(TED) How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”


Time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam is the author of I Know How She Does it.

Popular time-saving tips include ideas such as recording your favorite TV shows so you can zip through the commercials or making only right-hand turns while running errands. But the shaving time off daily activities won’t produce much-needed extra hours. Instead of carving out time to do the things you want, prioritize what you want in life and do it.

Tip 1: Priorities what you want, so you’ll have the time to do what you want.

A time study of busy women juggling work, family and personal commitments found that time is highly adaptable. This is especially evident when an emergency strikes.

She given an example of when one of the study’s subjects came home to find that her water heater had flooded her basement, finding a plumber, hiring a cleaning company and arranging service calls took seven hours of her time that week.

Although she would testify to being too busy to spend seven hours a week, say, training for a triathlon or mentoring junior employees, her time expanded to cover this crisis situation. “I don’t have time” really means the task is not important to you, so handle your priorities as you would a broken water heater.

‘I don’t have time’ actually means it’s not a priority

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”

Acknowledging that you don’t want to make time to do something reframes time as a choice.

Begin by identifying what’s truly important to you.

Imagine it’s the end of next year and you are writing three to five amazing feats you accomplished for a performance review.

Do the same thing for your personal life by pretending that you are composing next year’s holiday newsletter. Now, you have six to 10 goals for the following year. Break down these targets into manageable steps. For instance, if you’d like to run a 5 km race, research and create a training program. Give these activities as much import as a broken water heater by building them into your weekly schedule in advance. A good time to tackle this is on a Friday afternoon. Draw up a list with three headings: “career, relationships” and “self.” Write two or three items under each heading and place them on a weekly planner.

“Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.”

You may believe you are too busy for this method to work, but the numbers tell a different story. Of the 168 hours in a week, you spend 56 sleeping and 40 working, which leaves 72 hours open. Even if you work more than 40 hours a week, you still have many hours for other activities. A study showed that people significantly overestimate the number of hours they work. Maximize your small moments of free time instead of pulling out your phone or turning on the TV. Read a book during your commute. Enjoy a family breakfast or meditate during a work break. Even the busiest people make time for what matters most to them.

(Productivity) Kicking Procrastination to the curb

Be better than 90% of the population

Your to-do lists may be endless, but only a few items will add real value to your and other people’s lives. Spending the most productive hours on tasks that yield the highest value will set you apart from 90% of the population.

High-value tasks are often more challenging than shallow tasks. Hence, make it a habit to tackle them first every day. Don’t let your fear of failure or fear of success prevent you from getting started. Such fears can be an indication of the high stakes involved in the task and thus serve as a gauge for how important they are to your life and career.

4-step process can help you fine-tune your priorities:

  1. Put pen to paper: Start by formulating your goals as clearly and specifically as you can. Subsequently, list everything you will or may have to do to achieve them. Doing so will not only free up your mind. It will also help you break your goal into manageable chunks that you can start tackling immediately, thus eliminating any excuse to procrastinate.
  2. Find your high-value activities: Among all your daily activities, find out which ones yield the most value by using the ABCDE method. 
    1. items will directly help you achieve your goals. 
    2. B items have a smaller impact, but you should nevertheless try to complete them after taking care of your A tasks for the day. 
    3. C items are small tasks that are “nice to do” but not crucial to achieving your goals. An example may be answering emails. 
    4. D items are things you can delegate, while;
    5. E items are things you can eliminate. Still unsure what your high-value activities are? Ask your employer about how you add value, think of the one skill that would help you advance your career the most and home in on which contributions find the most recognition among the people around you. Once you’ve found your high-value skill, keep pursuing it.
  3. Focus on your high-value activities: From your to-do list, pick the top three activities that will make the biggest difference in your life. Stop spending time on things that won’t.
  4. Adopt a new routine: Although you can’t control the results of your activities, it is within your power to make the most out of your most productive hours every day. Allocate a few distraction-free hours each day to pursue your most important and challenging tasks in a highly concentrated fashion. Then, spend the remainder of the day completing other, less consequential but necessary tasks.

