Waste is not a simple enemy to be avoided. It is a heightened awareness of your use of time. Often, we don’t take advantage of the time spent waiting. We don’t respect time increments of less that 5 minutes. We also accept time wasting habits in the place of time-saving habits. For your success, these habits of waste must be addressed systematically.
Waiting. The challenge is that you are not able to control the wait. But, you can control what you do while you wait. Reclamation begins with the preparation for the waiting. Most people today have a smart phone at their fingertips. Consider the difference in your utilization of time if you wrote, read, or otherwise committed time waiting into productive time. Instead of playing your favorite relaxation game, pull up materials, think through tasks and make notes, or record reflections. You will find that you alleviate stress and wrestle less with tasks.
An alternative to the typical productive tasks is to spend wait time texting people that are important to you. Take the opportunity of spare moments to send an encouraging message or just ask how someone is doing. Don’t worry about a response. Just let them know that you are thinking of them. The benefit extends to you and to them.
Time Increments. Our perception of time is based on several variables. Neuroscience provides a list including reward, time of perceptions, attention, and memory. What is most salient for you in any field of perception also depends upon these factors. It follows, then, that we have a set of truths about your use of time.
Cultivate a sense of the reward you expect in each time period. I typically consider a written schedule in 30-minute increments. Consider matching task to time period and wasting not a single minute.
Give yourself appropriate time to reflect, research, and respond to information you engage with. If you are reading, expand your 30 minutes of reading into 1.5 hours of engagement. Spend 30 minutes reading, 30 minutes reflecting, and 30 minutes composing a response of some kind. It could be integration of the content into another project or sharing it with others.
Cultivate intentional attention through your choice of environment. Scientists suggest that creating a designated work space improves satisfaction and productivity. Consider that your environment is not only a context for your attention, but a potential assistant toward maintenance of attention. Stock your work space with tools of the trade you may need during work sessions including snacks.
Reflect on the successes you have had when utilizing time wisely. If you have relied on procrastination until now, give attention to the memories you are making now with time creation, scheduling, and management. Use these examples to inspire your continued exploration and competency.
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