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20 Great Ways to Find More Free Time before the New Year!

“The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.” – Henry David Thoreau

Are there a hundred different things you wish you could do with your life someday — anything from exercising to meditation or yoga to writing that novel you always wished you could write to reading more to relaxing and watching the sunrise?

But perhaps you never have the time, like most people.

The truth is, we all have the same amount of time, and it’s finite and in great demand. But some of us have made the time for doing the things we love doing, and others have allowed the constant demands and pressures and responsibilities of life to dictate their days.

It’s time to move from the second group back into the first. Reclaim your time. Create the life you want and make the most of the free time you lay claim to.

It’s not hard, though it does take a little bit of effort and diligence.

Reclaiming that free time

Take my life, for example: there was a time, not too long ago, when my day was packed from morning to night, when I had meetings and long to-do lists and worked long hours and the rest of my time was filled up with social engagements and meetings for civic responsibilities. I had little time for my family, which ate me up, and little time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.

I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the time. I’ve always wanted to exercise, but was too busy. I always wanted to travel, but who can get away? I’ve always wanted to spend time with my kids, but work comes first, right?

Wrong. I finally got smart and decided that my life is my own, to do with as I wished, and so I took a time out to decide what I really wanted my life to be like. Then I designed my life, and made a series of decisions and steps to get my life to what I wanted it to be.

Today, I wake early and exercise or spend some quiet time reading and writing. I’ve written a novel and a non-fiction book. I write this blog. I run and have finally run a marathon (two actually) and completed a triathlon. I spend afternoons and evenings and all weekends with my kids and wife.

My life is what I’ve always wanted it to be, because I designed it to be that way and worked to make that design come true.

It can be that way for you, to the extent that you’re willing to make changes. Even if you just want to free up a little time for a hobby or for doing something relaxing, you can do that.

20 Ways to Find More Free Time

Not all of these will be applicable to your life — choose the ones you can apply and give them a try:

  1. Take a time out. Freeing up your time starts with taking a step back to take a good look at your life. You need to block off at least an hour. Several hours or half a day is better. A whole day would be awesome. A weekend would be even more ideal, though not necessary practical for many folks. With this block of time, take a look at your life with some perspective. Is it what you’ve always wanted? How would you get to where you’ve always wanted to be? What do you enjoy doing, but don’t have enough time to do? What things actually fill up your day? Are there things you could drop or minimize to make more time? We’ll look at some of these things in the following items, but it starts with taking a time out to think and plan.
  2. Find your essentials. What is it that you love to do? Make a short list of 4-5 things. These are the things you want to make room for.
  3. Find your time-wasters. What do you spend a lot of your time on that isn’t on your essential list? Take a close look at these things and really think about whether they’re necessary, or if there are ways to reduce, minimize or eliminate these things. Sometimes you do things because you assume they’re necessary, but if you give it some thought you can find ways to drop them from your life. Figure out what you do simply to waste time — maybe surfing certain sites, watching TV, talking a lot at the water cooler, etc. You’re going to want to minimize these time-wasters to make room for the more important stuff, the stuff that makes you happy and that you love to do.
  4. Schedule the time. As you sit down and think about your life and what you want to do, versus what you actually do, you will be looking at ways to free up time. It’s crucial that you take a blank weekly schedule (you can just write it out on a piece of paper, or use your calendar) and assign blocks for the things you love — the stuff on your essentials list. If you want to exercise, for example, when will you do it? Put the blocks of time on your schedule, and make these blocks the most important appointments of your week. Schedule the rest of your life around these blocks.
  5. Consolidate. There are many things you do, scattered throughout your day or your week, that you might be able to consolidate in order to save time. A good example is errands — instead of running one or two a day, do them all in one day to save time and gas. Another example is email, or any kind of communication — batch process your email instead of checking and reading and responding throughout the day. Same thing with meetings, paperwork, anything that you do regularly.
  6. Cut out meetings. This isn’t possible for everyone, but in my experience meetings take up a lot of time to get across a little information, or to make easy decisions that could be made via email or phone. As much as you can, minimize the number of meetings you hold and attend. In some cases this might mean talking to your boss and telling her that you have other priorities, and asking to be excused. In other cases this might mean asking the people holding the meeting if you can get the info in other ways. If so, you’ve saved yourself an hour or so per meeting (sometimes more).
  7. Declutter your schedule. If you have a heavily packed schedule, full of meetings and errands and tasks and projects and appointments, you’re going to want to weed it out so that it’s not so jam-packed. Find the stuff that’s not so essential and cancel them. Postpone other stuff. Leave big blank spaces in your schedule.
  8. Re-think your routine. Often we get stuck in a routine that’s anything but what we really want our days to be like. Is there a better way of doing things? You’re the creator of your life — make a new routine that’s more pleasant, more optimal, more filled with things you love.
  9. Cut back on email. I mentioned email in an earlier point above, regarding consolidating, but it’s such a major part of most people’s lives that it deserves special attention. How often do you check email? How much time do you spend composing emails? If you spend a major part of your work day on email, as many people do (and as I once did), you can free up a lot of time by reducing the time you spend in email. Now, this won’t work for everyone, but it can work for many people: choose 2-3 key times during the day to process your inbox to empty, and keep your responses to 5 sentences.
  10. Learn to say no. If you say “yes” to every request, you will never have any free time. Get super protective about your time, and say “no” to everything but the essential requests.
  11. Keep your list to 3. When you make out your daily to-do list, just list the three Most Important Tasks you want to accomplish today. Don’t make a laundry list of tasks, or you’ll fill up all your free time. By keeping your task list small, but populated only by important tasks, you ensure that you are getting the important stuff done but not overloading yourself.
  12. Do your Biggest Rock first. Of the three Most Important Tasks you choose for the day, pick the biggest one, or the one you’re dreading most, and do that first. Otherwise you’ll put that off as much as possible and fill your day with less important things. Don’t allow yourself to check email until that Big Rock is taken care of. It starts your day with a sense of major accomplishment, and leaves you with a lot of free time the rest of the day, because the most important thing is already done.
  13. Delegate. If you have subordinates or coworkers who can do a task or project, try to delegate it. Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself. If necessary, spend a little time training the person to whom you’re delegating the task, but that little time spent training will pay off in a lot of time saved later. Delegating allows you to focus on the core tasks and projects you should be focusing on.
  14. Cut out distractions. What is there around your workspace that distracts you from the task at hand? Sometimes it’s visual clutter, or papers lying around that call for your attention and action, or email or IM notifiers on your computer that pop up at the wrong time, or the phone, or coworkers. See if you can eliminate as many of these as possible — the more you can focus, the more effective you’ll be and the less time you’ll waste. That equals time saved for the good stuff.
  15. Disconnect. The biggest of distractions, for most people, is the Internet. My most productive times are when I’m disconnected from the grid. Now, I’m not saying you need to be disconnected all the time, but if you really want to be able to effectively complete tasks, disconnect your Internet so you can really focus. Set certain times of the day for connectivity, and only connect during those periods.
  16. Outsource. If you can’t delegate, see if you can outsource. With the Internet, we can connect with people from all over the world. I’ve outsourced many things, from small tasks to checking email to legal work to design and editing work and more. That allows me to focus on the things I’m best at, the things I love doing, and saves me a lot of time.
  17. Make use of your mornings. I find that mornings are the absolute best times to schedule the things I really want to do. I run, read and write in the mornings — three of the four things on my Essentials List (spending time with family is the other thing on the list). Mornings are great because your day hasn’t been filled with a bunch of unscheduled, demanding, last-minute tasks that will push back those Essentials. For example, if you schedule something for late afternoon, by the time late afternoon rolls around, you might have a dozen other things newly added to your to-do list, and you’ll put off that late-afternoon Essential. Instead, schedule it for the morning, and it’ll rarely (if ever) get pushed back.
  18. The Golden Right-after-work Time. Other than mornings, I find the time just after work to be an incredible time for doing Essential things. Exercise, for example, is great in the 5-o’clock hour, as is spending time with family, or doing anything else relaxing.
  19. Your evenings. The time before you go to bed is also golden, as it exists every single day, and it’s usually completely yours to schedule. What do you want to do with this time? Read? Spend time with your kids? Work on a hobby you’re passionate about? Take advantage of this time.
  20. Lunch breaks. If the three golden times mentioned above don’t work for you, lunch breaks are another good opportunity to schedule things. Some people like to exercise, or to take quiet times, during their lunch breaks. Others use this time to work on an important personal goal or project.

