You know that scene in *The Fault in Our Stars where…
The number one excuse people have for not following their dreams and achieving their goals is they don’t have time. Well, let me tell you a secret:
You will never have time. You have to create the time by cutting back on the biggest time wasters in your day. Here the six most common time wasters that prevent you from achieving your dreams:
- Checking your email constantly
- Social media
- Looking for lost items
- Failing to plan your day
Unless you have a child, a pet, or have inherited the early-bird gene from your ancestry of farmers, you probably hit snooze at least once in the morning. Most scientists agree that hitting snooze isn’t terribly helpful since you often restart your sleep cycle causing more grogginess instead of more alertness. In addition to that, you also start your morning off poorly.
If you hit snooze once every morning, that is 53 minutes a week wasted on getting “more” sleep (which isn’t really restful sleep). That is nearly an hour ever week that you could spending doing something much more valuable. If you hit snooze 2-3 times every morning, that’s even more time wasted.
If you are guilty of hitting snooze in the mornings, here are somethings you can do to change that habit:
- Make an appointment with yourself in the morning to do something important. It could be exercise, studying the scriptures, spending time with God (i.e. praying and meditating), or making a rockin’ healthy breakfast. Whatever your appointment is, it needs to be motivating enough to get you out of bed and give you rewards for doing so.
- If you can’t commit to an appointment with yourself, make an appointment with a family member or friend. Commit to making breakfast for your family, or going for a speed walk with a friend at the same time every morning.
- Get to bed at a reasonable hour. If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, you are much more likely to hit snooze. It’s as simple as that.
- Sleep at your optimal, biological sleep time. Staying up later than our bodies like or waking up earlier than when our bodies are ready to results in social jet-lag. Social jet lag refers to the time that is optimal for sleep according to your individual body, rather than optimal time for sleep according to your social obligations. Try to align your sleep time with your biological sleep clock. You may need to experiment with this by going to bed earlier and seeing when you naturally wake up, or going to bed later and seeing how rested you feel the next day.
- Set your alarm clock across the room. When your alarm clock is next to your bed, you are much more likely to hit snooze than if you have to get out of bed and walk across the room to turn your alarm off. I have also found that getting a drink of water right after turning off my alarm, helps me wake up faster but more gently than jumping in the shower.
Responding to Every Email Notification as They Come In
Responding to your emails as they come in forces you to multitask and completely disrupts your focus. Your chances of being productive and accomplishing anything in the day is totally ruined.
Some people recommend waiting to check your emails until you have done at least one important task for the day. Their reasoning is that checking your email first thing in the morning puts you in a reactionary frame of mind rather than a proactive frame of mind. That made sense to me so I experimented with this advice.
It totally failed me.
Not because I wasn’t as productive and not because I wasn’t getting my most important tasks done. It failed me because TWICE I missed a last minute, urgent AND important meeting with my bosses’ boss. These meeting requests were sent to me after I had left work and were for first thing the following morning.
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen frequently (where meetings are called last minute) but it did happen during the two week period I was experimenting with waiting to check my emails until one important task was completed. Since I didn’t check my email first thing, I missed the meeting requests and got an irritated call from my bosses’ boss asking where I was (since I had key information he needed).
Now, you could blame that on him for not planning adequately. Or you could blame it on me for not checking my work emails after work (which I make a point to do). I chose to blame it on a system that clearly wasn’t working for me and my boss and her boss.
Instead, I check my email first thing in the morning. I respond to anything urgent and important right away (most days don’t have anything in this category). Anything I can respond to with a complete answer within 5 minutes, I do second. Anything that takes longer than 5 minutes to get an answer and respond, I put on my task list and schedule it into my day or upcoming days. I’ll respond to the sender to let them know I’ve received their email and when they can expect a response. Then I turn off my email notifications and attack my first important task for the day. I’ll check my email again right after lunch and right before I leave the office. This takes me about 10 minutes each time and leaves the bulk of my day for tackling projects and reports.
Perusing and Posting to Social Media
The number of social media sites seems to increase every year. First it was Myspace. Then it was Facebook. Then Twitter. Followed by Instagram and Pinterest. YouTube fits in there somewhere. Then came Snapchat and Periscope.
We could easily spend our entire day on social media! We may claim it’s giving us a break from our work or helping us connect with people.
