The “I Don’t Have Time” Excuse

We have a finite amount of time given to us at the beginning of our lives. Every moment lived is one less moment until we die. That sounds terribly morbid, and so some of us focus on doing as much with our time as possible. But a balance must be struck between quantity and quality. Virtue is finding the middle ground between two extremes, or vices. Too much quantity, and the value of what we do approaches zero. Too much quality, and we lose variety, the spice of life!

Often, despite the time saving advertisements of the latest technology, we waste more time saving time than we do actually doing something. Switching from task to task on our smart phones, and between our smart phones and our computers, we're much less efficient multitasking than we would have been focusing on one thing at a time (despite how amazingly productive we feel when we are multitasking).

How can we be more present when we're working, studying, training martial arts, and interacting with our friends and family. How can we increase the quality of what we do using the technology available to us?

Sleep

"I love sleep.  My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?" -Ernest Hemingway

We check our smart phones a ridiculous amount every day. We also spend the majority of our entire waking day looking at a screen (smart phone, TV, computer monitor, tablets). Blue light from the screens we look at and from artificial lighting can disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep. Here are a few tips for increasing the quality of your sleep. This will have a knock-on effect to all other parts of your life.

  1. Avoid using your screened devices in the 2-3 hours before sleep. This is not always easy to do in our age of technology, so...
  2. Install f.lux on all your gadgets. F.lux is a blue light filter, which reduces your exposure to blue light from your computer screens, tablets, and smart phones.
  3. Get plenty of bright sunshine during the day! If you work an indoors job, do your best to make it outside for at least the hour at lunch.
  4. Download some free white noise and play it at night to help you sleep when you've got noisy neighbour syndrome.

Movement

"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." -Plato

"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." -Plato

Too much sitting can take years off of your life. We were meant to move, so let's do more of it.

  1. Train Wing Chun Kung Fu or go to a Fitness Kickboxing Class!  Honestly, just do anything that gets your heart rate up for an hour or so every day.
  2. If you work a sedentary job, move at least 2 minutes for every 20-30 minutes of your day you spend sitting. Go for a walk around the office, have a chat with a coworker, get a drink of water, go stare out the window and contemplate your life and how awesomely lucky you are to be alive.  This may seem counter intuitive to the idea of staying focused, but oftentimes a break from sitting at your desk can give you new and valuable perspective on your work.

Awareness

"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." -Deepak Chopra

"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." -Deepak Chopra

If there is one thing that can help inject quality into our lives, it's awareness.  Working on awareness is long term and gradual, but is incredibly important in getting more out of what we have, what we experience, and how we relate to other people.

  1. Turn what you do into an adventure!  It's amazing how much more you can get out of your experiences when you think of them as adventures.  Think of yourself as having an adventure and suddenly you're much more aware of what's happening, and you're much more likely to rise to and overcome the challenges you meet.  It changes your mentality from stress response to challenge response.
  2. Meditate 5-7 days a week.  You don't need to spend a half hour sitting in lotus position to benefit from meditation.  When you first wake up in the morning or after you finish your work day, even spending 5 minutes sitting comfortably and counting your breaths can help.
  3. Keep a journal on your thoughts and feelings.  Keeping a journal helps you reflect on your day, your week, your year, or your life in general.   It gives you perspective, and lets you see the long term changes that are so hard to detect when only comparing today to yesterday.
  4. Keep a small notebook and a pen on your person.  This can be used for anything:  writing notes, thoughts, musings, feelings (emotional and physical), anything that strikes you during the day.  You can use it to keep track of the cues, routines, and rewards of your habits.

Dental Hygiene

"For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently." -William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

"For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently."
-William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Who doesn't like clean teeth? Small changes can make a big difference (can you sense a common theme?).

  1. Brush your teeth after lunch. Maybe it's the association that clean teeth have with getting ready in the morning. After brushing my teeth after lunch, I am much more ready for an afternoon of work than another cup of coffee could have made me.
  2. Floss at least once a day. Use Ultra Floss.
  3. Use a Waterpik!

Time Savers

"He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life."  -Victor Hugo

"He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life." -Victor Hugo

Ok, so we have so far focused more on quality over quantity. However, in the name of finding a middle ground between the two, here are a few tips on saving a bit of time.

  1. Download Launchy for your computer(s).
  2. Put Spritz on your bookmarks bar.
  3. Prioritize. Take 5 minutes each morning to list the day's priorities.  You can also do the same thing for the upcoming week on Sunday night.  This saves you time by stopping you from wasting time on things that aren't important. And remember that when you're prioritizing, there's a difference between important and urgent.
  4. Once you manage to prioritize, you can erase “I don't have time” from your vocabulary.

What new technology do you use to inject quality into your life? Share your favourite tricks and tips in the comments section below!

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