Help needed in the quest for greater efficiency

Dec 15, 2012

Seeking ways to improve efficiency


Through the years, I’ve found effective ways to improve efficiency. Some of them just came naturally, and other practices were something that evolved after years of experience. I’m sort of feeling like I’ve topped out, now, so am looking for other ideas. Please help.

Here’s some of the things I’ve already learned.

1. When faced by multiple tasks, finish them one at a time. Attempting to tackle them in bits and pieces takes more time to refocus on each than just plowing through a single item until its finished. I find this especially true with housework. When I finally make my mind up to swamp out, I’m faced with everything from doing floors to cleaning appliances to making the bathrooms sparkle. Focusing on just one room or just one task works the best.

2. It’s pretty easy to talk on the phone and handle email at the same time, especially when you  get several hundred a day. The important ones I save for later, but I can delete emails and even post some news items directly to the website as I talk.

3. Errands take time, so I’ve found consolidating them into one clump of time works well. Before leaving, I have a plan in my mind that doesn’t involve backtracking. I’m also not one to look for the very best deal on every single item. That translates into fewer stops, less time standing in line and maybe a bit larger bill, but less output for gas and time.

4.  Grocery shopping is much more efficient when saved up for one day a week and at a time when there’s less likely to be a crowd in the store. My routine is to go to the earliest church service there is on Sunday and immediately hit the grocery store when there’s hardly anyone else there. That gives plenty of time to leisurely read labels and compare prices without feeling like you are holding others up. I don’t know about you, but I can’t walk into a grocery store for just one item. I end up buying far more that I originally intended. I plan the week’s meals in advance, and use a shopping list to stock up. If I find a meal I’m missing an item for a certain meal, I just change the menu rather than make another trip to the store.

5.  When it comes to cooking, I spend at least one day on the weekend cooking ahead for the week. A big pot of soup can last us for three days. The same with a meat loaf, which can be served traditionally one night, and then warmed in a frying pan the next night, something that inexplicably gives it a different flavor. A Sunday roast becomes French dips on Monday with the leftovers becoming stock for a vegetable beef soup. We can get a week of meals out of a ham, with scalloped potatoes for one night of leftovers, Denver sandwiches for another, and still have enough for lunches that week. Relying on leftovers during the work week means we can finish our dinner and the dishes in practically no time, something that is far more efficient that even eating out, which takes time for us to drive into town, wait to order, wait for the bill and then drive home.

I have one more efficiency plan I’m hoping will make a difference. It’s back to email, which I find can be a colossal time waster. I plan to try to check it only three times a day at work. It’s back to that practice of finishing a single task rather than jumping around from crisis to crisis.

So, if you have any other tips you can provide, I’m sure others besides myself would love to hear them. Email me at and perhaps we can come up with a list to share with readers early in January when we all are still trying to stick with resolutions made on Jan. 1.

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