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August 13th, 2009 · 5 Comments · Habits, Productivity

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Have you ever regret not having enough time to do things? I would like to learn Italian but I do not have enough time; I would like to do exercise but…; I would like to play the piano; I would like to be more creative; I would like to draw, paint, sing, etc.; and many other things. We postpone all these things to be done in an uncertain future that probably will never come.

Time is our most prized possession (How many times have we heard that?!) We all agree with that, don´t we? Then why do we continue to waste it?

24 hours should be enough to satisfy all our needs and objectives because we cannot borrow more time. Our success in life will depend on our use of these 24 hours. We have to optimize the use of time making it productive, and this way we may be close to fulfilling our needs.

If everyday we would make a note of every period of time that we waste we would realize the incredible amount of time we lost and, therefore, remains unproductive.

I propose to you to make the most of the periods of “dead time” doing productive activities to your objectives, that is, it is about to make profitable those by-products of time. Don´t kill your “dead times” doing unproductive activities because who kills his time is killing his opportunities to succeed in life. You have to spend your time in useful and productive way on those tasks that bring you closer to your objectives and dreams.

By way of an example, imagine the following case: Peter, a young university student who has a part time evening job, wants to learn Italian. Furthermore, he spends most of his spare time to do exercise and to write a blog about bodybuilding. Anyone would say that Peter does not have enough material time to learn a new language, because it requires a lot of effort and time. Nevertheless, despite his tight agenda, he could make the most of all these moments between two tasks, the “dead times”, to do activities related to the learning of Italian. For instance, when he takes the subway from his home to the university, instead of listening to music and see the faces of the people, he could read an Italian grammar book. Likewise, when he goes to work he could be listening to a podcast of Italian vocabulary. But also in the evening, before he gets the dinner ready instead of watching tv he could watch some videos on youtube in Italian. This is only an example.

Here is my advice:

1- Be conscious of your “dead times”. If you make a note of every “dead times” you have through the day, since you wake up until you go to sleep, and indicates its duration, you will realize the amount of time you waste every day.

2- Turn those useless and unproductive times into productive ones. In order to do this it will be necessary:

  • You have to decide what objective you want to achieve using the new time you will get: to learn another language, to review the lesson of the University, to draw, to improve our creativity, etc. It is not indispensable to spend all the new time in only one objective, you may divide that time in several objectives. However, I suggest you not to use your new time in more than two objectives.
  • You have to decide which activities you will do to achieve that objective or objectives. For instance, reading a book about the topic, listening to a podcast, thinking, drawing, etc.
  • You have to be prepared with all the material needed to do those activities. For instance, if you will listen to a podcast you will have to bring with you a mp3 player; if you want to draw you have to carry a notebook or papers and a pencil; if you have to read obviously you will have to carry the book; etc.

Those useless and unproductive moments may seem insignificant due to its short duration, but if you add them all up throughout the days, the weeks and the months, it will turn into an incredible amount of time. It is just like if you suddenly got twenty more days per year to do whatever you always wanted to do but you never had time to do. To use that new time will give you an advantage with respect to most people who not even realize the value of the “dead times” and it will enable you to take a step forward to be successful in your study, career and life.

Written by: David Cantone

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Blaine BullmanNo Gravatar

    There never seems to be enough time not matter how much you organize and plan. We should really learn to manage ourselves better.

    It’s true what you’re saying about “Dead Time”. There is always more time to do things then we think, we just have to be strict with ourselves and optimize every moment.

  • Thomas BartkeNo Gravatar


    Great post and good advice!

    Perfect harmony would be to do what we are really good at and therefore enjoy doing, and being able to do this without ever having to worry about our return (and feeding our families etc…)

    I honestly believe that I would not waste a single minute per day if I could achieve that state of awareness.

    .-= Thomas Bartke´s last blog ..What I Learned From 12 Hours Without Power =-.

  • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

    Time is our most precious resource, and how we spend it finally determines how successful we are in life.

    Thanks Blaine and Thomas for your valuable comments.

  • Robin DickinsonNo Gravatar

    Hi David,

    This is a great topic and I love the way you have posted written about it.

    I would add to your excellent points the following…


    So much of how we approach time depends on our beliefs about time.

    For example: a belief such as “There’s never enough time” sets up a scarcity attitude that will operate like a handbrake on any attempt to live the richer life that you propose.

    Conversely, a belief such as “There is always enough time” sets me up to seek much more resourceful ways of ‘repositioning my sails’ to capture that beautiful breeze or flow of time.

    Taking it a step further…

    What if we stopped thinking about time as a resource altogether? No more ‘not enough’ or ‘always enough’.

    What if we stopped thinking about time and just started being present to the one and only one true, present moment that exists for all of us.

    My intention is not to get all abstract and metaphysical, but to bring our focus back to the ultimate resource – the present moment.

    Honoring and valuing the present moment as this ultimate resource asks different questions:

    What would I be doing now if this was my one precious moment?
    What would be the most valuable use of this time?
    What if I gave it all I had, right now, no holding back, full-force living?

    Once we decide to truly value and respect the present moment, then the way to approach our minutes, hours, days, weeks etc becomes much clearer.

    We then replace the word ‘time’ with ‘life’.

    ‘Wasting time’ becomes ‘wasting life’
    ‘Unproductive time’ becomes ‘unproductive life’
    ‘Never enough time’ becomes ‘never enough life’
    ‘Dead moments’ become ‘dead life’

    This changed awareness raises the stakes considerably. We stop treating time like a commodity – stop trying to bargain with time – bartering, saving, borrowing and wasting it.

    In the awareness and stillness of the present moment, life’s purpose through us starts to appear – unfold. Priorities change. Productivity skyrockets, and we laugh a lot more. Some call this ‘revelation’, others ‘satori’ and still ‘ah-ha!’

    So rather than you getting a lot more out of your time, time (i.e. life) can get a lot more out of you! 😉

    Just a few thoughts to add to the conversation, David.

    Thank-you for your brilliant blog.

    Best to you, now, Robin
    .-= Robin Dickinson´s last blog ..How to stop procrastinating and get more productive =-.

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