We’ve all been there: left wondering where the day (or week, or year) has gone. We’re perpetually busy, yet everything we’d actually like to do finds itself marooned on an ever-growing list...
I set my intentions for 2017 with a catalogue of things I want to do and places I wanted to go; I worried that money might be my biggest blocker, but it’s looking more and more like time might be my real challenge. How do you overcome that? Modern life has left many of us in a ‘time-war’, chipping away at our hours with work, commuting, and unavoidable life admin...
Last year I wrote about time poverty as a factor in widespread loneliness, but it extends so much further than that. How we manage our time, or fail to, is fundamentally linked to how we experience and enjoy life. How can we become better at it? Here are 10 ways you can create some more free time for yourself:
1. Tackle the Big Rock first
Your overall level of productivity is a defining factor in how much free time you find yourself with. Of all the tasks you have in a day, aim to do the biggest, most unappealing one first. If you don’t, you may find yourself creating needless tasks to put it off as long as possible. Getting that Big Rock out the way as soon as possible should leave you in a better mood overall, and energise your for the rest of the day.
2. Adopt the 2 Minute Rule
When you have a task to do that takes 2 minutes or less (like writing an email) - Do. It. Now. Don’t add it to a list and risk making into one of those things you attempt to procrastinate away. Long to-do lists will only stress you out and make it seem like you have more on your plate than you actually do — free up your time (and mental energy) by getting simple tasks out of the way immediately.
3. Optimise your sleep routine
Getting enough sleep is vital to your well-being and productivity, increasing your concentration, creativity, decision-making skills, and overall health. On the flip-side, if you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to be stressed, angry and impulsive, and ineffectively manage your time.
For good quality sleep, limit your exposure to blue light before bed. Laptop and smartphone screens bombard us with a huge amount of blue light, significantly affecting our quality of sleep. To avoid this, download f.lux — it warms up your computer's display to create the right tone of light for the time of day, helping you sleep better.
4. Take a nap
It may sound counter-intuitive, but napping can actually save you time by making you more productive. Napping makes you more alert; improves learning and recall function; prevents burnout and reverses information overload; and heightens senses and creativity. It’s also good for your overall health and longevity!
5. Identify your most productive hours
Whether you’re a morning person or night owl, try to arrange your schedule so you can get the bulk of your work done during your most productive hours. Having a workplace with fixed hours might not accommodate this 100%, but it’s worth not overly pushing yourself at times of day that don’t work for you.
6. Identify your time wasters
We all have them, often in the form of Facebook or aimlessly browsing the Internet. These are the things we can mindlessly spend hours on when there’s other things we need to do (and likely don’t want to). When you need to get things done, isolate yourself from the source of what distracts you.
7. Unplug yourself
In today’s world, we’re all glued to our smartphones — but this can definitely be a time suck. When we’re constantly checking our messages and alerts, we become easily distracted, and caught up with answering other people’s demands. When there’s stuff to get done, disconnect. You’ll be more productive, and left with more free time to eventually return those snaps and tweets.
8. Learn to say no
When we find ourselves lacking in time, it’s often because we’ve given away our time to others. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but it’s also ok to say no every now and again — especially if you’ve got enough on your plate to be dealing with.
9. Stop multitasking
Oddly enough, multitasking makes us feel more overwhelmed, according to John Robinson, the leading sociologist who studies time. Switching between tasks leaves us feeling more drained than doing one thing at a time. And to top it off, multitasking doesn’t even work — we’re actually less efficient when we multitask.
10. Consider co-living
Co-living is a new way of living in cities, built around community and convenience. At The Collective Old Oak, the world’s largest co-living space, one monthly payment takes care of everything — rent, all utilities, council tax, gym membership, community events, cleaning, and an on site support team. That’s your life admin cut in half.
Time is also freed up by having all the amenities you could possibly need on site — no more schlepping across London to go to the gym or to the laundrette. Old Oak has an onsite restaurant and bar, as well as a games room, cinema, and selection of spaces to work and socialise in.
Perhaps most importantly, your social life is taken care of. Members have access to a variety of weekly events: from film nights to live music, yoga classes to guest speaker series, shared breakfasts and potlucks, and even free drinks. Making new friends and feeling like part of a community couldn’t be easier.
To find out co-living at The Collective Old Oak, click here to arrange a tour.
Written by Grace Waters