Being Productive by Being Efficient
are some tips that help keep me productive. Adapt these to suit
work style and see if they don't boost your motivation and productivity.
The "to do" list
Keep a "to do" list.
It takes what's in your mind and puts it out of it. I've
previously written a lot about "to do" lists here,
but let me add a few things that I've started doing in more recent
years. Some tips follow...
Write "actionable" steps; don't write down projects. It is
impossible to check off "do a project" from your list, but you can
write down the steps you took to get that project done, especially if
there are a lot of separate little things. For example, you might
write down materials you need to pick up from the (hardware?) store,
then write down what tools to get out and set up, then the first
tangible step, etc. Since every project is a sequence of steps, I
started writing down manageable series of actionable next steps.
I can always delete one link in the chain as I accomplish it, and then
have the next step waiting for me. For example, I foster pugs for
a rescue, so one short chain on my "to do" list at the moment is: "pics
of Pug -> send to Annette." It's two related items, but I have
to accomplish each separately and in the order written. Most people
think about the last step, but that's precisely the one they can't do
until other steps must be completed. Write down those steps so
you "to do" list tells you what "to do."
Write the steps in a way that are tiny reminders you can keep in
your head. One way to do this is, instead of sentences, I
reduce them to keywords, then follow that with the description (if
necessary). The keyword stays in my head; the rest is just
elaboration to prompt action. For example, "Pick up toys in the
living room" is reduced to "Toys - clean living room." Now it's
the noun first followed by the verb and location. I'm literally
thinking "toys" when I go into that room because that's the first
word. It makes me even more focused. You can try your own
games with syntax. Lists of keywords make things much more direct
than a list of "things to do." Compare and you'll see!
Use rich text. By that I mean there's nothing wrong with
using all sorts of formatting: Change colors, change the font size,
make things bold or put it in italics, etc. If you're using paper
(still?!), use Sharpies and highlighters. These changes can be
used for emphasis or organization.
Rotate how you organize it. For example, sometimes I
organize things by the area I need to be in when I do each, so that I
do several things in a row (e.g., while I'm upstairs or in the shed or
in the kitchen or on the computer). Other times I have most items
organized by topic (see below).
Organize categories by topic. Here are several of the
categories on my "to do" list:
- Appointments/events - Anything that
belongs on my calendar.
- Out - Grocery list and other
shopping lists (e.g., for the hardware store), including single items
from other places. This allows me to chain together several stops
rather than making multiple trips.
- Dani - Things I need Dani's help to
- Housework - Things to do in or
around the house.
- House projects - Renovations or
improvements (i.e., one-time things, not recurring like housework).
- Computer - Things I need to work on
such as renaming photos, installing/testing new programs, organizing
- Halloween projects - Decorations I
want to make or am working on (i.e., in progress).
- On the web - Things to look up when
I have a chance.
- Phone calls - Anywhere I need to
call to get something accomplished.
- Writing - A list of topics I want to
- Guitar - Projects or maintenance for
various instruments around the house.
- Craft projects - Anything that is
for fun. Usually decorations or things for the kids.
- Fun stuff - Activities, outings, and
documents beyond the master "to do" list
Create micro "to do" lists. Find a way to keep a related
series of items on or near you. This is separate from the master
"to do" list that is likely to grow into a huge file listing all sorts
of things you won't even begin to address that particular day.
Ideas for keeping this micro list on you include wipe boards, notepads,
or on your phone. It has to be something/someplace you'll consult
easily and/or regularly so you can move to the next item as soon as you
finish each, especially if they're unrelated tasks.
Create media "to do" lists. Many folks consume media
(i.e., movie, tv shows, books both fiction and non-) passively.
