Habits That Save You Time

You are the product of what you repeatedly do. If you have well-trained organizational habits, then you are an organized person. If your habits include reading a lot, then you are a well-read person. I work at finding new habits that will help me save time. Some tips:

1. Use Every Minute.
Efficient people use every minute. There’s no such thing as waiting time. You can use waiting time to make a quick call, or do a small task. For instance, why not empty the dishwasher while you are waiting for your toast to pop up in the morning?

As Thomas Edison said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

2. Be Prepared.
If you know that you will have wait times, then choose to be prepared to fill those waiting times. Carry a book with you. I can’t think of the number of books that I have read two or three pages at a time. I will read two pages here and three pages there, and sooner than expected, I have finished the book and have absorbed new information.

If you are not a big reader, consider doing other things during your wait time. Bring your call list, your blackberry, or your stationery.

3. Make Associations.
Sometimes the best way to get a task done is to always associate it with another task. For instance, if you never remember to water your plants, make it an association with something else. You could, for instance, choose to water your plants while your favourite TV show is on: this means that your plants get watered once a week, and you’re not sedentary on the couch for an entire half hour or hour.

For me, this means that every time I leave a room, I try to leave it a little bit better than when I came into it. This allows me to keep my office and home fairly neat. Rather than spending an hour cleaning my office once it has gotten out of hand, I spend a minute or two here and there—particularly when I leave the room—and I am able to keep a neatly organized workspace.

4. Track Yourself.
The key to making successful time management habits is to be aware of them. If you know what you are doing frequently and repetitively, you will be able to change these habits. Often, it is difficult to track the things that we might do on autopilot: for instance, perhaps when you come home, you automatically take your shoes off and leave them in the doorway. If later on in the day, you have to come back and put the shoes in the closet, you are wasting time. You could have saved that time by simply putting them away in the first place. Try to keep a log of what you do for a few days to see where you spend your time.

Tracking your habits will also help you to improve them. I don’t track my habits all the time, but I find that when I do, I tend to spend my time more productively. I find myself thinking during the day about what I am doing because I know that I will write about my actions later. I want to look good in my log, even though it’s only me who reads my log.

At first it might seem that you aren’t making progress with your habits. Remember, it takes 21 days to create a habit. So consistently stick with your habits. They will help you in the long-run. Forming habits for success now will benefit you in all aspects of your life, in the immediate present, and in the days and years to come!

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