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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Published on July 15, 2019

10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

Habits are an important part of the direction you take your life, and — as I’ll share with you shortly — there are certain daily habits you can adopt right away that are guaranteed to improve your life.

Think back to when you were just six or seven years old…

At that age you probably didn’t have many habits. But, as the years went by, you picked up more and more good and bad habits.

You may not have thought about it before, but habit forming never really stops.

That’s why it’s never too late to change your habits and transform your life.

So, if you feel burdened by your bad habits, start kicking them into shape by replacing them with these 10 positive, life-changing strategies:

1. Go to Bed a Little Earlier and Wake up Earlier 

Starting tonight, get yourself to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. And, then make sure you get up tomorrow morning 30 minutes earlier, too. This small change can have a BIG impact on your day. 

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Instead of furiously rushing in the morning to get ready for work, the extra time will give you a golden opportunity to start your day off on the right note. You can drink a smoothie while sitting on your porch, spend 10 minutes exercising and stretching, and still have time to read a few pages of an inspiring book.

2. Be Grateful for the Good Things in Your Life 

Setbacks and obstacles are inevitable in life. But, with a positive mindset, you’ll be able to overcome most of these. And, when you do, you’ll boost your self-confidence. 

This is something you can definitely be grateful for. 

However, if worst-case scenarios are playing out in your life, then sometimes, to stay strong, you’ll need to keep your mind on the good things that are happening to you. For example, your relationship with your partner might be crumbling, but your career is continuously getting stronger. It’d be easy to feel downtrodden and miserable about your relationship problems —  but, it would be much healthier to keep your mind and gratitude on these things that are going well, such as your career.

3. Drink Water All Day Every Day 

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, but are you following that advice? If not, you’re robbing your body and mind of essential hydration. 

With the right amount of water intake a day, you’ll be amazed how good you feel — and how good you look!

4. Take 15 Minutes to Set Goals for the Day, and Then Tackle Them One by One 

This strategy will put your life into a new stratosphere! And, it’s very simple to do. 

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Simply spend 15 minutes in the morning (either at home or at work) planning what you need and want to achieve during the rest of the day. Once you’ve listed your tasks, the next step is to put them into order of priority. 

For instance, you have three things to do: catch up with your emails, write a project update, and prepare a briefing for your CEO. It’s best if you put these in order of importance. In this example, your emails can probably wait until you’ve created your CEO brief and updated your project documentation.

5. Turn Off Your Cell Phone (or Put it on Airplane Mode) When You’re Focusing 

A 2012 study found that even looking at a cell phone or feeling it vibrate in your pocket can significantly distract focus and reduce your ability to complete complex tasks.[1]

It’s no surprise really, as our thoughts are subconsciously drawn towards checking our phones when they’re switched on. It’s a bad habit — but one that most of us have. However, when you need 100% focus (like I do when writing my articles), then switching your phone off, or at least putting it into airplane mode, will free your mind and supercharge your focus. Try it and see!

6. Walk as Much as You Can 

Have you noticed that most people’s lives are sedentary? They drive to work, sit in front of a screen all day, then drive home and binge on the latest Netflix series. It’s no wonder there’s a growing epidemic of obesity and mental health issues. 

Our bodies are made to move — so we should move them! This can be as simple as walking up the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator, and going out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. In the evening, instead of arriving home and crashing on the sofa; spend 20 to 30 minutes walking around your block.

When you make these things a habit, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel. You’ll have less stress — and more energy.

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7. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

How often do you stop, think and appreciate the “here and now”? I’m guessing not very often. But, I understand why. Modern life is demanding and fast-paced. There’s precious little time to appreciate the small things. 

But, if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you must break out of this trap. You can do this by allocating 15 to 30 minutes each day for mindful meditation. This could be in a park, in your garden, or even in your lounge. The trick is to focus 100% on your surroundings. 

For example, if you’re outside, watch how the leaves on the trees blow around in the wind. By keeping your focus on this movement, you’ll clear your mind from your usual stresses and strains. This will give you brain a much-needed break. And, as well as improving your mental health; you’ll find your creativity gets a boost, too.

8. Ask for Help When You Need It 

No one can know or do everything. Which is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to delegate tasks to others when needed, ask questions when you don’t have the answers, and work with partners and colleagues to clarify intentions. 

When I first set up Lifehack, I tried to do everything myself: blog writing, website creation, marketing, financial planning, etc. However, I quickly learned that it was much better to hire some help. Not only did this inject some fresh ideas and inspiration into Lifehack — it also made the whole operation way more enjoyable!

9. Practice Self Care 

Are you looking after yourself as well as you should? If not, then take steps to improve your diet, exercise more, and to speak to yourself with encouraging words and thoughts. 

The latter suggestion is often overlooked. But how you speak to yourself determines how you feel, what you believe, and what you achieve.

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10. Embrace Learning 

You cannot transform your life without learning something new. That’s because the process of change forces you to adapt. But, many people stop learning as they get older, as they find the learning process boring and bothersome. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun and rewarding. 

Whether you decide to learn to play guitar or study the basics of accounting — embrace learning, and begin changing your world for the better.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these 10 strategies are simple enough for you to start putting them into action in your life. (I suggest you begin today!) 

Nevertheless, you’ll probably need to use some extra willpower for the first 30 days or so, as this is the typical length of time it takes to create a new habit. After that, these strategies will be part of your day-to-day life, and you won’t need to think about having to do them. In other words, they’ll have become habitual actions.

If you need any further encouragement to get started with the 10 strategies, then consider this:

Even just adopting one of the strategies can turn the tide in your favor. But, when you implement all 10, you’ll create an unstoppable trend towards success, health and happiness.

So start making your life better — today!

Featured photo credit: Javier Garcia via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Deborah R. Tindell and Robert W. Bohlander, Wilkes University: The Use and Abuse of Cell Phones and Text Messaging in the Classroom: A Survey of College Students

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