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15 Simple Ways to Save Time You Can Commit to NOW

15 Simple Ways to Save Time You Can Commit to NOW

As we begin to take on more and more as a society, from increased workloads to social responsibilities, there has seemingly never been a time when we have been more hard pressed for a couple of extra minutes a day.

If you share this sentiment, and time, or the lack thereof, is throwing a dead fish down your lane of productivity, perhaps these time saving tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily lifestyle might switch things up a little.

1. Write it Down

Prioritizing could not get any more simple than this. Yet, ironically so, picking up a pen to write down a To Do list can seem like the most mind boggling time waster to a majority of us! From grocery lists to priority lists, it is time to get writing. Not only will you know exactly what to do at which point in time, you will not need to go through the hassle of wasting your precious minutes trying to remember exactly that when the situation calls for it.

As much as we would like to think that our brain can retain everything that we want it to and regurgitate it at the right place and time, it is already overwhelmed with a million other thoughts. Writing important things down might save you an extra trip back to the grocery store, or a few more minutes trying to recall what was on the priority list to begin with.

2. Utilize Every Moment

Waiting in line or waiting at all for anything can seem like a drag. Rather than painfully watching every precious minute slide by, you can turn wait times into a blessing by accomplishing small tasks, like replying to a quick e-mail or sending out an important message while serving the time. Technology has made everything and anything accessible with its myriad of mobile devices; instead of getting wrapped up in social media while waiting in line or commuting on public transport, take advantage of the advent of technology by ticking things off your To Do list instead!

3. Wake up half an hour earlier than your usual time

It only takes half an hour to fit in something you have always wanted to do but simply never had enough time for. A morning exercise routine perhaps? Making a habit to sit down and eat breakfast? Meditating if you feel anxious? It is easier said than done, but if you set your alarm perhaps an hour earlier every morning, hit the snooze button for half an hour, and muster the will to crawl out of bed at least half an hour earlier than expected, you will be so much more grateful for it at the end of the day. The key is to use that half hour wisely, not sitting in bed scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, but doing things that you usually feel you could benefit from but never had the time to do.

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4. Say ‘NO’ more often

Saying NO can be more difficult for some people compared to others. Especially when the fear of missing out (FOMO) decides to swing by and laugh its head off as soon as you utter the word. But just imagine how much time you could be saving yourself by saying no to something that you really did not want to get involved in, but felt obligated to say yes to. If you can imagine yourself putting the minutes to good use by politely refusing to go along with another plan, don’t be afraid to do so.

To quote Paula Rizzo, Producer and Founder of ListProducer.com on her contribution to Entrepreneur in “The Power of Saying No”:

Once I started to really put value in my minutes, things changed. I got to do more of the things I loved while still maintaining my work relationships.

Enough said.

5. Grocery Shop in BULK

You will not believe how much time this can save you! When it comes to shopping, try and get the non-perishable items in bulk, especially if they appear to be discounted or on special offers. This will spare you the extra trip to the grocery store when you run out, and save you a buck or two simultaneously. Always think future instead of just present. Challenging your brain to go the extra mile might save you a couple minutes, and dollars, when the time calls for it. You can even store certain perishable items, like bread, in the freezer to be consumed later in the week.

6. Batch Cook!

If you often spend time preparing meals for yourself or family, you know that even the simplest of meals requires a committed amount of time in the kitchen. From slicing and dicing, to getting the dishes washed, before you know it there is no time to walk the dog or dry out the laundry. Instead of dealing with this repetitive cycle, invest a good amount of the time you have into bulk food preparation. Ever heard of batch cooking? Batch cooking allows you to plan ahead and invest 1 to 2 hours one day a week cooking meals that could last you an entire week.

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If you Google batch cooking, you will find a ton of meal preparation ideas and suggestions on the internet that could free up your hours for other things.

7. HIIT Yourself into Shape

Think you need to fit in a one hour jog or gym session to reap the most benefits? Think again! High Intensity Interval Training, or better known as HIIT, has been storming into the fitness scene of late. This workout involves short bursts of intense exercises interspersed with active recovery periods. The idea is to keep the heart rate up by alternating intense and less intense recovery periods, which in turn bumps up caloric expenditure.

Scientific research from a 2013 study in the Journal of Physiology called Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males, says that HIIT can achieve the results of low intensity longer workout sessions in half the time. To add to this, the benefits of HIIT are also reaped long after a workout is over. Less time, more results – why not?

8. Cut Down on Social Media Apps on your Mobile Devices

There are thousands of mobile apps out there that allow you to gain access to the internet and entertain yourselves with just the pressure of your thumb. According to a study featured on Techcrunch that looks into how people are using their smartphones, it is in fact social and communication apps that are garnering more popularity, and in turn consuming our time.

