[Addendum]: How to Create 30 MORE Minutes of Margin in Your Life

10. Respond to your text messages all at once: Ok, so let’s talk about the process of responding to text messages. First, you have to grab your phone and unlock it (2 seconds). Then, you have to go to your messaging ap (1 second), click on the message (.5 seconds), read the message (2.5 seconds or more, depending on how long the message is) and then respond to the message (5 seconds or more, depending on how much you need to say in that response). The average person receives 150 text messages a day, so if we repeat this process 150 times, we are relatively spending 1,650 seconds (27.5 minutes) opening, responding, and reading text messages.

However, we can reduce the amount of time taken to respond to text messages by simply responding to all of our messages at once–then, we are cutting out the amount of time we spend opening, loading, and reading our messages.

[(2 seconds to open your message) + (1 second to go to messaging ap)] x 150 = 450 seconds = 7.5 minutes saved

9. Shop with an intention in mind: The older I get, the less I like being around people, and it is inevitable that when I have to go shopping, I will run into people. I’ve found that, when I shop with an intention in mind (I’m looking for a Kelly green shirt, a brown belt, a purple necklace), I can dramatically cut down on the time I spend shopping. Say, for example, I just show up to the mall wanting to spend money. I might spend 15-20 minutes, wandering around the mall, picking up items and passing them on, looking through all of the clothing racks, not really finding anything that piques my interest (or, finding a billion things that I don’t need but I want to purchase anyways). However, IF I know that I am looking for that Kelly green shirt, I can enter into the store, quickly scan the racks, and determine whether or not the store has what I need. Compared to a 15-20 minute trip, I can be in and out of each store in less than a minute.

This is a double whammy, because not only are you saving time by not wandering around the store, BUT you are also saving money because you are not purchasing unnecessary items that you do not need (and time IS money).

[(15 minutes)/7]* + [(Extra $15 you might spend/your hourly wage of $15)]= 2.5 minutes
*Divide by 7, because hopefully we are not shopping everyday*

8. Keep your electronic communication factual and not conversational: Remember those days when T9 still existed, and you would hide your cellphone underneath your desk so the teacher wouldn’t see it, and you knew exactly how many times to press the buttons to say, “This class is SOOO boring”? Long gone are those days of being so bored that you can text, just to text. Here is something I might want to tell my sister–
“Did you watch that episode of Live PD when the police were chasing that car and the S.W.A.T helicopter was filming in night vision and you see a person jump out of the car, start running into a field, and then get attacked by a herd of cows?!”

All in all, texting this out to her might take me 45 seconds. But, if I just wait until I see her (or speak to her on the telephone), all of this very important information might take me 15 seconds to share, saving me 30 seconds. Now, multiply that by perhaps 100 text conversations you might have in a day–that means that, if I keep my text messages strictly to factual things (when and where are we meeting, sending reminders about what to wear, telling people where I am, how much the flight is, etc.), then I’m saving myself at least 3,000 seconds in my day.

(30 seconds) X (100 text messages) = 3,000 seconds = 50 minutes

7. Record your T.V. shows, and read Reality Steve first: Well, we all know that luxury of recording your T.V. shows is that you can skip through all of the commercials (in an American program, that is approximately 15 minutes for every 60 minutes of programming). But, recording your T.V. shows also has many other added benefits. First of all, most programs at the beginning, and at the beginning of every commercial break (5) recap the events you previously saw, so you can skip right through those. In addition, you can read bloggers (my favorite is Reality Steve) and glance through the comments to know what were the hot button topics that everyone at work will be talking about (right, because that is the only reason we watch shows like The Bachelorette–everyone else seems to be doing it, and if we want to be in the IN crowd at work, we need to come prepared with fodder for discussion). So, rather than watching the entire 60 minute (or 120 minute episode), you can cut it to 2 or 3 of the most important 5 minute clips, for a total viewing time of 10-15 minutes.

6. Eliminate left turns: As the way the road system works, anytime you take a left turn, you are required to slow down (or stop completely), wait for oncoming traffic to clear, and then take your turn. And, not only are you taking the time to slow down (or stop), but then you also have to use time to accelerate your speed again. This could take anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on if you get stopped at a traffic signal. A right turn, on the other hand, does sometimes require you to slow down BUT you do not usually have to come to a complete stop (so, you save the time having to accelerate again). In addition, because you have the right away (in most situations), you do not have to stop for as many cars, and can likely just take your turn and continue on your journey.

