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Best time-saving tips and general principles?

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  • Best time-saving tips and general principles?

    Hi all, just wondering what your favorite time-savers or general guidelines are in or outside of the GTD system.

    My most helpful:
    Store things near where they are used, and together with other items that are used during the same activity.
    When people ask you for something, ask what date they want it by (this has been a huge help for me in prioritizing)
    Minimize unnecessary inputs - cancel catalogs, newsletters, etc you don't absolutely need, both in snail and email.
    Take the extra minute to label and organize things when you put them away. (Leftovers, power cables, hardware, this applies in so many ways)

  • #2
    1) No residue, 2) Use systems

    #1 tip: No residue.

    This has become my new mantra, and it has worked wonders. It simply means to make sure there are no leftovers from previous tasks when you shift your focus, unless you have put a reminder somewhere.

    Example (optional):

    When I get home from the gym, for example, I make sure I have not just let more "stuff" into my life. In other words, do I now have to unpack my clothes, put my toiletries back in the bathroom, record my exercise progress or bodyweight on a chart somewhere, plan out the next routine, or anything else before "Exercise at gym" is fully and completely off the list?

    Remember that David Allen defines stuff as anything that has come into your life that is not where it should be, how it should be, forever. With this definition in mind, it is very easy to let "stuff" clutter up our daily grind unnecessarily, unless we are constantly vigilant about any new outcomes/to-dos we have. Is there ANY residue left before this project/task can be completely crossed off?

    #2 tip: Develop systems.

    To be maximally productive, you want to be able to accomplish things even when you are barely conscious. You will do better if you are not dependent on being fully conscious, freshly rested, and excited every waking hour... because you won't be. These systems can be gear/hardware or they can be action steps. You can develop them or find other people's systems.

    (Optional) Here are some examples of systems that have made a big difference for me:

    * Shaving/toiletry kit: I have a case that contains travel-size versions of all of my grooming products as well as medicines, vitamins, and basic first aid. I can grab this and instantly have enough of everything for a week. Though it can be used for travel, I also use it daily at home (refilling as needed). I always know where to find Tums, or an eyeglasses screwdriver, or a razor refill. Very handy, especially if you travel regularly like I do.

    * Morning ritual routine: each step is consistent and streamlined, even if I am half-awake. Example: clothes in dresser in order they are put on. If needed, I can be shaved, showered, dressed, groomed, fed, make the bed, and be "ready for anything" very quickly. Keeping the ritual is both less effort and faster than the alternative.

    * Tickler/calendar system for interval items: whether it's changing the filter in the home furnace, applying Lexol to my leather briefcase, shoes, etc., purging files, or backing up data on my computer, have a system to remind you at intervals to think about them. This system lets you avoid expensive surprises and builds your confidence that you can rely on your "gear".

    Combined, these systems allow for an incredible amount of spontaneous flexibility and adaptability. You can move much faster and calmer. Call it a "mind like water" state for common tasks.

    JohnV474

    Comment


    • #3
      Well put - I will admit I struggle from "high schooler syndrome"...I get so happy to come home that I leave things in my car, drop them as I come in the front door, etc...normally I clean when things get too much, but this perspective is helpful to me. Thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        I follow three principals

        1. Write in one place. This is not really GTD, but my own. I only use one notepad for everything. So everything I am doing, phone calls ideas etc is on this one pad until such time as a page is thrown away or filed. I save an enormous amount of time not hunting for scraps of paper, post-its etc.
        2. A-Z filing system obviously GTD. A huge time saver and anxiety reducer knowing you can find things.
        3. Everything has a Place. Card keys, keys, phone etc. I have created a routine where all of the stuff I use has a place. So my gym car is only in my car pocket or in the top of the locker. Over time by doing this you always know where your stuff is at different place.

        Comment


        • #5
          Lots of good stuff on this thread.

          Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post
          Call it a "mind like water" state for common tasks.
          So it's not weird that I've named my folder for my maintenance related tasks MLW?

