10 Ways You Can Bend Time to Improve Your Life


Fact: Every day, we all start with 24 hours. Subtract the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep, and we're left with a measly 15 to 17 waking hours per day. No wonder we're always rushing around, trying to cram in all our "have-tos" and "want-tos!" But sometimes slowwwwwing down to enjoy the good stuff — and speeding up to increase efficiencies in other areas — can add a whole lot of awesomeness to everyday life. (See also: 9 Tools That Create Hours of Free Time Every Week)

1. Truly Enjoy Those Things Worth Savoring

Think of one or two things that you look forward to every day. Whether it's sitting outside watching the birds fly around the bird feeder, walking the dog, or enjoying an after-dinner cocktail, see if you can find an extra 10-15 minutes to really savor the experience.

For me, there never seems to be enough time between the blaring of the alarm clock and the rush out the door in the morning. I used to blast through my morning routine on high-speed auto-pilot — so quickly that before I knew it, my coffee pot was empty, and I could hardly remember drinking it. But one weekend morning, when I was leisurely enjoying my morning java, I had a coffee epiphany: Wow… this tastes amazing! It was a life-changing moment. By waking up 15 minutes earlier, I now slow down and appreciate its deliciousness sip by sip — every day!

2. Do It Right the First Time

When you slow down, whether it's at work, in the kitchen, or during an argument with your partner, you reduce your chances of making mistakes. How awesome is the thought of not needing to cover a bank overdraft, run out for fast-food when you scorch the chicken, or find ways to tell your honey that you really, really did not mean those things that just slipped out of your mouth before thinking? One of my favorite John Wooden quotes sums it up best: "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" Mistakes happen, but more often than not, it's because we're rushing. Instead, slow down and do it right the first time.

3. Be Present

It's impossible to multitask and be 100% present at the same time. Sure, you can drive the car and listen to the radio — even sing along to your favorite song — but you can't really focus on your partner's detailed account of a problem at work while scrolling through your Twitter feed.

Make an effort to decide what things will get your full and undivided attention. Sometimes full presence trumps efficiency.

4. Multitask Smartly

Many low-attention items on your to-do list can be grouped together to spend your time more efficiently. For example, why not fold a load of towels while catching up on the latest episode of Orange is the New Black? Catch up on Facebook while on hold with the cable company. Often, we find ourselves multitasking haphazardly, which can cause problems. But purposeful — scheduled — multitasking often makes sense. (See also: The Simple Way to Make Multitasking Actually Work)

5. Delay Purchase, Increase Satisfaction

You just saw the cutest purse / coolest pair of sunglasses / latest and greatest iPhone… Sure, impulse gifts-to-self can be fun, but anticipated purchases can be far more gratifying. Keep a little "wish list" going, and reward yourself with a special purchase when you reach a goal.

When you make a decision to buy that certain something that you really want, schedule it for a later time (even later that same day), another day, or as a reward after you finish that daunting task that's been on your list for months.

Anticipating the purchase will make it that much more enjoyable once it becomes yours.

6. Spend Less Time on Workouts for Better Results

Interval training, combining short bursts of high-intensity activity with intervals of slower, lighter intensity activity can help burn more calories, improve your aerobic capacity, and keep your workouts from becoming boring. Add a few sprints to your bike ride, jog or walk — and notice results faster.

When lifting weights, super slow reps can improve your strength by creating greater tension and recruiting higher muscle fiber, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. While not all experts agree that super slow weight lifting indeed creates stronger muscles, scripted group exercise classes like Group Power and Group Ride incorporate varying speeds and counts in all of their exercise routines.

7. Read for Speed and Boost Comprehension

Think about all the reading you do on an average day. Newspapers (online or in print), emails, reports, proposals, notes from school… On average, people read about 250 words per minute, according to Mindtools. Did you know that — in addition to helping you read faster — speed reading can also improve your comprehension of the "big picture" message of the content? Sometimes getting the gist of a newspaper article is good enough, and wasting time on the impertinent details can get you backlogged.

Other times, of course, reading slowly — paying close attention to every word — is necessary. Missing or misreading one word in a contract or proposal can have disastrous implications! When reading for pleasure, going slowly allows you to appreciate the details of the images the author has painted with words.

8. Shop Fast and Save Money

Wouldn't it be great to come home from the grocery store without buyer's remorse — or tempting diet sabotages? Schedule your grocery shopping as you would for other activities on your "to-do" list, allotting a reasonable time limit — and sticking to it. When you grocery shop with a list in hand and a predetermined time span, you can dash up and down the aisles, grabbing the items that you need, and avoiding the temptations that may lurk in the junk food section. Go quickly, stay focused and get it done! (But remember to smile at the cashier, the "rush" ends when you hit the check-out lane.)

9. Make Time for the Important Stuff

Sometimes we get too busy to meet a friend for lunch or a beer after work. Even finding time to chat on the phone often takes a back seat to appointments, work deadlines, carpools and other obligations. But as much as we sometimes tell ourselves we can't afford the time, the truth is, we can't afford not to take the time to connect with friends. Few things nourish the soul like a good, old-fashioned gab session with a friend.

Making time to rest, finding "me-time" to recharge or even indulging in healthy routines like exercise are all things we know we should do for ourselves, yet they often take a backseat, thinking they can wait another week. They can't. Give the same priority to relationships and self-care as you do to checking your email and social media — the things that often can wait another week.

Rather than feeling as if we don't "have enough time," realize that the way we spend our time is up to us.

10. Make "a Long Time" More Manageable

No matter how you slice it, an hour is 60 minutes, a week is 7 days, and so on. But all time does not feel equal. Somehow, an hour in the dentist's chair simply doesn't pass as quickly as an hour of Zumba. Long periods of time can be toughest, whether it's undergoing treatment for a serious illness, recovering from a broken leg, or waiting for a family member to return from military duty in Afghanistan, time can feel often feel like a jail sentence. Even anticipating the good stuff — taking that well-deserved beachy vacation or remodeling your kitchen — can seem to last for an eternity.

One strategy to conquer the "mountain" of time is to break it into manageable chunks, marked by smaller milestones. Choose an activity to help you mark time; for example, try one new recipe per week while awaiting your spouse's return from military duty; at the end of the wait, you'll have your partner back — and all kinds of new meals to put on the table!

Instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed by what may feel like an abyss of time, manage what feels manageable — whether it's a day, a week, or a physical therapy session at a time.

How do you manage your perception of time? Take a moment and share in comments!

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