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Every single person on the Earth has 24 hours per day, no more, no less. Yet, why do some people seem to get more things done and enjoy their lives more than you when everyone has the same limited amount of time? How in the world are they able to achieve that? The answer is quite straightforward. They fully utilize every single minute they have, every single day.
But, how can we fully utilize every single minute we have in our lives? First, we need to find out how we currently spend our time. We need to spot the inefficiencies in our daily time usage in order to become better at managing our time.
1. Track Your Time
Let’s start by tracking how you spend your time every day. First, download a Time Tracking app like Toggl Timer, ATracker or RescueTime (a free plan is available for all three applications) for your smartphone or desktop.
Whenever you start doing something such as working, having lunch, or scrolling through social media, track the time you spend on these tasks. At the end of each day, take a look at how you spent your time throughout the day. It’s easier to realize how much time you have wasted by looking at those numbers.
Time is a very abstract concept. It’s quite hard to realize just how much time you have wasted unless you keep track of it. By tracking it, we are able to compare how much time we spend on each tasks. Let’s take a look at this example (in this case, I’m using Toggl Timer):
A clear image appears as we look at the diagram. In this case, it becomes pretty clear that I’ve spent the majority of my personal time on social media. I know that I have to do something about that, especially since I’m spending way more time on social media than I expected. By tracing my time usage, I’m able to see a clearer image of where all the time went.
Usually, I don’t really track the time I spend on miscellaneous tasks like eating, commuting or going to the bathroom, since these tasks are inevitable.
2. Analyse the Result
Track every significant activity in your daily life. At the end of the day, compare and analyse the results. Do you spend most of your time on activities that are beneficial? Or are you spending most of your time procrastinating?
Our goal is not to totally eliminate all the less beneficial activities such as scrolling through social media, watching television series, or day dreaming from our daily lives, but to reduce the total time spent on these kinds of activities. When you come down to it, it’s all about achieving a balance in our lives.
If you find that you spend half of your day on these activities, it indirectly shows you how unproductive you were during the day. On the other hand, if you spend 90% of your time working, it indicates that you have neglected some other important aspects of your life, such as family or entertainment.
3. Set Up Your Goal(s)
Now you have a rough idea about how you spend your time every day. You have found out the reasons that caused your day to be less productive.
You know the root of the problem, so it’s time to make things better. Start by setting up a few simple and small goals.
Ask yourself, which aspect of your life do you want to improve? Focus on a few key aspects in your life, such as relationships, career/academic, and personal life.
- Want to get rid of the bad habit of scrolling through social media every few minutes? Tell yourself only 30 minutes is allowed to be spent on social media per day.
- Want to improve your knowledge in a certain field? Read for at least 30 minutes per day.
- Want to be more productive during work hours? Spend at least 3 hours of quality time on working (without procrastinating).
- Want to improve your relationships with family? Spend at least 1 hour of quality time with family per day.
In short, reduce the time spent on less beneficial tasks and increase the time spent on beneficial tasks. Allocate your time properly.
4. Evaluation and repeat again.
After setting up your goals, continue to track your time every day. Every night, evaluate your own performance. Did you spend your time more wisely today? If not, what might be the reason that is causing you to not do so? Self reflection plays an important role in this case. To improve, we have to constantly receive feedback and make adjustments based on the feedback.
The purpose of tracking your time is to provide a clearer image of how you spend your time every day, thus allowing you to figure out where did your lost time went. You have to constantly make adjustments on how you spend your time according to your own feedback every night. We improve a little by a little every day. Adjust your time usage a little by little so a work-life balance can be achieved in the future.
If you think it’s hard to keep track of so many tasks at the same time, focus on a single aspect that will have the most impact on your life. E.g.: family or health.
A Side Note
By “non-beneficial”, it can be any activities that you think do not add value to your life. Scrolling through Instagram isn’t a harmful activity until you spend too much time on it. Netflix and chill an hour per day can’t be considered as a “non-beneficial” activity. Everyone has different preferences and priorities. You have to define your own version of right and wrong.
When it comes to work or entertainment, it’s important to strike a balance between the two. After that, allocate your time wisely according to your own priorities.
Our daily life isn’t all about getting more things done per day. Being productive in our lives also means that we spend the right amount of time on different aspects, such as work, family, and our personal life.
While trying to be productive, we should remember not to neglect the ones around us, our family and friends, more importantly, ourselves (health). Learn to love yourself by spending some quality time on doing something that light up your day.
We all have the same 24 hours per day. Figure out the priorities in your life and allocate your 24 hours wisely.