One interesting subject in Tim Ferris’ bestseller “A 4-Hour Work Week” is how to free ourselves of the seemingly unavoidable time-wasters in our daily lives. These are the common hindrances that deter us from achieving our goal of living stress-free but productive lives.
According to Tim Ferris, TIME is really the valuable asset in our lives, not money. The purpose of his book, “A 4-Hour Work Week”, is to how to move TIME into our own personal lives so we can follow our dreams.
Admittedly, freeing ourselves of time-wasters is easier said than done but by following some of Tim’s advice as he discusses them in his book, this is achievable.
First, we must define what these time-wasters are (we cannot fight enemies we do not know). Here are some of them, although you may have more:
- Compulsion to know everything happening around us even if they have no relevance to us.
- Trying always to be the “good guy” to the extent of sacrificing our own convenience or productivity.
- Going around with no plans or clear direction like a headless chicken.
- Confused about our right priorities.
Let us tackle the above time-wasters one by one.
1. Compulsion to know everything happening around us even if they have no relevance to us. We check our emails every several minutes or visit our social media accounts just as often. If we have formed the habit (yes, they are addictive) of checking our e-mails and FaceBook or Twitter accounts, etc. every 10 minutes, it is time for us to break this addiction. Worse still if we stop doing our work and feel we must reply to these messages immediately. First of all, these messages are sent via email so they do not require our instant attention. Secondly, doing this eats up precious time from our more important tasks.
Solution: Limit or schedule our time of attending to our emails or social media to twice a day. If others have urgent messages that need our immediate attention, let us ask them to be sent or call our phone. By the way, regarding the use of phones (either via the mobile phone or our landline) for calls, let us advise callers that we prefer to receive their calls only during certain hours (preferably our break times).
One good suggestion of Tim Ferris is to go on a week-long :”information diet”. Let us avoid reading the morning dailies or watching the news on TV during your one week “diet”. We will notice that the our lives will go on without us knowing everything happening and have more time to focus on more important things, like bonding with our family.
2. Playing the “good guy” always. There is nothing wrong in us being good guys. It can be a very good asset in doing business. What makes it counter-productive in our lives is when we try to live up to this image to the detriment of our personal lives or if it adversely affects our productivity. We have to learn to say “NO” to inconsiderate colleagues who pass their tasks to us just to free themselves. We should also avoid intruders into our privacy, especially at our workplace. Let us not feel guilty to use a “Do Not Disturb” sign when we are busy (even if we are not but we need to be alone). Excuse ourselves from meetings without clear agenda or if we are not directly concerned. We can just ask somebody else to represent us or request to be provided with a copy the minutes of the meeting after.
3. Let us not be headless chickens. Going around in circles like a headless chicken will leave us exhausted at the end of the day without any concrete accomplishment to show for our activities.
Solution: Before the end of our previous day, let us make a list all the activities we plan to do today. Then, before we start anything else today, let us go over our “to-do” list. Let us analyze each task. Those we do not deem necessary, we can check them off. The “must-be-done” but routine and repetitive, we can hire a virtual assistant to do them for us at lesser cost and perhaps, more efficiently. This will leave us time to focus only on those jobs that require our personal attention. In short, let us have a clear plan for the day.
4. Confused with our priorities. Similar with the above problem, we can solve this quandary with proper planning. Let us always start our day with a clear idea of what we hope to accomplish at the end of the day — we must set a definite goal. Armed with the “to-do” list which we prepared the previous day, let us study which activities will help us to meet our goal for the day. Let us stay focused on our goal and avoid any activity which will make us deviate from our plan.
By being aware of the activities and attitudes that waste our time, we can free ourselves of these hindrances and make our day more productive and virtually stress-free.