That is, they simply read whatever happens to come into
possession. They watch whatever dvd is handy. Instead, be
more targeted with your consumption. Make "to watch" and "to
read" lists well in advance of a Netflix queue. Put these in your
"to do" file as you think of or hear titles. Do a little research
as well, such as consulting "best of" lists. For example, my
friend Leiann worked her way through a list of the "100 Greatest
Novels." Similarly, I have a list of books on my "wish list" that
I want to read. For movies, I made a meta-list of the "Most Acclaimed Movies" up to
that point, and over the next few years I watched many of those between
current movies I wanted to see. I also keep a list of tv shows
that are getting good buzz (i.e., making headlines, winning accolades
from critics and/or awards shows). As I'm writing this, I'm
working my way through adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories, so I have
a list of those I'm checking off for a project I'm writing. It's
a way to ensure that I'm focusing on "must see" and "must read" shows
and books rather than allowing fluff to creep in the way of better
Keep a calendar. This is an extension of your "to do"
list, but instead of one-time things, these are reminders. Assign
events periodically. Use a calendar and set it up years in
advance once you've worked your way through your system to test
it. I have multiple categories based on the interval:
- Twice a year
- clean the microwave (or as needed,
- clean out email inboxes/sent/trash
- print car insurance cards (mine
are only valid for six-month periods)
- check cabin filters (in the car)
- clean all the baseboards around
- clean out the tool closet (I have
a good organization system, but I also accumulate stray parts,
necessitating a clean-up)
- wash the car (I only wash mine a
couple times a year)
- check tires
- clean top of desk
- check air filters
- empty camera
- empty iPhones
- vacuum under desk/shelves/stairs
- clean/charge electric razors
- clean inbox (and check
- empty car
- back up hard drive
- Even months
- upload website site updates (I add
to the site all the time, but only upload occasionally)
- scan documents (whatever needs to
go into the computer for safe keeping)
- convert/watermark last year's
pictures for the website
- add up sales tax deductions from
- Events - anything I want to do
seasonally (e.g., go certain places around Halloween)
- Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays
(e.g., Mother's/Father's Day)
Keep an address book. Mine is simply a text/Wordpad
file. Low-tech means it's easy to edit, and I can pop into it and
cut/paste what I need. Also, it isn't organized
alphabetically. Because it's just a document, I always search it
for who I'm going to call or email. Instead, I organize it by
groups of people and places: several circles of friends are organized
as separate lists, including a separate lists for people from my home
town vs. local to me, neighbors, my partner's friends, my dad's
friends/neighbors, and so on. There are also sections for
different portions of my family (e.g., mom's side vs. dad's vs.
in-laws) as well as sections for numbers I call periodically such as
home repair people, doctors' offices, emergency numbers, etc. If
someone falls into more than one category, I simply duplicate their
contact info and put it in both sections. This makes it easy to
go through for compiling lists of invites for, say, karaoke nights or
parties because I only have to look through short lists of people
rather than every single person I have ever known.
Keep a "wish list." In addition to what you want to *do*,
you can keep a list of things you want. These aren't actionable
things other than buying it. As with the "to do" lists above,
this is a way of putting things out of your mind. You can
organize the list any way you want: Purchase price, prioritized by how
much you want it or how soon, or any other scheme. Personally, my
list is simply organized by categories: Things for Halloween, things
for the house, books I want, guitars I would like to own, etc.
Sometimes this is a means of helping me get perspective and realizing I
can cross certain items off the list for various reasons such as seeing
that I don't have enough room for something, have lost interest in it,
or have something else that duplicates it in some way. The most
important thing is that you're putting it in a file and thus taking it
out of your head.
Bin things. If you group things, it means you don't deal with
every little thing. Instead, you do a whole bunch of things all
at once, especially organizing. Examples around my house include:
- Receipts - I have a small organizing
cabinet with a drawer dedicated to that year's receipts. It holds
them before I go through them for tax purposes and file them at the end
of the year. It also keeps them handy in case I need to return
something. Conveniently, the newest ones are always on top, which
is simply a consequence of gravity!
- Unfiled papers - I have a drawer
that holds all incoming paperwork (paid bills, bank statements,
etc.). I review them, then they go in there until I have time to
file everything. They're easy to access if I need something, and
I don't have to spend time filing until I have enough to make it a real
- Cleaning bins - A system I came up
with is to have 3 or 4 small storage bins that I use to organize
everything I need to put away somewhere else. I take them all
four bins into one room, then anything that doesn't belong in that room
goes into the bins. Each is for a different destination.
For example, if I'm cleaning my office, they'll be designated: 1)
Kitchen (trash and recyclables, dirty dishes, unopened snacks), 2)
Tools/materials (anything that goes in the tool closet), 3) Toys
(because the kids leave those scattered throughout the house), and 4)
Upstairs (any dirty clothes, most books we are reading, especially kids
books, etc.). They aren't actually numbered, although I suppose
you could label them, but their designations change when I move them to
the next room.
