Over the years, I’ve become something of a pack rat. Even a simple overnight getaway with my bride usually starts with a suitcase that looks like it ate a Volkswagen Beetle.
I shouldn’t be surprised that my luggage groans since I do the same thing with my daily to-do list. I’ve set some pretty lofty goals for myself, I work hard at my job, and I have a bustling family. This means that I’ve needed to develop systems and techniques to help me stay focused and maximize where my time goes.
If you want to boost your personal productivity, try a few of my time-saving tips:
Nighttime is the Right Time
I wake up super-early most days. Whether I’ll be headed to work or to the gym on a given morning, I make sure to lay out any gear I need the night before. I’m not going to be at my best at 4:30am if I’m rooting around the house for an errant shoe or a must-have file folder. This practice not only makes me more efficient, it ensures a stress-free start to my day.
Batch It Up
My to do list typically includes a variety of work and home related items. In a recent post, I shared that Todoist is my preferred go-to app for managing my recurring and one-off tasks. I’ve found that I can dramatically improve my efficiency by grouping similar items. I make sure to tag each item with where it will take place. Two popular examples are “Computer” and “Town” (meaning something I can do online or somewhere that I have to drive to in order to get it done). Then I simply drag and drop my to do list items into their order. Nothing is forgotten, and when driving, I can map the most efficient route through the mean streets of Cape Cod ahead of time.
Tame That Email
Like most people, I get way too much email. It occurred to me that I kept deleting messages from the same sources over and over. Now, I use Unroll.me, an email management system. It scans my inbox, and it tells me which companies/organizations are sending me mail. For each sender, I can choose to roll it up into a daily digest, unsubscribe from that list, or keep those messages coming to my Inbox. It’s been a huge timesaver for me.
Save It for Later
I often come across an article or a website that I want to dive into, but I just don’t have enough time to do so at the moment. I used to keep dozens of tabs open in my browser, but I’ve had enough crashes and reboots to know this doesn’t work well. Now I use Google Keep to manage a few different “later” stashes like articles, blog ideas, podcasts, and websites. The Pocket app is another good choice for this. When I get a spare moment – at the end of the day, between meetings, or while waiting in line on the weekend – I can refer back to my list.
In full disclosure, my bride thinks that this practice of mine is completely ridiculous. Even so, I love it, so here you go. When I’m making out my grocery list, I write down the items in their spatial order based on the store’s layout. For the store where I do most of my shopping, it’s basically produce, deli, international, canned veggies, meat, etc. Having my list laid out the right way means fewer times backtracking to places I’ve already been. You know, the way I do when the love of my life makes the shopping list.
Those are just a few of the tools and techniques that I use to find efficiencies in a life that’s chock full of goal pursuits. There are many great time-saving suggestions on the web, but I believe the most important change is in your mindset. Your time is very precious, and you need to be hyper-diligent about how you spend it.
If you need a bit of extra motivation, run the numbers on how much you earn per hour at work. If that pile of cash were sitting on the table in front of you, wouldn’t you want to maximize your return if you were going to invest it?
(Featured image by Unsplash.com)
What tools or techniques do you use to maximize your efficiency and productivity? Share them below in the comments section.