Advertising
Advertising

How to Drastically Increase Your Free Time

How to Drastically Increase Your Free Time

It’s the end of another busy workday, but before you can relax at home, you’ve got to make a 30-minute drive through congested traffic. When you eventually pull up to your home, you open the front door, and then immediately crash on the sofa. You’re completely exhausted.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s certainly a common scenario. But, what makes it even worse, is the fact that it’s unlikely to be a one-off situation. Many people experience this every workday of the year!

It’s no wonder then that the majority of people are feeling overwhelmed by work and stressed by the demands of life. They feel like they just don’t have the time or energy to achieve what they want, and to do things they’d like to do. In fact, I would go even further, and say that most people can’t even find the time to do what HAS to be done – let alone time for family, friends and hobbies.

To give you a couple of examples of this, just think for a moment of the pressures that full-time working parents experience, as well as the many people who are forced to work more than one job in order to keep paying their bills.

Are you one of these people?

If yes, don’t worry, as I’m going to show you some simple ways of ordering your life so you have time left to do the things you really want to do. Take Control of Your Schedule

Just like money – you should have a budget for time.

That’s because time is non-renewable. Meaning you can’t get it back once it’s been spent. That’s why it’s important to understand where your time is going and where you could improve – especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything on your plate.

Chances are, you’re spending time doing things you may not need to be doing yourself (delegation), should be doing for less time (prioritization), or could get rid of all together (replacing bad habits with good).

Prioritization

You may be surprised to learn that you consume a colossal 34GB of information every day. And that’s on top of the 50,000 thoughts you generate in the same 24-hour period.

With this amount of mental activity and pressure – it’s easy to see why you might feel overwhelmed by the endless information and data that come your way.

Advertising

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to take back control of your mind. And, it involves using something that you almost certainly already carry with you every day… your smartphone.

Yes, your smartphone can act as the perfect memory and organization tool.

Let me explain.

Instead of trying (and inevitably failing) to remember all the important stuff that comes your way, you can let your smartphone take the strain. It can also help you plan and keep track of your days, weeks, months and years.

Until now, you might have only thought about using your smartphone for social media, news alerts, phone calls and selfies! But, your phone can do much more than these things. Especially if you install the right apps.

I recommend installing Evernote on your phone. This powerful app makes it quick and easy to jot down notes and ideas – anywhere, anytime. For instance, you can manually type notes, or you can capture images or even links to webpages. And, searching and finding things in your notes is easy, too, thanks to the clever tagging and categorizing options.

I’ve used Evernote for several years now, and I can honestly say that it’s saved me hundreds of hours. Previously, I used to jot things down in the inherent notepad app. But I frequently found myself wasting time searching through old notes as they were very unorganized and sometimes difficult to retrieve. With Evernote, your notes are stored securely in the cloud, so even if you lose your smartphone – you won’t lose your notes.

The other app I recommend you install is Google Calendar.

This app is available for iOS, Android and any browser.

 If you’ve never used it before, here’s why you should:

  • You can capture important dates, such as meetings, birthdays and anniversaries.
  • You can set reminders and alarms for key times and dates.
  • You can easily view your upcoming days, weeks and months.
  • You can share your calendar with other people, such as your partner or colleagues.
  • You don’t need to spend a cent (it’s a free app!).

Google Calendar has helped me simplify and streamline my day-to-day life. And, I’m sure it’ll do the same for you, too.

Of course, to get the most out of the Evernote and Google Calendar apps, you’ll need to make a habit of using them. (See the habit improvement section below.)

Advertising

Delegation

However strong your willpower and however much energy and drive you have – you are just one person. That means you only have a limited amount of time to work on the things that you want to achieve.

This is why delegation is such an important part of a healthy and successful life.

So what exactly is delegation?

I like to describe it as leveraging time from an outside source to give you opportunities to increase your quality time.

Let me give you an example to show you what I mean.

