By Hoda Nassef
First of all, think about your values and write down those that really matter to you. What is most important? Spending time with family? Accumulating great wealth? Achieving powerful influence? Acquiring possessions? Expressing yourself? Learning new ideas? Experiencing adventure and travel? Maintaining excellent health? Socializing with friends? Contributing to the community? You can't do them all. Cut out activities that aren't consistent with your core values.
Write a list of goals you'd like to achieve. Focus on doing a few really well, rather than a lot in a mediocre way. You can't add hours to the day, but you can cut down on activities.
Say no instead of yes. People agree to requests from others because they like to please them. Instead, realize that you have a right to say no. Creating plans or policies makes saying no easier. ("I'm sorry, I already have a financial planner." "I'm sorry, we already have a plan for giving to charities.")
Stop being a slave to communication tools. Do you really need an office phone, a home phone, a cellular phone, pager, fax, e-mail and internet ICQ technology?
Give away clerical tasks to others who can handle non-priority activities.
Stop spending time to save money. Instead, spend money to save time. Don't drive across town to save a few cents on a grocery item. It's not worth your time. Do hire someone to do chores you're not fond of.
Cancel subscriptions to magazines you never get around to reading. Only read one newspaper per day.
Cut back on television time. Only watch those shows you decide on beforehand. Circle them in the television-listing magazine. Then turn off the television when the program is over. Cancel extra cable television packages for channels you rarely watch. Go for broke. Give up watching television altogether.
Clean out your basement or your office. If you're not using something, get rid of it. Put an expiry date on items when you can't decide to keep them or not. Get rid of them when the expiry date arrives.
Quit organizations that aren't contributing to your advancement, your network or your fun.
Automate repetitive, clerical, mechanical tasks. For instance, set up automatic bill payments.
Include your automatic savings plan as part of your monthly spending.
Make a plan for the weekend that doesn't involve work. Plan to spend more time with your family or with people who make positive contributions to your life. Stop spending time with people who are a drain on your energy or vitality.
Carry a smaller wallet or purse. Start by cleaning out the one you've got. Get rid of unnecessary credit cards and other clutter that you don't use regularly.
Stop checking up on your financial portfolio every day. Most people invest for the long term. Checking your results daily adds to stress and might lead to expensive and unnecessary changes.
Make time for yourself. Set aside time each day to reflect quietly, go for a walk, plan for your future or meditate. Visit the park instead of the mall.
Cut back on debt. Consolidate your different debts into one and pay it off. Put your credit cards in a spot where you won't be able to use them until you're debt-free. Track your expenses for a month, then cut back your spending on items you don't need. For instance, pack a lunch rather than buying one at work.
Mix and match your outfits rather than constantly buying new ones.
Consider renting a vacation home rather than buying. You won't be burdened by time (and money) spent in maintenance. Also, this allows you to visit a different spot each year.
Plan time for a vacation every year. Some people claim "I haven't had a vacation in three years" as if it was a badge of courage. It isn't.
Cut back on your children's planned activities. If they have to use a time planner to schedule their activities, and you spend all of your time taxiing them around, they're probably too busy.
Live closer to your work so you don't have to drive.
Take a moment each day to be grateful.