Growing up, you probably learned that if you wanted to say or do something in class, you raise your hand. For all of you keeners, you probably did that quite a lot. It’s fun and it’s a way to pass the time and boost your marks. It’s not like you were going to be doing anything else (shy of maybe texting the person sitting right beside you, but I’m sure we were all excellent multi-taskers).
Then you get into the real world, where things exist outside of the classroom. Keener or not, how many of you started raising your hand then? My guess is most of you.
Why? Because it’s cool to be busy. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
Here’s the problem, things are moving at an increasingly fast clip, and time is more valuable than ever before. Think about it, you can get far more done in an hour now, with the aid of tech, than you could 50 years ago. On top of that, people have less time. Now, more so than years prior, there are just so many ways to be busy.
And despite all this, we’re giving our time away!
How does this make sense?
We all want to do as much as we can, and we want to feel like we’re busy people, important people. For many of us, that means finding ways to be busy. If we don’t have anything to do, we find something. If we can’t find something, we manufacture something. It’s crazy! We have this compulsion to get as much into our day as possible, regardless of what it is. In this mad flurry to get as much done as possible, sometimes our mental and/or physical health takes a back seat.
The obvious answer to our question then, how does this make sense, is that it just doesn’t. We should not be giving our time away in an endless pursuit of busyness.
But what about those “sleepless elite” who just keep going?
I’m still not sure if Mayor Nenshi has gotten his #napfornenshi!
The difference is, these people are NOT busy for the sake of being busy. These super-awesome people do it, whatever it is, because they truly and passionately want to. Of course the best way to get to this point, being busy with things you actually want to do, is to go out and find those things!
However, I’ll bet most of you have things in your life that you do because you “ought to”. The trick here is to learn to love them: Make them fun! Do them with friends! Turn it into a challenge!
If all this fails, and the task really does suck that much, try pruning the amount of time you give yourself to finish it. According to Tim Ferriss and C. Northcote Parkinson, if you impose hard deadlines on yourself to finish your menial work, you’ll still be able to get it all done (in less time)!
Cool. Now I know what I’m supposed to do. But how do I make sure I do it?
In her book “168 Hours”, Laura Vanderkam explains that we shouldn’t be planning our life by the hour, or even by the day, but by the week! This idea also helps implement two surefire solutions to make sure you follow through:
1) Cut the fat (those unproductive little things you do every day that add up).
Charting things out by the week is a great way to cut the fat! Try cutting just half an hour of time wasting a day, whether it be that midday Candy Crush break or those 6 extra snooze button hits. Now, try to cut some of the time you spend on things you don’t like. Unlike shortening the timeframe you have for ‘yucky work’, this just cuts down the amount of yucky work you need to do. For example, if cooking’s not your thing, try doing it larger quantities. That’ll give you pre-cooked dinner for the next three days (and more time to do things you want to do!).
2) GYST – Get Your Sh!t (and your priorities) Together.
In your new super-awesome weekly planning mode, it’s also way easier to Get Your Sh!t Together! On a weekly basis, it’s way easier to see where you’re dedicating a lot of your time, and where you want to be dedicating more (did I really just spend more time last week ravaging through Suits than I did studying for the LSATs?!). It also helps you figure out what you need to do in the coming week to meet your goals (e.g. study 50 hours) and etch out time for activities that may otherwise be forgotten (e.g. workout 5 hours per week).
Cool. I love the new-age go be your awesome self talk, but does it work?
Well. Let’s test it out. Say you save about 20 minutes a day from shrinking your timeframe and about half an hour a day from cutting the fat. Right there, that’s more than 5 hours a week that you’ve saved. If you GYST, then that means you’re using that time to do what you want to do. That’s 5 hours every week, for the rest of your life, towards getting done exactly what you want! Think about it.
So how do you stay hip and keep busy while actually getting what you want out of life?
Easy. Just do what you want to do (GYST), don’t sweat the yucky things and cut the fat!