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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 July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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