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How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

Time is finite. Each of us on this planet are here only temporarily. It’s important to use time wisely, yet it is easy to get caught up spending your time doing things that don’t really matter.  Most people act in ways that are only sustainable if we had an infinite amount of time.  But we don’t.

Imagine you were able to save $10 per day, and let it build. After a year you will have accumulated $3,650. Equally, if you were able to save 10 minutes of a day to be reused later, by the end of the year, you would have saved 60 hours.

What would you choose?

Most would go with the money. It’s understandable. Humans like tangible rewards.

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However, money by its nature is salvageable. If you lose money, you may have the opportunity to make it back again. But time is different. Once an hour passes, you lose that hour forever. What many people often forget is that those accumulated 60 hours can become something far more valuable than $3,650.  To truly value our time, we must convert it into something tangible in our minds.

Money Is Tangible but Time Is Not?

Our lives are a series of experiences.  Everything we pursue is, at the end of the day, aimed at creating positive meaning out of these experiences.  Everyone wants to have more enjoyable experiences than unenjoyable ones, and want the same for those they care about.

But what is the currency that you must trade to have these experiences?

That currency is time.  Everything is just a means to this end.  Without time to spend, everything else is meaningless. You can be a billionaire, but if you had only 1 hour to experience its value, those billions are suddenly not worth so much.

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We are generally much more conscious of how we gain and lose money.  For example, if you dropped $100 on the floor, I’m pretty sure you would immediately turn around and pick it up.  On the other hand, if you wasted 100 minutes doing nothing, it might barely register.

Although we know that time is limited, we often think and act as if it is not. It’s obvious that treating your finances in this way, like having a $100 budget but spending as if it was $10,000, would soon get you bankrupt.  Treating time like this is far more damaging.

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”

– John Lennon

The reason that money seems so tangible is because dollar figures are attached to everything around us.  It helps us to assign relative value between things.  But it can be the same for time.

The Only Way to Measure the Value of Time

A day will always be 24 hours. There will always be 60 minutes in an hour, and there will always be 60 seconds to a minute. Some lives are longer, some are shorter, but let’s assume you’re lucky and get around 70-80 years.   How many of these years are the prime of your youth, or in good health?  How many of these years are just short windows in time that you have with your loved ones?  Instead of just considering time as a quantity spent in minutes or hours, how we spend it is more important.  Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time.  And you should also look at it from more than one dimension. For example, ask yourself these questions.

  • How many hours in a day do you spend being angry, anxious, dissatisfied, or unhappy?
  • How much time do you spend actually connecting with a loved one as opposed to just being in the same room as them?
  • How much time do you plan for improving yourself each day, or each week?
  • How many hours of your life do you spend doing things you don’t enjoy for reasons that you don’t really understand?
  • We sleep on average 6-8 hours a night, but how many hours are quality rest?  How many, then.. are just wasted lying in bed?

If these are typical questions that you regularly take actions to address, then you’re well on your way to being in charge of the quality of your life.  If you don’t, then it’s a great time to get started.

I’m not suggesting to quit your job, and spend everyday however you like. That is unreasonable and unrealistic. However, there are countless choices that you make everyday about how you think about things and what you decide to focus on.  You’re constantly making these choices whether you’re aware of them or not.  If you take charge by being consciously aware of these choices, you can gain countless  hours, days, and even years of meaningful time spent.  Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, but you can take control over more of this time than you think.

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The first step is to make quality time a true value in your life, and not just a cliche.

Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time.

What if you could take small actions during the day that vastly improved the quality of your sleep?  Or boost your productivity and energy through the day by investing in a 20 minute nap.  How about spending time connecting more deeply with friends and loved ones in the short time you have with them?  These are only the tip of the iceberg in an encyclopaedia of ways to increase the quality of your time, which is one of our core values at Lifehack.  You can find out more about how to make the most of your time here: Time Merchant.

Some of the greatest regrets we have in life are those valuable moments lost because of how we chose to spend our time.  Imagine the millions we would pay to be able to go back in time to respend those moments, or to make different choices. So make the choice to truly value your time.  While you’re still alive and breathing, it’s never too late!

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Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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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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