Do you ever find yourself wishing there were just a few more hours in the day? Or wondering what it was you did all day that got you to 9pm with nothing to show for it? There are a lot of time-suckers out there that you may have never considered before, so if you’re ready to gain back a couple hours into your day, we’ve come up with a list of things you should remove from your day, ideas to utilize your “gap-time” and even a few suggestions of how to spend your new time in order to make your life more productive and fulfilling.
There are a few things out there that suck up much more of our time than we realize. In this section, we break down what is taking the time out of your day and just how much of it you’re losing. You’ll be shocked by some of the statistics we’ve dug up regarding television, internet and email use!
If you’re an avid television watcher, chances are you’re flushing up to 5 hours of your day right down the drain by catching up with your favourite characters. According to the latest Neilsen report, people aged 18-24 watch, on average, 20.75 hours of TV per week, while adults aged 25-34 watch 27.5 hours. The number of hours watched increases with age with the majority of the population over 65 watching 50.5 hours of TV per week.
Just think of the things you could get done if you completely removed, or even cut down, on this time. You could add 5 extra hours to your day. That’s enough time to go for a run, meditate, plan meals, do homework, catch up on work, spend time with your family and still have some time left to spare.
If you really want to reclaim some of these hours, start by doing something while watching TV, like exercising or cleaning. Once you’re okay with that move on to cutting out an hour, then two. Soon you’ll be accomplishing more in your day than you ever thought possible! Just don’t trade your TV time for internet time because that’s our next point.
While the “internet” encompasses a lot of different time draining activities (and can even include TV) it’s safe to say it’s our biggest source of lost time. Since it’s hard to pinpoint just what counts as “being on the internet” it was hard to find out just how many hours per day we spend surfing, tweeting and reading on the net.
However, we did come across some amazing statistics regarding just how much social media we take in per day. According to a Cowen and Company poll of U.S. adults, those between the ages of 18-29 spend an average of 3 hours and 45 minutes of their day on various social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn. People aged 30-44 weren’t far behind spending 3 hours of their day on the same platforms. Also, it’s key to note that this doesn’t even include YouTube, and if you’re anything like us, we’re guilty of spending a couple minutes (read: hours) watching random videos mainly involving cats.
If that wasn’t enough, another recent study says that we dedicate an average of 4.7 hours of our day just to looking at our smartphones, which could include things like social media, instant messaging, game play and surfing the internet. Making a conscious effort to cut down on internet related activities could potentially save you a staggering 3-4 hours a day. Remember that next time you get sucked into the blackhole that is Facebook.
Are you beginning to notice a trend here? Technology takes up a lot of time in our lives, and while it may make us more productive and better able to communicate, it also can take us away from the reality of our day-to-day lives. Email is another big time-sucker, but it differs from TV and Internet in that it’s usually not something we necessarily enjoy doing.
Depending on what you do for work, the amount of time per day you spend sorting through your inbox will vary, but most of us spend between 1.8 and 2.6 hours per day checking email alone. According to a study done by the University of British Columbia, we check our email 15 times per day on average, and all that switching between tasks can have a huge effect on your concentration and productivity levels, subsequently wasting even more of your day staring into space wondering what it was you were just working on.
Setting certain times in your day to check and respond to email is probably your best bet when it comes to cutting down the amount of time spent clearing our your inbox. Since most of us are bombarded with endless amounts of spam email each day, it’s a good idea to use some of our Gmail Optimization tricks to lessen what you even end up seeing in your inbox, and lessen the possibility of wasting even more time.
The Utilize part of this post is all about getting the most out of the wasted time you can’t control. This includes things like long commutes, traffic, waiting in lines and even waiting for dinner to cook. According to Lifehack.org, we can spend anywhere from 2-5 hours of our day in this “time-gap” of non-productivity, but there are some simple ways to get just a bit more out of them and regain a bit of your day.
Carrying a book with you at all times is a great way to “kill time” without “wasting time”. If you’re someone who makes a long commute to work everyday on a train or bus, this is the perfect time to catch up on your latest literary find instead of staring out the window wondering when the heck you are going to get there.
