How to Hack Time to Be Happier & More Successful: James Wallman (Transcript)

Full text of author James Wallman’s talk: How to Hack Time to Be Happier & More Successful at TEDxManchester conference. In this talk James shares the 7 secrets to spending your time in ways that lead you to be happier and more successful.


James Wallman – Author of Stuffocation

So I’m James. I’m super excited to be here today. It’s a real honor.

And I’m going to be talking about time and how to spend it. And our time here is coming to a close, so I’m going to begin by introducing a person with a problem.

His name’s Woody. He’s my son; he’s five years old. And a few weeks ago, he had a specific problem. He fell, he banged his head on this step. And I kind of did as any parent would, and I kind of grabbed him up into my arms. I held him back, and he had blood pouring down here. I thought he’d banged his eyes, I was just sort of panicked.

But my wife calmed me down. We got into the car, and we did what… you know what any good parent would do. We took a picture.

And then as I was putting him into his car seat, you know doing it up, he looked at me, he said, “Daddy, am I going to die?”

And I did…. look to him, just… “Yes, but not today.”

And the reason I tell that story is we all have that same problem. We’re all going to die… hopefully not today. Hopefully not during this talk.

So imagine a bank account that gave you £86,400 every day. But at the end of the day, any money that you hadn’t spent was wiped, what would you do? You’d spend it all, no? Some people wouldn’t spend it all. Anybody know why it’s £86,400? It’s the seconds in a day, exactly.

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The clock is ticking and there will come a day you’ll go to the time bank and there will be no more time for you. So how you spend your time is vitally important. If you don’t spend it well, it’s the same as burning money. And you don’t do that; do you?

Today’s world I think we’re surrounded by all sorts of distractions and things that take up our time. You know, one of the things is the emails that we get, the texts that squeeze, the 24-hour news coverage, it’s kind of constant incoming, you know the TikTok, the WhatsApp, the Facebook updates, all this incoming stuff we’ve got to keep up with.

And one of the problems is our mobile phones. I call them the weapons of mass distraction. How many people here check their phone within 15 minutes of getting up? One of the first things you do. Some of you are liars; that’s good. That’s healthy.

Okay, more than 85% of people check their phones first thing.

How many of you charge your phones in the bedroom? Let me see a show of hands. Okay, so you guys if you take nothing from today, apart from this, if you charge your phone somewhere other than your bedroom, this is what the data says: you will sleep better and you have more sex.

You’re welcome.

Okay, so we’re so addicted to our phones that one in ten people check their phones during sex. That was research conducted at a very well-respected university in the States and it was published in The Economist, which makes it a fact in my view.

So there’s about 2400 people here, that means it’s about 240 people here today who checked their phone during sex. Can those people stand up please and tell us how you do it; you weirdos.

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I did actually give a talk somewhere, much smaller, about 50 people. And this guy said, yeah but you can’t cut it because the screen lights up. Let’s leave that.

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