Six Ways to Get the Most Value For Your Time

How can you find efficiencies in your work and ways to make the most out of your precious time? Here are our six suggestions:

  1. Layer activities. Try to accomplish several goals at once by combining activities logically. For example, if one of your goals is to make a certain income, which requires you to commute one hour every day to your job, and another goal is to learn to speak French, combine commuting time with listening to French lessons on tape. Combine developing your business presentation skills and becoming better recognized at the office by offering to run one of the weekly staff meetings each month. Combine staying in touch with your friends and keeping your house clean by calling someone on the phone every night while you do the dishes. Combine spending quality time with your kids, teaching them life skills, and eating healthy by preparing dinner together every night.
  2. Increase your fees. This tip is mostly relevant to entrepreneurs and business owners who have control over what they charge for their services, but can also apply to employees in a position to increase their value in the job market. One client of mine was a very successful writer who was working 12-14 hours a day, 6-7 days a week to keep up with the demands for her work. She was exhausted and frustrated that she never had time for her husband, her health, or some independent projects she had been dreaming about doing for years. Obviously, her work was in high demand; her busy schedule was testimony to that. But she wasn't charging as much as the market in her field would bear. Doubling her fees allowed her to make the same income in half the time-and freed up 36 precious hours per week (6 hours per day) which she easily filled pursuing her other goals.
  3. Add something fun to keep you energized. No matter how busy you are, if you add something enjoyable to your schedule, your productivity will increase, which in effect will expand your available time for other activities. I discovered this personally several years ago when I added swing dancing as a hobby to my packed schedule. Knowing I had this purely fun activity to look forward to every Sunday boosted my energy level all week long, and I got considerably more accomplished with both my business and my daughter; it was astounding.
  4. Postpone some goals. You don't have to accomplish all your goals at once. Try spacing them out over time. Focus on achieving one this month, another next month. My friend Gordon, for whom acquiring knowledge is a big goal, selects a different topic to study in depth each year. One year it was the history of jazz, another year the space program, the next year American poetry. Be realistic about what you can accomplish at once, and keep in mind that you can save some projects and tasks for future dates to free up time today.
  5. Find shortcuts. If you talk faster than you write, dictate memos and letters rather than roughing them out on paper. Organize your space (if you haven't already done so) to make tasks simpler, more convenient, and less time-consuming to achieve. For example, keep file cabinets within easy reach of your desk rather than in another room. (See the various chapters in this book on organizing home and office spaces for more tips on this.)
  6. Change activities. To offset boredom and perfectionism--the two greatest time killers--plan to change activities every thirty minutes to two hours. You'll stay fresh and get more done.