There are always minutes to be saved and various ways to save them. In this article I discuss 10 of my favorite ways to save 10 minutes. These are not complicated procedures. They are very simple, straightforward suggestions. Sometimes our days are so crammed with things to do that 10 minutes represents the difference between sanity and insanity. I use each of the suggestions below to save time and remain sane on a daily basis.
Perhaps the very best question that you can memorize and repeat, over and over, is, “what is the most valuable use of my time right now?”
– Brian Tracy
- Plan Ahead and Start Early – 10 minutes of dedicated time planning each evening will save you from 20 minutes of ad-hoc preparation each morning. Likewise, starting your morning on purpose 20 minutes early will inject at least 30 additional productive minutes into your day. Think about it.
- Handle All 2 Minute Tasks Immediately – “The 2 Minute Rule” is single greatest tip I picked up from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”. If you roughly estimate that a task is going to take you less than 2 minutes to accomplish, do it right now. It’s a waste of time and energy to keep small tasks like this on your to-do list.
- Group Similar Tasks Back-to-Back – Switching gears between different types of tasks can be tough. It takes most people several minutes to get into a productive mental groove geared toward a speficic type of task. Therefore, it makes sense to group similar tasks in an effort to minimize the number of rough patches, and thus wasted time, between task orders.
- Eliminate All Distractions for a Set Time – Distractions are everywhere. They arrive via email, cell phone, coworker inquiry, etc. I’ve found that cutting out all distractions for a set time is one of the most effective ways to get things done in less time. You can’t remain in hiding forever, but you can be nearly 4 times as productive while you are.
- Take Notes and Make Lists – Nobody’s memory is perfect. If you don’t take notes and setup to-do lists for yourself you will end up wasting minutes of time trying to remember things that would have taken you seconds to write down.
- Standardize Common Responsibilities – If you find yourself performing the same set of tasks on a regular basis then it makes sense to establish an efficient, standardized way of accomplishing them. Are certain tasks easier to perform in the morning? Are there additional resources that can be utilized only at a certain time? It’s up to you to find an efficient pattern, standardize it and follow it.
- Buy in Bulk, Cook in Bulk – Buying stuff and cooking food are two of the most common unplanned consumptions of time. Most people buy replacements in small amounts only when they need them and think about food only when they’re hungry. The probem is these issues will often arise at inopportune times. The most efficient way I’ve found to counteract this is by doing bulk loads of both. I know I’ll always need gas in my vehicle. So instead of putting in $25 here and $25 there, I top off my tank every time I’m at the station regardless of the sticker shock. Likewise, I know I’m going to be hungry at lunch time every day this week. So on Sundays I’ll grill up 5 extra chicken breasts and make a chicken wrap or sandwich for every day of the week.
- Use Productive Shortcuts – People who claim that there are no productive shortcuts in life have been brainwashed. There are productive shortcuts for almost everything you do. Finding and using them can save you a few minutes here and there on a daily basis. If you use a computer, learn the keyboard shortcuts for the programs you use most often. If you can permanently delegate one of your regular tasks to someone else, do it. Is there a route to work with less traffic? Where can you hit 2 birds with 1 stone?
- Organize All Your Space – How much time do you think the average person wastefully spends searching for items they’ve misplaced? Keeping both your living and work spaces organized will undoubtedly save you 10 minutes (if not 20 or 30) daily.
- Productively Use Waiting Time – Waiting time does not have to be wasted time. When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, the post office, or on hold for the next available representative… what simple tasks could you complete while you wait? How about sorting though your snail mail, writing those thank you notes you’ve been putting off, reading the book you keep meaning to read, reviewing and editing your to-do lists, etc…