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Bank Robbery!

Bank Robbery!

There’s been a robbery, and you’re involved!

Scene of the Crime

For those two hours last night that you watched television, someone else stole that time and applied it to writing a little bit more on their new, completely obvious, “I had that idea already” book, and they’re going to sell it for $200,000 up front.

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When you surfed RSS feeds an extra hour looking for the perfect productivity tip, someone snuck in and ran off with that time. They used it to read a chapter on Java scripting, and they took the practice tests in the back. Looks like they’re ready to turn that hour into a new career and a raise.

I’m sorry to report this: the time bank has been compromised.

In fact, the more I investigate, our protective measures are downright porous. We develop systems, and those pesky thieves come in and steal the time away anyhow. The nerve of them. That’s our time. We had plans for it. I’ve taken an informal audit of a lot of blogs, and I’ve found that time we’re regretting not having. Just a few blogs over from Lifehack.org, there’s a girl really lamenting having watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy again, BACK TO BACK, because she realized shortly thereafter that she was still $500 in the hole for the rent this month, and it’s already July 3rd.

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Time is Finite

I really don’t have to continue illustrating this point, do I? One of the greatest hacks you can pull off in your own life is to get real about the amount of time you take for leisure and frivolous consumption, and measure it against all the other things you intend to get done with your life. If you’re looking for that extra few hours to spend with the kids, I bet you I know right where it is. If you’re trying to get that novel written, I’ve got pages 45-100 right here.

You can save food. You can save money. You can save all kinds of things. But not time. Time is a running debit, forever in withdraw mode, and with no recharge method. The best you can do, and this is the goal of some of the hacks we present here, is to channel your energy into spending the currency of time more wisely. Again: there is no saving, only wise spending.

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And yet, the paradox is there: you can maximize time. You can multiply time. You can parallel time. Because time is already in motion, that’s the only way to get more out of time than what you’re already alotted.

5 Tips

Just in case this isn’t practical enough for you Life hackers, here are five better ways to spend time:

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  • Pay the $5 for someone else to delivery your groceries, and order them online (where available).
  • Buy cheap digital timers and stick them next to your TV and next to your main internet station. Set a budget, and stick to it.
  • Teach others to do parts of what you do and share. Force multiplication doesn’t make you less important. It doesn’t give away your job. It shows leaders at your organization that you’ve got a skill they need to better scale the enterprise.
  • Get up 1/2 hour early every day. Sure, get your 8 hours if you can, but if you’re going past that boundary, learn. It takes a while, but you can turn that 1/2 hour into plenty more gold.
  • Write this down: I can always earn more money. Time is finite. Post that liberally around the home, office, car, bathroom.

There are other hacks that I’m evolving that continue along the practical vein. I’ve started to muse about it in my post about time quilting, but the concept’s not fully evolved. Do feel free to add your thoughts. They’ll help me spend less time baking my own.

–Chris Brogan sleeps four hours a night and writes voraciously. He produces two podcasts (soon to be three), and will one day implode. He recently saw Superman (2 hours, 20 minutes) and wishes he could get his time back. Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and does content stuff at Grasshopper Factory.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

4. Be Who You Are

It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

5. Slow Down and Let Go

Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

Final Thoughts

What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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