I am consistently fascinated by how we spend our time, and the consequences of our choices. I wrote the other day about an investor like framework for "investing your time" that discussed a mindset for approaching time allocation. Today, however, I'll provide a way to think about your day that gives you more time to do what you want.
I think that is what is honestly most important. I am not so concerned with insane "productivity hacks" or schedules that force you to work for 23 hours a day. What I am far more concerned with is the notion of self awareness and ability to interpret our own choices. Many of us, me included, are often blinded from seeing the reality of how we spend our time. We are disillusioned. We *think* we are spending our time one way, but the reality often looks far different. This makes it nearly impossible for us to understand how we can improve / what our priorities are/should be.
I am passionate about making things better.
One facet of that is this simple idea: I want people to maximize their potential and live life the to the fullest. We all know, too well, how short life is. And I do not think we have time to live life lacking purpose - as the decades are short. Everyone has their own true purpose - there is no specific purpose that I preach onto people - but rather I believe that everyone should make a conscious effort to become more self aware. This is a fluid process, one that can never be completed.
And in that process, I feel, is the ability to self-reflect. One key part of that is to understand how we spend our time.
There are many different methods for analyzing your day. I think it important to find the one that works for you. I can only tell you what I do and how that is worked.
I have tried many different things:
- Obsessing over a calendar
- Writing everything down
- Analyzing my day using RescueTime
- Using a planner
- Emailing myself reminders
- Using a reminders app
And the conclusion that I have come to is that there will never be some static set of tools that I can use to manage my day. Inherent in my desire to be organized, is a desire for variability. So what I do now may not be around 6 months from now, but what is important is that I am making a conscious effort today to understand how I spend my time.
Today, the combination I use is:
- Writing lists of what I need to get done
- Keeping my email inbox super organized by "action needed"
- Using Rescue Time to see the data on how I spend my time.
The last one is what I'll focus on. I have learned an incredible amount about my habits just from using Rescue Time. I really recommend it to people who are interested in seeing exactly which websites / apps they spend their time on.
Ok but this article is supposed to about "dead time." Dead time, as it relates, is time that you are currently idling in. Think of it as time that you spend walking to class or even at the gym. During this time, your mind is wandering.
So I think wandering can be really good for your mind. It is good to think, or even better, have the freedom to think about nothing. Rest is important and you cannot think 24/7.
I do think, however, that some of that "dead time," could be repurposed as an instrument for learning. If you want to maximize your day, you do not always have to sacrifice things that you love - like say Netflix and ESPN - but rather you can substitute out this "Dead Time."
Everyone has some non-zero amount of dead time in their day. What do you do with it? You do not have to change it, for it may be a good thing to be built into your day (like I previously mentioned)...but what if you want to get more out of it?
If you are complaining about not having enough time in the day to "do what you want" or "accomplish your goals," then how about you start maximizing your dead time.
You can do this in a number of ways.
One thing I want to start doing is voraciously listening to audio books. I have my reasons, for which I can outline perhaps in a later post, but this would be a great use of my "Dead Time" as it is non-invasive and portable.
Other ideas are - recording a podcast, voice journaling, listening to podcasts, calling people, etc.
I think the people who make every day count the most minimize the amount of time they are doing shit they do not want to do. To eliminate that shit, I think it is crucial to be aware of it.
Figure out where in your day your "Dead Time" is and get it back.