Among the many things I struggle with every day is what we called “Time Management” back in the 70s.
All the magazines were abuzz with the term. Three decades later, I’m still trying to find the magic bullet to fill my days with more fun and productive activities rather than spinning my wheels on a tired old “to do” list that never seems to change.
Our world keeps spinning faster and faster and our to-do lists keep getting longer and longer. No matter how good we are at time management, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done. We could all really use a 25th hour!
No matter how hard we try, there are only 24 hours in a day. But what we can do is find what our time drainers are and figure out how to eliminate them, thus reclaiming a lost hour of our day.
Here are a few suggestions on how to find your 25th Hour
Watch your computer time
By far, one of the greatest time wasters is checking email. The average individual checks their inbox 11 times a day. When you do check emails, handle them immediately. Respond, delete, or file it away for later.
Shut down your computer and all other technology at least one hour before bedtime. My son, Braddock, who operates a computer company says the shut down will extend the life of your computer. Even better, declare one technology-free day every weekend. Could you imagine how much more free time you would have that day?
As counterintuitive as it may seem, multi-tasking is a time-waster rather than a time-saver. We may think we are gaining time by handling more than one task at once, but it’s just an illusion. Since we aren’t fully focused on any one thing when we multi-task, each individual task takes longer to finish. This lack of focus leads to more errors, which then, of course, take more time to correct. You will be shocked at how much faster you complete a job when you turn off all distractions, and stay laser focused on what you are doing.
Bunch your chores together.
In the course of a week, we all have chores that must get done. Just as we think we’ve crossed the last one off the list, another appears. The best approach is to take care of the chore as soon as you have a free moment. The problem with that approach is that you’ll be back and forth, in and out of the car, and rushing to squeeze it in between your next commitment. The movement to and fro adds up to an enormous waste of time not to mention fuel. At the beginning of each week, create a list of all those things you need and want to accomplish that require leaving your home or office to get them done. Then, assign a block of time to do them all together, planning your route in a way that make sense based on where everything is located.
Don’t make grocery shopping a daily event.
Uh-oh. What will my grocery think. He’ll probably call the hospital to see if I broke my leg. One of the greatest time wasters is multiple visits to the supermarket. There are many folks who give absolutely no thought in advance as to what they’ll be preparing (or picking up) for dinner. Almost every night they need to run out for groceries or to pick up convenience food for dinner.
Give this a try: Take 20 minutes at the beginning of the week to create a plan for the week. Then, create a grocery list so that you’ll be able to buy everything you’ll need for the week in one visit to the supermarket. Leave your meal plan posted on the fridge and check it in the morning so you won’t forget to defrost items you may need that are in the freezer.
By shopping from a list, you’ll save money, conserve gas by avoiding multiple trips, and save time that you can use to prepare healthy meals. And let’s not ignore the reduced stress levels you’ll experience when you no longer have to ask that panicked 5 p.m. question: ”What am I going to make for dinner tonight?”
Clean, chop and cook once; enjoy twice.
I’m guilty of making soup for two when I could be making it for 12 and freeze the rest for later. If you’re going to dirty up the kitchen anyway, make it worthwhile. As far as main dishes go, casseroles, soups and chili all freeze beautifully. Cook enough to put half in the freezer for future dinners, or portion it out into individual freezer containers to bring lunch to the office. By using this approach, you’ll only have one major clean-up and will save yourself lots of time throughout the week.