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10 Tips for Finding Time to Learn Something New

teen reading a book to learn something new

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At some point in life, nearly everyone decides to learn something new. But if you’re like most people, you’ve probably been bitten by the curiosity bug, only to realize that you didn’t have the time to pursue your new goal.

What if we told you that despite your busy schedule, there are ways to find the time to learn new things?

This article outlines ten such tips that can help you commit to this habit. Read on to find out more about why it’s important to learn something new, and about how you can find the time to do it.

What Is Time Management?

Time management is the process of planning out your schedule in such a manner that you consciously control how much time you spend on various specific activities. In other words, it is the ability to use your time effectively and productively. Although time management is typically considered as a professional skill, it can be greatly useful when applied to your personal life as well.

time management

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Why Is Time Management Important?

Managing your time effectively can have various positive effects on your life. Some of the many benefits of time management are listed below.

  • You get more stuff done during the day
  • You’re less stressed out
  • Less time is wasted
  • You end up having more time to spare
  • You feel calmer as you’re in control
  • It improves your reputation
  • You have more time for the essential things in life

Why Learn Something New?


Image from Pixabay

If you’re unsure about whether learning something new can be beneficial for you, here are some reasons why you should consider doing it.

It Alters the Chemistry of Your Brain

Learning new things brings about positive chemical changes in your brain. There’s something called myelin in the brain. It’s also known colloquially as white matter, and it plays a significant role in determining how your brain performs various tasks.

The more you learn and practice a new skill, the denser the myelin in your brain becomes. Eventually, this improves your ability to learn new things and to retain information.

It Could Reduce Your Risk for Dementia

Much like how physical exercise keeps your body healthy, stimulating yourself mentally keeps your brain from deteriorating. It prevents demyelination of the brain, which is a condition in which the myelin or the white matter grows thinner.

This condition has been linked to dementia, which is an illness when you begin to forget a lot of information as your brain starts to have trouble remembering things. Since learning new things makes the myelin in your brain denser, your risk for dementia reduces significantly.

You Have Something to Look Forward To

Learning is refreshing, and it gives you something to break the monotony of everyday life. It makes you feel like your brain has been renewed, and it offers a healthy distraction from the humdrum of everyday life.

And instead of heading home to work with nothing interesting to do, you have something cool to look forward to each day. Above all, it acts as a welcome change from your everyday routine.

It Makes You an Interesting Person

When you learn something new, it also adds more layers to your personality. As your awareness about various subjects grows, so does your ability to hold a conversation on various topics.

People then begin to look up to you as someone who is well-read and knowledgeable, and it makes you appear more interesting from their points of view. It also gives you a chance to affect the lives of other people positively, and above all, it gives your self-confidence a boost.

Aside from these reasons, you should also consider learning something new because it stimulates you intellectually, opens up new avenues, and improves the quality of your life.

10 Tips for Finding Time to Learn Something New

Now that you know the importance of learning something new, let’s discuss some tips that can help you achieve this goal each day.

1. Wake Up 30 Minutes Early

woman woke up early

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A quick tip to manage your time well is to make sure you have a bit more of it. And what’s a better way to do this than to wake up a little earlier than you usually do? Even a small change like waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you more time to learn something new in the morning. And starting your day on such a positive note makes it more productive.

2. Work Right After the Work Day

Instead of deciding to get home after work and sitting down to learn something new, try working on it as soon as your work for the day is done. Head to a local library or a quiet space and do your learning for the day. This way, you’re not tempted to lounge, relax, and postpone the task for later, as delaying it often only means that you may never get around to doing it.

3. Get a Friend Involved

friends learning

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Getting a friend involved can make you more efficient at learning something new because it makes you accountable to someone other than yourself. There are two ways in which you can do this. You could get your friend involved by asking them to join in on the learning with you, or you could appoint them as the person in charge of checking in on your progress. The former only works if your friend is interested in the subject, while the latter works regardless.

4. Use Your Commute

The commutes to work and back home are when most people have a lot of time to spare. So, if you have a long commute on one or both ways, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on your goal for the day. If you use the public transit system, or if you take a cab home, you can listen to podcasts on the subject, watch video lessons, or even simply read up on it to gain more knowledge.

5. Eliminate Distractions

eliminating distractions with a do not disturb sign

Image from Pixabay

When you designate a particular window for learning, make sure you eliminate all other distractions that could keep you from being efficient. Turn off all technology (unless you use it to learn, of course), shut out outside noises, and focus on the task at hand for the allotted time. You’ll find that this helps you learn in around 30 minutes what could otherwise have taken 2 hours when you multi-task.

6. Use Your Lunch Hour

Taking a longer lunch can help you catch up on your learning. Take an early lunch and use up half the time to read something on the subject you’re learning or to listen to podcasts on the topic. Doing so can help you get back to work and do things more efficiently because you have a sense of accomplishment. Moving your lunch hour up also allows you to do your learning before your colleagues join you.

7. Bring It with You

man carrying a bag with books and learning materials

Image from Pixabay

Most skills and hobbies can be learned on the move. If the tools you need to learn something new are portable, it’s best to bring it all with you when you head to work or go out for a meeting. You never know when you may be forced to wait for prolonged periods and having your learning materials with you at such times can help you use the waiting period effectively.

8. Make It Part of Your Routine

Integrating a new skill or a habit into your routine can make it much easier to stick to it. A good way to do this is to allocate a set time window for this either at the beginning of your day or at the end when you’re winding down after work. Introducing this habit as a part of your morning or your evening routine can make it easier for you to learn something new.

9. Be Honest about Your Use of Time

hand holding a pocket watch

Image from Pixabay

Unless you take stock of the situation from an honest perspective, you’ll not be able to correct the areas where you’re going wrong. If you find that you aren’t able to successfully learn something new, take a step back and analyze how you’re using your time. Look for the time slots where you seem to be wasting some time or spending it on inessential things and rework those areas.

