You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
And since there’s no shortage of spectacle competing for our precious 24 hours, finding smart ways to invest our minutes is increasingly difficult.
So if we can never gain time, why not invest in methods to maximize the time we do have?
All of which brings me to one simple suggestion that could make a giant difference:
You need a mental machete to cut through all your bullshit.
And here’s how you can do it.
1. Come to grips with the fact that you’ll never know everything.
Just because everything ever thought, written or created is just a Google search away, that doesn’t mean you need to see it all. You have bills to pay, loved ones to hug and a life to live. Stop feeling obliged to pay attention to things that aren’t furthering your own goals. (You do have goals, don’t you?)
2. Stop oversharing. The world does not need your next tweet.
The irony of social media is that by using it to retain human-to-human connections, we’re all just creating more white noise that actually creates cognitive and emotional overload.
So, at least once a day, stop yourself from tweeting, or updating Facebook, or posting on Instagram. Create one less piece of white noise for someone else to scroll past.
The world will survive. You’ll still be there. And you’ll have a few more minutes invest in something that matters.
3. Be content with learning in chapters, rather than volumes.
Some articles are so well-written, so dense with ideas and so richly embedded with quality links, that to fully experience and appreciate them would take a day at least, or possibly a full semester. And since so many of those links lead to other posts of equal merit, the opportunity (and the burden) of learning is infinite.
As rare as it is to find something that captivates us, it’s the fear of missing something life-changing that’s even more crippling… and so we keep reading on, and on, and on…
So how do you convince yourself to turn off the spigot of neverending knowledge? How do you know when enough is enough?
You don’t. But you do know when you’ve hit upon something you can actually use. So do yourself a favor: when that happens, pause the knowledge stream and switch gears.
4. Knowledge without application serves no one.
Maybe you found a new accounting app that looks useful.
Maybe you learned about a problem you feel compelled to solve.
Maybe two unconnected concepts you read about last month just collided in your brain while you were taking a shower, and suddenly the whole world (and your place in it) seems to make sense.
Now use it.
If you’re motivated to act, you owe it to yourself to follow through.
If that means testing out a program, doing additional research, making phone calls or asking questions, do it. If it means taking something apart, moving something around or smashing two things together, do it.
If you don’t do it now, you won’t do it later, because something else will have your attention. Insights can’t wait for optimal conditions.
Take more actions; open fewer tabs.
5. Make your show & tell count.
The truth is, no matter how much we try to cut down on the volume of information we share, we’ll still be creating or sharing something. There will always be another video that your friends just have to see, or another BuzzFeed quiz that you just have to take.
So at least make sure you’re not adding to the problem.
Before you share something, ask yourself:
- Who will benefit from seeing this?
- Is this actionable, or just informative?
- What would happen if I didn’t share this?
If your answers are “I don’t know,” “No,” and “Nothing,” you can probably delete it.
6. Trade white noise for more time.
If you’ve always wanted to make, learn, or do something, but you never seem to get around to it, now’s your chance.
By making and sharing less white noise in your week, you’ll have more actual time to invest in what really matters to you.
So give yourself a goal, and see how your saved time really adds up.
For example, have you always wanted to learn a new language, but you just don’t think you have the time? Instead of sharing whatever you’d normally be sharing on Facebook, spend that time learning a few key words in that language. By doing this little by little, day after day, you’ll end up knowing a lot more of that language 30 days from now than you would if you never got started — and you won’t even have to give up anything important in order to achieve it.
You can’t create more hours in a day. But by spending your time more wisely, you can achieve more in the same amount of time — and that means you can make the most of the time you have.
Image by ExpressMonorail on Flickr.