Upon completion of any activity ask yourself:
Do I feel like have more time or less time than when I started?
Let me explain…
Take inventory. Some activities make you feel rushed (that you have less time). Some calm you down and focus you (that you have plenty of time). Start noticing.
If you have trouble telling the difference try substituting the word time with the word: creativity, energy, flow, attention, intensity, focus, or clarity.
Increase the frequency and duration of the activities that give you more time, and ruthlessly cull those that make you feel as if you have less. Start a “To Don’t” list. Follow it zealously.
Some personal examples of time giving activities are:
- Long dinners or tea with a friend/friends
- Working out (weights, yoga, interval training, sparring, etc)
- Writing short pieces to clarify my thoughts (journal, blog, haiku, poem, song, etc)
- Creating something
- Being in nature (camping, hiking, mountaineering, skinny dipping, etc)
- Drawing on a lazy Sunday afternoon
- Reading inspiring books
Note how many of the above are physical activities. Richard Branson when asked “How do you become more productive?” at a retreat on his private island simply answered “Work out.”
What about activities that suck time? Again, some personal examples:
- “Info-tainment” or meaningless internet articles
- Television, unless it is watched with close friends or an attractive woman
- Sifting through my Tumblr dashboard
- Having too many time commitments (this one has a compounding negative effect. To understand the value of unstructured free time, read this.)
- Doing too many things
- Consuming excess, whether food or booze.
Find your time giving and time sucking activities. Now go write that “To Don’t” list.
[originally posted Halloween of 2011]