10. Make It Easier

When you look at the larger picture, it can get overwhelming as you realize that there’s a long way to go before you master a new skill. But it’s easier if you focus on smaller goals. So, break up your ultimate target into shorter ones, and take it one step at a time. Make it easier by setting daily or weekly goals, creating a to-do list, and by not being too hard on yourself.


You don’t have to follow all the tips to make the idea work. It’s alright to pick a couple or more from these techniques and stick to them because consistency is key.

When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that you’ll have some slipups. But what’s important is that you don’t let them get you down. Instead, brush past them and focus on doing better the next day.

The Importance of a Waste of Time / The Downside of Productivity

Waste of Time

The Importance of a Waste of Time - The Downside of Productivity

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In today’s busy world, we often feel like every single second unaccounted for is a waste of time.

We constantly drive ourselves, our employees, and even our families toward productivity.

Even young kids are expected to be busy, either with homework, chores, or any number of planned activities.

But, is this way the right? Are we ABSOLUTELY heading in the right direction with constant time management and productivity optimization?

…is that a gnawing pit of self-doubt in your gut…

What if I were to tell you that those moments wasted are not only important but truly essential to real productivity?

Things may not be as clear-cut as you think.

When it comes to the importance of wasting time, the downside of productivity actually can’t be overstated.

If it seems to you that every effort you make to stop wasting time and really increase your productivity, backfires, seeming only to create more stress, you are not alone.

So, we are going to look at the downside of a concept most people think of as a positive: productivity. And we’re also going to explore a concept most people think of as negative: wasting time.

It’s not rocket science, but it may take some effort to learn to let go of your addiction to productivity. You will find, after learning how and why to waste time, you likely achieve more than before. In more ways than you are expecting.

Let the waste of time begin!

How Can A Waste of Time Help Me??

Inbox Zero: Ground Zero for an Epiphany

Hyperproductivity and overly structured days spent on monotonous, seemingly regenerating, lists of tasks are bad for human beings. But, in this digital age, it seems that those tasks are as unavoidable as they are self-regenerating.

Picture your own email box. You’ll get it.

It seems that every single thing we do to increase our productivity backfires:

  • Open email, answer all the important ones
  • Close email, get to work on urgent daily…
  • Open email, reply came in
  • Close, no… wait, another reply
  • Close email, get back to… no, wait, urgent email
  • Answer urgent email, get to working on the… no, wait, the phone rang and now you have 26 replies, 2 reply-alls, and 4 “notes” which all require your attention right now.
  • Realize lunch was an hour ago, smash your sandwich into your face while “multi-tasking” at your desk, and …er, wait – another email…

It’s not just self-replenishing. It seems the more time you spend chasing productivity, the less productive you become.

You are productive, your employer is happy with you. But, it isn’t enough because there is always more to do. However, at least every moment is accounted for, so, at least you aren’t lollygagging about, wasting time.

This concept gave birth to a program named Inbox Zero, by Merlin Mann. That story is also a perfect foil for this reminder that we need to stop, smell the roses, and allow time to waste — or we are hurting our own ability to produce. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Why Is Psychology Important for Understanding Why We Need to “Waste Time”

According to psychologists, it is important to simply “watch the clouds roll by” occasionally.

You just need to know how to do this in ways that are beneficial. If you wanted to know why psychology is important, this is one of the many reasons.

According to our current work climate, being busy and productive is nearly tantamount to being a good person. We confuse activity with morality, and this is something that is already well known through the works of the German sociologist Max Weber. He insists that it’s a mistake to equate non-productive behavior, or resting, with laziness.

By doing this, we exhaust even the youngest among us with overly-planned days and a relentless drive towards productivity.

In addition, F. Diane Barth LCSW wrote in Psychology Today that wasting time — even experiencing a bit of boredom — is good for you.

She writes about a friend who’s so busy with the job and kids she has little time for herself, her husband, or her friends. Referring to the works of Max Weber, she notes how we confuse being busy with being good.

Elise, like many of us today, suffers from what the German sociologist and economist Max Weber describes as a confusion of activity with morality. With the coming of the industrial revolution, Weber says, we began to equate being productive with being good. Today we have almost come to believe that the busier we are, the better we are.

But Elise’s constant productivity is taking its toll.

“Elise is married to a wonderful man, but there are signs that their relationship is suffering,” Barth explains. Also, her oldest daughter “is clearly rebelling against Elise’s emphasis on productivity.”

She will no longer go to her normal extra-curricular activities and has become a drinker and eater. Meanwhile, the other child is an “excellent student” who keeps as busy as “her mother could possibly wish.”

But, she also has anorexia and will need to be hospitalized.

Wasting Time Works

As Copyblogger notes, “[i]n 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

This “wizard,” whose name would long outlive himself, took a rather progressive view of creativity and what we would call productive. You see, he felt the most creative person on earth is useless if they can’t sell their product. And if you don’t allow your brain to work at full capacity, by literally “wasting time” and allowing that creative process to happen.

Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.

Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.

Merlin Mann, on the other hand, has a very different approach to the productivity conundrum: Inbox Zero.

Image CC by 0, via Pixhere

Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann, and Hyper-Productivity in the Modern Age

Merlin Mann rocketed to the forefront of digital productivity early on when he presented Inbox Zero to Google employees.

The idea was simple.

And, it was productive.

It was time management.


Email had become, and still is in many cases, a time suck and task dispenser of overwhelming proportions. All day long, immediate and urgent, or silly and inconsequential, emails roll in.

Some have a task required, some a response, but all of them take time. Time and constant attention, making it appear that you spent your whole day chasing the bottom of a never-ending chasm, er, email inbox.

As Oliver Burkeman reported in The Guardian, when presenting Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann explained that it was a method of handling email. And, it was truly simple. The idea was that, often, people’s inbox was stressing them out to the point that they were being less productive.

