“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
– Groucho Marx
Over the past year or so, I’ve become obsessed with making better use of my time. I’ve read pretty much everything I can get my hands on in search of ideas, and here are 5 good ones you can start using today:
1. Clear your desk of everything except what you’re working on. Clutter slows you down. So clean it off. Your brain processes what’s in your visual field. When there are a lot of things on your desk unrelated to what you’re working on, you’re giving yourself needless “mindwork” instead of focusing with clarity on one thing.
2. Set meetings for half an hour or less. Many of you probably block an hour for almost any meeting. Psychologically, people will accomplish tasks in the time you give them, so start booking shorter appointment and meetings to accomplish more in less time. If someone knows they they have just 15 minutes with you, they’ll plan to get everything discussed in that time.
3. Keep a “read/review” file handy. David Allen recommends this in his excellent book Getting Things Done. I keep this kind of file handy and open it when I’m on hold. I also take it to a doctor’s office waiting for my appointment, when traveling or any other time when I may have unplanned time on my hands.
4. Shut your door. I used to be a huge fan of “open door” policies, and to some extent I still am. But if that policy leads to wasted time on unimportant things, consider closing it at least part of the day – the part when you need to work without interruption.
5. Program your “mobile” library. I don’t have much of a commute to work – it’s less than 10 minutes. But for longer drives, I keep audio CDs and podcasts cued up. I’ve listened to some outstanding business books that way – Think Big/Act Small, The Walmart Effect, What Clients Love and more – and I find that I recall key details better when I’ve heard them rather than when I’ve read them.
Try putting at least three of these into practice over the next three days and see if it doesn’t improve the quality of your day.
David A. Weiman, Psy.D.
Psychologist and Executive Coach