          Comment


          • #6
            I follow three principals

            Originally posted by SGTM View Post
            I follow three principals

            1. Write in one place. This is not really GTD, but my own. I only use one notepad for everything. So everything I am doing, phone calls ideas etc is on this one pad until such time as a page is thrown away or filed. I save an enormous amount of time not hunting for scraps of paper, post-its etc.
            2. A-Z filing system obviously GTD. A huge time saver and anxiety reducer knowing you can find things.
            3. Everything has a Place. Card keys, keys, phone etc. I have created a routine where all of the stuff I use has a place. So my gym car is only in my car pocket or in the top of the locker. Over time by doing this you always know where your stuff is at different place.
            I am going to try an use these simple principals... I tend to pile...I pile every thing tile it's big enough to get my attention, then I tackle it... or trash it.

            Comment


            • #7
              I love "everything has its place"

              That sounds like a very efficient way to do things. Like you, I like knowing where to look when I need something. Whether it's a rubber band, an empty file folder, or my Blockbuster card, it's silly to waste time having to look for something after the first time.

              It doesn't matter very much where something is stored, so long as you know where to find it. One exception: toilet paper, which should always be stored in the bathroom.

              JohnV474

              Comment


              • #8
                Creating process checklists

                I'm much more likely now to make a checklist for a process that gets repeated. Sometimes this turns what was a complicated process into something that could go into the @braindead context LOL. It also allows long processes like the weekly review to be broken into pieces if I'm interrupted.

                Comment


                • #9
                  "Everything in it's place is the key for me"

                  Not only does it save time, it reduces stress.

                  Look inside the compartments on a fire truck...every piece of equipment is organized, it's location is memorized, and it is ready for instant use because time spent looking for a misplaced rescue saw, discovering that it is out of fuel, or that the blade needs replacing results in precious seconds or minutes lost that may be a death sentence to a victim in need of rescue from a burning building or auto accident.

                  Blindfold a police officer (you may want to ask his permission first) and then ask him to put his hand on his service weapon, his spare ammo clip, his handcuffs, his walkie-talkie...everything is organized, it's location is memorized, and it is ready for instant use because his life and the lives of others depends on being able to locate and quickly put into action any item on his gear belt.

                  Imagine the stress multipication factor for a firefighter or law enforcment officer if they couldn't instantly locate and operate a piece of equipment in total darkness, and the tragedies that could result. This level of preparation and readiness isn't magic....in both cases they have spent hours discussing their setup with their peers. They have changed and tweeked and practiced to discover what works well and what can be improved on.

                  Every fire company doesn't carry the same saw in the same compartment (or even the same type blade), nor does every officer carry the same equipment in the same position on his belt (especially lefties).

                  They make a list (written or mental) of the things that they a) are required to have, and b) like to have available. Then, based on the experience and advice of others, combined with their personal experiences and preferences, they create a system that functions flawlessly for them, everytime, without fail.

                  While it is true that the majority of us don't have to be on guard for every waking moment, any of us can be thrown into a crisis situation in a matter of seconds that could have disasterous results if we fail to perform.

                  Even in non-crisis situations, organization and familiarization is the key to personal productivity: Look inside of a mechanic's toolbox...everything is organized and it's location memorized because time spent looking for misplaced tools is income lost.

                  Think about how this can apply to every aspect of your life and challenge yourself to do this: Keep a running list for 30 days of the times where you can't put your hand on something you need at the instant you need it; how many minutes, hours, or days you spend looking for it; and what negative results it caused (stress, lost income, argument, embarrassment, reprimand, etc.). At the end of the 30 days, see what you have come up with. You may be surprised at how much time you could be spending on more productive or more enjoyable things.

                  While it does take extra time and extra effort to apply this practice to every aspect of your life on a consistent basis, it is usually far, far less that the time and effort that you will spend on keeping your stuff together if you don't make the investment.
                  Last edited by ITManager; 06-15-2010, 12:47 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When possible, compose e-mails that can be handled in < 2 minutes

                    When I write e-mails to people I try to compose them in such a way that they can be handled in two minutes or less even if it takes me extra time and effort to do it. There's a lot less turnaround time that way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Small Outlook Hack

                      When I set up a new category I don't use the @ key. I use a period. That way, I don't have to shift to call it up. Sounds trivial; but a split-second here, a split-second there, pretty soon you're saving whole seconds! Seriously, the minor aggravation factor is cumulative, so small changes can help.
                      Jim

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When you leave someone a voice mail message, state your telephone number at or near the beginning of the message, not at the end. That way, if they need to get a pen or pencil to write it down, and have to replay the message in order to get the number, they don't have to listen to the entire message again.