- Screws - Any loose screw or other
hardware I find around the house goes into a big bin that I only go
through once a year to organize it all. Or if I find that I'm
missing a screw or other part, I can go to that bin and see if it was
dropped in there recently, even by my wife since she knows this system
- Batteries - Same as with the
screws. Any batteries that fell out of a toy or tool (if it isn't
immediately apparent which) goes into a small collection bin on top of
one of my tool cabinets. I'll go through those at a later time
and test the batteries. If they're good, I'll put them back in
with the fresh batteries. If bad, it goes into the scrap metal
- Organic bin - I keep a container on
the kitchen countertop for anything that gets tossed in the yard: bread
crusts the kid(s) won't eat, potato peelings, banana peels, apple
cores, etc. It all gets tossed at the end of the day rather than
several trips throughout.
- Clothes bins - Almost everyone does
this. We keeps a bin for all the unsorted dirty clothes in the
bedroom and another in the bathroom.
- Laundry bins - I bought a group of
five tall, narrow trash bins into which I sort all my laundry. I
have one each for whites, lights, darks, reds/pinks (because we have a
girl), and jeans (which usually get mixed in with the lights or darks
to finish out a partial load). The bins are never used as dirty
clothes hampers or clothes baskets; only for sorting immediately before
washing, so they don't wander off, and there's no confusion about what
they contain. I have clothes baskets for the clean clothes.
If my wife sees clothes in a regular basket, she knows they're clean
and ready to be put away. The dirty clothes bins are great
because they're tall, so they don't take up a lot of space no matter
where they are.
- Recycling bins - I have a big bin
for most things, but I also have a set of smaller tall bins (like the
clothes-sorting bins above) for things that go in the big bin.
Specifically, I keep my paper separate because I always give it to the
school (their paper bin helps fund trips and other projects).
Also, it is more efficient to have the paper sorted to begin with
rather than the city re-sorting it from the mix of other materials, so
it makes the process more cost-efficient. It also means I don't
have to put out the big bin as often. Here are all the bins
throughout the house:
- Big bin - Holds everything that
goes to the curb (i.e., what the city will pick up)
- Paper bins
- Office papers - One in my office
for anything I've scanned and don't need or scraps I drew on.
- Junk mail - One next to the
front door for junk mail as soon as I get it (e.g., sales fliers,
offers for plane tickets and credit cards).
- Packaging - One in the kitchen
for food packaging (e.g., crackers and boxes of snacks; we don't buy
cereal in boxes, so at least we bypass that). I also have a large
bin at the back of the kitchen for any cardboard boxes too big for the
- Plastic bags - We keep a separate
bin for plastic bags since those aren't recyclable curbside, but they
can be recycled by stores (e.g., Walmart has a collection bin).
This also keeps them clean if I use them for other projects such as
wrapping paint brushes or as trashcan liners.
- Upstairs recycling bin - I keep a
small bin in the bathroom for empty toilet paper rolls and shampoo or
contact solution bottles. I've even started using it for other
items that go downstairs. It saves me from having to take a trip
down the stairs every time I have something like an empty bottle to put
in the big recycling bin.
- Metal bins - These are all right
next to one another and pretty much out of sight in the back of the
pantry (still accessible, just more or less invisible). I have
one each for aluminum, copper, and everything else. These are the
categories they're sorted into at the scrap yard (i.e., different pay
Document and archive. There's no limit to how much of a
return you get on this just in terms of nostalgia, but it also helps
keep track of where you've been, what you've done, and even who you
- Save receipts - Good to have.
See above re: taxes, returns.
- Take pictures - Take pictures at
each stage of projects, especially Before and After. This lets
you see progress as well as how things we arranged before you took them
apart. Take pictures at events to remind you where you
were. See also my tips
for intelligently naming photos.
- Journal, including the mundane
things. Maybe that's more of a "log" than a journal, but it helps
you keep track of when you did something. It also doubles as an
incentive. I like being able to jot down an accomplishment,
however domestic or trivial. At the end of the day I can see that
I was productive. You can also paste items from your "to do" list
into here and make it a "done" list. I keep a file like that on
my computer and just have a list of things I did that day under entries
titled simply "Today: Monday" with the date.
Make the most of location and motion. Where you place
things and how you move throughout an area allow you to "bin"
things. For example:
- Bottom-up. I put all the
things that are going upstairs at the bottom of the stairs. Next
time I go up, I can't help but grab it and take it to the top of the
stairs, maybe even to its final intended destination. For
example, any clothes I dried on the clothes line are in a basket at the
bottom of the stairs. Any shoes or jackets that were kicked off
downstairs will similarly find their way back up.
