The perception of time is fascinating. Humans have defined time as seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. We know how long each metric goes for, yet we still always say, “wow, that year went by fast”.
We are just letting time pass us by. We do things on a daily basis as a routine and get into robot mode where we do most things without thinking. Before we know it it’s Friday and another week is over, suddenly another year has passed us by and we’re still in the same place, same routine, but a year older. How many times have we said “one day, I’ll do …”.
What stops us? Usually time and money. We often say to ourselves that we don’t have any time to do things that we want to do, but what does that mean? That we only make time for things that we don’t want to do? Is that what we’re doing every day, things we don’t want?
I think personal education has a huge part to play in our society. In the era of social media, we tend to learn about current affairs online and often get distracted by articles like, a cat having breast cancer and how a surgeon saved it rather than learning something meaningful like, Richard Branson is one of the richest (dyslexic) billionaires in the world and reading about his life. Of course, what’s meaningful to me is not necessarily meaningful to anyone else, but I definitely consider getting caught up scrolling through hundreds of cat videos on YouTube is a total waste of life compared with learning more about Richard Branson’s amazing life.
Everyday, we make a choice of what we want to learn and every day we end up doing things that end up wasting time. We choose to spend 30 minutes scrolling on social media. We choose to watch an episode of GoT on TV. We choose to do status updates on Facebook to get as many likes as possible. All of these are conscious choices we make every single day and choose to spend our time on. How about reading or listening to a book for 5 mins? It will give you far more motivation and knowledge than scrolling on Instagram for an hour will.
The best thing is if we chose education as a way to spend time, we will find time slows down for us and you start to enjoy it. It may help you to be more present and focused and you’ll find you will appreciate your current environment more.
We live in a world full of distractions, we don’t get by 5 minutes in the day, without your phone dinging at least once for a notification for Facebook, Instagram, email, text messages, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, and many others. Our minds are looking for and addicted to the next dopamine fix, the feel good drug. We need to learn to control these distractions rather then have them control our time. I find reading is the perfect fix; it educates you, stimulates you, and helps you make your life better. And I’m not talking Harry Potter books (sure, read one of those amongst others), I’m talking self development books – something that will add value to your life and help you grow as a person.
Finding time to read can be hard in your day to day life. It is a challenge even finding 5 mins to do housework, let alone reading for 30 mins.
I have never been a reader. I grew up in India in a middle class family and never had story books read to me by my parents. The first book I ever read was To Kill A Mocking Bird for a school assignment I found it boring and a big chore to read books. After I turned 30 I began to realise some of my weaknesses. I started reading articles on how I could improve them and before long I was reading books, listening to audio books and now at 37, I get through at least a book a week. I have been the busiest I have ever been, yet the reading has only increased. I am now hungry for knowledge, as much as my brain can take.
So here is my way of finding time to read (or listen).
- Write down the times you’re by yourself. (I write down all the times that I am by myself doing a monotonous task that doesn’t require active thinking: Cycling, walking, doing washing (when I don’t have two kids by my feet), gardening, driving and gym.)
- Now write down times you’re by yourself with absolutely nothing else to do. ( I included the times I’m alone with nothing else to do: using the bathroom, dinner (can only happen after the kids are in bed)
- Next, replace your habits. (I put a different book in each area of the house and always had my ear phones handy for all the times I couldn’t have a physical book at hand. I replaced eating dinner in front of the TV with reading two pages of a book at the dinner table. I replaced listening to music with listening with audio books. I replaced scrolling on social media while in the bathroom with reading physical books. I replaced using my phone before bed to do some light reading and meditating for five minutes. I think meditating alone helps clear your mind and wake up fresher in the mornings and ready for another day of learning.
- Do the above for at least a month with alarms or reminders in your calendar to remind you of the habits you need to replace. Every habit can be trained, before you know it, you’ll be thinking about what else you’re wasting your time doing. Realise, replace, repeat.
Of course there are times I listen to music and scroll through social media, but I limit music time to 2 days per week (or if I’ve had enough of reading/learning) social media time to 30 minutes per week. I literally have a stop watch and as soon as I get into watching the top ten funny gym videos. I know it’s time to shoot myself and wake up from the social media distraction dream.
Reading offers us a different perspective to our lives. It allows us to realise our weaknesses and find solutions to them. Whatever your weakness, there are hundreds of expert articles and books written about that subject. By reading, you have the opportunity to improve your weaknesses and most importantly make the most of your time. Investing more time to learn about yourself and weaknesses makes you realise how much time is being wasted on activities that purely waste your time. Change your perception of time and redefine how you use it to improve yourself.
I encourage you to read at least one (personal development) book per month to see how it changes your life.