We all wish we had more time. Time is the great equalizer and certainly more valuable than money. So how can we get extra time? Allow me to share a tool that I learned from Dean Graziosi that has helped me tremendously.
When I was growing up, my family emphasized self-reliance. If you need something done, do it yourself. Change the oil in your car. Repair things around the house. It was considered a source of pride to do things yourself. While I was capable of simple things like mowing the lawn, I quickly discovered I did not inherit the "handiness" gene. I had to overcome my upbringing to realize that I cannot and more importantly should not do everything myself.
More important than a To Do list is a NOT To Do List.
Create a NOT To Do List
Key question: What actions and what things do you spend time on that don't serve growth, greater income, empowerment, your higher power, your family, or a bigger future?
Think about all the things you do or spend time on that are complete drudgery. Some things you may not need to do, but you have been doing them out of habit. Some things you might have to do, but you wish you didn't have to spend time doing them. Make a list of at least ten of these items (or more for the over-achievers).
The next part requires some thinking and creativity. For each item on your list, you have three choices: Automate, Delegate, or Eliminate.
I have a coworker who still writes checks and mails envelopes to pay bills. Talk about a waste of time! Without question, you should be using the available technology. When my college roommate first discovered online bill pay, he remarked to his parents that it was so fun and easy to use that he wished he had more bills to pay. They chuckled and said they could help him with that problem.
I use online bill pay, and many of my bills are on autopay. I don't even have to think about them or worry about missing a payment. I also use auto-transfers for a savings account. The withdrawal happens automatically and saves me the step of doing it every month.
When I first bought my house, everything was shiny and new. I took pride in being a new homeowner and wanted to keep things nice and clean. I quickly discovered how much work and effort it takes. It's not that I was not physically capable of doing the job. It's the amount of time I was spending that I could have been spending doing other things. So, I hired a maid who comes every two weeks. The money spent is well worth the time saved.
I can't remember the last time I pulled out an ironing board and ironed clothes. Most offices I have worked in have a business casual dress code policy--no suits, but I still wear collared and button-up shirts with dress slacks. The general rule in the consulting world is to dress a level above the people with whom you work in the office. I have learned the value of dry cleaning. I drop my clothes off once a week, and I receive them cleaned and pressed. I use a garment bag with a careful fold in my suitcase. It also helps to purchase wrinkle-free shirts. This is money well-spent to be a regular Dapper Dan in the office.
Recently, I decided to delegate a task that is time-consuming and not all that enjoyable for me: grocery shopping. Stores like Walmart and Target are trying to compete with Amazon by offering pick-up and delivery. The app Instacart is fantastic. I select a grocery store and then identify all the food items with replacements if needed. I can see the nutritional information, coupons, and anything else required for Project Food as Fuel. In two hours, the groceries are delivered right to my door. I pay a fee for the privilege, but it is WORTH it to save the time (and avoid the 110-degree heat).
And for the gearheads, I leave all car maintenance to the professionals.
I know what some of you might be saying. "Well, it must be nice to have disposable income to pay for things like that. I can't afford it." Let's modify that thinking slightly. Rather than say, "I can't afford it," ask yourself, "How can I afford it?"
Think about your hourly wage. How much is your time worth? Would it be cheaper to pay someone else while you make more effective use of your time? Then do it.
Last month I "cut the cord" and canceled DirecTV. This is the first time since college that I have not had either cable or satellite TV. My combined satellite/internet bill was reduced from $175 to $55. Also, the temptation is gone to turn on the TV and waste time channel surfing.
I have also cut down on eating out. When I travel for work, it is virtually unavoidable. But when I am home, I like to prepare meals myself knowing they are healthier and still quite delicious.
Moving the needle
Now that you have created your NOT To Do List, pick the top three things (or more you over-achiever, you) that you can automate, delegate, or eliminate and commit to doing it. The amount of time you save on each task will add up.
Finally, list the top three actions that move the needle in your life. Which things are you most passionate about or bring you the most joy or fulfillment? Take the time you have freed up and start spending it where it matters.