Stealing Back Time

Stealing Back Time - Extra Time Management
The best time management is to steal extra time back!

We all wish that we could have more hours in the day, and most of us wish that we could accomplish more with what little time we have. But I’m fairly certain that we cannot jump to a 28 hour clock. It would ruin everyone’s fancy watches.

Since we cannot make time, the only way we can compensate is to steal back lost time. The way to do this is to actually take ten minutes and analyze your week to discover packets of under-utilized time.

Instead of staring into space on the subway or streetcar, could you be reading a book? Listening to an inspirational podcast? Listening to an audiobook? Sure, a little puzzle game on your phone is a great way to unwind, but you likely don’t need to take the whole trip.

When waiting in line, I often fire off a few texts to people I have not chatted with in a while. A quick, “Hi, thinking of you, how are you doing this week?” goes a long way to keeping friendships alive and well.

Most people do not stretch enough, and many wish that they could get out to a yoga class. Remember – half-assed is always better than no-assed. Stretching for ten minutes is much better than nothing. Only allow yourself to watch terrible guilty pleasure television if you are jumping up to stretch during the commercials.

Aerobics can also be done in short bursts. Do a few jumping jacks while waiting for the kettle to boil, or try marching and side steps while the microwave is wasting 90 seconds of your life. A few moments of activity gets your circulation going, and adds up over several weeks. Of course a half hour session on the elliptical trainer would be better, but again – it’s a lot better than nothing.

It can also be convenient to use the time of day and your energy patterns to your advantage. While the coffee is brewing, I wash the dishes and scrub the kitchen. I’m not quite awake anyway, so I don’t even notice this is happening. What mundane busy work could you get done while you’re in zombie mode?

I will admit I have become a bit of a productivity freak lately, but I always have my phone fully charged and a few projects that require note-taking. I never know when I’m going to end up at a restaurant ten minutes before my friend. There is often a subway delay and I am trapped for at least twenty minutes. Sometimes we have random pockets of time, and completely wasting them means that we get less accomplished every single day.

When you are off to the doctor or dentist, and you sit in the waiting room, what do you think you’ll be doing? Waiting. Personally I don’t like to thumb through magazines other sick people have pawed through. I always have a book, a podcast, emails that need to be typed up – both personal and professional. If you always have a notebook or your phone with you, you could always be taking care of little things. Like making a to do list for the next day. Or a shopping list for your trip home. You could plan the rest of your week, look up movie showtimes, check your friends events on Facebook, and organize your next several days just from sitting still for ten minutes in a waiting room.

Going for a nice exercise walk doesn’t just have to be for exercise. This is a great time to brainstorm creative projects, and figure out any personal problems. Please remember to stop and smell your neighbour’s roses along the way, but having an intention for your headspace during the walk can be quite helpful.

In case you’re wondering how I stole the time to write the first draft of this post, I dictated it while walking to the grocery store. It’s a great way to do the first draft of many types of writing. Blog posts and articles, emails, ideas for you to look up later. Test your phone and see what apps work for you.

Think of how much more productive we could be if we can steal back even one hour from the pool of lost time each week.  That is 52 more hours per year we can be learning, working, exercising and doing instead of just staring into space.

What are some of your best time-reclaiming ideas?
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