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5 Easy Ways To Fit More Into Your Day

5 Easy Ways To Fit More Into Your Day

Our lives are now apparently busier than they have ever been. Surveys suggest that most of us feel under increasing pressure to fit more into our days. This survey even found that people felt too busy to take part in the survey! For some of us, work is the primary culprit. Now that working from home is so easy, employers expect us to work round the clock, and productivity is constantly monitored.

For others, it is social pressures that create a feeling of never getting enough done. Whether it’s physical or academic success, the achievements of those around us make us feel like we should be doing more. Social media platforms like Instagram have undoubtedly made this feeling worse.

Some people’s response to feeling so overwhelmed is to simply try to ignore it. I think a different approach is more rewarding. Instead of simply trying to pretend that the feeling of being over-stretched doesn’t exist, you should try to get more done in the limited time that you have.

That might sound easier said than done, but there are some very simple things you can do to immediately begin to get more out of your time. These things do not focus on one aspect of your life and change it in a dramatic way. Instead, they affect lots of different aspects of your life in a small way. On their own, the time saving will be moderate, when implemented together, they could save you hours of time every single day.

Listed below are 5 easy ways to fit more into your day.

1. Teach Yourself To Learn Faster

No, I am not telling you to avoid going to school. What I am talking about is a learning technique that is as old as recorded sound. But it is one which very few people actually seem to employ. I am referring of course to the practice of recording yourself speaking about a certain topic, and playing it back to yourself as you go about your day.

For example, imagine you are learning Japanese and you want to use this technique to learn faster. You would not doubt be listening to lessons, writing down phrases and sentences, and speaking along with prompts from the teacher.

learning efficiency

    You would then prepare a mock interaction using the new grammar structure or vocab you have learned that day. You would record yourself speaking this interaction out loud, save it as an MP3, and then store it on your iPod. You would then listen to it while you are doing something that doesn’t require a great deal of concentration, be it walking to work, waiting for a train, making dinner, shopping, or cleaning your house.

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    As your collection of self-spoken lessons grows, you would cycle through them in chronological order, over and over again, as you go about your mundane tasks.

    This does two things. First, it forces you to speak both sides of a conversation on a regular basis. Speaking is the most important part of learning a new language. Not getting enough practice speaking is why so many people struggle to get their language learning off the ground.

    Secondly, as you listen to yourself speak, you will be more inclined to listen to the words being spoken than you would if it was a podcast recorded by a stranger. Whether you are really paying attention or not, you will be listening to what is being said, refreshing your brain of conversations you first recorded weeks ago, thus solidifying them in memory.

    Some people even go as far as to play recordings of themselves speaking as they sleep. While I have my doubts about this method of learning, I believe that you should try to fit this method in however you can. Be careful though; not getting enough sleep will hurt your learning more than this technique will help it!

    2. Divide Your Time Into Chunks

    Many of you may not have heard of the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ before now, but it isn’t anything new. Successful people have been using it in various forms for a long time. Those of you who are easily distracted will find this trick particularly helpful. The technique is ludicrously simple but devastatingly effective.

    fit more into your day pomodoro technique

      Basically, you choose a unit of time to be your ‘working block’; 25 minutes is a standard starting point. You then set a timer for that amount of time, and work solidly until the timer runs out. You then take a short break, say 5 minutes, before starting the next cycle. After a designated number of cycles (usually around 3), you take a longer break.

      The beauty of timed working like this is that you eliminate the temptation to check your emails, make a cup of coffee, or talk to your colleagues. You know that you have a five minute break coming up, so it’s much easier to work solidly until then.

      This is more important now than it ever has been. Pretty much everybody now has the internet at their fingertips. It is so easy to take a quick 30 second break from work to check Facebook or Tinder. These 30 second breaks often grow into 30 minute hiatuses from work, so it’s important to minimize them.

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      The best thing about the Pomodoro Technique in my opinion is that you no longer measure work in the amount of time spent at the office or sat at your computer. Instead, you measure your productivity in the amount of time spent actually working. I have found this breeds an element of competitiveness. If you have a friend who also uses a timed working technique, you will naturally try to fit more Pomodoro blocks into your day than them.

      This also leaves you to actually enjoy your time spent not working without feeling guilty about not working. Few of us actually enjoy procrastination. We spend that time worrying about the work we have to do. When using the Pomodoro Technique, you can relax during your breaks, because you know that you are not actually supposed to be working during that time.

      Give the Pomodoro Technique a try yourself today and you will see just how much of a difference it makes.

      3. Banish Time-Consuming Cardio With HIIT

      How long do you spend each week in the gym trying to stay trim? If your main reason for spending hours every week pounding the pavements is to keep body fat at bay, then you could achieve the same results in a fraction of the time by employing high intensity interval training.

      High intensity interval training (HIIT) is where you alternate between a slow to moderate jog and bursts of all-out sprinting. A common tempo is 30 seconds of sprinting, followed by 2 minutes rest. This is repeated for how ever many iterations are desired, with four being pretty standard.

      You can play around with the time scales, but this would be a good place to start. As you get used to doing four 30 second sprints, you can either extend the number of cycles, extend the amount of time you need to sprint for, or reduce rest times.

      HIIT more efficient than jogging time spent training

        Studies have found that HIIT is significantly more effective at burning body fat than steady state cardio. Other studies have found that HIIT gets you in much better physical condition than jogging at a steady pace. Anyone who has done HIIT for a number of months will tell you that their fitness is far above what it was when they jogged almost every day.

        So, not only can you potentially save hours each week, but you can actually achieve better results! Since HIIT shreds body fat faster than steady state cardio, and since it seems to get you in much better condition than just running, you probably don’t need to do HIIT as often as you would normally jog.

