions, fixed time frame. So I lay out my when we were talking about who, not how, in the initial stages, one of the you know, basecamp one is to who up. A thousand hours was the goal and I started really thinking about those thousand hours as capital allocation. But then realizing you can really, I can really only allocate, you know, 10, 20 maximum of those hours in a week. And so it's being more intentional with those allocations and realizing that not all the hours are equal, you know. And so realizing that the if.

    I focus on if I can get two or three of those focused hours in a day. That's a win for me. Oh, yeah, you know.

    Dan: Yeah, yeah, the I just during the last quarter and it just relates to the last point, and I've got a lot of comments on the previous points, but the last thing you said was this freeing yourself up. And so during the last quarter I am still going and it's called the ABC questions and it's I think you did this. I think you did this yes.

    Dean: I just got my package just arrived.

    Dan: Yeah, I called for Thursday yeah, yeah.

    Dean: And the.

    Dan: Zoom workshop on. Thursday, and but what was interesting about it is that these are the. What you're applying it to is what I call growth problems.

    Dean: Okay, and I've never, never.

    Dan: Used that word before, but it's a problem which, if you sell that, there's growth that immediately follows and then and then a area of your life time money. You know relationship, yeah.

    And so you just brainstorm and then you pick three of them and write them out, and then the first question is there any way you can solve this problem by doing nothing? Okay, and I've done about six of these and I'm going to turn it into an actual, you know, an actual tool that I use on a frequent basis. Okay, a desktop tool, and the answer is usually no, but then you immediately identify the thing that you do have to do. Okay, so, and six cracks, that would be 18 growth problems. I've never said yes, there is something I can. This is something that I can solve by doing nothing.

    Okay, but, it forces you to think about it. Then the second question is what's the least you have to do to solve the problem? And now we're into who, not how, territory.

    Dean: Yes.

    Dan: Okay, the moment you say no, there is something I have to do, but usually it's just a communication. And in my world you use a fast filter to communicate. You say this is you know, this is the project, this is the best result, this is the worst result, and these are the five measurements of success. Okay, and then the third question is there a? Who can do my least?

    Dean: Yeah, exactly, it's like the do you know what it's all in the syntax right Is when you think about is there any way you could do nothing? No, that's impossible. You have to do something. Okay. So what's the least I could do? And then can I get somebody to do that, and the answer then is that you're doing nothing which is fantastic.

    It's like it reminds me of a story, dan, of the gentleman, the guy that went in to see the priest and was asking him if it was okay to smoke while he's praying, and the priest said well, praying is a very reverent thing. You should be respectful, you see, yeah, so you can't. Yeah, so no, no, you can't, you shouldn't smoke while you're praying.

    Dan: It's the wrong question. Can I pray while I'm smoking?

    Dean: That's exactly it.

    Dan: Cause a few months later he comes back and he said father when should I pray?

    Dean: And he said well, the Bible says you should pray without ceasing. And he said should I pray while I'm gardening? Well, yes, you're in nature. You should pray while you're gardening.

    Dan: Can I pray while I'm?

    Dean: walking. Can I pray while I'm smoking? Of course you can.

    Dan: Of course you can, exactly yeah.

    Dean: So I think you've stumbled on that same logic.

    Dan: Well, the thing is, it's gotta be able to humor to it. Yes.

    Dean: You know people say well.

    Dan: I said well, think it through. You know, yeah, and I said, the reason is that entrepreneurs of a certain nature anyway, my years in mind have a tendency to immediately throw themselves into a new possibility and it upsets your schedule. You know, it upsets your schedule, it upsets your team work and everything else, yes. So my whole point is you know, I've got a lot on my plate. Is there any way that I can get away with just 10% effort, just 10% effort, where I was thinking of 100% effort for the day? Is there any way that I can get 100% result with a 10% effort.

    You know it's always you know. But going back to the habit thing and my, you know your best lifetime habit, I would ask two questions best lifetime habits that you were doing it once but you haven't been doing it, and the other one is things that you're doing and they can be reinforced Because a lot of people, if they think about their life, they can think about at a certain time.

    You know they did this and it was great for them, but somewhere, for some reason, they got off track with it and just ask them if they you know, would it be worthwhile getting back on track with this particular habit?