The idea was basically that every time you enter your email box, you systematically handle each email until your email box is empty, (Inbox, Zero).

Entering your email meant staying until you had answered, listed, prioritized, and completed every task.

Then, you get out, and get on with “life.”

The Book That Never Got Written

It was a productivity tool. It was well received and spawned many blog posts. But, after Merlin Mann was contracted to write a book about his Inbox Zero insight, the book didn’t happen. Not one year later. Not two years later.

After those two years, Mann would write a (now deleted) blog posting explaining that, for all his obsession with spending his time well, he had missed the important things in his life. Including moments he would never retrieve with his daughter.

Productivity is not worth sacrificing your life for, and it would appear that this one-time productivity whiz learned that the hard way. In fact dogged determination to increase productivity, and ignore the personal costs may be harming you in more ways than you know.

The Importance of Psychology in Wasting Time

Quartz’ Olivia Goldhill told Mann’s story in an article on Quartz titled “The Psychological Importance of Wasting Time.

She introduced the article on Twitter with the cheeky, “I’ve wasted a fair bit of time recently, and that’s ok.”

According to Olivia Goldhill, “[t]he problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks.”

When our health, family, leisure time and self-development all fall away, sacrificed on the altar of productivity.

“We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.”Olivia Goldhill, Quartz.com

She presented the opinions of a psychologist who focuses on workplace behavior, Michael Guttridge.

He said, “There’s an idea we must always be available, work all the time.” In today’s workplaces, this is all too familiar a feeling.

“It’s hard to break out of that and go to the park,” Guttridge said. However, those downsides of productivity that we have been talking about are fairly obvious here.

While we attempt to maintain focus on being productive, we find ourselves chained to our desk.

Staring at the computer while we are constantly drawn off task anyway. Often we get used to using our breaks to run virtual errands (or get sucked into social media). That habit doesn’t help you, either

Virtual Errands

“Running Virtual Errands” is not “Taking a Break”

Social media, shopping websites, political updates, whatever our poison – “we tell ourselves we’re ourselves we’re “multitasking” while really spending far longer than necessary on the most basic tasks,” says Goldhill.

We live at our desk. No, seriously, we even eat at our desks, which is pretty unsanitary in general, just chasing 20 more minutes of productivity. So, instead of walking away from our workspace, we handle our online errands there, too.

We may get some chores done — paying bills or ordering groceries — but we have drained our reserves instead of refilling them. We have missed an opportunity to take a real break.

There are so many benefits to simply taking a break, but not all time wasted offers a benefit.

Weight of Word

What’s in a Word? The Weight of a “Waste of Time” Synonym

Have you ever heard that the Inuits have 40-50 words for “snow?” The importance of snow in their life is reflected in the sheer volume of words. Likewise, the importance of wasting time is quite clearly indicated in the number of words and slang terms that English-speaking people have for it. Some are clearly negative, such as “lazy,” “trifling,” or “lagging.” Others are more ambiguous, like “dawdling.”

Whether it is a word with negative or positive connotations, there are plenty “waste of time” synonyms. How many? At least 40. And that isn’t counting the 14 easy to find synonyms for wasting time, or the endless terms we have for someone who wastes too much time.


A List of Synonyms for “Wasting Time”

Actually, there is a lot more than the 40 contained in the above sterile thesaurus link. I asked a large group to come up with their favorite terms and synonyms for wasting time. The results were great, often longer than one word, and international, to boot.

chilling shooting the breeze dithering
goofing off fiddle-faddling gathering moss
loitering killing time wool-gathering
lollygagging holding up the wall lint-picking
selective participation holding down the couch vigorous thought experiments
dawdling lagging day-dreaming
lazing around skulking about slacking
going potato malingering banana shenanigans
“Shamming” R&R cold busting
building cloud castles stalling kicking it

Do you know what the only antonym to “waste of time” is?

Time management

Like everything else in life, all of one thing is not good, “all work and no play,” as it were. So, the secret is finding the balance between the two that allows you personal success, but also quality of life. Psychology tells us that human beings must have a balance of activities to be healthy, including downtime.

The Importance of Time

The importance of time with a capital “T” is bearing down on us every day. As Burkeman put it:

“Given that the average lifespan consists of only about 4,000 weeks, a certain amount of anxiety about using them well is presumably inevitable: we’ve been granted the mental capacities to make infinitely ambitious plans, yet almost no time at all to put them into practice.” Oliver Burkeman

With so little time, and such infinite possibility to plan ambitiously, and massive pressure to be productive with that time, it is little wonder that our attempts to force ourselves into “work mode” for far more of our time than is healthy is causing us so much stress and anxiety.

From the moment we wake up, we are obsessed with time, all the way down to seconds. Clocking in late is a sin, moments wasted are, too. We watch the clock like some sort of never-resting orchestra director, arms never dropping the beat. It rules our lifes, it rules our children’s lives, and in the same way the moon pulls the tides, it affects our productivity.

In The Household Economy, Robert Burns wrote:

“We need time. We need time to work, to eat, to sleep, and to accomplish all the daily chores of living. We also need time to know and understand our mates, our children, and our friends.”Robert Burns, The Household Economy

He then went on to say, “ Most of our relationships, in fact, require more time than we have, and it is difficult to avoid the feeling that we could never have enough. Nor is our list of demands on our time complete. We have ignored the time we need to be alone, a necessary but invariably short- changed period.”

That was in 1977. In 1977, every quarter in your pocket equaled out to a little more than a dollar, now, in purchasing power.

Every one dollar, $4.11 cents in purchasing power. The normal work hours were about the same as a 40 hour week then, too.

But now, we work those hours for about a quarter or so the purchasing power.

It’s no wonder we work at home, long hours, or freelance 16 hours a day. Time, to us, is dollars because we need about 4 times as many of those dollars as our parents to have the same lifestyle they had.

Image CC by 0, by Buenosia Carol, via Pexels.

