In today’s time-starved society, sacrifices need to be made.
A million different things are vying for your attention. You only have so much time and energy to pursue a number of them. Anytime you’re presented with an activity, you have three options to choose from: start, stop, or continue.
The question is, which door do you walk through? At first glance, the answer may seem obvious. Start or continue the actions that give the greatest output, and drop everything else.
But in reality, your time ends up getting swallowed by all the little things. They take up precious hours that could have been put to better use. Maybe it means doing something unnecessary, enduring an unexpected hassle, or working on something that at first glance seemed simple.
When you find ways to get rid of those small annoyances, you can change your life in big ways. All of a sudden, it feels like your time has been freed up. It’s as if a burden has been lifted off your shoulders.
Here are five techniques you can use to make your life 10x easier:
1. Apply the Minimum Effective Dose to get the desired result.
In pharmacology, the minimum effective dose is the smallest drug dosage needed to achieve the desired response in most patients. Any additional amount is redundant and could even lead to harmful effects.
In life, not everything needs to be mastered to perfection. You don’t need to master folding laundry. You don’t need to count every single calorie you ingest. You don’t need to spend an extra ten hours taking something from great to perfect.
Sometimes, good enough is enough. In your work, there comes a point where you’re better off sending it out rather than spending more time on it. Doing or consuming more than necessary can end up costing you valuable time, energy, and opportunity costs.
2. Instead of trying to remember something, write it down.
I came across an interesting proverb: “The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.” In other words, writing it down is infinitely better than trying to remember something. Jot it down on paper, type it out, set up a reminder — whatever you choose, put your notes someplace where you can refer to it later.
Stop relying on your memory. Not only is it easy to forget things, but an overload of facts causes stress in the brain. It’s like juggling different items in your mind — it’s only a matter of time before one of them falls down.
Set up a system to keep track of what you need to do. Being organized helps you finish your most important tasks. It also keeps you calm, because you know you’re on top of everything.
3. Implement the 2-minute rule.
If something takes two minutes or less, just do it. Like ripping off a band-aid, you’ll save time in the long run by quickly finishing a short task. A 2-minute task may involve organizing a file, reading an email, or putting away the dishes.
Often, we spend a lot of time thinking, planning, or wanting to do something. The actual task, however, might actually take less time than we think. Once we complete it, we can cross it off and move on to something else.
Following the 2-minute rule gives you a feeling of accomplishment after completing those short tasks. It’s also a nice way to break up those longer tasks during the day. If you’ve been trudging through tedious work, get up and wash the dishes. Send off an email that’s sitting in the drafts folder.
Getting one small task out of the way clears your mind for other things.
4. If you need the same item in different places, get multiples.
Do you spend long periods of time in separate places? Maybe your waking hours are split between the office and home, or you divide your time between different parts of the house. Every time you go from one place to the other, you need to take items with you.
On a daily basis, you might make a mental note to put certain items in your bag before heading out. Your phone charger. Your favorite earphones. Your hand sanitizer. Most times, you do a good job of bringing everything you need. But once in a while, you forget an item and have to make do without it.
When you forget something, it can be incredibly frustrating. And even when you remember to bring everything you need, the simple task of reminding yourself can create additional stress and worry.
That’s why it makes sense to buy one item for each place you spend a lot of time in. You might think that having one item and carrying it around is enough. But once you get an item for each location, your everyday routine becomes so much simpler.
5. You don’t need to complete everything you start.
There’s a certain pride associated with finishing things. You feel a sense of accomplishment in pushing through to the end, whether it’s in your work or personal life. But what if you find yourself trying to finish something that doesn’t have any purpose anymore?
It feels progressively as if you’re wasting time, and you feel obligated to continue simply because you started in the first place.
Sometimes, it really is okay to quit. In fact, people should quit more often.
Losing interest in a TV show you started? Stop watching. Working on something that isn’t reaping rewards? Drop it and do something else. Don’t want to attend an event you’re invited to? Politely decline and find a better way to spend your time.
You have permission to quit. Your time is precious, and you should treat it like so.
Get Rid of Small Problems to Get More Out of Your Day
It’s not the big problems that irritate us every day, but the little things. A minor annoyance here. An ongoing issue there. The small problems build up quickly and gradually wear us down.
Resolve those small problems. Get them done quickly, or get rid of them altogether. When you do, you’ll notice big improvements in your life. You’ll find yourself with more time for the things that matter most.
Melissa Chu writes about creating great work and successful habits at JumpstartYourDreamLife.com. To transform your goals into reality, grab the guide How to Get Anything You Want.
This article was originally published on Medium.