The Best Way to Save Your Time

There are many tips and tools available to help you save your time. But let’s focus on the essential question: what is the best way to save time?

Different people may have different answers to this question, but I believe that the best way to save time is to avoid doing things that are unnecessary in the first place. Using the best tools and tips may save you hours here and there, but nothing beats not doing the task in the first place.

The problem, of course, is knowing whether something is necessary. It’s not easy, because what we think is necessary might turn out to be unnecessary and vice versa. In my post about lifetime regrets, for instance, I wrote about how dying people often wish that they didn’t work so hard. They thought it was necessary to work that hard to live a good life. Only at the end of their lives did they realize that it wasn’t the case.

So how can we know whether or not something is necessary?

This is where clarity comes to play. The only way to know whether something is necessary is by having clarity over your life. You must grasp the overall direction of your life. You must know where you are going in life and why. If you don’t, then you’ll likely follow the crowd and end up doing a lot of unnecessary things.

That’s why I believe that investing time in clarity is essential. Some people might think that investing time in clarity is a waste of time; why not use the time for something “productive” instead? But the fact is, investing time in clarity is the most productive thing you can do. It can save you a lot of time by helping you avoid the wrong things.

How do we invest time in clarity?

Well, there are different ways to do so. In my case, it’s my daily prayer time. During this time, I withdraw from the busyness of life and reconnect with my values and purpose. It helps me see the overall direction of my life and where to go next. It also helps me see if I’ve gone off track. I treasure this time because of the clarity it brings.

In your case, it might be a weekly review session, walking in the park, or something else. Just find what works for you. The important thing is that you take time to withdraw from the busyness of life and reflect on the overall direction of your life.

Investing time in clarity is not a waste of time. Yes, it might leave you with less time to do other things. But guess what? It’s better to go to slowly towards the right direction than to go quickly in the wrong direction.

Photo by Bigstock

16 Comments

  1. Donald,

    Great point. How can anyone know if the time you spend on tasks is important or not until you take the time for clarity. It is like going on a long trip without directions. You may get there in the end, but there will be a ton of time wasted on the trip.

    I would say that in these reflection periods, it is also time to be critical about the things you WASTE time on too. While dying people may regret having worked too hard very few are going to regret they missed a season of Hawaii 5.0.

    Spend time on thinks that matter and move your happiness meter, not the unimportant BS, right?

  2. Anders Hasselstrøm
    Anders Hasselstrøm

    Hello Donald,

    Once again I’d like to thank you for a well written post with many good points. I agree with you and I have always tried to maintain this clarity of my goals and the direction of my life.

    I like to visualize it as a pyramid. Imagine the pyramid starting from the bottom: Daily actions, focus areas, short term goals, long term goals and life vision. If we do not know our life vision we have a hard time determining what our daily actions should be. For that reason I believe we should start determining our life vision, then our long term goals, then our short term goals, our focus areas and then our daily actions.

    When we approach it this way we make sure that our daily actions reflect our life vision.

    Best,
    Anders

    • Hi Anders,

      That’s a good way to look at it. As you said, visualizing it that way helps our actions be consistent with our visions. That’s important.

      Thanks for the insight!

  3. Since I spend a lot of my time working from home, finding clarity involves taking a 2-mile walk to spend a morning with my laptop in a coffee shop once a week. The walk (rather than a drive) gives me the time and space to evaluate things and plan. I think the secret to investing time in clarity is to develop a habit, block out time in our schedule in order to (as you say above) withdraw from the busyness of life.

    Thanks for the article, Donald.

  4. YourMindofSuccess .
    YourMindofSuccess .

    Two things come to mind. When you have clarity, you know as much what you don’t need to do as what you do need to do. Brian Tracy says that there is nothing worse than doing something you don’t need to do… and doing it well.

    And I was a minister. I cannot recall one person saying at the end of life “I wish I had spend more time working.” As you might imagine, that never happened once.

    • “When you have clarity, you know as much what you don’t need to do as what you do need to do.”
      Exactly. That will greatly improve your effectiveness.

      Glad to hear your experience as a minister, Tony. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Daily prayer is the best way to withdraw from the world. In the morning and especially at night after a long day.

  6. The principle presented in the article
    is correct, but its implementation is extremely difficult. You cannot
    really eliminate tasks or activities in a rational way unless you
    have exerted substantial effort in identifying your short-term and
    long-term priorities. If you start “simplifying things”
    without a clear sense of direction, total chaos will ensue. An
    interesting article, a good presentation of the principle.

  7. I wish I read this post 4 years ago when I was younger lol

    It’s so easy to fall into the trap of putting things off while you’re young because you think you will stay young forever and still have all the energy you have. Granted, i’m still only 29 but not as young as I was when I was 25.

    In truth, you simply have far too many distractions as you would when you’re older.

    The biggest challenge is in learning how to manage your time properly and still have enough time for leisure. Still trying to figure it out, but i’m sure it will come in time 🙂

  8. I like how you talked about ‘clarity’ in regards to stepping-away from busyness. I think for so many of us, we just don’t even come up for air most of the time, and our lives aren’t even the better for it. Time is the greatest asset we possess. Great post.

  9. Thanks Anders for sharing your tool with us on how to keep your vision in sight & make sure you’re moving towards it (very useful) , but remember there’s nothing wrong with testing alternative routes sometimes , who knows what we’ll discover as long as we stay true to our values , have no regrets , just make sure your vision & your values are in sync ,have the passion to fuel your drive , trying new things will never be a waste of time , you’ll always be richer for the experience.

  10. “The best way to save time is to avoid doing things that are unnecessary in the first place.”
    I need to have those words etched into my phone, laptop and books. I waste so much time by doing unnecessary things. This applies to not only the little things in my life such as getting homework done but, also to my life in general.
    “The only way to know whether something is necessary is by having clarity over your life.”
    Before this year, I lacked direction and I knew it. I really was one of those people just following the crowd and wasting my time.
    Although I have finally found more direction, this post made me realize that I need to spend more time praying and getting clarity. So thank-you.

  11. nice article! time is very important and the only thing we cannot buy in life, let’s enjoy life for you only live once. be contented of what you have and live with no regrets.

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