While apps do their part in making our lives easier, social media apps can be a dark hole of no return. A quick status check can easily distract your attention, and before you know it you find yourself bouncing off profiles and scrolling through different websites.

In fact, social media apps seem to be interestingly designed that way; they pique your interest so much that you find yourself hooked, unable to pull away. It takes great resilience, but before you make the mistake of spending hours on social media apps, perhaps it is time to delete the ones you can go without.

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Also, be smart about communicating. Picking up the phone and making a call to communicate with a friend or loved one can be so much more time efficient than typing out and sending messages on a communication app like Whatsapp.

9. Organize Effective Social / Catch up Sessions

In other words, try and kill two birds with one stone even when you decide to catch up with friends. Free in the morning? Go for a fitness class together! That way you not only tick off a workout from your list without putting it in the back burner, you also have double the fun. Late afternoon session? Shop for things that you need together that you have either been putting off for a while, or that you might need for later in the week.

Catching up at a cafe may seem ideal but the time that goes idling by can be used more effectively, and you even get a second opinion for free. And if that is not an option, then perhaps just arrange to meet at a convenient location where you need to run errands after; that will save you some travel time.

10. Become a Creature of Habit

When it comes to certain things, making a habit out of them may be the solution to your lost time. Put your car keys in the same place when you come home every day so you don’t have to spend time looking for them when you need to run out the door the next day. Put your socks in a designated sock drawer so they don’t play hide and seek when you need them. By creating habits and setting a routine, your brain will not go into a frantic fit and lose all sense of direction when you need something stat.

11. Ask Questions!

Have you ever taken a wrong bus to nowhere land just because you thought it was unnecessary to confirm the route? Or perhaps you spent a good amount of time on a project without asking your manager a few questions that you thought could be overlooked and had to redo the entire project again? Overlooking questions and concluding that they may not be important is common. Whether it is directions, instructions, or procedures, we do not have the answers to everything. And the simple solution might just be to ask. Silly you might think your question is wasting precious time, but reversing a situation you might have been able to avoid is worth the confirmation (and the pride).

12. Go by the ‘2-Minute Rule’

The 2-Minute Rule was coined by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It goes by the principle that if a task can be completed within 2 minutes, then instead of putting it off, do it then and there. It is surprising how much we can achieve in 2 minutes that we actually tend to put off. Unsubscribing from a newsletter that we might not want to receive in the future, for example, is so easy to put off for later. What we fail to realize is the later the task is accomplished, the more junk e-mail we end up having to use our precious time to delete. Living by the 2-Minute Rule rule not only avoids procrastination, but ensures that every minute counts and our actions don’t come back to bite us in the future.

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13. Invest Time to Save Time

Don’t let the phrase fool you. This simply means in order to save future time, you might have to invest a bit more time picking up on tips and cues in the present. Learning about computer programs and keyboard short cuts, for instance, might save you lots of time when it comes to getting work done if you choose to invest time to pick them up in the first place. Purposely going the extra mile to seek a shorter route (with less traffic!) to work may require more time at first, but imagine how much time in the future you will be saving by doing so.

When we are so used to our own way, it is easy to become complacent with exploration, which in turn stunts our ability to shave off the extra minutes from our usual day to day tasks. Turn being curious into an investment and you might just discover tricks to earn you some extra time moving forward.

14. Focus on One Thing at  a Time

Multitasking is a skill that many have learned to master, from busy moms to working millennials; we have all basked in the glory of multitasking at least once in our busy lives. However, research suggests that focusing our attention on more than one thing at a time may be a hit, not only to our productivity levels, but the amount of time that we take to accomplish tasks.

In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites. Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic by Steve Lohr, featured in The New York Times.

We live in an age where our attention is constantly pulled from one direction to another, but sometimes all we need to do is let go of the constant need to do and control so many things all at once. Pay attention to one thing at at a time and see how you begin to get things done so much faster.

15. Always Make Time for Yourself

Last but not least, never skimp out on a bit of me time every day, no matter how hard it may seem. Let the guilt slide; when it comes to taking time out for yourself it is important regardless of how little time the day seems to offer. Not taking care of yourself and spending at least a couple of minutes getting to know yourself and your direction can be the main reason for more time loss in your day. A tired mind and body is one that takes longer to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Just checking in with yourself will set you straight on your priorities in life, and guide you in making decisions that determine the importance of your precious time.

To conclude, time can be even more important that money. You can’t buy time, so make a conscious attempt to incorporate lifestyle changes that can maximize the number of hours you have in a day.

Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/smartwatch-smart-watch-watch-apple-28208/ via static.pexels.com

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Dimi Jani

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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