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10 Ways You Can Find More Time To Think

10 Ways You Can Find More Time To Think

People are juggling a lot these days: work, school, spouses, kids, chores, socializing and more. With all of these commitments, it can seem impossible to find the time to just sit down and think. However, time to think is important for maintaining optimal mental health. It also allows you figure out any problems in your life and do some soul-searching, if necessary. If you’re finding yourself short on time, try these 10 ways to fit thinking into your life:

1. Make the decision to make time.

If you’re going to make time to do more thinking, you need to commit to that decision. That means actively making time to do it. If you just say that you’ll make time, it’s likely that it won’t happen. Step up and make the decision that this is something that you want to do.

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2. Schedule it in.

Step two is scheduling that time. Try finding gaps in your calendar that are pretty consistent from week to week. That way, you’ll be able to schedule it in regular increments of time.

3. Write it down.

It might sound silly, but if there’s a problem that you want to think about for a while, write down what that problem is. Once you get to the point where you can sit down and think about it, remind yourself of what that issue is. This will keep the problem fresh in your mind, which will enable you to have a more informed thought process about it.

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4. Seek silence.

Even the most focused of people cannot think well around noise. It’s distracting and eats into thinking time. Try to find a time and place that is quiet and peaceful. Think of this as a time to meditate on whatever you want. This allows you to really focus all of your energy on the task at hand.

5. Be comfortable, mentally.

Many people are uncomfortable with too much time to think because they are afraid of facing their own thoughts. Don’t shy away from thinking. It’s important to be able to open up to yourself and think through things. This time is a gift, not a burden. Use it as a way to relax.

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6. Be comfortable, physically.

Laying down, sitting on a pillow, reclining on the lawn — find a space where you feel physically comfortable. This will enable you to have a pleasant experience and really get to thinking. Try to find someplace that will be comfortable for a long period of time to avoid distraction.

7. Talk to yourself.

Thinking out loud is very helpful to some people. Even if the only person listening is you, it can be great to hear ideas. It makes your thought process more concrete, and will help you reach a solution or answer more quickly than if you keep everything in your head.

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8. Take a break.

Midday breaks — such as lunchtime — are great times to think. Rather than working through lunch, take the time to gather your thoughts. Breakfast time provides another opportunity; in the morning, you can reflect about the tasks ahead and organize your day.

9. Exercise.

I find that workouts give me a great opportunity to think. This is especially true if you’re doing repetitive cardio, such as running. This involves little thought, which will give you more time to think about whatever is on your mind. The bonus is that thinking will take your mind off of the workout, which can make the activity seem easier.

10. Go on a drive.

Aimlessly driving around your neighborhood can be a great time to think. The car is quiet, and it’s a safe place to air your thoughts. Just make sure you’re not too distracted by your ideas, and pay attention to the road!

Featured photo credit: Kate Ter Haar via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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