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Last Updated on February 17, 2021

How To Save Time And Achieve More Every Day

How To Save Time And Achieve More Every Day

How many times have you thought to yourself, “there’s just not enough hours in the day”? If you’re reading this article, chances are—a lot. The goal when doing or investing in most things is to “save time”. While we all could use more time to spend with our families or get more done throughout the day, saving time isn’t necessarily the solution.

Managing your time properly is the solution. Building productive habits and holding value to your time makes is essential if you want to save time and achieve more every day. If you’re struggling to get a grip and find the cycle of lost time to be relentless—with something else to do always in your peripheral—follow along to learn how to save time and work well with what you’ve got.

1. Knowing Your Numbers Will Help You Budget Your Time

It can be a tough pill to swallow when you realize that we all have the same 24 hours each day, right? What it comes down to is the brass tacks—you have got to know exactly where your time goes every day.

You’re aware that you shouldn’t spend more than X amount of money on fast food per month or you might go over budget. But what do you know about your time? You know it takes 20 minutes to get to work every day. But what do you know about how much time you spend on your phone?

Are you aware that the majority of Americans spend over two hours per day, just on social media?[1] If this is you, consider what you could accomplish over those two hours, allowing you to provide yourself with guilt-free scrolling in the evening.

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Recognizing where you’re losing time—and the tasks in your life that are taking unnecessary amounts of time—is key to gaining control of your day. Treat your time like you do your bank account, and you’re ready to save more time.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Evaluate Your Time:

  • How much time do you spend on the internet or social media per day?
  • How much time do you spend watching TV per day?
  • Do you do any tasks that could be done by someone else?
  • What needs more of your time?
  • How much work could you get done without any distractions?

Once you’ve figured out your daily numbers, multiply that by seven and see just how much time you have to work with each week.

2. Getting Organized Will Bring Much Needed Structure

Once you’re clear on where your time goes and how much time you actually have to dedicate to your to-do list, begin to structure your day. Use a process called time blocking. Time blocking is the process of scheduling out your day so you know exactly when you will be doing what.

Plan your days and weeks ahead of time by setting a schedule, and then take time each morning to plan your day. It may seem like waking up and planning your day every day would just add to your time struggle, but it’s been reported that taking less than 15 minutes to plan your day can actually save you two hours throughout the day.[2]

When you take a moment to get intentional with your day and with your time, you will be able to do two things: prioritize and delegate.

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Understanding exactly what needs to happen within your day allows you to see what is the most important, ensuring that it gets done no matter what. Having a plan of action for your day will also help you stay focused and have a clear mindset for how you need to move to accomplish what you want to get done.

Recognizing where your time is not needed is also a pillar of time management. By organizing your day each day, you can see what on your to-do list might be better served by someone else. Let’s face it—at the end of the day, are the dishes and the vacuuming where your time is most useful? Necessary, nonetheless—so then we delegate.

Once you begin to implement these practices, you can then see where developing processes to tackle tasks and save time is essential. Whether it’s chore rotation to share the load or hiring help to come in during Tuesdays, structure and plans are the keys to success and time freedom.

3. Streamline With Help of Delegation and Outsourcing

It’s easy to say, “just get organized!” and you’ll have more time, but this is often where a large part of the struggle lies. Time management is a skill and a practice—no doubt—but it’s totally achievable.

It begins with learning your options. We live in a beautiful world of technology where there is an app for everything. Time management tools exist, you just have to find them and learn them. And maybe technology isn’t your thing—that’s okay, too. You can just as well create your own tools and processes to increase your productivity.

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Once you’ve realized where you can delegate, you then need to figure out how to delegate. Maybe you can’t implement a chore chart, but you can use an app to find a freelance maid who is more than happy to do your dishes at a low cost.

And maybe you don’t want to pay someone to clean your home for a myriad of reasons, but you can schedule the same 10 minutes each day to wash your dishes to avoid an hour-long pile-up. Listen to a podcast on productivity while you do it, and it’s suddenly not squandered time—and perhaps even insightful.

Streamlining your processes will take time, but eventually, your days will be running like a well-oiled machine. If you need help with organization, there are free management tools that allow you to easily line out your days or categorize your to-do list. Having a visual component to your day will help get some of those thoughts out of your head and allow you to track your progress.

Quick Tips for Streamlining Your Day:

  1. Plan your day the night before or in the morning.
  2. Begin to wake up earlier, a little at a time.
  3. Avoid your phone first thing in the morning.
  4. Take care of tasks that are almost done.
  5. Evaluate when you’re most productive time and schedule accordingly.
  6. Create a process for everything.
  • When to plan your meals for the week…
  • Who’s cooking the meals…
  • When you’re going to clean…
  • When you’re going to work out…
  • Who’s taking the kids to school…
  • Morning routine…
  • Evening routine…

As you begin to develop helpful habits and learn to create processes for each part of your life, you’ll begin to see less pile-up of obligations, less time wasted, and more things accomplished throughout your day.

4. Avoid Burnout by Gaining Control of Your Day

The cycle of lost time can be a nasty one—especially if you have kids. It can seem like one wrong step and suddenly, your house is a complete disaster, you have three things to address in the mail, and you’re running late to work or school drop off.

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As this cycle continues, it’s likely that your stress levels are up, and your focus is off from the spin out of things needing your attention. Then, you’re left with decreased productivity, overwhelm, and often hopelessness. This cycle is called burnout. You’ve reached your wit’s end and it seems difficult to even know where to begin to get back on track.

Investing in time management practices and strategies—however imposing on your current schedule they may feel—will actually help you avoid burnout. Gaining control of your time means gaining control of your day, and gaining control of your day means gaining control of your life.

The Bottom Line – You Are in Charge

Sometimes, the hardest things can truly be so simple. As a (sometimes) functioning adult, you likely have the tools right in your mind to evaluate and structure your day. Yes, it can be hard to zoom in when the zoom out is so cluttered, but when you take it a little bit at a time, you’ll realize that you can do this.

Then it’s just a matter of finding what works for you—whether you’re a night planner or a day planner, whether you can afford to stop doing the dishes, and whether you prefer to outline your life digitally or on paper.

More Tips on How to Save Time and Be More Productive

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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Agnese Rudzate

Agnese is a next level success strategist.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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