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Stop trying so hard to save time.

saving time

Focus on what you would like to accomplish rather than attempting to practice all those time management and organizing ideas that come your way, which may or may not have any relevance to your situation or the goals that you are attempting to achieve. This is not to say you should work inefficiently; but the focus should be on getting the important things done.

Your brain – specifically the prefrontal cortex – uses a lot of energy in the process of evaluating, making decisions, and applying time management and organizing ideas, which may not actually save much time. If there’s an obvious big one that would revolutionize the way you work, by all means grab it; but don’t waste valuable energy that is needed for the variety of priorities and goal-related activities that will impact your future.

This focus on doing something positive consumes less mental energy and lends itself to the brain’s goal-directed orientation. Your brain generates from 10 to 23 watts of power when you’re awake – enough to turn on a lightbulb. But you must conserve as much of this energy as possible so you can cope with the day’s activities.

Schwartz and Gladding claim in their book, You are not your brain, “When you learn to focus your attention in positive, beneficial ways, you actually require your brain to support those actions and habits.”

It’s easy to fall in love with orderliness, efficiency and speed to the point where they become the objectives rather than the means – costly objectives when it comes to the consumption of energy.

Time management and personal organization are tools, like your desk, laptop and software that enable you to achieve goals in a timely manner. Don’t allow them to become procrastination tools that occupy your time and thus delay your achievements.

If you continually focus on goals, you will soon discover the most efficient and effective ways of accomplishing them. When you win at sports or in life, there are no points for having the most organized locker. Let time management and organizing be tools that help you achieve your goals, and not goals in themselves.

I won’t go so far as to say energy management should replace time management as a few books and articles seem to suggest; but I do believe that energy is a critical, frequently ignored resource that must also be managed. And it should be taken into consideration before applying any new time management strategies.

Crossing off items on a To Do list can become a goal in itself instead of a way of achieving your goals. Keeping organized can become an obsession in itself rather than a way to become more productive. And attempting to apply every time management suggestion that comes along can actually become a time waster in itself.

Keep your goals in mind. Focus on the results you want to obtain. Don’t let the medium become the message.



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“Everything in moderation” includes email and augmented reality games.

moderation and extreme judgment on blackboard

There are obvious signs that smart phones are being used in excess. For instance, as reported in the June, 2016 issue of Mindful magazine, a one-ton, 20 foot sculpture outside Salisbury Cathedral had to be moved because too many people walked into it while staring at their cell phones. And as pointed out in an Associated Press article appearing in the July 2, 2016 issue of, online smart phone use alone averages an hour and 39 minutes a day – more than double what it was two years ago.

Pokemon Go is the latest game that draws people to their smart phones. The July 18, 2016 business section of the Toronto Star ran several articles on this latest rage that has people walking the city streets and into lampposts in a search of virtual Pokemon characters. According to one research firm, it has been downloaded 15 million times already, and people spend an average of 33 minutes a day playing the game.

There are consequences for compulsive use of smart phones besides the tendency to walk into statues or into the path of vehicles. The summer, 2016 issue of Scientific American Mind mentioned a 2014 study that sixth grade campers who spent five days without electronics were better at reading human emotions. And a study published in the 2015 issue of Pediatrics found that children who sleep near a small screen get an average of 21 fewer minutes of sleep without gadgets in their rooms.

The hundreds of reports on the negative aspects of excessive cell phone and email use may be overkill – and perhaps even misleading. But everything has a cost. In Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, he mentions the case of Tom Cochran, who in 2012 gathered company-wide statistics on time spent waiting and answering emails by his company’s employees. Combining time spent with wages paid, he calculated that his company, Atlantic Media, was spending over $1 million a year to pay people to process emails.

There is little doubt that more time than necessary is being spent checking email. I believe it has replaced meetings as the one greatest single source of wasted time in business, and in many cases it may be used to avoid doing real work.

Reducing time spent on email will not only save money, it may offer other advantages as well. Cal Newport also describes in his book how one team at the Boston Consulting Group took one day a week free of any connectivity inside or outside the company. As a result, the consultants experienced more enjoyment in their work, better communication among themselves, more learning, and a better product delivered to the client.

When it comes to email, Pokemon Go or whatever the latest time-draining electronic activity happens to be when this article is posted, “everything in moderation” is good advice.

Everything comes at a cost.

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You deserve a hug today.


A smiley tacked onto the end of an email message or social media post will never replace a good old-fashioned hug.

According to an Associated Press article in the July 16, 2016 issue of Telegraph, people in America spent an average of 10 hours, 39 minutes each day with smartphones, tablets, TV, radio, computers and video games during the first three months of 2016. This is a full hour a day more than the previous year.

This doesn’t leave much time for personal one-on-one interaction with family and friends. You may be interacting with family and friends on social media; but physical touching is absent. Hugging, for instance, based on research, is believed to fight infection, boost your immune system, ease depression, lesson fatigue and lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Hugging increases levels of the neuropeptide oxytocin, sometimes referred to as a “cuddle hormone” or “love” hormone. Oxytocin promotes relaxation and supports coping skills, and hugging is one of the methods that Gayatri Devi recommends in his book, A calm brain, to calm your brain and reduce stress. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak recommends at least eight hugs a day to be happier and enjoying better relationships.

As described in Susan Greenfield’s Mind Change book, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison arranged for teenagers to perform a stressful task and then were comforted by their parents by phone, instant messaging, in person or not at all. Cortisol levels (markers of stress) and oxytocin (indicator of bonding and well-being) were then measured. Those who spoke on the phone or in person released similar amounts of oxytocin and similar low levels of cortisol. But those who instant messaged their parents released no oxytocin and had cortisol levels as high as those who had no contact at all with their parents. Online communication doesn’t seem to carry the emotional support of the more personal kind.

Gayatri Devi also described an experiment that showed couples who received an oxytocin nasal spray were much more likely to listen to one another attentively and affectionately. Perhaps we should be hugging our partners more.

Dr. Macola ( suggests that oxytocin might explain why pet owners heal more quickly from illness, why couples live longer than singles and why support groups work for people with addictions and chronic diseases.

According to one estimate, appearing in Susan Greenfield’s book, we spent an average of six hours a day in face-to-face interaction and four hours via electronic media. By 2007, this proportion had reversed, with nearly eight hours socializing on electronic media and two and a half hours in face-to face social interaction.

Although some people suggest that even social interaction on social media may increase oxytocin levels, it’s doubtful it would do so to the same extent – certainly in light of the research that suggests the skin contains a network of tiny pressure centers that can sense touch, which in turn are indirectly connected to oxytocin receptors.

Regardless, you deserve a hug today. Both the giver and the receiver share in the benefits.