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7 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Gain More Time In Your Busy Day!

7 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Gain More Time In Your Busy Day!

“There just isn’t enough hours in the day.”

“I can’t remember the last time I had quiet time to myself.”

“I would love to but I am afraid I am too busy.”

“I am sorry I am late (again).”

Be honest here. Hands up if these are the kind of comments you say on a regular basis… and I don’t just mean one a week or month, but pretty much every day.

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I’m fully aware that the physics of time have not changed. There are 24 hours in a day, exactly the same as there was 1,000 years ago I know, but it just feels like time is more squeezed now, and that our days seem more busy. Our days can feel so busy to the point that sometimes we feel exhausted, worn out and rushed by the end of it. Some of you might even feel that you’ve failed at having a productive day or ticked anything off from your ever-growing to-do list.

But I am going to let you in on my secret… you CAN get more time in your day. Not physical minutes but space in your day to do more if you follow these 7 ridiculously simple ways to gain more time in your busy day.

Follow them well and you might even have time for yourself, whether that’s a long soak in the bath, picking up the guitar you promised yourself you’d start to learn or simply coming home at a sensible hour that allows you to cook a meal from scratch.

Secret time tip 1: Keep a log

In order to work out where you are spending your time, I suggest you keep a time log. You will need to do this for at least a week to get a full cycle but ideally do it for a few weeks to get a broader picture, especially if like me no two weeks look the same. Log how you are spending your time hour by hour. This is a time to be pedantic and specific. After you have logged a week or two, take a close look at how you are honestly spending your time, not how you think you are spending your time. Perhaps you are spending more time on your commute, dressing the kids, making dinner, or nattering to your acquaintances by the photocopier more than you thought?

Secret time tip 2: Batch and bulk

This has to be one of my favorite techniques for saving time. I batch and bulk the majority of tasks, in the office and at home. This works especially well for chores and necessary (yet boring) tasks too!

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For example, let’s take your homemade lunches you take to work. Firstly well done for taking the healthier and cheaper route (buying your lunch every day at work is said to cost us £1,800 a year). But to save time you really need to get on board with ‘meal prepping’. (FYI #mealprep returns over 4 million results on Instagram). Rather than spend time each night making tomorrow’s lunches, chose one specific day to do the whole batch (I prefer Sunday evenings). Whilst I agree making all your meals takes the same amount of time whether you do it day by day or in one go, it is the preparation, shopping and washing up that you’ll see the reward, having to only do this once.

This batch and bulk technique can be applied to most things. My husband writes all the reports for his team in one batch, my dad does all his accounts on a Monday and I dedicate time to do my emails in chunks rather than one by one as they come through. It’ll save you time and gain you focus.

Secret time tip 3: Eliminate (or at least reduce)

Take a look at your time (or better still your time log) and see what chores, tasks and activities you could eliminate. That’s right – completely get rid of! This will work for simple, repetitive or boring chores (I don’t suggest you use this as an excuse to your boss for not writing the weekly analysis).

For example, perhaps you could give some household chores to the kids, or automate some systems (for example direct debit payments and automatic renewals). Perhaps you can buy items such as toiletries, tinned food and cleaning products in larger quantities so you have to refill them less frequently. If you can’t completely eliminate some tasks, then at least try to cut down the time spent on tasks.

Secret time tip 4: Turn off distractions

We all like to think we can multi-task, but in reality, we really can’t. (I know you’re thinking “but I can”… you can’t). Mute the distractions and I guarantee that you will get things done quicker. Stop responding to every ping and beep your phone makes and focus on the task at hand. I guarantee this will make you more efficient, which in turn, gives you the gift of more time!

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Secret time tip 5: Don’t procrastinate

I am not an ethnologist* but I am pretty sure that other mammals in the animal world don’t procrastinate like the human does. I don’t remember watching a wildlife show, where the lion whilst hunting, became indecisive about what species of antelope to hunt. He just goes for it. Nor do I recall ever having watched a dog, unsure whether to case the ball that his owner has so lovingly thrown.

Procrastinating, pondering and mulling over options is a sure fire way to eat up your precious time, because the more you dither, the more time you are wasting. I truly speak from the heart on this one as I used to be terrible at making simple decisions. Complex, long term decisions at work were a doddle but when it came to what restaurant to choose, what plans I should make for my in-laws visit or what to wear to the party, my mind was a jumble! Whilst you might only have wasted 20 minutes here or there, over the weeks, that adds up! Now, I limit decision-making time to a few minutes on unimportant or reversible decisions. If you still can’t make a decision, then simply ask someone for their opinion and go with that.

* Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationship between them

Secret time tip 6: Look for “dead time”

Don’t write off the importance of even the smallest snippet of seconds. For example, spending 10 minutes each day mindlessly waiting for the bus to work every morning doesn’t sound a lot, but that is 50 minutes in a working week, and if you are making the same journey back, that is a whopping 100 minutes a week you are wasting your time on. Now before you say “but Alice, I have to get the bus to work” my point is about looking for this ‘dead time’ as I call it, and finding ways to fill it productively. Perhaps listen to an audio book, write your to-do list or use the time to text people back. I have flash cards to help me learn Japanese which I whip out during ‘dead time’.

Secret time tip 7: Put a time to things

This is a tip I have only been doing myself this year but the results have been huge when it comes to helping me save time. On every to-do list, I allocate an amount of time I think I should be dedicating to it (or physically can). This helps me on two levels – first, because it keeps my timings disciplined (when the allocated 20 minutes are up, the task is done) and second because it helps me set expectations. I can quickly see if I am packing too much into my day. The other week I had a to-do list that was starting to come off the page. When I allocated my timings to do it, I realized I would need 9 hours to complete it yet I only had 5 hours! I could then see what was urgent for that day, and what could be put off. If I hadn’t had done this, then no doubt I would have been beating myself up at the end of the day for not completing everything off the list!

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Bonus tip!

My bonus tip for you all, before you begin implementing my secret time tips first ask yourself why you want this extra time.

Do you want to just feel less busy, or spend more time with your family or free up your Saturday morning to take those jazz dance classes you always said you would? By identifying this, you have a strong motivation to stick to these tips. For example, the next time you start procrastinating, when you remember that being quicker will allow you more time to see your family will be a sure fire motivation to crack on!

I hope these tips help you like they have helped me!

I am one of those people that want to do it all – I want to try as many things as possible to get the most out of life. For that reason, I want to make sure I cram as much as physically possible into my days (without burning out like I did 10 years ago).

Following these tips will help you enjoy the now, be more productive and spend time on the things you love to do!

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Alice Dartnell

Engagement Expert

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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