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What is the most precious and valuable resource in the world? I’ll give you a hint: It does not glitter like silver and gold, there never seems to be enough of it, and if you try to catch it, it slips out of your hands.

The most precious and valuable resource in the world is time.

I want to talk about three different ways that you can increase your life expectation by using your time wisely. Each of us only has so much time to work with, and none of us are getting any younger. By making more effective use of your time, you have a better shot at achieving your personal goals.

Improve your productivity with structured time

In today’s always-connected age, we are bombarded by requests for our attention from left and right.

One of my own dreams is to work from home, but one of the problems of working from home is that there are too many distractions; the TV is nearby, there is the temptation to “take a break” to play games or to check my email every five minutes, or I end up chatting with my significant other. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I also had kids at home.

My first tip is to cut out the noise. Time spent in recreation is important, but if you are not careful, you will wonder why you didn’t have time to do everything that you wanted to do.

First, give your most important priorities the time that they need. Structure the amount of time that you need to get things done, and then find yourself a quiet space, either in your home or nearby, where you can work and study in peace.

I find that it helps when you dedicate a place to work, study, and play, for the same reasons that your bedroom should be devoted solely to rest and spending time with the significant other. I personally like to study at the library, because I can focus strongly on the task at hand without anything nearby to distract me.

Reduce “dead” time.

We should commit to reducing as much “dead” time as possible. What is dead time? Dead time is simply another way of describing all of the time spent doing something when we would rather be doing something else.

Here are five tips to reduce your dead time and simplify your life:

Do you spend a lot of time leaving home to do groceries, go to the pharmacy, and pick up packages at the post office?
With a little bit of planning and foresight, you can cut down time wasted going back and forth dramatically. Simply make a list of everything that you need to do and everything that you need to buy, and schedule a time where you do not expect big lineups at the store. Instead of leaving the house to do your errands, you can make it a part of your regular route between work and home.
Do you hate waiting in line at the store?
Learn the times when employees get off work and lineups grow exponentially longer, so you can avoid having to wait in line for ages simply to pay for your stuff.
Do you hate waiting in line at the bank?
Sign up for online banking and bank online from the convenience of your home.
Do you spend two hours cooking every day?
Plan some of your meals ahead of time, so that you can spend a Sunday afternoon cooking all of them together in bulk. By using common ingredients, you can cook several meals ahead of time without having to eat the same thing every day.
Do you find it hard to find time to exercise?
Instead of wasting time going to and from the gym, take the stairs, park as far as you can from the store, and do bodyweight exercises inside your own home.

Trading time for money

Then there are the things we do to save a bit of money here and there, without realizing how much time this is costing us. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to trade your money for additional time.

I can think of three examples off of the top of my head:

Do you spend half an hour washing and drying the dishes every day? That is time you could be spending with the kids instead, or working on your own projects. If a dishwasher costs $500 and you value your own time at $20 an hour, then it may be worth it for you to purchase one instead of toiling over the sink every day.

What about DIY repairs? If you truly enjoy DIY, then this could be time spent wisely, but what if you spend a whole day breaking your back trying to reseal your driveway? If you end up doing a sloppy job, you’re going to have to pay somebody else to fix it, anyways.

The final example that comes to my mind is ultra frugality, whether it is making your own dryer sheets or running out of the house to save $2 on a roll of paper towels. Unless you planned your trips ahead of time, the savings won’t even cover the cost of your gas, and is the time spent in making your own dryer sheets really less valuable than the extra buck you would spend on just buying some?

Trade is mutually beneficial, and both parties are better off for it. Consider trading your money for additional time when you can put it to good use.

So, reader, what additional tips could you share on making better use of one’s time? I am not perfect, and while I try to cut down on wasted time, there are times where I slip up and wonder where all of the time went. I’d love to hear your stories.

Kevin currently lives the white collar lifestyle, but his real dream is to get out of the rat race one day. He writes at Invest It Wisely, and he enjoys exploring unvisited places around the world and gaining new experiences. He believes that by properly managing our energy and time, we can learn to invest our lives wisely.