Give it a try. I’m sure it going to be a massive help in kicking procrastination to the curb.

Time’s running out to mitigate climate change

Time is running out for implementing policies to mitigate climate change. Denial has caused decades of delay. Policy makers must take bold steps to lower carbon emissions immediately.

In 2015, the global economy expanded while carbon emissions shrunk, proving that weaning nations from fossil fuels needn’t devastate their economies. Renewable energy sources currently provide 25% of the world’s electricity. Both wind power and solar power are increasingly able to compete head-on with fossil fuel-generated electricity.

At the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the nations of the world, including the United States, agreed to work together to prevent further global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. More people in America and the world demand action. Many organizations and businesses strive to cut carbon.

Even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, standing as it does on a foundation of oil money, has decided to divest itself of interests in fossil fuel companies. Putting caps and prices on carbon and supporting subsidies for renewables will help move the economy toward fighting climate change. To stay informed, people can join groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists.

How to prioritize the skills to learn right now?

A 2×2 Matrix to Help You Prioritize the Skills to Learn Right Now

So much to learn, so little time !

We usually has very little time for learning but we also need to know that learning is one of the most crucial aspect of our life. The reason is that the shelf life of skills shorten significantly nowadays and our career paths meander and lengthen. 

Therefore, inevitably, there’s significant pressure on us all, to learn the right stuff. Or make the most of what little learning time we have each day.

As per the tagline of this website said,

KNOWLEDGE IS A WEAPON & I INTEND TO BE FORMIDABLY ARMED

One possible approach is to apply a time-utility analysis which is quite similar to a cost-benefit analysis to the subjects that we’re are interested in learning. 

“Time” is the time to learn.

It’s refer to the opportunity cost to us of achieving competence. 

“Utility” meanwhile refers to how much useful that the desired skill would be once we acquired it.

So, as mentioned in the beginning of the article, when we combined both “time” and “utility”, and we” get a simple 2X2 matrix with four quadrants as below:

  1. Learn it right away : High utility + Low time-to-learn
  2. Schedule a block of time for learning it, ideally in our calendars : High utility + High time-to-learn
  3. Learn it as the chance arises such as on a commute, lunch break, and so on: Low utility + Low time-to-learn
  4. Decide whether I need to learn it: Low utility, High time-to-learn
2 x 2 MATIRX 

Ways to use the matrix

  1. To decide what skills we want to learn
  2. Zero in on the skills we want to learn sub-skills or features, meaning to say. Further prioritization of our prioritized desired skill.

In summary, this is an easier way to set our learning path (deciding which skills mattered most) and help us to learn the desired skills faster by enabling us to do a much more deliberate practice on the skill set (zero in on what feature or subskills that mattered most).

Time Management and Productivity

Follow these tips for successful time-management and improved our productivity. 

