Would you like more time for family, recreation, and rest? It’s easier than you think to find time to do the things you enjoy most. Let’s talk about ten oft-ignored ways to save time every single day.
1 Keep track of your time.
“What gets measured gets done.” Though experts debate who wrote this old adage, few disagree with its wisdom. By measuring your time, you can evaluate whether you’re spending it wisely. Otherwise, how could you identify areas that need adjustment? Focus on your time-wasters one by one. Once you get over the shock of how many minutes you waste, you can reappropriate where it will do more good. As you check your progress regularly, your steady improvement will motivate you to eliminate even more time-wasting practices. According to bestselling author Kevin Daum, you will benefit from measuring your time for as short a period as a week or a day.
2 Amp up your downtime.
Do you commute on a form of public transportation? Do you find waiting rooms boring? If you have a smartphone, you can use this unoccupied time to your advantage. Think of your shortest daily tasks. When you have a long wait ahead of you, such as a doctor’s appointment, come prepared. Take what you need to work while you wait, and you will be free for other activities later.
3 Dedicate a distraction-free zone.
One super-productive overseas plane ride inspired Bryan Guido Hassin, CEO of a global technology startup, to incorporate “plane days” into his schedule. He puts his phone and laptop on airplane mode, disabling the network connections. He lets his coworkers know that he will be as unavailable as if he were out of the office. Then, he tackles his highest priority work. You may not have the luxury to make each day a “plane day,” but surely you can turn off your phone and shut your office door to gain a few uninterrupted moments.
4 Do one thing at a time.
Multitasking will cost you 40 percent of your productivity, according to behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk. The problem is, you think you’re doing two activities simultaneously, but you’re actually switching rapidly from one activity to another. Switches last a fraction of a second, but over the course of a day, those seconds add up to a significant loss of time. You also make more errors and inhibit your creativity when you multitask. Instead, block off an hour or two to concentrate on your most important task. Can’t sit still for an hour? Set a timer for fifteen minutes, then force yourself to focus until it sounds.
5 Learn from the best (and the worst).
Experience is a great teacher, but you can learn from other people’s successes and failures as well as our own. Rather than lose hours in research, ask friends for the pros and cons of services or products that they’ve bought. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or the flying saucer camera. It’s simple; copy the methods of successful people and avoid the ways of the unsuccessful.
6 Avoid unnecessary meetings.
Meetings are responsible for a lot of wasted hours. First, let’s address the meeting setters. Is a conference necessary? Would an email serve the same purpose? Does the entire team need to attend (because they play significant roles) or only certain members? If you are an employee, it might be difficult to avoid meetings, but your boss might understand if you point out a potential conflict of priorities. You might say something like, “The meeting today about the dress code falls during the time I scheduled for Project Urgent. Since we are on a tight deadline, would you prefer me to work through the meeting and review the notes later?”
7 Hire someone to do it for you.
Are you the only one who can do this job well? If you’re in a leadership position, delegate some duties to other responsible employees. Even if your work is not managerial, you can still explore the possibility of hiring a virtual assistant or a freelancer. If the undertaking doesn’t require a personal touch, you can save time by hiring someone else to do it while you prioritize other duties. Or, you can always use the time to relax. Such a step might even make you feel happy. As a Harvard researcher reported to The New York Times, “People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction.”
8 Finish what’s almost done.
To continue an ongoing project, you must review what you already accomplished, get out all your tools, and decide what you will do next. If a project is almost complete, why not finish immediately? Sure, you might stay a half-hour overtime, but you will complete it in less time than if you put everything away to start again tomorrow. Set aside time at the end of the day to wrap up short assignments. The more things you conclude, the less time you’ll spend worrying about them.
9 Buy helpful gadgets.
Some tools are time-wasters in disguise, but others will increase your productivity. Imagine life without cell phones, microwaves, or other modern conveniences. A vintage typewriter may look cool in your apartment, but would you write faster and more accurately with a laptop?
10 Say no.
It’s difficult to tell colleagues that you don’t have time to help them, but it’s necessary. Once they realize that you respectfully decline requests that cut into your personal or work time, they’ll soon stop asking.