5 Ways You Waste Time that You Might Not Realize || From The 4-Hour Workweek

If you’re in the career/entrepreneurship world, you’ve probably heard of The 4-Hour Workweek. In short, this book explores the theme of becoming more effective within one’s unique situation. It’s hard to believe but the author, Tim Ferriss, went from making 40K per year on 80 hours per week to 40K per month on 4-hour work weeks.

I must say it’s the best self-help book I’ve come across after The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What I love about it is that Tim doesn’t give the oh so common advice to quit your job and follow your passions full-time (which, let’s be honest, only a few privileged people get to do) or to pursue entrepreneurship even if you don’t care for it. He speaks to entrepreneurs and employees alike in showing them exactly how to align their actions with their goals. You won’t hear the theoretical cliches like, “Keep your vision in mind.” or “Write a to-do list”. No, it’s packed with actionable strategies. Tim goes into details. He shows numbers. It doesn’t get any realer!

It’s no coincidence that my friend recommended this book to me. I’ve been experimenting with ways to be more effective and use my time more efficiently, and it’s already changing the way I work. It made me realize how I’ve unconsciously been giving away my time and tampering with my own productivity during moments of intense focus. Maybe you’ll relate to them. I’ve summed them up and made a list of the 4 most common ways we waste our time.

On being effective vs. being efficient

Being effective is knowing how to do the things that bring you closer to your goals. Being efficient is performing tasks in the most economical (from both money and time perspective) way. You can be efficient without being effective. That’s the trap most of us tend to fall into. We do things and we do them well just for the sake of staying busy (which is really just a way to avoid doing things we should be doing).

For example, an employee might invent stuff to fill those 8 hours in the office when that won’t help them advance in their career. I’ve been there. I’d take more bathroom or water breaks and go on short walks more often instead of watching a tutorial on how to edit videos with Premiere Pro. Or I’d spend more time organizing my desk when it wasn’t necessary. I was efficient, but not effective. In the example Tim used, same goes for the person who “checks e-mail 30 times a day and develops an elaborate system of folder rules and sophistication techniques for ensuring that each of those 30 brain farts moves as quickly as possible. As Tim says,

It’s good to be efficient at something, but it doesn’t add value if it doesn’t move you closer to your dreams. Being efficient with regard to effectiveness is the key! Of course it’s easier said than done, but it begins with identifying your goals and figuring out the most efficient ways to spend your time. And this involves eliminating unnecessary distractions.

Related: 4 Ways to Accomplish Your Goals in 2017

How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

Time wasters 

Those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence. These include:

Constantly checking e-mail

We all do it. While we wait on a bus or train or use the computer to write a blog post. We try to distract ourselves with our inbox. Two things are always true: 1. They never stop coming and 2. They pressure us into opening them and add to our to-do list. With emails, it’s hard to distinguish tasks that are not urgent or important from tasks that are important but not urgent. A common scenario is having a to-do list and then forgetting what you had to do because an email came up. We not only waste time entertaining all of them, but also become less effective by doing things that could really be ignored.

Mindlessly surfing the web

When you do anything on the computer, the temptation to open a new window and do something else is strong. You decide to take a quick 5-minute break and go on Facebook to watch a video then find yourself watching a bunch because one automatically plays after the other. Or you get the notification that an old friend liked your picture and in no time, you’re on this person’s profile going down memory lane.

Answering phone calls or text messages

You hear your phone ring and you immediately stop what you’re doing to attend to it. Nothing makes you lose focus faster. More often than not, these can wait and it’s not worth interrupting what you’re doing.

Attending meetings that are unimportant

Meetings are the easiest ways to waste time. Back when I worked at a startup, I would go to our weekly Friday meeting just to avoid work and not do anything. The snacks were also great incentives. You can probably relate to having to attend meetings that will not help you do your job better in any way.

Another thing is going to meet someone to do work when it can be done remotely. For example, I once signed up for this job on Craigslist and the person suggested we met in person. I asked if we could have a Skype call instead and they agreed. It saved time and cost.