- Out the door. Things that are
going out of the house are placed by the back door (which leads to the
driveway). Sometimes I'll even drop things into the appropriate
car if I'm headed out to the driveway. These might be things to
return to the store, trash (for the garbage can), recycling (usually
paper for a school collection bin), tools for the shed, etc.
Put things where they go and where you can get to them. Some examples include:
- Put all your most-used apps on the
front page of your iPhone. Everything else can go into folders by
category, but you shouldn't have to look under your "Internet folder"
for your browser if you use it every day. The Weather app doesn't
belong under "Travel" if you check it every morning.
- Put your most-used tools on the
shelf right inside the shed door, up at eye-level where you can't miss
- Put your favorite clothes in the
center of the clothes rod in your closet so that they're the easiest to
access (unless you have a walk-in closet; then put them on the end
closest to the door).
Organize your workspaces. Whatever time you dedicate to
developing an organization scheme for parts of your life will pay
itself back in time saved searching through what used to be
disorganized or unmarked territory. I already talked about
"binning" things. Go ahead and get/make/label bins you will use
for various purposes. Additionally, it helps to "sub-bin" things
using zip-lock bags and/or twist-ties.
- Pantry - Divide it up into sections:
Canned fruits, meals, pasta, baking stuff, etc. Make it make
sense at a glance. Don't do anything stupid like alphabetize it
like in "The Accidental Tourist." Make it follow the rules that
come naturally to the way you think when you go looking for something.
- Closets - Same thing here. How
do you group your clothing?: Shirts, pants, etc. Yes, but also
work clothes, dressy stuff, etc. Find which groups don't
overlap. For example, I keep some really torn-up shirts and pants
in one section. They're good for painting (which I do a lot) or
any other work where clothes are likely to get stained, torn, or even
burned (I weld sometimes). Those clothes are only worn for that
kind of work, so they get their own section. Long sleeves are
separate from the rest since I live in Texas, so they don't get worn
most of the year. And so on.
- Computer and media cables - I sort
into zip-lock bags: USB cables (one each for large ends vs. small ends
of any kind), ethernet cables, audio cables (stereo, A/V connectors,
etc.), 1/8" audio (headphones, patch cables, etc.), and so on.
- Stan's toys - We used milk crates on
a set of Ikea shelves that fit them perfectly. Categories: Cars,
Hot Wheels Track,
Action Figures, Wood toys, Alphablocks, Letters, Food, Wood blocks,
Legos, Hats, Guns, Stand-alone, Bike helmets, Dress-up, Sports, and
- My tools and materials are
especially important to have organized:
- Screw boxes - You can use peanut
butter jars too, but I have boxes for coarse-threaded screws, one for
each length: 1.25" 1 5/8", 2", 2.5", and 3", since I use these for a
lot of projects and need exactly the right size in many cases (Keeps
the tip from poking through). All the boxes are labeled with a
- Drawer cabinet for screws and
other parts - I have small parts categorized and labeled as: Butterfly
bolts and anchors, Baby gate parts, Hooks, L brackets, Straight
brackets, Washers, Hinges, U-bolts, Wire shelf parts, Shelf pegs, Wood
screws, Sheet metal screws, Machine screws, Big wood screws, Big
machine screws, Sheetrock screws, etc.
- Guitar parts cabinets - Same thing
as above. Labeled the drawers and put them in alphabetical
order. If a drawer gets to be too full, sometimes I'll migrate
some of those parts over to a 2nd drawer. (Having the
alphabetical thing makes it easy to rearrange without getting
confused. You'd be lost if you relied solely on spacial
arrangements.) I keep larger parts like tremolos, pickups, and
tuners in a different cabinet with larger drawers. In fact, I
keep the tuners grouped together in snack-size zip-lock bags so they
stay with all their screws and washers too.
- Extension cords - I usually use
buckets for these: 5 gallon buckets for the heavy-duty cords and
smaller plastic buckets (I have some from a wall-texturing project) for
the smaller cords.
- Boxes in the tool closet - In
addition to what I mentioned above, here's how else I group things
- Rope box - All my cords, ties,
line, and the like I put everything into zip lock bags. This
all from turning into a tangled ball of wasted time.
- Hand tools - Hammers, files,
small pry bars
- Handheld power tools - Drills,
sanders, angle grinder, etc.