                        rdgeorge

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rdgeorge View Post
                          When you leave someone a voice mail message, state your telephone number at or near the beginning of the message, not at the end. That way, if they need to get a pen or pencil to write it down, and have to replay the message in order to get the number, they don't have to listen to the entire message again.
                          rdgeorge
                          Good one! I wish everyone would do this. I have also heard an efficiency expert say it's worth it to memorize or write down the voicemail phone tree you need for common tasks...too often, we listen through the options because we don't have time to memorize it "right now"...but it costs several seconds every time we get a voicemail we want to replay, forward, etc.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post
                            #1 tip: No residue.

                            This has become my new mantra, and it has worked wonders. It simply means to make sure there are no leftovers from previous tasks when you shift your focus, unless you have put a reminder somewhere.

                            Example (optional):

                            When I get home from the gym, for example, I make sure I have not just let more "stuff" into my life. In other words, do I now have to unpack my clothes, put my toiletries back in the bathroom, record my exercise progress or bodyweight on a chart somewhere, plan out the next routine, or anything else before "Exercise at gym" is fully and completely off the list?

                            Remember that David Allen defines stuff as anything that has come into your life that is not where it should be, how it should be, forever. With this definition in mind, it is very easy to let "stuff" clutter up our daily grind unnecessarily, unless we are constantly vigilant about any new outcomes/to-dos we have. Is there ANY residue left before this project/task can be completely crossed off?

                            #2 tip: Develop systems.

                            To be maximally productive, you want to be able to accomplish things even when you are barely conscious. You will do better if you are not dependent on being fully conscious, freshly rested, and excited every waking hour... because you won't be. These systems can be gear/hardware or they can be action steps. You can develop them or find other people's systems.

                            (Optional) Here are some examples of systems that have made a big difference for me:

                            * Shaving/toiletry kit: I have a case that contains travel-size versions of all of my grooming products as well as medicines, vitamins, and basic first aid. I can grab this and instantly have enough of everything for a week. Though it can be used for travel, I also use it daily at home (refilling as needed). I always know where to find Tums, or an eyeglasses screwdriver, or a razor refill. Very handy, especially if you travel regularly like I do.

                            * Morning ritual routine: each step is consistent and streamlined, even if I am half-awake. Example: clothes in dresser in order they are put on. If needed, I can be shaved, showered, dressed, groomed, fed, make the bed, and be "ready for anything" very quickly. Keeping the ritual is both less effort and faster than the alternative.

                            * Tickler/calendar system for interval items: whether it's changing the filter in the home furnace, applying Lexol to my leather briefcase, shoes, etc., purging files, or backing up data on my computer, have a system to remind you at intervals to think about them. This system lets you avoid expensive surprises and builds your confidence that you can rely on your "gear".

                            Combined, these systems allow for an incredible amount of spontaneous flexibility and adaptability. You can move much faster and calmer. Call it a "mind like water" state for common tasks.

                            JohnV474
                            Those are excellent excellent tips. I am forever creating systems. I find them truly helpful!

                            Oh and my reminder system really gives me piece of mind. Its like having your own personal assistant popping up reminding you of that "thing" everytime. Beautiful!
                            Last edited by Minimalist; 07-08-2010, 02:48 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My #1 tip would probably be:

                              Commit to life's essential/must do to-dos and discard (eliminate) everything else.

                              I follow this principle primarily to save me LOTS of time allowing me to

                              Play, attend to my hobbies
                              Get plenty of Rest and quite self time. (meditate, zen-out, nature)
                              Self development.

                              My hate for WORK led me down this road, so might not be fitting for everyone.

                              Comment

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