How valuable is your time? It’s easy to answer that question at work simply by figuring out your hourly rate, but it is much harder do determine the worth of your leisure or non-work time. Do you feel you are able to meet your personal needs and commitments, or are you always running late and
falling behind? Would you like to recapture some of your free time? With some simple planning, and a bit of discipline, you can.
One way to begin is by being more organized and efficient. For example, taking ten minutes to make a shopping list can save you a thirty minute return trip to the grocery store for something you forgot. Better yet, plan the meals for the week before you go shopping.
Keeping your to do list current is important, but doing small tasks immediately so they never get on your list is more efficient. When possible, grouping similar tasks and completing them as a chunk is a time saver. For example, you need to make three or four appointments. Find the needed information and make them all at the same time while you have your calendar available. Or take 20 minutes and put all family and friend birthdays in your iphone and set a reminder for each. That way they won’t creep up on you, and you won’t have to rush to purchase a present or send a card.
If you are a procrastinator, at least be creative about it. When you find yourself putting off starting that project or task, set a time limit for your procrastination. Then make yourself do other tasks during the procrastination time period (put the laundry in, do the dishes, make your bed). Don’t reward procrastination by doing something fun or enjoyable. That only reinforces poor habits.
If you can afford it and have the storage space, buying items in bulk can be a great time saver and can help your budget, too. Also, something as simple as ordering or purchasing an extra printer cartridge or a second book of stamps can save time when you are in a hurry.
Finally, there are several hints your mother or grandmother probably emphasized. They seem so simple, but they often take discipline to accomplish. Remember her saying, “If you take it out, put it away?” Or, “If you spill it, wipe it up.” And don’t forget the favorite one of that teacher who was always asking you to do better–“If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” They knew what they were talking about, and their advice is still valuable.
There are many time management books and resources out there, but change is hard. Start by doing one or two things to help you be better organized (for example, that grocery list or making several appointments at once). When that change becomes ingrained, go on to another area that needs attention. Remember your free time is a valuable commodity. Spend it wisely.