Time Saving Tips

Do you remember when you were a kid and thought the summer would never end?  Fast forward, you become an adult and suddenly time compresses and starts to fly.  All of the people I know who are retired say the same thing.  “I am so busy now that I don’t know how I ever had time to work!”

What happened?  Twenty-four hours is still twenty-four hours.  But, every minute of it is now sacred. With this in mind, here are a few time management tips from friends—all busy people—on how to increase your productivity. Try incorporating some of these concepts into your daily routine and I guarantee you'll end up with more time to enjoy the good things in life. 


Let’s start with list making.  We all do them. Whether we do them daily, weekly or monthly in our head, handwritten on paper or typed on our smart phones, lists are fundamental to taming the time clock.  Dr. Atul Gawande’s has even written a book about it, The Checklist Manifest. Here the author makes a compelling argument on the importance of the lowly checklist to manage just about any potentially serious problem.


Okay.  Lists made. Our next step is to prioritize by importance and difficulty. Normally, I start with things which can be checked off quickly to encourage me to tackle the harder jobs later.  Not so for Lila Gault, former wine writer and publicist, who jumps right in on the most challenging.  She is a smart, focused individual who can efficiently drive through the obstacle course and come up with clever solutions quicker than most of us. 

In my case, the “sausage” technique applied to those difficult tasks has more appeal.  Here you assign activities in small increments towards completing the project. Eventually, slice by slice, you’ll consumed the whole sausage. Try it out on your next tax return!


Years ago, a highly successful French businessman named Alain, told me that one should never touch a piece of paper more than once.  Get it done the first time and then move on. This is a handy tip especially if you can delegate or out-source it to someone else.


Another time saver from Lila is learning how to say “no.”  “Say 'no' to anything you don’t love. Life is too short to waste time on less than worthwhile activities.”


Maria Gomez-Laurens, a powerhouse conference negotiator who works at home, suggests dividing your day into segments with different functions.  For example, she starts her day with handling emails for two hours. Then, she puts her iPhone away and doesn’t come back to it until after lunch. Her day is neatly divided into different activities on which she concentrates exclusively.   This is potent advice, especially as most of us are addicted to our smart devises.  In fact, on average people look at their phones more than 2,000 times a day.  Net surfing, social media posting, texting and personal calls, all eat of time. Talk about distraction that can veer you off course. 


As much as we would like to think we are clever enough to multi-task—such as texting while driving—it is neither safe nor efficient in the long run.  According to the American Psychological Association shifting from one activity to another is not as straight forward as you’d think.  What happens is the brain must transition from the initial task to the new task which takes time, even if it feels instantaneous.  Their research has shown that toggling between tasks actually eats up 40% more time.


In New York, waiting for a bus subway for transportation can be a real time-eater.  Karen Brossius, Executive Director of C-Cap (www.ccapinc.org) , says she’s manages to save time by relying on a good bus app.  As not all transportation apps are created equal, look for ones which are accurate.  She swears by Transgo-MTA Bus tracker. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.transgo.mtabustracker.


Time management can be viewed from different perspectives.  Isabelle Kellogg, writer and luxury goods expert, says she approaches it like a straight line. “No zigzagging.  I organize my day, my to-do list, and events I'm attending, like an arrow.  If there's too much zigzag (distractions), then I re-organize so that I can get the maximum from my attention and my energy level.”


My husband’s Ghanaian caregiver, Michael Donkor, takes a unique approach to saving time.  He adds an extra 15 minutes to being at a specific location or preforming a specific task. Michael claims it helps minimize stress.  Given stress often leads to a lack of focus and therefore inefficiencies, this is actually a very helpful tip.


One of my Equinox spinning trainers, Kevin Condon, leads an exceptionally busy life.  He is the father of four children under 13, lives in Connecticut, works in New York City as a wealth management advisor AND teaches three spin classes a week. How he does it? “Easy," Kevin claims. "I have three parts to my life: family, work and sports.  I rarely go beyond these three activities.”  Unlike many of us with multiple outside interests, Kevin focuses like a highly tuned athlete just on his three priorities.


Something you read about frequently today is the importance of taking good care of yourself.  If you are healthy and unstressed, you tend to perform better.  This means you avoid wasting time in being disorganized and having to redo what you've already done.  To be efficient, it is critical to lead a healthy physical and mental life.  Eat properly, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid an excess of drugs and alcohol.  Then, don't forget to do something every day which you enjoy to maintain your mental well-being.


In short, taking a tip from Kevin: Know your priorities. Make sure you're engaging in activities that support your personal and business goals.  Next, eliminate distractions and focus, focus, focus. Finally, with all the free time you’ve accrued being efficient and productive, you’ll have plenty of time for fun!