I Found My Lost Time by Stopping This One Thing

Since the day my college started in the summer of 2015, I’ve been very productive. I joined a few clubs and worked with them, quit playing video games and made time for learning new skills. I scrutinized my daily schedule and learned how to effectively manage my time. I was able to get more done. In fact, this was the very first time I actually felt productive.

After a while, my level of productivity reached a stagnation point and I could not see any room for improvement. This is something that has troubled me since the fall of 2016. I consistently checked everything off my to-do list, worked a few extra hours and even organised all my tasks. I just could not figure out where a huge chunk of my time was going? I always felt, there is more time. I just wasn’t seeing it.

After reading books like The Power of Less & Eat That Frog, I gained invaluable insights about time management and setting priorities. Soon. I figured out that there was one unnecessary thing I was doing daily that ate up around 2 hours of my day.

WHERE DID MY TIME GO?

One of my personalities is “a big-time extrovert”. I like to socialise. Due to this, I love chatting.

I spent around 2 hours each day on calls without even noticing.

In the morning itself before leaving for college, I used to call a friend and had a chat for a while. Turns out “a while” was almost 30–40 mins. In the evening, I used to spend more than an hour on a few calls. On weekends, maybe more than 2 hours. It was crazy.

I always believed “these calls are important”. Turns out it was just an escape from doing actual work. Every call started out as important. I used to talk about some forthcoming event or sometimes an assignment that was due. The problem is that the important part usually concluded in about 5 minutes (or even less). Rest of the call was a useless discussion about something that didn’t matter.

I realised the need for a change!


AN EXPERIMENT

This summer, I conducted a personal productivity experiment.

I limited my time on calls inordinately. This is how I did it:-

  • I stopped calling people every now and then.
  • I called a few friends on the weekend and had a brief conversation about their week.
  • I substituted non-urgent calls with text messages.
  • Stopped attending every other call.
  • Scheduled time-taking calls for the weekend or whenever I was traveling.
  • Also, I dumped all the chatty calls.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t spend much time on texting either…

It sure wasn’t easy. Every now and then I was tempted to call some random person from my contact list. Especially when I was sitting idle or waiting on something. Although, after controlling myself from not launching the dial pad for the first few days, I forgot about it. I rarely called anyone.

WHAT I LEARNED…??

  • Saying no to others added more time for myself.
  • Most of the calls I attend makes no impact in my life.
  • Texting or Emailing is a better option for unimportant or non-urgent conversations.
  • Calling may sometimes be highly time consuming and counterproductive.

Basically, it comes down to the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. “80% of value is held only by 20% of the calls I attend.”


FINAL NOTE

It’s easy to acknowledge the importance of something but difficult to actually value it.

Recently, I figured that I was aware of the importance of time but did only a few things which were worth my time. Now, I have allocated the saved time to things that matter. So far, So good!!

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Is there any unimportant thing that eats up a large chunk of your time? If so, let me know in the comments… I’d love to hear it.

Clifford Lawrence
Hi, My name is Clifford. I’m documenting my journey towards betterment. I write about personal growth and productivity.