What is the one thing we all wish we had more of, but that there's no way to buy? The answer is time. It's a commodity we always seem to run short of. Time spent with family and friends, engaged in our passion projects, on vacation or lost in a good book seems to pass so quickly. But then time spent on a boring work project or doing chore in the house conversely goes very slowly. It's the central paradox of our lives. We can't create more than twenty-four hours in a day, but we can create more time by simplifying and streamlining time wasting activities and chores. Take these steps and they will add up - a few minutes saved multiple times can soon become a spare hour you have to spend on the things which truly make you happy.
Just Delegate One Thing
A lot of us struggle with the concept of delegating things. Either we feel that we'll do a better job ourselves or we just plain find the idea of having less on our plates challenging in a world of competitive busyness as a marker of status. But by empowering others to do things, we not only help them to learn, but we also learn a lesson ourselves. There are very few things it's critical to carry out personally. Whether it's part of a work project or something you need to do at home, try handing over just one task from that never-ending to-do list to someone else. You should never feel guilty about handing something over. For example, if you spend a lot of time cleaning and you resent it, if you have the funds why not hire a professional cleaning firm to come in once a week? It's not an indulgence if it's something which enhances your life. Similarly, if you find yourself constantly tied up at work in meetings which aren't giving you anything, don't be afraid to nominate someone else to go in your place. It's all about the most appropriate use of your time and energy. Delegation isn't shirking - it's smart time management in action.
Set Up Systems
We all have routine jobs and chores that take up a lot of time, but we feel that we could almost do them in our sleep. Try and automate as many of these tasks as possible, and you'll be amazed by how much time you can free up. If there are certain emails you always find yourself writing time and again at work- to chase up a project or inquire about a meeting, say - then set up a folder of templates saying what you usually do. You can still customize the message, but the bulk of it will be pre-written and ready to go. If there are things you regularly order which are quite specific, see if you can set up a recurring subscription instead. Amazon's Subscribe and Save is a service where you can place a recurring order at regular time intervals for something you use all the time - and make a saving on the unit price in doing so. It could be a brand of tea that you love or specific pet food that your fussy animals have to have - but if you find royal canin available here take advantage and set up that regular delivery so you don't have to waste time and mental energy.
Cut The Clutter
Most of us live lives with far too much excess stuff. Our possessions come to rule us, and we spend precious time and energy maintaining them that could be channeled elsewhere. There's a reason why Steve Jobs famously wore a 'uniform' of black turtleneck and jeans - we believed that we all only have a finite capacity for decision making in a day, and he determined not to waste any of it on minor things like getting dressed in the morning. That may be taking it to the extreme, by developing a capsule wardrobe is one of the things which can help us save time in the mornings, as is batch cooking and preparing healthy meals so we don't have to think about what to cook after a busy day.