Time is more than money. In fact, wasted time can mean missed opportunities for a variety of things. And according to a recent study by navigation and mapping products firm TomTom, Americans waste an average 18 months of their lifetime. Incredibly, 63 percent, by far the biggest time drain, is sitting in traffic, with 69 percent spending up to four hours and 31 percent spending five or more hours per week in traffic.
Top ten time wasters: sitting in traffic (63%); dealing with customer service on the phone (55%); waiting in the doctor’s/dentist’s office (47%); waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles (42%); waiting for a spouse/partner (17%); waiting for friends (15%); pairing up socks from the laundry (14%); riding on public transportation (12%); waiting to pick up children (5%); and cooking a meal (4%).
Looking at the bottom line, those surveyed estimated that with every hour they waste, they lose on average $54, or $1,296 a day. Besides that they could be doing a lot of other things. According to the TomTom survey, with those extra 18 months you could, for example, take 39 two-week vacations.
Obviously, time management is key to using your seconds and minutes wisely.
“With the time we save, there are many productive things we can do at work. From reading to keeping up on industry trends to sending out a monthly newsletter, time is valuable so saving time is creating more value to our work. One of the best things to do for your mind and body is meditate or exercise. Taking five to fifteen minutes once or twice a day to close your eyes and relax is a great way to decompress, relieve stress and anxieties, and practice focusing,” says New Orleans-based mindfulness and business coach Max Cron of Point Above.
He continues, “Time management is important on the job because it helps put resources to their best use. If we have two clients, but one has a much larger contract than the other, but we are spending equal time on both, our time is not being managed effectively. Spending that extra time with the higher paying client can pay off through extended contracts, referrals, and with more general balance with your work. Time management is important because it ensures we are focusing on the things that will help us grow, rather than things can will ultimately distract us from success.”
Saving time and effective time management can free you up for more important things–personally and professionally. “So with all the time you are saving at work, which really might not be as much time as you think it is, you want to make sure you are doing your current job as efficiently as possible. From there, if you still have a lot of time freed up, you can look for new responsibilities, work on professional development, or take on new projects, which all show initiative and can make raises and promotions easier. If you find with all the time saved that you really don’t like your job, career, or field at all, then you can start to explore other options, such as a lateral move within your company, finding a new job, networking, professional development, or going back to school,” notes Gabrielle Loehr, Behavioral Health Coach and president of Loehr Consulting LLC.
TNJ.com asked a few experts for time management and time saving tips. Here is what they had to say:
1. Curb the meetings: “Stop holding so many meetings. Most meetings do not need to be held in the first place. Don’t forget that it takes a lot of time to organize and prepare a meeting. Ask yourself whether or not it is really necessary to hold a meeting; can you get the answers you seek via a quick phone call, email, or text?” asks Rashelle Isip, an organization, time management and productivity blogger at TheOrderExpert.com.
2. Observe productive people: “Watch others,” suggests Cron. ”You have coworkers, friends, or family that you have noticed are really great with managing their time. Put yourselves in a position to learn. Spend time with them, observe their behaviors and implement what you see into your life.”
3. Ease up on the personal social media: “Only check social media accounts on breaks. This might be hard at first, but it is incredibly easy to overlook how much time you actually spend on sites like Facebook, which is obviously going to cause an decrease in productivity for no real reason, as well as cause you to miss professional opportunities,” advises Loehr. “Time management is crucial because time is the most valuable resource we have. At work, using your time well can make huge differences in your career trajectory. Do you spend all your free time on Facebook, sending pointless group emails, or talking to other people and wonder why your career isn’t going anywhere? By focusing your time on actual work tasks, you’ll still interact with your coworkers, but in a more work focused way, which makes you look more professional.”
4. Tidy up that desk: “Clear off your desk. A cluttered desk makes it difficult to find what you need, when you need it, and to perform your work efficiently. Consider putting files into archives, organizing your office supplies, and removing anything from your desk that’s not pertinent to your current work, be it books, plans, reports, magazines, etc.,” says Isip.
5. Prioritize your workload: Since there are only 24 hours in a day, it’s important to know which items in your workload are both important and urgent,” offers Isip. “This will help you set aside the time to do your work, and ensure that you work on items that are due within the next day or week. What items need to be completed today, tomorrow, this week or next week?” Adds Cron, “Decide on importance – If something has little importance, why are you spending so much time on it? Your skills can be used elsewhere; and using your brainpower on unimportant tasks wastes time, energy and resources. In the mornings, try making a prioritized list of the things you need to do. As you complete each task, write down how long it took, and at the end of the day analyze that list and see if you feel you divided your time properly.”
6. Take notes: “Write things down, do not rely on your memory alone for deadlines, details, or other important information. Get rid of the chance of error for careless or simple mistakes and make notes. There are a ton of organizational systems, so finding one you like and will use is more important than the one everyone is using at the moment,” explains Loehr.
7. Make changes step by step: “Throughout the day, there are little things you notice you can be doing more effectively. Try to start with little things here and there, and then build to larger ones,” says Cron. “For example, try answering emails every 3 hours, instead of answering them as they arrive in your inbox. This will keep your mind focused on the task at hand and allow you to answer more emails at once, which manages your time more effectively.”