Think about time management in terms of containers. Having containers in place helps to organize and keep order, track important things, and minimize time lost on “busyness” (e.g., looking for keys) instead of being productive. Your containers are hooks, boxes, baskets, calendars, any receptacle you can use to store items, information, ideas, tasks, and so on.
Your system is the mechanism that allows you to turbocharge your time and achieve more than you thought possible. It’s important to keep in mind the potential power of your system.
Here are a few examples:
If you were to run all of your errands on different days, you would waste a huge amount of time. By bundling tasks as much as possible, you strategize about your time and get everything done. So, for example, I could think about all the errands that need to get done this week and plan to do as many of them in the same trip as possible. I can leave my house and go to the dry cleaners, the bank, the post office, the library, and the grocery store without backtracking. The alternative is to do them as they pop into my mind – and waste a lot of time. You might be surprised at how many people don’t bundle activities.
Another time-saving strategy that you make part of your system calls for doing things in off-peak hours. Whenever possible, don’t go to the supermarket at 5:00 pm on a weekday or between 10 am and 3 pm on a Saturday. Too many people have the same idea. Likewise, if you can go to lunch at 11:30 and miss the noon rush, great.
Another example of creating a system comes from the academic world. If I expend X number of hours doing research and produce one article, I might be justifiably proud of myself. But if I strategize in advance about the various topics I’m interested in within that subject, I can collect information that can be used for 10 articles. Those 10 articles can be fashioned into a book. That same information can be used for presentations at conferences, classroom lectures, interviews with the media, training programs, consulting services, and other purposes.
Here’s the thing: no matter what you’re involved in, whether at home or at work, take some time to strategize about your time. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the best way to get the most bang possible for the time you expend? How can you save time on things that deliver the least value in your life and turbocharge your time to accomplish more with less energy and less frustration?
So many of us spend time being busy, thinking that “busy” and “productive” are the same thing. Are you accomplishing everything you want to? Do you have a system and is it working for you?