Believe it or not, “finding some time” isn’t as hard as you think. By being aware of how much time I spent doing various tasks through every day in a week, I was able to get a good picture of where I could apply some discipline. I found the biggest savings by regulating just three areas of my life.
Plan Your Meals
I found that not only did I save time when I planned my meals, I ended up saving money as well. Before, I averaged
- 15 minutes for breakfast (parking at Starbucks, waiting in line, ordering my coffee and pastry, waiting for my coffee, hopping back in my car)
- 75 minutes eating out with my coworkers everyday for lunch.
- 90 minutes cooking dinner every evening (and cleaning up afterwards)
I invested in a vacuum sealer and began cooking large batches of food every Sunday afternoon. I made about a dozen dishes so I wouldn’t get bored, and sealed off meal-sized packets that could be reheated in the microwave for lunch and dinner. These packets were disposable when I was done eating, leaving nothing to wash except a fork. This whole process took me about 3 hours, averaging about 35 minutes a day. Bringing lunch allowed me to stay at my desk to finish up some work, pay bills, or do some super-secret writing. I brought a gallon of milk, drank the (ick) office coffee, and a box of cereal to work so I wouldn’t have to make my breakfast stop.
All this added up to a savings of 145 minutes per day.
Stop Spacing Out
On an average day, I spent what amounted to an egregious amount of time either in front of the television or mindlessly surfing the web on my PC. One might argue this count as “entertainment” or even.. gasp.. “social time”, but every day I found myself none the richer for my idleness. On average
- I checked my email six times a day, averaging 5 minutes each time.
- Once I got home, I watched TV for an hour every day . .
- Afterwards I’d piss away another hour reading Digg and clicking on that damn StumbleUpon button in my browser.
Instead of being a man and going cold turkey, I made a few compromises. First, I took a tally of shows I watched on a regular basis and ruthlessly slashed all but my absolute favorites (which was relatively easy with all the writers on strike) and queued them all up on my DVR for watching over the weekend. Since the shows were all recorded (two hours worth per week), I was able to fast forward through all the commercials, which saved 20 minutes per hour watched.
I cut myself down to checking my email three times a day – once in the morning, once before lunch, and once when I got home. I uninstalled StumbleUpon and subscribed to the Digg RSS feed so I could be more discriminate about what I read. All this seems to have worked as before long I was able to cut my daily web surfing time in half.
This added up almost 90 minutes a day.
A lot of you may be thinking these numbers aren’t the norm. Perhaps not, but how far off are they? A lot of the scenarios I have described happen to just about everyone. Maybe you’re more efficient than me. Granted I might be more of a slacker than most people, which makes this exercise all the more relevant.
Taking an inventory of how you spend your time is a lot like digging around for deductions come tax time. By observing my own nature and applying a bit of discipline, I was able to save a whopping 292minutes per day. At first saving 5 or 10 minutes here and there didn’t seem like much, but I was shocked at how quickly those minutes added up.
Hang on for a bit because my math is about to get fast and loose.
Assuming 100% efficiency, those 292 minutes meant I was saving a FULL DAY (24.33 hours) per week, four daysper month, or forty eight days per year. Keep in mind, these are forty eight *24 hour* days. This translates to almost 145 8-hour working days per year.
Ask yourself one thing: what can YOU get done with an extra 145 days per year?
Published in: Personal Organization