6 Ways to Create More Time. Hint: Stop Wasting So Much of It!

Every time I hear of company layoffs, I feel badly for the people losing their jobs. But I immediately start to wonder how the people left behind will make it. They were already working inefficiently; now half of their co-workers are gone.

In my work as a consultant helping people improve their personal productivity, I see so much wastage. I often wonder how anything gets done and how people have any time for a life outside of work.

Create More Time

If you’ve wondered “How on earth will I find time to do all this work?”, read on. Now is the perfect time to turn off the TV and start developing ways to work smarter.

Keep a time log. If you don’t believe you waste a lot of time, keep a log. How many times did you surf the Internet reading useless blogs (not mine), etc., that are not work-related? How many personal phone calls? How much time spent on personal errands, events, etc? How much time are you spending looking for a file on your computer? Keep track of every minute for a few days and be honest with yourself about how you’re spending work time.

Organize everything. Save hours a day by creating paper, computer, Inbox, etc., filing systems so you can find anything you need the instant you need it. Start with your clothes closet and purge the things you don’t need and put like items together by type and color. Use this same system for everything else that you organize, not necessarily by color, but by putting broad categories of items together. In a filing system, this could mean putting all of your marketing files together, accounting files together, etc. Get everyone to use the same logical systems so anyone can find anything anywhere in the office.

(Free templates are available at www.PeggyDuncan.com that will help you with all this and will save you hours of tedious work. My site views best in Internet Explorer.)

Set goals and prioritize. You have to determine what your goals are so you’ll know how you should spend your time.¬†The easiest way to figure out what your priorities are is to stay focused on those things that make you the most money. On a job, it’s what’s laid out in your performance plan that’s connected to the size of your raise. In business, it’s whatever is bringing in the most revenue,¬†whether it’s a particular set of clients, products, or services..

Streamline your processes. Get back weeks by not working the same way you always have. Spend time figuring out better ways to get everything done. Look at everything you’re doing, especially the most time-consuming, miserable, mundane work you have to do. Is the work necessary in the first place (not all of it is)? What steps are unnecessary? Is someone else doing it a different way and finishing faster and with fewer errors? Examine everything you’re doing, write it down, move steps around, and eliminate all wastage.

Computerize everything. Get work done in the time it will take you to blink. Technology you already have can perform magic, but few people have stopped long enough to seek training. If you learn how to use the software you touch every day, you’ll finish everything at least six times quicker. Either learn how your software works or hire a geek who already knows.

Delegate or outsource what you can. Once you’ve gotten organized and computerized, you’ll have a clearer picture of the work you do and how it should be done. Now you’ll be able to get someone else to do much of it and offer logical explanations of what you need (because now it makes more sense to you). Spend your time and mind on your core work and delegate or outsource everything else.

You might have to give up a weekend or two to get this done, but you’ll get all that time back and feel better every day going forward. And unlike dieting or exercising, the results from all these things are immediate!

Need training? Check out my Website for public productivity workshops, Webinars, computer classes, and information about hiring me as a speaker for your next event or for company training.

And my book, The Time Management Memory Jogger(TM), teaches everything I know about working smarter in a quick, easy read.

P.S. Here is an excellent article on motivating employees who are left behind after a layoff. And use the calculator in the right sidebar to determine how much free time you have after doing all the things that MUST be done.

PEACE.ggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert

My Laptop Crashed but I Didn't Panic

My latest book, The Time Management Memory Jogger(TM), will start shipping August 25, 2008. It is published by GOAL/QPC and becomes the latest in their bestselling series of books that focus on workplace improvement (over 10 million in print).

An editorial board had made some great suggestions that have made the book even better, and I was down to the last paragraph of revisions. I attempted to boot up my laptop and an error message appeared that my Config file was either missing or corrupt. I couldn’t believe my eyes: my trusted friend, my baby, was sick!

I turned the computer off and on several times thinking the problem would go away, but it didn’t. Did I panic? Nope. Did I have a breakdown? Nope.

Fortunately, I use Carbonite, an online vault, to back up my computer at regular intervals whenever I’m online. I borrowed a laptop, logged onto the site, and was able to download my manuscript. I’d lost about an hour’s worth of work, but it could have been much worse.

The only thing that frustrated me was that Carbonite’s tech support is only 9AM-5PM, weekdays only (at this writing). I had a problem downloading my file to a borrowed laptop and had to wait until the next morning to resolve it. I was on a deadline and wanted immediate access. If I had procrastinated and had no more time, I would have been really ticked off. But I was on schedule with some leeway so I used my extra time to do some Web research.

As soon as I get my laptop back, I’m going to add my files to my MozyPro account with 24/7/365 support, and will use Carbonite as a secondary backup.

What would happen to your important project if this happened to you? Are you backing up your files? How? A backup is not a backup if it’s not offsite. And how often are you doing it? Can you afford to lose any amount of work? And if you’re a procrastinator, get out of the habit. You’re taking a chance that nothing will go wrong, and you’ll run out of time before you do your best work.

To get the help you need, read my blog post that has more details on backing up your data and which files to back up.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert