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“Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day. Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.” – Pink Floyd, “Time”.
“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” – Henry Ford.
“You can have anything except my time.” – Napoleon
If you’re ambitious or even if you’re simply a lover of life, you’ll know only too well how precious time is.
Time management is regarded by many – myself included – as one of the master keys to success. Effective time management strategies, combined with the self-discipline to see them through, can in my humble opinion absolutely transform your life, so I’ve hand-picked my favorite time-management tips for you to enjoy and benefit from.
The catch? To get the benefits, you have to actually do them 😉 Ok, let’s go.
1. Waiting Is Wasting. Reclaim It!
We all spend time every day waiting for things. Whether it is waiting for the bus, for the water to boil, the bath to run, the computer to start up, the rice to cook, stuck in traffic, waiting for our ride to arrive, on the phone on hold, waiting in line, the train, the plane…….. there are countless seconds, minutes or even hours wasted daily… just…. waiting.
You don’t think much of it, because you are used to it. But in truth?
It’s a tragedy.
If you could add up every lost second spent waiting and know the truth, you would fall off your chair.
Ready? Hold on tight.
Twenty minutes per day, for every day of a 72 year life, equals 525,600 minutes.
THAT’S 4.38 YEARS OF working 40 hours per week!!!
Imagine what you could achieve if you could salvage even half of this lost time!!
The good news is – you can.
The key is to always have something prepared and arranged in advance that you can do at such moments. You can always have something useful to jump right into while you are waiting – but only if you are prepared.
Some read a book, or catch up on phone calls or email. Others have a hobby, art form or ongoing creative task they can pull out at any time. Others do some form of mind training, meditation or other practice.
The list of possibilities is endless.
One of my favorite little tactics is to have a kettlebell near my desk and I pick it up and do a few reps while I am waiting for the computer. I have another one by the kettle! Another is to pull out study manuals and increase my knowledge of a certain subject.
You could probably learn a couple of new languages, become an expert in a subject, learn a new skill, write to all your long lost friends or even write a book in the time you normally waste, bored and frustrated, waiting for things. You just have to set it up! If you have an iPhone or similar handheld device, you might be able to download podcasts or do valuable research or study.
With time management, organization is one of the keys to success.
Another marvelous thing about having something to do while you are waiting, is that it is a great cure for impatience. The frustration and stress of an enforced wait can be alleviated by having something interesting or profitable to do in the meantime – and anything that lowers stress, has to be good!
You are a military commander. Always have “forces mobilized” – so that if you cannot advance on one front, you can always be advancing on another.
Super-bonus tip: Use your time waiting to set up or devise a system that generates passive revenue, which then frees up even more of your time. 😉
Now those are all productivity hacks; but what if you are stuck in a boring or frustrating moment and not feeling like being productive right then. Well, there are some other good uses of your time…
You could just breathe. And focus on your breath.
You could think about all the ways you would improve the surroundings you are in, if you had the opportunity to do so.
You could reflect on your daily training practice and what steps you would like to take to improve it. (You do have one of those, don’t you? 😉 ) If not, you could start picturing it and what kind of training you think would be cool for you to do. Get it going!
Another good one. You could count all the beautiful things you can see. I had to drive into town to do an annoying errand that I didn’t want to do. As I set off, I was moody. Time to switch that up and turn the unavoidable situation into something cool. Beautiful tree that I drive past. One. Pretty bird flying up from the side of the road. Two. Hmm, what’s on the stereo? Oh. A sweet tune. Three! And so on. Before long you’ve completely forgotten your bad mood, seen a bunch of beautiful things (they are everywhere and it’s an amazing exercise to just notice them and appreciate the gifts of the day!)
It’s a wrap.
2. Time How Long Things Actually Take, And Allocate Time Accurately
Most people don’t know, with any reasonable accuracy, how long things actually take. This either wastes their time (for example when they arrive too early and spend minutes or even hours waiting around) or others’ time (when they arrive too late). Missed appointments and flights etc of course waste tons more time.
Use a stopwatch, as a matter of habit, to time how long things actually take. Even an ordinary watch or clock will suffice for this purpose. Time your journeys. Time how long it actually takes to get ready to leave the house.
You’ll probably be surprised by some of the results.
