8 Life Changing Ways to Save Time for Productivity and Happiness

Local train on track to down town Chicago. We see the skyline in the background. Photo by Pat Joseph.

You can change your life right now.

How? You can stop wasting your time.

This way you will achieve higher productivity and experience more happiness.

You will achieve it by doing what you really enjoy. By now I am able to

  • meditate daily for up to an hour
  • exercise outside almost every weekday
  • walk my dog at least twice a day
  • curate content and engage on social media daily
  • write for my blogs almost every weekday
  • read books daily – usually one per week

So how do you actually save time? Some ways to save time have worked for me for the 25 years.

Thus I compiled a list of 8 ways to save time by dropping some time wasting habits most people do not even notice.

Stop Commuting

As a freelancer I can decide where I work. Usually I work from home.

I have been sometimes walking to coworking spaces in the past.

I also have had some commuting experience in the past though.

In case you work far from home you waste countless hours of your life simply sitting.

In the best case you go by bike but usually you will just be using crowded public transport or in the worst case congest city streets with your car.

Just half an hour back and forth means one hour lost each day. Stop commuting and wasting your time with unnecessary trips.

Also: why go to Walmart 20 miles away? Is it really that much cheaper?

Imagine you need an hour to go there in which you could earn $100!

You can go to the local grocery and pay a little more and chat with the Indian shopkeeper instead. You still saved money.

Limit Watching TV

Watching TV is not only wasting time it’s also alienating from yourself and humanity.

It’s even worse with services like Netflix that make you “binge watch” for many hours at once. At least do not watch TV alone.

While on the Web you are at least communicating with virtual friends.

TV is a one way street that leads to nowhere besides the asylum.

Who wants to watch 50 murders every day anyway? That’s what you see on TV by default.

Watch a well selected movie once or twice a week and make it a really a nice evening with your friends or family.

Skip mindlessly zapping and watching just anything the TV stations serve you.

They usually try to attract attention by leveraging the lowest instincts (fear and anger).

Ignore Vanity Metrics

In my early days on the Web I was literally following each new visitor on my site.

I was hyper excited that someone visits and reads my site.

I would look up the link they came from and the keywords they searched for.

Later on I was in a frenzy because hundreds or thousands of people visited my blogs.

Did it change anything? I had more work to do.

Keeping my blogs clean from SPAM comments e.g. besides wasting time about vanity metrics:

I still do obsess about vanity metrics sometimes but most of the time stalking your users and following daily traffic changes is both frustrating and misleading.

It makes more sense to check actual conversions and sales instead.

When it comes to traffic and engagement you end up studying minuscule changes for hours and on the next day you notice that they are irrelevant. Check your stats once a week for half an hour.

That’s also what I offer clients.

The same thing happens on social media.

You don’t have to check out every account that follows you on Instagram or every engagement that social media sites alert you to.

Follower numbers are inflated by bots and inaccurate anyway.

Quit Smoking

Use your breaks for communicating with people, at least online.

I never smoked in my life, but I know that it’s difficult to quit at once.

Quit every day a little more by smoking a little less.

Reward yourself each time you don’t smoke.

Discover and share some inspiring artworks on Pinterest or other image bookmarking sites!

Smile at someone. Eat some chocolate.

In case you need to smoke to de-stress consider switching your job that is so stressful in the first place.

Some people force employers to give them a break by smoking.

Limit Toxic News

Positive News magazine cover

These days the sheer amount of toxic news is unbearable for one individual.

You can’t check all the news-sources anyway so quit it altogether.

You also can’t influence what happens in most cases.

The constant onslaught of negative news becomes toxic and even depressing.

Climate anxiety and the covid panic are prime examples.

Even without anything “bad” to happen (which is rare) the cognitive overload is toxic by itself.

When the Russians will drop the bomb you will know anyway.

On normal days just trust the wisdom of the crowds or the algorithms of social media.

Focus on inspiring news, ideally from your niche or industry.

When shit hits the fan, just check original sources instead of drowning in an ocean of bad news and fear-mongering from people who make money by scaring others.

Act on the climate instead of feeding your climate anxiety. I’m vegan e.g.

You can also focus on good news and solutions altogether instead.

There are whole news sources that deal exclusively with the positive news that usually get ignored.

Stop Using Forums

Forums are problem oriented. In case you want more problems use and read forums. In case you like solutions read blogs.

In case you like the best solutions just read the best blogs or let the crowd wisdom decide again.

I do not use forums anymore and I do not miss anything.

For solving problems I search for actual solutions on reputable publications. I only look up forums when desperate.

In the past I often got verbally attacked on forums when asking “stupid questions” or trying to find solutions for common problems.

There is always someone smarter than you who will look down on you just because you don’t know what s/he knows already.

Similar things can happen on social media like X-Twitter or Facebook.

Some sites are even worse than others. Semi-private Facebook Groups seem to be more civil. Also Quora can be helpful.

Check Messages Once

Do not check your email all the time. It can wait.

Imagine yourself going to your real mailbox 20 times a day. Nobody would do that.

Also when you check messages first thing in the morning and respond you will run errands and get additional questions and so on.

People who start their day with checking messages (as it’s not just mail these days) rarely do actually creative work.

They merely react to others and obey their orders.

Some normal that is non-geeky people check their email once a week.

They are still alive! More than you probably. Every message is also an interruption that makes you lose focus for half an hour afterwards.

When you check messages only once per day, ideally in the evening you are able to plan your next day and allocate time slots for really important tasks.

Switch off Chat Tools

While Skype is a great tool for online meetings it’s really annoying when somebody contacts me.

They ping me via Skype chat and expect me to reply instantly as many people do. These days it’s also

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Zoom
  • Slack
  • Flock
  • WhatsApp
  • Snapchat

These are just some of the tools that make money by capturing your attention.

They literally make billions by distracting you and keeping you occupied!

Switch off Skype etc. if you do not expect someone important to call you for more than idle chatter.

Most types of information are not suitable for Skype or other chat tools anyways.

Don’t be like the youngsters who try to write love letter via SMS.

The medium is the message. Use Skype like email, once or twice a day.

Chatting is chatting, share information instead on social media.

No Need to Be Perfect

There is no need to be perfect! I’m not for sure. I know it works though.

You can use your time creatively while sharing instead of wasting it.

Now you can waste use the precious time you saved by investing it in productivity or by simply experiencing happiness.

How do you do that? Simply stop doing anything and just be. You could go for a walk. You choose.

Realize that everything is perfect already.

You don not need to achieve anything to be happy.

Happiness hides behind the incessant demands of the attention economy.

Productivity is fine but no matter how busy you are are it won’t make you happy

The only way works makes you happy is when you experience flow states without distractions.

It happens to me all the time when blogging!

Other than I practice YoPaDa to get there!