As our lives get busier, it seems almost impossible nowadays to tick everything off on our to-do list. We often use our limited time as an excuse for not getting things done, but we don’t realize that sometimes our bad habits that lead to wasted time is the culprit. The good news is that by working smarter, you can make the most of your time. Take a few minutes to check out these creative hacks that will help you find extra time to spend with the people and activities you love.
1. Start your day early
Getting up early is not an easy task for most of us. But did you know that it is one of the attributes of highly successful people? According to a study by Nolan G. Pope published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, productivity is higher in the morning because our mind is fresh, clear and calm, and our body is more active during this time.
Starting your day early will save you extra time which can be spent on planning your day, relaxation, meditation, exercise, or a healthy breakfast. This can result in a more organized day. If you get ahead of the crowd, you’ll be in control too. You’ll avoid the hustle and bustle of commuting to work, running errands or shopping due to significantly less traffic and long queues. So, if you’re not in the habit of getting up early, go to bed early tonight and start tomorrow. You’ll be amazed how those few minutes can change your day!
2. Plan ahead
If you really want to save time, make sure to plan everything in advance — from big complex projects down to the simple everyday things such as what to wear, what to eat, what to shop and what errands to do. Follow these tips to save you hours of doing:
- Make a list of your daily tasks either in a planner, notebook or mobile app. This will help you organize your day and increase your productivity. Having a to-do list will similarly help you get the most out of your outing. You can squeeze in few errands on your way to or from work or when picking up the kids from school. This can save you trips outside.
- Plan menus and cook in bulk for the week. You can devote few hours of your Sundays preparing all your meals, putting them in meal prep boxes and storing them. Defrost the box, reheat it and enjoy your favorite dishes all week long without having to cook again. Menu planning also makes it easy for you to list everything you need at the grocery store.
- Grocery shop with a list. Without a list, you can extend your trip, return to the store because you forgot something important, and buy something you don’t need.
- Set your outfit the night before. This will make your morning routine more efficient as you don’t have to waste time deciding what to wear.
3. Prioritize tasks and set deadlines
We often procrastinate difficult tasks because they seem too challenging and instead, we focus on simpler, less important and time-consuming tasks which leaves little or no time for the more important tasks. By prioritizing big-ticket items and placing them at the top of your to-do list, you can focus on the things that really matter. By completing these important tasks early in the day or week, you won’t have to worry or rush doing them later. This way, you can do small tasks more effectively. Setting realistic deadlines for your tasks will also save you time by allowing you to focus on the task and get it done faster.
4. Do task batching
Are you constantly checking and replying to emails? Did you know that this is considered one of the worst time wasters? To avoid unnecessary distraction and to maximize your productivity, you can batch this task. Instead of answering emails from time to time, you can set a specific time to handle all of your emails per day. You can spend a few minutes in the morning and in the afternoon working on all your emails.
Consolidating similar tasks together and doing them all at the same time can save you time and allow you to focus more on important tasks. You will do this much faster than one at a time because switching between tasks takes time. Some of the tasks that you can group together are phone calls, paperwork, video recording, editing, errands, bill payments and banking transactions, menu preparation, household chores, and so on.
5. Automate or Use technology
Got so much on your plate? Find ways to automate or use the right technology to save time and effort. According to a research released by Marriott Hotels, by using technology, you can save four months of your life.
With the convenience of the internet, it’s easy to automate small, time-consuming tasks today. With just a few clicks, you can order food and groceries online, pay bills, manage your calendar, and more. Bombarded with emails? Set your email’s automatic filters to save time sorting, moving and deleting emails. This is a great way to keep your inbox clean and organized. Use apps, software and smart devices to automate your tasks at work and chores at home. Technology can make a significant difference to your workload as it makes your job easier and increases your productivity.
6. Delegate tasks or hire someone to complete a task
By removing some of the routine tasks from your schedule, you can regain much-needed time for yourself. If you can afford it, hire someone to do the work or errands for you. You could hire someone in your neighborhood to clean the house, do the lawn, or walk the dog. Learn the art of delegating as you work. In order to properly manage your duties, pass down to your subordinates routine tasks that take up most of your time, according to their skills and abilities. This way, you can get more things done and focus on the more important tasks.
7. Avoid unproductive meetings
Unnecessary meetings are big distractions to work life. If you are invited to a meeting without an agenda, learn to say no. Some suggest to attend meetings only where your input is critical to the decision-making of the group and where your superior has prioritized it to buy time for more important issues. You can also offer to attend a meeting to capture only those parts that apply to you or that you need to be present. If you need to attend, set a fixed time for the meeting, perhaps a few minutes that won’t keep you away too long from doing your important tasks.
Have you experienced being late for work because you can’t find your car keys? Disorganization not only costs money, but it is also a time waster. Decluttering is a huge time saver we often miss. Having less at home means less cleaning and maintenance, which can save you lots of time. If you want to gain extra time in your day and be more productive, start getting rid of the clutter in your home today — throw away unnecessary things that only take up so much of space and simplify your routine, and you’ll be amazed how your life will turn out!
9. Cut down on your commute
The daily commute to work is one of the biggest causes of wasted time. If you have commute issues, there are ways to cut it down. If your home is far from your job, then you should consider getting closer. Carpool when you can — you can use the travel time to get things done along the way. Bike to work if you are close-by. You can really hack your schedule by hitting two birds with one stone – exercise on the go to work! Take toll roads – if you live far from work, taking tolls can cut down travel time. Yes, you have to pay, but it is worth the time saved. You can also check if your employer agrees to allow you to work from home.
10. Limit your time on social media and online games
There are many things on the internet that distract us from the important things in life. Whether we admit it or not, social media and online games are a big waste of our time. Often times, most of our tasks that need our immediate attention are bumped off because our time is consumed by browsing social media or playing online gaming. To save time, start disciplining yourself to avoid these distractions, even baby steps at a time. Avoid using your mobile or other devices while eating or in bed. Set daily limits for social media use and playing online games and strictly stick to it. To limit the time you browse profiles, try to follow fewer people on social media forums.