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All In Due Time: Making The Most Out Of Your Time And Life

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

When you’re young there seem to be “too” many hours in a day leaving you wondering and pondering how you’ll ever successfully fill them all. But, as you mature, you realize that time is PRECIOUS and limited and that there are NEVER enough hours in a day to do all you want and need to do. In fact, you could use a few more hours just to catch up with yourself and your life.

And, if you’re like most of us your day begins BEFORE your work day does and ends well after it ends. From getting up and getting yourself and possibly the family ready (for the day ahead) to running errands, preparing dinner, tending to laundry and housework, a mere there just doesn’t seem to be the same amount of hours in a 24-hour period. And what about time for you and things you’d LIKE to do?

Well, according to experts, the biggest problem, besides lack of time, is lack of ability to maximize the time we “do” have. And they make the following time-saving suggestions accounting for every aspect of your schedule and day.

Home Economics: Saving on time while at home may seem impossible as your ever-increasing duties and responsibilities turn it into another full-time job. But, keeping track of your time and how your spend it may just allow your to live IN your home, than FOR it.

· Walk The Line: Experts suggest that most dirt gets tracked into our homes, floors, carpets, etc via the bottom of our shoes. With that said, they recommend making sure your wipe your shoes thoroughly before walking into your nice clean home. Even better, leave your shoes at the door (unless you’re hosting a party, and the shoes make the ensemble)

· One Stop Cleaning: Keep all cleaning supplies handy and in one central location, perhaps even in a bucket or pail that you can carry from room to room, so that you don’t have to waist time looking for specific supplies as you tackle the next room in your home. Also look for all-purpose cleaners that will make your life a lot easier by giving you all you need in one “small” bottle or container.

· Do Double Duty: Make “homework” more fun for you and the whole family. Put your favorite show on in the background, turn on your favorite station, or how about loading that “paperback” you’ve been meaning to read into the CD player and listen while you work.

· Trash Talk: Don’t wait for mail to pile up before you sort through it. Trash junk mail immediately, open bills and file in the order in which they were received and need to be paid.

· The More The Merrier: Sure you want to avoid clutter (see principle above) but you also don’t want to run out of things (you need) when you need them the most. Keep a constant count of supplies and stockpile on the most important ones so that you don’t find yourself having to waist time by running out to get some when you should be working toward finishing the work you started around the house.

· Make Record Time By Recording Your Favorite Shows: Statistics show that we waster about eleven days a year watching television or flipping through channels. Use that extra time doing what you want or need to do, and record your shows for when you have some extra downtime, and you can also fast-forward through the commercials.

· Plan Ahead And Make It A Family Affair: Make sure everyone in your household has their part to play and does their part, including the kids. Also have snacks, sandwiches, and perhaps dinner pre-prepared so that all you have to do is thaw, heat, and serve. Children past a certain age can also be responsible for cleaning their own rooms, taking out the trash, taking their own bath, and preparing their own outfits for the next day, freeing up some extra time for you.

· Divide and Conquer: Decide with your spouse which responsibilities will be yours (for the most part) and which will be his. By taking less on, you’ll be saving more time for fitting all those other things you’ve been meaning to do or get around to.

“Free-Time” With Friends: Finding time for socializing may be just as much as you remember it being, but not quite as easy to arrange or organize. After all with different work schedules and different lifestyles and obligations, you and your friends may “struggle” to find a time that’s good for both of you. Then there’s always how much time each of you “really” has to devote to spending time together before you go back to the daily grind.

· Two For One Special: Get together with more than just one friend at a time, and consider combining social activities with more pressing obligations. Meet for food shopping, holiday shopping, a manicure, haircut, workout, etc. Who ever said you couldn’t do more than one thing at a time.

* Plan Your Fun In Advance: Once out with friends don’t leave without arranging your next get-together. Remember, once you’re in the real world, you each have obligations and schedules that are likely to change in a New York minute. Try to stay on track by booking and scheduling social events in advance….and by all means, write it down.

