How to find plenty of time for things that matter

Vitaliy Rizhkov by on August 10, 2016

Do you have time for the things that matter most?

Recently I spoke with Paul, PICR co-founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO). He shared this thought: Photographers give off the impression that they are always extremely busy. This post targets those of you who are so busy they you can’t seem to find any free time to go to gym, to pay attention to your health, to write something on their blog, or do anything other than your day-to-day work.

It’s worth looking at what keeps you so busy. Are you doing things that don’t add a lot of value to your life? Are you working longer hours because you’re not working efficiently? I ask these questions not to put you on the spot, but to start a conversation about ways to reclaim some free time.

Lost time on social media

In this day and age, we waste too much time on activities that don’t matter. A prime example? The time we spend on social media.

Let’s admit it, social media has a powerful grip on us. We constantly check our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social accounts. Did you know that teens spend a shocking nine hours a day on social media? How do they have time for their parents, siblings, and other things that matter?

I’m guilty of spending more time on social media than I should, taking work breaks by checking various social accounts to read and respond to posts and comments. Time flies by, and all of a sudden I don’t have enough time to spend with my kids. Shame on me.

We need to move our online banter to authentic, in-person conversations. If someone asks you what you’ve been doing, share what’s real in your life. Don’t just say, “I’ve been super busy!” That’s just an automatic response to avoid holding a real conversation, for lack of anything interesting to say, or out of embarrassment about how we’re really spending their time. Imagine really saying, “Oh, I’ve been spending all my free time on Facebook!”

Get offline and talk to people about what you do for work or fun and what you’re passionate about.

Unfocused time and effort

Many of us also feel driven to stay busy at work, yet often do this without actually accomplishing anything. We believe in the myth of multi-tasking, so we check our emails 50 times a day, perhaps while trying to simultaneously watch some informational videos. We work on a presentation or write some code while listening in on a conference call, or flip back and forth between different tasks, robbing each task of our full attention. It’s a recipe for low productivity, and most likely, lower quality results.

Over a year ago, I researched the topic of productivity. I discovered that we tend to work most productively in the morning, and that it takes a lot of time—at least 10 minutes—to regain concentration after an interruption. That led us to try out a new approach to work at Picr that eliminated all distracting activities or disturbances, especially at the beginning of the day. Productivity soared.

You can apply the same approach. Try to get undisturbed time in the first half of your workday, and put all your energy and effort into those hours. You’ll be surprised at how much more you get done.

My takeaways

By spending less time on low-importance activities like social media, working during your most productive hours, and removing distractions during those hours, you can free up huge amounts of time to spend on the things that really do matter to you. Give these ideas a try and see what happens.
In the comments, share your stories about what keeps you busy and tactics you take to get more free time. Even share difficulties you’re having reclaiming time in spite of efforts to do so. Maybe we can help you identify activities to eliminate or other ways to work more efficiently.

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