Now picture yourself in the hammock…

To your success

Bobby

The Secret Habit to Success!

 

We’ve talked about forming habits now and there. But forming habits is a skill that takes practice, and as with any skill, it’s best to start with the very basics, at the smallest and easiest level, and practice it until you’re good at it before moving on to more difficult levels.

Let’s get back to the most basic level possible: working on the habit of forming habits.

In Og Mandino’s self-help classic, The Greatest Salesman in the World, one of his more powerful concepts is how to form good habits:

I will form good habits and become their slave.

I will read each scroll for thirty days in this prescribed manner, before I proceed to the next scroll.

First, I will read the words in silence when I arise. Then, I will read the words in silence after I have partaken of my midday meal. Last, I will read the words again just before I retire at day’s end, and most important, on this occasion I will read the words aloud.

On the next day I will repeat this procedure, and I will continue in like manner for thirty days. Then, I will turn to the next scroll and repeat this procedure for another thirty days. I will continue in this manner until I have lived with each scroll for thirty days and my reading has become habit.

So basically, the habit is to read from the 10 Scrolls for 30 days each, morning, noon and night — but the challenging part is holding back so you only do one scroll per month. And the first month, you focus on the process of forming those good habits.

If you draw from that powerful concept, and start by first teaching yourself how to form a habit, and then focus on one habit for each of the following months, you will be more successful with each habit.

So here’s the secret: for the first month’s habit, you need to develop the discipline of reading a mantra morning, noon and night – the First Habit. It can be a mantra you write yourself, or one that I suggest below. If you can stick to that habit for a month, you can build on that success and start with a second habit — staying with another small one is best. Each month, you can work on a new habit, focusing on only one per month. But the key is to have the patience to work on only that First Habit for the first month.

Most of us have a bunch of habits we’d like to instill in our daily routine — from eating healthy, to exercise, reading, writing, waking early, organization, frugality and more — and it’s hard not to try to conquer them all at once. But if you can do this, and hold off on those habits until you’ve accomplished this one, you’ll have a much, much greater chance of success at all of them. Having the patience to do this won’t be easy, but remember: you have your entire life ahead of you. If you follow this program, and you’re successful, you’ll have eight more habits developed by the end of this year (starting with your next habit in May), and 12 more the next year, and so on. It’s worth the wait.

So how do you implement this First Habit? Here’s the plan:

  1. Commit Thyself.Commit to doing this First Habit for the rest of this month (or if you’re starting late, do it for 30 days).
  2. Morning Habit.Every morning, when you wake up, silently read this mantra (borrowed in part from reader Ann M., and in part from Og Mandino): “Today, I start a new life. Today, I create a new, positive habit. The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Thus, the first law I will obey is: I will form good habits and become their slave. Today, I take control of my actions and behaviors. With these, I create my life and destiny.”
  3. Midday Habit.Every day after you eat lunch, silently read the above mantra.
  4. Evening Habit.Every evening, just before you go to bed, read the above mantra out loud.
  5. Tracking Habit.Create a chart or log, and each day give yourself a checkmark, gold star, or other such mark so that you can see that you’ve done the habit every single day. Don’t miss a day, no matter what — if you can do it every day, without fail, you will have create a 3x-a-day habit that you can use to build upon for your next habit.
  6. Future Habits.Make a list of what habits you’d like to work on each month, once you’ve successfully completed the First Habit.
  7. Motivation Hacks.If possible, use as many of the Top 20 Motivation hacks to help you stick to your habit for the rest of the month.
  8. Celebration Time!Celebrate your successes along the way, and celebrate when you’re done!