· Become A “Shop” Girl: Don’t wait until you “need” something, like a gift to go out and get it. Chances are you won’t find what you’re looking for or what the person will want. Instead keep a mental log of all the upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays, etc. and buy as you go, especially when stores host clearance sales.

· Consolidate Your Calendars: Invest in at least three calendars. Sure this may sound like “overkill” but you’ll learn to “love it” in the long run. Keep one at work, one at home, and one in your car or purse. Having a calendar always handy will keep you up to date on exactly what’s going on and will prevent you from double booking events.

· Group Activities: Consider consolidating friends and activities. Try coffee and a book club, or wine and cheese over holiday wrapping. Bringing friends together allows EVERYONE to broaden their social base, catch up, and do something you all enjoy ad that perhaps is also productive.

· Make Your “Own” Fun: Since time is limited, don’t just hook up for the sake of seeing someone, but combine it with something you’ve been meaning or looking forward to doing, this way, even if you’re “friend” is not being the most enjoyable company, you can still have a good time.

· Make The Most Of Your “Down-Time”: Whether you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in your doctor’s office, you can likely think of a million places you’d rather be and things you’d rather or should be doing. Instead of “wasting” precious time catch up on paying bills, making calls, or writing out cards (that you conveniently keep in your car or glove box). Maybe even whip out that book you keep in your bag (just not on the highway) and catch up on the next few pages or so.

· Choose Wisely: From business lunches to seminars, to family and friends you may find yourself torn with even less time than you thought you’d have, especially for the people and things that really matter and if you accept every invitation. Again, consider consolidating “meetings” and learn how to sometimes say “no”, but politely and diplomatically. You may also want to master the art of staying for a short while, then moving on.

Working Wisely: Budgeting your time at work is essential for not only impressing your boss but impressing upon yourself to make more time for you.

· Perform According To Your Ability: Know your peak periods during the day, and schedule your most demanding tasks for those times. Save “busy” work, like answering emails or filing for low-energy times. According to experts you’ll not only perform better this way, but work more quickly and efficiently actually get more work done.

· Be Reluctant To Pick Up The Receiver: Don’t always pick up the phone when it rings, especially when you are super busy, that’s what voicemails (and assistants) are for. Also communicating via e-mail is an excellent way to keep in touch when you don’t have time to “chat” or when you need to get in touch with someone on a different schedule or in a different time zone.

· Ready, Set, Go: If your job requires and ample amount of business travel, put aside certain outfits (that you preferable get dry cleaned so that they are always ready to go) shoes, accessories, toiletries, etc that are pre-packed and waiting for takeoff.

· Get All The Support You Need: It’s virtually impossible to function when you are not comfortable. With that said, make sure you have an office space that offers good lumbar support, comfortable hand positions and no crossed legs. And, remember to get up and stretch, with taking advantage of it, as often as you need to.

· Stay Focused: It’s hard to concentrate and do your job (properly) with constant interruptions. While socializing IS important for morale, make sure you keep your tone and voice to a professional minimum when chatting, and try to conduct conversation away from others who are ensconsed in their work. Also try to avoid keeping an extra chair by your desk, encouraging passersby to sit and chat, keep cell phones off or on vibrate, and keep a separate account for business and personal emails so they don’t get confused and so you don’t wind up wasting precious time at work. Remember for both you and the boss, time and productivity are money.

· Apply The Five-Minute Rule: Avoiding a big project? Work on it in five-minute increments, breaking down the task into bearable intervals. But remember to work fastidiously and diligently, and you’re likely to be amazed at how much you can actually accomplish in fives minutes a day.

· Cross Things Off Your To Do List: And, not only the items you’ve completed. Instead also learn to cross of things that you don’t “have” to do, that can wait, even for a while, or that you can delegate to someone else. Identify the drains to your productivity and cross them off your to-do list and save yourself some time by allowing yourself to get out of the office sooner and faster, so that you can actually enjoy all those things you’re working toward and for.

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