20 Smart Ways To Increase Productivity During Prime Time

20 Smart Ways To Increase Productivity During Prime Time

All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
~Baltasar Gracian

While the amount of things we want to see, do, smell, taste and touch exceeds all but our imagination there are still just 24 hours in each day.

Time flies by and many times people find themselves at the end of the journey known as life without enough stories to say it was all worth while. I’m here to give you 730 hours back per year so that you can make some beautiful memories.

Our enemy — ‘Prime Time’. That’s the time of the day, usually 8:00pm to 10:00pm where the world watches their favorite sitcom, reality show, or news channel. The amount of value that we get out of these shows is negligible, if not negative, next to the amount of time we are wasting. Wasted time meaning the time that we are not either being super productive or enjoying and loving life.

I do not count watching TV as a good way to relax and enjoy life. Sitcoms may be funny, reality shows may be sexy, and news may be captivating, but none of the benefits of such things outweigh the fact that TV is turning your brain into a rotting vegetable.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
~Carl Sandburg

20 Smart Ways To Increase Productivity During Prime Time

  1. Exercise. Exercising every day will get you feeling young, reduce the risk of serious diseases, and have your mind be sharp as a tack. On days that I run I feel my metabolism speed up, my mood enlightened, and my productivity soaring.

    With 2 hours of prime time you have the opportunity to do cardio and lift. If you’re tactful you’ll use the time to do an outdoor activity such as cycling, hiking, or playing a sport with friends.

  2. Sleep early. Since prime time is about 8:00pm – 10:00pm the sun is usually setting. Use the opportunity to get to bed early, and wake up early when the sun is coming up. Early morning is an excellent time to get things done — and it’s light.
  3. Read. No matter what you’re reading speed, if you read for 2 hours a day you’ll get a lot of reading done. Break your year into reading categories and become an expert in subjects that will improve your career, health, or relationships.

    During the time I got my master’s degree I spent an equal amount of time studying personal development — I would say I have a master’s in PD as well!

  4. Cook ahead. You can save a lot of money by cooking your own meals. During two hour cooking sessions every day you can really increase your culinary skills and impress your friends and family with your awesome abilities.

    Combine cooking with listening to some light music, or listen to personal development audio tapes while your in the kitchen. It will keep things fresh, fun, and educational all at the same time.

  5. Learn a language. Two hours a day, for one full year, will allow you to become very good at a language of your choice. You can read language books, listen to language audio tapes, or take an evening course at a local university.

    There are some major languages that can help you in your career or for your traveling pleasures. At the same time you’ll literally increase your brain capacity to learn — all while becoming a well rounded individual.

    If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.
    ~Maria Edgeworth

  6. Get a degree. By taking 1-2 classes a week during the evening, you can accumulate enough credits to get a degree within a few years. You can do this while you work (actually it isn’t uncommon for a company to pay for an advanced degree while you work), and be able to earn a much better living once your done.

    Friends of mine have done this very thing and have doubled their incomes by getting promotions. Not bad for giving the tube a rest.

  7. Draw and Paint. You might want to build a collection on the side while working a day job, or simply paint for pleasure when you can. No matter the case, you’ll get there much quicker, and be much better in the process when you’re devoting your prime time to your passion.
  8. Blog Your Passion. My passion is personal development and it is the muse of this blog you are reading. Since December 15, 2006 it has grown to peak at 60,000 hits a month as of today (May 2008). By devoting 2 hours a day, like I have done, you can have a huge audience and share your passion with the world as well.

    You may want to blog about whatever topic interests you. It is your passion that will set you apart and keeping you coming back. Your passion will captivate your audience, and your audience will become your reason to continue. The audience of this site are one of the biggest passions in my life — I’d love for you to experience this too. (For help on starting a site, check out Site Built It!)

  9. Write a Novel. After conducting the Gotta Get Goals project last year I learned that many people have a passion to write a New York Times #1 Bestseller. If you could write relatively quickly, you should be able to dish out 4 pages a day.

