Let’s Take a Step Back
With the increase of the use of technology, people are filling their days with more and more to do. Sometimes, we have overwhelmed ourselves with so many things, that we have created less time in the day for us to get more important activities done. So how do we get back to a state of stability? How do we create more time in the day? What do we need to do to reimagine what it means to be efficient and productive? There are 5 ways that can help you, in no particular order, to not only add more time but give more free time back to you.
Eliminate wasteful activities.
Close your eyes and think back for a moment. Think back to a time when you had time to laugh, smile, engage with other people and enjoy life. Can’t really capture the image can you? That’s because you’ve forgotten. You have forgotten about what those meaningful moments were, what it took to do them, and how to do them again. One of the reasons you have forgotten is because you have filled up your day with wasteful activities. What is wasteful? Webster’s dictionary defines wasteful as using more of something that is needed or causing something valuable to be wasted. Let’s focus on the latter part of this definition.
What is more valuable than time? Nothing once you put it into perspective. Time is the only thing that continues to move forward and in a single moment is lost once it’s passed. Think about it. It’s taking me time to type this article for you and time for you to read it. Can you go back and undo what you have already done? No. So if you want your time to mean something, to be used wisely as they say, not waste it, why not relatively create more time by eliminating wasteful activities such as:
Watching too much television
Playing too many video games
Being on social media too much
Shoppingtoo much online
Sleeping too much?
Notice how I mentioned the words “too much”. If your job centers on any one of these activities (although I’m not quite sure about the last one) then they aren’t wasteful activities, are they? Doing things in moderation isn’t wasteful either. However, if your priorities center around something more meaningful, more important, then you need to reevaluate your activities to better align with what you deem as valuable. They don’t call them dead end jobs for nothing. Yes, your job can be a huge time waster if you are unhappy with it. Find what matters most to you and eliminate anything (not your family or good friends) that prohibits you from reaching your goals.
Multi-task when feasible.
There’s a small debate about multi-tasking versus uni-tasking. To multi-task means to do two or more things at one time. For example, I can talk on the phone and perform data entry functions at the same time. To uni-task means to do one thing at one time. As an example, some people actually sit down and talk on the phone without doing anything else. Their focus is solely on the call. There are pros and cons to multi-tasking and uni-tasking:
I prefer the method of multi-tasking because it is easier for me and I function at a higher level of efficiency when I do. If uni-tasking is right for you, by all means do one thing at a time. Don’t overextend yourself. It is counterproductive whether you do one or the other. Yet, we shouldn’t multi-task all the time. We should only do so when it is truly effective and time-saving. To multi-task effectively you must:
Analyze the success of doing those tasks at the same.
Assess the safety factors, if any, involved (i.e. – texting and driving is bad!)
Ask if someone else can do one or both tasks for you.
Ask if doing those tasks together will actually save you time in the long run.
Decide if the tasks can be eliminated before “wasting” any more time doing them.
Doing two or more things at once can be helpful, but only if you do them the right way. Don’t give up if it doesn’t immediately create more time in your day. Don’t give up on finding the right combinations!
Take a day off.
There are two ways you can do this. You can either take an actual day off from work to get some things done during the day or you can literally take a day off from doing anything and relax. Wait? What? You want me to not be productive for a day? Yes, yes I do.
In order to add more time to your day, you need to evaluate how much time you actually have and what you spend it on when you have nothing to do. Did that make sense? Another way to look at it is to identify what motivates you to do wasteful activities, eliminate those triggers, replace them with the ones that keep you productive, and then do those activities.
It’s sort of like a teacher preparation day. Teachers take a day or two during certain times of the year to prepare for the next quarter of school. They evaluate what worked and what didn’t, change the goals and prepare a plan to execute the remainder of the year. If you’re a planner person like I am, you do this daily. If you’re not, then you should take a day out of the week and recharge your batteries.
You can plan in your planner, go get a massage, write, read, do all the chores in the house, whatever you feel would help you save more time during the day or feel better about tackling the rest of the week is what you should on your day off. Be lazy or don’t, but do it for you and make sure it works.
Prioritize and delegate.
Do you remember at the beginning of this article we talked a little on priorities? Priorities are what you deem as valuable compared to other activities. For example, as a mother, my children’s safety and happiness are my priority when I wake up each day. However, I also deem my sanity as a priority as well. So, depending on the day, one usually overrides the other. In any case, what you believe to be a priority now may not be a true and effective priority for your future.
Does watching a marathon of The Walking Dead (even though you’ve seen all the episodes before) constitute as a priority in saving you time during the day to do meaningful and essential activities that will enhance your future self? Probably not, unless a zombie apocalypse happens. So what are your priorities? Are they:
Keeping up to date on societal trends and issues
Focusing on family
Getting through the day
Completing your never ending to do list
Finding your soul mate
Being fulfilled in your job
Getting an education
Blogging your fingers off to the point that the painted letters on your keyboard are worn off and you use a fine-tipped white out pen to draw them back on only realizing that it was feeble attempt at hiding how much time and effort you spend on the computer.
If you have too many priorities then you need to act like a boss and delegate some of them out. This is where family and friends come into play or otherwise known as an effective support system. Example: I have a lawn. I can spare $10 a month. I have more on my plate than I would like. $10 dollars is worth keeping my sanity below its insane threshold. Neighbor boy mows my lawn for $10. I am still sane for the day. Priority successfully delegated.
I strongly recommend that you write down all your priorities, highlight the most meaningful ones (the ones that if you were on your death bed you would regret having neglected) and then do your best to delegate or eliminate the rest. Focus on those activities more than the others and your future will be better off for it.
In order to create more time, we must schedule our time. After we have eliminated those wasteful activities we can now assess how our time can be better spent. We can even schedule in some free fun time! Remember what free fun time felt like? It’s so exciting!
Here is an example of what I did after I reevaluated what was most important:
Now it looks a little OCD, but it’s a basic blueprint of how I want to spend my time. Yours will obviously look different but it serves as more of a guide. If you don’t write it down, it’s as if it didn’t happen. So plan your week, or if you want to break it up into smaller chunks, plan your afternoon. Try to stick to your goals for a whole day, then a week, then a month. I’ve heard it takes 28 days to create a habit and only a moment to destroy one. Don’t give up and stick to the plan! Write a contingency plan if necessary but stay with it!
Saving time is essential in today’s fast-paced world. We rely on a minute by minute update and seem to need second by second reactions. Yet, we cannot fully and effectively function without having enough time in the day to do so. To recap, you can add more time in your day by:
1.Eliminating wasteful and/or distracting activities.
2.Multi-task when it is appropriate.
3.Take a day off from everything and recharge yourself.
4.Prioritize and shell out tasks others can do to help you.
5.Plan by writing out what you want to accomplish.
Remember to always update your time saving activities as well. Also think about that even though it works now does not mean that it will work in the future. Revisit your process and adapt to changes. Just because you don’t have time doesn’t mean you can’t make time.