Consuming content with no useful applications in your life

I used to delay the launch of my blog by reading articles on Medium. I had convinced myself that they were motivating me when really they were just a way to procrastinate. Sometimes, you have something important to accomplish and that’s when you should beware of what you consume and the people you surround yourself with. It’s trendy to be on top of celebrity news, but what real, practical value does it add if it’s not something that interests you? As Tim recommends, “cultivate selective ignorance” and read what will only help you take action.

10 minutes every hour of checking and responding to e-mail. 30 minutes of scrolling down social media feeds. 45 minute phone calls with your best friend. You may not realize it, but these unnecessary distractions add up. You could use these 2-3 hours for leisure once you successfully complete your most important tasks.

Like this post? Be on the lookout for the next one where I’ll share how to eliminate these distractions from The 4-Hour Workweek. Also, get my FREE time management guide here.

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How to Make Time For All Your Gigs

Whether it’s to actualize a passion, make extra money or explore an  interest, millennials are consistently taking on side gigs. More than other age groups, we are pushing the boundaries of what we can do and concretizing our full potential.

In a study, Career Builder showed that nearly 39% of those 18-24 and 29% of those 35-44 reported making money on the side. We are effectively leveraging our ability to do different things to add to our skill set and make more money. This can only work to our advantage as it also makes us more marketable. As Career Builder’s Chief Human Resources Officer said, “Side hustles not only provide financial benefits to workers, but they make them more attractive candidates to employers, especially in a competitive job market.”

Multipotentialites exist in greater numbers than we think. I’m willing to bet most people you know have at least one other thing going on. Know that classmate who now works in advertising? Chances are, she does photography on weekends. Remember your old chemistry professor? She probably takes ballet classes after work.

I currently freelance as a social media strategist for a startup and write for 4 different publications each week. Somehow, I still find time to manage my blog and YouTube channel, explore New York City for inspiration and hang out with friends every now and then. When I share everything I do with people, I often get a “Wow” in disbelief. Their eyes open in amazement as if I was a superhuman. The truth is, I’ve just been figuring out how to effectively spend my time. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I still procrastinate like everyone else, but I’ve been better at making every day count.

When handling different projects, time management is key. It’s good to have endeavors that don’t relate to each other, but if you don’t cultivate discipline, you will not be able to sustain them. Here’s how I integrate everything I love into what I do:

I Work From Home

Let me preface this by saying that I only work from home because I freelance full-time. I sometimes miss the social aspect of being in an office, but working from home has its perks.

Commuting used to take 2-3 hours each day. It’s a good chunk of time that I now use to either sleep more, do some exercise or mentally prepare myself in the morning. When you don’t have to rush to work or overdose on coffee, you tend to have a better start to your day. Doing that naturally predisposes me to being more productive.

If you have the option to work from home, you should try it. It’s not for everyone, but I can say I get more done when I’m in my natural habitat. And not just for my main job, but for my side projects as well. I still follow a regular 9 to 5 schedule and I use my lunch break to either write a blog post, update my social media pages or work on a new video.

I Apply What I Learn From One Endeavor to Another

My endeavors complement each other. From doing social media strategy for startups and small business owners, I learn tactics that I can apply directly to my own social media platforms. For example, I recently learned how to optimize Facebook ads for maximum conversion by running a few campaigns for a client. This is a skill that I won’t have to learn when I decide to run ads for my own blog.

Even if your endeavors don’t relate to each other, they can teach you a transferable skill or give you access to a network that can advance your career. A financial analyst can leverage his attention to detail and the data-driven side of his brain to, say, conduct lab experiments. A real-estate broker can possibly use his selling capabilities to create marketing campaigns.

If you look beyond the surface, you will most likely find an underlying theme behind everything you do. Make your jobs and side gigs work for you!

I Spend My Leisure Time Productively

If you tell me that my leisure time is meant exclusively for leisure, I’ll agree with you. But I can’t help it. When I take a break, I usually do something that helps me get better at my side gigs. For example, I listen to blogging podcasts when I can’t bring myself to write a blog post, browse articles online or read a book when I’m experiencing writers’ block or go explore a random part of the city to take pictures for Instagram or create content for Snapchat. These are all considered my leisure activities, yet they stimulate my brain.