- Misc. tools - Anything that
doesn't fit neatly into a category, especially electronics like a laser
thermometer, electronic levels, laser tape (i.e. ultrasonic distance
measurements, etc.). However, tape measures are so frequently
used that I keep them on top the parts cabinet mentioned above so
they're immediately accessible.
- Blade box - Dremel bits (in
their own box), circular saw blades
- Paint supplies - Brushes,
rollers, swatches, tape, etc.
- Plumbing - Two boxes:
- All plumbing-specific tools,
Sharkbite fittings (for an emergency)
- PVC fittings (I use a lot of
these for non-plumbing projects such as in Halloween props)
- Wall repair - spackling, tape,
- Electrical - Several boxes for
anything electrical: junction boxes and switch boxes, switch plates,
insulators, wire (12/2, etc.), electrical tools (anything specific to
electricity: cable rippers, strippers, voltage detectors, etc.)
- Big drawer cabinet - I designated
a couple drawers in the easiest, most intuitive way possible:
- Cutting things - Contains
scissors, utility knives, etc.
- Holding things together -
Contains various clamps (wood, C-clamps, etc.), tape (duct, HVAC,
masking, packing, etc.), glues, staplers, etc.
Make workspaces on your computer. Most people think computers
are for storing things rather than working through things. By
default, the computer is a good place for holding information, but it
doesn't immediately lend itself to being a workspace, other than within
whatever document you have open at the moment. You need to
organize your hard drive so that there are places to process
Back up your hard drive and store your
back-up off-site. I have two external hard drives so that I
can rotate them out approximately monthly, which is roughly how often I
run back-ups. More about my system for back-ups on this page.
- Make three "temp" folders. I
just call mine Temp, Temp2, and Temp3. They'll serve as places to
sort materials. Restrict it to just three of them, and you'll
force yourself to file things as you complete them, otherwise you won't
be able to use those folders. I found these were convenient work
areas for renaming files before archiving them, sorting things before
zipping them and/or sending them, evaluating software (which I might
delete if it turned out to be junk), etc.
- Make a folder for "incoming."
For example, I have one for files off digital cameras (that includes
pics/video from the phones). That's the first place it all goes,
so that I can 1) delete any pics I don't want (i.e., didn't come out
well), 2) rename the files (I have macros and batch files that name
them with the dates they were taken and the subjects of the pictures),
3) process them so that I can set aside some of the kids to send to
their grandfather, and 4) where I do any resizing or editing before
they are filed (which, again, is accomplished via a batch file).
More about my renaming system on this page.
- Make a folder (on the computer or
physical, whichever your preferred medium) called "Working."
Under that put sub-folders containing things you haven't
processed/consumed yet. I have these for media (movies, tv,
music, audiobooks, podcasts) I haven't watched/listened to yet, even
some articles. There are also folders for things that need to be
burned to dvd to be archived. As a sub-folder within each of
these, I include one called "Done" into which everything goes after it
has been put on the iPod or whatever. I can delete those files
later or move them to a permanent folder.
- Make a folder (on the computer or
physical, whichever your preferred medium) called "For other
people." Within that you can place other folders with names on
them. I have this handy for whenever I say I'm going to send
something to someone: pictures, music, whatever.
Save your installation files. Put them in a folder so that
you can quickly get to them when you need to restore your hard drive
(Because, remember, you're doing back-ups on an external drive,
right?). It's also convenient when you need to reinstall a
program that has gone wonky. I do organze these into subfolders
representing different commonly-used categories: music programs
(players, editors), web programs (browsers, editors, FTP), graphics
(viewers, editors), games (mostly old stuff; see comment about games
below), drivers (for hardware such as printers, scanners, etc.), and a
"misc." folder for everything else.
Establish routines. For example, before bed, I make a pass
around the house and pick up things. All the dirty dishes around
the house (because I have kids; this is a thing) go to the sink and get
rinsed out. I close out any windows on the computer I'm not using
and leave open only the ones I'm planning to use the next morning.
