Ever since I started working my goals were simple. Get a job. Get my own place. Go out occasionally and enjoy life.
Later on I got myself a girlfriend and I wanted to spend more time with her, the family a side project, help out at church or whatever but the problem is I realized that I don’t have enough time to do what I want. I then subscribed to the mindset of getting rich and having tons of passive income so I have enough free time to do what matters.
Makes sense right? But later in life I realized that this was simply an excuse on my part. This is the brute approach to solving problems. This basically says that I’m too lazy to think of a way to make time I’m going to work harder to make money and throw money at the problem.
In 2010, when I started Minimal Changes, I realized that there are alternatives and I gave a long hard look at the problem and thought about alternatives to having more free time.
I don’t suggest you try all my suggestions at the same time. I do however suggest for you give what applies to you an honest try and see what happens.
Here are 10 ways to have free time without needing a billion dollars in the bank or a large passive income:
1. Watching TV
Without realizing, I was spending a lot of time on TV. If you have a daily 30 minute TV show then your days have 30 minutes less in your 16 hour days. If you sacrifice sleep then you mess up your efficiency. For me, TV is addictive so when our TV broke down. I made sure it never got repaired. If you can’t do this. I suggest you move your TV outside your room like outside your house so it would be easily stolen. Kidding. Put it somewhere inconvenient for you to leave turned on all the time.
2. Paying Attention to the News
I also mean on TV, Radio, Newspaper or other Media. This does not add value to your life. There’s nothing you can do about the news anyway. A common excuse for a lot of people including myself was how do I stay updated? It’s an excuse for myself to ask people what’s happening. If something was really important you would know. Also if you can’t resist not knowing, pass by a news stand and scan the front page headlines to keep you informed.
3. Going out with friends who feed your addictions
I have friends who are excellent at encouraging my bad habits. Some of my friends feed specific addictions I have like drinking, smoking, girls, workaholism, games and what not. I have friends who drink and go out to parties all the time. When I’m with them I feel like I can keep doing to myself what’s in reality bad for me. I labeled myself as a social drinker or a social smoker or whatever. This is an excuse for the lack of courage to admit that I’m hooked on these bad habits. Not only are they using up my resources or destroying my body (or morals) they are also using up my time and being addictive in nature this is more time than I want. I made a decision to just stop going out with them.
A stick cigarette typically takes 3-5minutes to consume. I smoked ten to twenty sticks a day. I was so addicted to it I learned to get my cigarettes for free by hangning out with other smokers. A smoking session can easily turn into a hangout. On a regular basis I spent about two to three hours a day smoking and talking to smokers. Mostly in five to fifteen minute sessions. I did what I had to do and let go.
I usually got myself a bottle or two after work and drank it before going to bed. Sometimes I go out with friends. If I drink alone it might take me an hour to finish the two bottles. If I drink with my friends it’s going to be the entire night. My next day is also so messed up I couldn’t get work done or if it’s a weekend, what I really want done because of the hang over and the lack of sleep. Also Let’s be honest about drinking.
6. Extra Work Hours
I used to believe that success in life is determined by the number of hours spent at the workplace. Later, I realized that I was wrong because I can turn a thirty minute task into a 16 hour task. I’m a changed man now and my suggestion is to try to complete your task in less time. My goal at work is to complete all my important tasks before lunch so I can slack of or work on something awesome the rest of the day. Some studies say that slacking off is somehow good for you and it’s not a sin kill time.
7. People who don’t add value
I used to spend hours firefighting for people who have problems. In fact I was doing person to person consulting, phone, text, email and chat support for my friends in the topics of love, career and financial advice. I’m not really a professional but the amount of time spent on these activities might qualify me. I just spent a lot of time with them and later I decided to put up this blog as a FAQ for people who ask me for advice all the time. I later applied managing the problems by absence and since I made myself unavailable to emergencies the emergencies somehow seemed to be resolved by them selves.
8. Social Networks, Email and Web Browsing.
This is a big one these days. Whenever I’m on facebook, twitter or browsing the web it’s as if I’m trapped in a black hole I couldn’t escape from. I’ve never experienced taking heroin but if I were to imagine an addiction you couldn’t pry yourself away from then that would be facebook or twitter or whatever social media you’re on. Social media and email is the new form of communication so not having an account makes you less accessible. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. I suggest you limit it to say once a day thirty minutes or less? I want to eventually login once a week only. What do you think?
9. Your Possessions
Each item in your possession takes up both physical space and mental ram. You have to maintain, clean, take care of, guard, organize and pack each one. These activities take time and attention. These days attention span is very limited and we need to guard it well. Where our attention goes, time (and usually money) goes. Each item we own requires attention and the more stuff we have the more distracted we are. Go for lighter living. An experiment I recommend is the 100 Things Challenge. This is by the way not limited to physical objects. Check out digital possessions as well. Do you have a ton of movies, music and photos? Feel free to delete some to free up your disk space and mental space. Delete games you already completed. Movies you’ve seen a thousand times. That’s where your time is going. How many hours do you need for a project? A movie is worth two to three hours and so on. Do the math.
10. Doing everything by yourself
There’s only one you. After eliminating, avoiding or limiting certain tasks then you can automate or delegate some to free up your time further. If you have the opportunity and (only) if it makes sense for you to do so, outsource some tasks to technology and other people. That way you’ll be able to use both your hands on what’s important to you.
Are your hands full? What are you going to let go of to have free time? Share your ideas in the comments below.