Save time and Save effort!

Are you looking to save time and effort in everyday facets of your life? Learn my 7 step process for saving time and effort in all parts of your life.

What does “Save the Effort” mean?

“Save the Effort” means to make things easier.

How do you “Save the effort?”

There are many ways to “Save the Effort.”

  1. Understand the in’s and out’s of what you’re trying to accomplish.
  2. Make a plan and stick to it.
  3. Reduce clutter and distractions
  4. Know when to ask for help
  5. Don’t be afraid to try new ways of doing things

What does “Save time” mean?

“Save time” means to complete a task in the most efficient manner in the least amount of time.

How do you “Save time?”

For every task you undertake, follow this 7 step process to help you Save Time.

  1. Define your why.
  2. Make a SMART goal.
  3. Extensively plan how you’re going to reach your goal before you get started.
  4. Complete any research and gather any supplies needed.
  5. Execute on your plan.
  6. Reflect on how it went after you’re finished.
  7. Celebrate a job well done!
Infographic: 
How do you save time?  
1. Define your why.   2. Make a SMART goal.   3. Extensively plan how you're going to reach your goal before you get started.  4. Complete any research and gather any supplies you need.  5. Execute on your plan.   6. Reflect on how it went after you're finished.  7. Celebrate a job well done!

1. Define your why.

How many times have you dreamed about accomplishing something only to realize that you never got started. Worse? You started but ended up frustrated and quit before you made any progress.

You are likely experiencing a loss of motivation because you didn’t define your “why.”

Let’s look at an example.

Judy recently started a new aerobics class. During her first workout, the teacher asked everyone to grab a pair of dumbbells. All the participants in class headed over to the pile of dumbbells and selected a pair of 20 lb weights. Judy knew she wasn’t in great shape, but vowed on the spot to keep up with the others. Judy struggled through class and stared in awe at the others easily using the 20 lb weights. Near the end of class Judy blew out her back. Dejectedly, she put her weights back and slunk out of class, never to return.

What happened?

In Judy’s efforts to keep up with the others in class, she lost sight (or maybe never defined) “why” she was attending class in the first place. Let’s look at a few examples of what her goal could have been and if she accomplished it.

Goal Outcome
Judy wanted to lose weight. She didn’t accomplish her goal as she went to one class, got injured, and never went back.
Judy wanted to get stronger. She didn’t accomplish her goal as she went to one class, got injured, and never went back.
Judy wanted to have more energy to play with her kids. She didn’t accomplish her goal as she went to one class, got injured, and never went back.
Judy wanted to lift as much weight as others in the class. She accomplished this goal.

In this situation, the only goal Judy could have accomplished was to lift as much as others did that day. It is unlikely Judy had that goal in mind when she signed up for the class.

Judy fell into the trap of not “defining her why.” If Judy had determined exactly why she was attending the workout class, she would not have fallen prey to peer pressure and the “new goal” of trying to keep up with everyone else.

What should Judy have done instead? After she determined her “why,” she should define a SMART goal.

2. Make a SMART Goal.

After you’ve defined you “why” in step 1. The next step is to turn your “why” into a SMART goal.

What is a SMART Goal?

A SMART goal is an acronym used in project management to accomplish a goal in an efficient and well-defined way.

S – SpecificThe goal should be narrow in scope and clear.
M – MeasurableThe goal should be track-able and have a clear ending and beginning.
A – AttainableThe goal should be realistic.
R – RelevantThe goal should be fit in with your “why.”
T – Time-bound The goal should be completed within a specific amount of time.

Let’s see how Judy could make a SMART goal for herself.

Judy’s Why: Judy would like to lose 20lbs so she will be able to play with her kids and be around when as they grow up.

Good example of a SMART goal

GOAL: Judy wants to lose 20lbs within 6 months.

S – SpecificThis goal is very specific.
M – MeasurableThe goal of losing 20lbs is measurable with a scale.
A – AttainableJudy currently weighs 200lbs. The goal of losing 20lbs is attainable.
R – RelevantJudy wants to lose weight so she will be around when her kids grow up. This goal is relevant to Judy’s why.
T – Time-bound Judy has given herself to lose 20lbs within 6 months. That equates to approx 1.2 lbs / week which is within the generally accepted weight loss of 1-2lbs per week.

Judy has done a great job of defining a SMART goal!

If Judy had made a SMART goal before her first gym session, would she have made the mistake of grabbing weights that were too heavy? Would she have opted for something lighter instead? Perhaps in the moment if she had grabbed the 20 lbs, would she have instead switched them out during the workout for something more manageable? Having a clear reason of why Judy was at the gym in the first place would have helped her make a different choice.

Bad example of a goal

In the next example, Judy would like to lose some weight within the next week as she needs to fit in her high school reunion dress. Is this a SMART goal?

GOAL: Judy wants to lose some weight within 1 weeks.

S – SpecificThis is not a specific goal and Judy will not know if she is successful or not. She may also lack the motivation to keep going as she won’t know when to celebrate milestones.
M – MeasurableLosing weight is measurable.
A – AttainableJudy currently weighs 200lbs. Judy’s goal of losing weight may be attainable, however only giving herself 1 week is not reasonable.
R – RelevantJudy wants to lose weight so she will be around when her kids grow up. This goal is relevant to Judy’s why.
T – Time-bound Judy wants to lose weight within one week. This goal is time-bound.

