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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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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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