How would you like to find another 40 hours in your month? What could you accomplish with that time? Get an advanced degree? Read the books you’ve been wanting to get to? Develop an interest? Sharpen a skill set? Think about the impact of this.
I’m late to the game on this, but still felt it worth sharing. When the new year began, I decided to try an experiment. I wanted to see how much time I could reclaim by limiting time-draining activities and by infusing otherwise “dead time” with something valuable.
Let me share the results first. Bottom line is, 120 hours were reclaimed over three months. That’s more than 40 hours a month. This total was shocking to me. I had no idea that this amount of time was being lost in what I would call “transitional time.” I was surprised how simple this is, and the impact it has had on my week.
Here are the steps to my experiment:
Step 1—Get a blue-tooth speaker and some earbuds. Mine is a water-proof blue-tooth speaker, useable in the shower, and the headphones are BeatsX, a low-profile pair that hang around the neck, inside my shirt, out of sight.
Step 2—Strategically limit consumption of push-media. This is media that gives you no control over the content pushed out to you (think talk radio, Facebook or ESPN.) My primary stream of “push-media” is news. I enjoy catching up with political events, but I dislike hearing the same content, ads, and narrative over and over. This was eating up more time than I realized. (Eventually the “my-pillow” ads wore me down, and yes, I love that pillow!)
Step 3—Replaced push-media with pull-media. Fill transitional time with content that develops you. For me this involved three things—an audio Bible (YouVersion is free), a selection of podcasts and a membership with audible. Regretfully, I’ve been personally skeptical of using audible—and I’ll explain why in a moment.
Step 4—Identify reclaimable, transitional time. Morning prep time and drive-time alone can put about 10-12 hours back into the week. It can get interesting to look for dead spots—waiting at a doctor’s office, working around the house, exercising, shopping at Lowe’s, getting ready for bed, etc. You’ll be surprised where you find little pockets of time to progress through a book or podcast.
Step 5—Track progress. The Bible app tracks your days. Audible tracks your hours. Podcasts you will have to track. After a month, I was shocked how much time was reclaimed.
Here are the blessings of this experiment.
Bible—While hearing the Bible as read by an angry-sounding British guy isn’t totally my thing, I do enjoy beginning the day hearing 30 minutes of God’s word while getting ready.
Books—There is a type of book that I don’t need to notate—books for consumption, like biographies I’ve been waiting to read. These are the books that work well for audible, and it has resulted in about a book a week.
News—Limiting news consumption to 10 purposeful minutes a day informs me of the cultural narrative, without wasting time.
Podcasts/Education—About 45 minutes late in the day have been reclaimed for taking masters classes or consuming other edifying content.
There are some quantifiers and dangers I want to caution you with.
First, I don’t have small children. My pockets of “negotiable” or “transitional time” were few and far between when our children were young. I suspect that a part of the reclamation of time is related to our changing family dynamics.
Second, quiet time is valuable time. It’s really not a good idea to fill all the “white space” in life with noise, even if it’s good noise. Your soul also needs quiet. Prayer requires quiet. Work to protect your margin.
Third, devotional time is vital. An audio Bible can’t replace a personal, quiet walk with Jesus in His word. Make these things supplementary not primary.
Fourth, relationships are priority. I don’t listen to content if I’m in proximity to someone I love, with whom I should be interacting. For instance, if my family is awake in the car, earbuds come out.
Fifth, content selection is key. Not all content is equal, and choosing the right content is critical. What fuels your heart for God and others? What develops your character or your leadership? What makes you better in Christian life, family life and gospel ministry?
What are the big outcomes?
You won’t miss the push content agenda. You’ll progress through the Bible more rapidly than you think, and will gain a better grasp of the biblical narrative. You will read some fantastic books, and learn a lot about topics of your choice.
More than that, your soul will simply be healthier and better nourished.
Is it sustainable? Over time, I’m sure there will be dynamic adjustments, and perhaps not every month will be like the last three. Only time will tell.
When we only consume “push-media” we are rendering control of our internal narrative to others. In this, we will simply go through life being force-fed by culture. This experiment is about deliberately and strategically controlling our mental consumption, and it will have a significant impact on our spiritual and psychological health.
If only for the health of your soul, take control of your internal narrative and consider what is influencing it. Reclaim the time by choosing to consume healthy food for the soul!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5
This article originally appeared here.