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5 Unthinkable Ways to Save Time

March 7, 2012

Did you know that the first cliché was about how time goes so fast? I don’t know if that’s true, but it could be. Because it does.  I’m not the first to observe this.  You could spend a lifetime reading self-help books about how to be more efficient, super-effective, a force multiplier, a strategic clamshell, or whatever.  Don’t bother.  You just need some common sense.  I present below 5 ways to save time in an increasingly hurried world.

1. Don’t do some things. Accept that some things just won’t get done. Better to decide at the outset that a task won’t get done. But if you have to break some commitments, well, hard cheese. It is not so strangely liberating to simply decide, “I’m not going to do that.”  I don’t mean procrastinate.  Anyone can put something off for an hour, a day, or a month.  I mean not doing.  At all.  Ever.  Resolve, for example, that you are just not going to fix that light on the side of your house.  Delete that activity from your schedule.  Gone.  You are free.

2. Start toilet reading. I once thought that this behavior was barbaric or reserved for men who could find no other escape from their dreadful families. But recently suffering some constipation I took a laxative. Subsequently I spent a lot of time on the toilet. With a stack of magazines, literature, and mail at my feet I discovered an unknown opportunity for multi-tasking.  I know I’m new to this game.  I have an uncle who tells me that every book he’s ever read, he’s read on the throne.  After several decades of poo-pooing such a habit I’m a changed man and loving it.

3. Stop being courteous. Being kind is cool and all that, but it costs time. Do you know how much time I spend being nice? I once spent a quarter-hour in the grocery store helping a lady in a wheelchair select and reach a dozen yogurts to satisfy her coupon. Sure she was grateful and I felt good about myself for a second. But that was 4 years ago and I still remember those fifteen minutes. Gone forever.  Never again.

4. Go fast. Of course this makes sense if you think about it. But it is not only driving fast, walking fast, and talking fast that is important; thinking fast is crucial as well, especially at the juncture of what is being finished and what is to be done next. Always be thinking: what next?  Don’t hang out too long in the gap.

5. Pretend you have a clone.  Don’t just pretend you do, plan like you do.  Do like you do.  Double-book yourself in your calendar.  You’ll be surprised to find that many times you’ll get both things done and then you’ll have more time to screw off.

As I throw these things into practice I will monitor the health of my relationships – personal and professional – and periodically log my internal gauges of happiness and fulfillment.  I’m going in.  Wish me luck.

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