Tackling time: 5 Hacks to Find Time For Busy Folks

Daily Grind and Meditation: 5 proven and workable tips to shave time for meditation in our time-starved society today

I find it amusing that most meditation books leave this topic about Time silent. I’ve been introduced to Nth number of meditation techniques. Nth number of relaxing methods and Nth ways on changing your mental state to improve perception, get the law of attraction to work. These are, no doubt, a treasure cove of information.

Mystery of Time

The mystery of time

I am inherently bounded by time. Time is such a mystery to me. Let’s do a small test: Set a timer of 3 minutes and count how many breathes you took. Do 3 minutes feel very long? 8 out of 10 people I asked feel so. How about doing a 3 minutes long plank exercise? 😀 Counting down to the minutes and seconds can feel so long but 24 hours of a day go pass too quickly. Majority of my excuses to not meditating is: NO TIME.

Tackling Time: Productivity or Simplicity?

We naturally gravitate towards increasing productivity when we talk about having more time. It’s the same for almost any other variable. More is often the lever we use in order to get another output.

  • To get better grades, we study more and work harder
  • To get better, we take more medicine and rest more.
  • To earn more, we work longer and work harder

Looking at all these statements and applying to our life experience, we know that these statements are not entirely true.

How about tackling the statements (including time) by simplifying?

  • To get good grades, we cut down social activities temporary to focus on studying
  • To get better, we cut down our stress level and let go of frustrations from trivial matters to mend our physical health
  • To earn more, we cut down unnecessary work and work on impactful tasks that will showcase your value for the next pay raise.

Going for “more” results in unhappiness from not “achieving what you set out to do” and burns you out while “simplifying” exercises mindfulness to reach your outcome in a less cluttered path.

5 Ways I’ve Consciously Tried To “Get More Time” That WORKS

Saving Time In the Kitchen

(1) Do a Time Audit For A Week

Yes, it is boring but necessary to increase awareness of your activities and the time taken. You can’t make more time if you don’t even know how what your current time is spent on. The results can be eye-opening. You might be spending almost a working day of 8 hours on Netflix!

Choose a “regular” week to do a time audit. Not the one when you are holidaying that week.

Learn more about time audit

I would highly recommend this book: 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam.

Amazon | 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

A highly engaging writer, this is the book that I learned about time audit and ample number of case studies of how people handle their time.

Time Tracking Challenge and Time Log Excel/ PDF

Welcome to the 168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge! |lauravanderkam.com

(2) Identify Routines

There must be at least 1 routine in your lifestyle. With the time log, you can easily identify the recurring activities that occurred throughout the week.

For example, my morning routine is:

  • Wake up, brush teeth, wash face
  • Feed my resident fur friends
  • Blend and drink a smoothie
  • Dress up, makeup
  • Get out by 7:37 AM to catch the 7:43 AM bus that is across the road

(3) Optimize Routines by Prepping

Source: Ella Olsson / Flickr

Like food prep, you can pre-prep your routine activities to cut reduce inevitable preparation time.

Knowing that my crunch time is in the morning, I prepare some items in advance at night for the morning routine:

  • Wake up, brush teeth, wash face
  • Feed my resident fur friends their “breakfast” (Fresh vegetable that has been prepped for the week)
  • Blend and drink a smoothie (prepped last night)
  • Dress up (with selected outfit done at night), makeup
  • Get out by 7:37 AM to catch the 7:43 AM bus that is across the road

With the excess time, I could spend some time interacting with my fur friends and savor my smoothie rather than gulping it down.

At times, I have an excess of 10 mins to even read a chapter of a book before heading out for the bus!

The goal of optimizing is not to stuff more activities within a limited time frame but to shave off time used for repeated daily tasks, giving you a breather and a leisurely sense rather than being haphazard.

(3) Shorten unnecessary movement

I know this suggestion sounds incredulous but hear me out. After watching this video from Vox, I just intuitively applied this to my daily routine (combined with my prepping suggestion).

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth are the pioneers in efficiency hacks and they measured everything in order to determine inefficiencies and cut them down. This was back in the 1950s!

One method that the Vox employee tried was to have a ball of red wool threading all your movement in a singular activity. You can watch the video on how he prepared his breakfast. There were many times he walked back and forth within the kitchen space to prepare his breakfast.

The suggestion: cut down unnecessary movement in dreary activities. When you take a cup to the kitchen, pick up the trash at the same time to throw the daily trash if your rubbish chute is within the kitchen or at the backyard. Your “trash” task is done.

(4) Cut Out What You Planned Out By 50%

Besides routines, there will be planned activities for the day. Some of us plan mentally, some with a reminder app or schedule book.

Planning for the day is awesome but we tend to overestimate what we can do. If you have a list of 10 items to do, cut down to the 5 top items. Give yourself some margin for distraction. We are not a computer executing lines of codes.

If you have completed all your 50% To-do list? Good, go for the next one or reward yourself with a nice cuppa and a book on hand.

Being able to achieve a reasonable number of tasks every day gives significant mental satisfaction compared to struggling to complete all 100% of overestimated activities.

(5) Embed Meditation In Your Routine By Starting Small

Routine is dull but we can use it to our advantage. With routine, you can include meditation in. Meditation can finally become a daily affair for you and not just a wish.

The benefits of daily meditation are known. It’s like knowing eating vegetables is good for health.

Read more here for the benefits of daily meditation.

Embedding a desired activity (in this case, meditation) to your routine is something I learned from James Clear, Atomic Habits.

Goodreads | Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Really recommend his book to everyone who is trying to incorporate new habits (eating better, sleeping better, slimming goal etc…) into your life.

Recapping the key idea:

  1. Slot in meditation (desired habit) to the start or end a task within a routine (eg. After washing the dishes, take 5 minutes to meditate)
  2. Gradually increase the time for meditation (eg. Start with 5 minutes of meditation and increase to 10 minutes by the next week).

Of course, prepare the equipment needed for your desired habit, in this case, meditation. Prepare your sitting cushion, your blocks to prop up your knees if needed or simply a comfortable chair with backrest so that you can do the meditation.

Meditating by sitting on a dining chair
Using a dining chair for meditating is convenient and comfortable

There you go, 5 ways to find time to do a daily meditation!

Just read this if you have no time:

Rabbit holding a clock
You can now figure out what fur friends I have 😉

Everyone has only 24 hours. Finding mindfulness and doing the act of meditation have to be within the given 24 hours. There are routines that exist in our daily lives which we can smartly “hack” to add time to our lives.

(1) Do a Time Audit For A Week

(2) Identify Routines

(3) Optimize Routines by Prepping

(4) Cut Out What You Planned Out By 50%

(5) Embed Meditation In Your Routine By Starting Small

If you have other time-hacks, please do share over in the discussion section. Thank you!

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