Updated on 05.07.10

What Works?

Trent Hamm

Of all of the parenting tactics I’ve tried, nothing has worked better at facilitating good behavior and a trusting bond like floor time. Simply getting down on the floor and playing with your children builds trust and good relationships like nothing else.

Of all of the dieting tactics I’ve tried, nothing has worked better than portion control (coupled with not keeping “junk” snacks in the house). The “saucer” strategy, in which you eat nothing at a meal except what will fit on a saucer, works like an absolute charm.

Of all of the saving tactics I’ve tried, nothing has worked better than simply automating it. Ordering the bank to simply scrape a small amount from my checking each month and put it in a savings account means I don’t have to think about it, and that means I won’t forget about it or talk myself out of it. The money is just there when I need it.

Of all of the time management tactics I’ve tried, nothing has worked better for me than the “inbox.” I keep a pocket notebook with me and whenever I think of something I need to do, I fill a whole page describing it (big words over several lines). I toss these pages in my “inbox” at home and go through them once or twice a day, making sure each one is dealt with.

When I stick to these singular tactics, I usually succeed. When I go away from them, I fail.

In fact, I’d say that finding tactics for success in life and money that actually work is well worth investing quite a bit of time.

Why? Because the ones that work make your life flow so much smoother that you quickly make the time and money back.

It’s worth the time to read through a list of 100 money saving tactics and try out fifteen of them just to find one tactic that genuinely and consistently saves significant money for me.

It’s worth the time to try every kind of easily-available fresh produce because the more fresh produce I actually like, the easier it is to have a very varied diet while still eating really healthy.

It’s worth the time to try all sorts of time management tactics because when I find one that shaves ten minutes off of an average day, I’ll make that time back over the long run.

The key to success is investing the time to figure out what really works for you. They might not be the same things that work for me – in fact, they probably won’t be.

I’ll close this message with a few challenges.

If you’re looking to spend less money, spend some time going through this list of 100 money saving tactics. Identify twenty that might just fit in your life and give them each a genuine shot. You’ll probably find that fifteen of them don’t fit you. The other five? They’ll be valuable enough that the entire time will be worth it.

If you’re looking to spend less time, use the same approach with my upcoming series on Getting Things Done, which will be loaded with time management ideas. Read the series carefully. Pick the elements that you think might work for you and give them a genuine shot. The ones that do work will stick and they’ll end up saving you so much time / making you so much more productive that you’ll flip.

Whatever that area in your life is that you want to work on, start trying some tactics. Go on a daily walk. Eat only the food that fits on a saucer. Read a challenging book for an hour a day.

Just try something instead of sitting there wishing it could be better.

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  1. Jason says:

    Wow, this is basically spot on with what I have tried and what I think too. Great post!

  2. This whole article could have been written in one sentence, your concluding one:

    “Just try something instead of sitting there wishing it could be better.”

    There is so much power in doing but it is also the most difficult to do because we must fight inertia and old habits and ways of thinking. Nice article Trent.

  3. Matt Maresca says:

    I guess this works for internet marketing, too. Unless you outsource from the beginning, it seems it would be best to find one thing that works for you. Find one thing that drives traffic to your site and do it really well. Then you can outsource and find other people to do one thing really well.

    I’m not even close to an internet marketing expert, but after reading this post, it seems to make sense to me.

  4. The best thing to understand is that there is no cookie-cutter approach–you need to find something that works for YOU.

    Whether were talking about parenting or money management, or time management.

    Can’t wait for the time management series, by the way

  5. michael bash says:

    Now to the basics for Trent who is still learning. Lesson #1 – Don’t cry unless you (‘re) hurt. Can be learned long before walking. #2 – don’t run in the house. #3 – This is a house, not a restaurant. You eat what we eat. We had a marvelous food grinder (no electricity) and sonny boy grew on meatloaf, mashed and Brussel sprouts just like we did. #4 – Put things back where you found them. And finally read the basic rules in “Everything I Needed To Know in Life I Learned in Kindergarten”.

    With those you kids will grow to be a civilized human beings.

  6. Claudia says:

    To keep organized at work or home, I have a “To Do” file. All paperwork that needs something to be done goes in the file. I can always find it as I know it’s in my to do file, I have categories for different aspects of my work, one which is paperwork that has been done, but I need to follow up on. Part of my job is billing Medicare and supplemental insurance, these are in a separate “To Do” file, so that I can easily track status. I also write a “to do” list, although I rarely look at it again, it reinforces to me that I am aware of what needs to get done and I concentrate better.
    Everything in it’s place and put back when done using.

  7. I took your advice and bought Getting Things Done not only for myself, but also for my brother and my father. I figure we can read it as a group and discuss what it might do for each one of us.

    Thanks for the tip and keep up the great post!

  8. valleycat1 says:

    Of all the bill-paying/reminder management systems I’ve tried, using a simple file-drawer tickler system with tabs for days 1-31 works best. As bills come in, they go directly into the file for the day of the month I plan to pay them (usually Saturdays). Paperwork related to upcoming appointments or related to CC payments are filed in the same place.

    Of all the record-keeping systems for tax time we’ve tried for our farm, setting up the income and expense folders (& the accounts in our computer accounting system) using the headings on the IRS form we report with works best. Although we keep track of income/expense on the computer, if we need to get back-up documentation or to verify the totals, everything’s right there already categorized.

  9. Vtcouponqueen says:

    Trent, I bet with that new baby you’ll be spending some time re-looking over that list maybe more than once.

  10. bob says:

    great post Trent – direct to the point and useful

  11. gail says:

    good advice! i like the thought of just trying a few out of a list of 100. right now i’m reading 100 things that helped a guy lose 100 lbs and was getting overwhelmed. looking forward to your series on time management.

  12. denise says:

    I enjoy reading your posts and I think this is the best one. You said things that one will remember; crystal clear and pragmatic. i even like to read the comments good and bad.

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