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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tips to Making Efficient Use of Your Time 03-27

Tips to Making Efficient Use of Your Time

“I don’t have enough time.”  “I’m too busy.”  “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”
On average, I hear at least one of these expressions twice a day.  And quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of it.  So I decided to make it my personal mission to rid the world of these phrases.
Okay, not really.  That’s probably too ambitious of a goal.  But I would like to help people realize that they do in fact have enough time to, lets say, go to the gym, start a new project, read a book, spend more time with their family, or whatever else they may be skipping out on.
You see, I’m one of the many people that is incredibly pressed for time.  I’m a Software Engineer working full-time at my present company and I recently began working on a new venture part-time.  I also make it a point to go to the gym at least 4 times/week, spend time with my family, and read for pleasure.  So, needless to say, time is not easy to come by.  And I’ll often get asked “Anil, how the heck do you manage to do all these things?!”.  Well, it’s really quite simple:
I make efficient use of my time!
I know, that sounds like a very obvious and somewhat anti-climatic answer.  But let me break down exactly what I mean into three simple items:
1) No more sleeping in!
And yes, this includes weekends.  Some people can operate on 6 hours of sleep, and don’t have as much a problem with this one.  Others, like me, need a good 8 hours/night.  So, I follow the old adage: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.  I can’t absolutely guarantee the wealth, but I can assure you that sleeping early and waking up early every day of the week will result in a productivity spike.  Especially on weekends!  You’d be amazed at how much more you can accomplish waking up at 8am every Saturday and Sunday as opposed to waking up at 10am.  Use the extra 2 hours to complete some errands, go for a workout, or whatever else you may have planned for the day.
2) Don’t waste time!
Let me give a specific example for this one:  working out at the gym.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain about not having enough time to work out, and then seeing these same people at the gym take two hours to complete what should’ve been a 45 minute workout.  I won’t go into details with regards to effective ways to work (that’s a topic best left for another article), but in short, most workouts can and should be completed in 45 minutes.  Don’t waste time chatting at the gym.  Don’t spend an hour on the treadmill when 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio could do the trick.  And if weightlifting, don’t take 5 minutes between sets.  The same theory really applies to all aspects of your day.  Evaluate what you’re doing, and if it can be done much more effectively, then do so!
3) Multitask!
My personal favorite, and one I use, well, every minute of my day.  At work, if you’re waiting on something to complete (a long download or upload perhaps), work on something else in the meantime.  In my case, for example, if I’m waiting on some software I’ve written to compile, instead of just sitting around, I’ll answer emails or begin looking into and preparing for my next task.  It may only be 10-15 minutes at a time, but doing this throughout the day ends up saving an incredible amount of time (on average, it increases my productivity by about 2 hours/day).
And that’s about it!  Simple, yet effective.  I follow these three tips and am able to fit everything I need into my daily schedule, and leave room for some down time at the end of the day!