Time Stealing Exercise
Starting today, I want you to press the stopwatch on your phone and time how long you spend doing each activity each day. Then write it down on a piece of paper and stick it to your refrigerator door. I'd do this for 7 days in a row.
The first step is admitting there's a problem and then doing something about it.
This is the something. Take a look at all of the Timewaster activities below. These are the ones you should be timing for a week every day and log them in.
TIMEWASTER: Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram/Pinterest (the list is endless)
Love your social media? Yeah, me, too. But it's kicking your ass and eating up time. Because guess what, it takes about 30 seconds to read a post in your feed, 15 seconds to respond. Let's say you spend 10 minutes searching your feed for funny stuff. If you're spending a couple of minutes on each post you like, that's 10 mins can turn into 20 mins really easily. If you check your social media 3 times a day, that's an hour of time wasted.
Oh, it gets better. What happens when it's a controversial post and people are talking to each other in the feed. Well, then essentially, you're having a conversation with people that should happen over drinks during the time you scheduled for socializing. Not three times a day for 30 mins. Then you spend another 15 minutes checking your notifications to see who commented on your page and who you need to respond to. So, if you check your social media feeds, say, 3 times a day. You're wasting 2-3 hours of time daily. It doesn't feel that way because you're do it all day long for short periods, but at the end of the day, you've lost some really important hours.
SOLUTION: Check social media once at noon and once in the evening. Once a day is even better, but I'll go easy on you. Set a timer so you only spend 10 mins each time you check. When the timer goes off. Get off. Better yet, put your phone on Airplane mode so you can't access the internet. Here's a clicker: TURN OFF THE INTERNET ON ALL OF YOUR DEVICES. Only turn on the internet when you're accessing your social media or email twice a day.
TIMEWASTER: Phone Calls/Email/Texting
Each text conversation is a minimum of 5 mins on the phone. And if someone needs something from you that you have to go get, that's another 10 mins. How many people do you talk to on the phone or text in the course of your day? Let's say it's 5 people. That's a minimum of an hour you've spent having unscheduled conversations with people.
SOLUTION: Turn off all notifications on your phone. Check the phone twice a day just like social media. Or 3 times a day: once in the morn, afternoon and evening. Otherwise, no phone calls or texting/emailing outside of these scheduled times. Schedule alarms on your phone for your check in time. As soon as the alarm goes off, start your stopwatch for 30 mins and only respond for 30 mins each time.
This one is a tough one.
And here's why: emails/texting/instant messaging, all of these modes of communication are designed to access you and your time immediately. Each time you do, it takes you away from whatever work you're doing and then the work gets delayed, you get behind schedule and you lose time for things you really want to be doing because you've been responding to unscheduled phone calls/texts/emails all day longs. Because essentially, that's what texting, emailing, instant messaging, phone calls are all about: they are unscheduled meetings.
With email, here's my rule: I respond once a day to each person. If I respond in the morning and they email me again midday, they have to wait to get an answer until I check email again the next morning. Otherwise, you're emailing back and forth all day and that, my dear is an unscheduled conversation. The only caveat is if you and this person are meeting today and something has to change. Otherwise, nothing is an emergency.
When you check only twice a day and only respond to each person once a day; what will happen is that folks will become accustomed to the idea that you don't engage in constant emailing, so they will learn to be as succinct, clear and thorough in their initial communication.
TRANSLATION: If they want an answer, they'll get to the point faster. If they don't, then you have new information:
THIS PERSON IS A TIMEWASTER.
It doesn't make them a bad person; it just makes them someone who hasn't learned how to master their time. Perhaps, your example will help them see the light. And if it doesn't, oh, well. We're here to steal more time for you so you can write or start your own business or spend more time with your kid, whatever your heart's desire is.
TIMEWASTER: So called emergency phone calls, texts, emails.
SOLUTION: There is rarely an emergency. Remember:
"lack of planning on someone else's part does not constitute an emergency on your part."
If you do not value your time, no one else will.
So be a stickler about what constitutes and emergency and thereby requires your full attention.
So, what about actual emergencies? Things like sick parents or kids or a business deadline or your agent/manager calling you for an audition? Go to these contacts in your phone or email and make them VIPs. That will create a VIP folder in your email. Check the VIP folder every couple of hours for 5 mins at a time. When you make them VIP's in you phone address book, you can give them a special ring so you know to answer this call. All other calls should be on silence and you'll respond during your daily check in.
TIMEWASTER: Multiple points of contact.
Ideally, there should only be one place where you're check twice daily: either phone, text or email, NOT ALL THREE. Pick one method by which folks can contact you, so you're not checking all over the place which eats up time.
For example, clients, dates, acquaintances all want my phone number even though I tell them, I'm most accessible via email. I also prefer email only for business so that there is always a paper trail or record of our interaction.
Usually, I only give out my business email address. If someone already has my telephone number and insists on texting me when I've asked them to only email me, I respond to their text via email and if they still don't get it, I now know that this person is a _______.
And I stop responding.
Or I give them the option of scheduling a 15 min call with me via my automated scheduled system. I don't waste time scheduling my calendar, its automated because calendar scheduling is a huge timewaster. By the way, I have a personal phone number and a business phone number. I turn off the business phone at 6pm.
I just freed up 5 hours of your time daily...
So, let's review this list:
1. Start keeping a log of how much time you spend on each activity starting today
2. Check all social media once a day and spend no more than 20 mins.
3. Respond to texts/emails/phone calls twice a day for no more than 30-45 mins each time.
4. Create VIP contacts who have special ringers or show up in a special VIP folder which you'll check every couple of hours for 5 mins at a time.
5. Pick one mode of contact: either text, phone or email, but not all
6. Automate your calendar so you're not wasting time scheduling things
All of this stuff is about valuing you and setting boundaries. If you're still struggling with either of these, do what I did: I just followed the rules until my confidence caught up. And it will, use the rules and blame me if folks get mad. Right now, my only concern is helping you find the time to pursue your real dreams.
Want to learn more?
Check out my Rewrite Your Story: Find Your Purpose & Start Living It 2 hour webinar. You can buy the live class or the 2.5 hours class recording for only $59.99. This class will change how you think of time, help you develop a 6 month, 1 year and 5-year plan of action to free up time for you to focus on what you really want to be doing: the dream of the life instead of the life you're currently settling for. One where there's never enough time and space for you and your dreams to become realities.
Click here now if you're ready to steal back your time and your life...
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers