Darius Foroux on making time for useful work
This interview was originally published on Medium
Darius Foroux doesn’t like to be busy, but he sure gets a lot done. How does he do it? With a time management technique he read about in college that he has since expanded on and made his own. He now shares what he has learned with thousands of readers around the world through articles, books, and a podcast. We caught up with Darius to learn more about his productivity methods, how to break out of that dreaded procrastination rut, and how Pocket fits into his day-to-day life.
You are an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster writing about how to build a better life, career, and business. How did you go from receiving a master’s degree in marketing in 2011 to a productivity expert in only a handful of years?
To be honest, I don’t see myself as a productivity expert. Nor did I strive to become one. I’m a productivity enthusiast since my last year in high school. During my final exams, I read about the Pomodoro technique in some magazine I picked up at school. Once I applied the technique to study, I immediately noticed that I was way more focused. And that helped me to learn faster. All of a sudden, I had way more free time on my hands. That made me enjoy my life 10X more than before. Ever since that moment, I’ve been studying and applying productivity skills to my life and career. When I started my blog in 2015, I was already researching and applying the stuff I write about for a decade. I think that’s what made readers follow my work. I only write about what I know.
What does a typical day-in-the-life look like for you?
I wake up without an alarm, around 8 AM. The night before, I set my priorities for the day so I know what I’m doing that day. That exercise helps me to improve my focus and minimizes time wasting. On an average day, I complete about 3–4 priorities — that often takes me 4–5 hours. And I also workout every day. I don’t like to be busy.
Procrastination holds many of us back from being as productive as we would like to be. What advice would you give to someone reading this who is in a rut right now?
If you’re in a rut, keep an activity log. Often, we don’t have a clue about what we’re doing with our time. Hence, time flies. And if you’re in a rut, you’ll stay in a rut. An activity log is simple to keep. You can keep a notepad open on your desk, and every hour, you write down what you did. Do that for at least a week and you’ll know exactly where your time goes. And once you know where your time goes, you can start improving how you’re spending it.
What fascinates you?
People who, despite facing adversity, find a way to live a life of contribution. It’s a cliche, but some of the people who have it all are the most ungrateful folks you’ll ever meet. And then there are people who experience physical and mental setbacks and still make the best out of their life. That’s admirable.
You were raised and currently reside in The Netherlands. Does the notion of productivity in The Netherlands differ from that in the U.S.? If so, how?
I don’t think there are differences in countries. I think there are differences in people. Some folks don’t care about their personal effectiveness — they just want to collect a paycheck. You have those people in every country. But you also have people who want to provide value, learn, and achieve their full potential. These are the people who are interested in productivity.
You often write about your belief that productivity produces happiness. How did you come to that understanding?
I’m inspired by Emerson, who said that the purpose of life is to make yourself useful. That’s why my definition of productivity is doing useful work. And when you do useful work, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re happy. The best thing? It’s all within our control.
You also have a podcast where you answer questions for your readers. What have some of the most memorable questions been?
One reader asked me why I always start my podcast with “How’s it going?” He said that listeners can’t answer that question. A few days later (I hadn’t responded to his email), he followed up and said that he finally understood my point. I treat my podcast like a personal conversation with my friends. And what do you ask your friends when you just meet?
You have a blog, a very popular newsletter, multiple online courses, four books, and a podcast. What could possibly be next?
I wanted to make YouTube videos but I found that I have no time to do it. Or, I should say, I don’t want to MAKE time to do it. I’ve got enough work with my blog and family business (a laundry technology company) that I still help run. So what’s next? More of the same — but better.
What role does Pocket play in your day-to-day?
I love to batch-read articles. Throughout the day, I’m focused on doing my work. When I run into something I want to read, I save it to Pocket and read when I decide. I think Pocket is about being in control of your attention. If you run into a good article, you don’t immediately have to read it. Get on with your work. Don’t be distracted. Save the article and read it when you make time for reading. That’s how I do it.
What have you been discovering, saving, or spending time with recently in Pocket?
I’ve been reading a lot about investing and investors. I really enjoyed this article recently:
If you had the chance to escape and read all of your current Pocket saves where would you go to do it?
Curaçao. I love the Caribbean.
Who would you want to see us interview next?
Ryan Paugh. I recently interviewed him on my podcast. Great guy who’s into building communities.
You can subscribe to Darius’ newsletter, check out his podcast, and learn more about his books and courses here. And get Pocket to save stories like these and discover other great content.