What does it mean to be busy? According to dictionary.com, the definition of busy is: actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime. This seems accurate enough, but here's another critical question: are we actively and attentively engaged in the right work and pastimes?? And is all of our "busyness" actually necessary?
There is another word that many of us would commonly associate with the word busy: stress. The disease-like state of mind that keeps us up at night, which only multiplies our issues. However, being busy does not always have to correlate with being stressed!
Here are 5 ways you can sleep more, stress less, and have more free time:
1. Spend less time on social media.*
Many of us have a serious issue with social media, almost to the point of addiction. The average American spends well over an hour on social media every day...but for what? For all the time we invest in social media, what are we getting out of it?
The most common response would be connection. We want to know what's going on with our friends, with our families, with the world. Though social media can help us do that, it is incredibly inefficient - almost like cutting your lawn with a pair of scissors.
Here's the truth of the matter: Most of your "friends" and following on social media are not worth your time. Your time is too valuable for over 90% of what's on your social media feed. Furthermore - for that <10% of posts/people you do care about, you're still just scratching the surface of what's really going on in their lives.
For your close friends/family who live far away, mark them as a "close friend" on Facebook so you can immediately see their posts, or just go straight to their profiles on other social media platforms...but there's rarely a good reason to scroll all the way through your feed. You are important, your time is important, and most of social media is not important.
For those living nearby that you want to have a strong, connected relationship with, you don't need to "like" their posts to solidify your friendship. You need to get lunch with them and have a real-life conversation on what you're both up to. And put your stupid phone away while you're with them!! Give all your attention to people and show that you sincerely care. Personal conversations are deep - social media is cheap.
Furthermore - it's a waste of time to browse the list of people who "liked" your posts time and time again. We're all guilty of it (myself certainly included), but there's really no productive purpose to checking this more than a few times a day. The foundation of your happiness and self-esteem should be based on what you do in real life, not by your social media fandom.
2. Keep your meals short.
You don't need an hour for lunch every day like an elementary school kid. Under normal circumstances, it should never take you more than 20 minutes to eat a meal. If you're getting a meal with a friend as discussed in point #1, that's different because you have a productive purpose (building relationships) beyond eating food. But if you're eating a meal by yourself, try keeping it to 20 minutes. You'll find yourself with more time when you actually need it!
3. Understand how to (and how not to) multitask.
Many of us try to multi-task, but we end up doing it wrong and being counterproductive.
You cannot actively engage in two tasks that require your focused attention at the same time. For example, you cannot:
-Do homework while watching t.v.
-Pay attention in class while browsing social media
Because you are only alternating between one task and the other, your brain is not working as efficiently as it can, or internalizing information from either task. You would save time if you did your homework independently, and then watched t.v. independently. You'd finish the homework faster, get a better grade, and you'd enjoy your t.v. more. It's a win-win!
There are other things that can be multi-tasked, where only one of the two activities require focused attention. For example, you can:
-Listen to music while walking to class
-Use social media while on an exercise machine
-listen to a podcast while doing laundry.
By using these forms of multi-tasking, you can accomplish two different tasks without them taking up two different parts of your day, opening up more time for you to do other important things!
4. Go to bed eight and a half hours before you want to wake up
Though you may feel like you don't have time to devote eight and a half hours to sleeping, the truth is that most of the time, you do.
First, by going to bed eight and a half hours before you want to wake up, you give yourself 30 minutes to fall asleep and get your full eight hours of sleep.
Getting a full eight hours of sleeping is actually going to add time to your schedule, not fill up time. By sleeping eight hours a night, you'll be able to move from task to task to task more efficiently and without needing as many breaks. The time you save should be greater than the time you lose - and if not, implementing steps 1-3 will provide the extra time you need to get a full night's sleep. Furthermore, studies show that people who sleep more are happier, more efficient, and have a longer life expectancy.
Also, it's clinically proven that people who get lots of sleep are more motivated and able to pursue big goals. If you're physiologically defeated, every challenge you face day-to-day is going to seem much harder than it actually is.
5. Don't start tasks at "normal" times
Oftentimes we'll look at the clock, see it's 3:17, and say, "I'll start doing _______ at 3:30." While 13 minutes isn't a ton of time, the effect of this habit quickly multiplies, and after doing it a few times over the course of a day, you've lost a whole hour! Don't be reluctant to get started NOW, rather than waiting for an essentially arbitrary time.
By implementing even a few of these points, you can free up well over an hour per day, or 7 hours a week, now available to spend on sleep, your career, your friends/family, or anything else you like!
*To moniter how much time you spend on each of your mobile apps, I highly recommend downloading Aptrax!