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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.

More by this author

Craig Dewe

Craig founded Lifestyle Outlaws, with the belief that everyone should have the time, money and health to do what they want with life.

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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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