Is your life wasting away?

“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.” -Benjamin Franklin

 

How much time have you wasted today? Yesterday? Last week?

What have you been wanting to do? Has it gotten done?

Well, what’s stood in your way?

These are questions I ask myself daily. There is so much I always want to do and accomplish in life, yet many don’t get done for one reason or another!

Excuses will always abound.

However, we only have so much life to live before it’s over, so it’s critical we spend it wisely!

Spending it wisely is easier said than done. Motivation is temporary and it’s easy to feel guilty if we aren’t motivated 24/7. It’s especially easy to procrastinate what we should be doing in favor with whatever we feel like doing now.

Whether that be watching TV, looking at our friend’s latest eCards on Facebook, or any other time consumer.

And then days and weeks go by and we look back and think, “Gosh I still haven’t gotten around to doing (insert life fulfilling task here)”.

But what to do about it?

The first thing to do is to document your goals. Whether they are far-reaching (learn to paint) or short term (organize the kitchen).

Secondly, figure out when the best time to accomplish those tasks would be (in the morning before everyone wakes up), and break them down into smaller chunks if it’s a biggie (practice daily, sort through one cupboard at a time).

Thirdly, figure out where all of your time is going! Start a daily log of what you did and for how long. My log on a typical day would look something like this:

  • 5:00am-6:30am – drink coffee and cruise internet at computer
  • 6:30am-8:00am – get ready for and head to work
  • 8:00am-5:00pm – work
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm – eat dinner
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm – cruise internet/Facebook/blogs/read email
  • 9:00pm – get ready for bed and sleep rest of the day

Wow, I didn’t do anything on my ToDo list! I had an hour and a half in the morning of relaxing with my coffee, and three hours in front of my computer that night!

It’s usually around 8:00 that I start to realize “Hey! My day is almost over already!! Where did it go??”

That’s where applications like RescueTime (if you’re on the computer  a lot like me) will help, and raising self-awareness. After you create your log, you will start becoming more self-aware of what you’re doing instead of just doing it out of routine. Awareness is the first step. RescueTime helps by actually tracking what you’re doing on your computer and for how long. You can also set limits for yourself with it so you budget your time with specific applications and websites.

After awareness, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of actually doing the things you want to do. And by this I mean starting on a task so that over time you’re making progress towards it getting done. This is probably the hardest step. It’s like how most of us want to exercise daily then don’t feel like it. It’s the starting that is the hardest part, so the key is to just get started!

What helps with this step is the 5-minute rule. Just tell yourself you’ll work on a task for five minutes during those periods of time that you thought would be best or easiest for you to work. Everyone has five minutes. Everyone has five minutes at any given point during the day to do something! Promise yourself you’ll just do it for five minutes, and see what happens.five-minutes

What this does is after your five minutes you’ll end up spending longer. You’re into it. You’re accomplishing something. And it’s feeling good!

So you spend longer on it.

And more gets done.

And so you spend more time…

And it becomes addicting.

It starts to feel so good over time, that it will start to bother you when you don’t spend a few minutes towards your goal. It’s the snowball effect and will build upon itself and build on itself and you’ll look back and be amazed at what you’ve accomplished!

And that’s the point at which you want to be!

 

So what to do now? Your next actions should be:

  1. Make your ToDo list
  2. Decide on a daily time period to work (break down big tasks into smaller chunks if necessary)
  3. Start your daily time log. Do this for about a week
  4. Start using preventative measures if need be to cut down on areas you think you are wasting time (RescueTime, turning the computer off, turning off your phone, closing yourself up alone in a room)
  5. Start doing it! Even if just for 5 minutes. Promise yourself 5 minutes per day. Everyone has 5 minutes to spend.
  6. Snowball effect time!!

 

   

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Comments

  1. That’s a great idea, Wendy, to just start with 5 minutes. I used to motivate myself to exercise that way, knowing that if I just got my clothes changed and got going, I would likely keep at it longer. And if it was a bad day and I wasn’t up to it, I could quit after 5 minutes and cross it off my list. I need to start using that trick again, and with more categories of things to do!

    • Thank you Susan! Life is hectic for me at the moment and I need to get back on the board with the 5-minute trick as well!

  2. I enjoyed reading your article Wendy! Some really good tips on being more productive and mindful. I like the idea of using something like RescueTime. I could use some awareness of just how I’m spending my time. I know it can’t be good. Maybe it’ll let me see that I’m just bouncing back between Facebook/my current project/email/facebook/other email/Twitter/Facebook/email/website/etc. Well, I guess I’m already aware, but it’ll help put it in more perspective.

