“Dost thou love life? Then waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin
Wouldn’t it be great if you could magically create an extra hour in the day? I believe that everyone can do this, in fact most people can probably create way more than an hour.
It has been said that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know. This is because when you’re busy you have to become more efficient to get things done. I’ve found this to be true because my life is fuller than it has ever been and yet I am squeezing so much more into it than I ever used to. I think a big part of that is because I’ve learned to be a lot more efficient in the way I do things.
Randy Pausch is someone who learned to have great control over the way he managed his time after he contracted Pancreatic Cancer. It really put things into perspective for him. You can learn from his experiences in his talk on time management. It’s quite inspiring, especially considering what he was up against at the time. You may also like to watch his last lecture if you haven’t already, it’s great.
A dramatic event in your life like this can be the catalyst for you to improve the way you manage your time but you needn’t wait for this to happen. The ideas below won’t all work for everyone but most people should be able to find something here that they can use to free up some time in their day.
What you do with that extra time is a whole different story. You might like to learn something new, relax, take up a new hobby, volunteer somewhere, spend some more time with your kids, starting writing that novel or simply catch up…
1. Get up earlier – Especially on the weekends. How many people waste half the day sleeping in? The average adult needs 7 or 8 hours sleep a night. If you’re getting more than that you probably don’t need it.
2. Watch less TV – Most people, myself included, could easily save some time by watching less TV. It’s so easy to just vege out in front of the idiot box. But set yourself limits. Watch a programme you like then switch it off. TV bosses are crafty, they start each show straight after the previous one so before you know it you’re hooked and have to watch the next show. Don’t fall for it, use the off button. If you’re really organised you can record shows you want to watch so that you can watch them when it suits you. That way you get to skip the ads as well.
3. Rework your commuting time – Move closer to work, or get a job closer to home. For some commuters this alone could easily save an hour a day. Ask your boss if you can rearrange your time at work so you start and finish later. That way you avoid rush hour and spend less time stuck in traffic but are still able to spend the same amount of time at work. Do you need an hour for lunch? Ask for a half hour so you can leave half an hour earlier.
4. Do something as soon as you get home before you relax – Rather than heading straight for the couch as soon as you get in from work why not do a couple of chores straight away. It’ll make the couch feel even better when you get there.
5. Shop less – Don’t go to the supermarket 4 times a week, go once or twice and take a list so it takes less time when you’re there (you’ll save money doing this as well). And take your shopping list to work so you can pick up the groceries on the way home rather than having to make a separate trip.
6. Rethink your internet usage – How did you arrive at this article? Did you intend to read this, or did you arrive here by chance after reading another blog? Time can fly by when you’re online so observe how you use your time. If you’re trying to work then maybe you should close your email and messaging programs so you aren’t getting distracted. Or divide up your time so that you get your work done first. Then you can surf freely without feeling like you should be doing something else.
7. Spend less time in the shower – I love showers so I always struggle with this, especially in the winter. But if I’m really pushed then it is one way to free up a little time in the morning.
8. Re-evaluate your chores – Do you really need to iron everything? Why not buy clothes that don’t need ironing? (I’m allergic to ironing so I can get out of this one on medical grounds). Do one large load of washing instead of two smaller ones. Tidy up as you go so it doesn’t become a huge task. A tidy house means you won’t have to spend half your life looking for your keys.
9. Delegate – If you have kids then get them doing some of the chores. If you can afford it then get a cleaner or pay your next door neighbour’s kid to mow the lawns. Setup automatic payments for your bills. There are lots of ways to delegate tasks so you can free up your time.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to free up some time in your day then make a note of how you spend your time for a couple of days. You’ll be surprised how much free time you actually have if you want it. If you’re looking for more you can check out young entrepreneur Adam McFarland’s useful work-related time management tips.