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Eliminating Time Wasters

As Published In Smead Organomics
Eliminating Time Wasters

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

If you ask a group of people to define “time management,” they’ll probably talk about “getting it all done in less time,” “increasing productivity,” “crossing items off of a list,” that sort of thing. However, the best time organizing tips don’t involve cramming more and more into your day — they’re about learning to focus on those activities that are most meaningful to you, and letting go of the rest.

Be Efficient And Effective

Efficiency is about getting work done quickly — effectiveness means completing a job that matters. Think about a day spent on a boring chore (like checking e-mail). You might empty your in-box, yet still feel dissatisfied with the accomplishment — because it isn’t a task near and dear to your heart. You can run as fast as you want — but if you’re going in the wrong direction, you still won’t end up where you intended.

Learn Where Your Time Goes

How much of your life is spent on “time wasters” — activities that do nothing to enhance your quality of life, and actually prevent you from accomplishing more important goals? You know you’ve been seduced by a time waster when you find yourself:

  • watching TV shows you don’t really care about
  • checking e-mail over and over throughout the day
  • surfing the internet or cruising chat rooms with no purpose in mind
  • wandering around stores, just looking for bargains
  • spending a few hours every day running errands
  • shuffling the same papers back and forth on your desk

Draw The Line

The good news is that it’s easy to change these mindless habits and take control of your day — all it takes is a conscious choice to spend your time differently, and a little advance planning:

  • When you come home, leave the TV off and find a more meaningful way to decompress (go for a walk, read a book, play with your kids) — review the TV schedule once a week, find those shows you really care about, and record them to watch later without commercials.
  • Get into a routine of checking e-mail no more than 3 times a day (morning, noon, and end of the day) — turn off the automatic download and “you’ve got mail” alarm, programming your system to only fetch e-mails on command.
  • If you lose track of the world while web-surfing, set a timer to go off after 15 or 20 minutes — make yourself get up and turn off the computer when it dings.
  • Shop only from a list (only going to stores that carry the items on your list) for 30 days — and if you don’t actually need anything, don’t go to the mall in the first place.
  • Set aside a single “errand day” each week — sit down with the family to plan your list, put everything you need in one basket by the door, and plot your route in advance to avoid backtracking. (If someone forgets an errand, either insist that it wait until the next errand day — or let them do it themselves.)
  • Take five minutes to sort through incoming papers every day — put “to-dos” in a tickler/action file, and set aside time once a week to process.

Make Time For Your Priorities

Just a few simple changes will free up hours of time in your schedule each week — now be sure you put them to good use. Block off time in your schedule for those important projects, and don’t allow anything to interrupt you. If you’re asked to do something else during that time slot, you can’t — because you already have another appointment. (You do — with yourself!)

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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