productivity tips

Life’s Short: 5 Quick Ways to Slow Your Time Down

Over at the Matt Cutts blog the other morning searching for SEO tips to help me take over the world, I found an article that was quite different yet still about “optimization”.

Life optimization.

Cutts, like PickTheBrain, had taken on a 30 day challenge and it really made me realize the simple problems I put myself through each day that seem to be sucking all the time out of my twenties.

Ever feel like time vortexes around you? Want to just slow it down?

Take a quick read here then leave a comment pledging how you’ll slow time down too.

Stop always reading other peoples writing

Though you are reading this 🙂

Instead, pick 1-3 authors you really trust, and read them each morning.

It’s a real blessing how much freedom we have with Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and all the other free social media networks yet we still abuse them.

Really, how often do you wake up, feel all productive with your morning coffee, then hit the computer and literally watch your productivity fizzle at the expense of what others have shared?

Here are three steps to avoid endless social media distractions:

  1. Prepare the content you want to share before logging in.
  2. Allot 5 minutes to catch up on peoples’ lives, Like, comment, RT or whatever. That’s it.
  3. If need be, unfollow friends who are particularly share-heavy and obnoxious. They won’t know and you can do without the FOMO.

Stop checking email so often

I do it, my mom does it and I bet you do it too. Checking email is a major problem because we’re often bored and clicking over to the inbox is an easier solution that actually engaging out surroundings.

Checking email too much is a mild form of torture; it’s harmful and here’s why.

  1. You feel disappointed when the message you wanted isn’t there.
  2. You find yourself re-reading old messages, which is unproductive.

The better option is similar to the social media solution – login once each morning with your game plan already laid out. Know who you want to contact. Have your messages visualized. This will help you tend to your agenda, which lies at the core of what makes you feel productive and happy.

Then, check email again in the evening so you don’t let crucial tasks slip. If you’re running a business, sure, the frequencies may vary but really ask yourself if you need to be on email all day before giving in in this battle for your time.

Set bite-sized specific goals

It’s the age old problem and Stephen Guise addressed it here – we overestimate the size of our goals and as a result never start chipping away at them.

Could you get a new job today? Probably not the one you want. Could you find the cure to a disease today? Would be awesome, but probably not. What you can do are smaller, more specific tasks.

How to set bite-sized goals.

  1. Force yourself to complete one goal by noon. This gets the ball rolling to check more things off your list. We need small doses of self-encouragement.
  2. Create two lists every Monday. These should highlight your daily goals for each day, and your goals for the end of the week. Guess what? It’s a win-win. As you proceed throughout each day you can modify the daily list to best fit your schedule. And, any big goal you get done early in the week means more time for relaxation later. Remember what that (relaxation) feels like?

Putting your tasks, and your weeks, into bite-sized little chunks is a tremendous way to make time feel like it moves slower.

Create a narrow niche for your work

What’s one quality of really successful people? Well there are tons, but I’ll give you one: We can all say what they have achieved in one niche.

They may be polymaths now, but when they became rich, famous and otherwise worshipped it was because they did one thing really well in one niche.

Steve Jobs: Computers
Jim Carrey: Stand-up
JK Rowling: Storytelling

The easiest way to fail is taking on too much (or feeling like it’s your duty to). On the other hand, if you can break off small tasks and do them really well, you’ll feel more accomplished and others will see you that way too.

Here’s an example:
I’m currently in the business of WordPress developing. Of course, this often times means creating an entire website, and that’s fine. I like being able to put my name on a site and say, my project! But – I find it’s a lot more productive if I outsource at least some of the work, like the Photoshop designing, or the content creation. Nobody is Superman, except Superman. This leaves more time for the actually back-end developing and front-end designing, which are more specific, more processes I can focus on. It’s a fun industry, but one that will drive you to your limits quickly if you don’t manage it.

Plan vacations

Last but not least, make sure to plan your vacations well in advance. This is another trick to visualize your time before it happens, which can make it seem like you have more of it.

It’s nearly January. This makes it a great time to lay out your whole year, alongside your realistic budget of time and money, and make a plan for vacation.

Personally, I’m all about the quick weekend vacation, but why not go for a whole two weeks? See your family. Surprise your family. Surprise someone you always wanted to reconnect with and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll at least be in a new and exciting location.

Oh, and when you’re there, do make use of your shiny iPhone and take more pictures than you think you need.

What about you?

I know the PickTheBrain audience is a lifestyle savvy bunch – you’ve been reading this blog for a while, afterall.

What did I miss? How else can we slow our time down?

Please drop a suggestion in the comments, as it could really help the community and especially your author 🙂

Dear Readers: Greg Narayan is a professional blogger, content manager and WordPress developer. ProBlogger calls him one of “our most entertaining authors”. He contributes to the largest webdesign blog in Malaysia and even uses a whiteboard. He gets two double stacks at Wendy’s. The latest features on his blog include a new blog hosting discount coupon and an Adsense Case Study you may want to get involved with. Greg enjoys tennis in any weather, business meetings that just feel like coffee chats, and goofy tangents that make next to no sense but still end up taking you somewhere productive.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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