10 Time Management Hacks You’d Wish You Had Known – Part 2

This is the second part of the two-part article on time management hacks.

You can find the first part of the article here.

6. Single handling key tasks

Once you have made a list of everything you should do to accomplish what you want, any goal that might be, you should also identify the most prominent key tasks. The key to succeeding in your time management ability is to manage your key tasks single handedly. You have to take that one key task, focus on that, keep working on that until you complete at least 50% of it. Try doing this from today, with atleast one key task of one of your goal. Once you complete 50%, take a break and do something else. Then come back to that key task again and get it done. You will find that by doing this you gain a lot of momentum and that you are also able to work for a significantly long time at a stretch.

7. Use travel time productively

You know how I get to accomplish so much in as little as a week?

Let’s take what I accomplished this last week.

  • I designed, developed and got my next website live after purchasing the domain and hosting.
  • I also set up the site with plugins and tweaked the minute things to the littlest of details and that took more time than it took to design, develop and go live.
  • I also wrote four articles on my blog.
  • I completed two modules in my internship project
  • I completed testing the modules, making the fixes.
  • I implemented a mini SQL parser for the project.
  • I watched Mockingjay Part 1, Night at the museum 3, Horrible Bosses 2, and a tamil movie.
  • I also completed four parts of the Automatic Millionaire audio tape series.
  • I studied the business models of seven websites and studied their design, revenue model and their marketing techniques in detail.
  • I wrote at least 10 detailed answers worthy of mention, in Quora.
  • I completed listening to two parts of the Higher Self audio program by Deepak Chopra.

This list is not by any means exhaustive. I did more than just these few mentioned above. Do you know what all I accomplished by using my travel time of 3 hours every day? Out of the things mentioned in the list above, I accomplished the following things during my travel time.

  • I set up the site with plugins and tweaked the minute things to the littlest of details and that took more time than it took to design, develop and go live.
  • I also completed four parts of the Automatic Millionaire audio tape series.
  • I studied the business models of seven websites and studied their design, revenue model and their marketing techniques in detail.
  • I wrote at least 10 detailed answers worthy of mention, in Quora.
  • I completed listening to two parts of the Higher Self audio program by Deepak Chopra.
  • I also wrote four articles on my blog.

These 6 things are those that I accomplished by utilizing my travel time to the optimum level. When I travelled in a public bus to the city and back home, for a personal work, I completed listening to the Automatic Millionaire and the Higher Self audio programs that I mentioned above. During the commute to my office in the company bus, I did the rest – writing articles, researching for articles, writing answers on Quora, studying the business models of some media/news publishing websites, and installing, tweaking and setting up the plugins and functionalities for the new project that I am working on. All of this happened in the last 7 days, during 3 hours of commute per day, inclusive of the weekend (I travelled to the city back and forth on saturday and sunday). Most people listen to music. I do that too. When I am not listening to any audio program and when I have to write answers or do something that requires thinking, I put some awesome music in the earphone and I start working. Music keeps me awake and feeling fresh.

What’s should you take away from this?

If you start using your travel time properly, you could accomplish a lot more in a week than you ever did in a month before starting. It’s a very simple thing yet the most powerful way in which you could achieve a lot more every week.

The reason I was able to watch those four movies was because I freed my time that I would have spent on those articles, answers and study at home by doing them while traveling. I wanted to watch those movies and hence I did the work during my commute. You might have some other thing you want to spend time on, probably you might want to take your children out to a park, or you might want to take your spouse out on a date, or you might want to play golf with your golf buddies. Whatever you want to make time for, you can save and free a lot of time this way, by using travel time productively.

If you have a car and you drive the car yourself, you can just put on an audio program or some audio course while traveling. You certainly won’t use a car if your travel time is less than 30 minutes. Let’s just assume an average of 45 minutes per commute and 1.5 hours back and forth from work or any place you go. So that’s about 1.5 hours per day. In a week, that comes to around 10 hours. In a month, it tallies upto 40 hours. In a year, it comes up to almost 500 hours.

That’s the amount of time that a students spends attending 4 to 5 courses per semester. Even if you don’t take up 4 to 5 courses, you could learn and accomplish a lot more by utilizing that travel time to listen to audio courses on anything you want to improve yourself in. There are audio programs for almost anything you might want to learn/improve. It may be improving your business related skills, or it may be improving your financial intelligence, or it may also be developing confidence and people skills, there is always an audio program you could learn and benefit from.

8. Practice Zero Based thinking!

Now, do the following.

  • Think about what all things you do every day. For example, the job you are in, the company you work for, the relationships that you have now, the career you are pursuing, the life you are living and the things you are doing in that life, think about all of this.
  • Take one thing after another and ask yourself this question.

If you are given a chance in your life to go back in time and start over, is this something that you wouldn’t do again, while starting over?

If your answer is a yes, stop doing it, right now, right away. Do this for all the things you have in your life right now, whatever you are doing, whatever you are pursuing and if the answer for that question is a yes, stop doing that immediately.

Continuing to pursue anything that feels wrong for you is truly a waste of precious personal time and potential that you possess. You make absolutely no progress in life as a person if you continue to do so.

