Seven Secrets for Saving Time

Along with love, money and chocolate, we just can’t get enough of it. While you may not be able to make more time, you can come surprisingly close by applying a few time-saving tips in your daily life. See how a few minor changes can help you maximize every minute, and make time for what’s really important.

Maximize your wait time
Bring a book, a planner or a laptop to airports, doctor’s appointments and anywhere else you’re likely to spend a lot of dead time waiting. Make calls while you’re out. That doesn’t mean you need to call from the road, which can be unsafe and inconvenient when you need a clear connection or a free hand to write. Breaks between meetings, time in line, stops for lunch or a quick cup of coffee are all opportunities to multitask. And that includes your social calls. Not only are they a refreshing way to break up a busy day, you can stay connected and keep from getting behind by making quick calls when you have the time.

Organize your space
We waste so much time looking for pens, keys, shoes and wallets. And just seeing clutter in our work and living spaces can discourage productivity. Make the time to create an inviting work space; it will pay off later. While you’re at it, strategic organization of your kitchen, bedroom, office and car can shave minutes a day off common tasks. Keep your silverware in a logical place; arrange your closet so that similar items are near one another and everything is visible. Try keeping a change of clothes and roller blades or a yoga mat in your car so that the spur of the moment work-out doesn’t necessitate a trip home first. When you make your life easier in little ways, those minutes add up to days and weeks of your life that could be better spent doing something you love.

Make lists
Make sure your tasks are divided into measurable goals. Find a second mortgage and find/send Christmas presents won’t do. Break large tasks into smaller, digestible ones that can be completed and crossed off your list, like call for 3 mortgage quotes and Holiday shopping: Barnes & Noble, JC Penny and Best Buy. Keeping your goal measurable doesn’t just make them easier to tackle, it reminds you that you’re making progress each time you cross a step off your list.

Keep a wall calendar or a planner — both if you can commit to updating each consistently. Don’t just schedule work and errands. Your family time, social time and you time is important, too, and having a reasonable amount of down time will make you more productive when it comes time to get things done. If your recreational time only comes into play when work is out of the way, you will constantly neglect it, or worse, feel guilty when you are supposed to be relaxing.

Books on tape
It never feels like we have the time to catch up on world affairs, to finally become fluent in another language, to read that bestseller everyone’s been talking about. Investing in a few books on CD and make your commute more efficient, informative and enjoyable. We spend hours of our lives in transit; there’s no reason to waste them.

Learn to say no
You know you can’t do everything. But that doesn’t always keep you from trying to take it on now and then. When you overextend yourself, it saps time and energy from everything in your life. Prioritize what is really important to you, and feel confident in telling others that you don’t have the kind of time you’d like to dedicate to that trip, project or conversation right now.

Don’t rush
If you enjoy constantly reviewing and repeating projects or relish that feeling that you’ve forgotten something somewhere, rushing through life is an excellent strategy. If you’re like most of us, however, you prefer the certainty that a task is done and done well. It’s precisely why you make calls at the grocery store, pay your bills online and turn down projects you’d really like to take on — so you have more time. There’s little point in rushing emails that won’t say what you’ve intended or spending the day with the kids if you’re thinking about work. You’ve eliminated all that wasted time so you have it when you really need it. Maximizing your time isn’t about rushing or cutting corners; it’s appreciating how valuable your time is and making every moment worthwhile.

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