A Simple, Effective Time Tactic For Greater Personal Productivity
By Rick Houcek
How many hours or minutes of your day are wasted by engaging in some activity at the wrong time?
I want to share with you a simple, effective, and often-unused trick for getting more done in less time.
Winners in life become that for many reasons, and the very best winners brilliantly manage their time with rigid disciplines. They believe time is their most precious unit of life – and recognize that a week, a day, an hour, or even 10 minutes squandered can never be regained.
Personally, I have an unquenchable thirst for ideas that help me maximize my precious minutes. And, one of my favorites is a time tactic that I see few others using (surprisingly) and it has served me well for more than 30 years.
It’s simply this: scheduling my day to do as many tasks as possible at off-peak times.
By ‘off-peak’, I mean that time of day when no one else is competing for what I want, allowing me to complete my tasks as quickly, as uninterrupted, and as distraction-free as possible.
Lots of examples…
Like shopping at retail stores. I seldom go on a Saturday or Sunday when stores are crowded, sales people are busiest, and lines are longest. When do I go? I go at off-peak times when virtually no one is there. Weekdays, usually around 10:30 in the morning or 2:30 in the afternoon. Street traffic is lighter too.
I am frequently at a 24-hour, quick print shop for my business and I don’t go during 8-to-5 business hours. I go late evenings and weekends – it’s pretty empty.
What about health clubs? Well, they’re busiest during early mornings, lunch hours, and right after work. Solution? Don’t go then. Pick times when crowds are the lightest. Or why not work out at home? There are plenty of effective, in-home routines you can use with little or no equipment needed. There’s no driving, waiting lines, no babysitter, no club fees, and all of the privacy you want. I have a full gym in my basement – in addition to 2 gym memberships – because they have classes, personal training, activities, and a pool I don’t have at home.
Air travel is another. I fly when airports are less crowded and security lines are shortest. Like weekdays between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. I even frequently take 6:00 a.m. flights to beat morning rush hour. Yeah, I know that means getting up at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, but to me it’s worth the tradeoff. I hate lines.
What about restaurants. When are they busiest? Well, of course, during traditional mealtimes. Instead my wife and I go earlier or later. You get the best tables, no waiting, and more prompt service. And we frequently go on a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday – slower times.
So, what can you do?
Well, make a list of activities that you most frequently engage in, and then next to each one, jot down the times that are peak hours, the busiest, the times to avoid. Also, write down the off-peak hours, the lightest, and schedule it then.
Yeah, there are tradeoffs for all of these choices, but if it means gaining another hour or two per day, that sure adds up, and I’m willing to make them. Are you?
Now, if you discount all of this and say, “No way, Rick, this can’t work for me. I’ve got to be at work between 8 and 5, so I guess for me, everything else is going to have to happen at peak times”…
…then I’m here to tell you, you’re caving in, giving up, throwing in the towel. Winners make sacrifices. They turn things upside down… they do the unconventional. It’s part of what makes them winners. It’s how they got to be winners.
So, what can you adjust, re-adjust, or eliminate, to make room?
And if you’re still doubting it’s possible, here’s the acid test: find a busy, working, single parent who seems to be making time for everything, and ask her or him how she does it.
There’s your role model. I’m willing to bet she’s making time management choices most people would think impossible.
Listen, your time is precious and perishable – wasted minutes are never recoverable. So quit fighting lines, crowds, and traffic.
You will lessen the frantic pace, you’ll reduce stress, you’ll lower your blood pressure… and you’ll make more time for your higher priorities. All worthy outcomes.
Isn’t it worth figuring out ways to use off-peak hours to your advantage?
The article may be over, but don’t leave yet!
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