Time Saving Tips - Part 3

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
—William James

It always helps to know where your time is going. So, keep track of how you spend your time for two weeks. Sound dull? Boring, maybe? So cut it down to a couple of days. Surprise! Most of your log will show you’re investing your time in people or things not really important to you or your goals.

Focus, focus, focus on STARTING tasks rather than finishing them. The greatest challenge is taking the first step and getting started. (Ah yes – doesn’t that feel good?)

Every day something unexpected is going to happen. Count on it! So, set aside some “Oops time!” Don’t let these emergencies disrupt the rest of your day. Plan for them, act on them and then get back to work.

Think on paper. Writing things down minimizes confusion and stress. Write down your goals, to-do lists, and even the problems that you’re working on. You’ll find putting things on paper usually clarifies the situation. Committing things to memory can be a waste of brain power, not to mention a poor storage device as well.

Categorize your To Do list into A, B, and C priorities. “A” priorities are the activities that are critical for your success. “B” priorities are important but not critical. “C” priorities would be nice to do if you get the time. Begin with your “A” priorities and work your way to the “nice to do” items.

Here’s a suggestion that will help everyone: create a “talk” file for your boss, subordinates, peers and even your customers. Unless it is a real emergency, wait until you have at least two items in the file before calling that person with your questions.

Get a spiral-bound notebook, date it, and keep all your notes in the book for future reference. Quit writing on loose papers or sticky notes that tend to get lost.

Try something new. Read (really) the instruction manual that came with your electronic organizer. Even better, try the manufacturer’s web site to find new software updates and releases that may further your productivity. Bet you will find several time management tools you haven’t used. Let the organizer do the work so you can spend less time organizing yourself.

Use only one time management system. Whether you choose an electronic or paper system, one consistent system will eliminate much wasted time spent searching for information.

Abracadabra! Take a speed-reading course. You could already be a lot further along in this book!

How about all those passwords? Tough to remember? Simplify your passwords and have a logical, easy to remember reason for selecting each. Trying to remember a password is frustrating and a total waste of time. You may want to select passwords that can be typed on the keyboard with one hand so your other hand is free.

Take a Saturday and devote two hours to reorganizing yourself. Take a fresh look at how you are organized and look for opportunities to improve. You will probably discover several areas where you can eliminate some personal time wasters simply by becoming a little better organized.

Create a “quiet time” for planning. Let everyone know your closed door means “do not disturb” unless there is an emergency…or someone in your family calls.

Throw things away! Yes, even those ticket stubs from the last football game. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I throw this away?” Most of the time, you can live with your answer, so start filling that wastebasket!

Date stamp (ker-chunk) every item that hits your desk. This will help you decide when to file or throw away the paper.

If you get heartburn from throwing paper away, create a drawer or file to store your stuff for 90 days. If you have not used it within 90 days, you can safely throw those “keepers” away.

Still not comfortable — even after the 90 days? Then find the “office pack rat” and become their new best friend. Someone around the office has a copy of every memo and report from the past 10 years. Love that person — but throw your trash away.

Trust me on this, too! Most of all filed materials over a year old are never needed again. Archive the files and get them out of your way. If possible handle the paper only once and avoid the “I’ll just put it here for now” habit.

The key to paper management — KEEP IT MOVING! (Now, how simple can we get?) Move the paper to your out basket, your file, your “to read” folder or to your trash. Don’t let paper just sit

Wait! Do these three things before you leave the office: (1) clear your desk, (2) plan tomorrow’s activities and (3) enter your next day’s to-do list in your organizer. Then go home. Planning the next day before you leave reduces stress and allows you to enjoy your time away from the office