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10 Tips for Freeing Up More Time for Yourself

Image by gadl.“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”
Charles Richards

One of the big difficulties in life and with self-improvement is to find time.

Of course, the time is the same for everyone. Everyone gets 24 hours a day.

People just use their time in different ways.

Here are just a few tips on how you can find more time in your day to do what you actually want to do.

1. Investigate how you actually spend your days.

Use a pen, paper – or your computer – and a watch. Find out how you actually spend your days. Not how you might think you are spending them. You may be surprised at how much time you use for different things (especially things you don’t really find that interesting or valuable). For more on this have a look at Where Is Your Time Really Going?

2. Realise that you don’t have to do everything you do.

And that the sky might not fall if you do/don’t do something. This one’s a biggie. One thing that’s stopping people from improving themselves or just finding time for themselves is all the things they ”have” to do. You don’t really have to do anything.

Try to look at it as you choosing what to do instead.

Of course, if you choose to do or not to do something there will be consequences. Sometimes big, sometimes small. Sometimes bad, sometimes good. Sometimes one thing disguised as the opposite. 🙂

But the point is to take control of your life and feel like you choose. Instead of having your world choosing and controlling your life. This makes it easier to find out what isn’t really that important and eliminate or reduce to free up time for more interesting things.

3. Use Parkinson’s Law.

You can do things quicker than you think. This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it. For instance, if you say to yourself that you’ll come up with a solution within a week then the problem will seem to grow more difficult and you’ll spend more and more time trying to come up with a solution.

So focus your time on finding solutions. Then just give yourself an hour (instead of the whole day) or the day (instead of the whole week) to solve the problem. This will force your mind to focus on solutions and action.

4. Reduce your information intake.

This is pretty crucial. To find time to develop yourself you will probably need to cut out some TV, news, magazines, and papers from your life. Especially if you consume a lot of one or more of those things. This can free up loads of time. Still, you may want to watch your favourite shows or read the paper. On to the next tip for a solution…

5. Combine for more than one benefit.

If you want to watch your favourite TV-shows, watch them while doing some exercise on for example a Stairmaster. Or you can meet a couple of your friends and enjoy their company while having a friendly badminton-match (for some exercise) or while shopping (for some great new pants or DVDs).

You can also consume different kinds of information during small time gaps in your normal day. Listen to an audiobook while on the bus or in the car instead of doing it at home. Watch a new episode of your favourite show on your Ipod or cell phone while spending time in some boring waiting room.

6. Ask yourself throughout the day: Is this useful?

A lot of the time we just keep busy and don’t even realise it. Question what you are doing throughout the day and you might realise that you could do something better with your time (no matter if it’s at work or at home). To remember to actually ask yourself useful questions your can use external reminders such as notes, screensavers and accessories.

7. Show up.

Instead of procrastinating, instead of thinking, instead of hoping someone else will do it or take an initiative, instead of rationalising and inventing excuses for not doing something establish the habit of just doing it.

Just show up and do what you need to do. Most of the time you need to do it anyway sometime in the future and until you are more or less forced you’ll just waste a lot of time procrastinating and thinking – and feeling bad – about having to do whatever you need to do. And if you wait for someone else to do something about it can take a lot of time before someone does. Establishing this habit can be a bit difficult if you are used to thinking – or over-thinking – a lot.

One useful way that I’ve found to start to develop this habit is simply to not identify so much with my thoughts and emotions and realize that I can control them instead of the other way around. I still think you should think a bit. But after that it’s most often just better to go and do whatever you want to do. You can read more about this in Just Do It!

8. Single-task.

Maybe multitasking is working out great for you. It didn’t for me. So I try to single-task when I have something to do that requires a lot of focus and brainpower. It might seem like you could do things faster by doing a few things at the same time. But in my experience that leads to confusion, stress and things taking longer to do than if you just single-tasked them one at a time.

9. Work in a cone of silence.

Arrange your working environment so it’s free from existing or possible distractions. And remove what may tempt you to procrastinate. Close the door, remove the internet cable, unplug your phone and clean up visual clutter in your workspace. Then just single-task away. You can read more about this in Use the Cone of Silence to Improve Your Focus.

10. Exercise and eat healthy.

The time you can actively use largely depends upon your energy levels. If you’re wiped out when you get home from work or school then you’ll probably just spend the evening stretched out on the sofa.

By exercising – and eating healthy – your can improve your energy levels. And so you’ll simply have the energy to do more. More in the sense that you’ll get things done quicker since your ability to concentrate goes up with your level of physical fitness. And more in the sense that you’ll have the energy to do something after work.

Plus, by exercising and eating healthy you may be able to avoid quite a bit of time spent being sick. And perhaps even add time to your lifespan.

Image by gadl (license).

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