    Dean: You know, while I'm thinking about it, dan, you're that progression of can I do nothing? What's the least I can do? Is there anybody that could do that least? That really harmonizes with my acronym, for you know, imagine if you applied yourself S-E-L-F, and it's the interesting thing is that S is for meaning is there some service or person or you know, something that you could, that could eliminate the need for you to do that? And if that, if you don't have something in your sphere, then the next thing would be E, which is energy, which is your energy. What do you have to do? L is leadership, meaning could you instruct somebody else to do what needs to be done? And F is finances. You could finance it. So, is there a way? No, it's about applying your self, your sphere, your energy. That's the one we want to least do leadership and finances. And so the only thing you're applying your energy to do is to figure out a way that you could turn it into a leadership opportunity to ask somebody else to do it.

    Dan: Yeah, and it's really interesting. Have you thought about that? Or what a profound change that the restrictions of CODET have have, how they've impacted people's work habits? Have you given any thought to that?

    Dean: I think about it all the time. I mean your own, obviously your own obviously yeah, but yeah, I have a feeling I told somebody.

    Dan: I said you know, I talked to a lot of adults when I was a kid who had talked about the great depression and how things that have been available weren't available and how their you know, their daily, weekly behavior changed as a result of the Great Depression. And I have a feeling, covid, which I mean the United States the Great Depression lasted 10 years, 29 to 30. And it didn't end until Pearl Harbor when the Second World War started. For the United States it didn't really end, so it was 10, 11 years. It was the you know, great depression and people's attitude toward money, towards work, you know where they lived and everything else was really altered by the, you know, by that 10, 11 year period here it was about really, you know, it was about two and a half years, let's say, and it's still being affected, you know, and what happened is that people's habits changed in a very significant way you know,

    And I was saying, you know, it's going to be hard to get a lot of people back to their job, you know. And what happened is that they were so busy they didn't have time to think about why they were busy. And so I said, you know, they were out for three months and they said I never realized how shitty the commute is. I called it the three shitties. The first thing, that's three shitties. Yeah, how shitty it was and how shitty the work was. You know, I would go through a shitty commute back and forth every day. The work was really shitty and the, you know, the people I was working with were really shitty.

    Dean: And.

    Dan: I never realized it because I never had time to think. You know, and now I have time to think and I think that it's a fundamental, lasting shift, like it'll last for the rest of people's lives. But, you know, the younger people will, you know, kind of be forced to adjust to what the older people's habit change was. You know, Of course, younger people's habits were enormously changed and the biggest thing, they're finding that truancy rates are at an all time high.

    I mean schools are back and you know they're back in person. But COVID taught kids that you know showing up for school is optional.

    Dean: Yes, yeah, and it's so. I mean, what's happening at Strategic Coach now regards to, you know, remote working, and how have you adapted to that?

    Dan: Well, we have one rule and the rule is everybody has to be there on Wednesday, and the reason is that Wednesday's, wherever it is, whether it's in London, or whether it's in Los Angeles or Chicago or Toronto, Wednesday's always a workshop day. It's always a workshop and so more people have to be in anyway because of the workshop and we just said Wednesday and people said well you know, you know I'm not, you know I'm not on the front stage on workshop days, so why do I have to come in?

    And I said and Bab sorry, this is not me, bab, the other team leader says because the rule is on Wednesday, you're here. Yeah but yeah, but the rule is Wednesday, you're here, Okay.

    Dean: So we have that.

    Dan: And then the other thing is now we have four workshop days a year, every quarter starting. We're just starting this. It's a full day workshop but it's just for the teams wherever they are and we have to get, and they have to be there in person so they can meet other people. I mean we had 23 new hires from January to January you know, and they haven't met the best. Majority of you know people that they're working with and everything like that. So we're making adjustments. You know we're making adjustments.

    We had our best year ever, so it can't be all bad. You know we had our most sales and I mean you know the boxes that you would check off. That says that this is a great year. We got all the boxes last year, so it's not like we're in trouble or anything because of the new arrangements or anything else, but there is a value in people really firsthand getting to meet the people that they work with.

    Dean: And in.

    Dan: June, everybody in the world comes to Toronto. You know everybody in our. You know California, chicago.

    Dean: London and.

    Dan: Toronto everybody's here for two days, for two days. But you know, you just make adjustments to things as they go along.

    Dean: Yes, but that's very yeah, that's good, I think that's.

    Dan: But you know, it's really interesting that if you take the money that people don't have to spend to commute and then the time saving, it's quite a bonus that they've gotten in a very short period of time.

