Note: This is a guest post from Karol K. of newInternetOrder.com
I dearly hate wasting so much time every day… This probably didn’t boost my credibility as someone who’s about to write a productivity article. But now something that will: My days of wasting up to 5 hours a day are long over. That’s because a typical day of mine has between 27 and 30 hours in it.
The best news is that creating a 29-hour day is easy. See how you can do it in two simple steps.
1. Realize how much time you’re losing every day
I’m not talking about procrastination. I’m not talking about laziness. And I’m not talking about getting up late either. In fact, I’m not talking about any of this kind of things.
I’m talking about losing time in moments that are seemingly out of your control. The most common of which are:
- Walking (either as a recreational walk, walking the dog, or going somewhere in general)
- Exercising (all kinds of physical exercise and workout)
- Cooking (spending time in the kitchen)
- Cleaning and other housework
- Waiting for things (at the doctor’s, at the bus stop, etc.)
All of these things seem to be out of your control. At first glance you can’t do anything about the time you spend commuting, working out, or walking the dog. However, this is all the time you can use for some additional things.
You see, whenever you’re doing something that doesn’t consume your brain resources very much, you can use this moment to do something else at the same time. Simple, two-task REAL multitasking.
The activities mentioned above are perfect moments to employ the concept of the No Extra Time (NET). Time that can be used more productively than it seems.
Now a simple example. Let’s say that each day, on average:
- you spend two hours commuting (one hour going to work and one hour going back home),
- you walk and shop for a total of one hour,
- you exercise for half an hour,
- you cook and clean for one hour,
- you wait for other things for half an hour.
That makes it a total of five hours lost every day if you’re not using your NET.
The example I’m using above may seem like one that’s a little exaggerated, but it’s not. Commuting for two hours a day is not something unusual for many people. Some of us simply get out of bed and immediately sit in front of a computer – total commuting time of 15 seconds, but some of us have to get in a car and drive down the interstate for 90 minutes. Walking and shopping for one hour – that’s just how it is. If you don’t believe me grab a stopwatch and find out for yourself.
Exercising for half an hour each day is the thing that seems the least believable, but I’m not saying that you have to be doing it for half an hour every single day. I’m just saying that’s the average. If you’re exercising three times a week for little over an hour that makes it half an hour per day on average. One last thing – if you don’t exercise at all, start!
Now it’s your turn. Use the example above, sum up your hours and find your personal amount of lost time – your personal amount of NET. Remember, NET can be employed every time when you’re doing something that seems natural and doesn’t require much focus.
Once you have the number, proceed to the next point.
2. Use your No Extra Time (NET) more productively
NET can be used in many different ways. The most popular are:
- Education (learning new things, self development).
- Keeping up with the world (getting familiar with the news).
- Planning and scheduling (deciding what you’re going to do).
- Taking over the world (just a fancy name for coming up with business and personal strategies).
- Networking and contacting people.
- Checking and responding to email (since you shouldn’t be checking email more than twice a day anyway).
If you want to be able to use your NET effectively, you have to create some new habits in your life and start to experiment with different ways of receiving information.
Here are some tips:
Whenever you want to read a book check if there’s an audio version of it. If such a version exists buy it and put it in your iPod. That way you can “read” it while commuting. That’s two hours of “reading” every day. Something not many people can afford. Plus, you can listen to audio in many different situations, for example: while walking the dog, shopping, exercising, cleaning, cooking, the possibilities are endless.
Find some interesting podcasts.
Carry around a moleskine notebook or use one of many iPhone apps for note taking. It will store your thoughts and plans for taking over the world while you’re waiting at the doctor’s.
Plan and schedule your nearest actions using your iPhone or/and Google Calendar. You’ll be able to do it on the move – on a treadmill at the gym, for example.
Get a Kindle. You’ll be able to read thousands of e-books while on the metro.
Check and respond to email from your iPhone. You can do it at the gym, while taking a bus, or whenever you’re waiting for something.
Contact people while you’re on the move. For example, when you’re walking the dog, shopping, or going somewhere on foot in general.
Have the above tips in mind and try to come up with your own set of activities. It shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes.
Don’t overdo this whole NET thing
You absolutely need some time for relaxation. Not every piece of NET should be utilized. Set aside a separate period for relaxation and chilling out. Feeling relaxed gives the best boost in productivity once you get to work.
That’s pretty much it. Welcome to the 29-hour day!
Tell me what you think. Are you using your NET? What do you prefer to do with it, what are your favorite activities?
About the author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland who shares his thoughts at newInternetOrder.com. Tune in to get his Getting Things Done (GTD) tips and other personal productivity advice.
Photo by Duncan