Save Seconds – Gain Hours
Save Seconds – Gain Hours
By Rossi Ignatova – SilverSense (www.silversense.biz)
The story of how a pair of snagging scissors made me re-examine my work efficiency and reduce time-wasting little niggles.
So, I have this pair of scissors which I love using. They are big and solid and fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. The only snag is that, well, the scissors snag. Not a lot, mind you, just a little and only if the paper or bubble wrap that I am cutting touches a particular spot on the blade. So, I have to be extra careful and remember to cut just a little bit further or backwards from this spot. It works fine. But sometimes, and it happens right when I am in a hurry, I don’t do it quite right and the scissors snag, they literally tear at the paper, so I have to start cutting again, which is fine, as I do love my scissors, even though they waste a little bit of my time.
It’s funny how long it can take us to see things for what they are. But the second that the active thought really hit me – stop, these scissors are a waste of time – I knew I’ve always known it, but simply didn’t realise how important it was.
You see – if something doesn’t work right and wastes even a second of your time, then perhaps it is not such a bad idea to try to fix it, change it or eliminate it altogether so that with the time saved you can focus on the most important things in your life.
So this is how it all started – with my pair of scissors and their snag. Out they went and the new pair cuts just fine. This made me think and I decided to observe the way I work and eliminate the little niggles that, although tiny, do end up consuming quite a lot of time.
After some days (well, weeks and even months) of observation and adjustment, here is my action plan – all clear and well structured for immediate application, so that it doesn’t waste any of your time.
I started by observing how I do the small things, like cutting packing paper, writing an address and storing my receipts. You know – those small tasks that shouldn’t take more than a minute of your time, but somehow they always manage to last much longer than that. Every time I was doing something, no matter how mundane, a thought would jolt me – can you do this more efficiently than that? Or if I was rummaging like crazy in my bag to find a pen, I would somehow start thinking – if only I had left a spare pen on my desk. This observation stage took some days (well, weeks and even months) and I was surprised to discover that no matter how organised I otherwise am, little things do waste a big portion of my time. So, I moved to stage two of my plan, namely:
I made a list of all such things and it contained stuff like:
- checked Etsy stats about 15 times today,
- started to write an article and spent 15 minutes re-reading the opening paragraph and trying to make it better, even before finishing the article,
- made the journey from my computer desk to my order preparation area several times, as I had to double check each order,
- ran out of sellotape and spent 5 minutes looking for the spare one as I wasn’t sure where I had left it,
- replied to emails as and when they arrived and then it took me some time to concentrate again on the tasks that I was dealing with when the emails arrived.
And the list went on and on. I am sure you understand. I am sort of sure some of you may even recognise yourselves. Anyhow, I analised the list and the conclusion was simple: to make the transition from chaos to order, I had to:
things. So out with the old and in with the new. Some of the changes were easy. For example, I got myself a label printing machine – it is small and compact and prints shipping and product labels like a dream. I also placed little pots with pens, pencils and a ruler at strategic spots (my desk, order preparation area and writing corner are some of them). I called my accountant and for a modest fee she agreed to deal with all my receipts on a monthly basis instead of expecting me to sort them through. I also created a dedicated place for office supplies, so now I know exactly where to go for that sellotape. And also, I started buying sundries not when I had ran out, but when I was down to the last or even the penultimate of them. I also placed my little laptop (which was otherwise just collecting dust) on my order preparation table, so that I can double check each order without having to go all the way to my main desk. Other changes were more difficult and took some
For example, I told myself: instead of reading and re-reading every sentence you write and edit it there and then, try to simply let the words flow, then do something else and get back to your finished article with a fresh pair of eyes. This sped up my writing process about ten times. As I am also with a short attention span, I started alternating tasks, so that I am always excited about them. Let me explain: if I have to take product photos, before I would have pencilled a whole day for this and at the end I would be so drained and bored that half of the pictures couldn’t even be used. Now I schedule an hour tops and once the hour is up I move to the next task on my to do list. This keeps me fresh and constantly doing things, which adds to my perceived satisfaction of actually achieving my goals. Which somehow magically takes me to the last stage of my action plan, which is (incredible as it sounds!):
your regained time! After you have dealt those little time-wasting niggles a crushing blow, spend some minutes simply doing something nice for the people in your life or yourself. Look at the blossoming trees, cook an amazingly healthy and tasty meal, go for a walk.
As creative people sometimes time and structure can challenge us a bit. But as long as we observe ourselves and analyse how we do things, there will always be room to streamline our day and (with a bit of mental effort) to discipline ourselves. Then there will be plenty of time to enjoy. Enjoy what? Of course, living life!
Rossi combines her love for crafts, jewellery and beads with her interests in languages and communication. She runs SilverSense (www.silversense.biz) – a dynamic jewelry making supplies company providing you with gorgeous gemstones, freshwater pearls and Czech glass beads. Please connect with SilverSense on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SilverSenseLondon), Twitter (@silversense1) and on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/100194574406489853972/posts).