    Dean: Yes, yeah, I mean you think about just the hours back of the commute. Even if it's 30 minutes, like even if you're local, it's still 30 minutes.

    Dan: Yeah, and there's not just the time, there's the getting ready for the 30 minutes.

    Dean: That's what I mean, yeah.

    Dan: So 30 minutes is an actual commute time. It's an hour, you know, do it. So it's twice a day and our team works 220 days. So, that would be 440 hours and then discount the one where they have to come in, but it would be 80% of that.

    And yeah, so you know, 80% of 440 is, you know, 350, somewhere around 350. So that's 350 hours. And then there's the gasoline cost, and I don't think any of our one or two of our team members have an electric car. But you know, Right, yeah, so anyway, but there's, you know, there's everything involved with the car parking.

    Dean: So, dan, I'm curious now about your day, how your, you know, or we kind of rhythm do you run your personal operating system?

    Dan: Yeah well, mine is really based on four things. It's doing workshops, it's everything involved in creating a book and podcasts, and then it's the preparation for those things. So three things that are products, and then there's three things I don't. I hardly do any marketing or selling anymore, I just think I have two three hour sessions a year. So from being the main salesperson 30 years ago to being just a little special treat you know, and that's that's an enormous time saving.

    I mean, I used to go to trade shows where it was like a four or five day trip, you know and you know and. I never travel for marketing. Right now, I would just. I just wouldn't even entertain it. The answer would be no. Somebody says hey, yeah, we'll make you a P. I said no, not going to do that. And the reason is we got great, you know, our marketing and sales that other people are doing is doing the job.

    Yeah, so that's it. So so that remains the same before COVID and after COVID. It's just that there's very little travel involved in most of that.

    Dean: That's great and so, but in your what about your daily rhythm or how you're, the day daily routine of, if we're writing this for the, for that book 100 years from now? Talking about the 2020s. The great Dan Sullivan, how he would spend his day.

    Dan: Well, I differ slightly, and when I get up, then I understand. Yeah, because if I'm not up by 530, it's unnatural. Yeah, you know, I I like getting up at 530. Tell me automatically I'm an hour and a half ahead of you.

    Dean: Yeah, but you know I think it's so funny. I had breakfast with Robin Sharma in Toronto when I was up last and you know I was joking with because he of course very famously started the 5am club as the thing and you know it's. I joked with him. I said I feel like people it'd be a you know, better for people to join the nine hour club, to get nine hours of sleep than it would to get up at 5am.

    Dan: Yeah well, I did a sleep course during the summer, Great. Yeah yeah, Michael Bruce.

    Dean: Yeah.

    Dan: I had to log a diary every day.

    Dean: I remember and you were he was staggering, usually making you stay up till 1030 or something, 1030 was 1032.

    Dan: Yeah, I mean, what it was is to make the time you got up constant. And he started us off with me and then Babs. Babs joined me. But he sleep deprived me and then we gradually got off my sleep sedative, got off my Adderall.

    Dean: So I haven't had.

    Dan: Adderall. I've only had one Adderall in the last six months and then, and so the reason was drugs like that, including the sedative. You don't have to get sleepy to go to sleep, because you take a sleep sleep. And you don't have to be rested when you get up in the morning because you take an Adderall you know so, but what gets lost in that is your natural sleep pattern. So yeah, now I'm, it's about 17 hours. He says that's the right period that you get at least 17 hours of waking time.

    But, I don't. I need 16, you know I. You know you modify it as you go on, but it's been great, you know. But you know I'm up early. I've always been up early. I grew up on a farm sports, I was in the army. You know I always get up early. I like, I really like getting up early you know, but of course, finally, I'm not a late night guy.

    Dean: Right yeah, so your, what time are you asleep Then? Normally? What time is your?

    Dan: wake at eight hours so we're in bed and out in eight hours, and that agrees with both of it, I mean when you're living with someone you got to and you're in the same and you're in the same bed. Well then, you know you're going to synchronize the hours, yeah, yeah. But it was kind of funny because New. Year's is a totally uninteresting day to me. New Year's Eve, right.

    And people say so, did you stay up? And I said, ah, we were in bed at nine, you know. And I said you know, you know when it was, you know when it was midnight somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That's when I went to bed.

    Dean: Yes, right, it's so funny.

    Dan: Yeah, yeah, but yeah, I mean, my best creativity is in the morning.

    Dean: Yes.

    Dan: And I think yours too.

