Streamline Your Life
Between deadlines, kickboxing class, and your best friend’s latest crisis, you’ve barely got a moment to spare. We consulted with Laura Sari Geduldig, a life coach in the San Francisco Bay area, and Caroline Righton, author of The Life Audit, for tips on how to shave minutes off everyday activities. Find your top time-suckers below, and get ready to reclaim your day (not to mention your life).
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The Time Suck: Staying in the know on all the celebrity gossip and political chatter by surfing dozens of blogs
The Save: Register with bloglines.com to track all your must-read blogs and e-newsletters on one home page.
The Time Suck: Remembering your password for every bank, store, and cell-phone Web site you use
The Save: The most secure, least hackable passwords are those that contain 15 random letters and numbers. But who wants to memorize all that? Surprisingly, according to Microsoft security experts, it’s better to write down all your passwords in a safe, protected place than it is to use a password manager or other online tool. Just make sure you don’t label it My Computer Passcode in big block letters!
The Time Suck: Cooling your heels (among other regions) in a paper gown at the doctor’s office
The Save: Book the first appointment of the day so you get to your doc before patients pile up, and come in the middle of the week when things tend to be calmer, says Larry S. Fields, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. If you’re a new patient, Dr. Field advises getting (and filling out) all the forms pre-appointment. “Many doctors have them in electronic form, so you can do it via e-mail or the Web,” he explains.
The Time Suck: Running all over town doing errands
The Save: Cluster your stops with high-tech helpers like mapquest.com or Microsoft’s Streets & Trips software, which can plan the best route. Or log on to www.errandservicesportal.com to find a personal concierge service in your area. They can take your dog to be groomed, get your eyeglasses repaired, or even shop for your cousin’s bridal-shower gift.
Take Control of Your Time
The Time Suck: Getting to and from work
The Save: “Commuting is a fantastic opportunity to own the time for yourself,” says Righton. If you’re driving, pop in an audiobook and get a jump on your next book-club meeting. If you travel by bus or train, pay bills, address greeting cards, or catch up on favorite TV shows that you’ve downloaded to your video iPod.
The Time Suck: Blow-drying your hair
The Save: Use an ionic dryer such as the T3 Tourmaline Evolution Professional Ceramic Ionic Dryer ($300, sephora.com), which will dry hair 70 percent faster than other models, says Leonard Zagami, a stylist at New York’s OC 61 Salon. The Jilbere de Paris Ceramic Tools Dryer by ConairPro is a bargain alternative ($23, www.sallybeauty.com for stores).
The Time Suck: Telling the same big news (“We’re engaged!”) to every last relative and friend
The Save: Share your joy in a well-crafted mass e-mail or on your very own blog (visit blogger.com to set one up). Or hold a teleconference. Register with www.freeaudioconferencing.com to receive a number that can host up to 100 callers. Then give one and all the time and number to call and fill them in at once. It might sound impersonal, but everyone will love catching up at your virtual reunion.
The Time Suck: Figuring out how to work your digital camera (and your MP3 player and your DVR…)
The Save: Go to www.cnet.com and click on “How-to” to find free videos, tips, and online courses. Step-by-step instructions walk you through every gadget out there.
The Time Suck: Researching a major purchase, from a new car to a new sofa
The Save: Subscribe to www.consumerreports.org for just $4.95 a month (you can cancel after one month, so it’s not a huge commitment) to access its comprehensive, searchable ratings guide.