In my previous post, I wrote that one good way to invest your time is to build time assets. Time assets are things that can save you time in the future. They require time investment to build, but once they are built, they can save you a lot of time. You will be more productive as a result.
Here I’d like to discuss several ways to build them. Of course, what I’m about to cover is not exhaustive; you are welcome to recommend more ways in the comments. But I hope these can give you a starting point.
From my experiences, here are seven ways to build time assets:
1. Create checklists
I have written about the benefits of using checklists before. In short, it helps you not to miss anything when performing a task. Plus, it frees up your mind for more creative things since you don’t have to remember steps and procedures.
Checklists are especially useful for complex tasks that you do frequently. For such tasks, you should invest time to create an accurate checklist so that you can do the task much faster later.
2. Build a knowledge base
Whenever you solve a difficult problem, be sure to document it. Write down the problem and the exact solution. You might think that once you solve a problem you will never forget the solution, but I often find that the reality is different. After several bad experiences, I made it a habit to document difficult problems I encounter and their solutions. I call the document my “knowledge base.”
3. Learn outsourcing skills
No matter how good you are at managing your time, your time is still limited. In addition, you can’t be good at every tasks. That’s why outsourcing is important: it allows you to tap into other people’s time and expertise and get a lot more done as a result.
These days there are a lot of outsourcing sites like oDesk, Elance, and Fiverr. Knowing how to outsource effectively though, requires practice. You should learn how to structure your tasks, how to find the right people, and how to handle communication problems. But the time you spend to learn these skills is worth it because they enable you to boost your productivity.
I must admit that I still have much to learn here. So far I use outsourcing mainly for graphic design, but the potential is almost endless.
4. Learn to use keyboard shortcuts
When I recently installed Windows 8, one of the first things I did was learning its keyboard shortcuts. I have become so accustomed to using keyboard shortcuts that not using them feels like a big productivity hurdle.
Whatever application it is that you usually use, you should spend time to learn its keyboard shortcuts. Some good candidates are the operating system (like Windows), browser (like Firefox), email app (like Gmail), and word processing app (like Microsoft Word).
5. Improve your typing skills
If you use computers a lot, it’s worth your time to learn to type faster. It seems that keyboard will still be the main input device for the foreseeable future, so being able to transfer your thoughts through it faster will save you a lot of time.
6. Highlight books
This one deals with the ability to quickly “reload” knowledge from a book. Unless you have a photographic memory (I know I don’t), you might find that you forget most of the ideas in a book within just a few weeks. After experiencing this again and again, I concluded that an important part of reading books is ensuring a faster way to “reinstall” the knowledge later on.
Highlighting the book you read is an easy way to do that. By highlighting the important ideas in a book, you can read just the those parts when you want to get the knowledge back.
7. Get organized
Have you ever lost something and spent a lot of time trying to find it? I certainly do. Obviously, that’s not a good way to use your time. Isn’t it much better if you can quickly find what you need when you need it? That’s why you should get your stuff organized.
It applies not just to your physical stuff, but also to your ideas, appointments, and others. Have a place to store each of them and organize them in such a way that you can easily find them later.
When it comes to time management, here is a good principle to live by: spend time on things that will save you time in the future. If you do that, you will be much more productive in the long term.
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt