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The Top 10 Things I Learned Meditating for 35 Hours over One Week

The Top 10 Things I Learned Meditating for 35 Hours over One Week

I remember it vividly.

About four years ago I was at a tea shop reading a book on meditation, when a Buddhist monk walked in and sat across the room from me.

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    As I read, I occasionally looked up at him, and saw that he was mindfully sipping on a cup of tea. He would slowly bring the cup to his mouth, smell the tea, then drink it slowly, savoring its taste, and slowly rest his arm back down again. He drank it so slowly that it took him about an hour to finish the small cup.

    I remember thinking, “What a complete waste of time.”

    After all, he could have gotten so much more done in that hour than just drinking tea. What if he picked up a book? What if he listened to a podcast or a few TED talks and learned something new? What if he invited one of his other monk friends to join him? He could have been so much more productive.

    Today, I think the exact opposite.

    Four years later – yesterday, in fact – I sat alone in my kitchen mindfully sipping a cup of tea. Like the monk, it took me about an hour, but I truly couldn’t imagine a better use of my time.

    Meditation and mindfulness look absolutely pointless on the surface, and that’s because on the surface, they are. The real magic of meditation happens on the inside. Meditation and mindfulness completely reprogram your mind. Both practices increase the blood flow to your brain, calm you down, and allow you to better handle stress. They also make your brain younger by increasing your brain’s grey matter, and help your mind defragment its thoughts. They’ve even been shown to boost your test scores. Not to mention that they make you feel freaking awesome.

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    Over the past seven days, I meditated for a whopping 35 hours, and diving deep into the practice, I observed its myriad benefits first hand. Here are the top 10 things I learned about productivity meditating for 35 hours last week.

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        10. If you don’t want to meditate, try integrating mindfulness into your daily life.

        Over the last seven days, I experimented with countless ways to integrate meditation and mindfulness into my daily life. I think a lot of people are put off by sitting meditation because on the surface it seems foreign and complicated (even though it isn’t – I wrote a great guide to getting started here). If you don’t want to practice sitting meditation, I think you can reap most of the benefits of meditation when you actively seek out ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily life. Last week I mindfully: shaved, showered, walked, snacked, drank tea, and a lot more. In a comment on one of my posts, Ellen Symons also mentioned a few other great activities to bring the practice to, like during yoga, a massage, and even mowing the lawn.

        Seeking  ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily life will allow you to receive the benefits of meditation, and will benefit you even more if you already meditate.

        9. You can do any task that doesn’t involve thinking, mindfully.

        When experimenting with different activities to bring mindfulness to, I found that some activities were easier to focus on than others. The main thing I discovered is that the less thinking an activity involves, the easier it is to be mindful of your actions. If you’re looking for activities to bring mindfulness to, start with the ones that don’t involve a lot of thinking, like cleaning or washing the dishes.

        8. Meditation makes you way better at playing pool.

        Or any other sport, for that matter. Pool is a game (sport?) that requires incredible concentration, patience, mindfulness, and focus. Most days I play a solo game of pool to mull over ideas and plan things for A Year of Productivity, and I was surprised to find myself sinking more shots than ever during this experiment.

        A lot of people consider sports to be 90% mental and 10% physical, and I’m confident that if you actively play sports, meditation will help you perform. It’s no surprise that athletes like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, and many others all have a meditation ritual.

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          7. Meditation clears your brain’s RAM.

          A computer’s RAM is like its short-term memory. By having a singular focus during meditation, you clear your mind of thought, which not only works out your ‘attention muscle,’ but also clears your brain’s RAM.

          This by itself is a good enough reason to practice meditation. Clearing your brain’s RAM reduces your stress and allows you to focus better throughout the day.

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          6. Meditation lets you work smarter, instead of just harder.

          During the experiment, I made sure to work as much as I could so I had a way to measure how meditation affected my productivity.

          Interestingly, I found that meditation made it much easier for me to identify the highest leverage activities in both my work and personal lives, which made it possible for me to work smarter, instead of just harder.

          I think there are two ways to get more done: put in more time and effort, which is a crappy way to get more done, or identify the highest leverage activities so you can work smarter instead of just harder. Meditation lets you step back from the things you do so you can see the ‘whole forest’ instead of just the trees, and work smarter instead of harder.

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              5. The bigger something is, the easier it is to put off.

              When I started the experiment, I made an effort to group my daily meditation time into one big chunk so I could tackle it all at once, but I frequently found myself procrastinating because I made such a big commitment to myself.

              When I broke down my meditation time down into a few smaller, easier-to-manage chunks, I procrastinated much less, and got a lot more done.

              Breaking other activities down into smaller, easier-to-digest chunks helps a ton with procrastination. If you’re studying, schedule time to just study one chapter instead of five. Similarly, the idea of cleaning up your basement may seem daunting (especially if it’s going to take you a day or two), but cleaning your basement for only 10 minutes is much more manageable. It’s a much smaller chunk of time, but you’ll actually do it. And, when you get started, you’ll likely want to keep going!

              4. You enjoy food twice as much when you eat it twice as slow.

              If you’re anything like me, when you eat something good, you want to eat it all right away, now! Fast! But that’s a bit backwards. When you really look at the amount of enjoyment you receive from eating something, you realize that you receive pretty much twice the enjoyment from eating it twice as slow.

              When I took the time to mindfully eat food during the experiment, that food was the tastiest food I’ve had in years, not only because I mindfully focused on the food’s flavor and texture, but also because I slowed down to actually enjoy and taste what I was eating.

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              If you want to get more enjoyment out of your food, eat slower. Better yet, practice eating mindfully. The practice will also help you eat less because you won’t lose track of how much you eat, and because your mind has more time to register that it’s full.

              3. Meditation turns you into a more compassionate and patient person.

              When I was writing the first draft of this article, I was sitting next to my girlfriend and she added to the end of the title for this section, “and a better, more patient boyfriend!” Last week I found myself becoming more caring, patient, and compassionate as the week went on. I helped out with things I didn’t before, cleaned up when I didn’t have to, did favors for strangers just because I could, and found myself listening to the people around me much more attentively.

              Patience is a quality I work hard to cultivate in myself, especially when it comes to dealing with people. Meditating for 35 hours helped me become more considerate, compassionate, caring, and patient than I have been in a long time.

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                2. Never wish away time. You have a set amount of it, and you don’t get more.

                My mind travels to weird places when I meditate, and over the last week I thought a lot about time. As my mind revved down during each meditation session, with each passing meditation bell I could almost feel time ticking away. Last week I thought a lot about how little time I have.

                While there are a lot of ways to get more out of your time, there are a lot fewer ways to get more time. Meditating for 35 hours forced me to step back from my actions, and allowed my mind to process what the most important elements of my life are. If you’re looking to do the same, I couldn’t recommend meditation more.

                1. Your actions are your only true belongings.

                Every single action of yours falls into one of three buckets: actions you have already done, actions you’re doing now, and actions you’re going to do. The brain glitch that nearly everyone has is that they spend most of their time in either the past or the future; thinking about the stupid or great things they’ve done in the past, or thinking about the things they’re going to do.

                But here’s the thing: the past has already happened, and the future is just an idea of what you think things are going to be like (and if you’re anything like me, you’re wrong 75% of the time). The actions that you perform in any given moment shape your future, and create your past. The present is the only time that ever actually exists.

                There’s a Buddhist parable that says that your actions are your only true belongings, and that they’re the ground upon which you stand. I lived that parable last week, and can say now that I can’t think of a sentiment more true. Meditation trains you to focus on the present moment, and maybe even more importantly, teaches you that never have to (or can) deal with more than one moment at a time.

