It’s all well and good to talk about the need to reduce the amount of time we spend spinning our wheels. The real value, though, is in specific strategies that get results.
Set a Timer – Do chores at home take longer than they should? When I ask this question in workshops, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” 1) Set a timer to create a deadline. 2) Eliminate distractions by turning off your cell phone or telling the kids you are not to be interrupted. 3) Focus on the task and work efficiently. Don’t have a timer handy? Use a CD to clean the house. You have to be done by the time the CD is done. The timer, CD, or other mechanism in essence creates a deadline and does a wonderful job of forcing you to strategize about your time, think about your actions, and concentrate your mind.
50/10 – Similar to setting a timer, determine that you will work as efficiently as possible for 50 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Research shows that working in shorter, more concentrated periods of time followed by a short break is far more efficient than sitting at your desk for hours on end.
Train the Kids – A woman I know gets up early to clean the house before work. She races out of work at 3:00 to pick up her three kids from school, and then she scrambles to make dinner. When I asked how old her kids are, I expected to hear that they’re very young. It turns out they’re 17, 14, and 11. The house cleaning includes cleaning the kids’ bedrooms. Wait a minute. Why aren’t the kids cleaning their own rooms? Why don’t the kids know how to cook? Why isn’t the 17-year-old driving at least the 14-year-old to school?
Go Shopping – Do you forget things when you go grocery shopping? It’s not very difficult to manage your shopping routine. 1) Use a pre-printed list of grocery items. 2) Check the box of the items you need. 3) Tear off the sheet and go shopping. The real trick is checking a box as soon as you run out of something or as soon as you realize you need something. Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll remember to get that when I go to the store.” No you won’t. Resolve that if for some reason you forget something, you’re not going back to the store for it. You’ll just have to wait until next time.
Prep Your Activities – It’s very useful to strategize about your time and prioritize your tasks. 1) At the end of the day, choose the first three tasks you will need to do the following day. 2) Write it down on a Post-It Note, a piece of paper, or in your calendar and place it in a visible location, like the middle of your desk. 3) Do those three things first. Of course, these should be the three most important, the most difficult things, or the things that yield the greatest payoff. Getting these tasks done will set the momentum for the rest of the day.
These are just a few ideas that can change the way you plan your day, use your time, and accomplish your goals.