    At 1,000-2,000 words per day, you can create a 50,000 word (or 200 page) novel within one month. That’s 12 novels each year… with such quantity you’re bound to create something good!

  10. Join Toastmasters. Toastmasters international is an organization that helps people improve their public speaking skills. I just learned and I see a lot of potential and possibility within this program. They say the top 2 things that people are scared of are death and public speaking. I’m not afraid of death, it’s going to happen, so might as well get this public speaking thing squared away.

    This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


  11. Organize. Take the time to clean your environment and mind. Clean your home, plan out your day, week, month, year and life. Look over your mission statement so that you know exactly who you are and who you want to be being.

    What they say is true, planning is a time investment that earns huge dividends. Without it, you might not even realize that your life is average and mediocre. Planning, organizing, and thinking can give you access to everything you ever wanted. Remember Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich.

  12. Join a Hobby Club. There are many enthusiast clubs with people that have the same interests as you, no matter what those interests are. An easy way to locate such a club is by visiting meetup.com and browsing the different categories. If that doesn’t work — start your own.
  13. Play Piano. Every time I hear someone play the piano I’m highly impressed. That’s because I know the amount of practice and dedication it takes. The payoff is great and at 2 hours a day you could get pretty good within a year.
  14. Master Chess. Chess is a game of cunning intellect. It’s very easy to learn the basics and very difficult to master. While you’re learning you’re actively using your brain and improving your concentration skills. Not only will this decrease the risk of debilitating brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s but you will also notice mental performance improving in other areas.
  15. Meditation/Yoga. Relax your mind with meditation or tone up your body with yoga. The two are not mutually exclusive and you know that there is a dichotomy between our mind and body — that’s why it is important to push both.

    For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.
    ~Benjamin Franklin

  16. Extra funds. You can use the little extra time you save each day to make more money. Here’s the catch. If you aren’t in love with your job you can use this opportunity to make more money doing something you really love. You can do this by earning money through your hobby. As for myself, I use the time to write articles for online publications, and earn cash on the side.
  17. Volunteer. Volunteering can be a very fulfilling opportunity. I feel that the more you give, and the less you expect in return, the more you will get in terms of building your character. All of our goals are, or should be, a chiseled character — what good is it if we don’t use it to help others?
  18. Friends Time. Many cell phone plans let you talk for free in the evenings, so use this freed up time, and the free minutes, to catch up with a different friend each day of the week. We strengthen the relationships that we deem most important, and the best way to do that is invest our time and love into them.
  19. Family Time. Many people say that family is important to them, but they don’t necessarily take time to set aside for family time. Family time does not have to be a chore, you can combine all the other activities above, and do them together as a family.

    It doesn’t have to be all about productivity, you can use the time to just talk, make fun plans, or just do some proactive relaxation.

  20. Live. Forget everything I just said. Your time doesn’t belong to me, and my self-improvement fanatical thoughts — it belongs to you. Do whatever brings you pleasure, and take pleasure in whatever you’re doing. It’s your life and it’s your time — enjoy it!

Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.

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Photo by Aranyx and Zoutedrop

Posted by in Productivity | May 28, 2008 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 17 comments

  • Ash Frog

    Nice list.

    I just thought instead of “play piano” it should be “learn to play an instrument”.

    And while chess is cool, I’d also recommend Go. Extremely simple rules, extremely hard to master.

  • http://lymanreed.com/ Lyman Reed

    Great list, Alex… Any of these would be a better use of time than staring at the boob tube. I’m not a television Luddite (I loves me some “Lost”), but when I find myself staring blankly and flipping channels, it’s posts like these that answer the question “What could I be doing with my time that’s better?”

    Thanks, Alex.

  • http://www.reason4smile.com Robert A. Henru

    Hi Alex, what is your opinion about reading newspaper? Is it a good time spending prime time as well?

  • http://freefrombroke.com FFB

    Great list of ideas. Too often I find myself getting sucked into the lure of tv, keeping warm with it’s glow. Not that all TV is bad but for the most part we can find better things to do with our time.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tonyangel Tony Surphman

    Nice post man. I agree about the other person who commented before me about the “playing an instrument rather than specifically the “piano.”

