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Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
If each of us can be helped by science to live a hundred years, what will it profit us if our hates and fears, our loneliness and our remorse will not permit us to enjoy them? What use is an extra year or two to the man who "kills" what time he has?

This is a busy time of the year for me. What can I do to make better use of my time?

Entrée:  Efficiency Tips from Some World-class Experts by Susan Dunn
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Remember the "Type A Personality"? First labeled because a cardiologist found all the front ends of the seats in his waiting room were worn. The “Type A's,” so prone to heart attacks, couldn’t sit back and relax for even a second.

Over the years, in working with Type A personalities (and lately, those with "Achiever" on the StrengthsFinder(tm) profile) who want to get more balance in their lives, I’ve learned the ways of the Super Efficient who lack balance, sacrifice pleasure and esthetics for efficiency, and know how to churn it out.

Say what you will, their trains run on time!

If you need more time, try these things. If this becomes a lifestyle, get some coaching.

1. Fix your hair once and for all.
Cut it all off or let it grow long so you can slap it up, or wear it any length and accept it in the wash and dry mode. Eliminate makeup.

2. Buy efficient containers.
Type A's will tell you how much time is “wasted” in getting into things. It takes less time to flip a cap on the shower wash than to unscrew it; less time to pull-tab the coffee can than to use a can opener; less time to zip and Velcro than to button; less time to open a new CD with a CD-opener than whatever other d*** thing you try. Leave the top off the lotion tube. It won't dry out.

3. Eliminate needless decisions.
Fix your work wardrobe so it will work with one pair of shoes and one set of earrings. Have the same thing for breakfast every day. Make Saturday morning grocery shopping day. Wash the car every Sunday afternoon. No exceptions.

4. Focus on purpose and speed in daily maintenance regime and just get them done.
Awaiting an important phone call last week, which of course came when I stepped into the shower, I was out and clean, including hair, in time to catch it on the 4th ring. Why are you spending 20 minutes in there? Same soap, same scrub, I just didn’t enjoy it. P.S. Get a good shower mat. Then you can really go fast. And buy thick towels; it takes less time to dry yourself with a good towel.

5. Streamline your searches.
Spend this week cataloguing the things you’re always hunting for - and note how much time it takes. Then make a place for them and keep them there. i.e., get all the medicines in one place, get all the laundry supplies together, always put your keys on the kitchen counter.

One Achiever I work with keeps all his clothes on shelves in the bedroom - no drawers to open, and he can see everything. He wears only white shirts. All his pants and suits are navy. He takes the next tie on the tie-rotator; not a choice.

6. Use money to save time.
Having 2 school uniforms for your child means you must always be worried there isn’t a clean one, and you’ll be forced to wash at inconvenient times, sometimes just the uniform. What a waste! Go ahead and buy 5 uniforms. Heck, buy 7.

Another application: If you cook and bake, go ahead and buy tiny containers of every spice and herb known to [wo]man so you won't have to go out and buy them one at a time when you need them. Or have to change recipes after you've already spent time deciding on the first one.

7. Quit wasting time on your food.
Another Type A-er doesn’t peel his carrots and that and a can of easy-open tuna is his lunch. Every day. Another one brings two bananas - easy peel, not much chewing - and a box of raisins he eats in two fistfuls. Then it's back to work, hi ho!

Work up 3 meals you know your family will eat that are quick and always have those ingredients on hand. In my house it was (1) homemade chili, (2) macaroni ‘n’ cheese with meat and (3) homemade stew. Ingredients required: frozen hamburger, stew beef, and pork chops; can, bag or frozen macaroni and cheese – frozen, of course, being the quickest; cans of tomatoes, beans and consommé, potatoes and carrots. Mindless. And while they “stew’ you can build Rome.

8. Multitask
I wrote this Top Ten sitting in Jiffy Lube. Others were picking navel fuzz, complaining to friends on their cell phones about the long wait, making new friends, and reading mindless magazines. Other things to do at Jiffy Lube: make shopping and to-do lists, mark files for your secretary, write your mother, analyze the Schlieffen Plan. Don't just sit there!

