Do you dream of achieving extraordinary things? Would you describe your life now as extraordinary—or just mediocre?
In Someday Is Today: 22 Simple Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life, Matthew Dicks argues that achieving your dreams and overcoming mediocrity is possible. But, you’ll get there only if you learn to maximize your time, efficiency, productivity, and creativity—and start acting now.
Read on for an overview of this book that’s sure to spark you into action.
Overview of Someday Is Today
In Someday Is Today: 22 Simple Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life, Matthew Dicks argues that most of us end up being mediocre because we see our goals as abstract and distant—things we might be able to achieve at some point, but not right now. This mindset makes us delay taking action toward our goals, and, consequently, we never reach them.
Dicks works in many fields, but first and foremost, he’s a productivity expert. He had a challenging childhood and learned how to be highly productive while working two full-time jobs and simultaneously completing two full-time university programs. Currently, he works full-time as an elementary school teacher while also pursuing numerous creative outlets. He’s a best-selling author of non-fiction books like Storyworthy (about the art of storytelling) and novels like Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, and Unexpectedly Milo. He’s also an accomplished teller of Moth stories (true stories from your life recited from memory within five minutes), having won 48 StorySLAMS and six GrandSLAMS storytelling championships. Further, he’s a playwright, blogger, columnist, and DJ.
We’ll explore Dicks’s tips for accomplishing extraordinary things. In Part 1, we’ll explore his recommendations for maximizing your time and efficiency so you can spend less time on mundane tasks and more time on things that really matter to you. In Part 2, we’ll discuss his tips for maximizing your productivity and creative potential so you can become as successful as possible, as soon as possible.
Part 1: Maximize Your Time and Efficiency
We’ll explore Dicks’s five main principles for making the most of your time.
Principle #1: Differentiate Between Important and Irrelevant Tasks
First, Dicks recommends disregarding irrelevant tasks and focusing on things that are truly important to you—not to your boss, your friends, or any other outside entity. He explains that we waste time on irrelevant tasks because we make decisions based on our current thoughts and feelings, which are largely influenced by our environments (like the people around us), not what we truly want or what’s best for us long term.
To avoid wasting time on tasks that feel important but are actually irrelevant, Dicks recommends only performing tasks that would matter to your future self. This will ensure you’re spending time on things that truly matter to you (not someone else) and benefit you in the long term. To enlarge your perspective ask yourself: Would the task at hand be important to your 100-year-old self? Would they want you to do it? Or, would they recommend that you spend that time doing something else?
Tip: Recruit Others to Handle Necessary But Unimportant Tasks
Dicks recognizes that certain tasks must get done even if they’re not important to you. To manage necessary but unimportant tasks, recruit others to help you. You can do this in one of three ways:
- Pay someone to do the task for you.
- Assign the tasks to a subordinate or willing party.
- Ask someone to help you complete the task so you accomplish it faster.
Principle #2: Minimize the Duration of Routine Tasks
Second, Dicks recommends minimizing the amount of time you spend on recurring, routine tasks—such as doing laundry or cleaning the dishes—regardless of whether they’re subjectively important or not. Dicks explains that, since you perform these tasks repeatedly, they could take up large portions of your life. Getting them done faster will create more free time that you can devote to pursuing your goals.
Dicks presents three main tips to minimize the time you spend on routine tasks:
- Create efficient systems and routines for completing tasks. Dicks notes that using systems and routines to complete tasks will help you streamline the process and save time.
- Minimize decision-making. Minimize time-consuming decision-making by planning choices in advance and limiting your options, Dicks recommends.
- Multitask when possible. Dicks notes that multitasking will help you get more things done at once so you have more free time to dedicate toward your goals.
Principle #3: Focus on the Macro Rather Than the Micro
Third, Dicks suggests focusing on the big picture rather than a task’s details. He explains that people waste time by focusing on small details that they think are important but that don’t really matter. They do so because they desire perfection—they think every small detail needs to be immaculate. However, this wastes time because most tasks and projects don’t need to be perfect—they just need to get done.