    Overall a very good article because people do not pay attention to things like this. Rather than worrying about it, just knowing it somewhere in the back of your mind, that living is limited doesnt come till an earlier age. And althought many learn to live life without regret I’m sure they still find themselves wondering “Where did the time go?” And i definitely feel that starting early is the best thing to do.

    I definitely feel like writing my own version of an article of this nature sometime so thanx for the inspiration.

  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    Thanks for all your great comments guys. Keep them coming 😉

  • http://groupwritingprojects.com/ Jacob from Group Writing Projects

    I couldn’t agree more with the premise of this post. It still amazes me how people almost feel obligated in Western countries to plop down in front of the TV during prime time or else not be involved in the water cooler talk the next day at work. 2 hours per day is 10 per week is 40 per month. That’s a lot of leisure time wasted. On the other hand, people do need a moment of relaxation every day where the mind doesn’t need to be churning at 6000 rpms. If you need your TV fix, catch it while on an exercise bike or listen to the audio while doing something else.

    Stumbled and Dugg!

  • http://Successsoul.com/blog/ Shilpan | successsoul.com


    You have, succinctly, written a life manual. If everyone follows all or parts of your suggestions, they can infinitely improve quality of their lives, of course, including me. Thanks for sharing these great thoughts with us.


  • Doug Rosbury

    You may have all the time you wish to celebrate but I have something infinitely more valuable.
    I have and am the true self which is all knowing all powerful, everywhere present and eternal.
    Time ends but I live on forever. Time is nothing, however, I am everything.—Doug Rosbury

  • http://Successsoul.com/blog/ Shilpan | successsoul.com


    You have, succinctly, written a life manual. If everyone follows all or parts of your suggestions, they can infinitely improve quality of their lives, of course, including me. Thanks for sharing these great thoughts.


  • http://ww.jungleoflife.com Lance

    This is a great list, and great idea generator for me.

    I personally practice the exercise option regularly, and it helps to keep me away from the television. Toastmasters is a great organization, I used to be a member, but due to time constraints with three active children, I no longer attend.

    Thanks for sharing this information.


  • http://www.komodo-dragon.net/ Komodo Dragon

    Wow, this subject mater is entirely truthful. Americans are wasting their precious time just sitting on a couch, and getting lost in a television show. We have become lazy, but worse then that, we are fat and lazy. This article should be read by all who have, and are wasting those hours.

  • http://effortlessabundance.com Michael Miles

    Yes some great tips here. I especially like the one about writing a novel. I have written one myself but it’s been languishing for ages, in need of a proof-read. I really must get back to it! Thanks for the push.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/lewishowes Lewis Howes

    This is the first time I have heard of or seen your blog. ( I noticed a comment by you on the Zen Habits blog… just to let you know your comments are being redirected to your blog) I must say I saw that you posted Toastmasters and I realized that you know what you are talking about. I joined Toastmasters about 7 months ago and it is a great thing! I find a new confidence in me each time I give a new speech. It takes time to write and practice your speech, taking you away from watching tv, and it gives you something to look forward to.

    Great mention with toastmasters!

  • Michel Richardson

    I especially enjoyed the last item of your list. I am tired of reading other people’s articles and it’s like they are telling you how to live. I like that you left it open like that, pretty much saying, hey, as long as you understand what you enjoy then do it.

  • http://www.theyoumovement.com Barbara

    A great post!! It is true that as long as you budget, manage your time, and keep in touch with yourself – you will go far. Do things you enjoy doing and you will live a happier life!


  • http://www.rubeina.com rubeina

    Very interesting article, I really enjoyed it.
    I am actually trying to manage my time in the evening differently, most of the above I’ve done already; like playing an instrument (guitar), writing about things I like, exercising every day among others during the prime time. That was when I used to work from home, but I do not really have that much free time anymore and seriously I don’t watch tv at all. Very little time to myself now, there are days I feel I am kinda lost; not sure how to explain this feeling, but things have changed so much for me.
    Haha am leaving this comment after a while.