We are all short on time. In fact, I am writing this post a couple hours later than I originally planned because I had a couple meetings and phone calls that all took a little longer than I expected. It is ok though, because I have ways of dealing with it.
Quick fixes are great, and I have a lot of them that will probably help you save all kinds of time. However, the real problem is usually that the fixes are too easy, and then you have a hard time believing they will work.
I am often asked for my favorite tips for simplifying or getting organized, or to get more done. It is actually a hard ask for me. Very few of the ‘tips’ out there work for everyone all the time. Some of them I can’t imagine working for anyone, ever. “Touch a piece of paper once” comes to mind – but that is for debunking in a future post.
People have their own ways of thinking about things and time and that can make a big difference in how successful a tip might be. So instead I’d like to offer some suggestions, things that I do that I have found over time save me time.
Keep one Calendar – I use my iCal and layer my schedule with the stuff I have committed to, the regular stuff that needs to get done, and the projects I’m working on. My calendar syncs with my phone, my auto scheduler and, Google calendar (only to pull in holidays, perpetual birthdays and for sharing schedules on some projects) so I have a single place to look at MY TIME and it is always up to date.
The main point here is that it doesn’t actually matter which calendar you use, just that you use ONE. Having the one on the desk, the one on the fridge, the one in the computer, the one for the family etc just gets complicated and unreliable.
Keep one “TO DO” list – This is really the same tip as the one calendar. Keep a master list of all the things you want to get done. Every time you have a new idea put it here. This list acts as the storage place for your to do’s.
Having just one place, keeps you from jotting things down on scraps and envelopes and margins. Now you will find your ideas when you need them. Evernote works great for this if you want to go the digital route.
Delete or Delegate tasks – In other words, don’t do a bunch of things. Cross them out, check them off, decide what not to do. This is the best tip ever. Stop doing the things that don’t matter or that you are not good at. Let someone else use their gifts to help you save time.
Prioritize your tasks – it doesn’t matter so much how, as it matters that you have a ranking system in place. Everything can’t be urgent. So unless there is imminent death involved, focus on the important things. The stuff that moves your projects forward, make you money today, and set you up to save time later while making you money.
Also, focus on just a select (1-3) number of projects at a time. If you get too scattered nothing gets finished. So, it is faster to complete something and move on to the next.
Schedule the time to complete tasks – By creating a block of time that you will handle a certain type of task you can take care of all the set up, prep work, and automation once and then just repeat it several times. Schedule a time to “make calls,” then at “call time” make as many as you can in the allotted time.
You can save even more time by pulling the “calls” from your TO DO list, and making the ones related to your current projects first. The first task is always the hardest so leverage it.
Maybe these tips won’t seem too easy if you do all 5 of them. What’s the worst that can happen? You save 2 hours tomorrow and everyday for the rest of your life? Yeah, that would be a drag.