    Dean: Yeah, yeah, that zone, you know I like to, so I try, and I like to have one 50 minute session for me in that seven to 10 zone where I can just be a toddler at the picnic in my journal, thinking thoughts that I didn't know I was going to think. Right, that's, that is great for me and I've taken into, I've adopted your, you know your practice for 25 years of asking what do I want? That's really what that is about. Is my thinking, about my thinking in that time, right, in that 50 minutes and that way. But I also want to then make sure that I'm being the steward of those two hour block, the focus sessions, so that I'm allocating and stacking up here I mentioned, you know I have a thousand hours of that, but I can really only, I only focus and this is always. But my latest iteration is that I'm only stacking up, kind of the next 10 hours. What is the thing? How am I going to allocate the next 10 hours? And of those, what are the two or three today?

    Dan: that.

    Dean: I'm going to, that I'm going to do, and that's been. You know so much. I've got such a great, you know, such an abundance of ideas and things that I could do. You know it's the. It takes really curating and discipline in a way to to realize that in order for those things to get done, they have to happen in real time. You know, and that's because the what and how kind of things are shape shifters, you can puzzle on those and figure those. You figure out what you need to do and how, how it needs to be done or even who is going to do it. But the all, the applying yourself, happens in the when and the where. That's the most important thing. That's what I lack in my. That's my executive function disorder right.

    Dan: You know all you can you know to be useful to other people. The only thing you can do is actually tell you. Tell other people what you do, not, what they should do. I never even tell people what they should do, and my reason for that is we only get to play in the present, you know so the only game day we have is the hours available to us. You know, from rising to, you know going to bed.

    Yeah, we're all playing on the same synchronauts, yeah, but who you are in the present is really a function of your story about what your past is and what your story is about your future.

    We don't actually live in those realms and that tells me that who people are in the present is absolutely unique, because the story they tell themselves about their past and their future is completely made up by them, and they might communicate 1% of that to somebody else, but the 99% is them having a conversation with themselves both forward and backward and forward. So you know, unless you can understand what people's past and future is, it's hard for you to comprehend how they actually arrange their dates.

    Dean: Yes.

    Dan: And yet it makes total sense to them. It makes total sense so, more and more as I go along you know I have to even with people I've known for a long period of time and talk to a lot. You know I always have to remind myself that in understanding this person, I have probably less than 1% of the information that they have.

    Dean: Yeah, the inner world. What's going on in there?

    Dan: Yeah, and for most people they're not even conscious that they're making up their past. You know? I mean past is the past. You know that happened. I said well, yeah. I'm not disputing the fact that it happened, but your interpretation of what happened is the important thing here you know, and two people can have what looks like to be an identical experience and come up with very different stories about what the you know what the situation was.

    And so and the other thing is the future. So you know, and I follow, I've got a file on my Evernote and it's about people who think they can predict the future. You know.

    Dean: Wow, okay, yes.

    Dan: And I said, they can predict the future, but they can't even predict their tomorrow.

    Dean: Right, that's interesting.

    Dan: It's like climate. You know climate.

    Dean: Yeah right.

    Dan: Climate actually doesn't exist, it's a thought. You know and what climate is in a particular location, 365 days of temperature and you know weather conditions. Yes, the average weather conditions for 365 days. That's what climate is. It's a abstraction that gets created by averaging a large number of a large number of days. You know.

    Dean: Yeah.

    Dan: People have talked about the climate and I said well, you know, the real problem with getting people really engaged emotionally with the climate is there's not a single person who's actually experienced climate. We just experience weather.

    Dean: That's an interesting thing that, really, when you think about what you passed, is it's the tapestry of this woven thread of all of the things that you actually did. Yeah, I mean, it's certainly it's the weather of, it is the when and where of what did you do? Yeah, what were you?

    Dan: Yeah, and there's a lot of abstractions, like society.

    Dean: I've never experienced society.

    Dan: I experienced Dean, I experienced Babs, I experienced Joe Polish. I don't know the things society I've never. You know society should do this. I don't think society got the memo, you know.

    Dean: Right.

    Dan: Society is not Consistently yeah, or? We're destroying the world? I said I don't think so. I don't know what's the world, you know?

    you know, you know, and we may be destroying ourselves, you may be destroying yourself, but I don't think we're destroying the world, you know. I mean you know the world's taken. Asteroid hits. The temperature has gone up 100 degrees. It's gone down 100 degrees. You know where I'm talking to you right now. You know, 15,000 years ago it was under 100 feet of water. You know, and you know, I'm right on the shore of Lake Ontario.

