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

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?

      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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      Last Updated on November 12, 2020

      Learn How to Be Productive and Happy With These 11 Tips

      Learn How to Be Productive and Happy With These 11 Tips

      A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness. When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to be productive.

      There are also many things that contribute to unhappiness here: Facebook notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

      Learn how to be productive with the 11 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

      1. Be Happy Now

      Life is too short. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, be happy now. Start by finding something to be grateful for; everyone has at least one good thing in their life, and most have many more.

      Most of the world still has trouble getting access to clean drinking water…that means you can even be grateful for that bottle of Aquafina you’ve got on your desk right now.

      2. Finish Your Day Before It Starts

      Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set important goals daily. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it in order to spend your time on important tasks.

      If you know exactly what you have to do and the timeframe you want to complete it in, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to be productive.

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      Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

      3. Celebrate the Small Wins

      Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.

      For example, after I finish writing this article, and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!

      4. Leverage Like There’s No Tomorrow

      Look for ways to use the 80/20 rule by identifying tasks that you might be able to outsource or leverage out to a virtual assistant.

      Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.

      Don’t be afraid to trust others with tasks you believe they can do. They’ll likely be happy for the opportunity, and you’ll feel better about lowering the amount of work you have to get done.

      5. Recharge Your Batteries

      Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax in order to recharge throughout the day and after work.

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      One study found that the best way to ensure consistent productivity throughout the day is to work for about 50 minutes, followed by a 15-20 minute break[1]. As you’re trying to learn how to be productive, follow this pattern to get started[2].

      Take breaks to be more productive

        Here are some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.

        6. Become an Early Riser

        This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.

        Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. A productive person will use this time to exercise, meditate, or get a head start on their day.

        7. Do Work You’re Passionate About

        Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.

        Find what you’re passionate about and do it, even if it’s just through a hobby. Make time for the things you love and learn how to be productive more easily.

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        8. Use Time Blocks

        When I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying, like updating your social media and checking email. Instead, start developing better work habits and manage your time for a more productive day.

        There are plenty of apps that can help you do this, or you can simply set an alarm on your phone so you know when you can take a break and enjoy some free time. During your set time block[3], do your best to eliminate distractions. Find a quiet space, declutter your desk, and create a short to-do list to keep you on track.

        Time Blocking for Productivity

          9. Avoid Interruptions

          Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task, your level of productivity takes a hit.

          We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking the crazy night they had last weekend. By the time s/he’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were, and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.

          Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.

          Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

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          10. Shut Down the Digital Disruptions

          iPhones, mailbox notifications, Twitter, Facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus when you want to learn how to be productive.

          It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.

          11. Measure Your Success

          Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.

          How’s your progress? Are you moving in the right direction? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.

          Of course, in order to track you progress, you need to set specific milestones so you know that you’re on your way to achieving any big or small goal.

          The Bottom Line

          With these 11 effective tips, you’ll learn how to be productive and find more time to do the things that make you happy.

          Start small and take up each suggestion one-by-one. That way, you can boost your productivity, and create joy along the way.

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          Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

          Reference

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