If you’re like many people, you feel starved for time.
This is a result of being busier than ever, more technologically connected than ever, and often spending our days rushing from one activity or obligation to the next. It is all too common to feel overcommitted and overwhelmed as we try to fit it all in.
Although the world shows no signs of slowing down around us, fortunately there are proven ways to rescue back some of our precious time.
Here are some great ways to create breathing room in your day:
- Buy time. One way to have more time is to buy it, as pointed out by Professors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton in their eye-opening book Happy Money. “By permitting ourselves to outsource our most dreaded tasks, from scrubbing toilets to cleaning gutters, money can transform the way we spend our time, freeing us to pursue our passions,” according to Dunn and Norton. Yes, buying time costs money, but it is a great use of it.
- Cut down on 2 notorious time-suckers — commuting and watching TV. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spend more than 100 hours per year commuting to work, which is more than a typical worker’s annual vacation time. Additionally, Americans spend on average about two months per year watching television! Of course television can produce a lot of pleasure, but we probably don’t need 4 hours of it per day.
- Stick to routines and simplify decision-making. This is the approach Steve Jobs took by wearing the same thing every day (black turtlenecks and Levi’s 501 jeans) and why President Barack Obama stocks his closet with only gray or blue suits. President Obama has said, “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
- Block off time on your calendar. New York Times best-selling author Greg McKeown says that “The faster and busier things get, the more we need to build thinking time into our schedule. And the noisier things get, the more we need to build quiet reflection spaces in which we can truly focus.” So proactively block off time to get the things done that really matter. Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner are just a few examples of people who habitually put this into practice, even during the busiest of times.
- Say “no” more often. As New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath says, “The next time a new opportunity presents itself, think carefully before making an ongoing commitment. If it is something you feel you should take on, determine what other activity you might need to let go of. When you are struggling between two choices, remember there is always a third option: doing nothing. In many cases, declining both options is the best route.”
- Unplug. Check email and social media fewer times per day. You’ll be surprised by how much more time you have when you disconnect and pay less attention to your devices.
There is no doubt that we live busy lives with many things competing for our attention. But we can take control of our calendar by implementing just some of these ideas.
Now what will you do with all of the extra time?