How to use your time effectively

Time heals all wounds. Time will tell. Timing is everything. We have crafted all of these lofty adages and cliches, and yet..it is such an elusive and vast concept, it is difficult to wrap our minds around it.

“If only we had more time, then…,” we tell ourselves. Or should I say, we delude ourselves into thinking. The fact is, you can have all the time in the world, and still be the same procrastinator who is not progressing in life. In fact, the emptier your calendar is looking, the less likely you are to get up and do something. When we don’t have the motivation of time constraints, it is very difficult to get anything done. You keep putting it off, thinking you can afford to be lazy and not suffer consequences, and still get it done. You occupy yourself instead, with social media and meaningless browsing on the internet, or on the couch in front of the other big screen that sucks you in like a black hole. Have you ever sat down and calculated how much time in a day you spent with your computer and TV? That time just became your opportunity cost to do something, dare I say it, actually worth your while – something productive, meaningful, helpful in some way.

On the other hand, I find that people are most productive under pressure. It’s only when you have a deadline looming over them that your wheels start turning extra fast. It’s only when you know you don’t have that extra day, or hour to work on something, because you have plans that you can’t cancel. When your “time” is scheduled rigidly, suddenly, you have no time to waste. When there are all these activities planned ahead of time, somehow you find a way to fit everything in. There is a surge of energy, your endorphins start pumping, and adrenaline helps you accomplish everything you set out to do.

Most people get comfortable with a routine daily sequence of events, and get too overwhelmed to try to change even one tiny habit. We are comfortable with our phones, our electricity, our easy entertainment, our fast food..and yet are left unsatisfied. We say, “well, it’s too late to change anything now; it’s been too long; it will take too much time.” But we have to realize, Rome wasn’t built in a day! The fast-paced world surrounding us deludes us! We are still human, we need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to love and be loved, and we need to work! We need to work and feel worthy, feel like we are contributing to a greater good. We need to look inside ourselves and feel satisfied with the day we lived. And we always need to strive to the next goal, to keep moving, to have meaning, to have purpose.

That sounds complicated – how does one do that? Well, the hardest part, as usual, is to start.

  1. Step one: figure out what is important to you, what you would like to see change in this world and in yourself.
  2. Step two: list the long term goals of what you want to accomplish; be realistic yet include some out-there ones.
  3. Step three: break these up into shorter-term goals, that you feel can be managed during a short span of time.
  4. Step four: dedicate a set period of time each day to tackle some of these goals. Even if they don’t get done in one day, this time will add up and eventually allow you to realize your goal!

Thinking about your dreams is a good start, but you must take action! Even 10 minutes each day spent working toward a goal will help! In fact, you may find yourself wanting to spend more and more time on it. You may get into “the zone” and enjoy the project so much that you won’t even realize the passing of time! And eventually, you will get more and more productive, and it will take you less time to accomplish what you set out! I encourage you to set deadlines for yourself, and schedule your time with fewer periods of “free time.” Schedule your time for pleasurable leisure activities instead of lounging on the couch staring into a black box. There is a world of exciting things out there – and no time to waste!

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