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Eight Ways to Save Time | Men's Journal

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Eight Ways to Save Time

Thanks for posting this! I learned a bunch of great tips...

1. Finish simple tasks.

Complete tasks like reading a memo – never switch between small projects. "The mind holds only about seven pieces of information at a time," says Carnegie Mellon psychologist David Creswell. "If you switch to other tasks, those pieces of information get scrambled and need to be relearned. It's a complete time waster." Bottom line: Don't try to do two simple tasks at once.

2. Break up complex tasks.

3. Build willpower:

Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister found that making people perform simple willpower exercises – like using their nondominant hand to open doors or brush their teeth – strengthened their focus during more important tasks. "When you practice overriding habitual ways, you are exerting deliberate control over your actions," says Baumeister. "If you can get people to do willpower exercises like these, it will improve how well they manage their time and help them develop the willpower to make better decisions." Hone your willpower by breaking a routine like driving the same way to work or by giving up a bad habit like junk food for a week. Willpower gets depleted when you use it too much – which is why judges and surgeons, who make decisions all day, begin to make generic or underinformed ones later on. Avoid making major decisions after a series of hard choices.

4. Develop Google discipline:

Research shows when people look for an answer on the Web, they visit too many sites when only one or two would do. Limit your searching to what you need for a project. Whenever possible, turn off all other technology, like email and your phone, when completing a project on your computer.

5. Keep a calendar not a to do list.

6. Pull information when needed, not when it is pushed at you.

7. Limit your choices.

President Obama wears only blue or gray suits to curb unnecessary decisions. He also uses "decision" memos with three check boxes: agree, disagree, and discuss. "Too much choice is paralyzing," says Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia University business professor. "You walk into your office and a bazillion people will come at you from every side – emails, calls, meetings. Ask yourself: Are you being proactive or just reacting? If you're reacting, then half the day goes by before you say, 'Wait a minute, what am I supposed to be working on?'" Establish routines that let you focus on what you need to do first.

8. Get your thoughts together before you go to sleep.

Scans of sleeping people show our brains work on solving problems when we're not awake, so reviewing a little work before bed helps imprint on your brain exactly what needs to be solved. "We've all had that aha moment in the shower the next morning," says Creswell. "That's because you've let the unconscious mind operate organically on the imprinted information."

Baumeister's book is worth reading. Here's a variation on the Google discipline for those who still read magazines: Look at the table of contents and then tear out the articles you choose to read. Throw away the rest. Granted you miss the serendipity info but you do save time and lighten your load. In addition single articles are less intimidating than carrying around a whole magazine. 

Jack that is an awesome tip.

However, it's pretty rare for me to read paper magazines these days!

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