Reclaim an Extra Hour a Day — Every Day
August 2, 2015
“If only there were another hour in the day …”
We’ve all said it. Now our Productivity experts show you exactly where to find that extra hour a day—60 satisfying minutes that will put some breathing room back into your workday, taking it fromutter madness to totally manageable.
Schedule email, text time
Email and text messages are the biggest time hogs in any day. Answering them as they come in can be very disruptive to any other task you’re trying to accomplish.
For example, a simple task that should take half an hour to complete might take twice as long if you’re stopping every couple of minutes to check email or respond to text-message beeps.
To get that time back, I started scheduling specific times during the day to check email and view and answer texts.
Not only does it allow me to complete other tasks efficiently and without interruption, but I also find I spend less time overallworking with those email and text messages. By viewing a group of emails at once, as opposed to dealing with each one individually, I can quickly see which are important, and which can be put on the back burner or even deleted.
If you find it too difficult to ignore those bells and whistles that alert you to new messages, mute your device.
Depending on your specific situation, you can schedule these check-ins a couple of times a day or once every hour. Regardless of the frequency, it’s going to be more efficient than addressing them on the fly—and you’ll create that extra hour you’ve be dreaming of.
Find more time-saving tips in my Weekly Office Workshop series on lynda.com.
Track your time
I help my clients reclaim at least an hour a day simply by understanding how they spend their time.
Create a time log and spend at least one week tracking everything you do for the day and how long you spend doing it. For example, that trip to the water cooler? Write it down. Returning phone calls? Track how long. At the end of the week, you can easily see where your time wasters are.
Maybe the quick trip to the water cooler you thought nothing about is actually 5 trips a day lasting 10 minutes each. That’s 50 minutes. You may find that if you return calls at 2 p.m. it takes you twice as long as when you return them at 10 a.m.
Use your log to adjust your daily habits and be aware of how you’re honestly spending your time. Then use an app like Time Timer to keep on track and focused throughout your day.
For more about Time Timer and other productivity apps, check out my course Top 10 Apps for Enhanced Productivity on lynda.com.
Earn your indulgences
Reclaiming an hour is possible, but does require a little will power. As I discuss in my course Managing Your Time, there are three main tactics you can use to not only reclaim an hour, but make sure the entire day is super productive.
- First, you have to identify the most important tasks: the ones that are strategically important.
- Next, work on them during the window of time during the day when you know your brain is operating at peak effectiveness.
- Finally, be sure you respect that window by proactively reducing the ways people might interrupt you (e.g., try closing your door!).
There’s one more tip you must try: Start choosing to earn your indulgences. An indulgence at work is time spent on Facebook, time chatting in the break room, or time spent checking your fantasy sports scores—in other words, time spent not working!
Make yourself a deal. Define very specific task goals for the day and then identify precisely what must be completed before you enjoy one of you indulgences. Earn it! Next, give yourself a maximum number per day; I recommend no more than five tiny indulgences. Any more and you’re just being, well, indulgent.
Just say ‘no’
Practice saying no, or at least negotiating to only do part of something. When you say yes to something you don’t really want to do, you are saying no to everything else in the world.
When, because of cowardice or guilt, you agree to meet someone (whom you don’t really like) for a drink, you’ve just said no to learning the guitar, helping the homeless, reading great literature, talking on the phone to your mum, getting fit, learning Spanish, etc.
So don’t say yes unless it really does add value to your life—or a lot of value to someone else’s life.
You can get help with saying “no” in my course Learning to Be Assertive.
Also, I love dictating emails, texts and notes into my iPhone. It’s so much quicker than typing, and it’s really accurate. I use Evernote to store every list, every thought, every idea—and I dictate into it on my phone.
Learn how to create a note from an email in Evernote with this video.