Save seconds, save minutes, save hours. Before you know it, you’ll have enough time saved to retire twice, once to a condo in Florida and a second time to an ashram on a mountaintop in Nepal. If you can figure a way to shave a little off your best times here and there, each day can last longer than 24 hours. It’s where time management meets the space/time continuum: the allocation, the reallocation, the careful parceling and parsing out of each moment.
So it takes you five minutes and 30 seconds to walk to the bus stop each morning. Why? Increase your foot speed a tiny bit and you’ve freed up 30 seconds that you could be doing something else that needs to be done. Like answering e-mails. Even if the bus is late, you’re already saving up time, squirreling it away, hoarding it somewhere where it can draw interest.
But saving time isn’t just about being more efficient, or doing things a little quicker, it’s also about knowing where you lose time, where you waste time. Do you really need to talk to your cousin Harry whenever he feels like calling? You know how this conversation is going to go. It starts out slow and then moves into super slow-mo, and mostly in the instant replay mode. It’s everything he’s already told you the last time he called, which was what, yesterday? He needs to start over with the story line of his life, tell it all from the beginning up to today’s chapter of My Boss Is The Biggest Jerk In The World and How I Barely Escaped Getting Fired For The 4,445th Day In A Row.
“Gee, Harry, do you think if you got your work done on time instead of playing Tetris whenever the boss isn’t looking, he wouldn’t yell at you quite as often?”
Cut out all these crap conversations. Your Aunt Mildred who wants to tell you about her bunion and all the latest bunion remedies she’s tried on it, your brother who wants to reminisce about the time he locked you in a closet for four hours while Mom and Dad were at the movies, your next-door neighbor who wants you to know what a great deal he got on weed killers at Home Depot. You should know better than to answer the phone when you see these numbers coming in on caller ID. You need to instantly fake a major gastro-intestinal attack when you mistakenly engage one of these people in a face-to-face conversation and apologize for having to run off to the bathroom, to an IRS audit, to a colonoscopy, to a root canal, to anything short of a rendezvous with death itself, since spending your life talking to any one of these people is the closest you can come in the three-dimensional plane.
There are lots of other ways to save time. Think of it this way: If you make a BLT but leave out the tomato, you’ve saved 1/3 of the time it usually takes to make the sandwich, not to mention the mess of cleaning up the tomato. If you have a ham and cheese without the cheese, you’ve saved half the time it takes to make, and all that cheesy cholesterol you don’t need anyway. Every time you can go out and do two errands instead of one, you’ve saved time putting on shoes, finding your wallet and keys, and reprogramming your radio because your teenage son borrowed the car.
Why put the dishes from the dishwasher onto the shelf? You’re just going to have to take them off the shelf again when you want to use them. Leave your clean dishes in the dishwasher until they’re all used up and then fill it back up again. For that matter, why do you need to wash the dishes so often, anyway? What if everyone in the family had their own set of cutlery and dishes? Have it all color-coded. You don’t need to wash your pants after every time you wear them; you don’t wash your car after every time you use it; why do you have to wash your glass? Keep the same glass and use it over and over until it gets too coated with slime from a milkshake, or clam juice, or something that requires at least a quick rinse.
Save time at the barber: Just ask him to cut off all your hair. It’ll go much quicker and you won’t need to go back nearly as often. Buy all your clothes in one color, then you can dress yourself in the dark and still be perfectly color-coordinated.
Save time exercising. How many people do you know who spend a half hour driving to the health club so that they can work out running on the treadmill for a half hour and then drive a half hour home? Why not just go outside and run 15 minutes away from your house and then 15 minutes back? You’ve saved yourself an hour of driving, plus all those health club fees and repeated exposure to athlete’s foot, and naked, pruny old men.
Save time, buy the carrots you don’t have to peel, the nuts you don’t have to shell, the cans you don’t need to open, the food you don’t need to cook. Get the lettuce that’s already been washed. Eat the cereal out of the box, the chips out of the bag, the soup out of the can. Get the clothes you can wear at the gym, on the plane or in the bedroom. Yeah, those really comfortable-looking, stretch-waisted leisure suits. Nobody can tell whether you’re going to bed or going to China; it’s one-size-fits-all situations.
Don’t overthink it. Be simple, live simple, eat simple, stay simple, and above all, pick simple pin codes and passwords or you’ll never remember them and you’ll spend hours searching around for the tiny scrap of paper you wrote them down on in the first place. You know my favorite password? Simple.
Save seconds, save minutes, save hours. Before you know it, you’ve saved your entire life and you’re ready to start over again from the beginning.