You’re no fan of gardening, but you hate to see your lawn at the back of your house turning into a jungle! So, every week or so in the summer, you head to the shed and pull out your rusty old lawn mower. It’s not great at cutting grass anymore, but with persistence, it does the job. From start to finish, you spend about 2 hours to get your lawn looking half-decent.

But, as I mentioned, gardening is not your thing. And quite frankly, having to regularly cut the grass has become a painful chore that eats into your free time on the weekends.

There is a solution to your problem…

You could choose to hire a professional gardener, or even a neighbor kid to help out–you simply need someone who could come every week to cut your lawn and look after your flower beds, etc. Not only would this save you the hassle of doing the work yourself, but it would also give you a few hours of extra free time a month. You could use this for whatever you fancied, perhaps learning a musical instrument, writing a book or just for meeting up with friends and family.

Of course, it’s not just gardening you might want to delegate. Think about delegating things that fall into the following three categories:

  1. Tasks that you don’t enjoy doing – perhaps cleaning your car or preparing your tax returns.
  2. Tasks you shouldn’t do – you might enjoy fixing your washing machine, but it’s likely to take you much longer than getting an expert to fix it quickly.
  3. Tasks you can’t do – for example, if you want to set up a website for your business, but you don’t have any technical skills, then you’ll probably want to hire a website developer.

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to delegate, then start delegating it!

It’s at this point that you’ll begin to see the tangible benefits to your life. You’ll have more energy, more time, and you’ll also feel freer and happier than you’ve done in ages.

Advertising

Habit Improvement

We all have habits – some good and some bad!

However, you may not have thought about just how much bad habits can cause you to waste time.

One quick example of this relates to the start of the day.

If you wake up with an alarm, do you get out of bed immediately when the alarm goes off, or do you hit the snooze button (perhaps several times)?

Snoozing might seem like a good thing at the time, but it’s definitely a bad habit. Even if you only snooze for 10 minutes in a morning, that’s an hour a week that you could use to practice your hobbies or even to help build your career.

Fortunately, snoozing is just a habit. And, habits can be changed.

Let’s see how it’s done…

First, you need to understand how habits are formed.

Picture in your mind when you learned to drive a car. At the beginning, it was nothing short of nightmarish. The pedals, the mirrors, the maneuvering, the parking! After your first few lessons, you probably thought of giving up. But, your determination was strong, and you persisted with your lessons. And, a couple of months later you were rewarded with a successful driving test pass.

While the lessons you had were certainly helpful, the real reason for you becoming a proficient driver was the power of habits. Just think how many times you practiced changing gears, reversing into parking spaces, etc. The first few times proved embarrassingly bad, but as you persisted, you became better and better – and eventually the required skills and techniques became habits for you.

This is how all habits are formed: the constant repetition of a specific behavior.

Of course, once a habit has been adopted, it’s very hard to break (just think about the difficulties people have quitting alcohol or cigarettes).

Advertising

But, there is a way to do this…

Instead of trying to break a habit, work on replacing it with something more positive.

For instance, coming back to snoozing, if you force yourself to get out of bed when your alarm goes off, you could then use the next 10 minutes or so for some gentle exercise. Now, this would probably be a very difficult thing to do for the first few days. But, keep going, and not only will it get easier to replace your snoozing with exercise, but after a few weeks, it will become a habit for you.

In other words, your old, negative habit will have been replaced by a new, positive one.

Reclaim Your Time

So now you know the secrets to drastically increasing your free time.

Use your smartphone to improve your time management and to schedule your tasks, and replace your time-wasting habits with productive alternatives.

All that’s left is for you to begin taking action.

As the famous proverb states:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Take yours now!

Featured photo credit: Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

Your Night Routine Guide to Sleeping Better & Waking Up Productive 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life 7 Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life Like a Pro How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Trending in Smartcut

1 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 2 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 3 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People 4 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards to Type Faster 5 How Procrastination Makes Time Management Ineffective

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

Advertising

1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

Advertising

There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

Advertising

So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

Advertising

And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next