A lot of articles on time management simply regurgitate so called ‘successful people’s habits’ or show off the author’s own daily schedules. They are full of common sense and general advice that does nothing concrete to help you do more with your time. Here’s how I’ve managed to be so efficient myself in time management despite needing a good 8-hours of sleep every night.
1. Work from home (and eliminate travel time)
On average most of us spend an hour or two commuting to and from work. For most of my life I’ve worked from home whenever possible. I wake up, switch on the laptop and work as I sip my coffee.
Taking away 52 weekends and 21 vacation days per year, if you eliminate just one hour of commuting time every day you would save 240 hours (or 10 days) in a year!
If a person on average spends 35 years of his life working then that amounts to 350 days saved; almost a whole year of your life not wasted in traffic jams or surfing Facebook in the subway!
2. Eat two meals a day (and get used to eating by yourself)
If you can’t work from home then try this one. There’s absolutely nothing unhealthy or difficult about it. Sumo wrestlers eat only twice a day despite their rigorous physical training. Depending on my schedule, on most weekdays either lunch or dinner could be just a healthy beverage and snack. I also find it curious that most folks can’t eat alone. Waiting for your colleagues to get ready for lunch or your dinner date to arrive (Let’s be honest, how many people are punctual for dinner these days?) is just unproductive. There’s no need to be a loner but there’s no necessity to socialize every day either.
If you do only two sit down meals a day (which usually takes an hour or more especially if you have a meal companion) you’ll find that suddenly you have at least an extra hour every day for another activity.
Science has also proven that if you eat less you will live longer since the process of digestion releases free radicals which kills your cells. That’s definitely time gained!
So far we’ve already saved two hours everyday! That’s, quite simply, how I gain an extra 2 hours in my life everyday! Some of my other methods are:
3. A minimalist wardrobe (This one will not sit well with women)
Having too much variety in your wardrobe is a big waste of time. You end up spending time deciding what to wear and how to match them. A very successful corporate executive advocates wearing only white shirts. You look smart and never have to think about matching clothes in the mornings. I wouldn’t go that far but dark colour pants and basic, light colour shirts will always match whichever pair you pluck out at random. I also have mostly grey t-shirts and blue jeans. Grey tops go with any colour bottoms, and blue jeans are suitable for a variety of weather and occasions.
When you find something that fits you well buy a few versions of it. This saves you future shopping time. This rule doesn’t apply to shoes for me though, which women usually have too many of. I have a pair of each: black leather work shoes, brown comfortable casuals, jogging sneakers and super lasting Teva sandals. Recently I found that buying a cross-functional brown sneaker for both casual wear and jogging makes my luggage much lighter when traveling. Three pairs are plenty enough for me. Admittedly this is easier for men, but anything upwards of 30 pairs is honestly a waste of time just trying to pick one out.
Some people may say, how horrendous to be seen wearing the same thing all the time! Not true. In case you haven’t heard, a lady call Courtney who in Salt Lake City in Utah, USA, has tried wearing just 33 items for 3 months, including accessories and shoes. She was working as a busy advertising executive. She said, “People will not notice that you are dressing with the same 33 items for 3 months, although they may notice there is something different about how you present yourself. You will likely get more compliments. That has been my experience and that of others on this journey.” It works for all seasons, and now she calls it Project 333, and encourages others to try.
4. Create a standard luggage packing list for all four seasons
I take half an hour to pack no matter where I’m going or for how long. That’s because I have a standard packing list — one for each season of the year. The first thing I do when I pack is check the weather of the place I’m going to. Then I pulled out the relevant checklist on my laptop and check off the items as I pack. The list prepares enough for a full week on the road without laundry. If the trip is shorter I would just half the amount for the clothing. Since my clothes always match with minimal fuss there’s also no time wasted on choosing which to bring. All the other stuff like toiletries and IT gadget accessories are usually already pre-packed in travel pouches waiting to go. This way if you’re a road warrior you’ll never have to think about scheduling time for packing the day before or forgetting something.
5. Take public transport instead of driving
On workdays I tend not to drive. Taking the subway gives me extra time to manage my LinkedIn account and read news feeds. I can also text my friends and family to keep in touch. That is just not possible when you’re driving. Some people say they can… until they’ve had their first accident…
If I’m in a rush, I’ll take a cab. Still gives me time to do conference calls and skip on finding parking. But if you have a chauffeur or a helicopter or own a private jet, then forget I mentioned this one!
“Time is the one thing you can never recover once lost.”
Happy saving time folks!