How often has it been said that Time is Money? And yet, most of us amble through life, not spending this precious commodity “Time” wisely. I have often heard it said that something could not be done because ‘i just did not have the time to do it’. And yet, it has also been said, that each us us has the same amount of time in any given day. Twenty four hours. In spite of this, those who wish to accomplish a given set of tasks within a single day, somehow manage to find or make time. It is amazing how much time can be freed up if you only look long and intently at the many time wasters that pop up in our day to day lives. Once these time wasters have been successfully banished, you will find that you will significantly decrease the number of occasions when you will use the same old refrain: “I just don’t have the time”. Below is a list of some of the biggest culprits in the time wasting game. I have learned these from all the wise people i have met and all the wise books i have read. Very little can be attributed to personal wisdom. As they say, one must keep learning 😉
~ Inability to say “No”
Are you one of those who just cannot say “no” to people? Be it putting up your hand for helping out at the school canteen or baby sitting others’ children on an on-going basis or always being the one to organise social gatherings, this attitude of taking everything upon your own shoulders is actually not helping you in the long run. Not only do you end up fatigued, but you also set up a high level of expectation from others. People come to expect you to oblige on every occasion, and a spiralling effect is that as time moves on, it becomes progressively more and more difficult to say ‘No’. By all means, do it if you enjoy it, if it still leaves you enough time for your own loved ones. But to accept responsibility merely because of an inability to refuse is not really doing justice to yourself. Next time you are tempted to take on something you are not entirely happy about, pause a moment, and then say “Not this time”. Those who are genuinely concerned about your well-being, will take your refusal in good spirit.
I cannot write enough about this particular ‘time waster’. How often do we answer the phone to find that it is a ‘sales call’, particularly selling something we are not in the least interested in buying? The time i spend arguing with telemarketers, who seem intent on keeping me on the line for as long as humanly possible, could have been valuably utilised elsewhere. Equip your phone with a ‘caller id’ or let your answering machine switch on. In this manner, if it is indeed a friend calling, rather than a sales person, you can either interrupt the machine to answer or call back at a more convenient time.
~ Being disorganised
The golden rule is for every single item to have its designated dwelling place in the house. I have had those manic mornings when i am running around the house like a headless chook trying to find the right sport uniform for the kids, or peering under the beds for a lost library book. Having a specific space for specific things will lessen this last -minute running around. You could try having a tiny corner of your cabinet reserved exclusively for library books. The kids wardrobe could have one shelf only for uniforms. This way, you will know exactly where to look when it’s time to find it.
If every single task has to be absolutely ‘perfectly’ executed, we would have no time left to do more than one task each day. Settle for a little less than perfect, if the alternative is having a substantial amount of tasks accomplished. If there is any free time that spills over at the end of the day, you can always re-visit the task to give it that ‘perfect finish’.
~ Negative thinking
If you stop to wonder why a certain task ‘cannot’ be accomplished, you will find a million reasons not to do it. Each negative reason feeds on the next, until you find yourself overwhelmed by an impending sense of doom and gloom. If something is worth doing, DO it. Of course a healthy amount of weighing the pros and cons is a natural part of decision making. Once the pros and cons have been sorted out, take that first leap of faith and simply do it.
~ Inability to delegate
I had once read somewhere (probably in one of the million ‘self-help’ books i have devoured) that almost any job can be done in record time if you don’t worry about who gets the credit for doing it. I absolutely loved that piece of advice. If we learn to delegate, share around a bunch of tasks, and not be concerned about who gets the praise for doing it, we will lessen our own burdens.
One of the biggest time wasters is exhaustion. Being tired slows you down, and productivity suffers. We are unable to give any task our complete attention because we are not functioning at our peak level of performance. Eating well, sleeping well and thinking well are the key factors towards reducing fatigue.
~ Too much preparation
Being in a constant state of preparation, without actually following it up with meaningful action is again a huge waste of time. In some of the writing workshops i have attended, we are taught to not just ‘dream’ about writing, but to actually sit down and write. In the same manner, preparing and planning a task (be it your next project at work, or the gourmet dinner for tonight’s guests or the perfect spring-cleaning list) should not be the ‘end’ in itself, but rather the ‘means’ to an ‘end’.
~ Internet browsing
Ok, now this is one time waster i can relate to immensely. The internet can be hugely alluring, swallowing up precious chunks of time, when you could have been doing other more productive things. Try and set a time limit for internet browsing that is not specifically related to a certain task. Working ‘off-line’ is often a trick that helps in keeping at bay any distractions while you are focussing on achieving a set objective.
~ Daily trips to the supermarket
Again, a big time waster that i have often been guilty of. Running to the supermarket because you have run out of bread or milk is a colossal waste of precious time. If doing a weekly shop is not your cup of tea, try and reduce the number of times you need to just ‘drop by’ the supermarket. Estimate how much of the staple food items you will require in a given week and try and stock up on those.
Whenever i meet super-organised people (sadly, i am not one of them), i love to hear about their many tricks of saving time. I would love to hear back from you about any tricks you might have learned along the way 🙂