To avoid the trap of perfectionism and micro-analyzing, Dicks offers two tips:
- Stop worrying about what others think. Dicks explains that people often focus on unimportant details—like whether they should wear red lipstick or clear lip gloss—because they’re concerned about how others will perceive them based on their appearance, level of effort, and so on. Realistically, this is a waste of time because people don’t pay attention to these things.
- Consider the impact of the task. Consider whether doing something will actually impact the end result—if it wouldn’t, don’t do it.
Principle #4: Optimize Sleep
Next, Dicks advises minimizing the time you spend sleeping while maximizing the amount of rest you get. Sleeping takes up more time than any other routine task—therefore, optimizing your sleep will save you the most time.
Unoptimized sleep wastes time in two ways:
- We spend more time in bed than necessary—either because we sleep for too long or spend time in bed doing things other than sleeping, like using our phones.
- We do things that disrupt our sleep schedule, and therefore, our sleep quality—like going to bed and waking up at different times every day. This wastes time by making us sleepy and causing brain fog at times when we should be awake and productive.
Dicks recommends two tips to ensure you get the most rest in the least amount of time:
- Create a sleep schedule, and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day without fail. Sleeping and waking at different times each day confuses your body and reduces your sleep quality. If there are times when you have to go to sleep later or wake up earlier, Dicks says to stick to your schedule as much as you can—even if you go to bed late, wake up at your designated time, and if you need to wake up early, go to bed at your designated time.
- Take precautions to get good sleep. Dicks recommends engaging in behaviors that promote good sleep—exercise during the day to release energy, create a wind-down routine before bed to prepare your body for rest, sleep with white noise, and make sure the room’s a comfortable temperature at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body and mind will be ready to fall asleep as soon as you get into bed, so you won’t waste any time.
- Sleep less. Dicks contends that many people think they need more sleep than they actually do. After following the aforementioned suggestions to ensure your sleep is productive, he suggests reducing the time you spend sleeping to see if you wake up well-rested.
Principle #5: Stop Spending Time on Negative People
Finally, minimize the time you spend engaging with and thinking about negative people, Dicks recommends. When you do spend time with them, you waste time thinking about things that don’t matter, like what caused their harmful behavior or whether you deserved it. Further, their negative behavior can rub off on you and cause you to be more negative—more self-doubting, more unmotivated, and so on—which sabotages your productivity.
Dicks presents three main tips for managing negative people so you don’t waste time thinking about them:
- Try to understand them. Dicks explains that understanding why someone acted negatively will make it easier for you to forgive them and stop thinking about the situation. Further, even if you can’t forgive them, understanding them will put the issue to rest in your mind. This technique is most helpful when the offender is someone you have to remain in contact with.
- Avoid them. If you can’t understand the other person, Dicks recommends avoiding them. Do this by either removing them from your life or creating boundaries to minimize your exposure to them.
- Add them to an adversaries list. If someone did something so horrible to you that you can’t understand them and avoiding them doesn’t prevent you from thinking about them, Dicks recommends adding them to a list of adversaries. This will help you put your thoughts about them aside for now. In the future, you can try again to understand them, or you can plan your revenge.
Part 2: Maximize Your Productivity and Reach Your Full Potential
Now that you’ve eliminated time-wasters and increased your efficiency on necessary tasks, Dicks argues you must learn how to maximize your productivity and reach your full potential so you can become as successful as possible, as soon as possible.
Principle #1: Use Every Spare Moment to Do Something Productive
First, Dicks suggests using every spare moment to make progress toward your goals. He explains that most people struggle to make progress because they feel like they don’t have time to be productive, or they’re waiting for the right conditions. You don’t need perfect conditions to get started: All you need is a few minutes of free time.
Principle #2: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Second, avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, Dicks suggests. He explains that people who dedicate themselves solely to one goal, discipline, or area of interest won’t reach their full potential and achieve extraordinary things. They’re blind to additional areas in which they might thrive because they’ve never considered pursuing them.