Is the Value of Time Money?

He could not have imagined the integration of our lives with our professions. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices. We even count our steps with bracelets that have replaced our watches and are stopping some of our early heart attacks.

Then there is the 24 hour, 7-days-a-week availability is often required in a global economy that moves at the speed of WiFi.

Simply adding that lack of separation between our personal and professional lives to the value of our time is a recipe for paradoxical low productivity. We are putting in so much of that time it backfires.

Without proper attention to our lives, we are not getting enough human contact with our loved ones. We aren’t taking enough time off, we aren’t going outside enough. We probably aren’t taking very good care of ourselves either. Our relationships suffer. Our personal growth suffers.

So, no, the value of time isn’t money. Time far outweighs money, it’s the most precious commodity we have. Yet, our economy has forced us to equate the two.

Return to Inbox Zero, For a Moment

Oliver Burkeman wrote an exhaustive article about Merlin Mann and the fall of Inbox Zero.

As part of that, he told us how the “streamlined” productivity tool had influenced the people using it.

Predictably, the dedicated, don’t leave the screen until you have processed every email (as more come in) had an effect. Perhaps less predictably for those who feel that a “strong work ethic” (read: addiction to productivity) is the best thing we bring to the table, that effect was a net negative.

“And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. Even when people did successfully implement Inbox Zero, it didn’t reliably bring calm.” Oliver Burkeman

The kind of calm required for mental health and real productivity.

Despite whittling every tiny splinter of time out of your day for productive tasks, you remain chained to a desk, stressing and doing less in more time.

He went on to explain the “allure of the doctrine of time management,” simply put, control, and one day to have it over everything:

“The allure of the doctrine of time management is that, one day, everything might finally be under control. Yet work in the modern economy is notable for its limitlessness. And if the stream of incoming emails is endless, Inbox Zero can never bring liberation: you’re still Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up that hill for all eternity – you’re just rolling it slightly faster.”Oliver Burkeman

You can’t have control over everything, and you can’t have limitless hours to work.

You can, however, get endless emails, and feel like that Greek legend, Sisyphus:

damned to roll the same boulder up the same hill, every day, over and over, forever.

panic email reading

Importance of Time Yet Again

If you are so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?

That question is the title of an article written by Laura Empson for the Harvard Business Review. She discussed the problem from a different perspective.

Through her research, she has heard the same kinds of stories over and over again. The stories of people in white collar jobs who despite knowing better, chronically overwork themselves thinking more time working means more success.

Overworking Harm

Chronic productivity-focused overworking is harmful

This kind of thinking can cripple the quality of your work, according to Empson, and your health.

So, productivity is harmed, yet people in professional jobs continue to measure their worth by time punched on the clock.

And they continue to try to drive themselves for that extra inch, most likely doing much less than they could have done in less time.

We all have to push it, occasionally, to meet a deadline or make a deal. If you find yourself squinting at the setting sun and realizing you hadn’t left your workspace all day a bit too often, chances are you are working harder than you have to with a tired, underperforming brain.

She encourages people to stop and rest. Because, while we may find reward in working hard, working too hard can, in fact, hurt us. And, it can make us make mistakes. Recognizing the signs of being overworked, in yourself and in your office, and making adjustments, is essential.

Working hard can be rewarding and exhilarating. But consider how you are living. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your staff too hard, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues to step back from the brink.

Still locked into that 4,000 weeks? It seems such a short time for a life, right? Perhaps we should get back to something healthier, like the importance of wasting time. For your health, of course.

Image CC by 0, via Pixhere

The Importance of Wasting Time

Coming back around to Olivia Goldhill’s exhaustive article on wasting time, she had this to say about those intrepid self-lovers who somehow allow themselves the luxury of this novel idea.

It’s not as though we need to work so hard. As Alex Soojung-Kim Pan, author of REST: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, writes in Nautilus, luminaries including Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, and Charles Darwin had quite relaxed schedules, working for five hours a day or less. The truth is, work expands to fill the time it’s given and, for most of us, we could spend considerably fewer hours at the office and still get the same amount done.

And there it is.

Do you really think that if you spent another hour at work, you’d get another hour’s worth of work done? Of course, you wouldn’t.

The result is a fractured, exhausted stab at doing what you intended. And, you get what you get: whatever it was you managed it while exhausted.


Skipping breaks at work

So, it’s not anathema to success to work shorter, more productive hours. It is also not in any way bad work ethic to take reasonable breaks during your workday.


But, is it important to fritter time away?

“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,”.

Taking time to be total, gloriously, proudly unproductive will ultimately make you better at your job.

But it’s also fulfilling in and of itself, and healthy.

Psychology says so. Science says so, also, working too long indoors is causing a boom in vitamin D deficiency related illnesses.

Actually, Psychology Today made it crystal clear, wasting time may be the best thing you do today.

It may allow you to become a better employee, a better partner or spouse, or a better child or parent.

It can help you remember that you need to use that time not only to work, but to stare at the clouds and find shapes.

It takes both to be healthy. So, yes, it is important. Stop skipping breaks. Set a timer. Go.

The Physical Benefits of Sitting in the Sun

Many of us are pushing ourselves so hard, we don’t get any time in the sun. Being in the sun stimulates vitamin D production, which we need to stay healthy.  Vitamin D is essential to your health, and a risk factor for being low on vitamin D is staying indoors.

Chances are, you are not overworking yourself in the park.

Much of America is vitamin D deficient, as in 75 percent. And it isn’t just Adults. It’s our kids. Those kids we are raising to know the value of every dollar, er, minute. According to Scientific American:

“Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin” whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research.”Scientific American

‘Waste’ your valuable time sitting in the sun letting your mind rest for a few minutes a day is a great place to start. Now you know you are taking an active role in preventing the damage caused by your cave-dwelling lifestyle.

Some people have increased risks associated with being in the sun. If you are one of them, make sure you talk to your doctor about how much sun is good for you, first.

