Time Gaps

I want to lift weights, but my brother was at Country Thunder all weekend and is now exhausted and passed out in the basement. He’s been downstairs sleeping all day, but fortunately my father said if he’s not up in an hour I can go work out anyway.

It’s now 1:19 and I still have 41 minutes before I can begin my workout. Normally I’d have spent this hour of downtime reading, or watching youtube videos, but not anymore. Instead I’m sitting here writing my second blog post of the day.

I’ve noticed something people don’t give nearly enough attention is the downtime spent between things. Often when I ask people what they did yesterday they’ll say something along the lines of “I went to soccer practice in the morning, and then went and saw a movie at night.”

“Something about that seems fishy to me though… If soccer practice is two hours long, and the movies were two hours long, where did your other 12 hours go?” And almost none of them know how to respond. They always say something like “Honestly, that’s a good question… I spent another hour or two on my morning routine and eating through out the day, but other than that I really don’t know.”

The problem with letting ourselves go on autopilot during these times, however, is that they take up a lot more of our day than we think. If we don’t consciously assign ourselves an activity to do between committments, we’ll usually default to doing something mindless like browsing Facebook, or watching television.

Because of human nature we never want to do more than we have to. Think of time gaps between activities as being similar to a breakfast buffet. If you don’t consciously make the decision to put healthy foods on your plate, you’re probably going to pick whatever sounds best in the moment. If you don’t make a conscious effort to train yourself to make healthier choices you’re going to be instant gratification’s slave the rest of your life.

How To Make The Most Of Your Time Gaps

1. The first thing you need to do is look at your schedule and identify where you typically have down time. (My example: After I got home from school last year I’d typically have about an hour before I needed to start getting ready for soccer.)

2. You need to determine how you typically use that downtime. (My example: I’d usually spend that hour taking a nap, eating a snack, and reading personal development material)

3. Determine if and how you could be spending that time more efficiently. (My example: Back then I usually couldn’t write a blog post within an hour so I decided to get half of my daily juggling practice in at that time instead.)

4. Implement the change. This is easier said than done, but it’s the most important part of the process. Knowing your wasting time does you no good if you’re not willing to change your habits. You’ll likely slip up at times, but that’s part of the process as well. Remember, success isn’t linear. There’s lots of ups and downs along the way. The important thing is you’re always putting forth your best effort to improve.

5. Realize there is no finish line. You’ll never get to a point where you’re able to be 100% productive all the time. It’s just not possible. Ocassionally you’re going to slack off. That’s ok. The important thing is to minimize these moments of laziness. Another important thing to realize is there’s no such thing as insurance on your gains. If you lose your sense of urgency you’ll end once again find yourself spending all your downtime on television re-runs. Being productive is something you do, not something you are.

6. Understand productivity. Being productive doesn’t mean answering an endless amount of emails or managing a profile on every social networking site. It’s about using your time wisely. Things like exercising, spending time with your family, and meditating may not fit under the bill of “getting things done,” but they’re still important. Using your time efficiently isn’t about seeing who can check the most things off their todo list. It’s about getting the most out of life and doing the things that are truly important to you.

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I actually did write this post from about 1:00-2:00 today, but I delayed publishing it until now so my other post could get some time on the front page as well.

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