Time Shifting vs. the Flux Capacitor

the Flux Capacitor from Paul Nigh's Time Car Delorean from Back to the Future II

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a flux capacitor?  And a time machine whenever we needed some more time?

Well, time travel may not be possible.  Even if you have a DeLorean.

However, there is another powerful way to get more time in your day.

I call it “Time Shifting.”

There are many tasks in our day-to-day lives that take up an inordinate amount of time based on when we do them.

Ever have to go to the DMV at the end of a month?  Or the grocery store after work?  You encounter inordinate lines and crowds.  Your task ends up taking much longer than it should.

Some tasks can be done quicker if performed at a different time.  This can apply to shopping, traveling, errands, and even work.

What task could you get done faster by doing it at a different time?

The Power of Time Shifting

In the simplest sense, time shifting is:

“Doing a task at the time when it reduces the amount of time required to complete it.”

For example, let’s say you need to mail a package.  If you go to the post office at lunchtime, you are going to experience long lines because lots of people stop there on their lunch break. If you went mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you probably wouldn’t encounter any lines.  You might save yourself 20 minutes of standing in line.

If you multiply this time savings by the many tasks you do in a day, you can quickly see the potential power of time shifting.

The benefits can add up quickly, especially if you are able to flex your schedule to best suit your tasks.

Time shifting can apply to many areas of our lives.  Here are just a few of my favorite ways to shift time

  1. Physical Tasks – Move important tasks to time periods when your energy level is high.  Writing a report may only take an hour in the morning, but could take several if you try to do it in the late afternoon when you are tired.  Schedule mundane repetitive tasks for late afternoon.  Things like filing, expense reports, and cleaning up loose ends.
  2. Travel Shifting – Shifting your commute can do wonders for your time.  I know people who save 30 minutes or more, by shifting their commute outside of rush hour.  You can even save time on business travel by not traveling at the peak time frames.
  3. TV Shifting – OK, I may ask why you are watching TV in the first place.  However, if you are going to watch TV, then do it smart.  Use a TiVo or other DVR to give you flexibility.  Also, by skipping commercials, watching a 30 minute show only takes 20 minutes to watch.
  4. Shopping Shifting – Ever go to Costco on a Saturday at noon?  Now try the same trip at 10AM that morning.  It will probably take you half the time to get your shopping done.  Avoid shopping at peak shopping hours.
  5. Work Shifting – Technology has empowered us to work almost whenever and wherever we want.  Leverage email, cell phones, and other technology tools to maximize your time by flexing your schedule.  Email allows you to respond and work at asynchronous times from your colleagues.  Get work done when it makes sense and respond to emails when it is most efficient for your schedule.

When Can You Save Time?

Often, we try to save time by examining what we are doing.  However, it is just as important to consider when we are doing it.

While time travel may be out of our reach, “time shifting” can provide you with powerful method of getting more time in your day.

Do you save time via time shifting?  What tasks do you perform quicker by shifting the time you do them?

Photo credit by popculturegeek.com

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Physical task shifting applies to working out as well. Too often there are a ton of people at the gym late in the day and a lot less early in the morning (or during the day minus lunch hour). If you shift to morning workout, you can get a more effective workout in the same amount or less time than a later afternoon/evening workout.

    • Ken, agreed!

      I also find that I am much more motivated to do it first thing in the morning. 🙂

  • Thanks. Also learn to do certain tasks according to your physiological state during the day.

  • Great tips! When I go to the gym at 5am, I can get on any machine I want. Not so much at 6am. I went to the grocery story last week at 9:30pm on a Sunday. It was a ghost town except for several men walking around with lists. 🙂 I’ve also found that by being willing to travel early (5-7am) and late (after 7pm) I’m getting better deals on airfare in addition to spending less time in the security line. Little shifts= big difference!

    • Great examples… I do the gym one myself. By missing the peak time, you can get your workout done much quicker. 🙂

  • Adrian Hoe

    I always plan my errands/trips so that I can accomplish more than a minimum of 2 tasks at one go. This saves time for traveling and gas.

    • Adrian, great tip… I definitely try to “group” all my errands to minimize my outings. 🙂

  • Andrew S

    This is a bit of a geeky one but… I listen to audiobooks / podcasts on my iPhone at around 1.3x normal speed with an app called SpeedUp. I don’t actually save any time as I’ve got more things to listen to than I’ll be able to get through, but it means every hour I can listen to an extra 18 minutes worth of stuff.

    • Andrew – That is an interesting one! Had not heard of that iPhone app.

      But definitely a cool, unique way to save time! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

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