I still struggle with unplugging completely and this is why this technique works for me. So I don’t recommend it to everyone. I believe your leisure time is yours to use as you please and that not doing something productive in that timeframe will not necessarily delay the process of achieving your goals. Because my gigs naturally fit into what I do, it’s harder for me to find a balance, but I’m working on it.

My Sister Holds Me Accountable For Getting Things Done

It’s good to have someone to remind you of what you should be doing and keep you on track. That’s who my sister is to me. We run the YouTube channel together and it’s a great way to hold each other accountable for maintaining it. I often joke that she’s an obnoxious alarm clock that comes without a “snooze” button. One needs people like this in their lives. It may add pressure to complete tasks, but you can channel that into being more productive.

For multipotentialites, it’s important to strive for great time management. It’s what will ultimately allow us to make a living and be fulfilled by the things we do. There is no “one size fits all” guide to spending your time effectively, but I hope you can learn from my experience.

How do you juggle multiple projects at a time? Share that with me in the comments!

Related: The Best Time Management Techniques From 4 Busy Millennials

                 How To Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

If you like this post, subscribe to my newsletter where I share tons of tips that help multipotentialites make a living by doing all the things they love.

The Best Time Management Techniques From 4 Busy Millennials

time management for maximum productivity

You’ve probably scanned through every time management article there is out there, yet you clicked this because you’re still struggling to apply these techniques to your schedule. The truth is, everyone has their own time management techniques. What works for you may not work for someone else because you have a unique set of responsibilities.

In an ideal world, we would all complete our work without losing focus. *snaps back to reality* From the incessant buzzing of our phones to the daily human interruptions, our attention is constantly being taken away from us. How can we get any work done?

My mission is simple: to empower you to do all the things you love. A huge part of that involves helping you manage your time for maximum productivity.

I caught up with a few multipotentialites who are juggling a gazillion projects and actively carving their own path. From managing a content team for a software company to being a freelance writer and teaching an online course, these millennials do it all! Some also have taking care of kids and other personal obligations in their workload. They are the clear illustration that you don’t have to narrow down your career choices, but rather master productivity so as to make time for them all.

Read on to learn their best time management techniques. I hope you find them useful!

Mary Juett

Responsibilities

positive lifestyle focused blog where I share ideas, recipes, events, and anything that makes me smile or that I think could make some one else smile or lead a more positive life.

I’m a homeschooling mom. I work from home on my blog (currently full time hours). I lead my girls 4H club. I teach art at our homeschool co-op, and I’m a military spouse. I run solo with all of this sometimes. I have my Masters degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology. I aspire to be a life coach, and I’m constantly learning more about blogging. Did I mention I love to cook from scratch for just about every meal? (yeah, where’s the time for that?!)

Time Management Tips

Bullet Journaling
This one thing has changed my time management completely. With my bullet journal I always have my schedule, notes,  6-month planner and ideas with me at all times. It helps me maintain priority tasks on my to-do list. I’ve learned to prioritize by crossing off things that aren’t all that important or productive.
Managing the kids
There are a few options:
1. Trade babysitting/play dates. You’ll get more focused time to work this way, even if you end up with someone else’s kid(s) for a day. I’d much rather have focused time than rereading the same paragraph for an hour due to frequent interruptions.
2. If the kids are older like mine I can set time limits. For 30 minutes I’m going to work and they will play independently, then for 30 minutes they’ll get my attention for schoolwork or fun stuff. This has been a great method of balance for me.
Saying no – If your plate is full, it’s okay to refuse to add more to it. It’s easier to manage your time for fewer tasks, not to mention your quality will improve on those tasks. It’s also okay to drop projects that aren’t benefitting you, that you don’t have a specific contract or obligation to complete.
Taking breaks – Get up, walk around, stretch, close your eyes for a bit, grab a snack, do something fun, run an errand, then get back to work. I come up with some of my best ideas during breaks. Giving yourself a break will improve your creativity and productivity.

Edwin Covarrubias

Responsibilities

I am a blogger and podcaster from California. I studied engineering until I realized that the work was not fulfilling. I then spent years in Mexico and South America learning to earn money online as I went along. From building websites and teaching English and Spanish, to translating at hospitals in Peru and flipping burgers in a street cart in Ecuador, I pretty much don’t mind putting in the work to learn something new.

