Our working day is jam-packed. From 9 to 5, often longer, there seems to be an ever-growing pile of work to do and other things that need our attention. The ability to finish everything appears to slip through our fingers. This can leave us feeling that we have not achieved anything of value. And, when you realise you have forgotten to do something, you may be left wondering where the day went. You may also have the feeling that you do not use your time very well. Everyone else seems far more productive, and still manages to bake, cook, walk the dog and be on top of all their work. It can seem like alchemy, making every minute of the day count and still have time to relax and enjoy the day too.
How can you save time? How can you make the hours you do work more productive?
- Plan and structure your day
Taking a leaf out of entrepreneur books and spend a fraction of today planning what you will do tomorrow. This can be as something as simple as making a list and ticking accomplishments off at the end of the day, so you can see what needs to be tackled tomorrow.
Prioritising these tasks is the next step in saving more time, and decreasing stress. Understanding the urgency and impact of each task on your list is vital. It may only take 5 minutes to complete but if that task has the biggest impact on the business/rest of your day and so on, then that comes first.
- Two screens
We are normally at our most productive at the start of any given shift, and so the critical tasks need to be completed first. This does not always mean, however, that these are most comfortable or welcome of tasks.
Dealing with tough things first makes the rest of the day fly by. What can slow you down is trying to operate everything from one screen, with multiple tabs open and so on. Two screens allow you to work on one project while to keep an eye on essential components such as email, news sites and so on.
- Ditch multi-tasking
Studies have shown that attempting to do too much at once decreases our productivity rate by 40%. That’s nearly half. Not only this, slowing down during your working day and taking breaks also mean you have a constant output.
As counterintuitive as it feels, stop for breaks and lunch – and focus on one task rather than juggling and spinning more and more plates.
- Meetings, meetings and more meetings
One thing guaranteed to cut into your day is meetings. One after the other will leave you questioning their value. And you are right to do so.
Some entrepreneurs have ‘no meeting days’ where they focus solely on various tasks that they want and need to accomplish within a given timeframe. It could work for you too, so try it.
- Efficient, productive meetings
From some meetings, come tasks. They can be simple ones, or they can be a new, monster project.
Some entrepreneurs have suggested that meeting time can be better used. So, when accountants ask you to email over the latest expense sheet, do it there and then. If you need to email links to so-and-so regarding the project, do that at the meeting. This way you leave the meeting with no more tasks that what you had when you went in… sometimes!
- Switch off
We all know how we are connected to the internet, social media and so on every second of the day. And, we are told, disconnecting now and then is good for our physical and emotional health too.
And it can also save you time too. You cannot concentrate and complete a piece of work if you are constantly distracted by email, social media, texts on your phone, updates and so.
Switch them off.
- Time yourself
Some people work well in short bursts and find that setting time limits can be incredibly helpful in being able to achieve as much as possible in a given time frame. For example, setting the clock for 20 minutes and getting as many emails sent and replied to is one way of tackling a task or, completing a,b,c in an hour and so on.
- Make use of planning software and apps
There are a large number of free apps that help to organise your thinking, as well as structuring your day. You may think that spending 10 minutes inputting info into an app a waste of time but try it - you could be pleasantly surprised.