Ten Ways to Make Your Time Matter - Deepstash
7 Books on Habits

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How to break bad habits

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7 Books on Habits

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Embrace Idea Of Limited Time

Part of that embrace of limitation involves facing the anxiety that comes with acknowledging mortality. When we recognize the shortness of life—and accept the fact that some things have to be left unaccomplished, whether we like it or not—we are freer to focus on what matters. Rather than succumbing to the mentality of “better, faster, more,” we can embrace being imperfect, and be happier for it.

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1. Adopt a “fixed volume” approach to productivity

One way is to keep two to-do lists—one for everything on your plate, one for the 10 or fewer things that you’re currently working on. Fill up the 10 slots on the second list with items from the first, then set to work. The rule is not to move any further items from the first list onto the second until you’ve freed up a slot by finishing one of the 10 items.

A related strategy is to set a pre-established time boundary for certain types of daily work—for example, to resolve to write from 8 to 11 a.m.—and to make sure you stop when time’s up.

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1. Adopt a “fixed volume” approach to productivity

One way is to keep two to-do lists—one for everything on your plate, one for the 10 or fewer things that you’re currently working on. Fill up the 10 slots on the second list with items from the first, then set to work. The rule is not to move any further items from the first list onto the second until you’ve freed up a slot by finishing one of the 10 items.

A related strategy is to set a pre-established time boundary for certain types of daily work—for example, to resolve to write from 8 to 11 a.m.—and to make sure you stop when time’s up.

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2. Serialize

Focus only on one big project at a time. Multitasking rarely works well—and you’ll soon find that serializing helps you to complete more projects anyway, thereby helping relieve your anxiety.

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3. Decide in advance what to fail at

You’ll inevitably underachieve at something, simply because your time and energy are finite. For example, you might decide in advance that it’s OK to have a cluttered kitchen while you finish your novel, or to do the bare minimum on a particular work project, so you can spend more time with your children.

To live this way is to replace the high-pressure quest for work-life balance with something more reasonable: a deliberate kind of imbalance.

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4. Focus on what you’ve already completed, not just what’s left to do

Since the quest to get everything done is interminable by definition, it’s easy to grow despondent and self-reproachful when you can’t get through your whole to-do list. One counter-strategy is to keep a “done list,” which starts empty first thing in the morning, but which you can gradually fill in throughout the day as you get things done. It’s a cheering reminder that you could have spent the day doing nothing remotely constructive…yet you didn’t.

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5. Consolidate your caring

We’re exposed to an unending stream of atrocities and injustices (e.g. via social media), each of which might have a legitimate that adds up to something no human could ever effectively address comprehensively. Once you grasp that fact fully, it’s good to consciously pick your battles in charity, activism, and politics—and devote your spare time only to those specific causes. Focus your capacity for care, so you don’t burn out.

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6. Embrace boring and single-purpose technology

Digital distractions allow us to escape to a realm where painful human limitations don’t seem to apply.

You can combat this by making your devices as boring as possible, removing social media apps and, if you dare, email. It’s also helpful to choose devices with only one purpose, such as the Kindle reader.

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7. Seek out novelty in the mundane

Time seems to speed up as we age, likely because our brains encode the passage of years based on how much information we process in any given interval. While children have many novel experiences and time therefore seems slower to them, the routinization of older people’s lives means that time seems to pass at an ever-increasing rate.

The standard advice is to combat this by cramming more novel experiences into your life. That can help, but it’s not always practical. An alternative is to pay more attention to every moment, to find novelty by plunging more deeply into your present life.

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8. Be a researcher in relationships

The desire to feel in control of our limited time causes numerous problems in relationships.

When faced with a challenging or boring moment in a relationship, try being curious about the person you’re with, rather than controlling. Curiosity is a stance well-suited to the inherent unpredictability of life with others, because it can be satisfied by their behaving in ways you like or dislike—whereas if you demand a certain result instead, you’ll often be frustrated.

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9. Cultivate instantaneous generosity

Whenever a generous impulse arises in your mind, give in to it right away rather than putting it off. Don’t wait to figure out if the recipient deserves your generosity or if you really have the time to be generous right now (with all of the work you have left to do!). Just do it. The rewards are immediate, too, because generous action reliably makes you feel much happier .

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10. Practice doing nothing

If you can’t bear the discomfort of not acting, you’re far more likely to make poor choices with your time, such as attempting to hurry activities that can’t be rushed, or feeling you ought to spend every moment being “productive,” regardless of whether the tasks in question really matter.

Doing nothing means resisting the urge to manipulate your experience or the people and things in the world around you, and to let things be as they are. You’ll no longer be so motivated by the attempt to evade how reality feels here and now; instead, you’ll learn to calm down, and to make better choices.

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