How Much Time in the Sun do You Need for Vitamin D Health?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the time we need to spend in the sun varies. The biggest factor in the time you should spend outside is your skin pigmentation.

If you are very light skinned — “[p]ale skin, freckles, burns very easily, hardly tans” — you should spend between five and ten minutes in the sun a day.

If you have light skin “that tans a little,” you should spend about ten to 20 minutes in the sun.

For those whose skin is better described as getting an occasional sunburning, but tanning well, between 15 and 25 minutes in the sun.

If you have naturally dark skin, and very rarely sunburn, they recommend 20 to 30 minutes a day in the sun.

Day Dreaming is Worth the Effort

No one can be their best without slowing down, without allowing their brain to wander.

In fact, if we fail to dream, the Ulitmate Championship of meandering thoughts, it can erode our ability to remember. When people fail to enter REM sleep, the phase in which dreaming occurs, they fail to remember what they were taught before they fell asleep. This isn’t to say that dreaming and wasting time are the same, just to reinforce that your mind requires downtime.

Yet, despite this absolutely understood need for humans to engage in banana shenanigans, we still try to fill as many hours on that clock as possible with work. Believing, somehow, those 12 hours of fractured, distracted, multi-tasking, controlled chaos nets you more productivity at the end of the day than 8 focused hours. All because our time is so short, and so precious.

But by doing so, we strip our time of meaning and true personal growth, all for a few more dollars. 4,000 weeks isn’t long enough to live two lifetimes; so you need to make sure there is time for you to live your life during this one.

Image: CC0 Public Domain Skitter Photo via PxHere

How to Waste Time, And How Not To

If you search for “how to waste time” you will find, inevitably, article after article that offer you apps, websites and internet games.

But, when you laze about, wasting precious time, you need to do it in ways that are as beneficial to you as possible. That means not at your desk, not staring down that screen, and putting down your device. Ok, maybe not putting down your device, after all, you are going to want pictures, music, or to find the perfect park. But, before we cover what you should do to waste time, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be doing.

There are 8 things that successful people never waste time doing, according to Success.com, you may be surprised by them.

Productive, successful people don’t do the following:

1. Get sucked into social media 5. Hang out with negative people.
2. Go through the day without a plan. 6. Dwell on past mistakes.
3. Do emotionally draining activities. 7. Focus on what other people are doing.
4. Worry about things they can’t control. 8. Put themselves last in priority.

Avoiding social media time-sucking:

To avoid social media on my breaks, consider deleting the facebook app from your phone.

Drastic, but not exactly scorched earth.

You can still log onto Facebook regularly through your phone’s browser, during the time you give it.

No more constant pings to drag your attention to your device and the latest political post you wished you hadn’t seen.

Turn off the notifications on your social media apps. You are going to check them, and likely a couple times a day. But, without them calling you in every few minutes, you’ll have way more time to kill time.

The Value of Wasted Time

Taking the time and achieving the state of being completely, gloriously, and unashamedly unproductive makes you not only better at your job, but better at life. And honestly, anything that takes the sting off of adulting is quite worth the time. Especially when it is making you a better person, too.

“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,” said Michael Guttridge. Lallygagging is about bringing that balance to yourself. Letting your brain rest so it is functioning at full speed all day while you work. A short session of holding a bench down so you can come back refreshed is an investment. Daisy sniffing is about taking time to arrange things in a way that makes you feel better

Daydreaming and park-walking are about leaving your workspace — yes, even for an entire hour for lunch. It’s worth it. When you get back, you’ll do more with a fresh brain, recharged and able to function. And, it’s worth it.

So, How To Waste Time?

First and foremost, get outside and take breaks away from your desk.

And, if you have children in your life, teach them to take real breaks, too.

Make time to go take a walk, sit at the park, or actually use that patio you haven’t really had much time for.

Take a walk away from your workspace.

Walk to somewhere safe, (preferably in the sun)  and sit quietly for a few minutes. Use the time to play a guided mindfulness session on headphones, if you are in a secure location.


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of deep breathing mental exercise.

Meditation, by any other name.

It has nothing to do with any form of religion.

It is more about focus, and learning to calm racing thoughts.

And, it works. According to “Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies”:

“Mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation.”Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health

If you are counting the time you are driving in your car as time in the sun, don’t. As US News & World Report reminds us, that glass blocks UV rays. So do most modern windows.

Yes, you feel the warmth of the sun through them, but without the UV.

Any time spent doing something you love is time spent on yourself, so, time well spent.

All of us need to recharge.

Give yourself permission to bask in a moment here and there. Get away from your desk.

Some ways to effectively waste time, during the workday and beyond:

  • Plan a card game with your friends, remember them?
  • Go to the school and see those kids you like singing their hearts out
  • Give yourself permission to eat a healthy meal, and eat it leisurely.
  • While you’re at it, outlaw eating at your desk, but still actually eat. And, at regular intervals.
  • Meditate, or practice mindfulness, regularly.
  • Stare out the window at nothing for 10 minutes.
  • Take a walk, to work, or somewhere to eat your lunch.
  • Listen to music.
  • Enjoy a long bath with Epson Salts or a bath bomb.
  • Visit a day spa, budget permitting, or get a relaxing massage
  • Do some art, especially if you loved it and stopped

Image: CC 0 Public Domain Negative Space via Good Free Photos

In Conclusion:

We all know that there is a finite number of minutes in our life.

But, we are forgetting that when we push ourselves past a healthy level of productivity seeking, we become our own worst enemies.

Overworking yourself makes you sick. Being inside from sun up to sun down can make you very sick.

Avoiding regular breaks, and working unreasonable hours, your brain tires. When fatigued, you make mistakes and it harms your productivity. It also puts you at risk of mental exhaustion. So, despite your best intention, your choice not to “waste time” on the self-care of a real break at work — to increase productivity — is actually damaging it.

