It is lovely to waste time. But all too often, we waste it almost against our will! Here are a few ideas to help you become more in control of your 24 hours, and consequently your life – and to get more time to use or waste as you truly see fit.
- When something comes to your attention, handle it immediately. Don’t leave it for later. Either refuse to look at it straight away, or handle it fully so it never comes back again.
- Every evening, make a list of what you must do the following day. This will save you time wondering and help you prioritize and align. Ideally, this should be based on a longer-term plan of yours – e.g. your quota, goals or inevitable duties for the given month or week etc. If you don’t manage to do everything on your list, write it up for the next day along with everything else. You’ll surprise yourself how much more efficient you can be with this system.
- Set time frames for the tasks you’ve assigned yourself. If you see you’ve run over with one task that simply had to be done, you already know you have to really get going with the other ones to catch up. This system keeps you on top of things and able to better manage.
- Say goodbye to social media. If this is impossible to do, at least disable it on your work computer or during your working hours if you’re freelancing. It is a huge, if very tempting time trap. You can leave catching up with the people you haven’t seen in person for ten years until the evening, surely. There are apps that help you with this – for instance getcoldturkey.com or facebooklimiter.com. These will help you to block your social media platforms for certain times, or set up daily time limits etc.
- Declutter your living space. Rethink how your personal things are organized – give it a bit of planning and arrange them so they’re where you need them. It will help you keep your place more tidy and put things back in their place – because that place will be logical and intuitive. Not looking for things saves surprising amounts of time – and sanity.
- Get your work things in order so you don’t have to spend time looking for things. Spruce up your filing system. Have a designated are for incoming things so you can put them there without wasting time perusing them only to lay them aside and perusing them later when you do have the time to handle them. Clean your place – no dust, no hidden surprises, no half-eaten Mars bars from last month. All that makes you sag a little, overwhelm, just a little bit – and that slows things down.
- Use waiting times. And we’re not saying you need to be necessarily burying your head in your computer screen. Of course you can finish that report if it’s pressing, go right ahead – but if at all possible, you can also catch up on your book you didn’t have time for, or simply truly recognize you’ve been given a time bonus and enjoy looking around yourself if your surroundings invite it, and have some well-deserved me-time gazing at the sky or people-spotting. Live those precious moments.
- Avoid getting stuck in traffic – get a traffic app if you commute, for instance Waze or AA Breakdown and Traffic.
- Cook for an army of future yous – freeze portions of food for later.
- Plan what you’re going to cook – sit down all together at the weekend and decide on the weekly menu, shop accordingly and save yourselves the hassle. This can be easily combined with pre-cooking in bulk.
- If you have 7 easy tasks and 2 hard ones ahead of you, It is generally recommended to start with the tough ones. Based on our own observation, we recommend that you get yourself going with a few of the easier ones – you’ll get into your stride and get more momentum to attack the heavy things.
- Set up a calendar alarm system – most e-mail programs have that. Synchronize with your cell phone – and only use one system!
- Don’t be afraid to delegate. Whether we’re talking delegating part of your work to your juniors or colleagues, or letting the kids wash the grapes and set the table, share your load. If possible, make it a routine, so you don’t have to waste time asking, explaining, etc. etc.
every time the same type of event occurs.
- Learn to end chatty phonecalls or small talks that don’t really thrill you but keep you talking out of politeness. You don’t have to be rude, simply be friendly, cheerful and decisive.
- Don’t skimp on sleep. Although it’s so tempting to keep going through the night and finish the damn thing, insufficient sleep makes you work slower and seriously inhibits your attentiveness to detail. It’s a bit like being drunk – you think you’re fine and totally in control. But you’re really not. Best case scenario, you’ll waste a bit of time working slower than if you had a good night’s rest and resumed work again in the mornings. Worst case scenario, you’ll overlook some very important detail and will have to redo the whole thing again, or worse. Besides, long-term sleep deprivation has some highly unpleasant physical and mental consequences – ain’t nobody got time for that! If this is a problem area for you – and when you’re reading this article, chances are it might be – try checking out our tips for better sleep.
- Eat well. It’s OK to sin and we’re not at you to go on a diet. But don’t forget to give your body the nutrition it needs – vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids… it has direct impact on your productiveness.
- Train to trust yourself. Give yourself small mental pats on the back whenever you do something well. When you do something wrong, just take it as a lesson and also look at all the things you’ve done right – don’t overlook them. It will help you being more decisive and that saves time in a major way.
- Switch off automatic notifications of incoming skype messages, Facebook news, new e-mails. Even if you just glance at them and go back to task at hand, they take your attention away and you have to get back in gear.
- Make sure you understand everything you have to do. If you are uncertain about something you need to do, get all the information you need. Ask. Ask again. Hesitation is a huge time killer.
- Make some time for exercise. You need the energy and the pick-me-up it will give you. You can consolidate this with some other tasks – e.g. taking the bike instead of the car when you need to go somewhere, or getting off two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- Clear up your e-mail newsletter subscriptions. Just looking at that full mailbox – even though it’s full of things you will mostly just delete – slows you down.
- Just say no. It may feel like you’re the bad guy, but you have to protect both yourself, and the things you’ve already said yes to. You don’t have to save everything.