(average of 15 seconds per left turn) X (average of 4 left turns a day) = 60 seconds = 1 minute

5. Turn your bottles upside down and roll your toothpaste tube: How many times a day do you go to reach for a bottle (the ketchup and mustard, shampoo or conditioner), only to discover that the bottle is no longer all the way full, your desired mixture is NOT coming out, and you therefore spend the next 15-20 seconds, tapping the bottom of the bottle, trying to move the substance closer to the spout? Or, how many times do you go to put your toothpaste on your toothbrush, only to discover the tube is nearly empty, and you spend the next 15-20 seconds, trying to squeeze a pea sized amount out? An easy way to solve this (and put back more time into your margins) is to simply turn your bottles upside down when they appear to get lower (so that the substance pools towards the spout and readily comes out when you open it), and to roll up your toothpaste from the bottom of the tube as you go.

[(15 seconds of tapping the bottom of a bottle) X (3 bottles we encounter everyday)] + [(15 seconds of scrunching up the toothpaste tube) X (The recommended 3 times a day you should brush)] = 90 seconds = 1.5 minutes

4. Pull your car through parking spaces to eliminate backing up: It’s always a game to find the parking spot that is THE CLOSEST to the door, right? We want to cut down on the time it takes us to walk UP to the door, so we spend 5 minutes circling the parking lot, trying to find the perfectly closest spot. I drive a manual transmission, which means that if I want my car to change directions, I have to stop it completely, put my foot on the clutch and change the gear, release the clutch, back up, stop the car, push in the clutch, shift the gear to first, let off the clutch, and then begin moving forward. This whole process could take approximately 45 seconds (depending on if I have to wait for someone behind me to move). However, IF I eliminate the parking lot-circle, and find a spot closer to the back in which I can just pull through, then when I get into my car, all I have to do is put the car into ONE gear (first) and move forward, thus saving myself 30 seconds.

(45 seconds to reverse from parking spot) – (15 seconds to pull forward and go) = 30 seconds

3. Consider a cost-benefit analysis of using the toll road: As many Coloradoans know, the traffic on I-70 is horrendous, and the addition of the Express Toll is always enticing to use. Of course, the cost of using the toll changes, depending on how heavy traffic is (the heavier the traffic, the more expensive the toll). Today, for example, I was coming home from Breckinridge and an 8 mile jaunt on the Express Toll would have cost $8. When in a time crunch, this certainly immediately sounds like the most time-saving way to go; while everyone else ‘appears’ to be backed up and going slow, for a small fee of $8, I can hop into the lane and zoom by. Since I had time sitting in traffic to run a cost-benefit analysis, I determined that paying the $8 would save me approximately 2 minutes off my total drive time (the Express Toll people were going 60 MPH, and I was going 50 MPH). In, let’s say a median wage job, this $8 would equate to approximately 15 minutes of working (considering you make approximately $32/hour). This would mean that I would have to work for 15 minutes to afford the cost of the toll that would save me approximately 2 minutes off my total drive time. So, in reality, if I just stay in the regular lane, and travel at 50 MPH, I’m actually saving myself 13 minutes.

(15 minutes of work time) – (2 minutes saved for $8) = 13 minutes

2. Do some stretching in lieu of nap/coffee: According to the great Yogi teachers, Legs Up the Wall pose for 5 minutes equates to a 20 minute nap (I always find a little relief and extra energy when I roll around on my new yoga wheel and do some shoulder stands and Deaf Man’s). This is just pure speculation on my part (so totally NOT research based), but I think this has to do with reduced blood flow to our brains. I can definitely tell that, when my neck and shoulders are tight, I’m lethargic, my head hurts, and I can’t concentrate/don’t often make sense. But, when I stretch those muscles out and relieve the tension, I suddenly feel more energetic and sprightlier!

(20 minutes nap for energy) – (5 minutes of Legs Up the Wall) = 15 minutes 

1.Keep a store of snacks in your car: Let’s say you are driving to your next engagement and are suddenly ravished with hunger–like, if you do not eat at this moment in time, you will probably crash your car, and you happen to pass RIGHT by a Chick Fil A, but then you have this dilemma–buying Chick Fil A (a) costs you money, which is also time, and (b) the line at Chick Fil A is always sooooo long…But, you know if you don’t eat right this second, something bad is going to happen.

Luckily, if you keep a store of snacks IN your car, then you can eliminate this entire moral dilemma–when you feel yourself getting hungry, you can simply reach back, grab a granola bar (or animal crackers or Girl Scout cookie) and have a snack. You aren’t wasting any money on Chick Fil A, you are eating healthier, and you can still reach your destination in time.

(15 minutes for Chick Fil A stop) – (1 minute to pick up snack in grocery store while grocery shopping and put snack in car) = 14 minutes 

All in all–we live in a VERY busy world. We have SO many expectations for ourselves, for other people, so many engagements to attend, so many policies to abide by, so many things to DO in order to survive that, when someone says, “You need to create more margin in your life”, you probably want to slap them because WHERE IS THAT MARGIN going to come from? However, with just a little restructuring of your habits, with some forward thinking and organization, you can CERTAINLY find ways to still do the same amount of stuff, but to just be more efficient with your time.

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