1. Do a Facebook fast
Remember Karen from your under-14 netball team? Karen who loves “sleeping in on Sundays”. If your Facebook feed is populated by people who you’re never likely to see again or who feel the need to share their every action, thought, emotion and Farmville acquisition, the time has come to cull, cull, cull. You don’t have to defriend them, just choose the option that blocks their feed from bombarding your newsfeed. Better still, because social media can be more of a time-thief than both daydreaming and revenge fantasies combined, limit yourself to one session per day, preferably at a time when you’re doing something else anyway, such as catching public transport to or from work, or queueing at the post office or bank.
2. Declutter in bursts
The task of simplifying your life can seem as daunting as it is unending. The solution lies in breaking it down into manageable chunks. Set aside 10 minutes a day or 20 minutes on the weekend to declutter something. It could be as small as one section of one shelf, but the point is that you can see a measurable improvement, no matter how tiny. In the process, ask yourself if you need all or any of the items you come across. Do you still use or treasure them, or is it just more “stuff” that has to be cleaned and dusted? Donate the things that someone else may use to charity and be done with them.
Over time, this streamlining process will allow you to quickly find the things you do use as they’re no longer hidden among or surrounded by superfluous camouflage.
3. Purge your cyber subscriptions list
Just how companies you’ve never bought anything from or expressed an interest in get hold of your email address remains a mystery. What’s even more mind-boggling is their assumption that if you don’t want to hear from them, it’s up to you to let them know. Sure, you may delete these messages as a matter of course, but the key word to really lightening your inbox overload is “unsubscribe”. Set aside a few minutes at the end of your email activities to open unsolicited emails and tick the unsubscribe box. Theoretically, this should remove you from their routine mail outs – and it does work in the majority of cases.
4. Silence the inbox “ping”
Are you like Pavlov’s dog the minute you hear the “ping” that alerts you to the arrival of a new email? Try as you might to focus on the task at hand, some dark force compels you to put it on hold and open that email right this second, after which it takes a few minutes to get back into what you were doing in the first place. The solution is to disable the sound notification button on your email program. Better still, quit the program entirely when you’re not using it and relaunch it each time you are. The absence of pings and letter icons on your computer screen will remove the temptation to dip in and out of your emails, few of which are as urgent/exciting as you fear/hope they will be. Aim to limit yourself to two or three email sessions a day and watch as your efficiency increases.
5. Put your key ring on your pinky finger
When you do something dozens of times a day, you learn how to accomplish the task with maximum efficiency. Such was the experience of couriers at the UPS package delivery company, who found that by hooking their key rings over their little fingers when making deliveries, they didn’t have to fumble around in their pockets or satchels on the way back to their vehicle. This seemingly tiny idea was so effective it went on to become policy throughout the company. Try the technique when dashing between the car and the shops and you’ll be surprised by how much rummaging time you save.
6. Be in charge of your gadgets
We’ve all lost valuable time hunting around for a mobile phone or tablet only to realise that it was plugged into the wall the whole time. And nothing else seems to chew up the minutes as fast as a much-needed gadget with a flat battery that seems to need a recharging “time out” before it will even consider switching back on. Solve both of these issues with a powermat (pictured, below), a wireless device that’s available from most gadget stores for between $65 and $200. Simply plug it in, pop your gadgets onto as you walk in the door and they’ll automatically begin to recharge. That way, you’ll always know where they are and they’ll be ready to go when you are.