7 Super Tips to save time

Mid-adult Caucasian female in vintage outfit looking up at clock on wall.

“The trouble is you think you have time.” – Buddha

We all have aspirations, ideals or goals we want to achieve, but somehow we never get around to achieving them because we either postpone doing them or simply let go. We act as if we had infinite time.

Though deep down we know every minute is a precious moment, we tend to ignore this steady march and waste our time in mindless pursuits. We consciously or unconsciously choose to ignore tasks that we should be working on right now, usually in favor of doing something that promises immediate gratification.

Somehow watching yet another sitcom rerun seems more worthwhile than starting the first chapter of the book we want to write.

The obvious costs are the loss of financial income, losing opportunities, poor relationships, long work hours, bad lifestyle choices, frustration, resentment, and finally missing out on living your life’s purpose.

So why do we have such an innate disregard for time? It is because we lack self-control, which arises from a lack of self-awareness and the potential contained in the present moment.

So how do we create a more conscious understanding and use of our time? :

  1. Create a daily ‘not to do list’– There is simply too much to do, too many directions to follow and too many thoughts cluttering your mind. Stop. Take a step back. The solution is not to plunge in and then struggle to come up for air, but to take conscious, deliberate, baby steps. Eliminate things that you need not do or are able to give someone else to do. Then prioritize your list in order of importance and select the top three that contribute most to your goals and schedule them with very short and very precise deadlines. By creating short time-bound deadlines, you treat your working time as a limited resource rather than a bottomless pit, enabling you to be more focused and inventive. If the tasks look too big, break them into bite-sized chunks, then simply get to work, studiously focusing on one task at a time.
  2. Let go of your ‘lazy bug’ – Laziness is often a symptom and not the cause. Find out why you are feeling lazy. Is it a habit you have picked up or is it a momentary feeling? If it is momentary, the causes might include fatigue, sudden lifestyle changes or simply lack of sleep. Address them and then get to work. If your laziness has become a chronic condition, the solution is to simply disengage with your consistent thought pattern by creating a diversion. I often use this trick to wake up in the morning. I position my alarm clock at least six feet away from the bed. This way I have to physically get up in order to shut it. The momentary move helps me to disengage from my mind, which is pleading with me to go back to sleep. Once you create that shift, it’s easy to trigger the momentum to move on to your next task.
  3. Develop your ‘willpower’ muscle – Exercising your willpower is like exercising your muscles. You build it through consistent practice. Start with making small commitments and ensure you consistently practice them for at least 30 days. Once you stick to a practice for 30 days, it will establish a neutral pathway in your brain and with time, make your commitments seem effortless.
  4. Set exciting goals – Are your goals interesting enough? Do they arouse passion, curiosity, and excitement? Do they make your toes curl up in anticipation? Do they create a burning yearning? If not, you are probably chasing dull goals, the ones that will only look fun on yellow post notes. Having an exciting goal creates the necessary adrenaline rush within you to brush past distractions and challenges to achieve the impossible. Timothy Ferriss in his book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ says that doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic. One big reason is 99% of people are following realistic goals. Hence, the level of competition is fiercest for realistic goals, while there is ample room at the top. So aim high and get astounded.
  5. Face your fear of failure – We procrastinate because we are scared of failure. In fact, perfectionists often become procrastinators because they are scared to create an imperfect product or be labeled as a failure. Similarly fear of success might also deter us, as it might imply more responsibility or demand more from us. So we end up doing unimportant stuff or errands, to simply avoid dealing with the essentials. Our fears ultimately suppress self-development. The essential point to understand here is that there are  results to every action. The results we like are branded as a success while the others are called failure. Results by themselves always encourage self-reflection and growth, while the financial, physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of inaction are always huge. To sum it up in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Action expresses priorities.”
  6. Dismiss distractions – Ignore all distractions that are irrelevant, purposeless and energy sapping. Before starting any important task, create a distraction free atmosphere. Put your phone on voicemail, shut off the social media, close the door, make the customary coffee cup in advance to avoid any last-minute urges and then settle down for the task. Reward yourself after completing a task and make it a point to savor the happiness you feel after successful completion.
  7. Delegate – Sometimes we procrastinate at a task because we are simply not good at it. Instead of treating this as an ego challenge, acknowledge the fact that not everyone is good at everything and that everyone is good at something. So in case you are not good at something and do not see the value in picking up a particular skill set, delegate it to someone who is good at it. This way you avoid wasting your time on unpleasant tasks and free up your energy for more important ones.

To conclude, every bad habit can be replaced with more productive behaviors, with the power of intention and daily practice.  What matters is your intent and resolve to live an inspired life.

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