Readers, readers, readers! Balancing school, my new job, and my blog has become a bit easier as I am now following and participating in Darren’s 31 Day Challenge to Build a Better Blog. If you have a blog, you should join in as well. Today’s task is to write a list post, but coincidentally, I had planned for today to be a list post anyway!
We all love to read websites with “hacks” for life. “Hacks” in the self-improvement sense are shortcuts and easier ways to do things that improve the quality of how we live.
A chapter entitled “I’m on My Honeymoon, But If You Need Me…” in a book called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch featured some favorite time hacks. During the time he wrote this book, Randy was battling terminal pancreatic cancer and was given a mere six months to live. In these few months, Randy learned that his time was valuable, and that he wanted to spend less time on menial tasks, and fill every single second with something of importance, even if he’s simply on hold during a phone call.
He imparted his wisdom to the world in this book, and here I’ll share some of Randy’s time hacks along with a few of my own that you can use to make the most of your life.
- “Time must be managed like money.” As his first tidbit of wisdom, Randy stated simply that we must invest time into things that matter.
- “The most useful to-do lists break tasks into small steps.” This seems like common sense, but not many of us do this! (Including me until today.) Just like writing a novel or cleaning up your house, small steps help you to be more organized and motivated to keep going. Taking on too much at a time can be draining and overwhelming.
- “Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?” Here, Randy mentioned a clipping he had held onto from a newspaper in Virginia which depicts a pregnant woman who protested against a local construction site. She worried about the possible effect the loud jackhammers could have on her unborn child, but get this: she’s smoking a cigarette. Certainly, she could exert her time and worry toward greater issues.
- “Rethink the telephone.” I thought this was the most interesting tip. Randy mentions that we live in a culture where we spend a lot of time on hold. It may seem like an insignificant problem, but the time you spend holding the phone up to your ears and waiting while listening to that nice elevator music adds up. (Especially if your job requires you to be on the phone a lot!) While on hold, Randy suggests switching to speaker phone so your hands are free to do other things. Also, he mentions a few techniques to shorten unnecessary or less important calls like standing during a conversation, which will make you more apt to speed things along or keeping a project in plain sight as a reminder to what you must get back to after a call.
Though Randy has since passed, these tips remain immortalized as a reminder to us about what we can do to make the most of our time. Live as if we may vanish tomorrow, but make sure you fill it with quality and not quantity! Here are a few tips I’ve come across in my daily routine that have been the difference between hectic mornings and the beginning of a good day.
- PRIORITIZE! What is more important and hardest? Do it first.
- When planning your day, give yourself some free time in case something comes up.
- Combine activities when possible, but only if they’re easy! Cook your breakfast while keeping a copy of that book you have to read lying open on the counter. Don’t multi-task if you’re working on tougher projects, however, because it could produce mediocre work.
- Take breaks, relax, breathe, and de-stress.
- When getting ready in the morning, do everything you must do in one room of the house then move on to the next. This will keep you from running back and forth through the halls.
- Lay out your outfit and accessories for tomorrow before you sleep.
- Do not get on the internet in the morning if you know yourself to get caught up surfing meaningless sites during your precious time.
- Start your day 15 to 30 minutes earlier. It may be hard first, but those fractions of an hour can be used to wake yourself up, eat a healthier breakfast at a steady pace, feed your kittens, and read some news before scurrying out of your house every morning.
- Prepare ingredients or cook large meals the night before you serve them.
- Try shopping online, but only on trusted sites. (Especially during the holidays!)
- Fold or hang your clothes immediately after they are done drying. This will keep your clothes from wrinkling and you’ll avoid needing to iron.
- If you have children or a partner, share chores with them. For children it is a lesson in responsibility. For your partner it’s only fair.
- Create laundry baskets or designated areas ahead of time for your reds, whites, delicates, and such. These can double as baskets of folded clothes for each member of the house to put up.
- It’s funny and silly, but remember those two tabs you can fold in on the side so your aluminum foil doesn’t fall out every time you grab a piece!
- Brush your teeth in the shower while you rinse off.
- Limit your shower time. Identify what you’ll do first, second, third, and so on. Leave your conditioner on while you scrub yourself down or brush your teeth!
- Pay your bills in one sitting.
- Try online banking and bill paying.
- If someone at your job asks you for a favor and you’re swamped with other tasks, simply say “No, I can’t do that right now”. Your time is precious to you so protect it!
- OR if someone asks you for a favor, trade some time with them. If they ask you to shovel snow out of their driveway, you can ask them to maybe babysit one day or take your mail in while you’re on vacation.
- Get a planner and amass all dates and assignments into one, but keep it organized!
- Keep a simple ‘inbox’ and ‘outbox’ for projects and papers you must go through. Manage your paperwork in this simple way. I know having too many papers lying around can become a major distraction.
- Take clearer notes.
- When doing a writing project, don’t worry about perfectionism. Get your basic ideas and information down, and then go back and edit later.
- Learn more keyboard shortcuts! My boyfriend gets his research papers done hours before me because he memorized vital keyboard shortcuts for the programs he uses most often. It’s very useful, and I would recommend it to everyone.
- Record your favorite shows with TiVo or DVR and watch them in your spare time. Don’t rush home just to catch the newest season of Heroes.
- Limit your activities on the internet to a definitive amount. For example: check your email only three times a day, update your Facebook once or twice, comment five times on your daily blogs.
- Create filters and folders for your email.
- Keep all of your usernames and passwords stored on a sheet of paper somewhere discreet.
- Learn to Google efficiently and effectively.
Do you have more time shortcuts that have been useful to you in your routine? Please feel free to share them in the comments. Tips like these are valuable and stick with us for a lifetime!