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How to get 5 hours of your day back (even when you feel busy)

How many hours do you waste in a day?

Dr. Jordan Peterson asked his students this question. After some back and forth discussions, most students agreed they wasted 5 hours a day. Then as a thought experiment, Dr. Peterson estimated the students’ dollar value per hour at $50. He asked his student to calculate the dollar value of the time they waste in a year.

It came out to $91,000!

Dr. Peterson’s students were a little shocked by the result. Because they never thought of the dollar value of their time, let alone the cumulative value. And seeing how much they lost with time-wasting activities, most of his students changed the relationship with their time.

A sure sign of a poor relationship with time is the practice of killing it. Because with killing time, it’s done so inconspicuously, you wonder where the time has gone. And on top of that, normal life is already busy with school, work, family, love life, social life, etc. Yet, by simply removing the philosophy of killing time, we can easily find 5 hours or more of our day. But before we get to that, let’s tackle busyness first.

There is one main reason why we feel too busy for our goals/dreams.

It has to do with our flawed perspective of time. We don’t respect the minutes, let alone the seconds of our lives on a day-to-day basis. So we fill that time with useless activities. Now mind you, everybody is going to work, school, and whatever. Yet, despite the busyness, only a very few get to accomplish their goals and dreams. Mind you, we all have 24 hours in a day. Yet, it’s how we use those seconds and minutes.

When we have a moment in between meetings, do we read a page or two of a book or scroll Instagram?

When we get home from school, do we start binge-watching something or devote 30 minutes to a personal project?

It’s those moments where we feel we can’t do much.

Yet, we waste those moments mindlessly. This is what the habit of killing time does to us. It takes away those countless small moments in our days, making us wonder where the time has gone. When we kill those small moments of free time, what we are doing is choosing to waste time deliberately. If you understand how precious time is in your once-in-a-universe-shot at life, you would never need to kill time. You would be chasing your dreams and resting. Going back and forth between these two modes. Yet, so many of us will waste hours scrolling the internet, not getting any closer to our ideal self, dreams, or goals.

It’s easy to feel busy.

But you have to understand that you mainly feel busy due to a flawed perspective on time. Since those small moments in a day can add up to quite a bit. So we have to change our perspective with time.

But how is that done?

Well to change your perspective, you have to remind yourself of this one idea. Where it’s plastered all over your journal, technology, etc. Anyways, this idea is that:

  • Killing time is not living.

Such a simple idea, yet so profound.

Whenever you catch yourself wanting to scroll the internet to waste a few minutes, remember you are choosing not to live. It’s a deliberate choice because this reminds you of the responsibility you have with your time. You are either using it to get closer to your ideal self and dreams. Or you are using it to distract you from the true potential of your life.

I remember watching a Joe Rogan podcast clip where they were discussing the hours spent on a phone. And some data showed how some people spend 8 hours on their phone. Keep in mind, we all have 24 hours in a day. Yet, some people choose to kill 8 hours of their time scrolling their phones.

8 hours of not living.

8 hours of passively consuming.

8 hours of choosing conformity.

So understand, killing time is not living. And every moment, your actions are choosing to either consciously live or not. But what actions can I follow to live consciously?

Tangible actions to follow

Well, to first start with, always bring the following with you:

  • Book

  • Journal

You want a book with you always so that you can choose to read something of substance over some hallow content on the Internet. And bring a journal with you, so you can brainstorm, work on your projects, etc. These are two solid ways to start utilizing your time in a way that benefits you short and long term.

Another tangible action is to have some structure with your use of the internet. I highly recommend you read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport to get a more detailed layout. But I’ll give you the cliff notes version.

With all social media, put restrictions on it.

That might mean, 20 minutes per day, but only after work. Or maybe once a week or once a month, 30 minutes at most. Whatever you feel is appropriate, have restrictions with your use of social media. Countless hours are frittered away due to aimless and unlimited scrolling.

For email, check it once per hour.

Or every two hours, whatever you feel is best. I don’t want to get into too many tech details. But for email, social media, and the internet in general, are designed like slot machines. Again, you can check this online or read Cal Newport’s book, but a lot of the internet is psychologically designed to keep you on for a long time. And the only ones that benefit from this are the tech companies.

And if we’re being honest.

Losing time in our one shot at life to profit these companies makes me sick. So ensure you are being responsible with your time and take control of your relationship with the whole Internet.

A bonus tangible action: Mortality.

I know, I know, I know. I mention this a million times. But I’ll be quick here.

We are all mortal.

We won’t get a second chance at life, no matter how much we cry and plead. So start respecting your time in your once-in-a-universe chance at life. Don’t give it away to companies that want to profit off your attention. Death will help you avoid this and focus on what matters. Alright, that’s it for this section. But some of my trendy readers are probably thinking this: Why can’t we follow some time management hack?

I might get philosophical, so wear a life jacket.

Because this might be deep. The issue with following any time management hack you find online or in a book is that it’s not backed by a change in perspective. People who look for time hacks are still frittering away their time scrolling the internet, yet think that a few hacks will help them.

If it were easy to follow a time hack, then people would be getting amazing results. Yet, that’s not the case. I always say that life is simple, it’s people who complicate it. And in this case, if we understand the simple idea that we are going to die one day. And that killing time is not living. It will cause one to seriously reflect on the use of their time and then make some changes.

No hack or trick is needed, but a simple shift in perspective.

There are a million ways to save time, but if there’s isn’t a proper understanding of the value of time, then it’s all in vain. One person whose life was not in vain was Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs and Time

Before I jump into this, let me tell you that I’m not a fanboy of Steve Jobs. However, I do respect how much he was able to accomplish in life, despite no postsecondary degree, getting fired from Apple, etc.

And hearing some of the things he has said in the past, it makes sense how he was able to achieve so much.

Here is one quote that Steve Jobs said:

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Steve Jobs understood the true things in his life by understanding his mortality.

And when you understand your mortality, you will easily see all the things that are not worth your time. Like social media, toxic relationships, toxic jobs, etc. Thus giving you the energy and time to focus on the things you want.

Forgetting about the value of time

We’ve heard countless times how precious time is, but never gave it a second thought. I know I heard this quote in my 20’s but never acted on it. So to ensure you don’t make the same mistake as me, you have to remember your mortality constantly.

Even 5 minutes a day meditating on your mortality will do wonders. Because when you understand your mortality, you understand the value of time. But like I said, it’s so easy to forget.

So make it a habit to remember your mortality.

If you’re not sure where to start, think about the process of dying. Where you are looking at everything for the last time, waiting to evaporate into eternity. Spending just 5 minutes envisioning death will wake you up to the value of your time.

Summary time!

  • We feel busy since we have a poor perspective on time.

  • To change our perspective on time we need to remember this: Killing time is not living.

  • Tangible actions to follow are

    • Read books instead of scrolling the Internet

    • Have a journal to write or brainstorm instead of scrolling the Internet

    • Have restrictions with social media and email

    • And remember your mortality

  • Following time hacks are not recommended since they are not backed by a change of perspective with time.

  • Steve Jobs understood his time since he understood his mortality. Helping him overcome obstacles and become accomplished.

  • Forgetting about the value of time is very easy. Remembering your mortality will help overcome this.

In this day and age, it’s not about following tips and tricks.

But having a deeper understanding of the changes that need to be made. Time management has a lot of useless content since they all negate mortality. But with you, that’s not going to be the case. You are going to understand the value of your time since you know you are going to die. And if my math is right, you’ll be gaining more than $91,000 worth of time back every year.


The Charismatic Nerd


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