Employers who value you know that breaks are worth it.

Take real breaks at work, it pays off in all sorts of ways.

Walk away at the end of the day, and stay away from it as much as you can.

Set at least one day off for self-care, yes, even if you are freelancing. Try to seek out employers and clients who not only understand this, they make it possible.

This kind of company is good at protecting its resources and understands you are one of them.

When wasting time, seek out opportunities and people that make you smile, things that give you joy.

Because, while you may think you are just doing your favorite thing, you just may find some of that peace that people sought at the bottom of Inbox Zero.

Procrastination Good or Bad?

Procrastination is worryingly common and extremely damaging to most of the working and studying population – or is it? Depending on how you approach it, it is one of the main causes of low self-esteem and, in the worst cases, depression. In other cases, it is the springboard to creativity and getting more done. You get to decide what this habit creates for you.

procrastination books

There are many ways to overcome or approach this habit of delaying and get your work done, and avoid stress and self-deprecation. Motivation is the key when you’re planning to re-evaluate your ways and how you think about Procrastination. Obviously the motivation or inspiration you are seeking in the moment is missing or the fear you feel or the pain you are experiencing is greater than the motivation – talking you into waiting, pushing it off or not doing that dreaded task at all. The best and motivation comes from within yourself, however, more often than not, we have to settle for the outside motivation with the consequences of not getting it done. Here are some resources to inspire you, provide you methods, tips and tools as well as new ways to think about and approach this habit. If nothing more it will be a nice diversion.

Procrastination TEDx Talks

1.  Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator by Tim Urban

In this witty and informational TED Talk, Tim Urban brings an anecdotal attitude to the common yet irritating problem of procrastination. Both hilarious and educational, the few minutes of his talk will bring relatable content for serial procrastinators, but also a further understanding of their own habits and an incentive to quit them for a more productive and healthier lifestyle.

2.  An End to Procrastination by Archana Murthy

90% of teenagers are struck with procrastination. Procrastination creates a cycle of stress and anxiety. Archana Murthy shares her understanding of procrastination and its hold on her life. She talks about the types of procrastinators. She provides a solution that works for her, maybe it will work for you too.

3.  The vaccination for procrastination by Bronwyn Clee

Procrastination is the source of wasted time and energy. Bronwyn Clee provides 5 steps to put procrastination behind you and your procrastination.

4.  Procrastination is the key to problem-solving by Andrea Jackson

Head down and bum up productivity is demanded from today’s society. She has suffered from the guilt of procrastination until she realized it is a necessity to her creativity. Procrastination is not the enemy of success and achievement. So embrace productive procrastination.

5. The fundamentals of procrastination by Neel Deshpande

An 11th grade teenager on Procrastination. He provides quick tips and tricks guide to making your day-to-day business much more efficient.

Procrastination Podcasts:

  1. 5 Strategies to Conquer Procrastination by Jeff Sanders

This open-minding episode of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast is one of Jeff Sanders’ best ones so far, and not only because it tackles this universal problem. The five strategies shared by Sanders during the episode are straightforward, simple, and, most importantly, doable. With a motivational attitude and relatable anecdotes, this episode is definitely worth listening to if you want to bring positive changes into your life.

  1. Iprocrastinate Podcast

This podcast is sponsored by the Procrastination Research Group (PRG, who have been researching procrastination for over 20 years. The research comes from around the world with an aim to seek an understanding why we become our own worst enemy at times with needless, voluntary delay.

  1. Procrastination on NPR

Can procrastination make you more productive? Procrastination expert Timothy Pychyl and self-professed “structured procrastinator” John Perry discuss the latest research on this type of behavior and how to prioritize what’s really important.

  1. Stop procrastinating now

This podcast assumes you know what do and how to do it, your challenge is that you just don’t do it. I talk about that in my programming. This podcast is dedicated to mastering your mindset and getting around those excuses.

Procrastination Books:

10. Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now by Jane B. Burka
Burka is an expert in procrastination and she will change your outlook on your lazy and time-wasting ways. Whether you are a student, a teacher, a researcher, a doctor or simply someone trying to get a project done, this book is perfect for you. From an in-depth explanation of procrastination and its effects on the mind, to an attack plan to fight it, Burka’s book is the read that will change your way of looking at your own life.

11. The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done by Dr. Piers Steel (2010-12-16)

Piers Steel is considered as the leading expert on procrastination. He shares in his most popular piece of work all of his knowledge on procrastination and how to fight against it. The Procrastination Equation brings real psychological research into your daily lazy decisions, explaining the depth of the reasons why you put off important tasks and actions and waste precious time daily.

12. The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing by John Perry
John Perry shares his theory about Procrastination. Perry feels that he is more productive due to his procrastination so many other things get done in the procrastination process. He always gets the procrastination project done but also a host of other smaller projects and tasks that otherwise might not have gotten the attention if he was so focused in the original task.

Check out my interview with John Perry on iTunes.

13. The Procrastination Cure: 21 Proven Tactics For Conquering Your Inner Procrastinator, Mastering Your Time, And Boosting Your Productivity! by Damon Zahariades

Do tasks build up and create overwhelm and frustration for you. Is this an ongoing challenge? Is procrastination affecting you and those around you? Good news! There is a cure! There are 21 proven tactics to boost productivity and do away with the procrastinator you once were.

Now you have a better insight into how to beat procrastination and boost productivity. You have been able to reflect on how the habit of procrastinating impacts you, how to use it to your advantage and how to avoid it and get around or breakthrough your procrastination.

Share with us your favorite resource or distraction.

Multi Tasking Research Can’t Be Wrong

Multi tasking is one of those skills that people brag about having. But is it effective?

