We all have the same number of hours in our day. But some of us accomplish more in that time than others. Why? It all comes down to how you spend your time—and whether you’re aware when you encounter “traps,” or common, seemingly innocuous habits that consume your time and energy. Here are three “traps” and how to avoid them to become more productive and happy.
Don’t say “yes” to every opportunity.
There are many reasons why you could be burning through time, energy, and creativity. One of the biggest is saying “yes”‘ to everything. This is challenging to avoid because you feel kind and helpful when you say “yes” to others. But when you accept every opportunity that comes your way, you’re using up all your personal resources on something other than your own goals and dreams! This can create stress for you and others around you.
Eventually, people will start resenting working with you because they know how much work you have on your plate, which makes it uncomfortable for them to ask for more of your resources.
A simple solution is not to give any more of your resources than necessary. But to determine what is “necessary,” you must make conscious decisions about what you need in your life on any given day (and week/month).
Don’t be tied to your phone.
The first step is to put your phone down. If you are like most people, this will not be an easy thing for you to do. It may feel impossible at first.
But it will become easier once you get into a routine of putting your phone down and away when you need to focus on something else. The more often you do it, the less likely the habit will be broken by someone sending you a text or email when your mind needs peace to be creative and productive. This doesn’t mean that being social is bad or wrong—it just means there are certain times when we need our minds clear so we can concentrate on what we need at that moment (like focusing on a task, eating a meal, or working out).
Don’t get hung up on being efficient.
We always hear that we have to be efficient— but don’t get carried away or hung up on this idea. You are not your productivity, and it isn’t essential to always be busy. Start focusing on completing one task at a time to the best of your abilities. Make a point of slowing down, taking breaks, and enjoying the present moment as much as possible. You’ll see you will have more time for yourself and your loved ones.
Taking time for yourself can feel like a bad thing when you are expected to be productive 24/7. But your health and happiness will suffer if you don’t pay enough attention to care for yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish or something that should be reserved for people with extra time on their hands; it’s vital for everyone. By setting boundaries and prioritizing quality over quantity, you can escape “busy traps” and focus on what matters most.