Now I make ends meet through freelancing: making websites for clients (and by selling on Amazon) while trying to build an audience through blogging/podcasting, and managing a budding social media company in Central and South America.

Time Management Tips

Waking up early
You get more hours in the day when you don’t sleep in.
Setting clear daily goals
Finish a blog post, edit an audio file, redesign a certain page? I write them down and prioritize to get them done.
Uninstalling notifications on your phone
Twitter, Facebook, Buffer.. they all seem to beep at all times so I just turned off the notifications when I need to focus because I want to eliminate distractions.
Christina Ropp, 29
Responsibilities
I am a mother of a 3-month old and a 3-year old. I live in Alaska and work full-time as a clinical therapist and a newbie part-time blogger.

Time Management Tips

Keeping a daily planner

 I use it to schedule appointments, set out tasks and goals to achieve for the day, and plan ahead for the future.

Obtain help with smaller tasks when possible

For example, I hire a housekeeper to come bi-weekly on Fridays so that when I come home from work on those days, I don’t have to worry about the house and can focus on my blog for the weekend or any other task that needs to be accomplished.

Rochelle Jansen, 24

Responsibilities
I am a copywriter for an online marketing company, I also do freelance work as well as focus on my blog and write a book. It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle without the extra work and income.

Time Management Tips

Limit time on social media

If it is not for the cause of work, research or blog related.

Go through emails in the morning then write a to-do list

It helps me organize my schedule throughout the day.

Read more: How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

What are your best time management techniques? Please share them in the comments.

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How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

If you could master only one thing in life, I would argue it should be time management. It’s the one skill that allows you to do everything – and do it well. Until there’s a cure for procrastination, we’ll just have to try our best. Even then, I’m not sure it’s possible to be human and not procrastinate. The two seem mutually exclusive. But it’s worth learning how to maximize our time for greater, long-term gains.

I’m currently juggling multiple projects: two part-time jobs, two writing gigs, a career development blog and a YouTube channel. People always ask me how I manage to get these done and quite frankly, I’m still figuring it out. Like everyone else, I procrastinate way more than I’d like to.

Recently though, I decided to make some adjustments. I took a hard look at the way I spend my days and realized a few techniques that have allowed me to be more productive.

Reduce time spent socializing

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It’s easy to think one can just make time for things they care about, but with a finite amount of hours per day, a more effective strategy would be to change the way one already spends their time.

I used to go to at least three networking events per week and go to brunch every weekend. I quickly realized I was doing myself a disservice by doing things that weren’t directly helping me reach my goals. Instead, they were costing me valuable time and money.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t set time to meet new people. There’s nothing wrong with having a schedule for that though. Don’t just go with the flow when you have things to do. Be more intentional with your time. It’s tempting to go to every dinner party or free networking event. But realize that the more you entertain these distractions, the more you’re delaying your projects. By structuring social time, you save on precious hours and money (#winning).

Limit content consumption

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The Internet has a way of hijacking our mind without our own input. When you watch a video on Facebook or YouTube, the next one automatically plays and you often find yourself checking it out. Netflix releases all episodes of a series at once – which leads to binge watching. It’s never been more important to be aware of the trap of mindless consumption.

I used to delay launching my blog by reading a bunch of motivational articles on Medium. I convinced myself it was worth it when in reality, I was just looking for an excuse not to start. Don’t make the same mistake. Figure out why you spend time doing something. Don’t confuse being busy with being unproductive. Don’t mindlessly consume web content and distance yourself from what needs to be done. Take control and be more selective.

Prioritize 

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You’ve heard that one before so I won’t spend too much time on it. I just felt the need to reiterate how crucial it is. Listing out your priorities helps you spend your time more efficiently as it keeps distractions away. What works for me is setting calendar reminders of what needs to get done. I treat my personal projects like I approach my tasks at work. I write them down, create an action plan and execute them one by one. Having a fixed deadline to complete them and people to hold me accountable definitely helps. Try setting these standards in your personal life.

Check out: How to Manage Time with 10 Tips That Work

What are some time management tips that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments.