Time is the one thing that we all have the same amount of. It makes no difference who we are – whether rich or poor, happy or sad, man or woman.
So – how come some people seem to achieve so much more from each 24 hour day? Although we can’t create time, I wanted to look at ways that we can feel like we have a little more time in our lives.
The secret is to make every second count by making the time within your day as productive as you want/need it to be – rather than wasting it on things that really don’t matter.
It’s not really a matter of creating more time – just using what time you have to its absolute maximum.
When you think of your life, do you see someone who is proactive (finding opportunities and going for them), or someone who is reactive and finding reasons why they can’t do something. Are you a glass half full or half empty person?
Most people who get things done tend to be proactive people. They strive for achievements, and set themselves goals to get there. In order to do this they need to be organised, and SELECTIVE in what they do with their time.
Here are the top 10 ways I know of that will really make a difference to your everyday life, and to you reaching your goals in life.
Tip #1 – Use your Diary Properly
People often overlook how fantastic a time management tool a simple diary can be. They simply use one to track the general outline of the day – and so that they can ensure that they don’t get double booked – but often overlook the fact that it can be the most valuable thing they own because it manages your time for you and enables you to be proactive everyday.
A diary can be your tool to getting the most out of your day – not getting stressed, and really getting things done – it just has to be used right!
I always do this exercise at the end of the day ready for the following day – as then I know I can wake up with a plan of action – and won’t waste time procrastinating in the morning about what I feel like doing (and this is a weakness of mine – I have wasted DAYS like this!)
Firstly, always have your diary to hand. It will then be easy to make arrangements, and see what you are doing and when.
Use a diary system that suits you – whether on your phone, laptop or a diary book and pen (my personal favourite).
As and when you get appointments and unmoveable items – add them into your diary – and – as Duncan Bannatyne Suggests in his book “How to be smart with your time” – don’t just add in that it starts at say 10am – actually mark out a block of time that covers the event, travel time both ways, prep time etc….
Add in anything that you will need to have with you, the address and any other bits of information – therefore you will have it all to hand and know whats going on at a glance.
Note – This system works brilliantly – as long as you only have one diary! If you work – use different colours for work and home if that helps – but always keep them together – you are only one person so treat your diary the same way.
Tip #2 – Don’t let yourself get sidetracked or interrupted
For one day, or one week – start to note down how many times you were interrupted, and for how long. You will be surprised at the results!
The main culprit?
In the home, it’s usually the phone – with recent years the laptop (think email, social media etc….) adding to this. Basically its however people can reach you in your home at any time of the day where you feel that you have to answer their call right there and then.
I have a real issue with this fact – Its SO frustrating at any time when you stop something to pick up a phone and its a sales call or nothing important.
My way of getting round this is to do two things. Get a phone with number recognition – that way you can avoid numbers you don’t know, and answer those that you do (ONLY if you have the time there and then of course!).
Secondly, get an answerphone. If it’s urgent then you can call them back.
Sound harsh? well not really – pretty much everything can wait. I will always pick up if it’s wherever my daughter is – no matter what – as she is my responsibility and I want her to know I am always there for her, but everyone else won’t mind me getting back to them when I have the time to talk. It’s actually a better way of doing things, as then you will call and talk probably more in depth and with no distractions when you have finished whatever you were doing that stopped you picking up initially.
There are stats out there aplenty about how much time is spent getting back into a task once you have been interrupted, so stopping interruptions before they happen will ensure you get your tasks done quickly and more efficiently.
The time spent per day being interrupted and trying to refocus is 2.1 hours. (2009, Basex)
Your phone should be an asset and a tool for you to use rather than an inconvenience (especially if you also get text and email alerts through it! – put those on silent!)
My husband and I have gone one step further with this. We have a deal that if we really can’t talk when the other calls, then we can divert to voicemail. HOWEVER – if it’s urgent and we really need to talk to them, if we call back immediately then they know it’s serious and will pick up and drop whatever they are doing. This works brilliantly but we have had to make sure we don’t abuse it!
And as for emails and social media – limit yourself to looking at it once your jobs are done for the day – that way it’s a bonus to your day, a reward for getting things done, and won’t distract you while trying to work if you know that you have given yourself time later.
Tip #3 – Delegate and automate to create more time
One of the best ways to create more time, is to look at what you are doing and see whether any of those things could actually easily be done for you by someone else – and then get them to do it!
Delegation works brilliantly for things like cleaning, ironing, childcare etc…. – can you share workloads with another mother? Can you pick up all children for 2 days a week and swap for the other 2 days? Can you hire a cleaner to do some or all of the household jobs? Can other members of your household do more?
Think how much time you spend doing a job, and if you work then weight up whether your time is better spent earning money, doing something else, or continuing to do the job in question.
I have freed up time in my week now to enable me to get more work done by getting some of the household chores done by others – and it works really well (although I really fought against it – my control freak nature coming out again!)
One fantastic time saver is to get my car washed when I am in the gym – I simply drive up and leave it with them – meaning that I waste none of my own time, and saving valuable hours at the weekend!
Automation is also a great way to claw back some time.
If you still spend time paying bills by going to the bank, post office, writing and posting a cheque etc… see if each supplier can be set up on direct debit. Then you only need to spend a few minutes each month checking that the amounts going out are correct.
What about getting a dishwasher if you haven’t got one? This saves loads of time each day which could be better used elsewhere.
