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:
A while back the front driver's side door of my car had a squeak in it. There wasn't anything really wrong and it wasn't enough to take to the mechanic, it just bothered me. I would hear it every time I got in and out of my car. But whenever I was getting into my car I had somewhere to be, and whenever I got home I never felt like going back out to the car. Until one day I was running early and decided to take the five minutes to go get the WD-40 and fix it. And that's all it took. Five minutes of work meant I wasn't annoyed every time I opened the door.

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.

Written by Matt van Winkle, CEO, RE/MAX Northwest


Jesse Gibbs