If you’re someone who has a long commute but have to spend it actually paying attention to the road, podcasts will be the way to go for you! There are endless podcasts out there on just about any topic you could imagine, so you’re sure to find one that keeps you entertained and maybe even teaches you a thing or two while you’re sitting in traffic. It also helps keep you from having road-rage.
Sometimes there are times in the day (the doctors office comes to mind) where we may be sitting and waiting for hours at a time. This is the perfect place to let your creative mind run wild! Bringing a sketch book, journal or even ipad with you to these gaps can not only make the time go faster, but help you accomplish something important in the mean time. Maybe you’re a blogger and use the time to jot down 5-10 blog topics for the coming weeks, or maybe you’re a graphic designer who is trying to come up with a new logo for a client and spend this time scribbling ideas in a notebook? Either way, utilizing these wait times can help take stress off your plate and encourage your creative thinking.
Even if you only have a couple minutes to spare, taking that time to reschedule and prioritize your day can make a big difference in how the rest of your day goes (and how productive you will be). Take a minute to jot down what the most important things on your plate are for the day, and the things that can wait. Doing this will either help you get your day started on the right foot, or help to get the most out of the rest of your day. Oh, and bonus points for scheduling in email times.
So, just what are you supposed to do with all these extra hours? Ideally, you’re freeing them up to get more productive things done like working on a school project, finishing up a report for work or cleaning up the house before relatives come over. We have a couple favourite (and mutually beneficial) ways to spend your new-found free time, and they will benefit both your happiness and health.
One of the best things you can focus your newly found time on is building and maintaining close relationships with family and friends. Since friendships are often the first thing to be pushed to the wayside when life gets busy, it’s important that you take time to rekindle them as often as possible.
Having close relationships can not only lower your stress levels, but also make you both happier and healthier. Mayo Clinic lists the top 5 benefits to having quality friendships in your life as: 1) Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose, 2) Boosting happiness and reducing stress, 3) Improving self-confidence and self-worth, 4) Helping you get through traumas, and 5) encouraging your to avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices – including being lazy.
Having active friendships keeps you happy, active and productive, so it’s a great idea to spend your new found time on becoming closer with the loved ones in your life.
Exercise gives you energy. Even though you may feel exhausted after that run around the block, the truth is, your body has never been more energized. Getting your blood pumping once a day is a surefire way to maintain productivity throughout your week or even months.
Many of the top entrepreneurs wake up at the crack of dawn in order to squeeze a little exercise into their busy days. Exercise not only helps to get your body in peak physical shape, it also increases your mental alertness, energy and clarity throughout the day, which means you can get things done more efficiently and waste less time. It also ensures that your mood stays elevated, which is a huge factor when it comes to procrastination. No one wants to do a bunch of paperwork when they’re already in a terrible mood, let’s be honest.
One of the great things about exercise is you can do it just about anywhere and at any time. You can even save an hour of TV time by walking on the treadmill while watching your favourite show, or you could catch up on social media. Even if you’re only able to squeeze in 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups in-between meetings at the office, it’s a great start to getting your mind any body back in shape.
Taking time out of your day to relax is never wasted time. In order for your mind and body to function properly you need to be as stress-free as possible, so giving yourself time each day to relax will not only make you feel better instantly, but improve your mindset and productivity in the longterm.
The way you relax isn’t limited to one activity or practice. You don’t have to become a meditation master or yogi to reap the benefits of a relaxed body and mind. The Greatist.com has a list of over 40 ways to relax your mind in 5 minutes or less. Our favourites include sipping on some green tea, giving self acupressure, getting outside in the sunshine or cuddling with a pet. All of these are quick and easy ways to relax your body and mind and give it some much needed time away from it’s regular stress-zone.
So whether you decide to take an hour to do something relaxing or a quick 5 minutes, it will never be a waste of time. Resetting your brain is one of the most productive things you can do with your day!
Oh, and we also really like this idea for using your hood as a popcorn bowl. No mess and no dishes? Talk about productivity.