One of the biggest complaints people have in work and in their personal life is being time-poor. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, there is always so much to do and so little time to do it in. So how can you claim back some of those hours and get more done with your day?
Start your day earlier
Before you dismiss the idea, think about it. Yes, if it were that easy then we would all get up earlier, wouldn’t we? But the thing is, it’s not just that getting up earlier gives an extra hour or two than usual, but getting up earlier helps you to get more done in less time. Have a look at the book called ‘The 5 am Miracle’ by Jeff Sanders or ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod, they both advocate getting up at 5 am. Now if the thought of getting up at 5.00 am fills you with horror, then don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be that early, the important thing is that you get up earlier than usual. If you can’t do an hour or two earlier straight away, then start by getting up ten minutes earlier than usual and then gradually increase this by ten minutes until eventually, it’s easy to get up an hour or two earlier. You will find that in those hours you are more productive than any other time of the day and you’ll end up finishing earlier meaning you have more time to relax.
Do Your Biggest Task First
You will always have some tasks that are more important than others, and if you start by doing all the smaller and less critical tasks, then you will end up spending all your time on those and not get any of the more significant and more critical tasks done. Instead, spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day choosing one to three essential duties that, no matter what, you need to finish by the end of the day.
Brian Tracy, the author of Eat That Frog, wrote in a blog post: “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
According to Tracy, successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete.
Put Your Time To Good Use
One excellent way to reclaim more time is to find what it is that takes up a lot of your time in the day and cut the things that aren’t helping you to be more productive. How much time do you spend watching television? If you need more time then perhaps this is an excellent place to start. You don’t need to give it up altogether, but you could cut it down and only watch certain shows that you love.
The internet is something else that you can up going on for one thing but find yourself getting stuck down a rabbit hole, and three hours later you’re watching videos on YouTube. Try cutting this down too, perhaps set yourself a time limit and you could either put a setting on your phone or laptop to make sure you don’t go over it.
Take Advantage Of Technology
Technology has made our lives easier and has meant that there are tools we can use to make our days more efficient at work and at home. From productivity software, resource management software, voice dictation software and video conferencing – these have all been designed to help you get things done quicker, to make things easier and to save you time, so you may as well use them.
Reclaim Gap Time
If you really think about it, you probably spend anywhere between two and five hours of your day doing things that you need to do, but can’t get much else done, so commuting to work, waiting in a queue, cooking or having breaks at work. So you can use this time to do other things as well and make the most of them. For example, when you’re on your way to work or waiting in a queue, you could be listening to or reading a book. Use these times to solve your problems, so you don’t have to think about them later, or to read articles you have saved, or you could even use them to come up with new ideas for things or to rehearse anything you need to for work.
Focus on what is important and ignore what isn’t. It is so easy to waste hours of your day working without actually getting much done. Finding more time isn’t just a case of doing things faster, but of doing the right things. Continuously measure and be aware of the actual value each of your work activities brings. Those that don’t add much should be simplified or eliminated entirely to focus on those that do.
Sitting down and planning your meals out for the week will take a little time, but it does mean that you only have to do the thinking once, and you can reuse the plan, again and again, so overall it saves you plenty of time. You don’t have to open the cupboards each day and work out what to cook, and you don’t have to make extra trips to the shops to get food because you will have bought your food shop knowing what meals you are cooking for. It’s all there ready for you, and you could even cook a few meals together in advance so that all you need to do is heat them up on the day.
Kill two birds with one stone
Think about what tasks you can do at the same time as each other. So, if there’s a book you want to read or a podcast you want to listen to, of course, you could do this in your gap time, but you could also do this at the same time as working out. You can double up lots of things, so have a think about the things you want to do, do you want to start walking more? Do you wish you had more time to see your friends? So why not suggest meeting up with your friends to go for a walk? You can also try grouping similar tasks together so that you get them done a lot quicker.
Keep Clean And Organized
Keeping clean and orderly as you go saves you so much time as it means you don’t have to do one huge clean and tidy which takes ages. While it might take you an extra couple of minutes to wash up straight after you’ve eaten or whilst you are cooking, bit overall living this way will save you time in the long run. It also helps if you clear the clutter because if you’re always struggling to find things you want, then you end up wasting time which you could be spending doing other things.
Keep A Schedule
You need to a schedule if you’re going to get anything done. While there are always going to be things that crop up, you should allow for this in your schedule. Set aside an hour each day for the unexpected in case anything comes up or something takes longer than planned. Organize each day by creating a “to-do” list and don’t’ have more than one list and try to allocate timings for how long each task should take. Set a deadline for your most important tasks, and be realistic about how long they will take.
Eliminate Your Distractions
There are always going to be distractions in the workplace, so if you can take yourself off to a quiet room to get away from people, then make sure you do that. Then there are the distractions of mindless internet browsing, be careful once you start that you don’t get distracted and end up going off onto all sorts of unrelated sites. There are some distraction apps you can get now too for your phone which will stop you from looking at your phone for a certain amount of time that you set, Using these makes you realize how much you look at your phone even when you think you’ve been concentrating.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Finally, unless you get a good night’s sleep, then you won’t be able to focus. If your sleep time is solid, then you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your awake time. Then you’ll get more done more effectively, which will relax you at the end of the day so you can sleep better. Keep working the cycle.