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Five Hints to Reclaim Time for Yourself

Five Hints to Reclaim Time for Yourself
Make time for yourself

Sometimes it seems like your life just isn’t your own anymore – work, family, and other obligations swallow it up to such an extent that we often look back and wonder where all the time went! No wonder, then, that many of us feel as if life is just passing us by, and we can do no more than helplessly watch. However, with these tips and a little willpower, you can create time to center yourself and face the world with renewed enthusiasm.

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Use your commute time

The most obvious opportunity to create time for yourself is the commute to work. Of course, it’s hardly the ideal conditions for some quality time — you either have both hands clamped to the steering wheel, or are crammed shoulder to shoulder on a bus or train! There’s only one thing that can be said in situations like this — God bless the iPod: an inspiring audio book, meditative visualization or piece of music can be just the thing to leave you walking into work energised and refreshed. However, even if you don’t have anything to listen to, you can still turn the time to your advantage. Try a spot of ‘observing the world’ – letting your mind go absolutely still, and seeing everything and everybody around you as it really is, without your mind to filter it. A few minutes of looking at life this way each day can really bring your own inner being to the fore, and lead to a new and more empathetic understanding of the world around you.

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Take some time between tasks

Often we rush into a new task still thinking about the task we have just completed, which affects our productivity as our mental processes are split between two things at the same time. Instead, why not take a conscious pause in between one task and the next? Use the time — it could be as short as a minute — to reaffirm to yourself what is truly important (this can be very easily lost running from one event to another). For a few seconds, feel that you are clearing all the mental chattering connected to what you were just doing, and creating an empty space of peace and silence at the core of your being. Then at the end of this quiet moment you can direct all your attention to the next task you are about to perform.

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Mornings are golden

The best time to choose for yourself is early morning — the atmosphere is calmer and more peaceful, and there is almost zero possibility of a phone call or some other such distraction interrupting you. Having time for yourself as soon as you wake up also makes you more centred as you approach the day’s multifarious tasks — a little like putting money in the bank. Also, many hobbies, like jogging or meditation, are much easier and more enjoyable when done before the outside world really kicks into gear. If at all possible, try and have that time before breakfast — mealtimes have a funny way of eating (pardon the pun) into any time you had planned afterwards.

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Make sure your time stays your time

Today’s fluid communication culture often means that we are often interrupted from what we are doing by a call and pulled into yet more comings and goings. The company mobile or Blackberry can seem like a godsend when you first get it, and it is often only a few months later that you notice your working hours have been creeping upwards because your boss is always in touch with you to see if that important project has been delivered yet. If you truly want your time to be exactly that, then hit the off button, and make any other arrangements you need so that no-one will disturb you.

When you do get time to yourself, use it!

Often when we do get a much needed respite from life, we whoop for joy and then aimlessly flop on the couch and reach for the remote. However relaxing that may be, it does nothing to address the reason why we need the time in the first place — to reconnect with ourselves amidst this turbulent world. Using the time to engage in creative or athletic pursuits that help us grow as a person gives us a lasting sense of joy and fulfillment, which will further inspire us to clear room in our lives for growth and self-discovery. How we use the time we do get has a big bearing on whether we will actively seek to create that time in future.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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