Be simultaneous. Multi-tasking is over-rated and is often
ineffectual. However, you can be active when you're passively
consuming media. That's the best way to "multi-task": Pair an
item from your "to do" list that requires hands-but-no-brains with
something that requires brains-but-no-hands. For example, while
you're watching a tv show, lift weights or do sit-ups. Your mind
(via your eyes and/or ears) gets a workout while the rest of you gets
some exercise as well. Listen to an audiobook on your iPod while
you do your laundry or load the dishwasher. Find small, menial
tasks to check off your "to do" lists while you're chilling in front of
a tv or your computer. For example, I recently bought a bunch of
used books, so I finished watching a movie while I peeled all the big
clearance price/UPC stickers off. Other times I paint Halloween
decorations or other projects while I'm catching up on a show. (I
do the design work and tracing first. The painting is just
staying between the lines.) I discuss some strategies for this
concept of simultaneity on this page.
the reapeted intermediate steps all at one instead of over and over.
Ever notice that you have to so several small tasks every time you do
something? Do all of those at once. Some examples:
- Unwrap candy. I pre-unwrap all
the individually-wrapped small candies and put them into a candy
jar. I usually do this while I'm watching a movie or listening to
an audiobook. Once complete, all the wrappers are disposed of at
one time. All the candies are waiting for me to eat without going
through all the little steps. Same thing with the fruit snacks
for the kids. They often only at one or two pieces anyway, so it
made sense to unwrap it all so they could get only a couple pieces
rather than taking more than they needed.
- Pre-mail. I prepare groups of
envelopes well in advance of using them. They are all
pre-addressed to regular recipients. They (and others) have our
return address added in advance. And I even add the stamps.
It makes it easy to just put the contents into the envelope and send it
on its way.
Develop systems. Think about the best way to do
things. Many of the examples on this page are systems I have for
Realize that organization is reiterative. Try different
things, then give yourself time to grow accustomed to it so that it
comes naturally. After that, most of the systems you come up with
will evolve over time. You will add on additional layers or
components to accommodate more things. Most systems will not stay
the same from when they're first implemented. You have to
field-test everything, then tweak it to get it to work for you.
You may even toss an approach entirely. That's a reasonable part
of the process so long as you are really trying things out rather than
simply giving up because you can't get used to a new approach.
Systems even should go through a forced upheaval from time to
time. For example, like I mentioned above, reorganize your "to
do" list periodically to get a fresh perspective and to keep it from
stagnating. Some exercises you might try:
- Pull out tasks that can be done in 5
minutes. Pull out 5 of these to do on a regular basis, such as
every morning or just after lunch.
- Make a list to get accomplished over
- Set aside a group of tasks that
require help. Get that help, then tackle together what you
couldn't do on your own. Speaking of which...
Work with other people. You can't do everything anyway, so
you need to find ways to work with others.
You can do combinations of the
above. There's a lot of overlap between these categories.
- Trade - Swap tasks with
someone. Do something for them that you do best in exchange for
something they do well that you can't or don't want to do.
- Delegate - Give the task to someone
who's better at it and/or who would rather do it than you. Again,
maybe this is a trade or work-for-hire.
- Sublimate - Maybe you need a boss
for tasks you don't want to do. Get someone to work with you just
to ensure you stick with it until it's accomplished.
- Cooperate - That's teamwork.
You work simultaneously.
You can also divide tasks so that portions of it belong to someone
other than yourself (or part of someone else's task now belongs to
you). My partner and I share portions of many household
tasks. For example, she washes pots and pans (i.e., things she
doesn't want to put in the dish washer; she has her own way of doing
those). I do all the other dishes. And when they're done, I
put away most things, but she puts away the tupperware since she knows
how she wants that all to be arranged. Similarly, I collect,
sort, wash, and dry the laundry, but I don't put it away. I would
have to know where she keeps everything in her closet, but that's more
of an investment than I want to make. I sometimes help her in the
process, but I designate her in charge of the task. She has to
tell me where each piece goes.
Abandon fruitless pasttimes. Example include:
- Videogames. They're okay in
very small amounts, but the problem with them is you have so very
little to show for them for all the time you will likely invest (read:
waste). I know there are demonstrable benefits of games, but they
seem to me much less tangible than reading a book in an area you're
- Re-runs. There is sooooo much
else out there worth watching that you haven't already seen.
- Be judicious in your tv
viewing. There are a lot of good tv shows, but don't stick with
ones that have lost their appeal. When they start repeating
themselves or lose their focus (or even their star), maybe it's time to
give them up in exchange for something better.
- Read what's good for you.
Don't read the most popular works unless they're actually good quality
or offer something more than you'd get from a plot synopsis. It's
too easy to read a bestseller just because it's ubiquitous, but I'd
argue that you don't need to read something that's already omnipresent
as a topic of conversation: You already know all you need to know about