According to a Gallup poll, 60% of adults say they’re too busy to exercise; about half say they don’t have time for hobbies, reading or “me time.” We live in a time of chronic time poverty.
This is why we invented Wakeout, to help busy people be more active. But this is merely a drop in the bucket at what needs to happen to cure our time-crunch illness. Improved time-management techniques, better organization, and better overall habits are what most people desperately need.
At Wakeout we’re obsessed with optimizing our day so we can live balanced lives. Below we share 5 tried and tested techniques that will help you free up some time from the tyranny of business, so you have more time for your most precious resources: you and your loved ones.
1. Define your “sacred” daily activities
Family time. Exercise. Play with the dogs. There are things in your life that will make you feel unbalanced if you shun them in favor of more work. Make a list of these sacred items, and set a minimum amount of time needed to get your fix. Then plan your day around them.
For me, I have to spend some quality time with my wife every day or I feel like an emotionless robot. I have to get at least a little exercise every day and meditate. My dogs (a pug and a beagle) also deserve some quality time. So they all have a permanent block on my daily schedule that under no circumstance will something else take their place.
2. Have an absolute work cut-off time
Define an hour in your day where no work can get through. A definitive deadline where anything that’s not done will have to be delegated for tomorrow. This cut-off time will quickly provide much-needed pressure to work smarter, plan better and be more efficient. Have a daily reminder set(you can use Wakeout’s reminders feature, or set an alarm on your phone).
Once this goes off, it’s time to close the laptop, sign out of your work email and chat and go do some of your sacred activities. No exceptions!
3. Have a morning routine focused on you
Morning routines have been celebrated since ancient Greece. It is said that Plato had a morning routine that helped clear his mind for the day’s reflections. More recently, morning routines have been the building blocks of many of our most influential leaders, from Oprah to Steve Jobs.
Morning routines are so edifying because they’re so deeply personal. Just as you wake, before work and the stress of business starts shocking your brain, take a moment to do a few of your sacred items focused on you. Meditation, exercise, journaling, breathing, etc.
Your morning routine will give you a sense of accomplishment early in the day, removing some of the accomplishment-addiction of modern times that compels us to stay so freaking busy.
4. Never, ever sacrifice sleep for work
Work can be like an annoying child that wants to play when everyone just wants to sleep. It’ll wake you up in the middle of the night with an “amazing” idea that you just have to entertain.
Keep work out of the bedroom. Stop checking email and chat in bed right before you turn off the lights. It’s the one sure way you’re giving work permission to creep up at night to mess with you.
Sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy life. Borrowing time from your slumber comes at very high interest rates that you’ll have to pay eventually. Feeling tired during the day comes with a sense of being unproductive, which in turn forces you to be busier still. A good night’s rest is a must for smart, efficient work you can do quickly before your daily cut-off time comes around.
5. Practice single task to-do lists
In his legendary book “The ONE thing” Gary Keller asks you to simply answer this question every day before you get into the grind: “What’s the ONE thing you can accomplish today that will get you closer to your goals?”
Here’s an important truth: only a fraction of the things you do will actually contribute to your success. Most of the seemingly important or urgent tasks on your daunting to-do list are, in the long-term, irrelevant.
Learn to identify your ONE thing every day, plan for it, and get it done. Once you’ve crossed it off, give yourself a pat on the back — you’re one step closer to your goals — then stop. Get up feeling satisfied that you’ve been busy enough today, and go do one of your sacred activities feeling great about your day.