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Time Management

Simplify Your Life

Do you have a speeded-up life? Is hectic the new normal? Many of us go to workplaces rife with dissatisfactions, unrealistic expectations, and frenetic changes. Even in the best of work situations, the pace of change and the exponential growth of information can be the cause of stress, burnout, and a fear that there is no relief in sight. Do not despair. There are simple and easy changes you can make to break the cycle of running frantically just to continue falling behind. The trick is to make a conscious, concerted effort to do less.

In simplifying your life, start with easy steps that you can do immediately. Look for ways to reduce and streamline the routine activities of daily living. This does not require that you move to a small cabin in Montana and give up city living.  As the following tips show, you do not have to give up all luxuries or live an austere life. This is not about poverty or deprivation. The object is to make choices and have the time to pursue those choices.

  • Get rid of clutter. Piles of things serve as distractions and make you feel guilty. Only keep information that has meaning and is useful. If you save it, be sure you're going to read it again or use it within the next three months.

  • Eliminate the junk mail you receive by writing to: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008. Include your full name and address, and request that your name be removed from their mailing list.
    To remove yourself from telemarketing lists call 1-888-382-1222.

  • Keep the telephone- it really can be a convenience- but do not feel obligated to answer it every time it rings. Get rid of call waiting. Is it really so important that you not miss that call? Unless you are a physician who is on duty, most things can wait the few minutes until you are off the line. Text messages interrupt in-person conversations that in turn delay other meetings.  This constant busyness is exaserbated by short, fragmented attention is not the best way to achieve calmness.

  • Get and stay out of debt. Keep only one credit card, and use it for emergencies or for collateral. Living beyond your means is a trap.

  • Spend more time with family and friends. After all, these are the relationships that are the most important. On your death bed, you will look back and remember your friendships and your experiences, not the number of telephone calls you returned or meetings you attended.

  • Read more, and watch less television. There are some valuable programs, but choose carefully. Watch programs that will enrich your life rather than numb your brain.

  • Collect and pay bills twice a month only. For cash flow purposes, you may choose not to mail the payment until closer to the due date, but using a system makes bill paying much easier. Or elect to pay them electronically.

  • Open your closet and ask whether it is really worth saving all those items on the off chance that they might come back in fashion. Toss, recycle, or sell the excess. You can donate them to charity. That includes items your bought but never wore, that do not fit, are uncomfortable, or that you dislike. Keep only those things you wear regularly.

  • Delegate more. Let others learn, grow and accept greater responsibility. You cannot do it all, nor should you. Find out what people do, and find ways to let them do more of it. In addition, resist telling people all the details about how to do something. Instead, tell them what needs to be done and the results desired. Allow them to choose the method.

  • Simplify decision-making. Do not agonize over minor ones-- they are still minor with or without the agony. Worry rarely improves the quality of the decision.

  • Volunteer to do something only after you give up something else. Do not add unless you subtract.

  • Use effective electronic filing systems and set up “rules” and “filters” that automatically place certain incoming emails-that you designate- into folders.  Newsletters, jokes from friends and routine updates are generally safe choices.

  • Instead of parking your car at the airport, consider taking a cab, shuttle or limo. They are more convenient and often less expensive. The real gain is that you can work, read or relax (before dealing with security!)

  • Buy in bulk. Whether you're getting office supplies, appreciation gifts or cards it's more efficient to buy for long-range needs than to frequently run out to buy individual items.

  • Say "no" to things, people, places, tasks and opportunities that clutter up your life.

  • Simplify in every way. Eliminate the unimportant, whether it be relationships, tasks, responsibilities, possessions or beliefs. Organize the remainder.

Be proud that you found time for a break and still got done what needed to be done. Do not be proud because you have not enjoyed a weekend break in three months.

Odette Pollar is a nationally known speaker, author, and consultant. President of the management consulting firm, Smart Ways to Work based in Oakland, CA, her most recent book is Surviving Information Overload. Email to share your comments, questions and suggestions: odette@SmartWaysToWork.com. Visit us at: www.smartwaystowork.com call: 1-800-599-8463.

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