There are probably thousands of piddling, trivial things anyone could do to save time. But in this article, I've tried to focus on the general things that any of us can do. Each of the ten time saving rules below is relatively easy to do – and each will make a big change in the amount of time you have to do what you want to do. If you do all ten, you'll be so time-rich you may have to take up a new hobby!
Time Saving Rules
1) Have a regular place for things and put them back when you’re done with them.
If you always set your keys on the table in the hall when you come in, you’ll always be able to find them easily when you go out – and never waste time looking for them. And what works with your keys will work with just about everything else that you use regularly, too.
2) Don't multitask.
It's one of the biggest time wasters there is for most people. Why? Because as Kendra Cherry points out in The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking, Multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent according to some researchers – perhaps because switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down your progress.
3) Use a calendar and write down everything you need to do and when you need to do it – on the same calendar.
It doesn't matter whether your chosen calendar is electronic or paper. What matters is that you create and maintain one "appointment central", a one stop shop, if you will, of everything you must and want to do. This serves two purposes; it ensures you don't miss anything important and it serves as a to-do list. Using a calendar that can travel with you (such as a calendar application on a smartphone) is a real time saver compared with ferrying bits of paper back to wherever your paper calendar is located.
4) Relearn how to focus.
Many of us waste oodles of time just because we're so easily distracted. Instead of focusing on one task and finishing it in short order, we allow ourselves to be pulled off task numerous times. The result? The original task takes much longer than it could have and should have. Improving Your Concentration is one way that you can increase your ability to stay on task.
Procrastination in itself isn't bad. What's bad is what happens to whatever you're procrastinating about when you do it. Problems grow. Misunderstanding multiply. Trash piles up. Dealing with things when they're smaller not only saves time but makes it much easier on yourself too.
6) Plan your trips and consolidate your chores.
Imagine you have seven items on your grocery list and instead of making one visit to a grocery store and buying all of them, you make seven separate trips, buying one item each time. That's the equivalent of what many of us do with our shopping and chores. Instead, to save time, think ahead. Some things can be picked up or done on the way to or from work. Or a trip to one place can be expanded to include other stops that are close to one another.
7) Learn to love routine.
Routine is the number one time saver that we have. For instance, my friend Andy goes to the same coffee shop every mid-morning – with such regularity that whichever barista is working always has his latté ready for him. Routine doesn't always speed up service but it certainly makes it easier to find things and get things done. And it frees the brain for other things, another good thing.
Menu planning in advance speeds the meal preparation process and simplifies grocery shopping. It makes things a lot less stressful, too, if you're not holding a family conference about what you should have that night or worse, having to rush out right before dinner to get some missing ingredient.
9) Learn what your personal time-wasters are and eliminate them.
Personally, I can easily spend forty-five minutes figuring out what to wear in the morning – because it's a ploy to stay longer in my warm, comfy bed. Guess what? It takes me less than five minutes to decide when I do it the night before – and that includes laying out the clothes. Once you know what your favourite personal time wasters are, it's usually easy to come up with a strategy to stop doing them. See 11 Time Management Tips for more about eliminating time wasters.
10) Stop fretting.
Some of us would easily increase our life spans by twenty years if we had back the amount of time we spend worrying about things that might happen or about things that we've done. Now I know (being one myself) that fretting seems to be embedded in some people's personalities. But it’s still worth working on cutting back on our habit of worrying. Besides saving time, it's a whole lot better for our health. Here are Six Strategies to Reduce Your Worry.
From Saving Time to Time Management
These are by no means the only things that you can do to save time. Time management, for instance, provides strategies for saving time – and for using it more productively. 11 Time Management Tips is a good introduction.