  • Initiate our new time-management and productivity program : Early success helps you to stay motivated. Spend the majority of your time on “customer-facing activities”. We should devote our Sunday nights to planning and scheduling critical tasks for the coming week. 
  • Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize : Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I can do such that everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” 
  • Time Blocks : Break our workday into discrete time blocks, for example, 60- and 90- minutes work segments. Don’t work longer than 90 minutes at a stretch. After each work period, take a 15-minutes break. Alternatively, use the Pomodoro Approach (technique) 
  • Be Organized : Color-code our work calendar – Code it as “Green means revenue-generating activities such as calls, demos, and presentations”, “Yellow signifies activities that support revenue generation“, and “Red indicates administration” 
  • Systematize : Focus on general systems, not specific activities. Examine our repetitive tasks to see which we can systematize. This will increase our sales effectiveness. Begin with such basic tasks as prospecting, proposals, presentations and referrals. 
  • Start Small : Successful change doesn’t happen overnight. it’s a gradual, step-by-step process. Our new change program is a “collection of habits” that we’ll develop over time. Begin with “one hour, one day or one activity at a time and build up”.
  • Be an Experimental : Be open and curious. Try a new activity or approach, then another, and then another. Learn as we go.
  • Act “as if” : Changing our behavior to incorporate new time-management techniques can be intimidating. Our current habits are the behaviors you want to change. Rather than struggling to change our existing habits, act “as if” we already possess the desired traits and soon we’ll become natural at it. 
  • Shut Off Electronic Notifications and Alerts : Don’t let them interrupt our works.
  • Use the BreakFree or Moment Apps :  These apps helps us to monitor how much you use your smartphone and your other apps.
  • Review your emails only at preset times : Once we make our daily schedule, extend the times between when we check our emails.
  • Use Unroll.me and SaneBox : These tools would let you segregate essentials emails.
  • Play with Change : Incorporating new habits requires discipline, but it doesn’t need to be a life-and-death struggle. The best way to make significant changes is to have fun. 
  • Keeps Things Simple : Almost everyone hates complexity. Therefore, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.
  • The Power of Positivity : Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor believes that people with positive attitudes achieve the most satisfying business outcomes. He explains that when you are positive, “Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise”
  • Take Good Care of Yourself : Work sensible hours. Rest and decompress. Eat well.
  • Walk for 20-30 minutes : John Medina, author of Brain Rules, explains that the human brain is “built for walking 12 miles a day.” Get up from your desk and move around. Enjoy short walks, especially whenever you hit a work snag.
  • Take a Breath : When we want to surf websites on the Internet or do something that interferes with our focus, pause and breathe deeply for a minute or so until the urge passes.
  • Get plenty of sleep : Try to get eight hours of sleep a night. Set a time every evening to turn out the lights, and stick to it. For two hours before bedtime, don’t use phones, computers or tablets that emit blue light.

The “Time Master Manifesto”

I need to adopt the Time Master Manifesto, a set of axioms that add up to a “call to action” to organize and manage my time efficiently.

The Manifesto says: I am in charge of my time and my life. I need to spend time to succeed, and I have that time. And I pledge not to squander it.

”  I am in charge of my time and my life. I need to spend time to succeed, and I have that time. And I pledge not to squander it.”

Therefore, I routinely have to try new approaches to working smarter. Eschew “frenetic busyness” as a form of useless craziness. Fun energizes us, so I have to include enjoyable activities in my schedule. I can’t accomplish my goals alone. So I have to delegate whenever it makes sense.

Just for Today

We need to adopt a “just for today” mind-set:

That is telling ourselves that we’re applying our time-management and productivity techniques for today only is the easiest way to incorporate new controls, changes and techniques.

One day at a time, rely on the just-for-today approach.

This use of smart psychology enables you to accomplish much more each day.

Start & Finish Each Day Strong

Time-management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam asserts that most successful people get up early. This gives them a jump on the rest of humanity, including their competitors. Develop and implement a special “10-minute routine” to start your day productively.

“Working nonstop does not help us get our work done sooner. It slows us down. In reality, breaks are not a luxury; they’re a necessity.”

As Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you all day.” Work on “the right stuff, right away.” Tackle your most onerous jobs first. For most salespeople, that means prospecting.

p.s. onerous (of a task or responsibility) involving a great deal of effort, trouble, or difficulty.
“If you don’t take a rest, your mind starts wandering away on its own. Before you know it, you’ll be on Facebook, wondering how you got there.”

Complete each day with as much focus as you had when you began. For your end-of-day routine, take a few minutes to reflect on your progress. Think about where your work and your life are at present.

Reflection time.

As you reflect, consider what you learned during the day. This is particularly important for new sales reps. Once your reflecting time is over, look at your calendar to determine what you will work on tomorrow.

Write down the three most important objectives you must accomplish. Before you go to bed, clean up your work-space to keep visual clutter from distracting you when you begin work the next morning. (This one I need to personally remember, since my work space always messy)

“Having a quitting time forces you to plan better. You’ll be far less tolerant of any interruptions and distractions, even self-generated ones.”