If you work from home, a lot of things can be automated – I write my blogs when I have the time to do them justice – and then schedule them to post on certain days of the week which means that there is a regular stream of posts for you to read rather than a glut on one day and then nothing for a few days / weeks, I have linked my social media so you can see things wherever you are looking for it!, and I have set up various reminder systems that automatically bleep when I need to do something (birthday reminders etc….).
There is so much out there that can make your life easier when you look for it that it simply makes sense to use them!
Tip #4 – Do what hurts you most, first
It’s human nature to tend to drag your feet when you have a horrid task to do – and oftentimes it is the thought of the task that’s much worse than the task itself.
If you leave the worst tasks of the day until last, chances are you will fill the day with irrelevant other stuff to keep yourself busy rather than getting on with it – and you will not only waste that day, but another day when you will eventually get round to the task. You will also waste headspace having to think about the task that you don’t want to do.
Basically – if you get the nasty task out of the way first you will automatically feel fresher and lighter, and usually end up getting more done.
I always try and do the worst task of the day mid morning and be finished by lunchtime. I check my emails and do any important admin at the start of the day – then grab a coffee and settle into the harder task. By lunchtime I have usually done at least enough to make finishing it off much easier, or will have completed it fully.
Others say that you should get started on the difficult task immediately – save email/social media/TV etc… until after you have completed the worst of the jobs – basically you need to find the right way of doing things for you.
It’s a lovely feeling then when you come back from lunch to be able to do the nicer tasks – especially if, like me, you get an afternoon slump!
If you had left the harder task until now you will be fighting with yourself to get it done and it will take far longer and probably not be done as well – so just GET IT OUT OF THE WAY!
Tip #5 – Follow the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule (Paretos Principle) has shown time and time again that 80% of the tasks can be done in 20% of the time – meaning that the last 20% takes 80% of the time! Now that’s a waste of time!.
Usually this wastage will come from procrastination, dragging your feet on tasks that you don’t want to do, and simply not being focussed.
Basically it’s saying that you can very quickly do a near perfect job – and getting it perfect may just be the time waster that’s not really required.
There is very little in this world that HAS to be done perfectly – so ask yourself every time you start a task – how perfect does it have to be?
I know from bitter experience that if you try and do a perfect job then you either never start the job for fear of failing, or you spend so much time and get so stressed over it that it wastes time too.
Aim for 80% perfect and then see whether that will be enough. You may be surprised at the results!
Tip #6 – Declutter your life
Just as you would declutter your home – you can declutter your life and save some time there as well.
Really look at how you are spending your time currently – what are you wasting your time on? What can you say NO to?
Creating a time log for a week will help you to focus on where you can save some time.
Are you making too many trips to the supermarket when you could actually get it done in 1 or 2? Do you spend time taking your children to places that actually could be shared with other parents? – there are so many things that you may be doing simply from habit rather than because they are required. Think smart!
The other stuff to delete from your life is clutter. It takes 40% less time to clean the house when its clutter free! – reason enough to start decluttering today!
Less stuff in your life means less shopping, less cleaning, less upkeep, less of pretty much everything! – and you will gain MORE time as a result of all these savings.
Tip #7 – Know your body clock
Knowing how your body clock works can be a great way to gain more time as you can end up scheduling things in for when you work best.
When we are most awake we get things done more quickly and do a better quality of work usually.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Get in sync with your own natural patterns and work then if you can to get more done.
An easy way to create more time is to see whether you can actually get up earlier or stay up later – a very quick win!
Tip #8 – Leave small blocks of time in the day for the unexpected
In Tip#1 I said it was imperative to not only schedule appointments in your diary, but to also add in travel time and prep time etc…. , but equally important with this is that you should also add in a buffer for travel in case of a jam, for errands in case of queues etc…. – and then take something that you can productively do with the time if you end up not needing the buffer.
This has two effects – you are always on time for appointments and are therefore less stressed – and you also get a few extra bits done in the time you have gained!
I like to carry a few articles from magazines that I want to read, or a website on my phone that I need to take a look at – that way I am doing something I may not have the time for otherwise.
Tip #9 – Read while driving (yes, really!)
No – I haven’t gone mad with this tip – but you really can get reading done while doing countless other things – by using audio books.
It isn’t often that adults have time to simply sit and read – especially if you have children – and it’s one thing that we all tend to want to do more of.
Downloading some audio books is a great way to get some reading done, and you can listen while doing all kinds of other things:-
- Cleaning the house
- Walking the dog
- Running errands
Use audio books to get through some of those books you just don’t have the time to read and you’ll be amazed at how productive this down time can be.
Starting to create a habit of listening to audio books rather than the radio may just be key to getting more done for you – I have found it invaluable and have several audio books and courses in my car ready!
Tip #10 – Refresh yourself
Look after yourself and you will be more productive in general – thus creating more time overall.
Exercise, eat well, take frequent breaks – getting energised and healthy will totally improve your energy and get things done much more quickly.
This is something that we don’t always do for ourselves, and it can make such a difference over time – so why not give yourself a lift that will give you so many other advantages as well?!
What will you look back on in your life and think “that was time well spent?” – that’s key to how you should spend more of your time, and following this top 10 list will definitely get you more of the time needed for achieving those things.
When you create more time for yourself, find ways to save time, and manage your time better – you can see how others manage to get so much done – and it can be energising! Of course, how you then use that time is totally up to you…….