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        Furthermore, your body probably won’t be able to take high intensity training as often as it can handle jogging; you will naturally need to take some days off, which translates to even more time saved each week. You can’t ask for much more than that, can you?

        Try swapping your daily jog with a 10 minute HIIT session three times per week and see how your body responds. In the vast majority of cases, time savings will be felt immediately, and changes in how your body looks might start to become apparent in as little as a few weeks.

        4. Tailor Your Diet To Your Goals

        I don’t need to tell you about the impact your diet can have on your day to day life. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to enhance physical or mental performance: your diet essentially sets the limits of what you are capable of. I am not overstating things here. By tweaking your diet in seemingly small but very precise ways, you can supercharge your performance at work, in the gym, at home studying, and even in your social life.

        Eggs source choline cognitive performance enhance focus

          For example, say you are looking to cut down the amount of time you spend studying. Instead of just studying for less time and letting your results suffer, you can try to sharpen your focus and get more done in the same amount of time. One way to do this is to optimize your diet for cognitive performance. Common tactics include consuming more oily fish for the DHA content, more eggs for the choline (a prerequisite for the formation of key neurotransmitters), and keeping carbohydrates low.

          If you are spending longer and longer in the gym trying to get rid of lingering body fat, then a subtle change to your diet could make a world of difference, allowing you to spend much less time in the gym.

          You can find plenty of professional, fat loss orientated diet plans out there. You will also be able to find plenty of information on particular substances and how they can help you speed up fat loss. By introducing things as simple as green tea and chili peppers, you could shave days off your fat loss timetable.

          These changes wont make a massive difference in the short term, of course. The instant benefits may be imperceptible, but over the course of a career, their cumulative effect can be profound.

          5. Cut Down Cooking Time With Intermittent Fasting

          Few things can make as big of an impact on your daily routine, and on your life, as intermittent fasting. You may not think of cooking and eating as being huge drains on your time.

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          Lots of you will really enjoy cooking, and will balk at the idea of cutting down on one of the things you enjoy most. If you lead a stressful life, cooking is without doubt a very effective way to unwind. But if you are desperate to fit more into your already very full day, then intermittent fasting could be for you.

          Put simply, intermittent fasting is when you only consume food during a specified eating ‘window’. Some people use an eight hour window, others simply consume one meal per day – it depends on the individual and their experience using such techniques. In any case, once the eating window is over, you only consume zero to low-calorie drinks: water, green tea, black coffee, and so on.

          I need to make this very clear: intermittent fasting is NOT a diet. You should aim to consume roughly the same amount of calories as you normally would. Intermittent fasting isn’t about how much you eat, it’s about when you eat it. No particular food group is banned, and you aren’t expected to cut back on any of the foods that you love.

          All you are required to do is restrict calorie intake to a narrower window than you are used to. This helps you fit more into your day in two ways. First, the obvious: you spend less time shopping for, cooking, and eating food. Secondly, some of the supposed health benefits of intermittent fasting help you make other areas of your life more efficient.

          For instance, it is well known in the fitness world that intermittent fasting can significantly accelerate fat loss. This means spending less time in the gym or out pounding the pavements.

          Intermittent fasting can also help improve sleep quality, meaning that you get much more out of fewer hours in bed. Basically, by not eating for hours before going to bed, you let your body’s normal growth hormone release cycle take action. This leads to a deeper sleep, as well as enhanced fat loss and muscle recovery. I have heard countless people saying that they wish they didn’t have to sleep so much; intermittent fasting can help you achieve that.

          Intermittent fasting is also known to help enhance cognitive performance. Many experts in this field think that periodic fasting can work wonders for your focus and attention span. While research is on-going, this is just another reason to give intermittent fasting a try.

          Fit More Into Your Day Today!

          This article is not supposed to be a definitive answer to the question of how to fit more into your day. If you do want to fit more into your day, then the best way to go about it is not, in my opinion, to take drastic measures.

          You shouldn’t completely ditch one portion of your life to free up room for another. If something makes you happy, you should still try to make room for it, whether it’s sports, studying, or spending time with friends. The healthiest way to fit more into your day is to make small, almost imperceptible changes to the various parts of your life in order to make them more efficient and less time consuming.

          The techniques I have presented here are things you can introduce today. On their own, each one might only make a small difference to how much you are able to get out of each day. But if you make changes across the board, you will find that you are able to get more and more out of your waking hours, which will either make you more productive or free up spare time for friends and family.

          Either way, don’t put it off or dismiss it as not important. Your time is the most valuable thing you have. Start getting the most out of it today!

          More by this author

          Eric Jackson

          Self-employed

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          Last Updated on November 27, 2020

          15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

          15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

          Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

          According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

          So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

          Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

          Lighting

          Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

          If you work in a company office:
          You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

          If you work from a home office:
          Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

          Chair and Table

          If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

          Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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          • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
          • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
          • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

          If you work in a company office:
          Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

          If you work from a home office:
          Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

          Clutter

          Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

          If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

          If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

          Room Color

          The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

          If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

          If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

          Room Temperature

          Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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          If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

          If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

          Room Scents

          Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

          Try using these scents to stay focused:

          • Pine – Increases alertness
          • Cinnamon – Improves focus
          • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
          • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
          • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

          If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

          If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

          Noise Level

          The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

          If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

          If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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          Air Quality

          Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

          If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

          Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

          If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

          Different Spaces

          If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

          If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

          If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

          Organization of People

          Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

          If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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          If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

          Idea Storage

          Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

          For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

          Refreshment

          Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

          If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

          If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

          Bring in Nature

          We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

          If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

          If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

          Digital Space

          For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

          Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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