9. Eliminate some pleasure and wandering in your daily life.
Biggest time wasters for me, because I love them so, are messing with e-mail and chasing rabbit trails on the Internet. Turn off the “You’ve got mail” sound and check your email just once a day. Resist all urges to open links and go exploring the wonderful and wacky world of the Internet. Label it “play” and assign it a time.

10. Get a maid
I don’t care what Flylady says, if I do it myself it never ends – it’s psychological. If I have the maid service it is all done at once, and it isn’t my responsibility. Even flour spilled on the kitchen floor can wait for a week if need be. Doing it all at once saves getting stuff out, mixing things, moving around. The freed energy alone - knowing it's their job, not mine - makes me 10x as efficient.

About the author:

Susan Dunn, MA, Clinical Psychology, cEQc, The EQ Coach™ . Coaching resources, tools and support for your personal and professional development. EQ Alive! - EQ Coach training and certification. Susan is the author of numerous ebooks, including "How to Live Your Life with Emotional Intelligence," "Depression," and "EQ's Answer to Addiction: the 14th Step." She is widely published on the Internet, a syndicated columnist for WebProNews and Family-Content, and a regular speaker for cruise lines. She offers home study programs through her distance learning school. For marketing services go here.

Main Course: That Christmas Letter
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This is the time of year that we may get That Christmas Letter from someone who is so successful or seemingly perfect that you think they must have reached celebrity status by now. Do they ever tire of telling you how perfect their life is, how their absolutely perfect children are excelling in school or sports, and Hubby is being promoted, also Wifey is state president of the PTA, their wonderful vacation to wherever-it-is-that-is-fashionable-this-year, year after year, la la la... This letter comes each year, and it feels like fingernails on the blackboard of our life. It's not a Real Letter, is it? You get the sanitized version of their lives.

It's about time you sat down, and wrote yourself a letter, of the kind that you would really like to receive at this time of year. It is both to and from yourself. Outline your life in glorious detail - exactly what you are doing, how you are doing it, and who is doing it with you. This is not a letter for any other eyes but yours. It is a letter to the Universe, telling of your aspirations, and your accomplishments. Speak of the hope and disappointment, of the courage and fear, of the tears of joy and tears of sadness, all of which went into the making of this year. Tell it like it is. Speak from the heart. You know the reader of this letter will grasp what you are saying.

Write a letter that tells about the small and large successes YOU have had this year. Write about how you have grown and learned, about the small acts of kindness that you have experienced and passed on. Write about the understanding you have gained about those around you, and about insights you have gained about yourself, and how things as they were in your life came to be, and how your life has changed during the last year.

Talk of those dreams you had at this time last year, and how some of them have come true and some have not. Speak of the mistakes you have made and the lessons you have learned. Lay out your old bad habits that are being worked on, and those that have been overcome, as well as those you still have. Tell of the new activities in your life, the new ways of thinking and acting and speaking and loving and understanding. Go on about the new friends, the growth of relationships with family or old friends, the changes that those who work with you or live with you have seen.

Be straight with yourself about the losses you have experienced - the people in your life that have hurt you, or passed away, or moved away from you in one way or another. The value that you placed in things that you wanted and didn't get, or had once but now are gone. Take the time, too, to write about the abundance that you do have in your life - simple things like food, shelter, health, employment, someone who loves you, someone to love, or the fact that you have lived another year. Talk about the sad times and the happy times, the good and the bad. Be the cheerleader and the detractor, the victim and the victor, the saint and the sinner - but truly be yourself, and tell the story as only you know it.