The Research

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multi tasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Multi tasking can have negative effects on the brain. Researchers at the University of Sussex in England compared brain scans of the time people spent multi tasking with multiple devices such as texting while watching TV. The results showed that high multi taskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. Although more research needs to be conducted on the long-term damage we know for a fact that Multi tasking has an effect on the brain

The research done at Stamford has shown that when you think you are multi tasking, you’re actually not. We may have this notion that our brain is working hard at every task that you are trying to accomplish when you are Multi tasking, but you’re actually dividing up your brain power and reducing the focus on any one thing which ends up making you less effective when Multi tasking. In the brain, when you start another task while you are already working on one you are diverting your attention that is currently on one side of the brain to the other. In addition to taking away time from your activity, you are also taking up valuable resources and diverting them away from one task to another. It acts as a distraction and reducing individual concentration. The result of Multi-taking is your brain is slower to access your brain power.

There Are Many Negatives To Multi Tasking


Checking email in the middle of a task is an example of multi tasking. It is a self-inflicted distraction that comes from the impulse, rather the addiction to check email while we are in the middle of another task. Studies show that more than 30% of people check their phones 150 times a day. You can’t argue that is necessary. It is an impulsive addiction. Because we are so easily distracted by both outside and inside forces, Multi tasking has risen as a larger problem in the workplace as well as at home.

This is a topic that has definitely drawn a lot of attention when it comes to researching distracted driving. When you are on the phone talking or texting while driving, you are no longer focusing solely on driving rather you have diverted your attention from the road to your phone. That is why accidents happen. As a matter of fact, 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. That is bad.


There are some other negatives and negative effects to Multi tasking. You are going to be more likely to make mistakes when Multi tasking than you would if you were just working on one thing at a time. Since you are not solely focused on one thing, your attention is divided, your reaction time is slower and you are going to be more likely to make mistakes. If you are doing two basic tasks at once, this may not be a problem but if both tasks require a lot of critical thinking you are going to make errors.


Lastly, Multi tasking may stress you out. You may think that by Multi tasking you are getting your job done quicker or getting more done but it is actually hampering you from getting more done and not having to repeat your work due to errors, omissions or delays in the long run. The mistakes made from Multi tasking causes stress.

Having to keep multiple balls in the air at the same time creates a compulsive behavior to do more. It is because dopamine is being released in your brain when you complete something. When you think you are completing something, you get another hit of dopamine, making you want to take more on, only to suffer later from the mistakes and extra work it creates. Our brain is actually tricking us to think it is good for us. You need to have the discipline and foresight to set up rules for yourself to notice and avoid this compulsive, multi-taking behaviors.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid Multi Tasking

Use a timer:

By using a timer you are dedicating that segment of time to only one task and when the timer goes off you can move to another. The timer helps you stay concentrated and adds a little competitive pressure to get it done in the time allotted.

Schedule your priorities:

Make sure you schedule important tasks in your calendar. As this will show up as an appointment you can deliver dedicated time to this task and leave the multi tasking to other less important tasks. If you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen because other urgencies will show up to fill the time you have.

Work in Airplane mode

By putting your phone in airplane mode you are free to work without distraction form texts or incoming emails or any other notifications coming from your social apps. Block out distractions and gain greater focus. You know this, so why aren’t you doing it. Leave t in the other room, make someone hold it for you-just do it!

Listen to music

Listening to certain types of music can help increase your focus. Allow a part of your mind that gets distracted be occupied with listening to music and enjoy the focus it creates.

Increase awareness

Tracking your distractions and patterns and impulses to multi-task will help you to identify ways to stop it. You cant change what you are not aware of.

So now what is your answer- is it effective to multi-task? Next time, instead of multi tasking do your tasks individually. This will increase your productivity and minimize your errors, making your life a lot easier and happier.

Five Reasons Why Your Company Should Start A Book Club

A book club in a big company can be a great way to engage, connect, and deepen trust within your team or across departments. Having a book club is a chance to create intelligent and purposeful interactions, create new partnerships, share opinions, and improve overall communication by everyone involved. The book may be a topic to challenge, to connect, or to engage the group and it may or may not be one of choice. A book club forces members to reflect and interact in a different way. Learning another person’s background and opinions and allow them to share their point of view, open to different perspectives, and to trust and care for co-workers in a new way. It gives each person to be expressive with no hierarchy or agenda.

Here are five reasons to why your company should start a book club.

1. Connect Co-Workers

You know the views and opinions of your best friends, but rarely do you get the opportunity to have more intimate and authentic discussions like this with your co-workers. Perhaps, those on different floors have only shared the elevator or passed in walking through a floor other than their own. Yet there are interactions across departments in various forms. Gaining valuable perspectives from the diverse team of people you work with will create a greater connection to those people, greater respect, increase the level of trust and create a higher level of sensitivity while working with one another. Co-workers that like one another, work more effectively and efficiently together.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success , people who live the longest result not from healthy living but from a sense of belonging. He studied a town in Roseto, Pa, a town entirely made up of citizens who came from the village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy. The study showed that the people had a feeling of trust and security among Rosetans because the people of the town always had someone they knew and who knew them to turn to for support. They concluded that the extraordinary health of this unique population could only be explained in terms of “extended family” and “community.”

Greater connection creates a strong community.

2. Create a sense of belonging

Book clubs are inclusive, allowing each member to participate and share their views. This creates a greater sense of belonging to the group. A sense of belonging is a basic need that builds confidence, trust, and connection.

In addition, Kelly McGonigal the author of “The Upside of Stress”, reveals a study that was done with college students. Freshman drop-out rates are above 50%. A study was done to show the impact on the drop-out rate as a result of making students feel a greater sense of belonging through support, connection, and engagement. The study group resulted in a reduction of that drop-out rate by more than 50%.

People who feel like they belong and they matter to the organization, are more engaged and take a higher level of ownership in their work and the results they are creating. They develop a “do what it takes attitude versus a “whatever” attitude. Bad stress goes down and good stress goes up to create a greater sense of contribution.

