Look at what you spend your day doing. Most of it, I’ll warrant, is not anything you chose – it’s what is being asked of you. Here’s how we fix that:
- Say no. Most of us follow an implicit social contract: when someone asks you to do something you almost always say yes. It may feel very noble, but don’t forget there’s a dying princess you need to save, and you just agreed to slow yourself down because you were asked nicely. You may need to sacrifice some social comfort to save a life (as a bonus, people tend to instinctively respect those who can say no).
- Unplug the TV. I haven’t had a TV signal for 7 years, which has given me about 12,376 hours more than the average American who indulges in 34 hours a week. I do watch some shows – usually one hour a day whilst eating dinner - but only ones I’ve chosen and bought. You can do a lot with 12,000 hours, and still keep up with Mad Men.
- Kill notifications. Modern technology has evolved to exploit our urgency addiction: Facebook, Twitter and more will fight to distract you constantly. Fortunately, this is easily fixed: turn off all your notifications. Choose to check these things when you have time to be distracted – say, during a lunch break – and work through them together, saving time.