Small Changes Big Difference

12:43 AM Amer Bekic 0 Comments

  • Making better use of your smartphone - i.e. cutting down on unnecessary distractions and getting productive things done via smart usage
For most people their smart-phones are just for making calls, chatting on Whatsapp, checking Facebook and listening some music. I too used to do just these things and waste most of my time in that. Facebook would make me constantly check for notifications and provide the urge to unnecessarily update stupid posts or statuses. 

But about a year back, I removed it all together from my phone. And the impact has been much bigger than I imagined. I now enjoy my day-to-day life moments with full attention to the act in hand. No need for pointless check-ins or statuses like eating out at a restaurant, going home, in Goa etc. It brought back the good old Living-in-the-moment funda. My mobile phone is no more a stressful distraction during my travels or other daily activities.

I also reduced  my Whatsapp usage considerably. I left-and-deleted many chat groups which I didn't wanna be part of or which were seeing too much activity. Groups of high-school, childhood friends whom I never talked to in years, college friends who would keep FWDing stupid messages, company mates who made groups and were hyper-active in interacting on Whatsapp but who would never talk when we saw each other at work, in cafeteria etc. So I just thought that there was no point in receiving 1000 pings a day if it's not real or important communication. 

I now have only a couple of groups of close friends which I check just 2 times a day and have a peaceful day and night.

After doing these, the time saved could be used for many things using your smartphone. I use it to learn new languages via the Duolingo app,  to read books via Play Books or any PDF reader.

I am making some progress with my French & Italian on Duolingo. Don't think you'd be able to read books on the small screen of your phone? You certainly can. And it's the most efficient way there is. I finished the whole 'Shantaram (book)' - (almost 1000 pages) on my Samsung Galaxy Ace handset, reading mostly between the free time I'd get during my office hours and at places where I'd be spending time waiting for something or someone. I had no idea that the book I finished reading on my phone was so mammoth until I ordered it at the Leopold Cafe in Colaba, Bombay. (Or maybe it's just that good a book.)

If you have a bigger screen phone and better app to read books, you can certainly utilize most of your free time in completing the books that you've always wanted to read. Read it during office hours if there isn't much work, read it during daily commute, during travel - without having to carry the hard copy. You'd be surprised at the speed with which your books will be finished.

  • Living closer to the work place -
This could have immense impact on your daily life and would work out for a better work-life balance. If you are spending 40-60 minutes on commute to and from your work place, you'd likely be more stressed, tired and would be wasting a lot of time which could be utilized for doing many productive or leisure tasks.

I live within 10 minutes of distance from work and it gives me a lot of time to do many things in the morning as well as in the evening when I get back from work. 

I wake up after a good sleep, hit the gym, go for photographing in the vicinity or just listen to music for an hour or more. And it gives me a fresh & relaxed start to start my mornings and enjoy the rest of the day.

(Combine this with my next advice/change and you'd have better enjoyable days)

  • Leaving office early if possible  -
I am writing this with especially 20 something corporate employees working for some MNCs in mind. As per most company policies, employees are required to work a standard 8-9 hours a day and your swipe-ins and swipe-outs are recorded and reflect in your HRMS. But, unlike start-ups and small companies, most big companies are not so rigidly strict about forcing these exact number of hours on its employees. Generally it isn't considered a half day or absenteeism if you've remained in office for about 5-6 hours. But still most people make it a point to not leave their respective offices until it is a specified out-time, even if they are done with their work. And as soon as the clock hits that specified time, they pick up their bags and leave office; all this while just waiting for the clock, even if they had no work all day.

My advice to these sincere, obedient fellows is simple. Don't wait for the clock till the exact time is up. Leave as early as possible. 20 minutes, half an hour or an hour early if you can. Don't worry about what your manager will say. If there isn't much work, he/she probably is aware that you are sitting idle or you are done with your work. Or just explain it to him/her that you have completed the tasks and are leaving early.

By doing that, first of all, you'd feel good about yourself that you have saved some time in hand and that you don't have to hurry to your home or apartment.  Your stress of working whole day would be lessened and you'd feel relaxed, minimizing the grumpy mode that you tend to get into after a day full of work. Believe me, it's much much better feeling than when you leave on time and know in the back of your mind that you have to have the same regular things done and face the same day, before dozing off to sleep.

And when you get back to your apartment, you can utilize that half-hour or one hour of extra time for various things that you don't get time for. You can now apply the Twenty/Thirty Minute Rule that  Evan DiFilippis introduced to us in the top answer to this question and get many productive things done. You can read few pages of a book, write an article or simply meditate whilst listening to some relaxing music.

This small change always brightens up the rest of my day. Just tonight, I got back early by about 40 minutes and I spent that time to clean my room, to write a few important things in my diary and balance my expenses. And it all set me again in a better and determined mood.