There is a huge amount of truth in the saying, “You’ve got to learn how to walk before you can run”. So over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of walking despite the temptation to set off at a 100-metre pace and to then to try and run a marathon.
Here are 4 more hours just for you
If somebody came to you today and said, “here are an additional 4 hours for you to use today and to keep from this day forward” what difference would that make to your life? What could you do with them? I’m guessing that most of you are screaming “hell yes! This would be amazing, but you can’t create time so forget it.” If I then told you that I can’t create time but you can, you’d probably wax lyrical about how busy you are and give me a million reasons as to why this isn’t possible. Well just take a breath or two and read on, because this is how I have created an additional 4 hours a day and in so doing I’ve been able to extend my lunch hour by 20 minutes and watch my 4 kids’ 30-minutes school assemblies each half term, whilst still getting more done than ever before.
Creating time by slowing down
It has always been in my nature to clear my to-do list before I’ve even written it and consequently forget what I’ve done and worse still, what’s still remaining. Despite using all the modern digital tools available, CRM, calendar reminders, Evernote, etc, etc, etc, the most effective method of getting things done but none of these have really worked. So for me, to write them down and then organise them into a priority list has been something I’ve had to turn back to, I’ve had to learn how to walk again. By doing this it has automatically made me slow down but most importantly, it has stopped me looking at my phone 24/7. When you combine this to the deleting of a number of social media accounts, it has increased my daily productivity almost 4-fold. (If you want to measure the amount of time you spend glaring at your screen doing things other than what you intend to do on there, take a look at the Moment App for IOS) Not available on Andriod but there are others available.
Fortunately for me, I’d already taken significant steps to reduce my mobile phone usage before installing this app so I was both pleased and encouraged by my results, I just wished I’d known about it years ago. When you consider that the average person spends between 4 and 5 hours A DAY on their mobile phone doing things other than using it as a phone, it is not difficult to imagine where some of this time is going to materialise from. If you then include emails and calendar activity this figure rises even more. By removing the Facebook app alone you can save yourself a whopping 3 to 4 hours a day. This does not mean you have to leave Facebook completely (although this is what I’ve done and the freedom it delivers is liberating) but it does mean you have to consciously log in to it to see what’s going on. And if you think that’s bad, the single biggest drain on time in the mobile social media landscape is actually Instagram, which conversely is owned by Facebook.
- By taking steps rather than strides you’ll be able to enjoy the journey as you move forward. Doing one thing after the other is what we are designed to do and multitasking is a myth, as very simply demonstrated by Nancy K. Napier, PhD in a Psychology Today blog from 2014, so prioritising things and doing them one after the other makes much more sense. I remember reading Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy years ago and thinking at the time I could improve on this by digitalising it all but I was wrong.
- So to start your journey I would simply carry on doing what you’re doing already but do so using one of the phone usage tracking apps just to establish how much time you’re actually wasting. Once you’ve done this, then decide whether or not those hours would add value to your life. I’m not going to preach to you about how great a simple and mindful existence is, I’m merely going to offer you the chance to find out for yourself.
- Once you’ve made up your mind and you’re ready for this then start by turning off all unnecessary notifications. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…the list will be endless and easily identifiable after tracking your usage data from the last couple of weeks or so. If, like me, even after switching these off you still get caught up in the vortex of social media, switch to taking notes in a notebook and not on your phone – it works I promise.
- After a week or two delete the social media apps you don’t NEED (Some of us do actually need them for business purposes, honest ;)) and only sign in when you want to check something.
- Then if you’re absolutely ready for total liberation, delete your accounts.
And it really was that simple, I am obviously being very sarcastic. It really isn’t that easy at all. If any of you are familiar with any form of addiction then you’ll understand what I mean. Without you knowing; your habits have changed, your attention span has diminished, your ability to embrace stillness and relax has become all but extinct but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Stepping back to basics and enjoying the simple things in life is like learning to walk all over again. It’s exhilarating, it’s liberating and yes you’ll stumble and you’ll fall but when you get there it will all be worth it. So forget FOMO and embrace JOMO- The JOY of missing out.