“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.”
There are many important things in life.
Your family and friends. A hobby perhaps. Working out and staying healthy. Reading, learning and growing as person.
But finding the time for what is most important in life is not always easy. It sometimes feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
But even if it may not feel like it, there are often ways to improve how you use your time. In this article I’ll share some of the most effective strategies I have found for doing so and for shaking yourself out of a rut and reconsider how you actually spend your time.
With a lack of focus on what is most important in your life it becomes easy to spend too much time and energy on aimless actions or work. On things that aren’t really that important but you do out of old habit or other unhelpful reasons.
To become more focused:
- Write down your top 4 priorities where you see them every day. To keep your attention in the right place it is essential to remind yourself every day of what is truly most important to you. So think about it and reduce what is important in your life at this moment to the top 4 most important priorities. Write those four things down on two notes and post one in your workspace and one your night table.
- Reduce distractions. Ask yourself: what are the 3 most common distractions that keep me from doing my work in a focused way? Figure out how you can prevent those things from distracting you. It could be by shutting the door to your office, by putting your phone on silent mode for an hour at a time or by having notifications for email shut off.
- Find balance. If you just work and work you will quickly become unfocused and the longer the week drags on the more tired you become. To work smarter try using a timer – on your cell phone or use an egg-timer – and set it for 45 minutes. Then put in a drawer or somewhere where you can’t see it.
During those 45 minutes dive in and immerse yourself in the no-distraction zone and your work until the clock rings. Then set you timer for a 15 minute break where you get away from your work space if possible. Take a walk, go for a snack or have a conversation about something else than work.
One of the smarter ways to simplify your life and to free up time that we explore quite a bit in the 31 Days to a Simpler Life Course is to set limits.
Here are a few key areas that you can set powerful limits for:
- Your daily input. Reduce the number of blogs, newsletters, magazines, book clubs, podcasts, TV-shows etc. you follow. Just keep the ones you are really getting something out of.
- Email. Just check and process your email during one chunk of time once per day. Instead of checking it 10 times or more each day.
- Social activities. Write down a list of the social activities you are involved in after school or work. Maybe you are involved in a club or an activity that it is not as fun or rewarding as it used to be. Maybe you want to rearrange your priorities a bit to focus on something else this year.
Minimize or eliminate.
What else can you eliminate or minimize besides the things listed above? Some meetings at work or in school? Redditing or some online forum you hang out on a lot?
Question and reconsider your own habits regularly instead of moving along in the same old tracks just because it what you usually do. See if you want make changes to make more room for things you would honestly get more out of.
Find unnoticed free time in your day.
One final tip. There is often quite a bit of open travel- or waiting-time during a year. What will you use your such time for this year? Perhaps you would like to read more while riding the train or listen to audio books while waiting for a meeting to start or while you are out driving your car.
Even if you only have 20 minutes of commuting time each day then you still have a many, many hours in a year that you may want to, at least partly, use in a new way.