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The first fundamental principle of time management is space, meaning your workspace--the physical items that are around you. How well are you using the physical space that you have? In particular, we'll focus on helping you understand and live this one phrase: the more gathering points you have, the more switches you make, so have as few gathering points as possible. A gathering point is any place where things that are unresolved come together.
I call these unresolved items unprocessed. Typical gathering points include piles of paper, stacks of bills, drawers stuffed full of miscellaneous items, even email inboxes, voicemail boxes, and receipts stuffed in your pocket are all considered gathering points. We must reduce the number of gathering points you have in order to reduce the amount of switches that take place in your day. Remember, every switch you make causes you to be less effective, make more mistakes, and increase your stress levels.
How does having many gathering points make you switch more during your day? Well, I like to use this little example. Imagine that you and I are in a competition, an orange-gathering competition. We must both gather oranges from trees and put them into one basket. You and I both have to gather 100 oranges and put them into one basket. Who can do it the fastest? Now, let's say that you have to gather oranges from 20 different trees, and I have to gather oranges from five different trees.
Who is going to win the competition? It's very simple, right? Because you have to make many more trips back and forth between all of those trees to get the oranges into that one basket, you're going to have a lot more switches. You're going to waste a lot of time and a lot of energy going back and forth between all those different gathering points for oranges. I have to make less trips going to fewer trees, so I go faster and I win the competition. The same thing happens in your day.
If you have a lot of gathering points, you expend a lot of time and energy going back and forth between them. So by reducing the number of gathering points you have, you'll gain precious time in your day, allowing you to focus on more important, more valuable activities. Later on in this course, we'll get into the specifics of reducing your gathering points. For now remember this, the more gathering points you have, the more switches you make, so have as few gathering points as possible.
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