How do you find if something you are doing is wrong for you? The key indicator is stress. If you are stressed out in pursuing whatever it is, may it be your job or it be a relationship, it’s time to quit. Severe stress is an obvious indicator that something isn’t working and that it isn’t right for you. If you are experiencing stress in any area of your life, it’s time you reevaluate and find out what you are doing wrong and eliminate that from your life.

For example, until the very end of 2014 after getting a job, I was confused as to what I should do in the time outside of job. I am passionate about different things, but to take up something as an immediate goal and work on that was the one thing that I was confused about. I wanted to do competitive programming and get a job at Google/Linkedin/Facebook/Quora. I also wanted to learn graphic design, create a blog and write regularly, read one book from my book list every day, learn financial trading, and so on. I was really interested in all of this but one serious constraint was money and time. In order to have money to pursue whatever I want in future, I chose to start practicing competitive programming in SPOJ and CodeChef with the hope that within a year or so I’d be able to get into Google/Facebook. I also imagined that I’d be able to save so much within 3 years, quit everything and start pursuing whatever I am passionate about at that point. I solved 40 to 50 classical problems in spoj over a period of 10 days, spending around 5 to 6 hours a day solving problems and coding.

Around 31st of December 2014, I realized that I was being stressed out, afraid of the future, and that I wasn’t gaining anything in the process. I realized that for me, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction is more important than money itself and I also realized that I can make money in whatever I choose to pursue if I worked smartly. That was the end of my competitive programming journey. I found out that I was stressed, dissatisfied, and at the verge of burning myself out.

I asked myself the question I am asking you to ask yourself. “If I could go 5 years back in time, what would I do differently?”. You know what my answer was? “I would spend less to no time pursuing people and relationships and more time reading a lot of books, doing a lot of personal projects. I would also learn graphic design, join the gym in my first year and go consistently, develop my business related skills. I would do more open source projects and less competitive programming style preparation”. That answer stopped me and made me stop everything I was doing wrong. I was holding on to wrong relationships for a while even after there was no effort from the other side, I was doing things in the hope that I’d be rich and not because doing it made me happy or atleast intellectually satisfied, and I was living a lie.

On January 2nd, 2015, suddenly something took me over and I intuitively felt that I should start a blog with a proper domain. It was like I was being told to write. That something which took me over made me pull an all nighter for 3 to 4 days, researching about the domain name registrars, hosting providers, basics of blogging, and everything related to that. I didn’t sleep for next two days as I was designing and developing the blog, tweaking things a bit, and doing everything that was necessary for the blog. That was the first time in 5 years I felt like I was doing something that satisfied me spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. That was the first time in 5 years I felt consumed by something enough to make me forget food, sleep, time and my surroundings. I didn’t leave the room for so long. How did this happen? I realized what was wrong with my life by asking that simple question and with that, I also realized what was right for me. When I realized what was right for me, everything fell into place. Now, I have accomplished so much in the last 4 months than I ever did in the 4 years prior to that. I also let go of the relationships where I was the only person putting efforts. That freed me a lot emotionally. It also made me realize that sometimes having very few people in life is a kind of freedom because you don’t have much to lose, you also don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Now, I have the best relationship with my parents and three of my best friends and nothing else.

9. Re-engineer your work

Most of us think that multi-tasking will get us to accomplish a lot. The truth is otherwise. When you compare what you can accomplish with multitasking  and what you can accomplish with focusing on a single task until it’s completed, you will find that the single-minded focus will get things done sooner, faster and in a more efficient way. The work will be less prone to mistakes and more aligned towards perfection. Multitasking leads to a work that’s error prone and sometimes you might also end up redoing the work. So, if you want to manage and save a lot of time, do one task at a time with all of your focus, single-mindedly. This way you will get a lot more done in a lot less time.

10. Keep your balance in life

The happiest people have something in common – they know the value of their time. It’s also said that 85% of your happiness comes from relationships and only 15% of your happiness comes from work (for happy people who have minimal relationships in life, the happiness might come from within, because of the relationship they have with themselves). So, it is very important that you keep this in mind. We work different jobs, earn money, become rich, buy things, and all for what? Becoming richer? No. The ultimate goal of every single person in this planet is to be happy. If they are already happy, their goal is to be happier than before. There is one thing that you should remember to promote happiness in your life.

The time you spend at home with your family & friends is important as much as the time you spend at work. But, remember that, with respect to your life,

  • The quality of time you spend at work is important,
  • The quantity of time you spend at home is important.

So, stop wasting time and stop spending idle time. Instead, work smart and focus on spending quality time at work, and free more time to spend with your friends and family. When you are happy, your productivity naturally goes up and hence you accomplish a lot more. Many of us have got it backwards. We think if we become more productive, manage our time better and achieve certain things, then we’d become happy. The truth is that it takes a happy person to do all that in a consistent way.


Share this post (share buttons on the left side – floating bar) with your friends and those whom you think will get benefited from this. If you have any questions regarding the time management series or any aspect of it, please do leave your query in the comments. If you have any feedback, leave a comment in that case too. Spread the word about this series for those whom you think need it.



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