In his article 7 Ways to Maximize Downtime featured in Entrepreneur, Performance Consultant, Speaker & Award-Winning Author John Brubaker shares his thoughts on how to redeem your time. In addition to his insights, I found that by incorporating just one micro-change in my daily routine, significantly changed the outcome of my week for the better! The key as I discovered was not to try to do everything all at once, but rather make small additions to my routine. They work for me, so I’m confident you can make them work for you.
The first thing you have to do is stop trying to force a complete change in what you do. Whatever your routine is, own it! Work within it! Don’t work against it! And in no time you’ll be able to attain the goals you set through consistent disciplined following of your existing routine. Here are four common examples:
1. Fitness: Want to firm up your core, but don’t feel like adding dozens of sit-ups to your workout? Try adding three Burpees to your routine.Want to take it up a level? At step four add a second push-up.

In less time than you think, you will see a dramatic change in your core. It’s important to note that this single exercise will not fix all tha ails you, nor is it intended to replace what you already do. In this instance, it merely acts as an augmenting exercise, and as such it might not be the perfect addition to your routine. The point is, that if you want different results, you need to add something different to your routine. That said, don’t leave common sense out of the equation; you can’t eat to excess and expect that 3 Burpees will burn off the calories! Instead consider adding the reps before or after your routine. If you want even greater results, increase the number of repetition, it is just that easy.

 
 
 2. Productive Daily Plan: If you’re like most of us, you tend to drag yourself from bed, into the shower, dress and get into the day without a lot of forethought and effort. There is an adage that says, “the things that are important, are the things that get done.” If you can invest just 8-10 minutes in the morning before you start full tilt into your day, you will see your productivity skyrocket over time. Start by simply making a list of the things you know you a) Need to get done, b) Want to get done, and c) Like to do.  Even as you’r building your list you’ll be tempted to start working on them immediately  but resist the urge! Next prioritize your daily plan by putting the Need to get done tasks and projects at the top of your plan. Then prioritize this list into things that absolutely require you to do personally, and things that can be handled through delegation or email.
      These level 1 critical things that absolutely require you, should be handled as quickly as possible. If there are meetings where you’re invited, but not needed, consider just getting the notes from it later from a colleague. Discipline yourself to front-load the Need to get done and do them first. Spend the time necessary to accomplish the task, but no more than that! Following your list from want to and like to, you will see immediate changes in your level of productivity.   
You can stack up your Want to get done, tasks and projects so that when you’r at a point where you can’t do any more Need to for whatever reason, you can progress to the next level of productivity. Follow the same routine as before, just focus on disciplining yourself to be aware of where you are and what you’re doing all the time! A handy acronym that you can use to pull you from one task to the next is WIN (What Is Next?) By continuously asking yourself what is next, you can’t help but see continued progress!
So how do you get here from there?  Brubaker suggests you adopt a Rise and G.R.I.N.D. (Get Ready It’s a New Day) mindset. Here’s how:
 
Wake up (and get up) an hour earlier than everyone else in your house. Discipline yourself not to hit the snooze. This capsule of time provides you with a quiet, distraction-free environment to enhance your focus. Grab your coffee and instead of checking your email or watching the news, invest that time creating your productive daily plan. Everything you do should move you toward completing your tasks on your list first. The rule of thumb is that if you don’t make a plan for your day, someone else will.  
3.     Mindless Ride to Mindful Commute: Much has been said or suggested about learning on the go, but it’s truly under-appreciated! It’s been estimated that Americans spend the equivalent of a work week every year sitting in traffic. Imagine what you could learn or do with that 40+ hours if you could reclaim them. There’s a simple means for you to redeem your wasted commute time. Enroll in Dashboard University! There are hundreds of thousands of free training programs, educational sites, and professional development opportunities unique to your field just a mouse click away. What are you waiting for?

How much does it cost? Some of the top programs and premium content is free! All you have to do is signup and listen.
How much time will it take? You control how much or how little you wan to learn and thus control the flow of information received.

Americans spend the equivalent of a work week sitting in traffic. Redeem your commute time by
adding a little knowledge to your skills. By attending Windshield University, I’ve read (listened to) dozens of books on
everything from leadership and management, to current events, all for free!

The average
daily commute time in the U.S. is about 50 minutes round trip. Consider the
typical college course is about 50 minutes long. A micro-shift in your mindset
could propel you from a mindless ride, to a mindful commute! Would you like to
learn another language? Would you like to finally read the Bible through? If
you’re riding and not driving, would you like to see how others have
successfully built, repaired, or refurbished something with common tools?
Check into
your Windshield University by checking out podcasts, CD Audiobooks, MP3
downloads and more! Think about it; if you reframed your 50-minute daily ride
into a mindful commute, you could add over four hours a week (more than the
average college course) or about 216 hours to your professional development
annually. For free! That’s the equivalent of an MBA’s worth of professional
development.
4.      Power Lunch: Stop eating at your desk! Schedule business-lunch meetings (at least
once a week) that can help you: achieve one of your goals, make a sale or
advance your career. we spend 31 hours a
month or more in unproductive meetings, and much of that is due to no clear call to
action; the purpose for the meeting. Your power lunch will shake up
that trend for you personally and professionally! You’re making an opportunity
to feed your body and your career!

Use a few minutes of your lunch break to review your daily
progress and adjust where needed. Some research suggests

So where do you start? Start right now by committing to improving
yourself! Aren’t you worth it? Next write down a goal that you would like to
achieve over the next 30 days…starting today! Not tomorrow or the first of the
month, but right now where you’re sitting or standing. Once you write it down,
a goal becomes a plan! Now share your goal in the comment section below and
watch your plan take shape!
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Dr. Eugene Matthews