Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Relax with Time-Saving Tips and a New Nail Polish

A couple weeks back, I was reading through the May issue of Women's Health magazine and found some time-saving tips.  Every magazine these days seems to boast that it has the secrets to help you save time, get a hot body, cook a gourmet meal, and have an amazing sex life (um, I wouldn't mind looking like Julianne Hough!).  Now, you all know how much I love magazines so I am not putting any of them down, but what was so refreshing about the Women's Health article was that the tips were actually useful... to the point that I already (try to) put many of them into practice.


To see the full list of 8 tips, you can check out the slideshow on the Women's Health site. A couple of the ideas don't make sense for me (ie. I don't need to know how to reduce my driving commute time since I take the bus; and it's too tempting to use any website that makes it easier to find clothes on sale).  And a couple are still yet to be tried (ie. making and freezing smoothies for the week on Sunday night; or doing intervals at the gym... because I need to make it to the gym first). However, I have found success with the below... when I actually follow through:

#3: Take Five - Focus on something for 25 minutes without interruption, then take a five-minute breather before diving back in.  It sounds counterintuitive, but a pause can actually help you move faster.  Taking breaks improves mental agility and boosts your output, says productivity expert Francesco Cirillo.

Prior to coming across this article, I had read about the Pomodoro Technique, which Cirillo created.  On the surface, it is simply timing oneself to complete tasks for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break.  It gets someone like me, who is easily distracted by email, facebook, cleaning, painting my nails (see below), basically anything but the task at hand, to actually focus for 25 straight minutes.  I just used a web-based timer I found through Google but the actual technique can be more complex if you want to try out the real deal.  Let's just say this simple technique enabled me to crank out my 30-page novella draft last week in a pretty limited timeframe!


#5: Use the OHIO Method - OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once--and it is the best way to tackle emails and voicemails.  "Decide immediately what to do with each message the first time you look at it, so  you won't waste time going back to it later," says organization expert Peter Walsh, star of Enough Already! With Peter Walsh.  That means trashing junk mail, taking care of any two-minute tasks right away, and adding the more time-consuming items to your to-do list or delegating them to someone else.

I'll admit that Scott would think he had died and gone to heaven if I used the OHIO method at home (shoes... magazines... mail...), but I do often employ this method at work to save time.  By staying on top of my email inbox and my to-do list, I can manage my time more efficiently and be out the door at a decent hour.

#8: Move the Clock - Waking up a mere 15 minutes earlier pads your morning with precious time to leisurely drink your coffee as you open your mail or pick out what to wear.  To keep from hitting the snooze button, put your clock in the bathroom, says Kyle Pott, cofounder of Bowtie hype, a personal productivity and goal-setting consultancy.  You'll have to get out of bed to turn off the alarm, and hey, the shower's right there.  Hop in!

Okay, I would worry about not being able to hear my alarm going off in the bathroom, but this tip is so true.  It reminded me of my post about small steps to a calmer day.  If I can get out of bed the first time my alarm goes off, or allow myself a few extra minutes to read in the morning, I feel so much calmer and more refreshed during the morning rush.

And to end this post on a fun note, I wanted to share a great summery shade of nail polish - Essie's Status Symbol.  Between homework assignments tonight, I did my own little at-home manicure...  This hue is pink with a touch of coral and looks cute even though my skin hasn't seen sun all winter.  The color just brightens my mood... or maybe it's the unbelievable weather we are having in Chicago.  Either way, I'll take a burst of color and some sunshine any day.


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