Hacking Time


In my April adventure to do my daily dozen every day this month, a thought occurred to me. Is there enough time in each day? And if not, how can more time be created?

Here’s the math, by the minute:

  • Morning pages: 20
  • Power pose: 2
  • Weights: 10
  • Vitamins: 1
  • Reasonable to-do list: 15
  • 5 fruits and veggies: included in meals
  • Active minutes: 30
  • Family member time: variable
  • Blog post: 60-90
  • Spanish app: 10
  • Reading: 30
  • 3 things I’m grateful for: 10
  • Sleep: 420

Setting aside sleep and focusing on waking hours, that’s 218 minutes, or 3.63 hours. For simplicity, let’s say 3.5 hours.

Like most people, my schedule doesn’t have many open hours in it. So how will this work? By doubling up on activities. Not so I’m multitasking, which is a myth anyway, but by combining activities that naturally go together.

Think of it as a “twofer” – something satisfying 2 needs simultaneously. Or in business jargon, as a “stacked win.”

Morning pages and problem solving. One of the natural outcomes of morning pages, according to their inventor Julia Cameron, is a way to solve problems. If I’m facing a challenging at work or home, writing about it longhand often leads to solutions. And morning pages can be a way to sketch out my next blog post.

Power posing and meditating. Despite the hype about meditating, it hasn’t grabbed me. Yet. While there’s a meditative quality to walking, doing yoga and paddle boarding, it hasn’t been an overt practice in my life. Until I started my 2-minute power poses, thanks to Amy Cuddy. During that time I can focus on my breathing and clear my mind.

Reading and news. Working in corporate communications and now in marketing, it’s imperative to stay on top of the news. My 15-minute news rituals can count toward my reading time. Of course, it’s more enjoyable to read for 30 minutes at the end of the day, but on busier days, reading is already in the plan.

This weekend I stocked up on books, thanks to my local library. Recent releases that caught my eye: Mind Hacking, Why We Work and Social Media for Writers.

And I always have my Kindle app, especially handy if I’m waiting for an appointment or to pick up a family member. Right now it’s Social Physics and revisiting The Happiness Advantage.

Treadmill time and reading. Cardio time walking on the treadmill is also great reading time. There’s catching up with longer-form news and articles via iPad and in print. And there are plenty of books on my iPad (see item above).

Exercising and socializing. My husband is my paddle boarding buddy. We not only enjoy the time together, but we also look forward to gliding across the water and being in nature (thanks to Laura Vanderkam for highlighting the benefits of anticipating weekend activities). And a friend has begun to meet me for a Sunday morning yoga class, brightening both of our days.

Blogging and learning. This blog is a learning journey. It began with a focus on the future of corporate communications. As my career pivoted into marketing, it’s became a way to learn how to learn, especially in the area of marketing analytics. So time spent on my blog is often time spent learning about the latest in my current field. This hack comes from Penelope Trunk and her course on blogging.

Recharging and moving. This includes things like walking meetings, or walking during lunch. It’s hard to beat getting out in nature for fresh air and sunshine. And I often find that walking during the day can help me solve problems I’ve been wrestling with. Other ways to recharge during a short lunch break – a few minutes with my Spanish app, listening to a podcast or meeting a colleague.

Commuting and learning. Driving to and from the office can take 50 to 90 minutes a day. That’s a big chunk of time. How can it better be used? Here are 3 – listening to TED talks, listening to Spanish radio stations and listening to podcasts, especially on data analytics.

And here I’m especially grateful to work for a company that connects us to our world, everywhere we live, work and play (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own). That puts me a third of the way on today’s list of what I’m grateful for.

Technology and connectivity make our lives better in many ways. Recently I started using the Starbucks app as an easy way to pay. But I hadn’t tried the ordering feature. Until a colleague Sandy Smart-Ashburn raved about it. Short on time this morning, I ordered a latte through the app. It felt like a near-miracle to skip the line and pick up my beverage from the barista.

More to come as the adventure continues.

The photo above is from the University of Southern California where I spoke last year on a panel about social collaboration at my grad school alma mater.

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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