11 Guaranteed Time Savers

by Suzanne Falter-Barns

1. Buy a cordless, headset telephone and return or take calls while you're washing dishes, doing housework, recycling, folding laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, etc.. (Not only will you be multi-tasking, you'll have some pleasant company while you do your chores.)

Time saved: 13.5 hours per month (based on making three 15-minute phone calls 6 days per week while doing other things)

2. Keep a Rolodex next to the telephone. Stop looking up the same numbers all the time in on-line directories, databases, palm pilots, and phone books. If you're address book is a mass of cross-outs and indecipherable scribbles, toss it out. Instead, get an old-fashioned Rolodex and keep it parked next to your phone with a sharpened pencil. Then, whenever you need a number, you can turn right to it. Make it a rule to add new numbers every time you call them more than once or twice.

Time saved: 1 -2 hours per month (based on spending 10 minutes three times per week looking in directories)

3. Never throw out directions. Nothing slows progress like having to get directions to someone's house or business repeatedly. Type it into the computer or write it down once. Then store it forever in a computer file, or in a small expandable envelope in your car's glove compartment, possibly sorted into personal and business categories. I store directions for out of town places along with driving maps for that city in a map-sized, plastic storage box.

Time saved: 1.12 hours per month (based on asking for and writing down directions three times per week, half of which are repeats)

4. Make fewer trips to your bank ATM. Use your debit card for cash purchases, or get cash in grocery stores or other venues that offer 'Cash Back' when paying with your debit or ATM card. If you find you have to drive to the ATM, this can really be a time saver.

Time saved: 2.8 hours per month (based on reducing visits from two 25-minute trips to bank and back per week to one trip every other week)

5. Avoid meeting in person. Wherever possible, avoid face-to-face meetings and try to phone it in if possible. This extends to everything from conferences with your child's teacher, to volunteer committee planning sessions. When you add travel, taking down directions, parking or transit lines, unnecessary meetings just take too much darn time out of your day or night. Obviously this won't apply to all situations, but even selective meeting planning can be a big time saver.

Time saved: 3 hours per month (based on omitting travel on two out-of-office or out-of-home meetings per week)

6. Stay out of post offices. Buy postage at some supermarket checkouts or on-line, and buy at least one roll of stamps at a time. Limit your visits to the P.O. to only the absolute necessities. The Post Office's website at www.usps.gov allows you to order stamps, send certified mail, and calculate postage on-line. 

Time saved: 2 hours per month

7. Workout at home. By getting an exercise video, home exercise equipment, or tuning into various early morning exercise programs on TV, you can get the job done before you even leave the house in the morning. Some tapes offer up exercise for early morning wake-ups and just before bed cool-downs. (see Resources, Chapter X, "The Secret of Sweating While You Pray.")

Time saved: 9 hours per month (based on 40 minutes travel to and from gym three times per week)

8. Have breakfast, instead. Don't have lunch with business contacts and friends, have a more efficient meal -- breakfast. It's fast, it's early, and it's a really nice way to start the day.

Time saved: 4.5 hours per month (based on cutting back from one 2-hour lunch to one 1-hour breakfast per month)

9. Schedule tasks. Allowing yourself a definite amount of time to get projects done is an excellent tool for efficiency. Given the old saw that 'the work expands to fit the time', you can save great gobs of time by restricting the time you spend on any task. In other words, it could take three hours to clean the garage or 'a couple of afternoons.' Give yourself a definite end time that doesn't even seem particularly reasonable, and you'll be amazed with your results.

Time saved: unlimited

10. Send e-greetings instead. Holidays and important birthdays can be commemorated by sending an e-greeting from a site such as www.bluemountainarts.com. That means no time spent shopping for a card or making one, hunting for the stamp, wondering if you've got the correct address, and finding the mailbox. The mind boggles at how much time (and paper and money) this saves around the holidays.

Time saved: 1.16 hours per month (based on sending two greetings by email instead of snail mail)

Time saved emailing holiday cards: 15-25 hours per year 

11. Schedule meeting-free days. If you have a job that requires 'face time' with clients or repeated sales calls, plan at least one day per week when you just get things done at your desk. Your concentration won't be broken, and by 'getting on a roll', you'll clear many small nagging tasks away in no time. Kim Goad, who suggested this tip, writes, "I've learned I had more control of my schedule than I used to think I did, and my customer service has not suffered a bit."

Time saved: Unlimited

12. Store drop-offs or deliveries in your car. Put the dry cleaning, children's forgotten items, a dinner guest's pie tin or salad bowl, and the like in the car as soon as you come upon them. Then you can automatically drop them off with you're in the area (assuming there's no time demand for them.) If you tend to be forgetful of what's in the trunk, make a lit on a file card and keep it up by the front wheel to remind you. Simply check off each item as it gets delivered.

Time saved: 1.6 hours per month (based on four fifteen minute searches, with an additional ten minutes for each special drop-off)

Suzanne Falter-Barns is the author of Living Your Joy; A Practical Guide to Happiness (Ballantine). Her website, www.howmuchjoy.com, has practical tips and tools for finding the time, money and energy to live your dreams.

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Make More Time: 7 Steps to Streamlining Your Day, Reducing Your Commitments, and Doing More of What You Love, by Amy Marlowe Hart
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