Destroy your timesinks.

Ever wonder where all your time goes? You get home from work, then practically before you know it, it’s bedtime. Where did all that time go? You sure didn’t get anything done, did you?

I’ve been finding that happening to me a lot lately, and I decided to crack down.

A few months back, I threw away most of my worldly possessions. Then I sold off most of the rest, including almost my entire DVD collection. I also downgraded to basic cable so I could spend more time doing things I cared about.

When I moved to Austin, I never got cable TV or internet. I just stole wifi from my neighbor, being the morally upstanding gentleman that I am. :)  Since I got here I’ve been spending a lot of time at home messing around on Youtube, Myspace, online dating sites, watching DVDs on Netflix, drinking beer, etc. I found that all of my evenings were relaxed, but mostly wasted on things that weren’t terribly important to me. Just pure time sinks. Unproductive activities with no tangible results or benefits to me. Just something to do to pass the time for the sake of passing time. One day, my neighbor locked their wifi connection, so I was internetless. So I decided to use that opportunity to make a change.

No more internet at home!

Not permanently, mind you… this is really just an experiment to see how long I last, and to see what I actually DO when I have no TV or internet. And to sweeten the mix, I poured out all my alcohol and stopped drinking alcohol at home. I never did it excessively, but I want every last bit of mental sharpness I can get.

So this past week I’ve been getting better, and I’m pretty amazed at what my body and mind automatically do when they don’t have an ‘easy out’ to spend time on. I’m only going to be on this earth so long, so wouldn’t it make sense to maximize what time I have and spend it wisely, instead of squandering it?

I still view time as a currency. Something you spend. You will never get any more time than you have, so it would make sense to allocate it wisely, no? But there are so many things out there that can just suck it up without you realizing it. And it’s easy to do. You don’t have to work hard at it, or learn anything to do it. You just let yourself get whisked away by it, and you wonder where all that time went. And you shrug, and keep doing it.

I hate that and it drives me crazy.

I guess I’m what you might call a Type A Personality. Very hard-working, impatient, hyper, always moving and improving and optimizing and trying to get things done. When I see waste in any form, or a problem, I get agitated, often visibly, and I want to correct it. So when I saw how much time I wasted, it really got under my skin.

So once I banished alcohol from my home, got rid of my TV, DVDs, music and internet access, I found myself with lots of very interesting ways to spend my time.

Mainly I’ve spent my time reading, cleaning my condo, cooking for myself, working out, and spending time with my cats and sugar gliders. Since I don’t have anything going on in the background to distract me, everything I do seems richer and more focused. It has more meaning. I’m not thinking of something else when I’m doing it, and every action I take seems to have more purpose, just because I’m more consciously willing it to happen. The intention to act is there, undiluted and beautiful.

It’s funny, because time seems to move a lot slower now. I bust ass at work (I love my job) and go 120mph all day, go home, and it all slows down. I get so much more done at home, I take care of all my bills, chores, and obligations, I feel more at peace with myself, my pets love the attention, I get to bed earlier, I get up earlier, and everything just starts falling into place.

So I’m going to see how long I can keep this up. I know not having internet access at home will start to bother me as time goes on, but I’m in a really sweet spot right now and I want to maintain it as long as I can.

Everyone should try this. Identify the least productive timesinks you have, and cut them out of your life. Don’t even leave them there to be an OPTION. Cut it out like a tumor. Then see how it goes. 🙂

What are your biggest timesinks?

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