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How to Create, Keep, and Grow More Time

How to Create, Keep, and Grow More Time

Time, why do you punish me? Like a wave crashing into the shore, you wash away my dreams.

Hootie and the Blowfish

I remember listening to this song for the first time, circa 1995, and thinking to myself, “What garbage.”  Wasted time, at least for me as an undergrad, didn’t really mean that much at the time.  I don’t really know the exact moment that time became precious, but it seemed to happen overnight.  In one instant, that which was plenty all of a sudden became scarce.  Work, family, friends, and that little selfish individual inside were all conveniently requesting a share.  In a second, I was left with just an empty pie tray and no pie. Hootie’s words came ringing in my ear, “An hour only lasts for one second, one second”…damn them!!!  I decided that I will respect time and make it a friend.  After much thought and meditation, I began exploring all things productivity.

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Here are a few simple things that I implemented immediately, some of which I still do:

I carried post-it notes wherever I went to capture any ideas, tasks, appointments, and reminders.  For about 5-10 minutes every day, I would organize those notes into a journal to keep track of what I needed to do that day or the following day. Once the journal started becoming a hassle to maintain, I upgraded to a software tool. Eventually, I found GTD. For those who don’t know what GTD is, it is a bestselling book by David Allen called “Getting Things Done,” and it can help you organize and manage your life.  It’s one of the best books on productivity that I’ve ever read.

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This was a great start, but eventually I came up with three things that MUST be done—in addition to the above suggestions—to really become productive day in and day out.   I call them the three Hows. The three Hows are very basic: How do I create more time, How do I keep more time, and How do I grow more time?

How to create more time

This is, of course, not an all-inclusive list, but it’s a good start to reclaiming some time back.  These were some of my biggest time-wasters:

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  1. Television – just stop it.  Besides the occasional news, a movie every once in a while, some documentaries, and Shark Week, I found it to be a huge time-waster.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some quality programs out there, it’s just that you’re not watching those programs. You’re watching a rerun of Wipeout.  Let me spoil it for you: they all wipe out.
  2. Internet/web – It’s really become the new television, and as such, an equivalent waste of time.  Ask yourself this, “Do I really need to see another cat video?”
  3. Email – This was a more difficult one for me since responding to emails made me believe that I was being more productive. However, responding to emails all day was actually making me less productive by taking my focus off things that I really needed to get done.  I now limit my time and frequency of responding to emails.

How to keep more time

  1. Outsourcing – Pay someone else to do something that will take you more time to do. Your time is precious, so if you can afford to pay someone to do the gardening or house-cleaning, do it. Using virtual assistants to accomplish certain tasks like research can also be an invaluable tool to save time.
  2. Time management system – It’s a must.  Get yourself some type of time management system that will help organize tasks.  There are a lot out there to choose from with many different features that range in price, so try a few and decide which one will match your needs. A good task management system will save you hours every week.

How to grow more time

I have no idea. Obviously, nothing you do will add a second more time to your day or your life, so I would be remiss here if I provided any advice on that.  What I really mean is how do I ensure the quality of the time that I have just worked hard to create and keep?  I have found that being surrounded with great people who are smarter and more productive than me always helps.

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Also, there is something that is intrinsically mystical about being around those you love and respect, and those that love and respect you.  It’s indescribable. Those moments seem to transcend time and just stand still, in all excitement and in full clarity.  Those moments never seem to be affected by time.

Teach yourself to be aware of time and remember that time is not your enemy – so don’t fight against it, but use it wisely.

 

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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