3. Create Inspiration
Fiction and non-fiction books on multiple themes, genres, and subjects can stir the thinking brain and grab a topic never thought of before.

People get stuck and sometimes all they need is a little inspiration or a shift in perspective to get them unstuck. An open discussion around a powerful book can be a huge inspiration to spark new ideas, outside of the box thinking, innovation, efficiencies, new approaches and more.

Inspiration often comes from getting outside of your current way of thinking and your environment and connecting thoughts from others, developments in other industries and stories about people that create new connections in our minds.

4. De-Stressing
Work can create stress and we need more ways to get rid of it. We can walk around and work out but getting into your heart and out of your head – can be a great way to relieve stress. Conversations around issues in the office can be therapeutic in this structured way like a therapy session. People can work together to find solutions to common issues using a strategy from one of the books that they read together and share perspectives on how these strategies can help reduce stress, improve efficiency and make the environment more fun.

The benefits of reducing stress at work will increase productivity, improve communication, elevate health, and improve relationships both inside and outside of the business environment.

5. Management Training
Make it mandatory to utilize what they have learned and apply it in their work. Get creative in getting all the above accomplished within this form of training. Instead of the usual course days that are often forgotten the day after the course. Engage the application of the principles they learn in the books over time in smaller chunks. Productivity will increase due to a focus on implementation, connection, and inspiration.

Billionaires can list multiple books to recommend that are fictional for influencing their decisions. Bill Gates cites Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Jeff Bezos cites The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Just about every other major business innovator supports I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Books can open minds. Isn’t that why we tell children to read, to expand their thoughts and minds? Adults in major corporations should too.

12 Ways to Avoid Distractions

Distractions are killing your productivity. Top Time management tips to stay focused. These time management strategies give you options to avoid and conquer distractions.

Has this happened to you? You go online to investigate a topic and you find yourself sucked into a vortex of interesting articles that no longer have anything to do with what you were researching…but you may need it another time. You made a quick call with a friend to clarify an appointment but they wouldn’t let you off the phone. You are working on a project and your project team is constantly coming in to ask you random questions. Getting things done can be a challenge with all the distractions that surround you on a day to day basis!

Here are 12 ways to combat distractions. All of these are time management tips you have heard but are likely forgetting and /or not applying. Maybe one or two are new for you and will give you a new perspective on blocking distractions and staying focused!

Handling distractions:

  1. Timers

Set timer to create a psychological marker. It makes it a game and put some urgency into your mind to get you to think faster on your feet to get things done more effectively and efficiently. You also can plan breaks in between each timed session giving you’re the reward for your focused attention.

It works! Check out the Pomodoro Technique for more structure around your timed daily blocks.

  1. Set deadlines

Setting deadlines is another urgency trick for our brain to help shift us into action. Without a deadline, it is easy to procrastinate and continue to push off the activity. A deadline makes the task a project and allows you to plan for completion. It will have the effect to get your more focused and block out distractions more easily.

  1. Turn off electronics

Duh. Your bells and whistles will distract you and interrupt your train of thought. This is the same as multi-tasking and has been proven as a big no-no for productivity. Depending on which study you read, the experts say it takes 23 minutes to get back your full attention on a project matter.

Plan the times you look at your devices and turn off the ringer.

  1. Schedule breaks

Breaks are an essential part of rejuvenation. How you manage your energy tells you whether you will make good use of the next hour or squander it away. When you allow yourself a short break to get up and take a walk, watch a short video or listen to some music, you are helping yourself be more focused on the time you are working. Without breaks, your threshold to keep your attention on one thing can be easily broken. Breaks are not lazy rather a productivity strategy. Einstein was an infamous napper and he seemed to be pretty focused and productive.

Try this app to help you nap https://www.pzizz.com or get in the right headspace https://www.headspace.com

  1. Track distractions

Get a handle on your distractions by tracking them. I know it may seem annoying but record all the distractions you have for a week. You will be surprised at what you learn from this exercise and how much better you can avoid them when you realize where they are coming from.

Here is a free resource to track distractions http://p10app.com/distraction-tracking/

  1. Brain dump

David Allen is a big fan. Dump out all that you have in your head so you can be free to focus on the next activity. Give yourself 5 minutes before you end a block, leave a meeting or start something new and write down where you were, what is next and anything else you need to let go of. Evernote (https://evernote.com) is a great tool for that and has a great search engine to find it again.

  1. Get up earlier

You don’t have the time? Here is one way to make more time. Get up earlier and use the peace and quiet from the morning to get the most important things to you done first.

  1. Make a plan

When you have a plan for the day, you can be more focused on achieving it. It makes you more proactive versus getting caught up in whatever comes along. This sense of control keeps you more focused and more resistant to distractions.

  1. Connect to purpose and why important

When you are connecting to why something is important, this provides another psychology means to stay focused. You connect with its importance and stay on track.

  1. Clean up the clutter

Clutter creates distraction. Clean your desk before you leave and clear your head before you start the day and see how big the increase is in your ability to stay focused.

  1. Get more sleep

No “if’s”, “and’s” or “but’s”, sleep makes a difference in making us more resilient and more resistant to distractions. Most people stay up late doing nothing important. Use that time for true recharge. Watching TV, despite our excuses is not a productive recharge. If you find it hard to focus, give yourself another 45 minutes of sleep and see how that might add to your ability to focus. You won’t know until you try it. Top performers don’t say they will sleep wen they are dead!

  1. Say no

Practice saying no to people. If you are overloaded that in itself is causing a distraction. Look at your calendar and respectfully bow out of a few things to get your focus back.

It is only your responsibility to proactively block distractions so that your environment is productive. You have to protect your space and time because if you don’t manage your time, someone else will.

What is time management? Well, managing distractions is a subset of your time management efforts. Managing distractions is how you manage time. Staying focused during the time you have can be the most important time management skill.

It is time to build this new muscle and get one up on the distractions that are sabotaging your goals and your productivity.


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