Resolve yourself to this First Habit, and you’ll be inspired by your own success. From Og Mandino:

And I make a solemn oath to myself that nothing will retard my new life’s growth. I will lose not a day from these readings for that day cannot be retrieved nor can I substitute another for it. I must not , I will not, break this habit of daily reading from these scrolls and, in truth, the few moments spent each day on this new habit are but a small price to pay for the happiness and success that will be mine.

So here’s your challenge: Commit to doing this First Habit, morning noon and night, for a month. That simple. Then you can move on to other habits, once this one is established.

To your success!

Bobby Wan

Benefits of Rising Early, and HOW to Do It

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Ben Franklin, famously

“Put no trust in the benefits to accrue from early rising, as set forth by the infatuated Franklin …” – Mark Twain

Recently, I was asked me about my habit of waking at 4:30 a.m. each day, and asked me to write about the health benefits of rising early, which I thought was an excellent question. Unfortunately, there are none, that I know of.

However, there are a ton of other great benefits.

Now, let me first say that if you are a night owl, and that works for you, I think that’s great. There’s no reason to change, especially if you’re happy with it. But for me, switching from being a night owl to an early riser (and yes, it is possible) has been a godsend. It has helped me in so many ways that I’d never go back. Here are just a few:

  1. Greet the day. I love being able to get up, and greet a wonderful new day. I suggest creating a morning ritual that includes saying thanks for your blessings. I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama, who said, ” Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.’ “
  2. Amazing start. I used to start my day by jumping out of bed, late as usual, and rushing to get myself and everybody else ready, and and come in to work late. I would walk into work, looking rumpled and barely awake, grumpy and behind everyone else. Not a great start to your day. Now, I have a renewing morning ritual, I’ve gotten so much done before 8 a.m., and by the time everyone else gets in to work, I’ve already gotten a head start. There is no better way to start off your day than to wake early, in my experience.
  3. Quietude. No kids yelling, no babies crying, no soccer balls, no cars, no television noise. The early morning hours are so peaceful, so quiet. It’s my favorite time of day. I truly enjoy that time of peace, that time to myself, when I can think, when I can read, when I can breathe.
  4. Sunrise. People who wake late miss one of the greatest feats of nature, repeated in full stereo vision each and every day — the rise of the sun. I love how the day slowly gets brighter, when the midnight blue turns to lighter blue, when the brilliant colors start to seep into the sky, when nature is painted in incredible colors. I like doing my early morning run during this time, and I look up at the sky as I run and say to the world, “What a glorious day!” Really. I really do that. Corny, I know.
  5. Breakfast. Rise early and you actually have time for breakfast. I’m told it’s one of the most important meals of the day. Without breakfast, your body is running on fumes until you are so hungry at lunchtime that you eat whatever unhealthy thing you can find. The fattier and sugarier, the betterier. But eat breakfast, and you are sated until later. Plus, eating breakfast while reading my book and drinking my coffee in the quiet of the morning is eminently more enjoyable than scarfing something down on the way to work, or at your desk.
  6. Exercise. There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but I’ve found that while exercising right after work is also very enjoyable, it’s also liable to be canceled because of other things that come up. Morning exercise is virtually never canceled.
  7. Productivity. Mornings, for me at least, are the most productive time of day. I like to do some writing in the morning, when there are no distractions, before I check my email or blog stats. I get so much more done by starting on my work in the morning. Then, when evening rolls around, I have no work that I need to do, and I can spend it with family.
  8. Goal time. Got goals? Well, you should. And there’s no better time to review them and plan for them and do your goal tasks than first thing. You should have one goal that you want to accomplish this week. And every morning, you should decide what one thing you can do today to move yourself further towards that goal. And then, if possible, do that first thing in the morning.
  9. Commute. No one likes rush-hour traffic. Commute early, and the traffic is much lighter, and you get to work faster, and thus save yourself more time. Or better yet, commute by bike. (Or even better yet, work from home.)
  10. Appointments. It’s much easier to make those early appointments on time if you get up early. Showing up late for those appointments is a bad signal to the person you’re meeting. Showing up early will impress them. Plus, you get time to prepare.

