Time Is Money – How I Will Stop Wasting Money & Time!

August 18, 2007

Do you feel like the older you get the more you understand the saying that time is money?  Responsibility levels tend to increase with your age and before you know it there’s no time left in your day! Since the opportunity costs of lost time can be enormous and I have found myself spinning my wheels lately I decided today to lay down some rules to help me become more efficient with my time and more effective in the things I do during that time.

Prioritize Projects & Tasks
I started off by listing all the projects I’m working on ordered by importance and posting that list next to my computer monitor.  I won’t work on anything unless it helps me accomplish one of those projects. I need to figure out the ideal maximum number to have on the list at a time, right now its 10.

Each day before I work on anything I’ll make a list of tasks I need to do in Google Notebook so that I have access to it at work and home. Keeping my focusing on these items should help me reduce the amount of time I spend on unimportant and ad-hoc tasks. 

Reduce Distractions
One thing that slows me down is that I get easily distracted.  This can be dangerous on the Internet because there’s so much content to read and so many people promoting it. One interesting article or idea can lead to another, and another, and another. To combat this I will limit the number of Firefox tabs I can have open simultaneously to 10.

Another way I tend to fill my hours is by hitting F5 on my Gmail tab.  To prevent constant context switching, I will check my e-mail morning, midday, and evening. I will also limit the review of statistics to twice a day (checking web hits, stock prices, money made, etc).

The idea of reducing distractions was inspired by suggestions from the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

Take Short Breaks
Another problem I have is getting stuck while working on a project or article. I will hit a wall conceptually and/or creatively and waste time meandering while trying to get out of the slump.  Anytime I get stuck I will take a several minute break to wake me up and get the juices flowing instead of trying to struggle through it in front of the computer.  I’ll always take along a piece of paper and pen to write down any ideas I have while away.

Follow a System
I’ll start using the writing approach that Darren Rowse uses to help prevent:

  • Sporadic Posting Frequency 
  • Fluctuating Post Quality
  • Decreased Productivity
  • Lack of Momentum

Know When Enough is Enough
Oftentimes I want to get “one last thing done” before I go to bed even though I am struggling to stay awake. Frequently I’ll put my head back in my chair to rest my eyes for a minute only to awake hours later with my computer monitor still staring at me. Sometimes I know I won’t get anything else done without sleep. Foolishly I will lay down on the study floor for cat nap and wake up there cold and stiff in the morning. 

I’m sure I sleep much better in bed than in a computer chair or on the floor so when I’m tired I’ll either wake myself up with a quick walk around the yard or hit the hay.

Make Use of Down Time
I hate sitting in traffic and waiting in line, obviously because it wastes time.  I need to do a better job making use of this down time.  Anytime I leave the house I need to have at least one or more of a magazine, voice recorder, and notepad along.

A magazine is nice for places you have to sit and wait such as the barbershop or doctors office. They usually have something to read but most of the time it’s nothing I’m interested in.  The notepad is nice for recording any thoughts or ideas I might have while standing in line. I use an MP3 player with a built-in microphone for when I’m sitting in traffic and want to capture something without writing it down. Having a list of ideas or an outline already built when I sit down to the computer should hopefully make me more productive.

That’s my list to help become more effective and efficient so far.  Anything else I should add?  What tricks do you use to prevent wasting time?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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7 Responses to Time Is Money – How I Will Stop Wasting Money & Time!

  • Find New Homes in Florida

    I don’t think checking statcounter frequently is a bad thing. It can help drive traffic by optimizing towards hot terms, etc. For example I saw how many people were googling David Beckham’s first goal and since I had the video on my personal site I got a ton of traffic by optimizing further towards that term. So statcounter for fun = bad, to drive decisions = good!

  • Ben

    Hey everyone, I’m glad this was helpful! It’s been a few days since I wrote this post and I’ve been doing a fairly good job of following my new rules. It’s not easy to break old habits but I’m glad I making some changes.

  • Lazy Man and Money

    This is the awesome kick in the behind that I needed.

  • Patty

    Hi, Great food for greater thought.
    I have three main categories competing for my daily tasks. 1-Work, 2-Personal to do list and 3-new fun things.
    I make a routine out of doing one thing in each category, then start over again. For work, I may complete a memo, then a personal item (car insurance research, for example), then it’s reading a Blog, which is just for fun. Then it’s time to complete another work task. I make the work tasks take up at least 45 minutes of each hour.
    This works for me.

  • Dave

    Thanks for the article. I can definitely relate to your experience. It’s funny that I got to your blog by clicking through link after link after link. I’m looking up at my Firefox browser right now, and I have 12 windows open. Guilty as charged! Now… where was I originally before I stumbled upon your blog?

  • Golbguru

    Ben, thanks for touching this topic – now, I have some renewed interest in making myself more productive. I need to work on planning for future posts and really need to get rid of the “one last thing” habit.Darren’s system sounds pretty good for a start.

  • Personal Finance Resources

    Great article. I am in the exact same position. I use a laptop computer, and most of the time sit on my couch while working on my personal finance blog, and want to get that one last thing done, but often end up sitting and staring because I am too tired to complete a thought. Hang in their man! Hey do you have for me to add your feed to my yahoo rss reader?