During happy hour last Friday I spent some time listening to one of my colleagues confess her utter distaste for the Windows Vista Start menu. “The system is organized all wrong. The programs I need are buried and the ones I never use are right at my finger tips. I waste so much time digging through menus,” she said. “But you can easily rearrange that,” I replied. She looked down with a despondent expression on her face. “I know,” she said. “Someone else told me that too, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out.”
Suddenly it dawned on me, you have to spend a little time now to save a lot of time later. It’s the notion of giving some to get some. This ties into the idea of working smarter not harder. Countless hours can be saved over the long-term by spending just a few productive minutes now.
Here are a few ideas to help kick-start the practice of spending minutes to save hours:
- Learn to Search Google Effectively – If Google is the prime portal to the information superhighway , Google’s advanced search operators are the most efficient vehicles on the road. Once you learn them, you will find what you seek in half the time… every time.
- Organize Your Space – How fast can you access something in an organized space? Instantaneously! Spend a little time organizing your space and you’ll forever spend less time searching and more time doing.
- Research and Use the Right Tools – Possessing the right tools can easily shrink a mountainous task into a molehill. The time you take to find the right tool will be repaid 1000 times over.
- Uncover the Shortcuts – Keyboard shortcuts, driving a less congested route, hitting 2 birds with one stone, etc. There are simple shortcuts for almost everything you do. It’s worth your while to uncover them. Once you do, you can shave a few minutes off your tasks on a daily basis. Compound this over a year and you’ll saving hours of precious life.
- Automate Tasks – Spend the time necessary to automate everything you can. Create checklists to help you remember things. Design templates to speed the process of recreation. Utilize modern technologies to automate bill payments, data backups, to-do list reminders, etc.
- Listen Carefully the First Time – The better listener you are, the more you will learn. The more you learn now, the fewer questions you will have later… and the less time you will spend searching for answers.
- Take Useful Notes – …and store them in a trusted place so you always know where to look. Not doing so will lead to extensive wastes of both time and opportunity.
- Handle Simple Tasks Immediately – Constantly thinking about doing something simple but avoiding the actual act of doing it takes more time than actually doing it. Follow the GTD 2-Minute Rule. If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.
- Learn to Type Efficiently – If you use a computer on a regular basis, learning to type efficiently will save you days (if not weeks) worth of time over the course of your lifetime.
- Adhere to Basic Safety Precautions – If you don’t spend the time to put on a helmet, how much time will you waste in an injured state when you bang your head? If you don’t spend the time to backup your data and the hard drive crashes, how much time will you waste trying to recover files? You get the idea.
- Reflect on Your Goals and Direction – Not doing so is committing to wasteful misdirection. The process of self reflection helps maintain a conscious awareness of where you’ve been and where you intend to go, giving you the ability to realign your trajectory when necessary.
- Teach Someone How to Help You – Teach your dependants how to fish so you no longer have to fish for them.
- Presort Before Placing – Presort the lights and darks before tossing them in the hamper. Presort those files before stacking them on the desk. That which takes a couple seconds now will take several minutes later on.
- Make Reservations – When a 1 minute phone call can save 1 hour of waiting.
- Let Your Mouse Do The Walking – Shop online. Rent movies online. Pay bills online… etc. It’s sooo much faster.
Photo by: Jek in the Box