If you are timing journeys – such as how long it takes to get to work, you might need to time “a few runs” from door to door to get an average picture – but this is worth doing. When you truly know what time you have to be “out the door”, you can save time.
Precision is one of the true arts of success. Also, it might make your life safer and less stressful.
3. Discover And Fix Your “Time Leaks”
You have to be a true warrior of self-discipline to get real control of how time is spent.
Most people waste an incredible amount of time – while being semi-oblivious to the truth of it.
Where are your “time leaks”?
The best way to find out is to keep a detailed notebook, for a week, of how you spent every minute of your time. This is an incredible exercise recommended by top wealth coaches.
You will be shocked at how much of your time was spent on things that are not even remotely related to your actual goals.
Doing the above exercise might seem over-analytical, but it can give you a revelatory deep insight into what is pulling you around – and help you become much more powerful.
Once you have taken inventory and recovered from the shock of how much of your life you have poured down the drain, it’s time to cull ruthlessly all the activities that are superficial or useless.
And then it’s up to you and your iron self-discipline to remain forever vigilant and in control!
4. Don’t Drive Too Fast
Driving faster is NOT a time-management strategy I can recommend. It saves surprisingly tiny amounts of time – but it might endanger your life, the lives of others, or get you into trouble with the law.
You might be an amazing driver but the roads are filled with people who aren’t; and those people simply become a “wild card” risk that is increased the faster you are going.
Think about what you stand to gain versus what you stand to lose… it’s truly not worth it! There are other ways in which you can save much bigger chunks of time, that don’t have the risk of ruining your life that driving too fast has. (see #5 below) As for arriving on time – it is far better to pursue tactic #1 – and budget more accurately for time so that you can drive calmly and more safely. As my Dad said “It’s better to be five minutes late than forty years early.”
5. Kill Your Television
If you stare at the television for an average of hour a day throughout your lifetime, that’s an incredible total of THREE ENTIRE YEARS
of a seventy-two year lifespan. Just think what wonders you could do, if someone gave you three bonus years – or 8 hours per day for nine years – as a gift!
You could do something really incredible – imagine the possibilities – a great achievement, fulfilment of a lifelong personal ambition, the creation of something of lasting value in the world, retire three years earlier, or do something amazing to help others. If you have been watching an hour (or more) of television every day, you can now start to give yourself this gift….
It’s critical to choose well how to use your time. Every single moment, you have a choice. Choosing how we will use the time that is given to us is one of the things that we have the most control over in this mortal existence.
Will you focus only on the things that are most important, or will you do any old thing?
Those who choose to do the things which lead to results, are going to get ahead of those who drift or keep busy with inconsequential tasks.
Much of our time is actually frittered away doing things that are unimportant.
The best way to prioritize is to have self discipline. You need to be able to make yourself get on with the important tasks, instead of procrastinating or doing irrelevant things with lesser reward. The ability to make very strong choices about how you use your time, is one of the hallmarks of the time management superstar.
In order to be successful, some sacrifices must be made. That doesn’t mean that you should punish or hurt yourself – it just means that it is to be understood that the actions that lead to success and wealth are not necessarily going to be those that are the most pleasurable in the moment. It is about being results oriented. “Delayed gratification” is one of the master keys.
7. Take Superb Care Of Your Health
It’s fairly obvious that by taking good care of yourself, you might have several more glorious years than you would have had otherwise. But too few people do it. Looking after your health is a fantastic time management strategy. A famous example: Anthony Robbins once wrote “You want to eat a lot? Eat a little. Then you’ll be around long enough to eat a lot.” It turns out that this has some basis in science, as caloric restriction / intermittent fasting has been demonstrated by studies to prolong lifespan.
Not medical advice of course; but you might be able to add 5, 10 or more healthy years to your life through excellent self-care.
8. Create A Fixed Schedule For Tasks – With A Deadline!
It’s easy, especially if you are self employed or working on a project with no fixed deadline, to fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way… The simple act of allocating a certain limited time to each task, forces you to forge ahead. I’ve achieved great success by setting rigorous time limits and actual times to begin and end tasks – with no gaps in between!
It’s important to set goals that are achievable – but do require you to step it up.
9. Create The Next Day’s To Do List The Night Before
One of the biggest time wasters for me, is to start the day without a fixed plan of what I am going to achieve that day. Under such circumstances, I sometimes find myself drifting, not fully awake yet and thus not thinking clearly about what to do, aimlessly wasting time.
