How to Get Lean With Your Time

Your Money

With Cherryl Hanson-Simpson

Thursday, January 16, 2014    

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Your Money has kicked off 2014 with a mission to improve financial efficiency, by declaring it as the "Year to Get Lean." Lean refers to the production system pioneered by Japanese automobile makers, Toyota, which focuses on eliminating wasteful processes to improve profitability.

This concept of reducing waste can also be applied to your personal and professional life. If you want to be a peak performer in all your activities and be successful with your goals, then lean is the way to go. This week, we will look at strategies to incorporate lean techniques in time utilisation.

There are three Japanese words that explain the types of inefficiencies that can hamper your results. Muda means idleness or wastage of resources when carrying out your tasks, mura is the unbalanced or irregular usage of resources, while muri means excessive or impossible activities.

Eliminate unproductive time

If you're employed, don't be complacent with how you use your contracted work hours. You need to be as efficient as possible in doing your job tasks so that you can devote enough time and effort after work to pursue side income opportunities and activities that can help you progress financially.

There are some time-wasting activities that may be out of your control, such as being stuck in traffic on your daily commute. However, going to work early or leaving late to avoid traffic snarls can actually be counter-productive if you don't earn more from the extra time spent on the job.

If traffic issues are inescapable, you can transform downtime on the roads or on the job by reading or listening to self-help resources, or by researching ways to create wealth. If you want to achieve more financially, you need to ensure that you reap the highest return from your precious time.

Don't lose income by wasting time

If you work for yourself or own a business, time utilisation becomes even more critical as it can affect your overall profitability. There's no boss checking up on you or pushing you to produce, so you need to be aware of wasteful activities and become more disciplined with your time.

Look at your work functions and business procedures to determine if you can reduce the time to complete your tasks. Utilise technology, such as computers or updated machinery, to make your work more efficient, and use Internet sites to pay bills and taxes instead of standing in long lines.

Keep focused on the bottom line while you carry out your chores, or you may end up missing your targets or working longer hours to catch up. Let's say that you need to earn $4,000 daily and you work eight hours per day. Every hour that is improperly utilised represents $500 in lost earnings.

Balance work and leisure time

As the saying goes, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." While having time for recreation and rejuvenation is important, take a critical look at the hours you devote to leisure and sleep. Is an unbalanced use of time preventing you from earning more money or accomplishing your goals?

Use a spreadsheet to allocate minutes or hours to all the activities that you want to do each week. This will allow you to find time slots to pursue income ideas and self-development pursuits. You can download a time budget form to help you keep track of your time at

A time budget can help you to become more aware of how long it really takes to complete each chore, and reduce the lag time that can occur in between tasks. You will also see how spending too much time in one area can impact your ability to accomplish other important objectives.

Be practical with time utilisation

To make the best use of your time, it's also crucial for you to focus on your strengths and delegate lesser tasks to others. You don't want to retard your progress and income potential by putting unreasonable demands on your time, or by overburdening your own production capacity.

For example, you may think that you're saving money by doing housework on the weekend instead of hiring a household help. However, if you could earn extra money at a rate of $1,500 per hour, but choose to spend time on $500-per-hour tasks, then you are really forfeiting possible income.

If you're in business, don't get overwhelmed by trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Building your own website or monitoring your social media may detract from the time you should be spending on the core functions that bring in the money, so contract others to do these key activities.

If you keep the concepts of muda, mura and muri in mind when carrying out all your tasks, then you will get in the habit of trying to eliminate these types of waste when they occur. Next week, we will look at how you can use lean principles to become more efficient with your money resources.

Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Get more advice on money and business matters at and E-mail comments to





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