Busy Day: How to Earn 2 Hours for Meaningful Action

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Effective management of ineffective time

I smoke 10 cigarettes a day, each for 3 minutes. To smoke, I go out on the balcony and it takes 30 minutes of my day lost to work, wasted in contemplation of Vitosha mountain and poisoning my lungs. I am suicidal and ineffective. If someone said this to me in plain text, I would probably be offended, I would answer that while I smoke, I think and a bunch of brilliant ideas dawn on me. Nonsense! I will never become a super productive person if I don’t change my habits. Not just by quitting smoking, because the unwinding will probably continue – I’ll come up with some reason to get up from the computer 20 times, but by analyzing my time expenditure to understand how much of it I’m wasting in ineffective actions and try to eliminate them.

Everyone has moments when they don’t want to work, but they can’t afford to take a break, and they take it upon themselves to thoroughly delete old e-mails, talk to colleagues on the presumption that this is how they maintain social contacts. These things are not ineffective, but they are distracting, and you can fill those “time gaps” with useful things. Here are some simple examples of filling up inefficient moments of the day:

In the morning

Suppose you get up at 7.00 and you run: the bathroom, the kitchen, the elevator, the subway. And what if you set your alarm for 6:50 a.m.? 10 minutes less sleep, but valuable time to stretch muscles and joints with a little exercise, to slowly drink coffee.

10 minutes to write down an idea you had last night or a thought from a book you read before you fell asleep. In any case, you wake up relieved that there is no way you will be late and your preparation for the day is not on the run. At 8.00 you are already in the subway, where it is full of frowning people, but you are not one of them.

You have 7-8 stops to the office – enough time to check your social network profile, but it’s better to bring a book to read while traveling, or to listen to another lesson in a foreign language that still you have not mastered. If you’re driving, you can listen to a podcast that interests you. Facebook and Instagram will still be where they were yesterday, and you can chat with your friends later in the day.

It’s good to have a slow start and ramp-up for upcoming tasks. By 10.00 you can already check the mail, answer urgent letters, but again I invite you to enter the work schedule more casually: review your commitments, write down new tasks, plan, and if something bothers you “at first reading”, let it age before you finish it. In short – don’t rush events so you don’t send an important email with errors in it.

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Photo: Unsplash


You have just had lunch and your colleagues invite you for coffee and a cigarette. If you skip this work ritual, nothing bad will happen. You’ll be in the office again, and there’s still no need to tackle business tasks right away – you’ve got another 10 minutes to walk around the co-working space or play a little chess while you collect your thoughts and before you start ticking off the work done in the afternoon.

Between the end of the working day and the evening, around 18.00, take a longer walk – with the dog or to the gym, but in any case allocate at least 30, and better – 60 minutes for walking and exercise.

A woman with brown hair, wearing a red blouse, black leggings and red sports shoes on her back is walking along a path with her hands raised, leaves have fallen on the path, on both sides of her there is green grass and leafy trees.
Photo: Unsplash


You have a lot of work ahead of you in the evening: wash this, tidy that, cook, take out the garbage… You can do all this with headphones in your ears, listening to an audio book or pleasant music. That way, you will have finished your homework in a good mood, and you will have learned something new and interesting. Finally, at 20.30 you relax on the sofa, but if you have left two small dumbbells on it, you will remember that you can exercise with them while watching your favorite series. Don’t work out late, though, because strength training makes it harder to fall asleep and staying asleep at night.

A young woman with hair tied in a loose bun, wearing a gray sweater, light blue jeans and bare feet is semi-reclining on a gray sofa and black and white pillows in profile, holding a shaggy brown puppy in her arms, which she has brought up to her face and grimacing , depicting a kiss. The sofa is in front of a window, through which you can see buildings, trees and the sky at sunset.
Photo: Unsplash

Calculate the savings

10 minutes of meditation, 30 minutes of reading fiction or learning something that interests you, 40 minutes of walking, 30 minutes of reading or listening to podcasts, 15 minutes of exercise.

More than 2 hours are obtained, spent fascinatingly and fruitfully in meaningful activities, without disturbing the work rhythm and without this affecting your personal life. Of course, no one is forcing you not to talk to your friends on the chat or on the phone, or not to watch the news, but we are sure of one thing: everyone can find gaps in their day where it is difficult for them to concentrate, but can use them twice as effectively.

A hand with a gray manicure holds a black sports dumbbell.
Photo: Unsplash


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