                A quick walk through the forest.

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                  Imagine you’re walking through the picture above.

                  It’s a gorgeous autumn day; not too hot or cold, and there’s a light breeze ruffling the leaves as you walk by them. You get lost in how the branches are moving, how the day is so perfect and calm, and gaze up in awe about how beautiful your life is.

                  Now imagine that instead of walking along the trail, you’re driving down it. You pass the exact same trees – whooooosh – but they mean a lot less to you. There’s no depth to them. Sure, you might take a second and think about how nice they are, but even if you did, you definitely wouldn’t hear the wind rustling the leaves, or notice the Rainbow Lorikeet perched on one of the branches.

                  You might not even notice the trees at all.

                  ————

                  A lot of people have a go, go, go, faster, faster, faster view of their work. They want to do more, in less time, and get from point A to B as fast as possible. And a lot of the articles on this site are about just that.

                  But there’s also a flip side to productivity that brings meaning to how productive you are, and this is the side of productivity that I explored last week.

                  Productivity is completely meaningless if you don’t reflect on how it makes your life better and more meaningful. It might seem strange that sitting on your butt and doing almost nothing can make you more productive, but I personally can’t think of an activity that will bring as much perspective and meaning to your life as meditation. (Besides maybe being a parent, which I haven’t done yet. And hopefully won’t anytime soon!)

                  Meditation, unlike a fast drive through the picture above, is slow, calm, and deliberate. It brings meaning to what you do, helps you discover who you are, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best gifts you could give yourself.

                  If you don’t already practice meditation, I highly recommend it.

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                  15 Simple Ways To Supercharge Your Brain The Top 10 Things I Learned about Productivity Living in Total Isolation for 10 Days The top 10 lessons I learned using my smartphone for only 60 minutes a day The Top 10 Things I Learned Meditating for 35 Hours over One Week 10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive

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                  Last Updated on February 17, 2021

                  50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                  50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                  If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                  No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                  Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                  1. Set a Timer

                  Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                  In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                  2. Eliminate All Distractions

                  Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

                  You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                  3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                  Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                  Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                  Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                  4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                  Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                  If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                  5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                  By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                  Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                  6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                  Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                  7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                  Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                  Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                  Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                  8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                  To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                  Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

                  Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                  9. Don’t Multitask

                  Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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                  For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                  10. Step Away from the Computer

                  The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                  I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                  11. Use Focus Tools

                  Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                  Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                  Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

                  12. Just Start

                  Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                  Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                  13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                  Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                  Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                  14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                  This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                  15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                  The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                  When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                  And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                  16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                  I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

                  Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                  17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                  The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                  Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                  18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                  As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                  “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

                  This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                  19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                  I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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                  Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                  20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                  When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                  Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                  21. Exercise

                  Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                  Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                  Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                  22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                  If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                  Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                  23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                  Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                  Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

                  24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                  When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                  25. Listen to Podcasts

                  Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                  Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                  Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                  26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                  This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                  Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                  27. Learn to Speed Read

                  When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                  You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                  28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                  When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

                  Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                  29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                  Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                  We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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                  30. Take a Break

                  You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                  31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                  What is polyphasic sleep?

                  Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                  While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                  32. Learn to Say “No”.

                  We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                  Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                  33. Go on an Information Diet

                  Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                  Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                  The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                  34. Organize Your Office

                  The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                  Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

                  35. Find a Mentor

                  By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                  A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                  36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                  With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                  When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                  Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                  Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                  37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                  Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                  You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                  38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                  If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                  Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

                  How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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                  39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                  Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                  Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                  40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                  Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                  Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                  41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                  When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                  Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                  42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                  The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                  Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                  43. Take Shorter Showers

                  This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                  44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                  Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                  45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                  How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                  Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                  46. Shop Online

                  Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                  47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

                  Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                  If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                  48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                  If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                  Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                  49. Turn off the TV

                  The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                  For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                  Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                  50. Use a Tivo or DVR

                  This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                  So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                  More Time Management Tips

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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