I am probably not the right person to give anyone advice on how to save time. I come from a family of dreamers, dawdlers and procrastinators. But, amongst this bunch there were some skilled craftsmen, artists, musicians, and warriors. And there was one renowned gambler who became very wealthy, and then lost everything in one night . . .
But we do try to keep our word, and I did promise in an earlier post to give some tips on saving time. So here goes!
One advantage of getting advice from a dawdler like me is that I have really battled to overcome my natural proclivities; I have read a lot on the subject, and even attended a couple of courses aimed at helping hopeless cases. And now, late in life, I think I have a pretty good method for getting things done:
- Remember that we all have exactly 168 hours a week. Nobody can give you an extra hour, or take one away. It is up to you to decide how best to use those hours. A good way to start is to do things back to front: reverse what most experts say, and don’t start with written goals (we’ll get to them later). Rather dream of what you would really like to do in your leisure time, if only you had leisure time! Think big, think outrageous, think fun; think of holidays lying in the sun on a white beach with blue water lapping at your feet; think of skiing down a mountain slope with speed and skill; casting a fly for a rising trout; sailing, paragliding, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, sand boarding; cycling through country lanes; sipping fine wine while enjoying a beautiful view; reading a good book while listening to relaxing music . . .
- Jot down those dreams. Sort them into things you could do during your annual leave; others that you could do at weekends or on days off; and things that you could do on a daily basis (if only you had the time)! Give yourself some good reasons for wanting to save time.
- Now let’s look at what you currently do during your 168 hours. How many hours do you spend working? Commuting? Cooking, preparing food and washing up? Showering, shaving and getting dressed? Sleeping? Shopping? Exercising? How many hours are left over for enjoying yourself? Want more?
- How could you cut down on your commuting time? One way is to combine exercising with commuting by cycling or walking to work. I’ve done it and it’s fun (and a good way to lose weight). Or you could work from home: one of
my sons has organised his life so that he only goes in to his office once a week; with modern electronic communications this is not difficult for many to achieve. Look at all your weekly activities as if you were an efficiency expert being paid to cut time spent on less important things, so that more time could be spent on important and enjoyable things.
- The best book I’ve seen for getting things done at work or at home is Eat that frog by Brian Tracy. Just click here and you can read the whole damn thing for free: (even if you read only the first
few pages you’ll be very glad that you did).
- Write it down! Making a list of your goals, and a daily to-do list is a great motivator and reminder. I guarantee that the simple act of listing six things that you intend to accomplish the next day, will get a lot more done than by just trying to remember what you want to do. Prioritise them by putting an A next to the most important ones (as recommended by Brian Tracy) and you’ll make sure that, at least, those ones will get done. It is satisfying to tick off each one as you accomplish it. And having a list means that you don’t have to waste time deciding what to do next.
- You have probably heard of the much-quoted Yale (or Harvard Business School) study of goals in which only 3% of the graduating class had specific written goals for their futures. Twenty years later that 3% was found to be earning an astounding 10 times that of the group that had no clear goals. Apparently that study never took place and the whole thing is a myth. But, if you click on this link you’ll see that a study has finally been done, and it confirms that written goals are much more likely to be achieved.
PS: Comparing my March 2012 electricity bill with the March 2007 one shows that I used an average of 4.893 kWh per day in 2012 vs 10.967 units per day in 2007. This represents an improvement of 55.38 %, and means that I paid only R63.98 (including Vat) for the 28 days up to 27 Mar 2012. This clearly shows the benefit of writing down a commitment (and broadcasting it to friends and the world at large). Saying publicly that I was switching off my hot water cylinder for at least 22 hours a day made me much more diligent about doing it. And, in summer, I switch it on for only 40 minutes in the morning, and use the kettle to boil some water if I run short of hot water during the day. In winter an hour a day is enough.