I'm amazed at what can be done in one focused day.
And we all get 24 hours each day.
It can hard to spend all that time on meaningful things, but I think if you gradually quit things you don't want to spend time on, you gradually spend time on more important things. If you systematically eliminate things that are a waste of time, pretty soon you're doing things with at least some value.
Tracking time helps a lot with this. Just jotting down on paper once an hour what you did the last hour or so. Often, when it seems like forever has passed when I'm trying to work out something frustrating, it's only been 5 or 7 minutes. On the other side, a lot of high-stimulation websites, it'll seem like 5 minutes have passed, but it's been three hours.
Try tracking your time sometimes. It's huge. I realized I was spending way too much time following sports, so I quit spectator sports. Haven't been back. Don't miss it.
Instead I read a little more, walk around a little more, connect with people a little more, work a little more, cook a little more - I just spent a little more time on all the things that matter. I figure if you gradually quit bad things, eventually you're spending your time reasonably well. And if you gradually introduce good things and focus on those, then you start doing more and more amazing things.
24 hours is a lot of time. A lot can be done in 24 hours, if you're mindful of where the time is going.
Gradual change is the answer. And it all comes down to our habits.
First, eliminating the bad ones. And then focusing on what truly matters.
Thanks for that post. Sometimes we all need a little reminder of the simple but important things - like the fact that our time is limited, but we can still take control and make the best of it.
This is great.
A good way ensure you're spending your time well is to have clear goals. Then, ask yourself 10 times every day "Does what I'm doing right now support one of my goals?" If the answer is "No" then change what you're doing immediately.
Most everything we do has some value to us, else we wouldn't do it. The trick is to eliminate those activities that are not helping you to achieve your goals. When you choose to spend time only on activities that support your goal, you find you can achieve much more, much faster.
Easier said than done. But then again, no worthwhile achievement is easy.
This follows on from "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" - the basic idea behind that post is you can get a lot more done by either taking on a lot more responsibilities, which forces you to adjust and use your time better - this is the "top down" strategy. Alternatively, you can slowly build and reclaim time from your life, moving your time from less meaningful areas into more meaningful areas.
But let's get more specific. I read a lot of books. Most smart people want to read a lot of books, but don't find the time to do it. So, how to read more?
This is where the bottom-up approach shines. You slowly move time from less meaningful areas to more meaningful areas.
"Sebastian, I just want to read more. I don't care about this tracking stuff."
A couple months ago I was minding my own business, reading a book, about to go to sleep. I give twitter one last check on my phone and see a message from my friend Jenna telling me of a deal to go to Lima, Peru for $380 round trip. I have no particular reason to go to Peru, but I decide to start booking it and make the decision as I go through the steps. The deal is about to go-- it's disappearing from different booking sites one by one. Hey, might as well go, I think. For how long? Well, I can't think of anything off the top of my head in Peru besides Machu Picchu (which I already decided I had to see before I died), so I play it safe and book eight days, figuring that will give me enough time for Machu Picchu and maybe one or two other things.
After booking, I begin to do a little research. The thing to do is the Inca trail, which is a four day hike from the Cusco area to Machu Picchu. You have to go with a tour group, and you have to book far in advance. I booked too late for that. The standard alternative is the Salkantay trek, which is typically a five day trek. It's harder than Inca and has better natural scenery, but no ruins along the way and doesn't lead directly to Machu Picchu like Inca does. I try to find a good tour group going there, but none of the published dates fit into my short window in Peru. Fine, I think, I'll just go solo.
I order a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and mattress pad, and that's the extent of my planning for over a month. With a week before I leave, I figure I ought to see if I need train or bus tickets. That's when I learn that Cusco is almost 24 hours away from Lima by bus, and that getting to the trail from Cusco takes several hours as well. Long story short, it looks impossible for me to Salkantay. But I've had it in my head for a month now that I'm going to do it, so I don't give up easily. Finally I find a way I can take a bus to Arequipa near the end, and then take a flight from there to Lima just in time to catch my flight. The problem is that this leaves me only about 3 days to do the trek, and less than 24 hours to acclimatize.
A week later, my trip begins. I'm overjoyed when my tent stakes make it through TSA security. Actually getting to the hiking trail is contingent on several fairly unlikely assumptions, the first of which is that the titanium stakes will make it through. The flight to Lima is long, but I somehow manage to get an exit row seat to Panama, and a whole row to myself to Lima. I get the best plane sleep I've ever had.