The Side Streets of Time Management

Have you ever been traveling with a friend who is convinced he has a faster way to get to your destination? It’s usually a little-known side street or back road. These side streets can either shorten your journey…or waste a tremendous amount of your time after getting you lost.

We run across similar shortcuts in our time management.  Before you take a time management shortcut (such as skipping or shortening a step in a process), ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I Have Enough Experience?

Let’s pretend that you’re on your way to a new destination and two people suggest a shortcut. One of those people has never traveled the road before, while the other travels it frequently. Whose advice are you more likely to take? Experience is crucial when deciding which steps to remove from a process. If you’ve never completed a certain task before, it’s a good idea to follow all of the steps in detail, even if you think they might waste your time. As a novice, you don’t know the consequences of removing a step.

2. Am I Just Being Lazy?

If we’re looking for tasks to cut out of a process, we’re most likely to turn to the most tedious and annoying tasks first. It’s important to determine if those tasks truly aren’t necessary, or if you just don’t feel like doing them.

To use a simple example, I was making “For Rent” signs for our rental property the other day. At first, I was marking out the word placement in pencil before inking the final letters in marker. Pretty soon, I got lazy and stopped my pencil layout…only to discover that now my posters were crooked. I cut out the intermediary step not because it was unnecessary, but because I didn’t feel like doing it.

3. Will This Shortcut Make More Work Later?

Sometimes what seems like a shortcut now, in reality, just makes more work for ourselves later. Remember: later always gets here eventually. It’s much faster to do a small, annoying task now, than let those small tasks pile up. Procrastination is the enemy of time management. A shortcut is only truly a shortcut if it saves time, not if it just puts off work until later.

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Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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