Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Provo Daily Herald article

Most people know the sensation of waking up to a long to-do list and wondering when, exactly, everything can possibly get to-done before bedtime. At one point or another, almost everyone has probably wished that there were even just two or three more hours in the day. Since the number of hours in the day isn't likely to change, is there something people can to do to get more out of the 24 hours that we have already?
The Daily Herald talked to author Michelle Snow, who recently published "The Queen of Common Cents: 1,001 Ways to Save Time and Money" through Springville-based Cedar Fort, to find out what she recommends to people who need more time.
1 Life is like a jar of rocks: There's more time in the day than you might think. Snow said that she once saw a religion instructor give a memorable object lesson. "Our teacher filled a large glass jar with rocks and asked if we thought he could put more rocks in the jar," she said. "We said no." The teacher then filled in around the rocks with pebbles and asked the same question. Again, the students said no. So he filled up the remaining space in the jar by pouring in sand.
The point, Snow said, is to pick what's most important -- your rocks -- and make sure that you have time for those things. Then fill in around them with less critical, but still important activities. In a word, prioritize.
2 What's the return? We all spend time in different ways, but we don't always think about whether we're spending it well. Snow said that one way of identifying areas where your time could be better spent is to ask what the time that you devote to certain activities is getting you in return.
A friend recently invited Snow to join a cyber-gardening game. Snow responded that she was preparing seeds for her actual garden and asked whether the friend would like some of them. "Her response was that she didn't have time for a 'real' garden," Snow said. "I spend about two hours a week on my garden and fruit trees. As I read her response, I couldn't help but wonder if she spent two hours a week on her cyber activities, and how nutritious and tasty her cyber harvest was in comparison to my 'real' harvest.
"In other words, cyber activities are good, but perhaps we should be asking ourselves, 'Is there something better and more sustaining that I could be doing with my time and energy?' "
3 Plan first, then pillow: Thinking about everything to be done the next day can make it hard to sleep at night. Snow said that she used to have trouble getting good rest for that very reason. "One day I decided that I would write down my to-do list before I went to bed," she said. "This simple activity helps relax my mind and enables me to fall asleep earlier in the evening."
4 Due to circumstances beyond your control: Sometimes there's not an easy way to minimize time spent on the various needs in your life. It's important to recognize, Snow said, that you won't always have time to get everything done that you'd like to do, exactly when you want to do it. During a period when Snow was a single mother, she said, her grandmother told her to remember to savor the moment.
"She told me that my life was a once-in-a-lifetime journey, not a checklist or assembly line," Snow said. "She hugged me and tenderly added, 'A clean house is good, providing for your family is better, but spending time with your children is best.' "
5 Two at once: Everyone knows about multitasking, but what about mixing tasks and pleasure? Snow said that one way she gets in her "sand time" (think of the glass jar) is to listen to books on tape while she's driving. Doing something fun while also accomplishing something important -- folding laundry while watching a DVD, for example -- can also make jobs go by faster.

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