“For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.”
Trying to get time to slow down when you want it to is the trick
Why “There Isn’t Enough Time in the Day” Is Not a Legitimate Excuse
When I first got to college, I suffered from the “not enough time in a day” blues. I would go to class, eat and go home, mess around a little, go to the library and work, eat dinner, hit the gym, mess around a little more, and then it was time to go to bed. My free time just evaporated into thin air.
I suspect you are much like myself and many of my friends — at the end of many days we wonder how the day passed so quickly or where all the time went. And most of us deceive ourselves into thinking “we didn’t waste any time.”
If you use the internet on a daily basis you are probably wasting a good portion of your time that way. There are a couple other major things that I know that for a fact are the main time wasters.
- Miscellaneous internet browsing. Forums, favorite websites, reddit, textfromlastnight, Facebook. Get rid of all of it or have a very specific task (<5 minutes to accomplish) and then immediately log off. Read your Facebook notifications and then get off.
- Email checking. As many other business books have taught – limit your email checking to once or at maximum twice daily. Nothing in between, and turn off all instant notifications. Put a post-it on your computer that reminds you the only two times you are allowed to check your email.
- Watching TV. It’s ridiculously easy to just “turn on the tv real quick” after you’ve made yourself some food, and then zone out for an hour or two. An hour or two of your “free time!” There probably are a lot of other things you’d rather do in that time
I can guarantee that once you consciously research and take note of how you use your time, you can re-gain at least one hour of free-to-yourself time. For most college students you can regain 2-3 hours easily. Most people think that there isn’t enough time, but the reality is that people tend not to be mindful of how they use their time.
Kick Time-Wasting in the Ass
Personal suggestions that have helped me immensely:
- Spend 1 week recording all time usage.
- Record everything to the minute. Sleep time, work time, on computer time, TV time, homework or class time. Calculate ratios and daily/weekly totals.
- You may realize that you spend 1 hour on facebook and 1 hour watching TV daily. Cut the senseless TV program out and Facebook down to 15 minutes and you’ve re-gained 12.25 HOURS a week.
- Set an alarm for tasks
- For homework assignments, work tasks, or generic errands – set a timer (I use Mac’s 3-2-1 timer on the dashboard) and then get your work done in the allotted time. It reduces the chance for distraction, the urge to take long breaks, and encourages getting focused. This is was a HUGE revelation for me in terms of boosting efficiency (time spent per task)
- Always, Always, Always have a specific goal to accomplish for all tasks.
- Hopping on the internet with no goal or task to accomplish is asking for it. You’ll wake up 3 hours later and realize that you just commit internet seppuku. With specifics tasks to accomplish, you’ll boost your productivity like you’ve never seen before.
Here is what I noticed is the sneakiest bastard of them all: The biggest time wasters are usually found in “in-between” periods.
For Example: You go to the gym. You come back exhausted and sit down on the couch in front of the TV for “just a sec.” Yeah, a lot of seconds. About an hour probably.
For Example: You get back from class. You make yourself a sandwich from lunch and sit down on Facebook. An hour passes.
For Example: You get back from work. You stop for a quick second to…
Get the point?
And at the end of the day we don’t realize that we have had 3 or 4 separate periods of time wasting because they were independent of each other.
Watch the In-Between Periods – They are insidious and the time loss will creep up on you
Other Important Notes
Speaking of time loss, are you using your leisure time wisely? And by wisely I mean consciously investing time into developing skills that require you to function at higher and more complex levels, skills that are “worth your while?”
A great place to start is reading about Flow in my previous post as an introduction.
Until then, here is something to chew on:
“Until a person takes charge of them, both work and free time are likely to be disappointing. Most jobs and many leisure activities– especially those involving the passive consumption of mass media–are not designed to make us happy and strong. Their purpose is to make money for someone else. If we allow them to, they can suck out the marrow of our lives, leaving only feeble husks… People who learn to enjoy their work, who do not waste their free time, end up feeling that their lives as a whole have become much more worthwhile.”
-Flow, p. 163
Consciously invest time into thinking about how you use your time. Time will pass regardless of how you choose to invest yourself in it.