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15 Simple Ways to Save Time You Can Commit to NOW

15 Simple Ways to Save Time You Can Commit to NOW

As we begin to take on more and more as a society, from increased workloads to social responsibilities, there has seemingly never been a time when we have been more hard pressed for a couple of extra minutes a day.

If you share this sentiment, and time, or the lack thereof, is throwing a dead fish down your lane of productivity, perhaps these time saving tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily lifestyle might switch things up a little.

1. Write it Down

Prioritizing could not get any more simple than this. Yet, ironically so, picking up a pen to write down a To Do list can seem like the most mind boggling time waster to a majority of us! From grocery lists to priority lists, it is time to get writing. Not only will you know exactly what to do at which point in time, you will not need to go through the hassle of wasting your precious minutes trying to remember exactly that when the situation calls for it.

As much as we would like to think that our brain can retain everything that we want it to and regurgitate it at the right place and time, it is already overwhelmed with a million other thoughts. Writing important things down might save you an extra trip back to the grocery store, or a few more minutes trying to recall what was on the priority list to begin with.

2. Utilize Every Moment

Waiting in line or waiting at all for anything can seem like a drag. Rather than painfully watching every precious minute slide by, you can turn wait times into a blessing by accomplishing small tasks, like replying to a quick e-mail or sending out an important message while serving the time. Technology has made everything and anything accessible with its myriad of mobile devices; instead of getting wrapped up in social media while waiting in line or commuting on public transport, take advantage of the advent of technology by ticking things off your To Do list instead!

3. Wake up half an hour earlier than your usual time

It only takes half an hour to fit in something you have always wanted to do but simply never had enough time for. A morning exercise routine perhaps? Making a habit to sit down and eat breakfast? Meditating if you feel anxious? It is easier said than done, but if you set your alarm perhaps an hour earlier every morning, hit the snooze button for half an hour, and muster the will to crawl out of bed at least half an hour earlier than expected, you will be so much more grateful for it at the end of the day. The key is to use that half hour wisely, not sitting in bed scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, but doing things that you usually feel you could benefit from but never had the time to do.

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4. Say ‘NO’ more often

Saying NO can be more difficult for some people compared to others. Especially when the fear of missing out (FOMO) decides to swing by and laugh its head off as soon as you utter the word. But just imagine how much time you could be saving yourself by saying no to something that you really did not want to get involved in, but felt obligated to say yes to. If you can imagine yourself putting the minutes to good use by politely refusing to go along with another plan, don’t be afraid to do so.

To quote Paula Rizzo, Producer and Founder of ListProducer.com on her contribution to Entrepreneur in “The Power of Saying No”:

Once I started to really put value in my minutes, things changed. I got to do more of the things I loved while still maintaining my work relationships.

Enough said.

5. Grocery Shop in BULK

You will not believe how much time this can save you! When it comes to shopping, try and get the non-perishable items in bulk, especially if they appear to be discounted or on special offers. This will spare you the extra trip to the grocery store when you run out, and save you a buck or two simultaneously. Always think future instead of just present. Challenging your brain to go the extra mile might save you a couple minutes, and dollars, when the time calls for it. You can even store certain perishable items, like bread, in the freezer to be consumed later in the week.

6. Batch Cook!

If you often spend time preparing meals for yourself or family, you know that even the simplest of meals requires a committed amount of time in the kitchen. From slicing and dicing, to getting the dishes washed, before you know it there is no time to walk the dog or dry out the laundry. Instead of dealing with this repetitive cycle, invest a good amount of the time you have into bulk food preparation. Ever heard of batch cooking? Batch cooking allows you to plan ahead and invest 1 to 2 hours one day a week cooking meals that could last you an entire week.

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If you Google batch cooking, you will find a ton of meal preparation ideas and suggestions on the internet that could free up your hours for other things.

7. HIIT Yourself into Shape

Think you need to fit in a one hour jog or gym session to reap the most benefits? Think again! High Intensity Interval Training, or better known as HIIT, has been storming into the fitness scene of late. This workout involves short bursts of intense exercises interspersed with active recovery periods. The idea is to keep the heart rate up by alternating intense and less intense recovery periods, which in turn bumps up caloric expenditure.

Scientific research from a 2013 study in the Journal of Physiology called Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males, says that HIIT can achieve the results of low intensity longer workout sessions in half the time. To add to this, the benefits of HIIT are also reaped long after a workout is over. Less time, more results – why not?

8. Cut Down on Social Media Apps on your Mobile Devices

There are thousands of mobile apps out there that allow you to gain access to the internet and entertain yourselves with just the pressure of your thumb. According to a study featured on Techcrunch that looks into how people are using their smartphones, it is in fact social and communication apps that are garnering more popularity, and in turn consuming our time.

