How to Stop Giving Away Your Free Time
March 28, 2018
A lot of people chase productivity in a quest to save time. "I wish I had more time," is a common expression for a reason. But, unfortunately, we tend to turn any precious time we save into more time lost.
Once we reclaim some time, our usual response is to fill it up with more things we have to do–we get a lunch break, but we check emails along the way. We get an evening off, but we check Slack every 15 minutes. We gain time, but we quickly turn it into time lost.
We tend to turn any precious time we save into more time lost.
The counterintuitive truth about saving time is that it doesn’t always add value. Most people don’t think about what they’ll actually do with their time once they save some of it, so it gets squandered away.
And for many people, having more time can often cause more problems than having less time. When some people have too much time on their hands, they get bored. To keep from being bored, they fill up that time with more busyness. Once they get busy, they get overwhelmed and start looking for ways to save more time. And the cycle begins anew.
The way out of this cycle is to switch from just thinking about saving time to saving time for some specific thing.
Switch from just thinking about saving time to saving time for some specific thing.
Saving 45 minutes so you can do more busy work really is just giving your extra time away. On the other hand, those 45 minutes become immensely valuable when you use them to help your children with their homework, exercise, or spend quality time with your friends. Even an extra five minutes an hour can become meaningful when they’re spent connecting (via correspondence) with friends and loved ones or practicing on your guitar.
Gaining time becomes worthwhile only when we use the extra minutes to do things we find meaningful, the things that help us become the type of person we want to be. And knowing that opportunity lives on the other side of a project? It can motivate us to hustle more efficiently.
So, why are you trying to save time?
A version of this article originally appeared on ProductiveFlourishing.com
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