Time hacking your way to slow living

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Lately I have experimenting with time saving techniques in an attempt to live a simpler life. This means thinking about ways to save time, so I don’t have to work so much. In doing so, I have cancelled lots of email subscriptions, newsletters, sold I bought that I never got around to read and excess furniture I didn’t want to clean.

This has made me search for more information about time hacking techniques busy people can use every day. Podcasts have become my new found vice, they are free and give out short useful tips of information from some very wise and knowledgable people. One particular podcast caught my attention because of its practical advise on time saving behaviours, its call the Time Hackers channel.

Time hacking is about how to save time and do be able to achieve more in your day or simply have more free time to slow down and live life. It’s targeted at entrepreneurs and busy business people, but I can see these ideas reaching far and wide.

One common health barrier people have to making lifestyle changes, is not having enough time to exercise or prepare food. Time hacking is a great way to learn to be more efficient at time management in order to create more time to put a healthy balance back into your life and decrease stress. I thought I was pretty good at time management, yet after listening to this podcast there were some things I could defiantly try and improve. Here’s my top pick of useful time hacks:

This one is getting more and more important for me these days. With running my business part time, working full time, media contracts, industry meetings and family demands, it’s getting pretty hectic. In fact just this last week It’s been really bothering me that I have half started projects open on my lap top, but none of them finished! Frustration levels are sky high!

Here’s what you do to start getting through all your projects. Make a list from most important to least, and concentrate on one at a time. If they are bigger projects list each step or milestone you need to complete too and work through it methodically. Do not give into any other distraction that comes your way whilst working on your project. Allocate 1-2 hours every day to smash into any milestone that is going to give you the biggest returns and push you the closest to finishing. Don’t look for perfection either, do as little as required, keep it basic, and just finish it. You can always go back and jazz it up later. Perfectionists take note!

Keep your email inbox clean

Again another hate of mine, I dislike emails sitting in my inbox. I’m heavy handed with the delete and unsubscribe button. Because it’s a bugbear I tend to keep my inboxes open all day and respond to work task emails as they come in. This works really well when media gigs come in, because you can see important emails drops into your inbox you can respond quickly and win more contracts.

When your email inbox is over flowing, it very quickly becomes your todo list and it becomes a never ending list of meaningless tasks.

Only check your emails 2-3x a day and move them into designated folders as they come in. Put emails into folders labeled; “read”, “urgent”, “clients” or “fun”. Have specific and designated time blocks to answer emails. Only allocate 30 minutes daily or 10minute blocks per folder, undistracted and power through them. Don’t waste too much of your precious time on emails, speaking is often faster than typing. You may find picking up the phone a time saver rather than playing email tennis. Talking, rather than emailing builds stronger relationships too.

Time hack by picking your most productive time of day

Some people have more energy in the morning, others are night owls. Have a think about the time of day when you work the most productively and creatively. For me, it’s the morning because my body is so tired I can slump into the chair or sit up in bed and start working with my laptop. Don’t ask me to exercise in the morning though because I don’t like it.

In the afternoon I hate being stuck behind a computer because I’m excited to start exercising and getting into the afternoon sun. The evening is when I get the most out of my training exercise sessions.

There is no point in forcing yourself to do mind taxing tasks when you are the least productive. Organise your day so you get the most out of yourself and your natural energy levels.

Here’s what I experimented for a week; I decided to get up 30minutes earlier than normal. This means my alarm went off at 6.30am every morning, in this time I left the lap top next to the bed so I could reach down first thing and start working when I woke up. I ended up with an extra 30minutes of solid writing or reading before my usual day starts, which felt amazing! There is only one caveat, only experiment with getting up earlier or going to bed later if it doesn’t affect your sleep time. You might want to plan your 8 hours of sleep time first then figure out what time you should be waking up and getting to sleep.

Have designated time blocks for free time and play

You can’t expect yourself to be creative when you are stressed and tired. To be creative we need our own free time or with kids we call it playtime. I’m lucky enough to work from home most days a week. I choose to decline climbing up the corporate ladder so I could stay at home and have more time for me. I decided that the commute to work and my lunch breaks was taking up my time. Time that I could be relaxed instead I was sitting in traffic or whinging to coworkers about injustices occurring at the office. Now I spend that time playing with my dog, meditating, mucking around with weights in the front yard or cleaning the house. Believe it or not I find the end product of a ruthless house clean so rewarding, nothing better than that feeling of walking into a fresh, spacious and organised room.

For people in a job, that is all consuming, this maybe very difficult to achieve. You may want to keep some time on the weekends free for you and you alone. You may want to have a meditative play list to listen to on the bus or train on the way home. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Understandably this is much harder with kids. I see a lot of parents with kids in my private practice who are in a 8am-7pm job (those jobs are horrid), then come home to start whizzing kids around to sport all night. In between dropping kids off, dinner is cooked or takeaway ordered, kids are picked up again and the parents fall into a heap on the couch. If that wasn’t bad enough social, family and sporting commitments for all the children consume the entire weekend. Now thats stressful.

Kids, like adults need free time. Sports and exercise is important, but so is unstructured play. This is were as a family you need to decide whats more important, spending time together or spending time being a taxi driver all week long. Prioritise your family time, spending time doing nothing and enjoying each others company. Not doing more stuff, with more people, creating more run around time.

When I was growing up, between my younger brother and I, we were allowed to choose 1 sport to play per season. This was partly due because of financial reasons, but also my parents worked two jobs each and didn’t have the time to taxi us around all the time. On the weekends they organised between the parents who would car pool for the week, so some parents took the load whilst other had free time. On the weekends we would either be home or at a BBQ at a national park or beach with other families. We were told to go and play, we wouldn’t see our parents all day. Adults had their down time and we used our imaginations.

Organise you day, week or month for free time to just be, no appointments, no stress, just free time.

Get into routine, even with your relaxation time

I hate to say it, I love routine. Its very trendy to say “I’m spontaneous”, but in my mind productive people aren’t typically spontaneous. Its ok to be spontaneous sometimes, but if you are going to do that every day of every week you will never get anything done. Theres a difference been allowing yourself to relax and being down right lazy and apathetic about stuff.

Routine is the key to getting things done you don’t like doing. Routine is how people get healthy. Routine is how you structure a productive day. If you don’t plan, you will fail. I hope this is clear enough?

My personal morning routine is nothing to brag about, set my alarm to go off every weekday at 6.30am. I eat breakfast at 7am, walk the dog by 7.30am, start work at 8am. When my work day is over 4.30pm I start my triathlon training.

It’s easy to exercise because its blocked into my day, I don’t have to think about when I am going to do it. I don’t skip meals because I have careful designated a time for it. I am never late to start work because I have timed my walk around it. This is how to get all the things you want to get done and have free time at the end of the day.

With kids and a large family, I completely understand that it is very difficult. You may not be able to stay on plan all the time. However, having some sort of basic or flexible routine is easier for the entire family to manage on. You know when people are coming and going, kids know what they are supposed to be doing to. It sets boundaries and they will find comfort in the routines itself. Routines are safe, stable and a fall back. People like to feel safe and comfortable not hectic and rushed.

Have you got any time hacks you would like to share?

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