* Do you make separate trips for every errand?
* Do you check your email more than once a day?
* Do you spend time searching for car keys or other objects you misplace?
* Do you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter or similar sites?
Many of these little and seemingly innocent actions can collectively add up to several hours of lost time each week. That time could have been spent with your family, on the beach, reading, or working on your first book.
You Canâ€™t See The Forest For The Trees
Sometimes we canâ€™t see the forest for the trees. This is a popular saying that means to get so caught up in the little things that you lose track of the bigger (and usually more important) picture.
Life is a continuous journey and a process of never-ending growth. Every single day brings an opportunity to learn something new and improve or change your life. As a result, our habits, routines and possessions grow in many small steps. Over time all these small steps can create a lot of clutter and inefficiency in our daily lives which can waste up to multiple hours every week that could be used for better things (like having fun or doing the things you are passionate about).
Often it takes a fresh or outside perspective to point these things out to you, and today I am that outside perspective. All you need to do is take a step back and observe your actions and routines objectively to be able to make some simple changes that could give you up to multiple hours of free time every week.
A personal analogy I am sure that you can relate to would be cleaning up of your room or house. Often things just accumulate for days or weeks before it gets too much and I decide to do a total clean-up and reorganization of my room. Itâ€™s the same with your routines, habits and actions in your daily life. Over time these routines and habits each consume a little bit of your time until you are left with days wondering how you can get anything done.
Pin-Point The Most Time-Consuming Actions
Most people have some sort of a daily or weekly routine. There are many actions, habits and chores that you do over and over again. Some of these actions take up a huge amount of timeâ€¦time that could be better spent doing things you love.
Letâ€™s do a little exercise to pin-point the actions that consume the most time. Why? So that you can make some changes to streamline your life and create many free hours of time every single week that you never had.
The Method To Analyze Your Actions:
* Get a pen and a notepad.
* Draw 14 columns (2 for each day of the week).
* For each day of the week, name one column as â€˜necessaryâ€™ and another as â€˜unnecessaryâ€™.
* Do some thinking and write down all your repetitive actions that you do on a daily or weekly basis but split them into â€˜necessaryâ€™ and â€˜unnecessaryâ€™ for each day. For example: sleeping and eating are necessary but watching TV is unnecessary.
The results will obviously differ for every person. Some people will have more actions in the â€˜necessaryâ€™ column and others will have more in the â€˜unnecessaryâ€™ column. The purpose of this exercise is that you are able to see how each of your 24-hour days is being spent.
Earlier, I mentioned the saying â€˜Canâ€™t see the forest for the treesâ€™ with the above exercise in mind. Since all your actions and routines have grown over your life up to how they are today, there may be so many little and unnecessary things that you are doing but you are not able to see it. (You are unable to see the bigger picture because you are so caught up in the day-to-day actions and routines.)
Strategize For Efficiency
Now that you have pin-pointed the activities that make up most of your day, we are going to analyze them on a deeper level. Are things that you listed in the â€˜necessaryâ€™ column really â€˜necessaryâ€™ and how can you change them?
* Combine Errands
Do you make separate trips for work, groceries, gym and other activities? I used to do this a lot and for me a drive to and from town was 20 minutes every time. Sometimes I would drive 3 times a day for multiple errandsâ€¦what an inefficient use of my time. Try to think how you can combine your errands. Can you reduce going to the grocery store from once a day to twice a week?
* Simplify The Complicated
Do you sit in traffic for a few hours every day? It may be worth considering moving closer to your work. Do you have a mailbox/dentist/doctor that is far away from you? Possibly get one that is closer to you. Do you have a garden that takes loads of time to maintain? Consider automating the sprinklers or replacing all those little flowerbeds with lawn.
Spend some time to determine if anything in your life that is more complicated than it could be is worth keeping it that way. If not, change it.
* Eliminate The Useless
Personally I used to do a lot of unnecessary activities that not only consumed a lot of my time, these activities also did not make my life any better or give me any benefits. I am talking about things like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, checking for email every hour and looking at my website statistics to see how many visitors I had on that day.
For example, checking email and website analytics once a day saved me over an hour a week. I then deleted all my social networking profiles except for Facebook and Twitter, which I only use now to promote my blog and network with people I really want to be in touch with. No more idling on Facebook and reading what other (mostly unknown) people are up to. Above all, this time that I used to waste on social network sites has taught me nothing and has given me very little in return. The change of eliminating them has saved me a few hours every week that I can now use to do things I really enjoy or work on my business ideas.
Try The Changes For 30 Days
As with any new changes that you implement it is always a good idea to test them out for 30 days to see if there really is a benefit. I have read that it takes 21 days for a habit to take effect, which is why I mention a 30 day period of testing anything new.
You may find that your life is pretty optimal and you can only save an hour or less every week using the steps I outlined in the article. However, most people (my former self included) will be able to free up hours of their week that they can use to do something they love or work on something they are passionate about.
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