“You can always make more money, but you can never make more time”
What’s our most precious asset? Money is high up there on the list for many of us, but it’s probably (hopefully) not at the top. I suspect that family and health are pretty high up there. They’re all interrelated in my opinion, as I have postulated before. Faith is paramount for many as well.
What about time?
Clearly, our time is not limitless. There’s nothing infinite about our free time, much less our overall time available. Consider the following simple calculation:
365 days in a year X 80 year lifespan = 29,200 days in a lifetime
29,200 days in a lifetime. When you see that number, what do you think? Personally, my first reaction is “That’s not really too many days!”. Then, my follow up thought is “I need to make the most out of the days I’m blessed to have.” In order to make the most of these days, it’s important to learn ways to be more productive.
Here’s a list of 10 tips that can help do just that:
- Wake up early – Getting up and getting a head start on the day, before work hours (or before the kids get up), can be a great way to get more done. You can accomplish tasks uninterrupted, and can get through the rest of your day knowing that you got a few things done already.
- Do the Most Important Things First – Often times, the things that are most important can be challenging, complex, or just time consuming. Rather than finding excuses for putting them off, just tackle them first. It will feel good to know that you have made progress. Besides, isn’t it logical to first focus on what’s most important?
- Follow the 80/20 Rule – What is the 80/20 rule? Basically, it refers to the notion that the majority of our positive results comes from a smaller percentage of our effort. One example of this is obsessive coupon cutting. Let’s say one spends 4 hours cutting coupons, of which only some end up being used, and only $10 saved. But that same person might be able to work an hour and make $10, freeing up the other 3 hours for other pursuits.
- Learn to Say No – This one has been a learning experience for me. I’m conditioned, like many others, to try to help when asked. Many of us have this interest in pleasing others, whether we are conscious of it or not. I advocate selflessness and generosity, but also think that we can’t be everything to everyone. Sometimes you just have to prioritize, and learn to say No when asked for your time.
- Create a Not To-Do List – We all, or at least most of us, employ to-do lists in our lives at some point. I try to incorporate one daily. However, it’s also important to learn what not to do. Maybe it’s watching way too much TV and letting time slip away. Or, maybe it’s making 4 grocery stops per week, when you can just be organized and make one. Whatever the case, it’s important to learn what habits of ours are counterproductive, so we can minimize their impact.
- Visualize Success – If we take a moment to think about how we might feel once we accomplish a task or goal, it can be energizing. Sometimes, it just takes a little perspective to get us on track.
- Focus – Multi-tasking is easier for some than others. I’m ok at times, but there are many that are way better than me. Which is fine. So, for folks like me, it’s best to just focus on the task at hand and do it right. It will likely get done better, and will require less time to go back and fix. Zeroing in on one task can allow us to complete it quicker, and often better than if we’re distracted.
- Chip Away at Long-Term Projects – If you have 20 days to complete a big project that will require 20 hours of time, don’t wait until the final 3 days to get it done. Work on it in batches over time, if possible. If you worked 1 hour a day, it will get done more efficiently and with less stress. In other words, get organized and don’t procrastinate!
- Carry a Note Pad for Ideas– For me, this consists of not only a notepad, but also my smartphone. Whatever the method, we often get good ideas that come into our mind at different times. They can slip away if not captured. For efficiency, jot them down.
- Set Aside “You” Time – It’s important to recharge, and get our minds off daily responsibilities. Find time to decompress. You’ll be recharged and more productive later.
To my way of thinking, if time is precious, let’s minimize the amount of it we use for things that just have to get done, but aren’t value added or truly enjoyable. Productivity techniques such as these can ultimately help us spend more time with family and friends, and improve our health by being less stressed.
And yes, they may also help us make more money too!
What about you? Do you have any methods for being more productive and getting things done, which you can recommend to everyone?