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How to Organize Your Life to Find More Time

How to Organize Your Life to Find More Time

Does This Sound Familiar?

Everyone seems to complain about being busy nowadays. That’s no surprise considering the wealth of information, activities and opportunities that we have at our fingertips when compared to just a few decades ago, but it also means that one of our most precious resources – time – is becoming even harder to control.

That said, there are people who are achieving amazing things every day in the same 24 hours that we all have available. So what do they know that most people don’t?

What’s Really Important to You?

We’re surrounded by distractions that will steal our time if we’re not careful. Everyone is busy for 24 hours a day but it’s important to remember that we’re all busy doing different things.

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The question is whether you are busy doing the things that are really important to you, or if you find your days filled with endless time vampires. For more information check out How to Improve Your Life by Discovering Your Why, which goes into detail about focusing on what’s really important to you.

How to Organize Your Life to Maximize Your Productivity

Here’s a simple exercise to look at where your time is going on an average day and to help prioritize the important stuff:

  1. Take out a piece of paper and divide it into 3 sections
  2. In the first section write “Sleep – 8 hours” or whatever that number is for you
  3. In the second write “Work – 8 hours”
  4. Now in the final box write down the following things and the time they take
    1. Things that you have to do (showering, commuting, eating, etc)
    2. Things that you want to do (activities, time with family, etc)
    3. Other things that you currently do (TV, Facebook, etc)
    4. Anything else that takes your time each day and isn’t captured already

Now you simply ask yourself if you’re happy with where your time is going in that additional 8 hours. If you wish you had more time to spend on your hobby or with your family but find you’re spending a couple of hours in front of the TV each night then you might want to change that.

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This exercise is designed to show us the places where we’re leaking time into activities we don’t really care about. At the end of the day it’s up to you how you structure your life. Maybe you’d rather spend more time watching TV and less time with your family; it’s completely up to you.

Eliminating Huge Time Sucks from Your Life

There are also parts of our life that you might have to do right now but aren’t always the best use of your time. For example you might spend an hour or two commuting to and from work. That’s time that you’re losing every single day of your life and you’ll never get it back.

You might look at how you can get a job closer to home or tele-commute a few days a week. Since my commute is 7 steps from the bedroom to the office (yes I just counted), it saves me a ton of time every day that I’d otherwise lose. Again it’s your life and completely up to you which choices you make –  just be aware that there are always choices available.

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Other things might include dropping off and picking up children when you could take turns with other parents. Perhaps you jump on Facebook or turn on the TV and it’s time for bed before you know it. Limiting yourself in these areas can reveal a whole bunch of wasted productive time.

Using “Dead Time” Productively

If you still need to commute or do other tasks, then you’ll want to work out the most productive way you can do it. For example, you might start listening to personal development or business audios while commuting to up-skill in some area. By turning your car into a driving university you can easily listen to 5-10 hours of uplifting audio every week… that’s 250 to 500 hours a year!

When cooking or cleaning, you might get the kids involved or simply have them sit at the kitchen counter so you can chat. That way you have quality time with the kids every night as you cook and eat dinner at the same time. You’re basically asking yourself how to maximize the time spent on those “must do” activities.

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It’s Your Time… So Organize Your Life to Get What YOU Want

We all have a limited amount of time each day and it’s up to us to make the most of it. By knowing what’s important to you and making the most of your dead time you change your life dramatically. Remember it’s about designing your ideal life   not somebody else’s – so focus on what works for you.

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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