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Here’s How You Find More Time In Your Schedule to Learn a New Skill

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Here’s How You Find More Time In Your Schedule to Learn a New Skill

All of us could have more time in our days. Whether it’s to spend more time with ourselves, with our loved ones, or to learn a new skill we’ve been wanting to learn. The truth is, most of us are not maximizing the time we already have to its full potential. With a little bit of structure, analysis, and optimizing, we can spare at least 3-5 hours of additional time in our schedule to learn a new language, instrument, or even cooking!

Here’s 5 steps to shave more time off your “busy” schedule.

1. Track your existing schedule

If you don’t know how you spend your day already, it’s going to be very difficult to know what’s working and what’s not. This applies in any habit, result, or goal you want to change. If you’re trying to lose weight, the first thing a nutritionist will tell you is to keep track of everything you’re eating throughout the day.

Start by tracking everything you’re doing during the day on your calendar. Keep it simple by categorizing each task into two colors representing:

  1. Work time (blue)
  2. Free time (green)

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    While all of our schedules will be different, you’ll be surprised to know how much “green” space you have in our day to invest in learning or something else more productive for you. For consistency, it’s recommended to track your schedule for at least three days, since you may have had a bad or good day of productivity.

    This information will help you with the next step…

    2. Prioritize

    Now that we understand how we already spend our days, it’s time to prioritize what matters. Whether you use a to-do list or a calendar to schedule your day, try reverse-engineering your end-goal to the tasks you have set for the day.

    Here’s a logical framework to refer to:

    • What’s my ultimate goal that I am trying to achieve? (learn Spanish, increase your business revenue, etc.)
    • Which of these tasks will bring me closer to my goal?
    • Which of these non-impactful tasks can I outsource or eliminate completely?

    From there, we’re going to borrow what a productive framework used by Dwight Eisenhower called, “The Eisenhower Box.”

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    Start by categorizing your current task list and any upcoming ones into these 4 categories:

    • Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
    • Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
    • Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
    • Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

    1397521201-use-eisenhower-box-stop-wasting-time-more-productive

      From here, you should focus only on the tasks that are in the “do” and “decide” category. Everything else, you should…

      3. Eliminate

      Now that you have your most impactful tasks categorized, it’s time to eliminate the unnecessary and unimportant tasks that are simply a waste of time. For many of us, this is checking social media, email, watching television, gossiping with friends, etc. After listing all of these tasks, try to experiment over the next five days without any of these, and see how much free time you have shaved off in your schedule.

      For tasks that may seem urgent, but not important…

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      4. Delegate

      It’s our nature to handle every single detail of our work, but they rarely lead to moving our end-goal forward. This can be potentially dangerous, especially when we’re focused on unimportant tasks that require a lot of our time. As Gary Vaynerchuk often states, “delegating is easy when you realize that 99% of what you do doesn’t matter.”

      Now Gary may have a team of 500+ supporting him, but you can just as well hire a virtual personal assistant to accomplish the same tasks. You can check out websites like Upwork, Guru, or Freelancer to outsource these small, important tasks that need to be urgently completed. These tasks may include: travel research, flight booking, blog post updates, podcast editing, and more.

      5. Optimize

      Last, but not least, it’s time to optimize and refine your schedule to meet its full potential.

      Here are the 3 ways to accomplish this:

      i. Shorten your deadline for individual tasks

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      As stated by Parkinson’s Law, most of us take more time than necessary to complete a task. If we give ourselves three hours to complete a small task, we’ll do our very best to use up all those three hours to complete it. However, if we only gave ourselves 15 minutes, we’ll find a way to get it done. Ask yourself: how many of the tasks on your schedule actually take up the time you allocated to it? Can you do it sooner?

      ii. Cut out your least important free time

      While we need breaks during our day, some breaks such as spending time with family is more important than watching Game of Thrones on Netflix. Find one free time in your schedule that is the least important, and cut it out from your schedule.

      iii. Bundle your free times together

      Or you can use my personal favorite option: bundling free time together. This means instead of having 2 slots of 30 minutes to check email or social media, you can simply use that first 30-minute slot to do both. Chances are, we already multi-task nearly everything we do anyways, so why not multi-task during our free times, rather than during our important tasks?

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      Now…it’s your turn

      Which of these productive steps were your favorite?
      What skill will you learn after shaving off more time in your schedule?
      We’d love to hear from you below.

      More by this author

      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Published on September 21, 2021

      How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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      How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

      The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

      In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

      1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

      Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

      But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

      Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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      Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

      Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

      While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

      Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

      2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

      At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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      Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

      Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

      Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

      McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

      From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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      3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

      An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

      McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

      Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

      Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

      Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

      So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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      The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

      If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

      Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

      Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

      Reference

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