Why Are We Busy All the Time?

By Spicer Matthews

Almost daily I talk to someone who claims to be slammed. Swamped. Super busy. I hope these people are just exaggerating and not actually missing out on life. Because time is the one resource we can’t get more of, in recent years I have focused on making sure life does not pass me by because I am busy. And if I am busy, it better be worth it. Below are some strategies I use to avoid common time drains.

Paper Bills

Mail in forms are a time drain. For me every paper bill represents 10 to 20 minutes of time. I need to get it from the mailbox, open it, review it, scan it, pay it, record the payment, and then dispose of it. For a business owner like me paper bills can add up to days of lost productivity each month.

Like most people I opt for paperless billing and automatic payments whenever possible. And that’s the catch: many companies do not yet offer those options. If digital billing and payment options are not available I often try to pay a year in advance to minimize bill paying to a yearly event.

Paper Checks

You might laugh, but receiving a paper check in the mail causes me a great deal of anguish. As a business owner I receive paper checks several times a week. Presuming that each check takes about 30 minutes to process and deposit, which involves a trip to the bank, I lose a great deal of time and money per check.

I avoid receiving paper checks at all costs. I push for payment via direct deposit, which is more secure and faster for everyone involved. Even payment by credit card, which takes a 3% bite, is preferable to paper checks that can cost even more to cash. Going forward I am considering charging a fee for processing paper checks. I am also considering requiring payment in Bitcoin.

Phone Calls

Anyone who knows or follows me is aware that I hate phone calls, which I consider a major time drain. To combat this scourge I try to only work with loan brokers, realtors, insurance agents, and others who embrace digital media and solutions that enable me to deal with administrative matters in my own time. I don’t want to stop playing with my son to take a phone call from my insurance agent.

In fact, I have fired many insurance agents for not corresponding via email. When vetting a new agent I always ask, “Will you communicate with me by email?” The response is almost always yes—and the reality is too often no. If you live in Oregon and are looking for a great insurance agent willing to communicate with you digitally, I suggest you check out the office of Robert Witherell with Allstate. Robert and his business partner Cheryl are amazing! I went through about 10 agents before finding them.

Paper Receipts

Managing the paper receipts my business generates daily has been a thorn in my side for more than 15 years. I now process receipts in real time (get ready for the shameless plug . . .) thanks to Skyclerk. And with the new Snap!Clerk feature (future link to blog post here) I can simply snap a photo of a receipt and have it automatically uploaded and organized for me.

These small things that I do (or don’t do) every day help me make sure that my work and my life are in balance. The next time you find yourself performing the same tiresome tasks yet again, ask yourself if they are taking time away from something that is truly important to you.

Life is too short to be busy. Do something about it: dump the inefficiencies.