There, on the table, sits a gift. It’s beautifully wrapped with glistening paper and curls of ribbon, and it’s waiting for you to open. It’s the gift everyone longs for, but never receives. It’s a gift so prized it could change your life.

You tug on the satin ribbon. It unfurls. A gentle pull on the paper reveals the gift, shining, golden. There. One precious additional hour, each and every day, to use as you please.

Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm wakes you from your dreams and reality hits you hard in the face. Sorry, there is no such fantasy.

No matter how many times we wish there were just one more hour in the day, it’s just not going to happen. Never will. Each of us received the same gift of only 24 hours in the day.

However all is not lost. We can exert some control over the hours we do have.

Try these time-savers…

•Cut out one commitment. At work, say no to taking on another project. At home, say no to taking on one more responsibility – canteen duty, committee secretary, hosting a formal dinner party.

•Get organised about dinner. Plan your meals, make a shopping list and shop just once a week.

•Save on routine maintenance. Invest in easy care fabrics and surfaces. Save time cleaning by keeping dirt out in the first place. This applies to your inbox as well!

•Cut down on clutter. Extra stuff needs extra maintenance and it’s easy to misplace the stuff the matters when you’re surrounded by stuff that doesn’t.

•Stay out of the car. Reduce trips by banking and shopping online, or by consolidating errands and completing them all on one day.

•Set deadlines and follow through. Make expectations and consequences clear. “I need feedback on the draft by 4pm today, then the final letter goes out at 5pm.” Guaranteed you won’t be waiting days for feedback. At home, invest in a good alarm clock and training to use it. Let everyone know it’s their responsibility to get up on time, not yours to rouse them. I suspect the hardest part is the follow through. Nothing is more effective than setting expectations and consistently following through on consequences. Reminders, nagging and second chances only weaken your position.

So by now you’re probably thinking “Yeah, but…” or “She doesn’t understand, my situation is different.” Before passing judgement, give these tips a go. Ok, some of them will require new thinking, and more importantly, new actions. Things may even get worse before they get better. But they will get better.

And before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the precious gift of time.

1 Comment
  1. Janet Barclay 14 years ago

    One time thief I have a problem with is answering the phone. I think I should answer it because it will take just as much time to call back as it will to look after it, and I won’t have to worry about phone tag. But then once I’ve stopped what I’m doing to take the call, I get sidetracked with several other small tasks, and a three-minute phone call has cost me 15 minutes!

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