Interested in how to become more efficient with your time? Well, this article is written just for you! Reaching our “Asset Manager” number (the amount that you are able to quit working and manage your own assets- see prior blog post), starts with your daily habits, routines, and systems.
The Sweet Spot:
I recently finished a book called “The Sweet Spot“, by Christine Carter Ph.D. and she emphasizes the importance of knowing when to multi-task, and when to concentrate all of your focus on one thing.
Christine Carter Ph.D. advocates focusing all of your attention on one task, when performing that task is difficult or the outcome is critical.
Example: When I am studying for one of my MBA courses, I limit distractions by muting my phone and setting a timer for 1 hour and 15 min.
Studies show that your brain works best when you take breaks in between difficult tasks. Typically, this means getting up, walking to the watering fountain, grabbing a cup of coffee, or going to the bathroom.
Efficiently Using your Breaks:
This “taking a break system” doesn’t just have to apply to study time. I implement short breaks at work too. At home, during my break, I do housework or run an errand.
Housework is an administrative task that can be completed on autopilot, meaning that I can also listen to a book at the same time!!
One of the best purchases that have allowed me to listen to a book every week and a half are the Apple Earbuds! They are the best because they sync with my iPhone.
These earbuds allow you to ask Siri to do whatever you would normally ask your iPhone to do! I can pick up phone calls, pause the audiobook, increase the volume, etc.
Of course, you can get regular cordless headphones but I find that all this all-in-one earbud really helps integrate my life.
The earbuds automatically connect to my iPhone and laptop (I do not have a Mac computer, and they work just fine with non-apple products too).
As you know, I am a huge advocate of listening to books. These earbuds allow me to absorb information while cooking, cleaning, exercising, and driving!
Talk about getting a 2-in-1 out of your time! This is my biggest secret to crushing thirty 300-600 page books per year!!!
Christine Carter Ph.D recommends multi-tasking when a task can be completed on “autopilot”.
An example of how I practice this recommendation is that I listen to audio books while I am driving instead of listening to the radio station.
I am using the 30 minutes of driving productively (that is 1 hour round trip), instead of listening to the radio that plays the same top 20 songs over and over again.
The average audiobook is 9-15 hours long, this means that you can complete a book in 1.5-2 weeks on your way to and from work!
I create systems for my life so that I can aggregate five to fifteen minutes here and there, and over time those saved minutes become hours and then days.
How to aggregating time: Here are a few examples of how I squeeze more time out of the day.
I meal prep twice per week: I used to cook dinner each night, which took me an hour to cook and clean all of the dishes.
That is 1 hour x 7 days per week=7 hours of cooking and cleaning for just dinners.
I now meal prep on Sunday and Thursday nights: In one hour I do all of the cooking for 3 meals per day, for the next four days.
That means I have traded 7 hours (of cooking just dinner) for 2 hours and prepared 21 meals for the entire week.
How do I do this? I will break up the hour of meal prep in 15 min increments so that you can see how I create 12 amazingly healthy meals in 1 hour.
To start, breakfast is usually pretty simple (doesn’t require much cooking: boiled eggs, yogurt, bananas, apples, and Odwalla juice). The only item on my list that requires cooking are the boiled eggs.
- Boil 8 eggs (2 eggs per morning plus a banana). Once the water boils set a timer for 12 minutes.
- Put a large pot on the stove and cut/cook onions.
- Open a bag of arugula (one bag of salad from the store makes 4 lunches), and add beats, corn, cheese, and carrots to 4 sets of Tupperware.
- Cut all vegetables for your stir-fry.
- Throw all vegetables and meat into the pot. You want to make sure that you add the items that take the longest first.
- Add your ingredients in the following order: onions, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini/cucumber.
- Tomatoes, tofu, and spinach always get added last.
- It doesn’t matter what you are cooking, this is the general order that vegetables go into a pot. Chicken and pork take longer to cook than beef.
- Your eggs are done! Pour out the water, and let eggs sit in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Stir the stir-fry, and finish making the salad. Put the salad in the refrigerator.
- Peel the eggs and put them into Tupperware.
- Stir the stir-fry.
- Clean the cutting board, knife, and the pot you used to boil the eggs in.
- Stir and finish the stir-fry.
- Portion the stir fry into Tupperware.
- Finish clean up.
Lifehack: Crockpot chicken for 5 hours and shred. You can use this in you salads. Creating a crock pot should take no more than 15 minutes to create and clean.
Lifehack: Meal prepping allows me to live by the 80/20 rule. Meaning that 80% of the time I eat healthily.
When I am out eating at a restaurant with friends, I am allowed to eat whatever I want. I still fit into my high school cheerleading outfit from 12 years ago!
Finance Hack: See prior blog post about how much money you can save by cooking rather than eating out.
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Everyone has to brush their teeth and get dressed. My earbuds allow me to run around my house without having to carry my phone with me.
Moreover, this allows me to listen to an audiobook or a ted talk while I am brushing my teeth.
I find that it takes me 30 minutes to get ready in the morning, and 30 minutes at night. If you add the 30-minute drive to and from work, you can listen to 2 hours of an audiobook!
You’ll be crushing books in no time!!!
You can’t tell me that you don’t have enough time to absorb a book every week and a half, because I have just found the time for you! ;P
Create a list of errands and group them by location. Then, complete all of the errands that are closest to each other during times of the week that I will be in that area of town anyway. I am sure you have noticed that I love to create lists!
Lists help you become better at time management and organization. These elements are key to increasing your efficiency!
Do you have any time-saving lifehacks? Post a comment below.
If you have enjoyed this content, remember to share so that we can help as many other people become better time managers too 🙂