Our lives are busy. We fly from commitment to commitment. Many of us would benefit from a 12 week certificate in time hacking if something like that existed. But no matter how much we have going on, as human beings we will find a way to fill up our time. In the car, waiting for a bus, on lunch breaks, and even on the couch at the end of the day.
The real challenge is to consider how we choose (consciously or unconsciously) to spend this time. Since most Americans are uncomfortable with silence we incorporate background chatter in the form of radio, TV, or digital browsing. There is nothing wrong with this, but you do run the risk of being distracted.
How do you choose what messages to expose yourself to? For example, let’s say you have a long commute into work, do you listen to regular radio or audio books? What benefit would each bring? When you come home after a long day do you scan your Facebook or Twitter feed or do you catch up on the books you recently downloaded? Conscious choice instead of habit can make a difference in how you feel.
This year I’ve taken inventory of my media habits and decided I want to listen to audio books on my work commutes. My drive can be 35 to 65 minutes (depending on traffic), so I choose to use this time to listen to audiobooks from respected business authors. I even downloaded some language tutorials to brush up on my Japanese from Amazon Prime Music (a benefit of Prime membership). I realized I had many options if I wanted to dedicate my commute time to something I found beneficial.
For me it really came down to auditing where my time goes and evaluating how that affects my feeling of satisfaction. By taking a more conscious approach to my choices I’ve been able to fit in more inspiration and learning into the time I do have. Here is what I consider while auditing my media consumption habits:
- How often or at what times do you check email? Is there a cut off time?
- How often do you check Facebook, Twitter, or other social media? Do you have an end time where you no longer look at your media?
- What kind of radio do you listen to? Is it background chatter or are you gaining insight or enjoyment?
- What kind of visual media are you consuming? Is it enjoyable or is it veg-out? Does veg-out really benefit you or is it simply distracting?
- How much time do you spend playing games like Candy Crush in a week and does it seem worth it to you? Will it seem worth it 3 years later?
By taking stock of how you spend time you may be able to let go of actions and habits that don’t really benefit you. This makes room for things that actually bring more satisfaction. What could you do with an extra 20 minutes a day? Go for a walk? Work out? Meditate? Learn a new language?
In Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions she makes the point that some things need to be purged before there is enough room for projects of greater significance. I’ve found that unless there is more space you really can’t fit more into your life without compromise. So I ask, what habits do you have that consume significant time? What level of enjoyment do these things bring? What can you let go to make room for? I’d love to hear your stories below, please share your perspectives!