3 Surprising Science-Backed Ways to Find More Time Today

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Somehow, time is your enemy, while more time is also a luxury.

Things weren’t much different a few centuries ago in 1682, when William Penn wrote: “Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst.

Understanding our strange relationship with time simply helps us manage it better. When you feel like you have time, the world opens up. You’re motivated to act and explore on the one hand, and savor and breathe, on the other.

Contrast that when you feel like you don’t have enough time. It’s stressful and taxing and you start making decisions based on that anxious feeling of lack. It might mean reaching for the quick, unhealthy snack rather than your usual walk and putting those non-urgent (but important) activities that nourish and enrich you, like exercise, personal projects, and relationships, on hold.

Since how you think about time affects the reality of how you spend it, the ability to influence that perception can be incredibly powerful. Here are three surprising methods, backed by research, that will help expand your sense of time and motivate better decisions about how you use it.

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How to Stop Life from Passing You By: the Weird Science of Stretching Time

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One unnerving aspect of getting older is how life seems to start speeding up. Feeling that whoosh as time rushes past you can be disheartening as you wonder where the days, or months, or even years go.

Yet we’re not doomed to march to time’s relentless beat. Your sense of time is weird and pliable — stretching, compressing, coming to a standstill. And you can mold it, to some extent, to move to your own beat.

When you encounter the familiar, time seems to constrict and when you acquire new knowledge, it expands. Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains:

Time is this rubbery thing…. It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, “Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,” it shrinks up.

That relationship between time’s elasticity and whether your brain is processing new information gets at why time seems to turn up the tempo as we age. As the world starts to become more familiar, we learn less and sometimes even seek information and experiences that fit within what we already know. There’s less adventure, play, exploration, creativity, and wonder to invite and engage with newness.

The way you spend your time influences how you perceive it. So the choices you make about what to do now impacts how you’ll manage your time later. Here are two ways to make your days richer and more memorable so that your sense of time expands and life doesn’t pass you by.

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How to Do a Time and Motion Study to Make Real Change

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“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said the great management thinker Socrates.

Every day, people say that they’ll change. At the beginning of every year, millions make resolutions. Most do this without data, hypotheses or any idea of what they’re going to do differently. And they wonder why nothing really changes.

Intention without information is powerless. To misquote great management thinker, Albert Einstein, doing the same thing and hoping for a different result is the definition of inefficiency.

This is where the personal time and motion study can help. In summary, it goes like this:

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Make Your Life Easier: The Best of the Internet

Lil girlHappy Friday – Double Awesomeness Edition! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs these past 2 weeks: 

This dull skill makes for excellent management.

How to make your life easier.

The most engaged employees work at small companies.

Spark happens when we create the conditions for it to do so.

The extreme habits of great remote teams.

Culture prevents people from jumping ship.

3 motivational mind tricks.

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week:  Keep track of specific kinds of dones by using #hashtags!

 

Anywhere in the text of your done or comment, type “#” followed by a keyword or topic name, like this: #reimbursements or #win.

Change Your Life Through Habits: The Best of the Internet

Cats at PlayHappy Friday! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!  

Change your life with habit hacks.

You’re hiring people to think.

The 5 most dangerous creativity killers.

Software is undervalued.

Want to make some key improvements in your life? Make them the centerpiece.

Bad sleeping habits cause employers almost $2000 per employee a year.

Dundee’s Tip of the Week:  Want to make reports of your dones to show off your progress?
Click on the share button, which looks like this: .
Then choose whether you’d like a PDF, plain text, or email version of the report. Easy peasy!

 

Master Your To-Do Lists

[T]ry picking a stubborn item from your own to-do list and redefining it until it becomes something that actually involves moving one of your limbs… Breaking each task down into its individual actions allows you to convert your work into things you can either physically do, or forget about, happy in the knowledge that it is in the system.

Tom Stafford, “The Psychology of the To-Do List”, BBC.com.

Discover four more helpful to-do list tips and how to master the art of to-do lists by understanding why they fail.

Marc Andreessen’s Surprising Antidote to Procrastination

It’s almost inconceivable that somebody as productive as Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, Opsware, Ning, and Andreessen Horowitz, needs a way to deal with procrastination. But it turns out he’s just like the majority of humankind.

His solution of structured procrastination is rather devious. Instead of fighting procrastination, go with the flow and put that task on hold. Meanwhile, work on something else. He explains:

The gist of Structured Procrastination is that you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate — instead, you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done.

Generally in the course of a day, there is something you have to do that you are not doing because you are procrastinating.

While you’re procrastinating, just do lots of other stuff instead.

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Photo: Dick Jensen

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The Hottest Productivity Booster

Morning Cup of Tea

We want to know: what are your favorite productivity boosters? Drinking eight glasses of water? Listening to classical music? Turning off the internet? Chair yoga?

What little things help you get more done?

Our interview with Matthew Stibbe veered into tea-related territory, which wasn’t included in our profile. We wanted to share his take on why tea works for his productivity and his greatest tea-related tips: 

Coffee doesn’t work very well for me. I saw a lovely poster in New York. It said, “coffee lets you do stupid things faster,” and that’s exactly what it does for me. I redouble my efforts in the wrong direction.

Tea, on the other hand, is a more reflective drink for my biochemistry. It puts me into a much more grounded place. The act of making a cup of tea is a very good way of giving myself a break between tasks. When I occasionally get to try the Pomodoro Technique, a cup of tea is the perfect thing to do in the gap between two bursts of work.

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