Time Management Tip: Eliminate Tolerations
Every day we wake up with a preset amount of cognitive ability. Use it wisely and you’ll have a very productive day; use it poorly and you’ll be exhausted by lunch. One of the easiest ways to help with your productivity is to eliminate the little time wasters and frustrations in your life, which we call Tolerations.
Tolerations are nagging issues that slowly zap energy. They cause stress, dissatisfaction, and distraction. Tolerations can been simple, such as: a messy desk, long lines at the store, purchases that need to be returned, a squeaky car door, or having to decide what’s for lunch every day. Individually the solutions are easy, but when piled up they can be overwhelming.
For example: I listen to financial podcasts on the way to work. I used to have a detached garage, so each day I’d have to either remember to carry my iPod into the house at the end of the day with all my other stuff, or I’d have to make a second trip in the morning to grab the iPod, bring it inside, wait for the podcast to download, then take it back out to the car. One day, I decided to make a complete list of the tolerations in my morning routine and the iPod was the first item on the list. I found a Wi-Fi extender that I already owned and plugged it into my garage. From that point on I had Internet in my garage and the iPod automatically synced. The solution took 10 minutes and solved the problem forever. I no longer had to start my mornings with frustration.
As I read more about productivity, efficiency, and tolerations, I’ve found that the solution is usually the same. It’s a simple process that I learned in 2008 from one of the most memorable SNL clips I’ve ever seen:
Step One: Identify the problem.
Step Two: FIX IT!
Repeat as necessary until it’s all fixed.
Start by identifying tolerations in your life, big and small. Don’t edit based on what you think you can fix, as you may be surprised with the solutions you come up with later. Continually add to the list for a full week. Once you have your list, devote three hours on a Saturday to come up with solutions and fix all the little things that have been bugging you. If you can’t get rid of a Toleration completely, look for ways to minimize or avoid. For example you can’t help the lines at the store, but you can plan your grocery trip to be during a low-traffic time, such as first thing in the morning or after 8PM at night.
Like the noise you didn’t know was there until it’s turned off, tolerations can drive you crazy even if you don’t realize it. Take one week to eliminate them from your life and watch your productivity (and your happiness) rise.