Are we really connecting with people though? Like really truly connecting? Or are we simply finding out about people’s lives? And it is really restful? Is it really helping you rejuvenate? Or is it simply giving you ideas of more thing you should be doing? Or putting thoughts in your head about why your life isn’t as great as so-and-so’s life?
Now, I also love social media. I love my Instagram feed, Facebook friends, and Pinterest crafts as much as the next person. But (you know there was a but coming), social media shouldn’t be your life. If you need a break from your work, find something that is truly rejuvenating for you. Or take a few minutes to meditate.
If you are wondering what your friends are up to, give them a call or make plans to meet up and catch up. Do something that helps you connect with them on a deeper level than reading their latest update on social media would. Same goes for your family. Give your aunt a call. Visit your grandparents. Catch up with your parents and siblings. If they live far away, call them with Skype or through a Google hangout (it’s free!).
Your time will be much better spend talking to people and doing things that actually give you some rest than constantly perusing social media. Now, I’m not saying cut social media out completely. You could set up a time each day to check your social media, say 30 minutes. Take the social media apps off your phone (or at the very least, turn off the notifications) so you are forced to go to a computer to check your social media. You could also cut back on the number of social media accounts you use. Do you really need to check Facebook and Instagram? Do you really need Periscope and Snapchat?
This one is a bit tougher to save time with unless you are willing to move or change jobs. If these two changes aren’t up your ally, it’s okay! You still have options for utilizing your commute time better.
If you are driving to work each day, you can save time by leaving earlier so you miss the bulk of rush hour traffic. The added benefit of driving to work earlier is you will likely get there before everyone else does, giving you time to focus, plan your day, and even get a head start on an important task without interruptions. Hopefully, you can also leave work earlier to miss rush hour on your way home, and ta-da! You have more time with your family AND you have a more productive day at the office.
Other things you can do while driving to and from work are listening to audiobook – fiction or non-fiction, listening to scriptures (I use LDS library, which includes audio recordings of the King James Version of the Bible…Plus, it’s free!), meditating and praying, or learn a new language through audio CD’s and apps.
I also love when I can commute with my husband because it gives us time to talk about our days and catch up with each other without interruptions. Carpooling with colleagues can also be great because 1) it gives you time to talk and problem solve with your co-workers and 2) it gives you a break from driving, giving you time to do other things, like plan your day.
If you utilize public transportation, you have even more possibilities for utilizing your commute time. As already mentioned, you can plan your day, prep for meeting, read a book, write in your journal, work on your side-hustle, catch up on the news, or make a new friend with someone who also commutes.
Looking for Lost Items
It’s been said that the average American spends anywhere from 55 minutes a day to 2 hours looking for items they own but cannot find. A combination of keeping things we don’t need and being disorganized contribute to the time lost looking for things.
Taking the time to declutter your home, car, computer files, and office will minimize the number of items that can get lost. Organizing the items you do keep will save you time in the long run because you will always know where things are and you won’t waste time looking for things. (That proverbial “safe place” always gets me.)
Once your possessions are organized, create a system that helps you keep things organized without soaking up extra time. When you come home, put your keys in the same place every time. When you save a document to a computer, save it to the right place every time so you don’t have to go back through your documents and reorganize them.
If you need help for tidying up your home, I highly recommend the advice Marie Kondo gives in *“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. If you need some ideas for organizing your space, Chrissy at Organise My House also gives practical tips for decluttering and organizing your home. She even has a 30-day Clutter Blitz where she sends you an email every day for 30 days with an action that takes about 15 minutes to get you on your way to a more organized home.
Failing to Plan Your Day
If you don’t know what you want to get done in a day, you’ll waste a lot of time throughout the day wondering what to do next. So you could randomly go from task to task and risk spending time on unimportant but urgent tasks, or you can spend 10 minutes planning out your day.
When you take the time to plan your day, you know what tasks are the most important to do and can focus on those. Knowing your most important tasks (MITs) will help you delegate other tasks and prioritize your time for the benefit of everyone – your family, co-workers, friends, etc. Plus, when you focus on your MIT’s for the day, you’ll steadily move toward achieving your goals. You won’t be wasting time throughout the day wondering what you need to do next or feeling lost in the long list of tasks on your to-do list.
Sounds pretty nice, huh?
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