First of all, not to be confused with «easy ways». From person to person, some changes will take greater sacrifice and effort than others to implement.
1. Study the Science of Habits
The points below have to do with changes in habits, so knowing how to achieve such changes is important.
Habits are important. As James Clear puts it in his book «Atomic Habits»:
«Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.»
If you study how to build good ones, and how to break bad ones, you can save yourself a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on discovery through trial and error. You don’t have to spend too much time on this, even one book, like «Atomic Habits» by James Clear, would be enough. You will spend very little time in exchange for great returns in the future.
Here’s a graph from «Atomic Habits»:
As we can see, very little improvements compound to build a better you, as do little deteriorations to destroy you.
Let’s do some math here. We’ll assume that you spend 30 minutes a day, in total, on your commute, probably much more.
Let’s say you work only 222 days a year (again, probably more).
That’s 111 hours a year.
The average length for an audiobook is 10 hours. See where I’m going with this?
That would be 11 books a year if you listened to audiobooks during that time. It’s not great but it isn’t a small amount either. But that’s not it.
We can take this even further.
What if you listen to these at double the speed? Now, it is 22 books a year! Sounds much better, right?
2.5x? 27 (and a half) books.
2.8x? 31 book a year!
Let’s say you also read 4 books in your spare time. Congratulations, now you complete 35 books a year, and 31 of those seamlessly fit into your life without you having to carve out time to read them all!
Note: These speed recommendations are for nonfiction. I believe that fiction is to be enjoyed the way it was intended and I do not listen to fiction at any speed other than 1x. I will at some later point get deeper into my relationship with entertainment.
3. Learning whilst recreation
Around the world, daily use of social media, on average, is well over 2 hours.
Many of us spend hours each day on our phones scrolling social media or watching YouTube pure-pleasure-no-substance videos. What if instead we watched something that would be entertaining and would teach us something, something worthwhile?
YouTube has not only a bunch of meme compilations and vlogs but also plenty of educational content. Vast knowledge from different areas is useful. With a large body of knowledge to work with, you can draw connections across various fields and domains that further enhance your understating of these topics.
You don’t have to spend all of your screen time on this, you can still enjoy some recreation and entertainment but if you watched just 30 minutes of such content everyday with speed set to 1.5x that would be over 270 hours of educational material over the span of the year. That’s useful.
(important note: make sure that you are spending this one hour of time from what would’ve otherwise been social media scrolling or some other procrastination. If you have very little of that in your life, and what you are doing now is working, skip this step)
4. Music < Podcasts
Music can be great, sure. Music is art too, great art, so don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate music. I enjoy music myself occasionally. However,
Replace that with podcasts, listen to useful podcasts instead. In combination with the other replacements described, this will rapidly and remarkably expand your ken.
5. Replace late night procrastination with sleep
Late at night, when you should be already sleeping, anything that you are doing instead of that is most probably procrastination. Think about it. At night, when the challenges of the day have been tackled and your energy has been depleted, it us unlikely for you to be doing something massively productive, you are too drained. Then why not sleep? Whatever you are doing, that would take away from your sleep when you should be sleeping, is procrastination on sleep. Don’t do that. Just go to bed. You will feel much better in the morning.
Not all of these changes are equally applicable to everyone, for some of you they might not be possible to implement and others might already be practicing them. Regardless, I hope you derived some value out of this.