    Dean: Yeah.

    Dan: And yeah, the shoreline used to be Castleoma. You know how high Castleoma is you?

    Dean: have to go up to get the Castleoma. Wow, so my, so my Yorkville was underwater.

    Dan: Yeah, oh yeah. Yeah, yeah yeah, that's what's going on, actually. Yeah, quite a bit of us going on. So the big thing is that people create these abstractions and then the abstractions become their reality, over which they have no controls. I mean, if they didn't have any control over their personal reality, boy, they sure don't have any control over things that are an abstraction, you know, and isn't it interesting, though, that so much of everything is an extra abstraction.

    Dean: When you look at these things, you know we look at all the things, the collective abstractions that we all participate in is certainly most geography. I believe that Africa exists, but it's only an abstraction to me, because I've never been to Africa Me either. I've never been to Buenos Aires, but I'm going to take your word for it that it's really there.

    Dan: Yeah.

    Dean: That's interesting.

    Dan: And it's closer to Africa than it is to Toronto. It's actually closer to Antarctica than it is to Toronto.

    Dean: You can't go to Antarctica, Dan everybody knows that.

    Dan: Yeah yeah. Yeah. So the big thing why habits are good on a daily basis is because they're not abstractions. These are neural pathways that you're creating in your brain that encourage you to do this tomorrow rather than a whole bunch of other stuff that you haven't thought about.

    But my sense is, you know, and the thing I'm going to get across here, that success is a function of productive habits, times, longevity, you know it's productive habits, namely that you're doing this on a daily or frequent basis and you're doing that over years, and it's like compound interest, you know, and yeah, but, you have to make the deposits, to make the transfer.

    Dean: It's so funny. I was playing around with a visual metaphor for how the constant moving of the speed of reality. Have you ever seen the? Have you ever seen the video game, the guitar hero? Have you seen on visual or anything?

    Dan: No, I haven't.

    Dean: So guitar hero is a game where you have this guitar but you've got, instead of strings, you've got these color buttons on the neck of the guitar. So it's yellow, green, blue, red, you know whatever those things are. Then your imagine, do you know how the title sequence to star Star Wars is coming, like when the words are coming at you and you're kind of moving. Okay, so you're looking down the neck of a guitar and you're moving towards it, or it's moving towards you, and as the notes get to this line, you press the red button and then, when the green comes to the line, you push green and then you push yellow or whatever it is to make to play the song that's coming, but it's moving and if you miss it you miss the points, right. So I thought about the way that musical Tetris that's exactly it.

    Okay, there's perfect example. Tetris is coming at you. So you've got this. You know, as it's moving, we're in control. Our focus can only be on one thing at a time, right? So if you're focused on, you know in our hundred ten minute units that we're getting throughout the day our ten Jackson units. As we were referring to our hundred Jackson units is that we can be in one lane kind of thing for that. So we're moving the joystick or the controller over to be in this activity.

    Right, and looking back at the record of what we're leaving behind is the wake of what we actually did in those minutes. Right, so you could be neutral where you're just sitting there doing nothing, but you could be in the sleep lane for eight hours. Of that on the record you could be. You know you wake up at 5.30 and by six o'clock I think you're working out by then. Right, is that your trainer arrives.

    So you look back at the. You look back at the permanent record that you're leaving in your wake is at six, is yellow, with your trainer or whatever, consistently over time that you're getting into those things and the more you know erratic those things are, it leaves less of a pattern over time, right, but that's where you get that. So the consistency, my observation of it is to, if I could try and tighten up those things so that in those bands that from 10 o'clock to 12 o'clock, I've established the consistency over time of dedicating those two hours to the most important things that I can be doing, that's going to have an impact, you know.

    Dan: Yeah, well, it's all very interesting, you know, because I think a lot of people just don't comprehend who they are today as a function of consistent past habits, yeah, and who they're going to be in the future is a series of consistent habits. And you know, and I was reading, charlie Munger is the width and wisdom of Charlie Munger, warren Buffett's partner, who just died about a month ago, and he said you know, you can have a lot of raisins, but they're in addition, it's half raisins and half turds. We call the dish turds.

    Dean: So you have a lot.

    Dan: You have good habits, but you have a lot of bad habits. We call the result bad habits, even though there's good habits along the way. So I think you know it's part of your self knowledge is to increase one and decrease the other.

