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Need a Little More Time!

At the end of the day, are there tasks that you wanted to get done but couldn’t get to? Do you find that you need a little more time to do what you want? This article will show you how you can get a couple more hours out of your day, and hopefully give you that extra time you need to do the things you want.

The very first step is to make sure that you actually want to do the things that you “want” to do. Most of the time, people don’t get things done because they don’t actually want to do them. So figure out what you want to do, and it shouldn’t be a problem killing procrastination. So now, the problem isn’t having a bunch of stuff on your “want to do list” that you hate doing but “have” to do – it’s that you have all this great stuff you want to do but don’t have time to get to it all!

Making That Little Bit More Time

Well, now that you have a list, make sure to [[prioritize the things you want to do]], so that in case those extra couple of hours isn’t quite enough, you can make sure you’ve maximized the stuff you can get done. Now, take a look at your list, and see which ones you can do together. For example, let’s say your list looks something like:

- Do laundry (1.5hrs)
- Travel to work (1hr)
- Finish assignment (~6hrs)
- Eat lunch (1hr)
- Catch up with old friends (2hrs)
- Work Out (1hr)

If you did all of these tasks separately, it would take you 12.5 hours total. However, there’s so many things that you can do together on this list. For example, you can do laundry while catching up with friends, or work on your assignment while traveling to work. If I was planning this to do list, it would be something like this:

- Put clothes in washer (5min)
- Travel to work while working on assignment (30minutes)
– notice that I’ve used 30 minutes of the traveling time to do my assignment while doing my laundry!
- Get lunch (takeout) and continue to work on my assignment (1hr)
– again, we’re doing two things at once here, plus the laundry
- Do most of the assignment (4hrs)
- Work out while chatting with friends in between reps (1hr)
- Chat with friends on the way home (30min)
- Finish up laundry and continue talking with friends (30min)

This could probably even be improved upon, but using this sequence of events, this list of tasks would only take 7 hours and 35 minutes. If you used 25 minutes to plan this out, you’ve saved about 3-4 hours (we’ll give you some credit and say you would’ve put some concurrency in those tasks already so it doesn’t take up the full 12.5 hours).

Making Even More Time

In general, each task only has a specific amount of time that you actively need to be involved in. For example, doing laundry requires 5 minutes to start the wash cycle, 40 minutes of waiting, 5 minutes to start the dry cycle, 40 minutes of waiting, and another 25 minutes to carry it back and fold/hang it up. That’s only 35 minutes of actual work you need to do, even though the entire process takes 100 minutes. Here’s a break down of the other tasks listed above:

- Travel to work (assuming public transport) – 2 minutes to walk to train station, 56 minutes of train, 2 minutes to walk to work from the train station
- Finish assignment – if it’s something like programming, you spend maybe 1/3 of the time actually writing code, and 2/3 of the time waiting for the code to compile. So your assignment time slot might be, 2 hours coding, 1 hour thinking, 3 hours of waiting for code to compile.
- Eat lunch – 20 minutes to get to and from the food place, 5 minutes to buy food, 15 minutes of actual eating, 20 minutes of sitting around
- Catch up with old friends – this is highly dependent on the person, but most of the time, you should be able to do another activity with the friend while catching up, with no loss of the quality of catchingupness.
- Work Out – maybe 15 minutes of actual weight lifting time, and 45 minutes of resting/talking in between.

As we can see from the breakdown above, there is actually only 4 hours and 24 minutes of active work involved (excluding the socializing time). Depending on how you schedule things, you can possibly shave another hour or two off that 7 hours and 35 minutes.

That’s about half the time those tasks seem like they would’ve taken if you did them in sequential order!

Where People’s Time Go

Yet, the interesting part is that most people do these things more or less sequentially. Have you ever been on a train? Most people spend hours a week standing/sitting there, doing absolutely nothing, while I’m writing hundreds of articles :-) Yet, these are the same people who stay up all night drinking coffee, complaining that they don’t get enough sleep!

Well, now you know better. Extra time comes to those who make it.

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2 Responses to “Give Me a Little More Time!”

  1. Always Run on July 18th, 2007 3:46 am

    [...] Give Me a Little More Time! [...]

  2. How To Pull An All Nighter on September 3rd, 2007 4:05 pm

    [...] This is not to say there isn’t a place for pulling an all nighter. One hour now could be worth more than two hours tomorrow. For example, there is a final exam in a few hours and you really need the extra couple of hours to study. In this case, doing poorly on the exam may cost you many, many more hours later in terms of retaking the course, speaking with the professor, etc. Or maybe your plane is taking off at 4am and you need to be on board. If you don’t make it, then you’ll have to spend many hours waiting at the airport for the next flight (although if I had a laptop or something else I can do, then it would be partially or wholly mitigated – see Give Me A Little More Time). [...]