Time is your most valuable resource. No matter who you are or what you have going on in your life, we all only have 24 hours in a day. But what if you could add an extra 30 days to each year just by making simple lifestyle changes?
We may only have 24 hours a day, but we waste many of those hours on poor time management and indecision. In this video, we share 5 simple changes you can make to gain 950 hours back a year. That’s a serious chunk of time—the equivalent of 39 extra days!
And these are changes anyone can make starting right now. Let’s get to it.
1. Keep Your Phone Out of the Bedroom
First, simply keep your phone out of the bedroom when you go to bed so that it’s not there when you wake up. This is something you can start tonight. Casual scrolling is not a bedtime story, and looking at messages right before bed will only clutter your mind when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Additionally, blue light at night suppresses your body’s release of melatonin, which hinders your sleep. So even if you set your phone down, you’ll still be lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep, which is a huge waste of time.
In the morning, you don’t need the stress of reading emails or checking the news first thing. Stick to your morning and night routines so that you can feel mindful, rested, and focused.
Leaving your phone outside of your bedroom will gain you at least 15 minutes every morning. That’s 1 hour and 45 minutes a week, which is 91 hours a year. Coupled with the 15 minutes you’ll save before bed, that’s another 91 hours for a total of 182 hours a year.
2. Meals on Autopilot
Next, get your meals on autopilot. Plan your meals in advance and stick to that plan, or use a low-cost service.
How many times do you open the fridge and wonder what to eat or open UberEats only to browse for 20 minutes without ordering? If you eat with a roommate or partner, how much time is spent discussing and planning what to eat?
This is all lost time, and it’s no fun to ponder and debate what to eat for an hour while getting consistently hungrier—especially if you’re prone to Hanger.
You may not realize it, but making this decision day after day “eats” up so much time—pun intended—and it adds up.
Instead, get consistent with your eating. Pick a few meals you like that are healthy and easy to prepare, and rotate through those.
Slow cookers and air fryers are game changers for cooking. The air fryer makes simple, healthy meals in minutes. A slow cooker allows you to throw everything into a pot in the morning and leave it for a deliciously slow cooked meal that’s ready to eat by dinner time.
If you crave more excitement from your cooking, sign up for a low-cost meal service. If you enjoy cooking and find it to be a relaxing or restorative activity, still take the time to cook, but plan what you’ll make in advance so you don’t lose any time on decision making. And when you’re in a dedicated study period, save any elaborate, time-consuming meals for the weekend.
In terms of time saved, 20 minutes of food indecision a day equals 2 hours and 20 minutes a week. That’s 121 hours a year. And this may be quite a conservative estimate depending on the number of meals you eat a day and how indecisive of a person you are.
3. Cut Down TV/Media Consumption
Third, cut down your TV and media consumption. We’re not going to demand that you cut out all TV, movies, and YouTube entirely, though that may be a habit that’s healthy for you to quit. Ali Abdaal swears by only ever watching TV or movies when he’s with other people to cut down on screen time, which also has the added benefit of encouraging more social interaction in his life.
But what if you cut your current consumption by half?
We’ve seen daily TV watching estimates as high as 4 hours for the average American. But we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as a busy student.
Let’s say you only watch 2 hours of television or media a day.
Cutting that down by half is 1 hour of time gained back every day. And if you are the average person when it comes to media consumption, cutting down by just 1 hour still leaves 2-3 hours a day of TV time.
Prioritize what you want to watch most. Cut out anything you don’t like or are just passively watching. And don’t kid yourself that you’re getting work done or studying when you passively watch TV in the background. Multitasking in this way is one of the worst study strategies. Check out our video ranking the top 9 worst study strategies. Link in the description.
That said, there are times when multitasking is effective, and this may be the ideal time for you to watch TV. More on that next.
For time saving, 1 hour a day equals 7 hours a week, which is 365 hours a year.
4. Multitasking (Correctly)
Fourth is multitasking, which gets a bad rap because it’s misunderstood. But we multitask effectively all the time when pairing a non-automatic task with an automatic one, like walking while talking to someone or breathing while doing, well, pretty much anything.
People often pair two or more non-automatic tasks concurrently, which is when multitasking becomes ineffective. Instead, you need to pair an automatic task with a non-automatic task.
For example, combine going for a walk with talking on the phone. Stretch or do mobility work while watching TV. Fold laundry while listening to podcasts or lectures. Complete practice problems while taking the bus or waiting in line. Cook while watching YouTube in the background.
We’ve spoken about downtime optimization a great deal on the channel, so I don’t want to be repetitive, but it is important.
When you need a break from studying, do something that relaxes your mind but is still something you have to do anyway, such as eating, exercising, getting groceries, laundry, or other relatively mindless chores. This enables you to still be productive while giving your brain the break it needs to function optimally.
Instead of spending an hour stretching and exercising and then spending another hour watching TV, combine the activities to save you an hour. Instead of waiting on hold with the bank and staring at the wall, fold some laundry or go for a walk.
What you absolutely don’t want to do is pair two non-automatic tasks like watching TV while studying or listening to lectures while trying to follow a recipe.
Multitasking correctly can save you loads of time. Again, we’ll be conservative and say you can save at least 30 minutes a day by combining an automatic task with a non-automatic one. That’s 3 and a half hours a week, equaling 182 hours in a year.
5. Buy Your Time Back
Lastly, buy your time back. I completely understand that paying for house cleaning isn’t within everyone’s budget, but it’s not as far out of your reach as you might think, especially if you live with roommates.
You have to calculate what that time is worth to you and how much you dislike the task.
If you’re always putting off cleaning, living in a stressful, untidy environment, and arguing with housemates over cleaning chores, it may be worthwhile to hire a cleaning service twice a month. It might be $80-100, but how many hours would it take you to do the cleaning yourself? Split between a few roommates, that’s only $25.
I understand that student budgets are tight. I had very little money during college and med school, but it’s the priorities that matter. Instead of buying the newest iPhone model, going out for drinks, or ordering expensive takeout, put your money where it will matter most to your time.
It took me a long time to learn this. I didn’t want to spend my money on things I could do myself. But time is your most precious resource as a student. Buy it back wherever you can.
For this example, let’s say you hire a cleaner twice a month, which saves you 2 hours twice a month on cleaning. That’s 48 hours a year.
Grocery delivery services are another huge time saver.
It may cost a little more, but you’ll be saving the time it takes to travel to the store, shop, wait in line, and get your groceries back home. 1 hour of groceries per week equals 52 hours of time saved per year.
Reviewing the Totals
We’ve tossed around a lot of numbers, so let’s review them.
Keeping your phone out of the bedroom translates to 182 hours gained a year. Planning your meals ahead of time equals 121 hours a year. Reducing your media consumption by only 1 hour is a whopping 365 hours a year. Multitasking automatic tasks with non-automatic ones equals 182 hours a year. And buying back your time with cleaning and grocery services is another 100 hours a year.
All told, that’s 950 hours, which is 39 days. That’s nearly 6 weeks of your time you could take back by making simple lifestyle changes.
What to Do With That Extra Time
Now, we’re not suggesting you go to all of that effort to gain back more time solely to work or study. The beauty of finding extra time is you can use it how you want.
We have the power to create time for exercise, hobbies, side projects, vacations, and a social life, just so long as we don’t waste time in unnecessary ways.
What would you do with an extra 30 days a year? What would you do with a bonus 6 weeks this year? Let us know in the comments!
Remember, you are in control of what this year will look like. Much love, and I’ll see you in the next one.