Time is like a thief in the night, passing so quickly and unseen we don’t even realize where it went. Do you ever feel like you could get everything done if you had more time? Or maybe you have enough time but aren’t managing it effectively, leaving you with an incomplete list at the end of the day.
The average person will spend 33 years of their life in bed, seven of which are spent trying to get to sleep. They will rack up three years of vacationing and 11 years looking at television or social media.
According to Jay Shetty, how you spend your time dictates the values in your life and directly impacts how you feel about yourself. It is not about the checked boxes on your to-do list. It is about the quality of your life.
“How you use time can cause regret, or it can be an investment,” explains Jay Shetty. “It can be something you waste or something you spend. It can be something you use to grow, or it can hold you back.”
So how can you learn to do more in less time? In this article, Jay Shetty shares seven habits and practices to spend time in a meaningful and fulfilling way while still accomplishing the tasks on your to-do list.
Are you the master of multitasking because you can do more than one thing at a time and not bat an eye? The truth is, very few people can actually multitask well, says Jay Shetty. A study by Attention Expert David Strayer found only two percent of the population can effectively and successfully multitask.1 We’d all like to believe we fall into the two percent, but the truth is you’re most likely in the other 98 percent.
Why is multitasking so hard? When we multitask, our energy is split between more than one task. We think we’re getting more done when we’re working on more than one thing at a time, but we’re not. Multitasking not only creates stress and anxiety, but the quality of our work also suffers.
We actually accomplish more when we mono-task, or work on a single thing at one time. This method allows us to be present with the task at hand.
“When you mono-task, you feel like it slows you down, that you achieve less than everyone else is, but that is not true,” explains Jay Shetty. “You will achieve more quality, more depth and more connection by single-tasking.”
When you multitask, you might try to send an email and work on a project while creating a spreadsheet at the same time. By the end of the day, nothing is finished because you spread yourself too thin with all the things you tried to accomplish simultaneously.
Create a routine to train your brain to think singularly. Be present with each task you are working on from start to finish. This will keep your attention and awareness on the task at hand.
How to Time Block
The biggest revelation in the last five years of Jay Shetty’s life is time blocking. Time blocking refers to the practice of separating specific chunks of time for specific purposes, like your logical versus creative work.
“We all toggle between these two very opposite uses of our mind,” Jay Shetty shares. “The idea of blocking creative time or logical time allows you to go deep and absorb and create. It makes you feel more at ease. Things come naturally and move in a flow.”
Jay Shetty schedules 10 podcasts to record each week during the time blocked off as “creative time.” This allows him to get into the groove of asking questions. Instead of doing a podcast, then running to a meeting and back to a podcast, he can stay in the flow of the podcast, making his time more effective and productive.
Think about the tasks you need to do this week. Make a list on a piece of paper. On another piece of paper, make a table. One side of the table will be for logical tasks, the other for creative tasks. Now look at your to-do list and sort each task in the category it falls under: logical or creative.
Once you have all the tasks plotted on the table, estimate how long each task will take to complete. Write your time estimate next to each task. Once you have the time figured out, choose a day to block time off to complete the task.
How you divide your logical and creative time is up to you. You can use mornings to be logical or creative, then in the afternoon, do the opposite. Or perhaps you want to devote a whole day to being creative and take the next day for logical tasks. Whatever works best for your schedule, just make sure you block off the starting and ending times for each thing you work on.
“The goal is to be as immersive as possible,” Jay Shetty explains.
Now that you have block-scheduled your creative and logical time, you need to schedule how the rest of the day will go. This includes everything from meal times to break time, workouts, tv time, and everything in between. If you do it, schedule it.
Take time on Sunday before the work week starts to map out what the week ahead will look like. That way, you don’t procrastinate or over think what you have to do and you have a clear and concise plan for the week. No time is wasted wondering what’s next.
“Lack of prioritization leads to other bad habits,” Jay Shetty shares. “So everything needs to be in your schedule. I find that if it's not in my calendar or not in my schedule, it gets forgotten.”
When things are overlooked or forgotten, it takes time to try and reschedule those things, wasting valuable time you could spend elsewhere.
Ask yourself this question.
What is the one thing you need to accomplish today to feel like today is a success? Maybe it is doing a workout you love or taking a few minutes to read a passage in your favorite book, walking on your favorite trail, or reading a bedtime story to your kids.
“Sometimes you check everything off your to-do list, but you still feel empty and unfulfilled,” explains Jay Shetty. You still wonder why you feel incomplete. It’s because you haven't done that one thing.”
Set aside time every day to ask yourself this question. You can do this first thing in the morning or last thing at night when you have some time before bed. Whenever you choose to do this, reflect on the answer and do the one thing you need to do for the day to feel like it was a success.
The 1-4-1 Method
Do you create plans and have goals but aren’t sure how to fulfill them? Jay Shetty has an excellent method to help you set goals and break them into a manageable plan to achieve success. Shetty calls this method the one-four-one method.
Start with a big goal and break it down into four weekly targets. Take those four weekly targets and break them down again into daily tasks. Each weekly target gets you closer to the end goal. The daily tasks are what help you accomplish your weekly targets. When you break it down into manageable steps, it is not so overwhelming.
“So often you have a goal, but don't create a plan to get there,” explains Jay Shetty. “You judge yourself for not carrying out your plan, in turn, wasting your time and energy.”
If you don’t have an action plan, you’ll spin your wheels, hoping that the answers will come tomorrow. When tomorrow comes and the answers are not there, you’re left overwhelmed and frustrated.
“You look at the whole journey, instead of looking at the first step,” shares Jay Shetty. “It's all about looking at that first step.”
Everyone has habits. Think about the things that you do without having to think about them. Maybe you wash your dinner dishes right when you are done eating, or you run every morning. Do you brush your teeth every night before you go to bed? Those things are habits.
So what is habit stacking? Habit stacking is a term created by author SJ Scott in his book, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes that Take Five Minutes or Less. It is used to refer to the action of doing something on autopilot, like brushing your teeth, then adding another habit to it, like listening to a podcast or an audiobook.
“This allows you to do two things at once,” Jay Shetty shares. “Only do this with habits that you do almost unconsciously. This doesn't apply to focused creative work or logical work. It applies to the habits you do almost with your eyes closed. You add this layer so you feel you use your time more effectively.”
What habits do you have that you could stack? Make sure whatever you are stacking doesn’t make you less effective at what you are trying to do.
Get Good Sleep
You have heard it before. Get good sleep. It sounds somewhat counterintuitive when you think about it in terms of doing more in less time, but if you sleep well, you are more alert. If you feel good when you wake up, you can exercise, which creates more energy for you. Good sleep lends itself to more focused meditation as well. Even though good sleep habits take time, they make more time than they take.
“What if you are able to do the same amount of work in less time because you were so focused through the meditation?” Jay Shetty questions. “What if you are more energized from your workout and work faster and smarter? Do not underestimate the value of sleep, meditation and exercise to help you be more productive, effective, and make more of your time.”
These habits will help you do more in less time when instituted into your life, giving you back the time you need to live your purpose.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “7 Ways to Do More in Less Time” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.