strategies posted in business strategies  on 24 June 2014
by Andrew Lang 
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Getting Things Done - Stop Wasting Time

This is a post that's in danger of slipping into the "self-help" category, but nonetheless, I am compelled to make it. First off, I think we all want to make the most of our time in some way. It's going to come down to your own personal goals as to what making the most of your time means to you. We certainly know when our time's being wasted. This post is about when we sabotage our own time - when we literally waste our own time through procrastination and bad habits.

The biggest honeypot for the serial procrastinator in 2014 is the internet. If there was a way to add up the aggregate hours spent by humanity on the internet and find out how we spent those hours, it would look something like this : procrastination 92.4%, buying stuff 5%, research 2.6%. If you want a picture of the future, imagine someone hitting the refresh button on their Facebook home page - forever (sorry Orwell).

The biggest way we kill our own time is through a LACK of decision making. Being online, we can drift into automatic patterns and habits that give us instant rewards - checking news sites, emails, Facebook, Twitter, forums - all of these provide a stimulus, a reward. Before you know it, you're on the constant treadmill of information stimulation - all the while knowing you're simply wasting your time, and that being so up-to-date is actually not achieving anything.

When each day comprises of fixed habits and patterns, you're missing out on what a higher level of consciousness can give you: new ideas and inspiration. These rewards only present themselves when you disengage from autopilot. Sometimes giving up time-wasting habits can lead you to "empty time" - literally where you have nothing to do. While that sounds "bad" to someone that always has to be stimulated / occupied, doing nothing whatsoever is where new ideas and inspiration come from. In fact, store up some of this time each day. Clear space for an hour or two where you can completely switch off. Having "nothing" time is a luxury you should grab hold of when it arises. Switch off the radio and TV. Use the time to do something passive - go for a walk, a swim, sit in the garden - let your mind wander. While all of this sounds anathema to being productive, it's this downtime that can let the mind take a break from the usual information overload you'd normally be giving it "to kill time". Once the mind is rested, that's when ideas come up - be it "to do" ideas for tomorrow, or an idea for a whole new business. A procrastinator who says he can't find a couple of hours a day to do nothing is a hypocrite!

You might think - well, by not wasting time, I'll have more time to be productive - so be productive then. But more often than not, you'll want some natural "downtime" just for your mind to fully disengage and have a rest.

I think a lot of procrastination arises because there's a feeling that there's not enough to do in the day, or possibly rationing only so much productive time you actually want to carry out in any given day. You have X, Y and Z to do today - they take up 4 hours, but the working day is longer than 4 hours - how to fill the rest of those hours? If you could find yourself consciously making decisions throughout the working day, you can't help but get more out of your time. And you force yourself out of low level consciousness by banning all procrastination habits. It will feel uncomfortable and unrewarding at first, but things will start to take shape. You will find your mind coming up with more ideas - that's what it's designed to do, and when you take away the treadmill of stimulation, your mind will start moving through the gears.

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