Time Management Tips: The Secret of a 29-Hour Day (Sort of)

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:

  • Commuting
  • Walking (either as a recreational walk, walking the dog, or going somewhere in general)
  • Shopping
  • 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.

BUT

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

27 Comments

  1. My favorite NET tool are my podcasts I listen to. There are great apps like PocketCasts that let you easily download podcasts for those long commutes back and forth to work.

    I recently wrote a blog on 10 Productivity Tools to Make Your Life Easier that might interest those looking to get more time or production out of the time they do have.

    http://balancedworklife.com/blog/10-online-productivity-tools-to-make-life-easier/

  2. Like the use of NET. I have been using ideas like this for some time now. For example, if you get up an hour and a half earlier Mon – Fri, you pick up almost another work day. Nice article!

  3. Karol,

    Here are a couple of ways I use NET:

    1. I keep newspapers and magazines in the car so whenever I have an errand to run that includes waiting in line (Starbucks, car wash, etc.), I can catch up on some reading.

    2. I also read my Kindle while I’m on my stationary exercise bike.

    Thanks for sharing the NET concept!

  4. Great ideas!

    I use workout time to edit my posts on the stationary bike. When I do weights, I listen to books on tape or other programs on my MP3.

    I also bring a book to read or my notebook to work through post ideas at doctors/dentist offices.

    There are just so many wonderful things to be doing with my time. Frittering away the hours, minutes, and even seconds add up fast, on waiting and walking and commuting and the like, just drives me crazy. There are so many great education and personal growth programs out there (and many for free at your local library) that can make commute time a very valuable time too!

    Again, great ideas, Karol!

  5. Great Post!

    I always listen to audio books on my morning, afternoon and evening commutes.

    During my light cardio days I like to come up with interesting blog post that I think my readers would like.

    My weight training workouts can be pretty vigorous at times so I can’t do anything besides exercise in those moments.

    But you have enlighten me to some really good ideas on how to utilize my time much better. Thanks

    James – The Fitness Coach

  6. I believe as long as your using the net for productivity and your getting things DONE! Then, Your on top of people who pretend to get things done, and DON’T!

  7. I am firm believer in NET, and am always looking for new ways of getting things done whilst doing other stuff. There are always ways of getting things done if you really want to no matter how busy you are 🙂

  8. I always bring my notebook and a book to read and organize my thoughts and to-do list when I’m waiting for something or in the car being driven somewhere with my boyfriend (if i don’t have to drive myself, obv). But I like the idea about audiobooks and podcasts to “read” when I do have to drive myself places. Hmm, I wonder what else I can think of to squeeze some extra productivity in my day now! Thanks for the ideas!

  9. I too am a believer in NET. I will often download podcasts and listen to them while working out. But even with NET, like you said, you need relaxation. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. 🙂

    • Working out is great for catching up on podcasts and other audio content. I’m always that guy who’s permanently wearing his headphones at gym.

  10. I’ve been employing these tactics to help me be productive for years, but I have never hear of the NET concept. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Karol

    This is an very good article. But what I believe do some activities which doesn’t consume your brain resources very much is good.

    Also it is better to use the time wisely and smartly.

    This will actually improve the productivity.

  12. I use my NET time while driving.

    I’m correctly learning french and I’ve found that instead of just listening to music while I’m on my way to work…I can start pour apprendre une chose ou deux tous les jours! 🙂

    I loved your approach to productivity 🙂

    I’m IQTELL’s Marketing Director and we are having a contest…We want to ask you how would you use that extra time you save each day….the have a wonderful prize for the winner 🙂

    Search for IQTELL on Facebook to win or send me a mail to get an invite to our beta 🙂

    • Learning languages is a great idea for your NET. The more often you hear a certain language in everyday situations the sooner you can master it. Cheers!

  13. […] Love this article about getting 4 more hours out of your day! From Life Optimizer and Karol K of NewInternetOrder at “Time Management Tips: The Secret of a 29-Hour Day (Sort of)”. […]

  14. Karol,

    This is good advice. It is useful to realize how you spend your time and then make necessary adjustments to your schedule.

    I feel that also what you said at the end of the post is important too: Don’t overdo it!

    For example, when I work out (by running or cycling), it is really refreshing to just “ventilate your brains” without any extra stimulus.

    Besides, it seems that I get most of my good ideas when I work out 🙂

  15. Hi Karol,
    This is a very nice article including lots of ideas , inspiration & motivation of the importance of our time , and is considered like an alert for the time we lose every day & how to use it in a beneficial way . Confirming what you say , for me i spent 3 hours a day commuting and i used recently to listen to some audios for professors talking about success and goals , which made a very good use of my time .

    thanks

  16. Time is equal for everyone on earth. We all chose to use it in different ways.

    Commuting- in the morning use it as a time to review your schedule or read if you are on a train.
    If you are driving,/i use it as a time to relax-music or educate cd’s

    A great coach once told me that rest was a “weapon”. Well rested army’s , teams , brains, have a tactical advantage.

    Use time to rest also.

    great post- really gets you thinking.

    SW

  17. Bonita Moonshine
    Bonita Moonshine

    This is an interesting one. Totally different from the mindfulness bandwagon that is so popular at the moment. (Where, according to their principles you should be at the gym THINKING ONLY of what you’re doing at the gym, not checking your email whilst listening to Dan Brown’s new novel on your ipod/phone.) I am all for spending time in both camps. There are times when it helps greatly to have a distraction device and other times when complete mindfulness is appropriate.

  18. This article talked about several ways to not only manage your time, but also about how to use your “no extra time” (NET) more productively. One of the ideas listed was “keeping up with the world”, or in other words, get more familiar with the news and the difference events taking place around the world. This is something that I need to do more of. I personally spend too much time on social networking sites, like Facebook, rather than watching the news and further educating myself.

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