HID­DEN POCK­ETS OF FREE TIME, AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Fast Company - - Secrets Of The Most Productive People - By aura Van­der am

No room in your day for ex­er­cise, net­work­ing, vol­un­teer­ing, read­ing, med­i­tat­ing, or any of the other pri­or­i­ties that keep get­ting bumped from your to-do list? A time-man­age­ment ex­pert demon­strates how easy it can be to lib­er­ate min­utes, if not hours, from tight sched­ules. Yes, even yours.

6:30 A.M.

Quit the snooze but­ton. Get up right away. Thirty min­utes of mar­gin gives you enough time to run on a tread­mill (or out­side!) for 20 min­utes. Do this four times per week and you’ll meet the CDC’S “vig­or­ous ex­er­cise” guide­lines—and feel more en­er­gized than you will from that ex­tra half hour of snooz­ing.

7:15 A.M.

Med­i­tate/pray/count your bless­ings in the shower. Most peo­ple let their minds wan­der in there any­way. Why not nudge your­self in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion?

7:45 A.M.

Put a read­ing app (Kin­dle, In­stapa­per, Pocket) on your phone.

A re­cent study by Asu­rion re­vealed that Amer­i­cans check their phones, on av­er­age, 80 times a day. Use 10 of those re­flex­ive scrolling breaks to read an ar­ti­cle or a book. You can even tackle War and Peace on your Kin­dle app this way: Tol­stoy’s chap­ters are re­ally short, ideal for three­minute breaks.

8:00 A.M.

Com­mute with a friend. It might not be prac­ti­cal ev­ery day, but shar­ing the ride with a friend—or your part­ner—once a week will turn what might be wasted time into the so­cial high­light of your day.

9:00 A.M.

Es­tab­lish the 20/45 rule. Most 30- or 60-minute meet­ings can be trimmed to 20 or 45, with dis­ci­pline. That wins you back pre­cious time. Try not to fill this ex­tra time with more meet­ings.

10:45 A.M.

Take smoke­less breaks. Smok­ing is ter­ri­ble, but get­ting away from your desk and out­side ev­ery few hours is smart. Copy smok­ers— with­out light­ing up—by go­ing for a quick, mood-boost­ing walk at lunch and midafter­noon.

12:00 P.M.

Nix er­rands and limit your vir­tual win­dow-shop­ping. Ac­cord­ing to

the amer­i­can Time Use Sur­vey, the av­er­age Amer­i­can spends more than 40 min­utes per day buy­ing stuff. Plan ahead, and you can eas­ily chop this in half.

2:15 P.M.

Use those walk­ing breaks to men­tor. Ask a younger col­league to join you for a 15-minute chat. (Bonus: Out­side the of­fice, they’re more likely to ask real ques­tions.)

5:30 P.M.

Don’t fear com­mit­ment. If you want to vol­un­teer at a home­less shel­ter or lit­er­acy pro­gram or soup kitchen, do it. Sign up for a reg­u­lar gig, and why not make it a Fri­day evening? You’ll have a great ex­cuse to push back on that 5 p.m. meet­ing re­quest.

6:00 P.M.

Host a Sun­day-night potluck.

Or an ev­ery-mon­day happy hour, or any re­cur­ring get-to­gether with friends that you don’t have to plan from scratch. It’s the plan­ning that peo­ple dread. Save that time for the ac­tual socializing.

8:00 P.M.

Put a limit on house­work. The av­er­age Amer­i­can spends about 30 min­utes per day on house­hold chores (not count­ing food prep and cleanup). Set a 15minute timer for tidy­ing. If it doesn’t hap­pen dur­ing this time, it wasn’t ur­gent.

9:30 P.M.

Turn off the TV. Amer­i­cans with full-time jobs still man­age to watch more than two hour¯ of TV per day, ac­cord­ing to the atus. Trim that to 90 minute¯ and you’ve got 30 min­utes to read, prac­tice an in­stru­ment, or chat with friends or fam­ily with­out se­ri­ous sac­ri­fice.

10:30 P.M.

Give your­self a bed­time. Go­ing to bed early is how grown-ups sleep in. You’ll be less likely to ham­mer that snooze but­ton in the morn­ing so you can get the new day off to a pro­duc­tive start.

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