    • Yes, I end up being surprised how much time I waste altogether on sites like Fb/news/etc. I always think to myself, I’ll just take a quick look… then 20 minutes later I’m still on it! Yikes!

  3. Agreed!! 5 minutes is a great way to start and making a to-do list is key. Getting everything done that is most important TODAY is what helps me have a fulfilling week. Thanks for the inspiration to take just 5 minutes!

  4. Thanks for the cool article, Wendy!
    What has helped me currently is to work on my vision, i.e., writing down, imagining and stepping into where those (especially life-changing) tasks will lead me. The motivation is so much greater, there is much more pull from your soon-to-be future 🙂

    • Ah yes I need to work on the visualization piece of making things happen! I find it’s way too easy for me to imagine things going the opposite way. Something to work on for sure! Great advice, thank you Jo!

  5. Wow! Five minutes? It reminds me of people who think saving a dollar is worthless since you can’t buy much with it. I see now that five minutes is a very good way to start learning to use time wisely, just like a dollar is a good place to start saving money. My five minutes is all mine, unless I fritter it away trying to justify my sense that it isn’t worth using wisely.
    Great post!

  6. Great post, Wendy!
    It’s so easy to let distractions get in the way of accomplishing the really important things. I’m guilty of this almost daily. I go to check something on Facebook and the next thing I know, 15 or 20 minutes is gone! You make some really great points here. I especially like the action steps that you suggest. I’ve never logged my time for a week but I’ve heard that it’s one of the most revealing things that people can do to bring awareness to how they use their time. The 5 minute rule is great too. I’ve done this before and it works wonders. It’s how I started running again and it led me to running a half-marathon within three months of starting. Great stuff! Keep it coming.

  7. Hey Wendy, you have such a great style of writing. This reminds me of Time Boxing. I find it really useful to use tools such as Teamworkpm which is a brilliant task management tool which is free if you just open an account with 2 projects which I find is sufficient to plan and break down tasks. I then allocate a time slot for each task and BLAST each with every effort until I reach the end of the 30 mins or hour for example. What is great about such a tool is that its easy to track progress by making notes for each task on the system. You are right about how the desire to keep going actually occurs once we get started. Nice one 🙂

  8. I love the 5 minute rule! This is a great technique and can help with another energy sucker….Overwhelm.

    I have noticed that when I realize that I have been procrastinating and getting nothing done, I suddenly have a huge burst of motivation and decide that I am going to organize and do EVERYTHING! I work a lot of hours and when I use home every night I would make excuses that I was too tired and needed to veg out.

    When ever I got half a day off – I became a MOTIVATED MAD WOMAN!

    I would decide that I was going to organize my entire life in one day and get set to do all of the things that I put off all week. This in turn, caused me to get completely over whelmed and would spend the day with my head spinning in all directions and not really accomplishing anything!

    I love how you said to break things down into chunks. That is really helpful to beat overwhelm. I have also found that being consistent and working on those “Chunks” every day can create a lot of momentum.

  9. I can definitely relate to this, sometimes I’ll spend hours on the computer and look at my to do list to realise I haven’t accomplished one thing I planned to do. I find doing one important thing first can really help because it gets the momentum going. I love the idea of the snowball effect, once you’ve got that momentum going it accumulates. That’s when great things happen 🙂

  10. I can’t even imagine how many times I check facebook in a week. I have RescueTime but am afraid to open the emails for it to tell me! Should probably check on that…. thanks for that reminder! Great post Wendy- documentation and just starting are two major keys for getting things done!

  11. Renee Beauvais says:

    Great post Wendy! We waste our time on things that aren’t important but make us feel like we are “doing something”. The 5 minute rule is a keeper, I’ll try that one tomorrow!

  12. Well, I am just sat here after reading your post and think -‘right what can i do for 5 minutes that i need to do’ so you have motivated me! A great way of doing things. It’s good to know I am not the only one who wastes time on stuff that is just rubbish i.e Facebook thanks so much 🙂

  13. I love your 5-minute rule… it’s almost like tricking your brain into doing something it didn’t want to, and bribing it by saying “only 5 minutes….” But then you end up going and going, really into it because by then the muse kicked in! This definitely sounds like it will work for me so I will give it a try!

    I already use RescueTime and boy does that thing give you a reality check! You’re right, a daily time log also helps. I actually created my productivity log where I put my expectations on one side and then what really happened on the other side.

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