Monday, November 18, 2013

5 Ways to be More Productive and More Awesome

Amidst the hubbub of everyday life I often find myself wondering how I could use my time more wisely. It seems I would do much better if my days had 40 hours and everyone else’s only had 24. I could sleep as much as I wanted, then be uber productive and still have time to watch Netflix incessantly and look up sundry topics on Wikipedia for hours. Alas, my days will likely remain on the 24-hour clock system until scientists, astronomers, navigators and horologists discover a glitch in the universe.

There exist a million ways to save time and have a more efficacious life. This in no way is an exhaustive list of things to do. Truth be told, different things work for different people, and some things are just plain obvious. For example: Don’t watch entire series of shows in less than a week. Do not sleep over 12 hours at a time. Do not disregard all of your responsibilities with the wonderful hope that they will somehow cosmically disappear. And do not habitually make grandiose goals without devising some means to achieve them.

Some advice is implicit, and some is simply replete with tired platitudes, and maybe this will be no different, but here are a few things that have helped me be more efficient and productive in my most quotidian tasks and endeavors.

1.    Talk On The Phone in The Car

Okay, at first this sounds like reckless advice. Let me continue. Most of us are prone to texting or using our phones while we drive anyway, so let us use the lesser of two iniquities. Also, with speaker phone, head phones and blue tooth telephoning is a much safer option than texting. I always find that there are people I want to converse with on the phone, but my claim is always that I am too busy. So, I send them a courtesy text or more likely, I forget about them. They fall victim to technology. Because it is so easy to send a text, calls are neglected. Hearing the voice of a loved one becomes something unimportant. My solution is to take the time you have in your vehicle and utilize it. Do not just blast music in an attempt to drown out the noise of your tedious life. Call someone you care about, someone you have been meaning to get back in touch with. When we are at home, we can and will find a million reasons to not do it. In the car however, no one will knock on your door (except the occasional derelict at a red light), and no one will be eavesdropping in the next room. Most of us dread driving more than 15 minutes somewhere, especially by ourselves. Well, take the opportunity to quit raging about people’s poor driving etiquette and call an old chum you have lost touch with. Call a cousin and congratulate them on their nuptials. Call an old coach or teacher and say thanks. Granted you can call people anywhere and anytime you want. But if your excuse is that you are too busy, or you constantly complain about your commute somewhere and the accompanying traffic, pick up your phone and quit grumbling.

2.    Make To-Do Lists

There are so many things I want to do in a typical day, and sometimes all I end up doing is eating at Wendy’s, reading a chapter of a book and hanging out for 8 hours. When I make to-do lists however, my production seems to increase at an alarming rate. I believe that to-do lists should contain two important elements. First you should not include things that you do every day without fail. Putting ‘Take a shower’ on your list will only be a waste of ink or graphite and will not make you feel more accomplished once it is crossed off. My second rule of thumb is to not be discouraged if you do not finish every task. Some tasks will be more important than others, and there are myriad variables that will undoubtedly arise throughout our day limiting our ability to accomplish everything all the time. My anecdote for this problem is to carry over the unchecked boxes of a particular day to the next day. My goal is simply that I get things done. It is nice to have every miniature box aggressively scribbled in, but it is not paramount.

3.    Take Time to Read

I find that when I am frequently reading I am frequently inspired. People claim they do not have time to read between their studies, their work and their incalculably important social lives. But I beg to differ. You do not have to read 2 hours a day. Read when you are making bowel movements. Read while you are waiting for your friend to take ‘a quick shower’ that we all know will last at least 20 minutes. Read for a few minutes when you wake up to clear your foggy brain of its dusty cobwebs. Read at night to help you slip into slumber. There is time for literature and though many view it as a waste of time, it will undoubtedly make you smarter, more cultured, more understanding, more inspired, and more motivated. Just reading quotes on Pinterest or reading articles online does not suffice. Open a book. They fit compactly in most purses and every backpack I have ever seen. If nothing else, make a goal to read 30 minutes a day from a book of your choice. See if your speech is not more eloquent, if your motivation is not higher and if your production of ideas is not increased.

4.    Write in a Journal

I can hear the excuses already. You hate writing, it hurts your hand and you have nothing interesting to write concerning your boring lives. Balderdash. We all have interesting lives, they just often seem unimportant because they are ours and we have had them our whole lives. Your life is beautiful, unique and prodigious in more ways than you understand. That is why you should write about it. If nothing else writing about your day will help you realize the good. As the pen hits the paper you will see salient points of positivity. You will see that life is not so bad, or so hard. For me it is a cathartic process. I sit down at the end of the day and let the pen describe in sloppy prose what transpired in my life since the last time I wrote. In doing this I subconsciously become accountable to my journal in my daily actions. I do not want to do something untoward or embarrassing, because regardless of the level of stupidity it will be documented. Just like reading, writing inspires and motivates. It may be viewed as another activity that is a waste of time, but I find that when I am writing I am inspired and imbued with energy. And being encouraged and filled with inspiration is never a waste of time.

5.    Don’t Waste Time With The Wrong People

What we fail to realize sometimes is that if we are not progressing in life we are regressing. Bad habits insidiously become ways of life and before we realize it we are often going in reverse.  How do we avoid this course of regression? Eliminate things that are retarding our progression. It has been said that we kind of become the sum total of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So what if one of those people is a vessel for constant negativity? What if one of those five makes you feel terribly about yourself? Eventually it will wear on you, and likely stop you from moving forward. Yet we seem to stick around. We humans are obstinate and obtuse creatures. We hang around people that are not edifying us, and we remain in unhealthy relationships hoping they will improve. Then we bellyache because our lives are stagnant. If we want to progress, we must release ourselves from anything or anyone that is holding us back from our potential. For surely the potential of each one of us is high.  Some people we hob nob with remind us of that fact, others obscure that notion making us feel woefully mediocre and undeserving of good things. So let us have the courage to estrange ourselves from the wrong people, in search of the right people. 

"People are strange. They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice."

~Charles Bukowski