Among the twenty time saving tips listed on this page, the one that hits home the most is this one: Do difficult things quickly; waiting doesn’t make them easier. It’s a fact of life that sometimes difficult tasks present themselves. Getting those ones out of the way first can free your mind and allow you to concentrate better.
Here are the rest of the tips:
- Learn to set priorities on things like goals, tasks, meeting agenda items, interruptions.
- Start with “A-priority” tasks; is it the best use of your time?
- Fight procrastination; do it now if it’s important.
- Subdivide large, tough tasks into smaller, easily accomplished parts.
- Establish a quiet hour, even though it requires will power and may not always work.
- Find a hideaway. The library or office of a co-worker who’s traveling.
- Learn to say “no” when you’ve got something important to do.
- Learn to delegate.
- Accumulate similar tasks and do them all at one time.
- Minimize routine tasks; spend only the time they deserve. Shorten low-value interruptions. Throw away junk mail and other low-value paperwork. Delegate, shorten or defer indefinitely the C-priority tasks.
- AVOID PERFECTIONISM. Remember the 80/20 maldistribution rule.
- Avoid over-commitment. Be realistic about what you can do in the time you have.
- Don’t over-schedule. Allow some flexible time for crises and interruptions.
- Set time limits. For example, some decisions shouldn’t take more than three minutes to make. Know how to recognize these.
- Concentrate on what you are doing.
- Use big blocks of time for big jobs.
- Do difficult things quickly; waiting doesn’t make them easier.
- Try to handle paper only once.
- Think the job through before acting.
- Finish as you go; get it right the first time.
It’s a great list, isn’t it?
Now let’s talk a bit about the 80/20 rule
If you got through that list and wondered what the maldistribution rule is, here’s a quick explanation: Twenty percent of the things you have on your “to do” list will provide you with eighty percent of the payoff.
It is also referred to as the Pareto principle, or the 80-20 rule.
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, “discovered” this principle in 1897 when he observed that 80 percent of the land in England (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto’s theory of predictable imbalance has since been applied to almost every aspect of modern life. Given a chance, it can make a difference in yours.
And lastly, a tip that wasn’t included on the list
The last tip I want to provide is this: If you stop and actually track your time, both billable and non billable, and actually make an effort to do so, you’ll find that as you become more aware of how you use time, you waste less of it.
Google 20% Time
I’m sure you are all familiar with how Google let’s it’s engineers and other employees spend 20% of their time on side projects. According to Google’s Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, half of new product launches originated from 20% time. (source). That’s a great return on investment, and I suspect it originates from the fact that employees have something to look forward to, and their job doesn’t become mundane.