Too Much or Not Enough:
How to Eliminate the
Five Biggest Time Wasters in Your Day
As I write this, I recall an appointment I had with a particular client this past week who reported that she has more free time as a result of having little or no e-mail in her Inbox and using her e-Task list to guide her on a daily basis. How nice! More time is just one of the greatest benefits of getting your systems in place to support your ongoing productivity.
My client’s time wasters may not be the same as yours, but here are the top 5 I typically find that must be eliminated before you can get more time in your day.
1.) Too Many Things
Eliminate as many things as you can that don’t have value. Free yourself from the burden of “stuff.” Once you can simplify, the biggest time saver about getting organized is finding what you need in the same place every time. You can trust your system if you use your system, as you’ve defined it. A trusted system is invaluable. Define a home for everything and then spend your time on what’s most important to you and what you’re passionate about.
2.) Not Enough Decisions
Look around and you may see lots of unmade or deferred decisions. A person can save an incredible amount of time just by making necessary decisions so that you never have to revisit an unmade decision again. Pick up the pace. Don’t let things sit there and stare at you endlessly. Make decisions on everything and move ‘em along!
3.) Too many e-mails in the Inbox
It’s too easy to get sucked in to e-mail. Limit your time spent watching e-mail. Turn off those e-mail alerts. Create a place in your C: drive to store information for long term reference, including e-mail and attachments. Keep only a few e-mail folders to hold the more fluid and temporary information you get. Then combine tips 1 & 2 above: simplify what you keep and make decisions fast about what’s coming into your Inbox. As soon as you get your Inbox down to zero and know that you can keep it that way, you’ll have more free time for other pursuits, just like my client.
4.) Too many ways to forget
Do you have a daily plan? On the computer? Reflecting everything you need to do, no matter when you’ll do it? Get all of your tasks in one place and note the “when” as well as the “what” of everything you plan to do. Having all your tasks in one place will save you time because you won’t have to look all over your desk anymore for to-dos on pads and post-it notes or to see what you feel like doing next. You won’t waste time chasing your tail or wondering what you forgot to do today. And you can get done what you need to get done and channel your free time elsewhere.
5.) Not enough routine
Get systems in place for all of your information and for how you manage your tasks and time and then you’ll know exactly what to do with everything when it enters your office. You’ll routinely process that information right where it needs to go. Use your calendar, use your contact system, use your file drawers and e-folders, and use a task list. If you have to process the same kinds of information every day, know where it goes… be on auto-pilot and save more time. The more you establish routines around your systems and processes, the more you’ll do them with greater efficiency and you’ll have more time for your priorities.