This is a process that will engage your emotions as well as your creativity. It helps you to be objective and subjective at the same time. It will help you change reverie into something you can hold in your hands, like a yardstick, which measures you honestly. This Letter will not be the sanitized version. So when it is finished, put it away where it will be safe and secure. Perhaps in your journal, if you have one, or in the underwear drawer where burglars look for the valuable stuff first. Whatever. Keep it until next year, then break it out and read it again. I guarantee that you will appreciate this letter more than any other Christmas Letter you will receive. Because this is a Real Letter, from someone who knows you, and cares about you, and understands you, and loves you.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2003

Second Helping: Take Your Time by Ridgely Goldsborough
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I watched a young man in a gray suit fidget impatiently on the Hertz Rental Car bus that waited to return us to Miami International Airport. He turned to his corporately clad partner. “What is taking so long?” he snapped. “How should I know?” snarled suit number two. “Why don’t you go ask?” The man bounded out of his seat and stalked the driver. He threw his hands into the air, turned away and stormed back. “Some idiot loaded his luggage on and then went to sort out some problem at the front desk,” he spewed.

I felt grateful that the mother and her two children that occupied the back seat appeared not to understand English. They might not have appreciated having their father called an “idiot.” Within a minute or so, Dad bounded onto the bus and off we went.

An hour later, as I strolled down the jet way to board a plane, I observed another man stooped over his portable suitcase. He glanced up, saw me and a second traveler approaching, flipped the top of his bag closed and jumped up quickly enough to step in front of us and walk through the archway into business class. Why the hurry? Did he think the plane would leave without him? Did he feel victorious for “beating us” to his seat?

I remember suffering from perpetual tardiness, a condition brought on by my personal obsession with “just one more thing.” That “one more thing” made me late, caused me stress and negatively affected my relationships. I traced this condition to an insecurity, an inner lack of self-worth that gave me a “less-than” image if I didn’t accomplish more.

I failed to appreciate that my lack of punctuality and respect for others’ time eroded trust and confidence, hurt me far more than the extra 20 or 30 semi-productive minutes that I stuffed into the end of my day. Plus, it brought my shoulders up around my ears, a deep wrinkle between my eyes and regular bouts of indigestion. Not even worth it.

Only when I stopped running, took an honest look at the results this rush-rush attitude created, could I finally decide: “Wow, this truly doesn’t serve me. I generate undue angst, upset my family and friends and invite premature gray hair. Give it up. Let it go.”

What about you? Where do you add unnecessary stress? What would an alarm set 20 minutes earlier do to improve your morning? How about music on your way to work, your favorite artists, those you enjoy enough to leave the house ten minutes ahead of schedule? Would your mood shift significantly if you gave yourself a half hour for coffee and the paper? What might you do to take some time back?

I finally understand that most of my challenges will wait patiently until tomorrow, few unreturned phone calls rock my world within 24 hours and if I don’t answer my email six times a day, I probably won’t cause any major revolts. So I don’t. And it’s fine.

Treat yourself to a gift. Start a little earlier and notice how you feel. Time passed will never be recovered. We may as well enjoy the moments we have.

That’s A View From The Ridge. . .

About the author:

Ridgely Goldsborough began scribbling as soon as his fingers could curl around a pen. So began a love affair, interrupted periodically by schooling, business and any number of self-initiated distractions to mask the fear of pursuing his childhood dream-to be a writer. The journey took him through Law School, a number of private companies, going public, a large merger and back to his desk, a computer with a keyboard and the daily challenge of following the dream. Along the way, Ridgely founded and/or acted as publisher for Network Marketing Lifestyles magazine, Domain Street magazine and the Upline Journal along with dozens of books, audio and video materials. He writes several books per year, in addition to The Daily Column. Ridgely holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Virginia, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law, is fluent in five languages and has spoken to audiences throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Mexico and North America. Visit A View From The Ridge

Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Past articles from the holiday season that readers may find of interest are Miracles, Light and Life, Missing Persons, No Time or Place Like It, and The Festival of Lights. Check the Friday's Inspiration Search Page for 20 more articles about Christmas!

Thanks to all who expressed their concern about my health and the car wreck. The insurance covered the lien holder's interest, and I am off to shop for another car! YahooGroups members can see the pictures at the photos section of our Groups page.

Click to send your FEEDBACK to me right now!

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