The search for more time is like a quest that never ends. Everybody searches for more time, but few find it. It could even be the very reason you’re reading this website. The search financial independence is the search for more time.
Our time is limited, and yet we freely trade most of our waking hours for money. Money that only exists as 1’s and 0’s in a computer server somewhere.
The best way I’ve found to gain back time is by achieving financial independence — In other words, I stopped trading my time for money!
Being able to quit your job and not work, frees up (at least) 40 hours a week. Sometimes more! Financial independence is great! To quote Ferris Bueller, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
But what if you’re not financially independent? What if you’re still saving for it, and need more DIY time to lift your savings rate above 50%? Can you claw back a couple hours from the time-sucking abyss we call life? Even while you’re still working?
Yes, yes you can.
Friends often ask how Mrs. Tako and I have the time to work on all our various DIY projects. We’re always working on different projects, and building new things. Yet we still have time to make home cooked meals every day. To the uninitiated, it probably looks like we have tons of spare time (despite the fact we have two small children).
Here’s the secret: We don’t actually have a ton of spare time. But we’re very good at optimizing the time we do have.
Unfortunately life doesn’t just let us “make time” when we need it. We have to be more efficient or “borrow time” from other places….other places that are “less important”.
Got a hot date on Saturday night? You might just have to skip cleaning behind the microwave that night!
Ultimately, “finding time” is about setting priorities and then coordinating time for what’s really important to you.
Turn-Off The TV
Television is a great place to claw back free time…because it’s a gigantic waste of time. The average American watches 3 hours of television per day. Over the course of a week, that’s almost an entire day spent watching TV (21 hours!).
After you’re done watching those 3 hours of TV per day, you won’t be smarter, healthier, more skilled, or have created anything of value. It’s a complete waste. That’s a huge number of hours spent on pure mindless entertainment.
And yes, YouTube is the same as TV. There’s fewer commercials, but most of it is still a gigantic time suck. But YouTube isn’t all bad — the ‘Tube’s big redeeming quality is its many instructional videos. For an avid do-it-yourselfer, those videos have incredible value. Just don’t get sucked into the cat videos.
You want more time? Turn-off the TV. It’s a huge win when you want more time. Don’t believe me? Try it for a week — No TV, No Youtube, No Netflix, No Hulu, No HBO Go. Suddenly you’ll have tons of time to make yourself smarter, exercise more, cook a homemade meal, or practice a new skill.
Just try it!
Make The Best of Time
Back when I was working regular 50 hour a week jobs, I had a fairly long commute. Depending on where I worked, this could average around 1 to 3 hours a day just for commuting. It varied (with traffic) of course, but rarely was my commute shorter than one hour per day.
Anyone who commutes in the city knows how much commuting sucks. Instead of fighting that suckiness, I embraced it — I decided to make the best of that time. Instead of spending that time behind the wheel of the car, I decided to take the bus. In most cases, not only was it cheaper to take the bus, but I could also read or study while I rode to work. Any time spent waiting for a bus I could also spent reading.
Over the course of several years, I literally read hundreds of books on the bus (roughly one book a week). All because I chose make the best use of my commute time.
Had I driven my car every day, I probably wouldn’t have read all those books. I suppose I could have listened to audiobooks like those from Audible (start your free trial today!), but commuting by car would have ended up costing me more.
Driving in heavy traffic is stressful too! So I skipped the stress and the extra cost, I took the bus instead.
Time-Shifting To Save Time
Like commuting, shopping is one of those things that has to be done, and takes up a big chunk of our time. Ever notice how a whole Saturday afternoon can get sucked away by just going grocery shopping? The lines, the traffic, finding parking, the crowded store — it all contributes to shopping taking forever.
It’s because you’re shopping at the wrong time.
Time-shifting to the rescue! The concept of time-shifting is an easy one to adopt — Simply doing all the same things you did before, just at a different time.
A Saturday afternoon is completely the wrong time to shop because that’s when everyone else is shopping.
If you want shopping to go quickly and efficiently you need to shop when nobody else is. By using time-shifting you can easily cut your shopping time in-half!
How about hitting up the grocery store on a Friday night at 10pm? I can tell you from personal experience there is nobody in the store! Friday nights are awesome for shopping quickly!
How about Costco at 10am on a Tuesday morning? The store is mostly empty! There’s no samples out, but I can easily get through the store in half the time it usually takes.
It may seem strange, but time-shift can save a ton of time (and money) for a whole host of different things: Commuting, shopping, traveling, buying a house, visiting the zoo — any activity where other people are involved.
Time shifting is one of my favorite ways to claw-back time because it’s so easy to do, and there’s so many possibilities for big time savings!
Stop Doing So Much
Making time for what’s important also means not signing yourself up (or you kids) for too much.
I see it all the time, whether its sports, music, housework, or social activities; people sign themselves up for way too many things. Weekends end up getting crammed with as many activities as possible. Next thing you know, you’re stressed out trying to get it all done in those two short days. Going back to work can be pleasant because work (by comparison) is like resting!
Stop doing that to yourself!
My thoughts are similar to MMM’s theory on this. Clear your calendar. Instead of having a dozen activities happening in one day, schedule at most ONE activity. There’s nothing wrong with having empty days on the calendar either. Having down time is a good thing!
Once you’ve whittled down the calendar to only one activity per day, suddenly life seems a whole lot easier. There’s time for resting. Time for a good home cooked meal. Time for all the good bits in life.
Sometimes slowing down saves more time than trying to rush through life.
How do you find time to do the things you love?