Ever heard the saying ‘time is money?’ There a lot of similarities between the two. Just like money, you can spend time on friends and family. You can invest time into learning new skills that – if chosen carefully – will improve you as a person. You can also waste time on pointless pursuits that will not give you anything in return.
However, there is one key difference: Unlike money, you can’t generate more time. So where are we spending ours, and how can we make the most of it?
Australians spend an average of 13 hours every week watching TV.
How effectively are we spending our time?
Despite this, it often feels like we’re not using time very efficiently. For example, the average Australian adult spends 13 hours every week watching TV, according to figures collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This means that we spend one month out of every year in front of the tele.
Social Media is another terrible time suck. In fact, marketing firm Sensis found that the average user checks Facebook 31 times per week, up from just 16 visits across the same timeframe in 2011. In total, we waste around 8.5 hours per week trying to keep up with the Digital Joneses on Facebook.
It’s not technology alone that’s making us feel as though there are too few hours in the day. Traditional time-consuming activities such as work, school and looking after the kids continue to dominate the majority of our day. A comprehensive report from AMP analysed how Australians spend their time and found that:
- Employment and education accounts for 16.5 per cent of our day.
- Around 17 per cent of our time is spent on caring for children or doing housework.
- Slightly more than one fifth (20.6 per cent) of our day is used for socialising and recreational pursuits.
- Necessary activities such as sleeping and eating commands 45.9 per cent of our time.
Ultimately, these statistics prove that time is at a premium. While we’re huge proponents of being responsible with money, we’re even bigger supporters of saving time. After all, even the most impressive personal bank account in the world is largely pointless if you don’t have the spare time to use it.
So, what can you do to put more hours back into your day?
1. Make use of technology
There are countless apps on the market that can help you track how you spend your day and help you form positive and productive habits based off of the results. One of the best in the game is RescueTime, an all-encompassing app that records your daily habits in both the real and digital world, and gives you an overall productivity score. Setting up a digital calendar can sync your to-do lists across multiple devices to ensure that your day is always on track, whether you’re in the office, picking the kids up from school or working to get your business’ finances in better shape.
2. Set a structured schedule
With so many things vying for our attention throughout the day, it’s important to consciously set aside structured periods to fulfill certain goals. It’s no great secret that setting a daily schedule for yourself can help you achieve this, yet it’s something that very few of us actually manage to do on a day-to-day basis.
Where should you start when creating a plan? Forbes contributor Kristi Hedges recommended that you should always begin by prioritising and working out which objectives will ultimately lead to the highest reward. Remember, completing your schedule is a means of taking back control over your time, so avoid turning your to-do list into a to-do novel and take things one day at a time.
3. Learn to say no
Whether it’s social media feeds or overly inquisitive work colleagues, the modern world is rife with distractions that act as barriers between you and unlocking greater productivity. While some of these interruptions are necessary, many are not – the real challenge lies in separating the two. The vast majority of phone calls and emails, for example, are probably not too urgent, and can safely be put off until you have a time slot dedicated towards catching up on communications. This isn’t procrastination, so much as learning to prioritise the tasks at hand.
What are your best time management tips?