Life in Fast-Forward

Are you a master of time? Squeeze extra "me time" out of your busy days.

Posted Oct 22, 2019

Shutterstock, by permission
Source: Shutterstock, by permission

Recently, I blogged about balancing work and life. This is a delicate balancing act that most of us perform. The goal is to work and get important things done while freeing up some time for yourself. 

Last time, you were introduced to the “Energy Circle.” This is a useful tool for mapping daily activities to scan for ways to increase your free time, replenishing yourself. 

Here are a few more tips.

1. Use the DVR. By recording shows, you can enjoy two-hour shows in about an hour. Unless you love viewing commercials, get a DVR working for you instead. Plus, there is a feeling of power when you vanquish corporate merchandising with the flick of your remote!

2. Employ timers. Alarm clocks do more than just wake us up in the morning. Use timers to help manage your time. 

For example, I use 20-minute timers in the classroom, reminding me it’s time to switch to a new activity or discussion. If I drone on, the class becomes a snooze-fest. My timer reminds me to change things up, and my students seem to appreciate it! Note: You can find free timers online. 

Getting into a concentrated work “flow” is great. This intense, focused flow makes time pass quickly. But sometimes we fall too deep into one activity. Ever checked your email, thinking it would only take a minute, only to emerge after an hour has slipped by? 

For those of us with many things to do, we can’t afford to be consumed by any one activity! Avoid getting sucked in. Impose a time limit to tasks. Beep!

3. Prioritize. Anyone can benefit from making a to-do list (TDL), arranging your tasks in order of importance, and then tackling them from the top. This might seem a bit obsessive, but prioritizing your efforts is one key to getting more done with less stress. Any note-taking app will do, but dedicated organizing apps are available to help you create your TDL and set deadlines. Let's get it done!

4. Use text messages instead of phone calls. Email and texts don’t require real-time conversations. You can send or reply at your own pace. Phone calls, on the other hand, can lead to conversations that take up lots of time if you get sidetracked.

Consider: When might you text instead of call? Sure, use the phone to stay in touch, but for quick communications when you wish to avoid excess banter, try sending a text. When I skipped calls and used texting for quick questions, I saved time.

While texting can be a time-saver, there’s a downside to overusing texts. You can lose the richness of genuine, face-to-face communications. The trick is to balance between the need for face time with others and situations that can get by with just email or texts. I typically use the phone to chat with friends and family, but I now use texts more often with co-workers. It worked for me!

Try out some time-saving ways that work for you!  From apps that auto-pay bills, to email, texts, calendars, or video-chats, technology can help squeeze more “me-time” out of your busy days. Use a timer, so you don't get lost in the temporal black hole of email and social media. Try a text instead of a phone call for simple questions-and-answers. Prioritize your activities onto a TDL, and most of all, create a mental password to remind you to be a “master of time” who strives to find extra hours for you! 

Time only flies if you let it get away from you. Carpe Diem.