However, if I draw up my list the night before, and leave it front center on my desk, I wake up full of purpose, clarity and “hit the ground running”. A lot more gets done.
It’s even good to start the next day’s list earlier in the day before and keep it to hand – that way, you can add items to it the moment you think of them, instead of sitting there trying to think of them all at the end of the evening. Having clearly defined goals and objectives can help keep you on course.
10. Consolidate Your Errands
Instead of going into town every day, create good lists and invest a few minutes thinking ahead, so as to make less trips. Hit up all the places you need to go, on the same run, if possible. Buy certain non-perishable items that you will always have need of, in bulk. There’s the cost saving and then there’s the time saving of not clicking twice, not adding it to the cart and not checking out. It all adds up!! That’s your life that you are waving goodbye to, so don’t do it!!!
You might save hours every week this way. Another possibly useful tip is to share errands; create a relationship with friends, office-mates or housemates where you take it in turns to do runs into town, or ask each other if there’s anything they need from town. A good relationship of this kind, with the kind of person who is good at getting things right, can save you much time – and you can help them out when you were “going there anyway”.
11. Have A Home For Things, Where They Always Live
Being organized is one of the keys to success. You would be amazed (or perhaps you wouldn’t) at how disorganized chaos cuts into productivity – making you think that you are doing a lot, when you are not in fact getting results. One of my friends is always looking for her car keys. It’s an ongoing saga. It drives her, and everyone else, crazy. She puts the keys down and forgets where. Altogether, she must have wasted days of her life in this frustrated way. Looking for stuff.
If something has a ‘home” where it always lives, you save time every time you don’t have to waste time looking for it. For keys, it’s simple.
A small hook or dish in a safe place in the hallway. Not so close to the door that someone could reach it through the letterbox with a wire, but close enough so that you don’t put the keys down somewhere else first……
Use an agency such as onlinejobs.ph or fiverr.com to delegate simple tasks that clog up your schedule. Outsourcing can be a very cost-effective solution enabling you to get more done than otherwise possible.
You probably spend a colossal amount of hours per week sitting in your car. You could use your brain during that time! Learn a language, listen to tutorials… you get the picture.
The average person drives somewhere around 12,000 miles per year. At an average speed of 40 miles per hour, that would be 300 hours.
300 hours! That’s the equivalent of almost two months of full time work EVERY YEAR.
You could accumulate a vast amount of knowledge in any given topic in that time.
Search online for free downloadable trainings in whatever it is you want to learn. There are probably tons out there. If you can’t find it? – well, that’s another business tip for you, you could make it yourself and sell it!
14. Move Faster!
In life, some people act as though they have forever. It drives me crazy.
You do not have forever. Time WILL run out. It may be more fun to relax and let the day drift by, but if you want to get somewhere, you have to be able to cut to the chase. This doesn’t mean recklessness – but efficiency, motivation and kicking up the pace are paramount. If you wish to become rich, there is simply a lot to do. Not everyone will understand – and they may criticize you; but a person who is on a mission simply gets on with it. There isn’t time to explain to doubters, or to slow down in order to accomodate their trivial preferences.
In most circumstances (when it’s safe to do so of course), you can be more successful simply by moving faster. People who get on with it are going to be immensely more successful than those who go at a leisurely pace.
15. Learn To Say NO
A key aspect of good time management is saying no to things of lesser priority. This can be tough, sometimes; but being too much of a “pleaser” is deadly the the entrepreneur.
There will be psychological pressure to overcome. Those who have taken the easy road, will sometimes attempt to discourage others from taking action. They may not even really be aware that they are doing it. Or they may simply want to enjoy your company. Come to the beach with us! Have a drink with us! Why do you work so hard? Can’t you enjoy life? You don’t know how to have fun! Don’t be so boring – you’ve got to learn to live! etc.
I’ve heard it all before. Having missions to accomplish is nothing to do with not knowing how to have fun. The successful know how to concentrate – and know that when their efforts pay off, they can reward themselves in far greater style later. They prioritize well, and disregard the opinions of the rest.
That’s it! Now get cracking and put all of this into ACTION.
“A person who is a master of their time is a master of their life.”