Fill the Gaps: Ways to Make the In-Betweens of your Routine Count!
Every New Year/new session/new month/weekend, we steal ourselves, sit on our desks with planners, sticknotes, different coloured markers, diaries, and all other kinds of paraphernalia, to finally, finally, ‘plan our lives out’. We promise ourselves that we will turn our lives around, and squeeze the most out of each day – but somehow, even after all the circling, all the time slots, we’re left dejected.
If you could go back to your tenth grade CBSE textbooks for English, there was this interview with author Umberto Eco, in which he spoke about the ‘interstices’ or ‘in-betweens’ of his routine – reading in the elevator, things we do to get to places or time we spend between ‘actual things’ we do during the day. It turns out if you incorporate a few simple habits and tricks during your day, you’ll end up freeing some hours and find time to do all the things you want to – maybe, even have time to stick to all the things in that perfect routine you crafted for yourself this weekend!
Start with reworking your approach towards appointments and meeting. If you have appointments – meeting your doctor, a check-up with your dentist, your daily hour of exercise at the gym – schedule it right after your official day finishes, whether it’s office or college. This works particularly well, because having someplace to be after you finish work, ensures you are productive during the day so that you turn up for your post-work commitment, and also makes sure you actually do go to the gym or the doctor, rather than risk being struck by the post-work laziness in the evening.
There’s so much you can do while you’re on the move!Catch up on news – whether it’s over the radio or reading the paper – while commuting to your place of work in the morning. This adds purpose to your drive, and quickens your morning.
Remember all those times you reach for your phone to see the message/email, and then postpone a reply to a time you’re comfortably lounging in front of your laptop? Instead of absent-mindedly reading through your email or message when your phone pings, deal with things immediately: a response done immediately, whether it’s framing a reply, archiving, deleting, forwarding makes sure you don’t have to deal with a backlog of things later, and saves a LOT of time.
Remember all those appointments we spoke about in point number one? Does your visit to the dentist make you think of the hour-long wait you undergo in the shiny waiting room? Don’t rely on his coffee table collection to pass your time, take something alone of your own. Plug in your laptop to reply to emails, read a book, organize your notes, plan ahead, make a phone call – do something which lessens your work load and allows you to strike some things off your to-do list.
I know the amount of time I waste in college sitting in the café or grabbing food and coffee and dallying around campus. If it works out for you, make it a point to carry a healthy, light lunch along with you to work or college. It saves endless hours.
Make ‘efficiency’ your mantra word. Figure out what are the things in a day you absolutely have to do, without which the whole day or week would fall apart. Once you think about it, a lot of things you’re probably fussing over and things you actually don’t have to stress over on a daily basis.
All those times you were forced/enthusiastically formed groups for presentations can be fodder for a better routine. When work involves more than just one person, decide what would be the best way to get things done faster – is a physical meeting necessary, or can a quick round of stern emails and insistent phone-calls accomplish the job? Make these phone calls while in the waiting room, or while bustling around your house and sorting the bedroom mess out after work.
A little planning or foresight can save you from endless trips in a week to the grocery store, to the ATM, to the drycleaner’s – you catch my drift. Make sure you put errands together, and make a round trip out of all the necessary chores you must get done.
It’s easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle of links and articles online. Bookmark important articles and try to fit a specific number into audio-reading while commuting or in breaks between work.
As much as technology could be the biggest time-wasters of your day, using things right might just save a lot of time! Put a little time aside to create templates for things like emails or assignments which you do often, and end up writing from scratch each time. Having a specific, lucid template file not only allows you to deal with things quickly – it also enables you to delegate if you’re in a position to do so.
While these little points might seem too generic, putting them into practice –take it slow, one by one –
guarantees to free up at least an hour of your day, and an hour of your day could let you do so many things – including breathe, if you don’t get enough of that during your hectic day. The point to always remember is, to spend every minute you’re awake actively doing something productive or something you’re invested in and passionate about. Your life and minutes are extraordinarily precious – don’t let a slow elevator rob you of that!