9 Productivity Lessons From A Hitchhiking Filmmaker


Recently, I received a great question from a reader on my Facebook page,

“I’ve always wanted to travel, but I never find the time. How do you do it?”

My days are pretty full:

A. I spend hours with my thumb out by the side of the road (you knew I was a hitchhiker… right?).

B. I create adventure videos every week that can take as many as 50 hours to write, shoot, edit, and upload.

C. I write travel articles packed with practical tips that can take over 20 hours to write.

D. I keep up with over a thousand people on Facebook, Twitter, and email.

E. I spend time with my girlfriend, Angela.

F. I explore and enjoy my current home.

Every minute of my day is precious. 

This is a post for those that just can’t seem to find the time. If you’ve wondered how you will be able to fit everything into a day, then this post might be for you.

Here are 9 Lessons on Productivity from a Hitchhiking Filmmaker:

1. Don’t watch TV

I can’t remember the last time, I sat in front of a television. I don’t own one and only watch when I’m staying with a TV owner.

If you get rid of your TV, you can save yourself a lot of time (Tyler Tervoonen says this could save you $133,369 too). Go up on your roof and chuck that TV straight off, just be sure no one is below you.

If you have a video camera, please film it and maybe I’ll post it on my Youtube channel.

2. Sleep Well (aka Don’t Get Blasted Until 5am Every Night)

I love socializing, meeting new people, and adventuring until the sun comes up. I don’t do this very often though, because I have work to do tomorrow. If I’m tired, my productivity goes way down.

I need about 9 hours of sober sleep to be at my peak and most nights I get it. This leaves me mentally ready to crank out a day of amazing videos and articles.

3. Limit Your Social Networks and Email

I’m reading thru Ev Bogue’s old blog, where he recommends only checking email twice a day. I’ve started this and I’m not a pro yet, but when I do it… I get so much done.

I’m also in the process of Unfollowing everyone on Twitter that isn’t blowing me away (my goal is to follow 150 rockstars).

Over the past month, I’ve been unsubscribing from people on Facebook. My Facebook is now a powerful Get-Awesome-Information Tool and not just shooting the breeze about daily life.

Plus, whenever I don’t feel I’m getting value from someone’s work, I unsubscribe.

4. Do Hard Shit First

Tim Ferriss’ iconic work, The 4-Hour Workweek inspired me to do the hardest thing first.

Don’t wake up and check email, don’t update my status, or comment on my favorite blogs. Don’t look at what my viewers had to say on Youtube.

I get up and start writing or editing my latest project. 

When I’m done and I’m feeling accomplished, I attend to other tasks like replying to emails and comments, or looking at others work.

5. Ship

Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin encouraged me to ship my work.

My videos are worthless in my video editor. I can always make one more tweak to speed up or slow down a time lapse. I could always grade the color of my video, so it looked just a bit better.

I could work on videos forever, but if I did, they would never inspire you.

Make my art, write my article, and finish my homework.

Create what I have said I would, when I say I will. Then go do it again.

6. Make Decisions

I can spend hours deciding what type of India Pale Ale I want tonight… do I want really hoppy or is fruity more my style tonight?

Sometimes I continue to ponder a decision, because I think some magical information will appear and make my decision much easier.

In reality, I have enough information and I just need to decide… now.

7. Organize My Computer

How my desktop looks

I have four folders on the Right side of my desktop.

A. My Actions Folder: Anything I’m working right now

B. I’m About To Work On This: Projects, notes, ideas, lists, and research for coming work

C. Current Projects: Important information for videos and articles I’m in the process of finishing

D. Archives: Anything that is finished. Eventually I transfer these files to an external hard drive, so I can delete everything in this folder.

8. Prepare For My Day

I wake up and know what big project I’m working on today. If I’m editing, I’ve already rendered the videos and if I’m writing, I’ve already done the research.

If I’m really on it, I’ve already packed my lunch

9. Simplify

Anytime I can eliminate the unnecessary, I jump at it. If I can get rid of my banana peel on my desk (my breakfast), I do.

I also focus on one thing at a time and get rid of the rest.


What helps you stay productive? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments.

If you think this post rules, please share it with your friends. I can spend so much time researching articles and making videos, because I don’t focus much on promoting my work.

Maybe you can help me out?

Extra Productivity Resources:

Fabian Kruse’s Interview with Chris Guillebeau shows you how to be productive anywhere.

If Getting Things Done is too structured for you, Leo Babauta has a simpler productivity system.

Sean Ogle gives productivity tips that a first grader could follow.

Karol Gadja contends that no productivity system will work.

Corbett Barr says to chuck your laptop in the trash (almost).

Maneesh Sethi points out how your productivity habits resemble a heroin addict’s.

10 Responses to 9 Productivity Lessons From A Hitchhiking Filmmaker
  1. Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist
    January 25, 2012 |

    Good tips in here! You really nail it! And thanks for the shout-out! :)

  2. Mark Wiens
    January 26, 2012 |

    Killer tips Benjamin! As a person that struggles with productivity, I need to work on some of these things. I like the way you organize your desktop, I’m going to try that out too!

    • Benjamin Oliver Jenks
      January 26, 2012 |

      Hey Mark, glad you got something out of it. David’s book, GTD was essential to my productivity. I’m a hitchhiker by nature, so productivity is not my strong suit. :)

  3. Kenation
    January 26, 2012 |

    Way to stay present, Benjamin. Another inspirational post. I’ve gradually fallen out of practice on checking my emails twice a day, and now busy-work has begun to interrupt my bigger projects. This post reminded me to pull myself together again.

  4. nikki
    January 29, 2012 |

    I have not had TV in several years and I love it! I can’t imagine all the days and years people spend watching pointless TV vs. going out and doing something worthwhile!

  5. francois
    March 21, 2012 |

    I have no TV but I spend a lot of time on my computer. Finding sometimes some cool websites as yours.

    I have to work the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th lessons. And I have to continue making videos. If I make a cool video one day, following your 9 steps, I will show you.

    I’m french, sorry for my english. Thank you for your advices

    • Benjamin Oliver Jenks
      March 21, 2012 |

      My pleasure, Francois. No worries about your English.

      Definitely let me know when you create your masterpiece. :)

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