Day 14 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Limit Communications

I love limiting communications! For someone with a communications degree, I sure dislike communication. I hate phone calls the most. Emails are next. Followed by Facebook messages, then voicemails, and finally text messages. I mostly love in-person interactions. But sometimes I run away and hide behind an end-cap before they can start.

The original tip comes from, again Paleo Mama, on her 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life post. Such a great post! She said:

“Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it.”

I love it! Yes please! This is a work in progress but I’m happy to keep working on it. I used to always have both of my email accounts running in the background all day while I worked. I’d hear that “ping!” and immediately go check the new message.

Now I’ve identified the best times for me to check the different emails. Usually that means I check them all before 9 am (takes less than 5 minutes, most days), and then each of them again in the afternoon (this one often takes longer for some accounts but I’m on the clock, pay-wise, for most of this time).

I only check Facebook messages once a day, in the late afternoon, and voicemails, if I get them, are for the evening. I generally avoid phone calls but when I do have to make one they are scheduled into work hours (freelance), so I don’t really count those. Any calls for appointments are made on homeschooling days after Neko’s done her work.

I highly recommend this tip. If anything, it has helped with the nagging anxiety I find I get from always having messages coming in.

Tomorrow I will EAT a FROG. No not really. But I’ll be trying a tip called “Eat That Frog,” and I’m pretty excited about it. Stay tuned.

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Day 11 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Set a Timer

Before I even start, let me just say that I love this one! It’s not like it’s a new idea, but it’s definitely one I should be using daily. It’s easy to get distracted or perform tasks less efficiently than you could, or just work on things (say, cleaning the bedroom. Or weeding the garden.) for a longer period of time than you need to.

This tip comes from the blog Living Well Spending Less, in a great post entitled 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day. Ruth lays out some great tips here, especially (in my opinion) for stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. So check it out!

By User:S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Staying true to my strategy thus far, I chose one tip from the post, and it was “Set the timer.” Ruth says:

“Setting the timer can be one of the best ways to motivate yourself.  For instance, if you give yourself only 30 minutes to tidy your house, you will most likely get more cleaned in less time than if you weren’t racing against the clock.

Limiting your time on seemingly endless tasks like email and Facebook helps a lot too.  If you only have 15 minutes to sit at the computer, then you have no choice to prioritize.  Likewise, setting the timer helps accomplish tasks you might normally procrastinate, such paying the bills.  Telling yourself you only have to do it for 45 minutes is powerful motivation to get it done.”

So basically I love this strategy and I hereby endeavour to use this simple tip to help me with everything – like she says, even time-wasters like Facebook. Today I used it for work. I have estimated times for each task in my To Do list, and I used those times to set limits for myself today as I worked from home. I checked clients’ social media accounts more quickly, I gave myself half an hour to write something personal, I was super-efficient checking my email and as for the tasks where my time estimate was way off? I either gave myself a more realistic limit based on how long it had taken so far, or moved on to something else and changed the estimate in my To Do list for when I have to do that task again in the future.

And of course I LOVE this for cleaning and chores! I can clean anything for 5-10 minutes!

Tomorrow I’ll prep my smoothies for the next week. I’m a bit skeptical and there are dry goods, liquid, frozen fruit and fresh veggies that need to go in there so it’s four different things to prep, but we’ll see!

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Image credit: S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)