Advertising
Advertising

Finding Time

Finding Time

A frequently asked question about my productivity is, “How do you find the time to do all that?” I often joke that I don’t sleep (and well, I don’t really sleep enough), but the truth of the matter is that I’ve spent a lot of time really examining the way I spend my time, and I’ve made decisions based on what I’ve decided mattered to me. Let’s talk about it, and see if any of this resonates with you.

Passion versus Hobbies– Do you have a lot of hobbies? Lots of folks that I know in the GTD/productivity world seem to be early adopters, engaged learners, and tryer-outers of all things new and interesting. If you regularly subscribe to Lifehack.org , Lifehacker.com, MAKE Magazine, 43 Folders, and a good dozen other sites, there are LOTS of opportunities presented to you to try new things, explore ideas, grow new hobbies.

But how many of these new hobbies are passions? How many of your attempts to get things done end up becoming new multi-hour projects that aren’t directly related to that thing you’re doing? It becomes a game of sharpening your saw for the eventual chopping down of the tree, but with no main event.

Advertising

Are these hobbies detracting from your true work? Are they getting in the way of your passion? Is the relentless pursuit of following these trends, tips, reminders, howtos, and other interesting things a series of “shiny object” moments keeping you from your main events?

Distractions count as friction on your life.

Television Excuses– People get really itchy when I tell them I don’t watch television. I’m not snobby and snide about it. I just choose not to watch TV. I do, however, watch DVDs and I even catch up on TV series in chunks, thanks to Netflix. And people make fascinating excuses for the amount of television they watch. It’s perfectly okay if you watch television, but you can’t then wonder why I’m churning out twelve posts a day, drawing, recording podcasts, and doing all the things I want to do, and how come you can’t. Isn’t it obvious? Consumption of content is in direct disparity to CREATING content.

Advertising

If you want to do more with your time, then choose to do so. Choose to cut things from your time that don’t bring you the same return and value. Oh, and here’s one for me to think about along with you: the internet and using a computer are often only marginally more “valid” than watching the average fluff television program.

Eliminate Distractions– I’m a very big fan of the first Matrix movie, and I like to use it to illustrate points often. The scene where Morpheus and Neo (whoa!) are walking down the busy street in the Matrix and Neo’s getting slammed into by folks is a great way to illustration distractions. There are lots of these at your job. There are even more outside of work. Everywhere you go, there are chances to be very distracted, and these distractions count as FRICTION on your life.

Learning to see what parts of your job are distractions is a great way to deal with time starvation. Are you putting FAR TOO MUCH detail into your emails, your status reports, the communication around what it is you do? I had a friend that used three fonts and four colors in his weekly status report to the boss. I used plain text. He used four paragraphs per project. I used two lines. Yes, occasionally, I had to clarify something I’d sent, but that was the exception.

Advertising

Where are the other places where you’re putting in too much for too little back? Because every one of those effort points is time you can reclaim for your life.

Time/Money Balance– I pay six dollars a week for someone to deliver my groceries for me. This saves me one hour of effort, whatever gas it takes to get back and forth to the store, and keeps me very attentive to what I spend and how. I’m looking into paying someone to help with the housework, because I loathe cleaning the house, and because I want to use that time for creative pursuits that are more useful to me.

The seesaw is simple: If you don’t have money, you make up for it with time. If you don’t have time, you make up for it with money. It’s up to you to choose which you have, where you need time, and go from there. For instance, if you book flights several weeks in advance, it cuts the cost. If you return your books and DVDs on time, you avoid fees. But, if you pay someone to do your laundry, it might free you to do something that’s worth more than the few dollars you save expending the time it’d take to do that chore.

Advertising

Summary– It’s your life, and you can make your own choices, but you will only have one life. If you are spending yours wondering why everyone else is doing interesting work while you can’t find the time, you might want to review. If you’re happy, it’s a great thing. Be happy. Happy certainly trumps most advice anyone can give, right? Here’s the summary:

  • Try trimming hobbies to make room for passion.
  • Television is a condiment, not a meal. Use it that way.
  • Trim distractions and excess from your day.
  • Spend money over time, if you need more time.

The broad goal of everything I say to you is this: examine your life, the way you’re engaging in it, and determine if you’re walking straight towards the goals you’d like to accomplish, or if these things I’ve mentioned aren’t pushing you off into the brambles that crowd either side of the road. We’re here to help. Ask us anything.

–Chris Brogan finds time to write about creativity and self-improvement at [chrisbrogan.com]. He generates content at Grasshopper Factory.

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Lifehack

1 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 2 How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone 3 Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them 4 How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever 5 The Lifehack Show: Overcoming Anxiety Through Personal Agency with Dr. Paul Napper

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

Advertising

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

Advertising

If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

Advertising

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

Advertising

Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Get Unstuck

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

Read Next