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Dear 20somethings, 5 Tips on Investing Your Time

Dear 20somethings, 5 Tips on Investing Your Time

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the idea of not wasting time. Even as a kid, I had things to do. I wanted to get through school so I could get to the good stuff. Then I wanted to get through sleeping so I could get to morning again.

There’s too many interesting things, too much to learn to let the days slip by on things that don’t matter.

I’m in my 30s now, and I’ve figured out a few things worth giving my time to… and a few things that definitely shouldn’t get your precious minutes.

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1. Don’t waste your time worrying about what other people think of you.

Easier said than done, I know. This is a lifelong struggle for most of us, because even the most stoic still secretly like to be admired and appreciated. We want to feel good about ourselves, and it’s easier to do that when we know other people feel good about us.

But you can’t make everybody happy. It’s not your job, and it’s not even within your power. Once you realize that other people’s happiness is up to them – not up to you – you also begin to realize that you can control your own happiness. That truth helps you let go of the need to please other people.

2. Quit trying to find your passion.

Yeah, the trendy thing is to live your passion, follow your passion, do work you love (passionately), and, in short, know a lot more about yourself than most twenty-somethings know. The truth is that it often takes a long time – sometimes years, sometimes decades – to develop a deep, abiding passion about some subject or area or person or life purpose.

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In other words, if you don’t feel like you “have a passion” yet, don’t waste time trying to find it, or feel bad that you don’t have it. This is the time to learn, to get input, to explore, to discuss, to try and fail at a few dozen things. Do that for a few more years and you’ll have some good fodder to develop into a lifelong passion.

3. Cultivate a hobby.

Here’s a thing about life as a twentysomething: almost all the stable things in your life will change. You will experience change in your student status, your job(s), perhaps even your entire career direction, your relationships, your locale, your housing situation, and more. You are in the decade of new beginnings, which is great and all… But new beginnings come with a lot of change, a lot of upheaval, and a lot of adjustment.

This may sound silly, but in the midst of the big changes, it’s really important to have something that stays normal. Something that is unique to you, something you can cultivate into a routine, a ritual, a dependable part of your life that can flex with you through all those changes.

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A hobby is just that sort of thing. You can take up kayaking or karate, scrapbooking or banjo playing, and that hobby will adjust with you through the changes of your life. It’s a small thing, but one small, steady thing can help you adjust to each new normal.

4. Let go of friendships that aren’t working.

Friends are, arguably, more important when you’re in your twenties than they ever have been before. You’re identifying your own life and role outside of your family, and friends play a big part in that.

But some friends will hurt you, not help you; we’re all in different places in life. The sooner you can see that letting go is, at times, the best decision you can make for everyone, the better off you will be.

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5.Trust yourself more.

This is the one that will make the most difference in your life, right now, if you’ll do it. The truth is that you will make plenty of mistakes. Some will hurt. Some will change you. But all of them will teach you something. When you can begin to trust yourself enough to take the risks you need to take, you will still have to walk through mistakes. But you will get stronger through each one. You won’t waste time pretending to be something you are not. You won’t stuff down the little voice inside that knows what works for you and what doesn’t.

In short, you’ll still have plenty of changes to make stupid decisions, and deal with the consequences, but you won’t be wasting time on stupid decisions that are pointless and consequences that carry no benefit.

When you trust yourself and move forward, even if you mess up some in that process, you learn about yourself. You learn to listen better. You learn to take yourself seriously. You learn what you need to learn so you can do better next time.

That’s really what we’re all still learning.

Featured photo credit: Bev Goodwin via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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