Friday, November 25, 2011

Time well spent

December approaches, tolling the end of another year spent on this mortal coil (as Hamlet would say). Some of us will age well, remaining healthy, spry and active well into our later years. Others will be waylaid by medical issues that even today’s technology is unable to resolve satisfactorily, which can drain their energy and limit mobility.

We can’t know how long we have. So the older I get, the more I value my time. The more wasting and frittering it bothers me, because there are so many things I want to do and see. I want to make more room for fun without sacrificing productivity.

I’m finding ways to enjoy things that can be frustrating. If I have to wait in line, I can read a book on my phone. If I get stuck in traffic (driving home from the suburbs the day before Thanksgiving, the traffic report said from O’Hare to downtown was an hour and forty-five minutes!), I can listen to good music or call a friend. I can work on controlling my attitude and find something to appreciate about an otherwise not so pleasant situation.

A goal is to increase efficiency, so I’m keeping track of how long some tasks take to accomplish. For example, I can spend a good while coming up with exactly what I want to say in a business email. I might overthink each word and phrase. Plan: spend half the amount of time on each email. Savings: probably a couple of hours a week.

And while some activities are fun, perhaps if we evaluate how much time we spend on them, we might make room for things we like even more. Most of us enjoy browsing online, whether we’re partaking of social media, shopping, or looking for recipes or other information. But do you even know how long you spend trolling the Internet each day... how many hours is too many coming up with tweets, quips for or uploading pictures to Facebook? Plan: eliminate at minimum an hour a week. Savings: 52 hours a year.

Errands... from grocery shopping to dry cleaning.  Being Gainfully Uenmployed, I'm fortunate that I can often complete these tasks during the week or earlier in the day when stores aren't as crowded.  I almost always run more than one errand, and often complete them on my way somewhere else.  What can you do to get more done in fewer hours? 

We can’t control the passage of time. But often we can control what we do with it.

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