How to Become an Early Riser

  1. Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
  2. Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, and read while in bed. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
  3. Put your alarm clock far from you bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it’s far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
  4. Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. By the time I’ve done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I’m awake enough to face the day.
  5. Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
  6. Have a good reason. Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This reason will motivate you to get up. I like to write in the morning, so that’s my reason. Also, when I’m done with that, I like to read all of your comments!
  7. Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to make a hot cup of coffee or tea and read a book. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
  8. Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that’s a major goal of yours. Don’t wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day!

I like to use that time to get a head start on preparing my lunches, on planning for the rest of the day), on exercising or meditating, and on reading. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I’ve done more than many people do the entire day.

To your success!
Bobby

Savor the Little Things in Life

Do you eat while reading? If so, you might have noticed the phenomenon I’ve noticed: sometimes you can eat an entire meal without even really tasting the food. This applies to a lot of things in our lives: we can spend an hour with our family without really talking to them. We can go to a park or the beach, and not really notice the things around us.

Here’s a tip that seems so simple, and yet can be difficult to maintain in practice: stop, and notice what you are doing in this moment. Become more aware of the present, instead of always thinking about the past and the future.

This is hard to do throughout the course of a day, but being perfect isn’t the point. Stop and do it once in awhile, at different times of the day, and just notice the little things. And enjoy them.

Try these little exercises (they’re very easy, so don’t be scared by the word “exercise”):

  • When you eat your next meal, don’t read and don’t think about anything else except the food you’re eating. Really experience the smell of the food, the texture of the mixture of food in your mouth, the heat or coolness of it, the multiple flavors. This is best if you’re eating something you really enjoy (berries for me!).
  • The next time you’re with someone, whether it’s a loved one or a co-worker, stop what you’re doing, clear everything aside, and take a few minutes to really talk to them. Really listen to what they’re saying. Really appreciate this person, and try to understand them. Really be with that person, fully.
  • The next time you’re outside, stop, and look around. Appreciate the incredible beauty and simplicity and complexity of nature. Notice living things, from plants to birds to insects. Notice the elements – air and wind, water or rain, the earth, the sun or the moon or the stars. In fact, tonight, go outside and look up at the stars. The stars and the ocean always give me incredible perspective.
  • When you shower next, try not to think about anything else but the shower itself. Think about the feeling of the water beating on your skin. Really enjoy the sensation. Feel the suds slipping down your body.

You can probably think of other things, but these are just a few ideas. And if you really experience these things, they can be incredible. And life won’t pass you by as quickly as it normally does, which can be a good thing.

cheers

Bobby

I am the “7%” You can too!

* I am the “7%”*

This is something we should all read at least once a week..

  1. *Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.*
  2. *When in doubt, just take the next small step.*
  3. *Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.*
  4. *You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.*
  5. *Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.*
  6. *It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.*
  7. *Make peace with your past so it won’t mess up the present.*
  8. *Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.*
  9. *Take a deep breath every now and then. It calms the mind.*
  10. *Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.*
  11. *Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.*
  12. *It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.*
  13. *When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.*
  14. *Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy clothes. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.*
  15. *No one is in charge of your happiness but you.*
  16. *Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’*
  17. *Always choose life.*
  18. *Forgive others and yourself.*
  19. *What other people think of you is none of your business.*
  20. *Time heals almost everything. Give time a little time.*
  21. *However good or bad a situation is, it will change.*
  22. *Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.*
  23. *Believe in miracles.*
  24. *God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.*
  25. *Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.*
  26. *Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.*
  27. *Your children get only one childhood.*
  28. *All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.*
  29. *Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.*
  30. *Envy is waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need.*
  31. *The best is yet to come…*
  32. *No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.*
  33. *Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”*

Its estimated that 93% won’t share this. If you are one of the *7%* who will, share this with the title ‘7%’.

I’m in the 7%. Friends are the family and family is best friends that you choose._

*Its worth reading again & again, as & when you can.*😊

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