We can all do more with 24 hours
I had a friend visit me from Kansas City, Kansas. A small town boy, he went to school in the big city of Chicago, but he had never experienced the even bigger city of New York.
My excitement was palpable. I was talking faster than normal, I was walking faster than normal, and I was basically bouncing up and down as I described everything I had planned for him during the upcoming weekend.
We’re going to wake up and go to the gym.
Then we’re going to get breakfast.
Then we’ll play some tennis.
Then we’ll get in a basketball game.
Then we’ll see a movie.
Then we’ll go to happy hour with our friends.
Then we’ll grab dinner.
Then we’ll see a comedy show.
I was interrupted.
“Hold the phone, J, there are only 24 hours in a day!”
The number of hours in the day is directly correlated with what we do and how we make the most of those hours. Duh.
Our perception of these 24 hours varies. Clearly my friend believed it was impossible to fit all of those activities into one day.
But not I.
I believe in bear hugging every single hour of the day so tightly, that there is essentially nothing left to remain, aside from sleep and maybe 43 minutes of The Sinner (phenomenal show).
After hearing my friend skeptically and almost mockingly announce that the day was simply not long enough to fit in all of these activities, I began to jot ideas down as to how to refute his point.
I came up with 11 ways to add seconds, minutes, and dare I say it, hours to the day.
1. Stop Snoozing
The alarm goes off and what is 99% of our first reactions?
Let’s hit the snooze button! Just a little more rest won’t hurt…
Well, I agree, it certainly won’t hurt, but it will certainly waste precious moments of your day! Waking up and hitting snooze can lose you 5, 8, 19, or in some cases hundreds of minutes!
I actually wrote a book about overcoming the snooze button called Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness. In it, I outline a full, 5-step routine for beating that alarm and waking up with excitement rather than stress and anxiety. I stopped snoozing, and my productivity went through the roof.
So next time that alarm starts ringing, put your two feet on the floor and get your day started.
2. Keep Meals to Under 20 Minutes
This one is difficult for me because I love to eat as much as the next guy. But a useful tip for preserving time is to limit the lengths of your meals. Treat meals as fuel rather than extravaganzas.
By no means am I saying to scarf down your food like an animal, but do not lallygag and throw this time away. Have a productive, energy boosting meal, and move on to the next activity.
High Intensity Interval Training. Every incredible day should include some sort of exercise or workout. But, oftentimes, these can be very time-consuming. Hour-long runs, lifts, classes, yoga sessions, followed by transportation to and fro, and a shower can take out a large part of the day!
For this reason, I recommend HIIT. Short, emphatic bursts of energy that will get your heart racing, your muscles throbbing, and your body sweating. These workouts are usually full-body, 30 minutes or less, but you can get a fantastic sweat in in just 10–15.
4. Do the Hardest Thing First
After creating your to-do list and assessing what it is you are going to attack on any given day, I cannot recommend enough doing the hardest thing first.
View your brain capacity like a fresh new pencil.
It starts out absolutely pristine. When it first hits the paper, it is working flawlessly. It is effortless to get it to do what it was crafted to do. Then you move on to the next sentence, and the pencil is now a little smaller, it’s harder to write with. Then the next paragraph, and it has shrunk even more. Then the next page and the next, and it has written so many words that it has shrunk to almost nothing.
Your brain functions more efficiently when it is fresh. Taking care of the most difficult, the most stressful task first allows you to use the highest amount of brain power possible. It provides you with the opportunity to solve problems quicker, make quicker decisions, and achieve more in a shorter period.
Waiting until the end of the day to work on this task can draw out the process. It will lead to frustration, making it even longer to complete.
Do what is most daunting first, and save time, energy, and frustration by doing so.
5. Show up Early
Being punctual has so many advantages. Besides the obvious ones, it also adds minutes to the day.
Being early gives you the opportunity to get started at a meeting on time. It makes the day feel less rushed, and feeling less rushed is a large part of it actually being less rushed.
The earlier you are also, the more likely it is to begin early, which pushes everything up and adds time as well!
6. Power Walk
Speed walking is a great way to get around, and it can definitely give back a few extra ticks on the clock.
It may look silly, but it works!
7. Don’t Stall in the Shower
Showers are a hotbed for time wasting. Yes, they are wonderful and relaxing and all that good stuff, but they can also be efficient.
Get clean, get out. That’s my motto.
Try making the water extra cold so that you want to get out more than you want to stay in.
8. Have Productive Down Time
I am a big believer in breaks and the power of recharging. But, this does not provide me the leisure of fully zoning out or wasting a significant amount of time deviating from the task at hand.
If I have a doctor’s appointment, a meeting, anything in which I know there is the possibility of waiting before the event, I make sure to bring something else to work on.
Additionally, as funny as it sounds, I even use bathroom breaks to get sh*t done, no pun intended!!!
Embracing necessary rest time, but also realizing the ability to use it to your advantage most certainly adds time to the day.
9. Do Not Sit
Standing desks are all the rage these days. While the health risks of sitting may be over-exaggerated, one thing is for certain. Sitting for extended periods of time, especially sitting and doing things like watching tv, or browsing the internet, or looking at your phone, will waste beautiful minutes.
The less you sit, the more you are on the go, the more you will feel like the day is lengthening.
10. Skip the News
The news is draining. It is filled with negativity, drama, devastation, hate, and sadly much worse. A pessimistic and negative mentality and world view will suck the energy out of you, making it difficult to bounce back and be as present as possible with the time in the day. Not to mention, you get back the time you would normally take reading or watching it on tv.
Try this instead.
No News Challenge
I once heard somebody say that they only learned the news from other people. I am terribly sorry that I forgot whoever said this, but I am going to create a game out of your amazing words of wisdom and explanation.
1. Do not read the news at all in the morning, or throughout the day
2. Ask people about what is happening around the world in politics, sports, entertainment, business, technology, etc.
3. Write down the stories you are told
4. At the end of the day or right before bed, check the news and see how many of the top stories you became aware of, even though you did not pick up a newspaper or read a single article
You may feel uncomfortable doing this — asking somebody about the news, immediately becoming the student in a conversation. But, asking people questions gives them a feeling of empowerment, and as long as we are comfortable empowering people, which we should be, we both win. We get the news, and they get the feeling like they taught somebody something.
Not to mention, no time was wasted.
11. Ditch Distractions During High Time
This last one means that when you are on a roll, you have some momentum, you are in the zone, block out all other distractions.
Do not watch tv.
Do not have social media open.
Do not even have wi-fi on unless you absolutely need it.
Understand when you work best and devote that period of time fully to the task at hand, without anything else to get in the way. This will add back those minutes in which you would otherwise be doing something else.
We all have the same 24 hours to work with. Bill Gates does, Meryl Streep does, Barack Obama does.
So why does it seem like some people, like the ones mentioned above, can achieve so much?
Why does it seem like some people are everywhere?
Why do people accomplish more than others if we have the same amount of time to do so?
The answer comes down to how we make the most of our time.
The answer comes down to how we conserve time.
The answer comes down to how we value time.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” — Tony Robbins
The same goes for the day. Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in the 5 or 6 hours they devote to scheduling themselves and getting busy at work. But most people underestimate what they can accomplish in a full 24 hours, in which time is meticulously accounted for.
Time is precious. Make every moment count.
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