    Dean: Yeah, I was just thinking about my, you know. You look now the deposits of over time, the 12 o'clock and six o'clock perfectly balanced meal Delivered without any variation. Or you know, human error in that thing that over time that tapestry is going to be a different pattern, right?

    Dan: Yeah, and the thing is because a lot of other things are responding to it, you know I mean your brain is noticing a difference, so it's got to make adjustments. You know your brain yeah, make adjustments in your social life. Yeah, make adjustments and everything like that. That's why you don't have to think about 30 things If you got three good things to think about the other 30 will have to adjust to the three. Yeah, and I never try to change bad habits, I just tried to crowd them out with good habits.

    Right, I think what I, you know, evolved in thinking today, I want you to pay a lot of attention to them, you know.

    Dean: Yes, I think a realization I had today, dan, is I was thinking to myself could I establish that meal system without doing anything? Is that literal? Well, I don't have to cook and I don't have to buy groceries to do anything. I only have to decide which I want and place the order. But if I look, that's the least I could do. But now, as I think about it, I could get Lillian, my assistant, to do to. I said these are the 10 meals, let's rotate them around, and I want them to arrive at 12 o'clock and six o'clock and not have anything to do. So there is a way that I could do that without doing anything.

    Dan: Yeah, yeah, and they're not wasted because they go in the fridge, you know.

    Dean: So oh no. I would eat them anyway. I have to eat them. Yeah, I have to eat. Yeah, exactly.

    Dan: Yeah, well, of course. I mean that's the way ours are done. You know Christopher, who's the caterer for our workshops, he does Babs on my Meal and lunch and dinner, and then our back to our EA, looks at our schedule, whether we're going to be at home or not, and then she, you know we have guests in the raving house, and then she asks us questions about it and we, you know we'll give the answers.

    And then she's in touch with the caterer and the meals arrived. You know the meals arrived and basically lunch and dinner, like for the weekend. They would come on Friday afternoon and their guests for Saturday and Sunday.

    Dean: Yeah.

    Dan: I love that, yeah, yeah, I mean, and you know. But the big thing is I noticed, going on the 80, I'll be 80, you know four months, hey, yeah, and what I noticed is that I don't really start anything new these days. If it's not something I'm going to stick with for the rest of my life, okay, or it's going to reinforce something else that I'm going to stick, that I'm already doing, that's going to last for the rest of my life.

    Dean: So yeah.

    Dan: Yeah, so I'm very selective about anything new, you know, and you know, people say hey this is really interesting. So I said, don't think so. I don't think this is going to be a rest of my life experience you know, and so but on the other hand, I'm going a lot deeper into things that you know. I'm really interested in things that really support the new things, that support the thing that I'm already doing.

    Dean: I'm really yeah, and our podcast is one of those. Yes, one of those.

    Dan: Yeah, so you can. You know pretty well, figure, as long as you're up to it, I'm up to it.

    Dean: That's great. I like it, yeah, yeah. Well, it's been an amazing conversation, as always I had no idea what adventure we were going to go on, but this was really enjoyable conversation.

    Dan: The one thing I should tell you is that when you're in Argentina, it's not uncommon for dinner to start at nine o'clock at night.

    Dean: Right.

    Dan: Okay and which which, so you can take dinner time and then, after dinner and going to bed, which kind of dictates that Argentinians get up later. They get up later in the morning and I said this tells you why the US and also they have the two hour break.

    Dean: Yes, the middle of the day, you know and.

    Dan: I said. So this kind of tells you why the US is ahead, because Americans get up early and work all day. Yeah, I think on a one developed countries. Americans work a lot more than certainly anybody in Europe. Americans work a lot more than anyone in. Europe, I think probably anyone in South America, probably not. Southeast Asia. I bet Southeast Asians work more than Americans do. Yeah, but anyway. But that's just the habit of the culture. It's a workout. I mean, america is a work culture.

    Dean: Yes, I love. It, okay, well, I guess I will see you on Thursday.

    Dan: Oh well, have a good day I got a lot of great stuff for Thursday.

    Dean:It's all very exciting. I'm going to read the. I got the new book for the or yesterday, so I'm going to read that.

    Dan: Awesome, all right.

    Dean: Okay, Dan, I'll talk to you next week or I'll see you Thursday.

    Dan: Okay, thursday Thanks, thanks, gene.