Are You Using Time Or Is Time Using You?
Did you know that if you spend 10-12 minutes planning your day, you’ll save up to 2 hours of time that would otherwise be wasted? In a world where we always seem to be rushing and rarely present, time feels like a luxury. But how is it that even though we all have the same number of hours in a day, some seem to get more done, be more organised or just seem like they have it all together? Because they use it to the best of their ability.
My dad used to say this when I was little - he said, "If you don’t respect time today, it will not respect you tomorrow." He doesn’t say this around me anymore so i hope that’s a good thing!
But there’s definitely a lot of wisdom in that now that I look back on it. Indeed, with anything if we don’t respect or honour it today, it will likely not honour us tomorrow. Respecting time doesn’t mean we don’t take breaks or time to do nothing (that’s important too! We’re not clocks!), but it makes practical sense to use time to our advantage, instead of letting it use us.
Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher (he was born in Spain, and raised in Rome, where he learned rhetoric and philosophy). In relation to time, he said, "We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”
Over the years, I’ve learned to be more possessive with my time because I realised it’s one of the fastest things that you will lose if you don't plan it. I said yes to so many engagements sometimes, that i wasn’t left with enough time that I wanted for myself. Or rather was hesitant to keep for myself because I felt if I'm not doing anything, it means that time can be filled. So if you’re like that - that time doesn’t need to be filled because it already is - with you.
If you don’t keep that time for you, someone will take it for them. Be possessive, say no sometimes.
Effective time management isn’t just for CEOs, thought leaders or athletes - it’s for everyone. And you don’t need to get up at 4:30am to make it happen (if you wanna, go on!). Here are 3 tricks on how to manage time without feeling overwhelmed. I've used these personally and seen the changes, and I’m going to share them with you right now. You ready?
1) Get up and go
This one is going to sound the toughest, but it’s not as bad. When your alarm wakes you up in the morning, Do. Not. Snooze. Just get up and go straight to the washroom. Please don’t also jump up like a Masai warrior either - you'll see stars in the day with the blood rush. They’re rumoured to be trained to be ready for combat within seconds of waking. You don’t need to go to battle, just the washroom for now.
When you snooze, you not only start another sleep cycle which you will not be able to complete, you also confuse your brain and condition it to make it tougher for yourself to wake up. If you’re sleep deprived, the same thing applies - you end up going to the start of the sleep cycle which will just make you feel worse.
It may not feel like it, but your body actually starts the process to wake up almost 2 hours before you open your eyes. Your body temperature starts increasing, and chemicals gets released that promote wakefulness. So when your first alarm sounds, your body is actually ready.
If you’re struggling to un-snooze, here’s my personal tip that works for me every time - don’t give yourself time to think.The alarm sounds, you open your eyes - sit up in bed to get the blood flow sorted, and go wash your face. Once you start debating with yourself, that’s where the temptation seeps in.
Waking up on time will save you time. In fact, a mere 15 minutes snooze each day in the UK results in 91 productive hours wasted every year. Not snoozing will also keep the groggy feeling away, make you feel better for keeping your promise to yourself, and give you a space in the morning to prep for the day, have a nice breakfast or simply enjoy some peace. Unless you’re a parent - then you’re likely always rushing into the day.
2) If it takes two minutes, do it now
This two minute rule by David Allen (who is a productivity consultant and author) has changed my life. I learned this at my first job and every time I'm about to start something (or avoid it), I think, “Will this take me two minutes or less?” and if so, then I'll go ahead and do it then. This can be for filing papers, opening mail, or even doing the dishes - if you do it then, you save yourself a whole bunch of time later. If not, these tasks add up and eventually you’re spending an hour of your Sunday morning wanting to rip the papers and wondering why you didn’t file them earlier.
This specifically has helped with the infamous chair issue - you know what chair I'm talking about - the one where you move your ironed clothes from your bed to your chair, and then back again in the morning - by the time you’re done this back and forth multiple times, the folds have come undone. Now I look at it and know it’ll take me less than 2 minutes, so get it out of the way.
The KEY to doing this rule right, is that the task at hand should be completed during your brain’s “processing time,” - meaning you decide to do this when you have the mind space to pick a task to do next. Do not do this when you suddenly remember something in the middle of another task - that will derail productivity because your brain needs time to adjust between tasks that differ in nature from one another.
03) Protect your first hour
How you spend the first hour of your day will set the pace for the rest. Take that first hour or even half of that portion to let time serve you, before you dive into the day. Drink some warm water, take deep breaths, and have your breakfast.
And if you can, do not check your emails or social media during that time. Many people start scrolling while in bed (I’ve done this before), and it loads your half-awake self with information before you have even set your feet on the ground. You should come first, not your phone.
Imagine you had coffee yesterday, and this morning you added more coffee into that mug without rinsing or even washing it. And you keep doing this everyday. That’s pretty much what we do to ourselves - we start scrolling, adding more to our minds, even before we have rinsed off the sleep or relaxed from thinking, “I wonder what that dream meant.”
This information buffet also affects our focus for the rest of the day. A medical director of behavioural health, Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi said, “The information overload that hits [you] before you’re fully awake interferes with your ability to prioritize tasks.”
Avoiding aimless scrolling will save you time, raise your focus and more importantly, give you more control over how you feel at the start of the day.
That is it! Create more pockets of time for yourself by getting up with the alarm (no snooze!), the 2 minute rule and protecting the first hour of your day. Your time is precious so decide what you want to invest it in carefully, and it will give you the returns in productivity, peace and feeling that the day isn’t just about the things you need to do, but also about YOU.