While apps do their part in making our lives easier, social media apps can be a dark hole of no return. A quick status check can easily distract your attention, and before you know it you find yourself bouncing off profiles and scrolling through different websites.

In fact, social media apps seem to be interestingly designed that way; they pique your interest so much that you find yourself hooked, unable to pull away. It takes great resilience, but before you make the mistake of spending hours on social media apps, perhaps it is time to delete the ones you can go without.

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Also, be smart about communicating. Picking up the phone and making a call to communicate with a friend or loved one can be so much more time efficient than typing out and sending messages on a communication app like Whatsapp.

9. Organize Effective Social / Catch up Sessions

In other words, try and kill two birds with one stone even when you decide to catch up with friends. Free in the morning? Go for a fitness class together! That way you not only tick off a workout from your list without putting it in the back burner, you also have double the fun. Late afternoon session? Shop for things that you need together that you have either been putting off for a while, or that you might need for later in the week.

Catching up at a cafe may seem ideal but the time that goes idling by can be used more effectively, and you even get a second opinion for free. And if that is not an option, then perhaps just arrange to meet at a convenient location where you need to run errands after; that will save you some travel time.

10. Become a Creature of Habit

When it comes to certain things, making a habit out of them may be the solution to your lost time. Put your car keys in the same place when you come home every day so you don’t have to spend time looking for them when you need to run out the door the next day. Put your socks in a designated sock drawer so they don’t play hide and seek when you need them. By creating habits and setting a routine, your brain will not go into a frantic fit and lose all sense of direction when you need something stat.

11. Ask Questions!

Have you ever taken a wrong bus to nowhere land just because you thought it was unnecessary to confirm the route? Or perhaps you spent a good amount of time on a project without asking your manager a few questions that you thought could be overlooked and had to redo the entire project again? Overlooking questions and concluding that they may not be important is common. Whether it is directions, instructions, or procedures, we do not have the answers to everything. And the simple solution might just be to ask. Silly you might think your question is wasting precious time, but reversing a situation you might have been able to avoid is worth the confirmation (and the pride).

12. Go by the ‘2-Minute Rule’

The 2-Minute Rule was coined by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It goes by the principle that if a task can be completed within 2 minutes, then instead of putting it off, do it then and there. It is surprising how much we can achieve in 2 minutes that we actually tend to put off. Unsubscribing from a newsletter that we might not want to receive in the future, for example, is so easy to put off for later. What we fail to realize is the later the task is accomplished, the more junk e-mail we end up having to use our precious time to delete. Living by the 2-Minute Rule rule not only avoids procrastination, but ensures that every minute counts and our actions don’t come back to bite us in the future.

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13. Invest Time to Save Time

Don’t let the phrase fool you. This simply means in order to save future time, you might have to invest a bit more time picking up on tips and cues in the present. Learning about computer programs and keyboard short cuts, for instance, might save you lots of time when it comes to getting work done if you choose to invest time to pick them up in the first place. Purposely going the extra mile to seek a shorter route (with less traffic!) to work may require more time at first, but imagine how much time in the future you will be saving by doing so.

When we are so used to our own way, it is easy to become complacent with exploration, which in turn stunts our ability to shave off the extra minutes from our usual day to day tasks. Turn being curious into an investment and you might just discover tricks to earn you some extra time moving forward.

14. Focus on One Thing at  a Time

Multitasking is a skill that many have learned to master, from busy moms to working millennials; we have all basked in the glory of multitasking at least once in our busy lives. However, research suggests that focusing our attention on more than one thing at a time may be a hit, not only to our productivity levels, but the amount of time that we take to accomplish tasks.

In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites. Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic by Steve Lohr, featured in The New York Times.

We live in an age where our attention is constantly pulled from one direction to another, but sometimes all we need to do is let go of the constant need to do and control so many things all at once. Pay attention to one thing at at a time and see how you begin to get things done so much faster.

15. Always Make Time for Yourself

Last but not least, never skimp out on a bit of me time every day, no matter how hard it may seem. Let the guilt slide; when it comes to taking time out for yourself it is important regardless of how little time the day seems to offer. Not taking care of yourself and spending at least a couple of minutes getting to know yourself and your direction can be the main reason for more time loss in your day. A tired mind and body is one that takes longer to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Just checking in with yourself will set you straight on your priorities in life, and guide you in making decisions that determine the importance of your precious time.

To conclude, time can be even more important that money. You can’t buy time, so make a conscious attempt to incorporate lifestyle changes that can maximize the number of hours you have in a day.

Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/smartwatch-smart-watch-watch-apple-28208/ via static.pexels.com

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Dimi Jani

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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