Time is such a valuable resource because it is so limited. We only have 24 precious hours in a day. So, we need to learn how to spend it wisely. I am always looking for ways to create more time in my day, but therein lies the issue, we can’t create more time we can only save it and spend it wisely. Therefore, I have begun to monitor where my time goes and the ROI (return on investment) I receive on it. The first step to make any change is to have awareness of your current state and actions. This provides you a baseline, so when you make changes you know how far you have come and you can track what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to save time and stay focused you first need to know where you are spending your time. For the next three days pay attention to where you spend your time. How often do you check you emails, phone, social media during the day? Do you constantly jump from one thing to another, responding to whatever catches you attention. Do feel interrupted during the day and have to keep refocusing? Try logging how you spend your time over the next few days. You may be surprised.
Another way to approach it is gather $24 worth of quarters and $1 bills. This represents your hours in the day. Think of a dollar bill as an hour and quarters are 15 minutes. Then as you go through the day pay out your $24 as you spend your time. You can use cups or post it notes and label the different categories of your time buckets. Then at the end of the day you can literally see where you spend your time. Also, decide ahead of time what buckets provide ROI back to you, and be honest with yourself, spending a half hour watching celebrity gossip updates online is not self care and does not provide ROI. If you were on the treadmill while you did it than yes I could see that providing you back ROI. Try this little experiential observation and leave me a comment about how it was for you. What realizations did you have from it.
We all want to be more productive in the day and have more time to spend with family or having down time. So how do we save more time and stay focused?
Here are the 5 Simple Ways You Can Save Time at least 10 Hours a Wee
Change Your Browser Home Page
This may sound trivial, but it saved me about 4-7 hours a week. Why? Because I would open my browser all set to get my action list done then I would see some breaking news or some saucy gossip story about a celebrity that I just couldn’t resist. Before I knew it, I was sucked down a rabbit hole on the world wide web and lost about 45 minutes of my life! So I changed my homepage to google.com. There’s no flashing images or breaking news to catch my attention. My time is no longer sucked away. Even if you think you’re focused and have the willpower not to click, trust me this little productivity trick makes a significant difference in time management and focus.
Create an Action List the Night Before
Creating your list the night before works on several levels. First your mind starts to plan for the activity, just as an athlete envisions his moves before the big game. Brain imaging has shown that when we imagine completing an activity the same mental circuitry activates as when we actually do the activity. Essentially you are mentally preparing yourself for action and therefore success.
Also, by creating your list you can hit the ground running the next day. You know which direction to go, what to tackle and what to filter out. Have you ever sat at your computer or desk and just fiddled, not really knowing what direction to go in or what to tackle first, all the while knowing you have so much to do. By taking a few minutes the night before to establish an actionable direction for the next morning you’ll have a map and compass to follow, so you’re not wondering aimlessly.
If you’re not a to do list type of person, then we can’t be friends. Just kidding, here’s some tips to keep you on track. If the action list doesn’t tickle your fancy try the next tip.
Work in Time Blocks
Whether or not you like to do lists, this is a great addition to your time creation plan. Working in time blocks. There’s a few ways to approach this. If you use a calendar (either paper or electronic) you can literally block out chunks of time to work on the action list you created the night before. For example, if you have a presentation that needs to be edited, then block out 10am to 11am just for that action. Literally highlight it so you visually know that’s the only action you have to focus on during that time. It’s helpful to share your calendar with others, especially those others in your life who can interrupt or support your work blocks. When we work in time blocks we allow our brain and energy to just be on one task, resulting in more production and higher quality in less time. Our brains don’t multitask even though you think you can do it, your brain doesn’t. When we have to switch tasks it takes more mental energy resulting in less quality production. Check out these articles from Psychology Today and NPR to learn more about multitasking myths. Furthermore, according to Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, it takes us an average of 23 min and 15 sec to refocus after an interruption (Fast Company). Think about it, how many interruptions take place during your day? Let me put it another way, how many times a day do you say to yourself “ok where was I?” There’s some easy time savings there just by eliminating interruptions.
You want to time block everything, but don’t worry you can build in flexibility and reactive blocks to take care of those unforeseen issues. Essentially, you will take back control of your day and your schedule. It’s best to schedule those tough action items when you are at your best. Remember how we discussed tracking your day above? When are you most productive, have the most mental capacity and energy? This is the time of day that you want to devote to tougher actions.
There’s a lot more to efficient time blocking and working effectively, like scheduling in mental breaks before you totally drain your production capacity.
If you want more information or some assistance with creating a personalized time block schedule contact me at yourprogresscoach.com
Ok on to the next two, super quick and easy tips that will save you a ton of time.
Unsubscribe (snail mail and electronic)
Unsubscribe is the such a powerful word. It’s another way of saying no thank you, this isn’t for me. This goes for electronic and snail mail. After you have established your priorities and know your actions then you can filter out what you don’t need coming into your to do world. Let’s break this down. If you receive 5 junk mails a day and you skim them for 2 minutes each that’s over an hour a week you can save! Maybe you just look through your in box and check of the junk mail and delete, well that is still taking your valuable time and energy to complete. Or maybe you are saving those emails to read another day when you have more time or you want to research it further. Let’s get real they will just be taking space in your inbox. Just scroll down and unsubscribe. It feels good.
Now junk mail. I have unsubscribed to all magazines and catalogs. Anything else I get I just stand by my recycle bin next to my mailbox and toss them in. They don’t even enter my home.
Delete those “funny” mass emails before you even open them – better yet, request from frequent senders to not be included next time, even if that sender is your mother
Yes you heard me correctly. Don’t even open them, you’ll be sucked in. Unless you have created time in your time blocks for down time activities like this, but can’t you think of a more pleasurable and rewarding activity to do during down time than look at another funny cat or baby picture. So this isn’t about creating rigidity it’s about creating freedom by taking back control of your time and your life. Time is one of the most valuable and limited resources we have, so let’s learn how to use it with intention. Thanks for joining me and here’s to spending your time wisely. To lean more go to yourprogresscoach.com