Does the phrase “so much to do, so little time” summarize your life? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, millions still struggle to find that crucial work-life balance. That’s why there’s a surge of productivity coaches and apps today, all promising they will help you save time and become more efficient.
The struggle is real
Why is it so hard to manage time these days? The answer is simple: the way you do things now has changed.
Internet and technology are both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you can now do things faster. Take email, for example. You don’t have to wait for weeks to get a reply. Thanks to technology, you can send an email and get an answer in a matter of minutes.
Sadly, this same convenience is what robs you of time. You can now do everything online: close deals, make travel arrangements, do your groceries, and even enroll your children in school. Soon, you’re sucked into these sites. Before you know it, the day has ended, and you’re left wondering, “where did time go?”
Time management is crucial for you to be productive and have time for family and friends. However, many time-saving methods productivity coaches teach aren’t for everyone. Things like “switching off your Internet connection” or “avoiding social media” can work for some, but it can spell disaster if you’re building an online business.
Making slight adjustments to these time management techniques to fit your needs can help you save time and be more efficient. Here are 10 time-saving changes you can make to your routine.
10 Ways to Save Time
- Do your planning the night before
More and more productivity coaches now recommend planning your day the night before, preferably before going to bed. Why? Because it works!
For starters, you’re not rushing while planning your day. You can carefully go through your notes and calendar to see if you have any appointments scheduled. That way, your tasks don’t overlap, and you don’t miss anything.
Sorting your schedule before you go to bed also clears your mind because everything’s on paper (or on your smartphone). When your mind’s at ease, you sleep better. You also wake up refreshed, alert, and ready to begin the day.
- Start your to-do list with verbs
Starting each task with a verb makes the work sound very distinct. It also prompts your brain to take a concrete action. You don’t waste time trying to figure out what is it exactly about that task you need to do.
- Eat (or drink) a high-protein breakfast
Tim Ferris, the author of the book “The 4-Hour Work Week,” recommends having 30 grams of protein for breakfast every day.
Protein-rich foods take a lot longer to digest than carbs, so your brain stays alert longer, and you’re more able to focus.
Some people have problems eating a heavy breakfast. If that’s you, make yourself a protein shake instead. It will give you the protein you need to get your day started right without making you feel bloated or sluggish.
- Break down large tasks
Some tasks — like planning a birthday party or creating an email marketing campaign — involve lots of smaller jobs. Breaking these tasks down to smaller steps make these enormous tasks more manageable. It also makes things very precise, so you don’t waste time figuring out the next step.
- Start things off easy
Tackling that most difficult task first is very much like trying to bench press 50 pounds without warming up. While you won’t pull a muscle, starting off with the most difficult task can give you an overwhelming feeling. Because of this, your brain either shuts down or starts wandering away.
Starting off with the small and manageable tasks helps you build momentum. There’s something about crossing off one task after another on your to-do list that energizes you. By the time you get to the most difficult task, you’re so pumped up and driven that it’s now easier to complete.
- Stop multitasking
One of the most common myths about time management is that you can save time with multitasking. Not true! In fact, what happens is the complete opposite. Studies show multitasking actually reduces your productivity by 40% because it takes time for your brain to shift its attention from one task to another. And since your attention is divided, there’s a bigger chance to make mistakes that you need to correct.
If you want to save time, focus on one task and one task alone. Don’t jump to the next task until you finish it. Productivity coaches call this Deep Work, which centers on the principle that staying laser focused on a task and eliminating distractions helps you get the job done faster.
- Know when you’re most productive
Let’s face it: not everyone is at their best in the morning. Some people are actually more productive in the afternoon or even late at night. If that’s you, don’t make the mistake of trying to force yourself to work in the morning. It’s just not going to work!
Instead, embrace your uniqueness and work your schedule around it. If you discover afternoons are your most productive time, then schedule all the routine tasks that don’t need much thinking in the morning and save the creative and intense work in the afternoon.
- Use templates
Using templates for reports and emails can save you lots of time because you don’t have to keep typing the same thing over and over. You can just copy and paste the template, and edit it so that it fits what you need at that time.
There are two ways you can do this: you can download ready-made templates online, or you can create your own using Microsoft Word, Google Docs or an app like Evernote.
- Take frequent breaks
This might sound counterintuitive. After all, how can taking frequent breaks help save time?
Studies show that a person’s attention span drops after 50 minutes. Taking a quick 5-minute break every hour allows your brain to rest and refresh itself. This will help you regain your focus to complete your tasks.
- Batch tasks in time chunks
Another common mistake in time management is not setting a deadline to work on a task. When you know that you have pretty much the whole day to work on something, it’s easy to procrastinate. Conversely, when you are aware that you’ve got a deadline to meet, you work faster and become more focused.
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