For the past few weeks I have been in something of a reflective mood. Something I would say is typical during a period of change and challenges. Following on from last week’s post, I decided to share my tips to overcoming that classical excuse – “I don’t have enough time”. Yes we could all do with 100 hours in the day, especially if working full time and/or with a family to look after, but the reality is we have 24 hours in a day so let’s make the best use of them. Here are my tips to help you get the most out of your day:
Cut out TV
Now this is probably the biggest time waster of all. Even if you are watching a documentary there are probably better uses of your time. I remember a Canadian comedian making a joke about British television saying that although we are wasting our time in doing so, we could at least argue that we are boosting our knowledge somewhat. Let’s be honest though this is the era of the reality show. Odds are you are watching someone else live their life and chase their dreams rather than working towards yours.
Wake up Early
Now for you night owls this probably won’t work, I am definitely more of an early riser so cannot advise if mornings don’t work for you. My days start out 5am which allow me time to work on the blog and deal with much of the personal admin I need to do. My Finance role sometimes means that I don’t know what time work is going to end and often I’m not the most productive after work. This makes it all the more important for me to get those tasks that are important to me (but may not be a priority to anyone else) out of the way. It also leaves evenings and weekends free to spend with loved ones.
Get Enough Sleep
This follows on nicely from tip 2. Even if you wake up at 5am I can guarantee you will not get out of bed, let alone be productive if you don’t get sufficient sleep. If you do, it won’t last more than one or two days (with the assistance of caffeine or youth on your side). You may be called a granny by friends and family but it’s a small price to pay. This is quite natural for me as I undergo a transformation akin to a gremlin being fed after midnight if I don’t get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Let’s just cut straight to the point with this one: multi-tasking =making little tiny steps of progress on a variety of tasks and completing none. By focusing on one task at a time you will take less time to complete each project. Something may come up that means you need to switch focus from one task to another, if that’s the case move to the higher priority task, focus and complete, then return to your original task. Don’t try to do both at the same time as the result is the equivalent of treading water.
Check emails at certain times in the day
I manually sync my personal emails and the email pop-up alert is disabled at work. Most emails are not urgent (even some of those marked urgent). I do a quick scan first thing for any overnight emails from my boss that need immediate responses, but I leave everything else to my allotted “email time”. This was difficult to implement at first as you have to be disciplined in ignoring your inbox. If you think of how much time it takes to check each email notification and then get back into your work flow you’ll see how much time this saves over the course of a day/week.
Limit Social Media
Distraction alert! This along with watching TV is a huge zapper of our time. One second you’re just having a quick check of Facebook, Twitter etc. The next you’ve been reading posts/watching videos for hours. Let’s get back to living real life! I’m not saying you can’t use Social Media, but do it in moderation. If uninstalling apps will make this easier, do it!
Establish a daily routine
Routines create structure and help to eliminate distractions. You know what you plan to do so are less likely to be drawn off course. The efficiency gained from this will set you apart from the majority of people, who have to make the same decisions you made in advance as they go along.
Challenge the need for a Meeting
Not all meetings are essential. Think about whether it is essential for you to attend and what contribution you will make. If limited detail has been provided by the organiser try to establish the agenda. If it doesn’t tie up with your goals and/or responsibilities kindly decline the invite. If it does, feel free to attend. Also consider whether the query could be dealt with via email or a quick phone call.
Learn to say “No”
Everyone will have an agenda for their day to help them achieve what they want. It’s important to learn to say no so you can focus on the things that really matter (those that push you towards your goals or are high priority tasks for your day). In the early days of saying no you may feel the slight pang of guilt, however part of saying no is establishing boundaries (e.g. between work and personal time). Once established it will get easier as people will know how you operate.
Use your commute time
This is an easy time win. If you drive to work you can use the journey to listen to podcasts, audiobooks, etc to research/boost your knowledge in particular areas. Public transport commuters armed with a book/ laptop/smartphone/tablet have even more options. With a 60 minute commute, that’s two hours a day, ten hours a week, 522 hours a year!
Now that the Olympics are out of the way my TV is now being packed away. Drastic I know, but for the past two weeks I have been watching the Olympics on autopilot, so this will make it easier to break this current habit (I think it’s allowed once every four years). The above tips are the things that have worked for me in the past. If you are looking to get more out of your day, give them a try and let me know how you get on.
Let me know what you do to increase productivity in your day? Have any more tips? Please comment and share.
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