How to Stop Wasting Time: Attention Management

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES

As long as you're alive, time is a gift that's renewed on a daily basis. You can use it productively, or squander it. A radical way of thinking about time; whatever you are doing right now, you're paying for it with your life.

Getting better with managing time is more a matter of attention management rather than time management. In order to recognize what deserves your attention you need to realize the time you waste doing things you shouldn't be doing.

Learn to Focus in order to Stop Wasting Time

Stop Doing the Following

  • Repeating the same mistakes
  • Not sleeping enough
  • Not googling something right away
  • Spend time on projects that are not useful
  • Stay on a job you don't like
  • Working somewhere you aren't learning or growing
  • Driving to work (travel OK, you can read or time to reflect or just be present)
  • Meetings (Keep it at a minimum)
  • Replying to all emails
  • Don't let other people schedule your life
  • Look through your calendar and and cancel things you aren't excited about
  • Social Media
  • Reading news
  • Reading and finishing a book you don't like
  • Not outsourcing labor for routine tasks in your life; cleaning, shopping, driving

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it. - Seneca (On the Shortness of Life)

  • Trying to change someone's mind
  • Trying to be in control (involved in every decision)
  • Trying to please everyone
  • Say yes to everything (ties in with 'Trying to please everyone')
  • Getting the attention of people who couldn't care less
  • Arguing with people that don't matter (walking away from an argument is a sign of strength)
  • If someone makes you angry, ask yourself if they're worth your time - if not, stop wasting time on them
  • Outrage
  • Worry about things that are beyond your control
  • Having a victim mentality
  • Complaining
  • Hurting those who love us the most
  • Unrequited love
  • Staying in relationships that we know won't last
  • If you keep putting something off, just let it go
  • To be continued...

Focus and Attention Management

Isaac Newton said he discovered the law of gravity "By thinking about it all the time." Newton lived in an age where EU West had literacy rate of avg. 35% (1650) and the year he published his theory of gravity in 1687, only another 267 unique book titles per 1kk inhabitants were published in the UK. Life was in some aspects more difficult back then and in other aspects much simpler - times were different. Options fewer and less decisions had to be taken. Today we are bombarded with information and make micro decisions constantly, being able to focus on things that matters is more difficult than ever. You have to actively work with cutting out noise until it becomes a habit.

Some ways to help focus on what matters:

  • Say no to more things
  • Create long-term goals
  • Social interaction with people that matter to you
  • Focused reading 1-2 hours per day
  • Write 500-1000 words
  • 8 Hour sleep
  • Get up early
  • Make Lists; write down lists of what needs doing before going to bed, why before bed? It will make you sleep better vs thinking about what needs doing and writing a list in the morning
  • Create good habits (be mindful when you are going through a rough patch, make lists to help you from abandoning habits)
  • Pursue what projects interest you and forget about monetary based motivation - money will eventually follow if you love what you do
  • Work hard to be able to cut down on work in exchange for more time
  • Inbox Zero (Gmail/Gsuite)
  • Remote Work; social aspects such as human/face-to-face interaction is important but work shouldn't be your primary source of social stimulation, work is about being productive/effective
  • Keep social media to a minimum (preferably cut it out completely)
  • Don't read the news (what is truly important will reach your ears anyway)
  • Remember that you can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow
  • Don't forget to live in the moment
  • To be continued...

Go to bed smarter than when you woke up. - Charles Munger