One of the hardest things in getting productive work done has always been finding time to get focused work done. There are so many demands on our time that what we want to accomplish gets pushed out in favour of other more immediate or more pleasurable things.
Back in the day when Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, and Alexander Graham Bell were alive the mind numbing effects of TV were not yet felt. These great thinkers could devote an extra lifetime to their pursuits. The average Canadian watches 30 hours of TV per week! The loss of productivity to TV is astounding. Taking that TV time and instead using it to learn, experiment and pursue goals would change the entire country. If people took back their evenings to tinker with robots, or learn an instrument we would be in a very different planet right now.
Reducing or eliminating TV is the low hanging fruit for finding more time in the day.
For Ben Franklin not watching TV didn’t provide any competitive advantage over other people of his time (no body else had TV either). Franklin found his extra time in the mornings. By waking up before the demands of everyone else could direct his day he was able to get an astounding amount of work done. The quiet solitude you can find in the early morning hours can be more focused and productive than the rest of your day. It is the perfect time to exercise, plan the day, or study something new.
Converting to a morning person takes dedication and planning. But it will give you a couple more hours in your day to devote to your pursuits. (How to do this is worthy of another post)
People today, have the additional benefit of the tools of automation and convenience. Microwave ovens, coffeemakers and dishwashers can each contribute small amounts of time back to our day if used. By brewing your own coffee in the morning you save both time and money over waiting in line at starbucks. Technology is here to serve us and make our lives more convenient so that we may devote less time to chores, and more to what we want.
Technology and automation is the 3rd leg in our pursuit of finding more time.
Finally, with so many things demanding our time, finding focus and eliminating distraction will make the time we do get more productive. As a software programmer I am acutely aware of the pitfalls of multi-tasking. The human brain just isn’t very good at actively working on multiple things at once. It takes time to really focus our attention on a task and get into a mental state where we can accomplish significantly more. Whether through physical isolation or by using tools to reduce chatter or developing a pattern of work that provides time to focus you can get more done with the time you have.
Of course you need the motivation and ambition to direct the time you do have to productive means.