DATES IN YOUR CALENDAR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR
By Lee Silber
We’re all moving at the speed of life—which is faster than ever before. What we need is a faster and better way to deal with the clock and calendar. So let’s not waste time talking about how busy we are, instead spend a couple of minutes skimming through the following list of clever time-saving tips to find something that will work for you.
Minute to win it. What are we all after, anyway? If I may be so bold as to suggest what we are all chasing is a feeling. We want to feel relaxed, in control, and happy. We want to feel good. There are ways to feel good in a just a few minutes—and we all can find a few minutes a day for our own happiness, right? For example, a certain song can improve your mood in a matter of minutes. Playing with a pet can do it. Watching a quick video clip can uplift us. A cat nap is invigorating, but doesn’t have to last all afternoon to feel good. A quick swim, short walk, or a bite of chocolate can make us feel better.
Focus for a few minutes at a time. For many of us, we work better in short busts—or have to because we’re constantly interrupted or distracted. If we set our offices up where we can quickly and easily flit from task to task we can save time by being intensely focused for as long as we can. Today, balance is achieved by being 100 percent into whatever we are doing at that moment. For example, as a parent it’s about the quality of the time we spend with our kids as much as it is the quantity of time. When we are at home we should be “all in” and when we’re at work . . . well, that’s up to you.
Don’t try to be perfect in an imperfect world. Perfectionism can be a blessing and a curse—mostly the latter. If we let go of the outcome and focus on the task at hand, we spend less time worrying and more time working. Along the same lines, if we set a time limit or limit the scope of what we’re working on, we can be perfect within reason. For some things, good enough is good enough. For example, maybe we use something we’ve already had success with as a template instead of spending a ton of time starting from scratch.
Don’t fight your natural tendencies. If you like to drop your purse, keys, and phone by the door, don’t fight it. Instead put a hook, bin, basket, and phone charger there. Now you’ll know where your stuff is—and looking for lost items is a waste of time. Procrastinating is also a time-waster, which is why the easier we make something to do, the more likely we’ll do it. All it takes is one excuse and we won’t do something. Now I leave my bass guitar out and ready to play. If I had to pull it down, get it out of its case, and set it up, I would never practice. In our home or office, the things we use the most should be the easiest to get to. It’s okay to pile papers if they are for projects in progress and we need to access them quickly. Piling with a purpose saves time.
Become a clock watcher. If we can do the things we have to do faster, we’ll have more time left for things we want to do. For instance, if we time ourselves doing a maintenance task—and life is made up of mostly maintenance tasks—we can try to beat that time each time we do it. Also being more aware of how long it takes to do things will make us want to do them faster. My wife said it takes her twenty minutes to get ready in the morning, but when we timed her we we’re both surprised (okay, she was surprised) that it took nearly twice that long.
It is who you know. When we can make one call and get things done, it saves a ton of time. It saves us from having to do a bunch of research because we know our connection has already vetted the vendor or they wouldn’t recommend them. It’s worth the time it takes to build bonds with key people who know everyone, because it could take years to get that connected ourselves. Instead, we could spend less time making sure our smaller group of well-connected friends and associates are happy.
Some things are not worth your time. In order to determine whether something is bringing us closer to our goals or pulling us away, we must first have goals. A new way to keep your goals close at hand is to have them on your phone. It could be as simple as making a list, making your screensaver a reminder of your plans, or creating a mini movie about what matters most. To do this just grab images online that represent your big goals, then add captions, music, and use your photo software to make them come to life as a video. Another way to manage your time is to create top ten lists of important projects, key people, and good uses of your time. Focus on the best or everything and forget the rest.
You know more than you think you do. By all means do your homework and get all your ducks in a row, but then let go and just do it. It’s like when we take a test, we take notes and study, but then we must trust that we’re ready. A good example is when we guess on a test but go back and change our answer only to learn our best guess was better. Save time by listening to your inner genius and going with your gut instincts because your first “guess” is usually your best guess.
Time flies when you’re having fun and getting things done. When we can combine something we don’t like doing with something we do, time passes without us really noticing. For example, if we catch up on our favorite shows while walking on a treadmill, we get our exercise in and don’t waste time on television. If we partner with someone on a project with whom we enjoy spending time with, we will work better, faster, and have fun all at the same time. Multitasking is now a way of life. Look for ways to walk and talk, work and play, commute and connect, as a way to combine and conquer.
Think tiny. A micromovement is something that takes five seconds to start, and less than five minutes to finish. When we break tasks down into tiny steps that we can fit into our busy schedules we can get them done when we can—and because we believe we can. We can also rid ourselves of brain clutter and improve our memory by living by a simple principle, if we can do something in under a minute, we should just do it. For instance, when we think of something we need to bring with us the next day, we just put it in our car so we won’t worry and we won’t forget—unless we get a ride with someone else.
Don’t waste your prime time. Not everyone is a morning person, but if mornings are when you are focused and fired up, take a first things first approach and don’t waste your prime time on tasks that can be done when you are nearly “done” for the day. Know your biological clock and try to plan your day around it. One example would be to leave simple tasks for later in the day and then zip through them to end on a high note. Also, when you are in the mood and motivated to do something, you should ride that wave as long and as far as you can.
Lee Silber is the best selling author of 21 books including, Time Management For The Creative Person and Organizing From The Right Side Of The Brain. As a speaker, he puts in the time to customize every speech which is why he’s winning rave reviews for his keynotes and training sessions—he exceeds already high expectations. That’s also why he wants to give anyone who is interested five free things for making it this far in the article including complimentary copies of his unique Life Planner, Day Planner, Guide to Organizing, Guide to Organizing Your Computer, and Innovative Ideas For Better Meetings. To request one or all of the free items offered, contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.