How To Save Time and Reduce Your Daily Stress Level

I live by lists. I have a weekly grocery list. I have a “To Do” list. I keep a list of ideas that come to me at odd moments so that I don’t lose the thought. I make a list while sitting at the computer and working on my business, jotting down things I need to remember as I move from one task to another. Occasionally, I don’t add something to my list, thinking that I will surely remember it because it’s important. BIG MISTAKE.

Lists are our friends. They save us incredible amounts of time and help to keep us organized. Here is an example of how I organize my grocery/errand list. Every time a family member says we are out of something, it goes on the list. Whenever someone says, “Next time you’re at the store. . .” it goes on the list. Any items I need for our family meals that week go on the list. Some people group their grocery list according to location of items in their particular grocery store. I like that idea.

My errand list goes on the back of my grocery list. Usually it includes the bank, some specialty stores, the post office, etc. Before I leave the driveway, I take a pen and put numbers next to each item in order of their location. By doing this ahead of time, I know that my errands will flow in the most time efficient manner.

Where you keep your lists, whether they’re color coded, and other such considerations are a matter of personal choice. Since I spend so much time at the computer, I usually keep most of my lists at that desk. I prefer hard copy lists for most things, although I do keep business items in a software organizer that can be printed out when needed.

We lead busy lives. Trusting our memories can be a risky venture, especially when so many items compete for our attention in any given 24-hour period. Keeping lists is a great way to save time, keep in the flow of things, and reduce the stress level so many of us experience on a daily basis.

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How to Organize Product Manuals, Warranties, and Receipts

Have you ever wasted an afternoon looking for a product manual or a receipt to prove your warranty is still in effect? Here is an easy way to get all those booklets and receipts organized and easily accessible.

Purchase a large three-ring binder notebook and a box of clear sheet protectors. Every time you purchase a new product for your home, immediately staple the receipt to the inside cover. Then place the booklet in a sheet protector and file it in the notebook. It’s helpful to alphabetize your manuals, but not absolutely necessary. Also, note the date you mailed in the warranty or registered the product online.

Any other important information, such as service records, can be filed with the product’s manual. Now you will have all pertinent information at your fingertips, which will save you lots of time in the future.

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Time versus Task

I’m preaching to myself here. I look around at all the things that need to be done and wonder where I will ever find the time to do them. My problem is this: I’m thinking in the macro. In my mind, I figure this task will take at least 2 hours to complete and that task will take 4 hours, and I simply don’t have such large chunks of time available to me. Therefore. . .

That “therefore” can go two ways. Either “therefore, it will just have to go undone” or “therefore, I will have to tackle it a little at a time and eventually get it all done.” The latter is certainly the best choice and will be full of surprises when you actually develop that mindset.

Take laundry for example. Do you have a weekly laundry day? If you allow the laundry to pile up all week, what does the task look like at the end of the week? How do you feel when you look at that huge pile knowing what your day ahead is going to be like?

I adopted the philosophy when my children were small that one load at a time is easy, two is doable, but three or more is overwhelming, so one it is! As soon as there was enough clothing for one load, I quickly started the washer and went about my day. At my convenience I put the clean load in the dryer. I purchased baskets for each member of the family and put their clothing into the baskets right out of the dryer. By doing laundry “on the fly” so to speak, it was as if I never really did laundry.

Applying the micro approach to other time intensive tasks works just as well. Who says you have to complete every job to perfection in one fell swoop? So take a look around you and choose one large task upon which to focus. Set a time limit, say 10-15 minutes, and go at it. As soon as the time is up, stop and return to your normal routine. Do this every day and at the end of the week look at what you have accomplished.

Macro time is hard to find, but micro time is available to all of us. Begin small and start enjoying the rewards of accomplishment.

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How to blitz clean and have fun while doing it

I’ve read a lot of books on organizing and cleaning over the years and tried a wide variety of methods. However, my favorite is what I call “blitz” cleaning. In football, the blitz is a very focused play on the quarterback. In cleaning, the blitz is focused on one room or one area for a short period of time, usually about 10 minutes. One can endure anything for such a short period of time, right?

There are several great things about blitz cleaning. First, you only have to focus on a small piece of the big picture. Just thinking about cleaning a whole house can be exhausting. But cleaning a small area for a short duration of time is no big deal.

Second, knowing the clock is ticking, you just naturally take on a quicker pace and accomplish more than you would have if the whole day ahead were pegged for cleaning. Personally, it almost feels as if I’m in a competition to see how much can be accomplished in such a short span of time.

Third, there is the accrual effect. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there begin to add up over the course of a day. Yet you look back and don’t feel as if you spent the day cleaning, because you actually went about your business and only took “cleaning breaks.”

For me, the best plan is to choose an area that really needs attention. When the time is up, I go back to my business as usual. A little later when I need a break from work, I take on another blitz cleaning session somewhere else in the house. And by the way, blitz cleaning is a great thing to do with while talking on the phone with your ear phone attachment.

Of course, there is a place for a good thorough cleaning of each room in your home. However, blitz cleaning is a great method for keeping a home neat and orderly on a day by day basis, and it cuts out a lot of wasted time.

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How to double your time while talking on the phone

Some people enjoy spending a lazy afternoon chatting on the telephone. I’m not one of them. First of all, I don’t have lazy afternoons, and if I did, I wouldn’t want to spend them talking the hours away.

About a year ago, one of my R & D girls suggested that I purchase an earphone attachment so that I could take calls and work at the same time. Wow! What a great idea that turned out to be. Now, rather than sitting at my desk or walking around holding the telephone next to my ear, I wear the earphones, talk, and perform a second task at the same time.

In fact, the telephone now acts as the stimuli for a constructive case of Pavlovian conditioning. It rings, I answer with my earphones on, and I immediately start cleaning some area of the studio, the kitchen, or wherever I happen to be when I answer the phone. I find I can also work at the computer, but low brain wave tasks seem to go more smoothly.

Back to the earphones, I purchased mine at Radio Shak. They run about $39 and work great. I strongly suggest that you go high quality and get a set that covers both ears. I’ve tried other types (the kind with one ear pad), but too much background noise gets through. You will also want a set that allows you to adjust the sound level.

Many gadgets promise huge savings in time. My little set of earphones deliver those savings every day.

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Quick Tips (2) – When copies are a good thing

Losing your wallet or having your handbag stolen can be a less stressful event by following this helpful hint.

Make a photo copy of every item in your wallet. Be sure to make a copy of the front and back on credit cards, insurance cards, and any other similar items that contain important information and telephone numbers.

Place the photo copies in a safe place, such as a fireproof safety box or safety deposit box. If the unthinkable should happen, you will have all the phone numbers and information you need at your fingertips for reporting the loss or theft, saving you hours of time and lessening the anxiety that such a situation brings with it.

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