A Million Little Things


We all have days where the time slips by and before we know it, the work day is over, but we aren’t even close to accomplishing the things we wanted to get done. How does it happen? Where does the time go?

Why is it that if we all have the same number of hours in a day, some people are able to finish so much more than others do?

I am convinced it isn’t the big time wasters we read about that cause us to fall so utterly behind during our workday. It’s a million little things that add up.

I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I have lost over the years, just looking for my keys. Every day, I swear I am going to find a solution, but as soon as I find them, I am right back where I started. The answer is so simple. I simply need to put a hook right next to the door, one that I cannot miss seeing when I walk in, so I stop and hang my keys there.

Thankfully, I learned quickly that if I did not organize my email into folders (as they come in) that I would lose time every day, looking for that one email I needed. Or, even more important, missing an important email all together because it was buried somewhere in my inbox.

Another huge time saver for me has been the signature option within Outlook. If you run an online business, you know that often you find yourself typing the same responses to similar email inquiries. Type that response just once into a new signature file with a title you recognize, and next time it will be a matter of just 2 clicks to respond.

Better yet, if you find yourself getting the same questions far too often, it is a good indication that you need to prevent this issue by adding information to your site or page for frequently asked questions.

Silly stuff can drive you crazy. How many times a day do you find yourself looking for the last place you left your cell phone? The cordless house phone? The remote?

How long are we going to put off giving these things a place to go every time, so we always know where they are?

I cannot count how many times I tore the house apart looking for a pen to sign something for my daughter. It doesn’t seem to matter how many packs of pens I put inside my desk, there is never one there when I need it. Perhaps it is time to buy one of those kinds you chain to the desk like they do at the banks?

My biggest time waster always comes back to looking for things. It can be as simple as a password for an account that I don’t use very often, or a phone number for the cable company when my internet suddenly decides to take a vacation without me.

I am finally learning to keep a file for these things, not just on my computer (if it crashes you may lose the information) but in a little book that I keep for these moments when I am totally brain dead, or the information I need is online somewhere but I can’t get there.

How many little things do you find stealing your time, minute by minute during the day? What time saving methods have you found to be effective for you?

J. Cricket Walker of CricketWalker.com

  1. DerekDerek02-10-2011

    I don’t work from home but at work, i have about 10 folders in my outlook for certain work related emails and saved emails from clients for reference or proof if a dispute comes up. Not all the time but once and awhile i know the answer to the question a co-work has asked me but i just can’t get it out of my mouth. Finally i remember…”Hey, i have a email about this issue” and go to the folder i had created. Sometimes it just takes more then a few minutes to remember that i save a lot of emails. lol

    At home when i am doing my online stuff, i have sticky notes all over my desk of things to do and to check but sometimes i’m a few days late in getting to that one note because the notes are spread out and not in order of importance.

  2. Usman farooqUsman farooq02-10-2011

    Nice post..!!! very well said 🙂

  3. S EmersonS Emerson02-10-2011

    There is a spot for the keys and we have a little drawer system for the spare stuff (like extra pens, pencils, tag, etc). We don’t have drawers in our desks so we have pencil/pen holders on the desks and I generally put mine back when done with it.

    Emails are sorted into folders with rules.

    The biggest time gobbler for me is being social. Do the rounds, read RSS feeds then comment and/or share, Twitter, etc. next thing I know it’s afternoon. Throw in a phone call or two and the day seems to be shot!

    I do think being organized and methodical does help cutdown on time wasted when looking for stuff.

  4. KarenKaren02-10-2011

    Dear Cricket,

    Nails… hit precisely upon their heads. LOL
    Regarding the keys. We nailed that one years ago. One place for them in a certain drawer.
    Cell phones. Two places for them. If we see a cell phone out of place, we put it in one of the designated places. It helps. E-mail is better managed now, but it is so tempting to subscribe to yet another great blog. My best time saving effort is Focus50/Break 10 thanks to Alex Mandossian. That way I complete my goal of working my part time home business 15 hours a week. Thanks for this post.

  5. CherylCheryl02-10-2011

    When away from home, my keys go either in a side pocket of my purse or in my pocket. No other place, so I only have two places to look. When at home, they are on the dining room table and then are put “away” at night.

    My desk: stapler, tape, pens, pencils, paperclips, scratch paper are always immediately accessible. And files that I get into frequently.

    Scissors are ALWAYS in the kitchen drawer. My biggest pet peeve is reaching for the scissors and someone hasn’t returned them, so everyone has been trained over the years to put them back.

    I always put things back where I found them so they will always be where I expect them to be.

    I suppose people think I’m neurotic, but if I’m going to waste time, I want it to be with things of my choosing, ie playing a computer game.

  6. Peg CherrePeg Cherre02-10-2011

    My biggest time waster? I’m afraid to say it’s the internet. I can get lost in it, and particularly since the rural version of high speed isn’t all that high, things take too long.

    My second biggest time waster? Obsessing.

  7. Vert StudiosVert Studios02-11-2011

    Having a job that deals with computers/the internet is extremely cool, but man does it require discipline. Ask any developer: It’s not common to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours and only do 2 hours worth of productive work.

  8. GlennetteGlennette02-12-2011

    I’m not at 100% but you nailed it when you said the key is having a place for everything.

    My problem is perfection. I procrastinate on things by doing other things I really do need to do but should wait until I do the more important thing because I am afraid I won’t do the really important task perfectly. It’s something I’m working on though. Using a timer also helps with stopping procrastination if that’s an issue for you. Just say “I will work on it for 30 minutes then do something else.”

  9. DanDan02-16-2011

    I agree with organizing emails into folders. I think spending some time to setup filters will allow you t save more in the future, specially if you use Outlook as your main productivity tool.

    Another great time saver for me is Google Desktop search. With it, I can search for a file ( or even a snippet in the body of text documents) and open it without navigating to the folder that it is in. Saves me some time in being very detailed about folder organization in my hard drive.

  10. poor chinesepoor chinese02-25-2011

    Yes,I also agree with your opinon of treasuring time,but still now,I am also wasting my time if many tiny unexpected things,After reading your posts, I think I will have to do some change,thanks,I never want to be a time waster

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