– “I don’t have time to work out.”
– “I don’t know where I would fit that graduate course into my schedule.”
– “If I had more time, I’d definitely ___________ (fill in blank).”
Sound familiar? I’ve been guilty of saying these at one time or another. However, we all have 24 hours each day, including Olympic athletes and the many others who’ve achieved the highest levels of success in their fields.
While it’s easy to jump to “Yeah, but…“, the truth is we somehow manage to find time for Facebook, Netflix and Pokemon day after day. Yup – that time you’re spending online is chipping away at the time meant for achieving your goals. Mini-distractions in the form of viral posts, games, and live streaming are slowly killing your dreams.
In our defense, the world is busier than ever.
- Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003
- More Internet data is produced every second compared to the entire Internet’s storage of data 20 years ago
- A typical social media user consumes 285 pieces of content daily (54,000 words!)
And there are no signs it’s slowing down. Currently, there are 205 billion emails sent each day. By 2019, that number will increase 20% (246 Billion emails)!
With IM, texts, and WhatsApp, communication is constant and the expectation is that response times will be instantaneous. Add SnapChat, YouTube, and Twitter, and it’s a wonder your SmartPhone doesn’t explode.
Although the benefits are palpable, attempts at “unplugging” usually fail. Whether due to habit, FOMO (fear of missing out), or pressure to stay in touch, it feels impossible to disengage fully (e.g., “OMG! Did you see the Game of Thrones finale!?“).
But if you find you’re not making progress on your goals, it’s time to set boundaries. We choose how to spend our time each minute, and once spent, those moments are gone. Poof!
- Opt out. If you analyze your email, many messages that land in your inbox are old subscriptions or things you don’t even recall signing up for. Instead of deleting these, “unsubscribe” and be done with it.
- Use the RIGHT Apps. There’s an App for everything, but that doesn’t mean you need every App. Clean up your SmartPhone by deleting Apps you no longer use and find Apps that solve YOUR productivity challenges. For example, keep forgetting your passwords? Try 1Password. Want to better organize your data? Download Evernote. From Apps that find parking (ParkMe) to Apps that consolidate all of your daily blogs (Feedly), there’s one that will significantly change your life. Find it!
- Schedule it! If it’s not scheduled, chances are it’s NOT going to happen. Put everything from your morning jog to cooking dinner to your allocated Netflix time on the calendar. Also, schedule specific times daily to check messages versus getting distracted by every ding, ring and beep (research shows it takes about 23 minutes to get back to a task). You’ll not only track where your time goes, but you’ll get better at estimating how long things actually take.
- Be selective. Everyone needs downtime and social media can actually be an efficient way to stay on top of news. Pick 1 – 2 sites to check regularly and drop the rest. The same for TV. The average American watches 28+ hours of television each week (which is 2 months of nonstop watching per year!). Think about what you could do with that time instead.
Whatever your dream, “a year from now, you’ll wish you started today” (Karen Lamb). Don’t let another moment slip by without consciously choosing how to spend it.