To overcome this self-limiting behavior, Dicks offers two tips:
- Take every opportunity. Dicks argues that you should take every opportunity you’re presented with, even if it doesn’t necessarily contribute to your current goal. Saying yes is always better than saying no because the benefits outweigh the costs. If you say yes, you might discover a new passion or avenue for success that you were blind to before. However, if you say no, you might miss out, and you’ll likely never receive the same opportunity again. If you decide an opportunity isn’t for you after trying it, just say no next time—it’s OK to change your mind.
- Branch out. Second, pursue multiple goals, disciplines, or areas of interest at the same time, Dicks notes. This is important for two main reasons:
- You’ll solve problems and remain productive in the meantime. If you get stuck on one project, you can continue being productive by working on something else rather than sitting idly until a solution comes to you. When you think of a solution, you can return to the original project having made progress toward another goal in the meantime.
- You’ll increase your creativity. Dicks explains that gaining experience in different areas will help you expand your knowledge and draw connections between seemingly different ideas or disciplines. This improves your ability to come up with unique insights.
Principle #3: Fail Often
Next, Dicks recommends pushing yourself and failing often. He argues that, to progress, you must fail first—the more you fail, the closer you’ll get to success. Failing makes you realize what you’re doing wrong, and every attempt from that point on will be better as you correct your mistakes.
Principle #4: Motivate and Inspire Yourself
Dicks also advocates learning how to motivate and inspire yourself. He believes this is crucial to implementing his previous recommendation to fail often—you’ll only be resilient and persistent enough to learn from your disappointing failures and keep pursuing success if you can motivate yourself. Further, aside from failure, you’ll encounter many obstacles on the path to success that require motivation to overcome—disrupted plans, rejections, and more.
Dicks offers three tips for building internal motivation and inspiration:
- Find your why. Remembering the underlying reasons why you’re pursuing your goals will inspire and motivate you to continue. To identify these reasons, reflect on your life experiences and determine what influenced your choice of goals. Dicks explains that the more reasons you have for pursuing your goals, and the deeper these reasons are, the more motivated you’ll be to persist.
- Reflect on your struggles and successes. Dicks notes that it’s easy to get worn down and feel like giving up when you face barriers or fail to see results from your work. To persist through these challenges, remind yourself of all the hardships you’ve faced in the past and how you overcame them—you’ll develop the pride and motivation needed to continue. If you struggled and persisted once, you can do it again.
- Celebrate your achievements, big and small, as you progress toward your goals, Dicks suggests. You’ll remember that you’re making progress and feel inspired to keep going. Don’t wait until you’ve reached some lofty level of success—celebrate every small achievement along the way.
Principle #5: Maximize Your Creative Potential
Dicks also recommends boosting your creativity by implementing the following tips:
- Consume varied content. Consume a wide variety of content as often as you can, Dicks suggests. You’ll expand your knowledge in new directions and come up with new, unique ideas.
- Reuse your old work. Dicks recommends making the most of the work you’ve already created by reusing it for future projects. You can do this in three ways:
- Repurpose a project that didn’t work out for a different, future venture.
- Use components of past projects for future projects.
- Use past projects to inspire your work on future projects.
Principle #6: Create a Support Group
Finally, Dicks recommends finding a group of people to support you. They’ll help you progress toward your goals by holding you accountable and providing encouragement and feedback.
Dicks explains that creative projects are meant to be shared with the world: Therefore, it’s important to get feedback from others as soon as possible. You can trust your support group to give you constructive feedback without judging you.
Sharing your work with your support group will also help you solve problems faster than you would on your own. Dicks notes that each member of your support group will likely have a unique knowledge base, and they’ll bring different perspectives and solutions to the table.
To create your support group, choose the people who love and support you—avoid people who might envy your success. Further, share your work, goals, and deadlines with these people so they can give you constructive feedback and hold you accountable for completing goals.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Someday Is Today summary:
- Why most people delay taking action toward their dreams and goals
- Tips for accomplishing extraordinary things in life
- How to maximize your time, efficiency, productivity, and creative potential