Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to Save a Million Milliseconds per Day

Saving time is impossible. 

But we all use the word ‘Save’ to mean ‘Avoid Waste’ or ‘Do the things I really want’.
For comparison, you can save $100 today by putting money in the bank or in your sock drawer.

In six months you can go back to the bank (or sock drawer) and get your money out and you’ll have it ready to use.

If you save $100 in a bank with an interest rate of 1% annually, you’ll get $101 dollars back.

If you invest your money in the stock market (not in 2016 of course, but over a longer period) you could get 10% annually and you would get back $110.

Saving time is more like earning interest on a $100.

With time, we are really trying to invest, not save. We want today’s time to give us the best results we can possibly get.  Unlike a savings account, with time you never get back the principle, you only receive the interest (value in the future)

So now that we share a common vocabulary, how does a person save a million milliseconds in a day (or about 17 minutes)?

1.  First thing in the morning … don’t consult smartphone or laptop or morning TV news

Avoid reading any e-mail or looking at Facebook or getting engrossed in the news.

Workout, brush your teeth, read a book, get a shower, eat breakfast, write in your journal, pay a bill or sit quietly and contemplate what you want to accomplish for the day. Better yet, write a list of things you want to get done. If you write the list, you will actually save even more time because you will focus on what you want done by the end of day.

If you avoid digital distractions first thing you can save up to 10 minutes. Reinvest the minutes with purpose...something that adds value to your life.

2. If you watch TV, switch to Netflix and avoid commercials

Yes you will have to sacrifice the latest shows, but you can manage this because your life goal has a professional vector and a family or personal vector.  Neither your professional pursuits nor your family goals will benefit from watching sitcoms (I’m sure someone has a exception to this rule, but I think the exceptions would be TV columnist).

For 30-60 minutes of programming you can create up to 15 minutes to reinvest.

3. Cut down on watching

If you watch two - 30 minute episodes, consider just watching 1 episode.  Have something ready to replace the TV time.  Since your energy is low at the end of the day, you might be able to introduce light reading or perhaps if you find a really entertaining business book, you could indulge in that.  

(Netflix Subscribers: If you want to help yourself cut down on watching, turn off auto-play.  It's not easy to find, so here's the quick details ... Upper Right Corner --> "Profile Icon" --> "My Account" --> "My Profile" --> "Playback Settings" --> Uncheck "Play next episode automatically".)

4. Substitute an educational or professional podcast or audiobook for music or talk radio during commute or exercise

Remember investing time is by definition saving time.  When you take time to invest in your future, you are actually saving time by creating a better more effective you in the future.  

This could be an investment of 15-60 minutes or longer depending on your one-way daily commute or the length of your exercise routine.

To extend this time savings, substitute podcast or audio books on both legs of your commute; home-to-work and work-to-home. 

5. At work, create a goal for every meeting that you host and publish it in your calendar invite

Determining and writing a goal will either shorten your meeting because you can stop when you meet the goal, or it will focus everyone so you can get to your goal quicker.  A goal does mysterious things to your brain that helps you hit the mark. Assume you could save 5 minutes per meeting.  If you have 3 meetings, it’s possible to save 15 minutes in one day.

If you attend another persons’ meeting, you can simply ask them at the outset of the meeting, “What's the goal for this meeting?”  That question will help everyone in the room dive into the meat of the collaboration.

If you think deeply you can probably find more interesting ways to save a million milliseconds.  If you do, you are on the path to something great...maybe saving a million seconds.

Leave a comment and let me know your biggest time waster?