Life is constantly happening around us and we only have two options: let it pass by or take control and make it happen for us and our community. The first option sees us delegating our will and decision-making powers to others (the government, your boss, your family, and so on) and simply going with the flow. The second option is to organise your world according to your personality, potential, and dreams, transforming your life for the better and helping the world become a better place.
You wouldn’t have learned self-development techniques at school or university - these traditional institutions are more concerned with spoon-feeding you information and rolling out exams in a one-size-fits-all style.
Twenty-six years ago, after graduating a design and communication course in Argentina, I arrived at London Heathrow with a big smile, my portfolio of work, and $150 US dollars in my pocket. I didn't have many options apart from using my lateral thinking skills to solve everyday problems, be that learning English quickly, adapting to a new culture, or earning a living without losing my mind.
Being my own boss was always a big challenge. I needed a clear direction, and certainty over my next move.
Over the years, I accumulated knowledge and developed new techniques to organise myself and try to be on target with my personal and financial achievements. And so, out of necessity, I created The 25% Rule, a holistic self-organising system designed to help entrepreneurs, startups, and the self-employed - like myself - better manage their time. After a while, I realised that full-time employees, managers, and CEOs can also use it to better organise their work-life balance - after all, successful individuals also need a practical method to maintain and multiply their achievements.
Today, I feel far from overwhelmed by my work, and using The 25% Rule in everyday life helps me to think that I have plenty of time in the days to come to not only do more, but to do it better. Whatever your background, this simple method will allow you to focus and achieve more in both the short and long term, allowing you to take the first step towards a better you, to go from zero to hero at your own pace.
The idea is to divide your time between four conscious modes, so you can enjoy every moment knowing that it counts towards your business, wealth, and personal targets, adding and maintaining value to each area of your life.
Becoming aware of your mode will help shield your mind - and your time - from unnecessary distractions. Using this holistic approach to a positive lifestyle, constantly adding value to your life will add value to your business. Each mode affects the rest; every step you take will inspire you to move forward and, little by little, you will start to see change in all aspects of your life.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Breaking down The 25% Rule
- Focusing on and being mindful of each daily activity
- Regaining control over, protecting, and tracking your time
- Getting more done during the day
- Achieving long-term productivity
- Adding value to your life and wealth to your bank account
- Reclaiming extra time in the day to help others
25% Study “SPONGE”: absorb the right knowledge and information
Take time to add value to your life, so you become more valuable for the market and for others. If you change, things will change for you. Achieving this could include making time to…
- Read methodically more books
- Listen to relevant and inspirational radio programmes and podcasts
- Learn from self-developmental and motivational speeches
- Watch training videos and attend conferences
- Expand your vocabulary or try a new foreign language or local dialect.
- Research new technologies and methods
- Learn new practical skills
- Learn from your Personal Experiences (P.E.) - what you did right and what you did wrong
- Learn from Other People’s Experiences (O.P.E.) - observe, create consultancy groups, and learn from teachers, neighbours, leaders, and people that are doing well in life and in business
- Value Capture (V.C.) and let it be valuable to you
25% Planning “SUPERNOVA”: explosion of dreams and ideas
Take time to innovate, think about new life projects, and business ideas, dream big and realise all your thoughts on paper.
- Be a collector - collect fresh ideas, big or small, for future projects and dedicate a notebook to them. Ideas often come from nowhere, so keep it in an accessible place, an don’t trust your memory; if you hear something good, make a note of it
- Meditate on the positive outcomes of the week and write them down
- Switch on your intelligence, feelings, and ambitions
- Set your goals and put them in your notebook
- Ask questions, find problems, and solve them
- Visualise your ideas through sketches, diagrams, and collages, or take pictures or voice recording
25% Operating “ANT”: get the job done
Ants never stop. Take time to do the job and focus on one task at the time.
- Save mental energy by switching off your ambitions
- Write down your daily or weekly tasks, digitally or on paper
- Start solving the small problems and slowly progress to the difficult ones
- Do not complain about bureaucracy - just do it
- Concentrate on one business or project at a time
- Look into automating tasks to improve productivity
- Invest in better tools, be that a faster computer, the latest software, or the best brush
- Recruit more Ants to help with your tasks
- Do what you can and leave the difficult tasks to specialist Ants
25% Recreation “PUPPY”: stay curious and excited about life
Take time to unplug and take a break, protect your mental and physical health and build resilience for the future.
- Look after your body through physical activity and healthy eating
- Keep your space tidy
- Use the weekends to build the life you want and not to escape the life you have
- Prepare new outfits for different occasions
- Entertain yourself through media
- Help others and contribute to your community - give and you will receive
- Shop locally and prepare food for friends and for the week ahead.
- Do absolutely nothing – your mind needs to recover
The 25% Rule’s four modes can also help to balance your day and avoid disappointments. Remember, these are circular activities that feed to each other as opposed to a means of restricting time.
For example, social media takes, on average, two hours out of our day. It can be paralysing and distracting, so we need to know why we are on social media and which mode applies at the time. Are we there learning, operating, planning, or in recreation mode? Becoming aware of your mode will help to protect your mind and your time.
Outcomes and feedback
The first reaction of those to whom I show The 25% Rule is that, just by reading about it, they start to think that regaining control of their career and adding value to their life might not be as difficult as it sounds. Stefan, a London-based music producer, applies the method to keep improving his music and business outlook in a competitive market, while for Katherine, Deputy Head at Cambridge School of Art, it helps with problem-solving within her department. Carlos, a product designer in South America needs a constant flow of ideas for products and services, John works in a restaurant while planning his own catering businesses and studying to become an accountant, and Aatifa is a young writer looking for career development in media and journalism - The 25% Rule has helped them all.
What Should I Read Next?
Seven books from my personal reading list that could change the way you think about life & business.
- Funky Business by Kjell Nordström & Jonas Ridderstråle
- Think! Before It's Too Late, by Edward de Bono
- Karaoke Capitalism by Kjell Nordström & Jonas Ridderstråle
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- BETTER by John Grant
- Greener Marketing by John Grant
Read more of Damian's articles in Sublime Magazine
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Damian Santamaria is an international business consultant on brand, sustainability, and innovation for the green economy. He is a Visiting Fellow to the School of Business, Law and Communication in Southampton Solent University, Visiting Lecturer at the School of Media at London College of Communication UAL, an influencer of ethical fashion and Co-Founder/Director of Sublime, the first international sustainable lifestyle magazine. Connect on LinkedIn or IG:@iamdamiansantamaria