8 Life Changing Ways to Save Time for Productivity and Happiness
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 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 20+ years.
Thus I compiled a list of 8 ways to save time by dropping some time wasting habits most people do not even notice.
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.
Same thing 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.
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 for instance. 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
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 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 via Skype chat and expects me to reply instantly as many people do. These days it’s also
- Facebook Messenger
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 unless you experience flow states without distractions.
I haven’t really thought about number 6 (forums) – but it’s true…they are full of problems and full of all sorts of answers it gets tricky getting through it.
Gotta admit though, I turned off e-mail a couple of months ago, and now only check once or twice a day. The thing that bothered me most was that people would e-mail with “urgent, urgent” requests – I’d spend time in answering, then not hear back for days. Man…
Why Russians? Anyone can :) Just trying to be patriotic ;)
Another great post Tad. It was both funny and informative. The problem is if I get outside and actually do something I wouldn’t get to enjoy your wit and humor.
funny as always.. I never smoked but never thought people who smoked could be stumbling great sites instead of gathering in the front lobby during breaks!
Im gonna try some of the tips you mention, like talking to the local Indian shopkeeper lol
Lid, that’s why you don’t reply anymore ;-)
Smarty: Either you are with me or against me!
Tony: Print it out!
pearl: Actually stumbling is more addictive than smoking I guess.
Quiting smoking will never happen with smoking a little less every day. You either have to stop fully or you get never rid of the habit. I know, i tried it all.
Bolkie: I’ve seen people doing that. Turning from chain smoker to occasional smoker and after a year or two stopping it altogether as the occasions (stress, parties, “being cool”) became less frequent.
Great post Tad. I had just written an article posing the question of how power users found the time to participate.So this was highly relevant.
I’ve already ruled TV out, so no problems with that. I’m at pains to stop reading before bed, but it is something I’m considering. It’s very true that you simply can’t enjoy them in short spurts.
Where does exercise fit in amongst all of this…? :)
Thanks James. Exercise is best done in the morning. Check out this post here:
I probably also had to mention I will keep trying to quit. ; )
1. Cut out the commuting and other unnecessary ways
Commuting wastes so much time. I travel one hour one way. So thats 2 hours a day and 10 hours a week! The office is in central london, so to move closer would be a problem because of the extortionate cost of accomodation there.
2. Do not watch TV
I don’t have a TV. Not had one for 7 years. The only time I would like to watch the TV is for news, but then I read the newspaper anyway. TV is a complete waste of time. You also get alot of negativity from TV such as notification of murders, rape, wars etc
3. Do not read books before going to sleep
That really depends on the books you read. If it is of a intelligent nature e.g. technical, it gets your brain working and so makes it harder to sleep. Some books which require no thought at all, does help with sleep.
4 Quit smoking
Totally agree with this. When I was smoking I couldn’t wait for my next cigarette and always took extra breaks. The best way to stop is to stop completely. Stopping by reducing the number of cigarettes you take is actually counter productive and reinforces the fact that we need our next hit. Read Allen Carrs book on stop smoking. It worked for me
5. Do not read news first hand, read what the crowd has chosen
I just select news I am interested. I think I read what the blogger has chosen really as I don’t really participate in digg etc
6. Do not use forums
I don;t use forums anymore. I remember in the days when I did, I kept wasting time checking replies the thread I started etc.
7 Do not check, read and answer email
I guilt of checking my email too many times sometimes. Mainly because I get emailed whenever I make a sale.
8 Switch off Skype and other IM software if you do not expect a call
Yeah, I have stopped using MSN Messenger while I work, and realised how much time it was wasting me in the past when I had it on all the time.
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Do not check, read and answer email.
Hahaha, that’s a good one :)
I do agree about smoking, that’s nr 1 for me and TV also, which is a waste of time. Thanks, i had a good laugh reading it and remembering some of my older habits :D