WHAT WOULD YOU SAY is the biggest time-wasting activity in your daily life?
Some say it’s spending too much time on social media, some point to a fascination with news headlines, others say they’re too busy to waste any time whatsoever. Time is too precious to waste.
Allow me to tell you a brief (true) story, then the conclusion I’ve drawn from it.
How the electric bill doubled in one month
My son was complaining about his room being too cold. He kept jacking up the main thermostat and overheating everyone else.
So, I bought a portable electric heater for his room. His brother piped in that he’d have to have one for his room too.
The next month, my electric bill almost doubled.
It wasn’t because the weather turned suddenly colder. It was all due to those two seemingly harmless and helpful little heaters. You could argue the extra charge for electricity will be offset by the lower need for natural gas … and I hope so … but that’s not the point.
Little things can make a huge difference
What is there in your life that doesn’t take a long time to do, but you find yourself doing it frequently?
Look there first.
Those heaters weren’t blowing heat all the time, but they were switching on often.
- Do you keep your smartphone handy and check it constantly?
- Do you keep your email program open and deal with messages on the fly?
- Are you always in need of a snack or drink or quick trip to the grocery store?
Those little things can take up a large chuck of time. If you’ll start noticing those actions you thought were inconsequential, you may find they’re the primary culprit stopping you from accomplishing all you set out to do every day.
Seems incredible … but check it out.
Here’s the fix
You don’t have to knock off the little things completely. Just get them under control.
Here’s a method I like. It comes from a system I outline in The DEEP:
- Decide what you’re going to focus on next. It doesn’t have to be the most pressing or important project in front of you, it only needs to be the thing you’re willing to devote the next chunk of your time to.
- Get your drink, your snack, your break — whatever you think you need to do first — get it out of the way. Do the little things FIRST, not during.
- Do what you’ve decided to do and focus on it entirely. No distractions allowed. Don’t pick up your phone, check your email, visit Facebook … no little things allowed … until you’re either finished or you’ve been at the task long enough to deserve a break (set a timer if you wish).
- Take a brief break. Allow yourself a few minutes of little things, then rinse and repeat as needed.
- Remember, this isn’t only about work. When you sit down to eat with your family, focus on your family. Give them your full attention. In the smartphone age, full attention is a rare commodity.
Here’s the primary lesson: When you’re working on something, work on it. When you’re not, don’t.
The little things aren’t bad in themselves. If you major in the minors, though, you’ll never operate at anywhere near your full potential.
Let’s talk about it.
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