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Don’t Waste Your Time! 7 Tips For A More Productive And Happy Life

Don’t Waste Your Time! 7 Tips For A More Productive And Happy Life

Your time is valuable. It’s a limited, finite resource that, once used, can never be reclaimed. Yet too many people waste it with little or no thought to the ramifications. By getting a full understanding of how your time is spent and spending the time to ensure you understand your priorities, you will be able to stop wasting time and live a more meaningful, full life. Learn how not to waste your time and live a more productive and happy life in 7 easy steps:

1. Prioritize your day.

Often we are more efficient when we are the most busy. Take the holidays for example. We have a list as long as Santa’s and seemingly no time to get it done, yet we do. So let’s learn from that and prioritize tasks like it’s just before your holidays. Create a list containing everything that must be done that day. That will help you prioritize your day and not waste time on things that don’t matter.

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2. Create a list every morning. Write it down. And stick to it.

Planning out your day and the steps that need to be taken for it to be successful is the quickest way to stop wasting time. You need a visual reminder of what needs to be done and how much has been completed. This can’t be done “in your head”. Be clear on what you need to do. It needs to go on a sheet of paper, in your phone, emailed to yourself, or placed on your desk each and every day. Most people don’t realize they are wasting time until it’s too late. Plan ahead and ensure you know exactly what you need done each and every day.

3. Value your time and learn to say no.

Make sure you value all your available time.  Helping others is a great thing, but stop pleasing people at the expense of your own productive time. Ensure that your lists and tasks get done before helping others. By focusing on staying productive in the tasks that you do, you will find you will have much more time to help others without cutting into your productivity.

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4. Take time to find out what you do well and what needs improvement.

Be proactive about becoming more efficient. Track your time for a few days and find out the pattern you spend time on. Write down everything.  If you spend 5 minutes checking Facebook, write it down. You may find that those 5-minute distractions add up to a much larger chunk of wasted time than you expect. Be sure to look for trends. Did a task take longer on a certain day? Did you find that you’re more productive in the morning or just after lunch? Find the time when you’re most focused and the tasks that need the most concentration, and put them together.

5. Understand all ramifications of major decisions.

Major decisions, changes and projects can seem like a great decision, and often these changes need to be made. But large, sweeping changes often lead to inefficient management of your time and wasting time. Take the time to think through and project out how these decisions will play out in the long run. Who will be affected, and what might the response be? By understanding the ramifications, you can better steer clear of the pitfalls of productivity that a new major change can bring.

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6. Keep your mind sharp…

A healthy person of mind and body is a productive person in practice. Learn something new every day, read a book or study a second language. Don’t give up habits that help you warm up; rather, continually work out your brain.  You’ll be more productive and perceptive.

7. And your body fit.

The same is true of your body. Spending 30 minutes, three times a week can do wonders for your energy levels.  An active person will be a more productive person.  You’ll sleep better and your time awake will be more focused and productive.

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Never forget how valuable your time really is.  Taking time to reflect about your current processes, focus on planning your future endeavors and taking care of you body and mind will continue to make your time more productive and your life more fulfilling.

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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