As much as we would love to, we can’t wave a magic wand and extend the hours we have in a day. But there are things we can do to save time. There are things we can do to maximize what we accomplish with our time and in essence, add hours to our day.
What is required is to tweak some of your habits. To do this, you’ll use strategies that are self-rewarding, so you’ll see and feel the benefits. Even though you can’t make the day longer, you can get more out of each day.
Follow these tips to save time, add hours to your day and accomplish more:
1. Do easy things during your least productive hours.
Everyone has a time of day when their physical or mental energy is low. Schedule easy tasks during these times. It can be a good time to read emails, tidy up, or return phone calls.
2. Do your most challenging tasks during your most productive hours.
Likewise, you have a time of day when your focus and energy are high. Do your most challenging tasks during this time. As you complete these, you feel a sense of accomplishment, way before your day ends.
3. Reduce the amount of time spent on low-value activities.
You might be surprised by how much time you spend watching TV, scrolling through social media, or texting friends. Reducing this time will easily add a few hours to your day. A better use of this time might be to develop yourself. It’ll definitely make you happier, more successful and fulfilled. Plus, you save time, as Brian Tracy points out, “Personal development is a major time-saver. The better you become, the less time it takes you to achieve your goals.”
4. Batch your activities.
You could allocate a specific time to answer all of your emails. Block off time on a particular day to do sales calls. Pay all of your bills twice a month.
As you batch activities of the same nature together, schedule them into your weekly plan, you will save time; your productivity will soar and so will your success.
5. Avoid multi-tasking.
Start with a task and give yourself at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on it, make progress on it, or even complete it. When you’re busy with the task, toss aside any inclination to multitask – your brain will thank you for it.
According to neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, multitasking is taxing on the brain and drains precious energy. It leads to impulsive behaviour, reduces efficiency and mental performance. In essence, when we multitask, we damage our brains in ways that negatively affect our well-being, mental performance and productivity.
Try and practice the following. Decide on the task you’ll tackle. Bring yourself into the present moment. Focus like a laser beam. Give your attention only to that task. If your minds wanders off, gently bring it back to the task, and continue.
You’ll get more done, feel a real sense of achievement and be delighted when you see how much more successful you become – without stress or strain, or harm to your brain.
6. Make use of waiting time.
If you’re stuck in traffic, make your phone calls. If you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, deal with your email. Waiting for your child to get dressed? Clean up the kitchen.
7. Track your time.
The average person has little idea how they spend their time. Track how you spend your time for an entire week. Every 30 minutes record how you spent the last half-hour. Divide your activities into different categories (e.g., personal, work, admin) and see how much time you spend on each. I guarantee you; this exercise will make you gasp. Once you’ve caught your breath, you will most likely value your time more, become more protective of it and plan your day. As Jim Rohn reminds us, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
8. Get help.
Ask for help at work. Give your spouse or children some tasks to do at home. Is your mother constantly asking you if she can help? Give her something to do.
- Hire a cleaning service.
- Buy your groceries online and have them delivered.
- Pay someone to run your errands.
9. Schedule your day.
Make the most of each day by making a schedule the night before and sticking to it. Decide what are the most important tasks that need to be done and do those first. You’ll waste less time, add hours to your day and feel a sense of accomplishment (and relief) – daily.
10. Eliminate distractions.
Put your phone on silent. Use white noise to drown out distracting sounds. Close all of your computer windows and tabs other than what you need for the task you’re busy with. You will accomplish much more in each hour and save time.
Speaking of distractions, let’s have a look its close cousin – interruptions. A distraction happens when your attention is momentarily taken off whatever you’re focused on. An interruption occurs when your attention is completely taken off what you were busy doing. It’s much more detrimental to your focus, mental functioning and productivity.
A study about ‘The Cost of Interrupted Work’ conducted by Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke at the Humboldt University in Berlin, showed that “after only 20 minutes of interrupted performance people reported significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and pressure.”
Other studies have shown that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on a task after an interruption.
And that’s just one interruption! Imagine the amount of time that goes to waste from repetitive interruptions throughout a day.
Next time you’re about to interrupt yourself by switching between tasks, or allow someone to interrupt you whilst your working, stop the interruption and stay on track.
11. Go to bed earlier.
Most people don’t accomplish a lot in the evening. Shorten your evening by going to bed earlier. That way, you can add hours to your morning by getting up earlier. Many high achievers will tell you that one of their most success-inducing habits is to get up early in the morning.
The length of a day is fixed. After sleeping, and having a morning routine of exercising and meditating, there are a finite number of hours left. Even though you can’t make the day longer, you can pay attention to what you do with your time. Put some strategies in place to save time and amplify what you can accomplish in the time you have.
The more effective you are at using your time, the more you’ll get out of each day, the more success and free time you’ll enjoy.