I have a confession. I don’t read newsletters. This is kind of a big deal for two reasons. The first is that part of my job includes creating newsletter for clients. I write, design and send them to mailing lists of interested parties, hopefully intending to keep them interested. The second reason that it’s a big deal that I don’t read newsletters is that I have subscribed to a lot of them. Obviously I get all the ones I create. But I also get newsletter on health, recipes, gluten-free living, home education, parenting generally, writing, PR, web development, graphic design, local events, nutrition, multi-level marketing, freelancing, entrepreneurship, staff relationships, Faith-related topics, news, marketing and many other topics. Most of my “correspondence” time each day goes to dealing with these newsletters.
What I do with them is file them safely and specifically, intending to come back and read them later. Sometimes, I really do go back and read them, and when I do I am reminded why I subscribed in the first place.
That happened to me today. A newsletter I pretty much never read, and almost never file (sorry, trash can, here comes another one!), is called The Self-Improvement newsletter (I don’t need to improve, see? Ha ha!). Today I came across one of these with the subject, 12 steps to getting more time. I really need more time, so I took the time (see what I did there?) to read it. I’m so glad I did! It was very useful, so I thought I’d share it here:
*** Article: 12 Tips to Help You Claim More Time for Yourself- By Marquita Herald ***
Whether you are feeling overextended, overcommitted and overwhelmed, or just ready to do a little spring cleaning to free more time for summer, the following tips can help you take the first steps toward conquering your time crunched lifestyle find more time for “off the clock” fun.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” ~ Peter F. Drucker
1. Begin by learning the difference between “Do I need to do this now?” and “Do I need to do this at all?”
Just because you are busy and getting things done doesn’t mean you are actually accomplishing anything significant. As you plan your day or week, really think about the things you have to do as opposed to things you think you have to do. A lot of to do’s are not necessarily things we have to do. Often times the lines are blurred because we over commit or feel obligated to things that aren’t in line with our goals and rob us of valuable time.
2. Organize future events with a monthly accordion file
Put birthday cards, directions to a baby shower, a note to check on furniture deliveries, even vacation brochures in the appropriate months for quick reference and retrieval.
3. Create a “just in case” box for the car trunk
umbrella, cheap rain ponchos, scissors, big black marker, tape, paper towels, plastic bags, extra kids’ socks and a one-size-fits-all T-shirt, sweatshirt and pair of sweatpants for adults, another for kids.
4. Go digital with record keeping
Instead of printing every report, article, recipe or document you think you might need or want some day, burn records onto CDs for storage. You will be amazed about the amount of space you’ll save, not to mention printer ink and copy paper – and as an extra bonus you’ll be saving LOTS of trees in the process!
5. Take control of managing your bill paying schedule
Rather than having to constantly trying to keep track of when various bills are due each month, ask creditors to shift your due dates to lump them all together or to split them between the two pay periods of each month.
6. Make your home office an actual work space
Attempting to work at a cluttered table or desk may not be the sign of a cluttered mind, but piles of disorganized faxes, bills, receipts and mail are definitely off-putting when you’re trying to work at home. You need to be able to sit down in your home office and go to work, without having to clear a space or hunt for a particular piece of paper. Getting your home office organized and keeping it that way prevents distractions and time-wasting. Buy an in and out basket and use it, invest in a filing cabinet, and have a wastepaper can handy so you can clean up when you close up for the day. Keep all your relevant working materials in your work space. Having to walk into another room to retrieve a file can be a serious waste of time.
Tip: Having an actual “work space” also helps to get across the point to family and friends that, even though you are at home, you are working.
7. Practice Chunking
This strategy refers to completing similar types of work all at the same time. For example if you typically field a large number of calls and or emails each day – instead of dropping everything to take each call as it comes in or each email as it arrives, set aside specific blocks of time dedicated to returning calls and responding to emails. It’s more effective and a better use of energy, where possible, to accomplish similar tasks all together. Same goes for writing, scheduling clients, etc. Tip: I know, being needed is so gratifying, but so is self-preservation. It’s especially for us ‘control freaks’ to let go of control and allow others to make decisions, but if you try just testing the waters, you’re likely to find very few true “emergencies” in a given day. In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised at how often problems are magically solved without your able involvement – which leaves you the opportunity to heap praise for a job well done!
8. Be prepared before making phone calls
Before picking up the phone, make a list of things you need to talk about and questions you need to ask. That way, you won’t waste time calling someone back because you forgot to ask an important question. I even do this when I call my relatives if I have a lot of things to tell them.
9. Use templates & swipe files
You can use templates and swipe files for invoices, letters of introduction, client questionnaires, standard email responses, out of office notices and other documents you use on a regular basis. If you have a website or blog consider a FAQ page where readers can easily access answers to the most frequently asked questions about your product or programs. Keep a current copy of your online profile in your swipe file so when you register at a new forum or website you can simply cut and paste.
10. Create easy access to your information
You can use Evernote to capture thoughts and ideas, store notes, swipe files and photos all in one place. Evernote Mobile lets you capture anything you want to remember where ever you are and instantly makes it available on all the computers and devices you use. That doesn’t mean you should work everywhere, or all the time. It means you spend less time trying to locate or transfer files & programs. Less time typing the same responses over and over. Less time stuck inside in your office. Best of all – it’s FREE!
11. If you DARE – use Rescue Time
For those really serious about productivity, Rescue Time can save you hours every week by tracking how and where you spend your time online. There’s no data entry required – a little application tracks what you use, and how much time you spending using it. There’s a free 14-day trial for the full service version, then optional plans ranging from just $6 to $9/month. If you don’t care about all the graphs and reporting, you can opt for the Lite “free forever” version.
12. Finally, plan how you will use your “off the clock” fun time
As gratifying as it can feel to take control of your time and become more productive in the process – if you don’t create a plan for what you’ll do with your free time, it will be quickly lost to whatever pops up. Even if your plan is to finally read that book that’s been gathering dust on your nightstand, schedule your personal time around that so it feels more like a commitment – because it is, a commitment to enjoy more of your life.
So start using these tips and enjoy all the new free time you have at your fingertips!
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About the Author:
My name is Marquita (Marty) Herald and I am an information marketer, author and editor of the lifestyle blog, IGG – Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas. IGG is for you if you are . . . Compassionate, creative, and trying to do great things in the world without losing yourself in the process.
Won’t you please take a moment to stop by IGG and, if you like what you see, take a moment to claim your free copy of my latest eBook – The Joyful Heart – A Guide to Cultivating Joy.
*** Quotes of the Week ***
Years teach us more than books. – Berthold Auerbach, 1812-1882
In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet. – Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965
The searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of man. – Cicero, 106 BC-43 BC