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.

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