Judy’s new goal of losing some weight within 1 week does not meet the definition of a SMART goal. Her goal is not specific and would likely be unattainable due to the unreasonable time domain she has allotted.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of vowing to accomplish something and never fulfilling the dream. Taking a little extra time to go through each step of the goal setting process can the make the difference between success and failure.

Why are SMART goals important?

As we saw in the example above, without defining your goal in a SMART way, your chance of success plummets quickly. Let’s take a look at each of the measures and why not having them reduces your ability to accomplish your goals.

S – SpecificA goal needs to be specific so you know when you’ve accomplished what you set out to.
M – MeasurableIf you do not have a goal that is measurable, you will have no way to know if your end result accomplished what you set out to complete.
A – AttainableSetting unattainable goals can lead to frustration, anger, depression, or abandoning efforts altogether.
R – RelevantWithout a relevant goal to your “why,” you may end up diverting from your purpose and failing to accomplish your goals.
T – Time-bound A deadline is needed to ensure progress towards the goal completion. Procrastination and a “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude typically leads to a sub-par result or ultimate failure.

3. Extensively plan before you begin.

Once you’ve defined your “why” and outlined your “SMART goal,” it’s time to make a plan.

Create a plan

Think of a plan as an outline of all the steps you need to accomplish your goal. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • Will I need outside help to accomplish my goal? Professional services? Education? Supplies?
  • What does the calendar of to-do items look like over the next week, month, year?
  • What does progress look like and how will I celebrate milestones?
  • Are there steps I need to complete before I can complete others?

Let’s look go back to our example with Judy.

GOAL: Judy wants to lose 20 lbs within 6 months.

Losing weight is no easy feat. Judy has a SMART goal and now she needs a plan. Her plan might look something like this:

  • Choose a type of exercise.
  • Determine a workout schedule. How many reps? How many classes per week?
  • Determine a baseline for her diet and what changes she’d like to make.
  • Determine if she’ll need outside help or education.
  • Determine if she’ll need any special supplies.
  • Decide on mini-goals every 2 weeks.

How long should the planning process take?

This is a crucial part of accomplishing any goal and should not be rushed. Creating a well thought out plan will help guide you when the project becomes hard or frustrating.

While you should take care and spend ample time during this part of the process, it should not be used as an excuse to not move forward. The plan does not need to be perfect.

A good rule of thumb is to set a timer for 30 min and have a brainstorm session outlining everything you think you will need. After the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and come back later or the next day. Unless it’s a major project you’re undertaking, allow no more than 3 sessions of this planning before you move to the next step.

4. Complete any research you need and gather supplies.

You’ve defined your “why”, made a SMART goal, and have a plan to accomplish your goal. The next step is to complete any research that needs to be done or gather supplies before you begin.

Let’s look at an example.

Example 1: You’ve decided you’re going to paint the walls inside your house.

Research needed: What type of paint will work best for your walls? Where can you get the cheapest prices? Will you need to hire professional movers to temporarily relocate your furniture?
Supplies needed: Drop cloths, paint, brushes, clothes to paint in, paint removal, etc.

In our painting example, if you failed to gather all your supplies, you might find yourself standing in the middle of the room with paint all over the carpet and nothing to clean up brushes.

Let’s revisit Judy and take a quick look at the things she may need gather or research.

Example 2: Judy plans to join a local gym and go on a diet to help her lose 20 lbs in the next six months.

Research needed: Judy will need to check out local gyms to see which one she would be willing to attend and if it’s in her price range. Judy will need to research diets or find a local registered dietitian to help her.
Supplies needed: Judy will need to purchase some workout clothes and shoes. She will need a new water bottle and to purchase the vitamin supplements recommended by her registered dietitian.

5. Execute on the plan.

You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point. It’s time to execute on your plan (and pivot where needed)!

During the execution part of your plan, be sure to keep these extra tips in mind:

  • Make changes to your plan early and often when you find things aren’t working.
  • Keep track of your progress and celebrate mini victories and milestones along the way.
  • Refer back often to your “why” to keep your motivation up high.

Reflect after you’ve finished.

You’ve completed your goal, congratulations! While most people jump straight to the celebration part of finishing a long project, I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on your accomplishments and how you might be able to make it easier next time.

Why reflect before celebrating?

Reflection is one of the most under-served portions of a completing a goal or project. The best time to capture the good, the bad and the ugly of a project is immediately upon completion.

Keeping detailed notes of your project, your strengths and weaknesses, will aid you greatly the next time you seek to undertake a similar project in the future.

If you don’t take the time to reflect on your project now, you’ll likely get lost in the celebration and be on to the next project without missing a beat. Additionally, don’t use the excuse that you’ll never perform XYZ project ever again. There are always learnings that can be applied to future projects. If for no other reason, it will make your year-end self-assessment at work much easier. Your future self will thank you.

Ideas to reflect on:

  • What went well?
  • What could have went better?
  • Which part of the process needed to be changed? The “Why?” The “SMART” goal? The planning stage? Execution?
  • What did you enjoy?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Ask for feedback from project team members or friends/family that witnessed the project.
  • Keep a list of your successes and opportunities for next time.

Celebrate a job well done!

Whew! You made it. It’s time to celebrate now!

What are some areas in life you can make things easier?

There are opportunities to make things easier in all facets of our lives. I encourage you to check out these top categories for ideas on how to make your life easier!

The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional, financial, legal, tax, psychological, health, safety or investment advice. Seek advice from a duly licensed and/or registered professional that can help with your specific situation.