Until scientists figure out the whole time-travel thing, you and I are stuck with just 24 hours each day.
Learning to be more efficient is one of the only ways to free up some of your time. Thankfully, getting more efficient doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to look in the right places. Here are a few tips to help you get more out of the day:
1. Understand Procrastination
Procrastination is not laziness. It’s more like a mental block. In our experience, procrastination happens when:
- You find a task tedious or unpleasurable.
- You don’t think you’ll do a good job, and you don’t want anyone to criticize your work.
- You’re a perfectionist, and this is a task you’re not an “expert” at.
All of these are common reasons people avoid doing the work they know they should be doing.
If this is you, try scheduling tasks for certain times (instead of just keeping a to-do list). Block off your calendar to make time for the task—just like you would for a meeting.
If there’s a task you really despise and are always putting off, outsource it.
2. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking significantly decreases your productivity.
It turns out the mind can’t really work on more than one thing at a time. Instead, when you try to do two things at once, you’re just rapidly switching back and forth between the tasks.
Do one thing at a time. Work on it until it’s done or you can take the task no further. Then move on to the next thing.
This will save you hours every week if you’re consistent about it.
3. Turn Off the News
Media organizations know they can draw more attention when they broadcast news in a way that provokes strong emotional reactions.
That’s why the ratio of bad news to good news is 17 to 1.
It may seem harmless, but if you’re a news junkie, you’re spending a lot of emotional energy keeping up with it all—a habit that’s not helping your productivity.
4. Schedule Meetings for 30 Minutes
Jeff Haden once wrote, “Whoever invented the one-hour default in calendar software wasted millions of people-hours.”
Most issues can be handled in 30 minutes. But if you schedule a meeting for an hour, there’s a good chance that meeting will last the full hour—or more.
Default your meetings for 30 minutes, then stick to the schedule. You’ll make decisions faster, and everyone can get on with their work.
5. Kill Distractions
Email notifications. Smartphone notifications. Chat notifications. We’re constantly enduring these little interruptions in our lives.
It’s good to be connected, and it’s good to keep lines of communication open on your team.
But if you’re doing any type of work that requires a flow state, notifications will kill your focus and your productivity.
Turn them off, at least for an hour or two at a time.
6. Hide Your Smartphone
Smartphones are distraction machines. One study showed smartphone owners check their phones 221 times a day. Assuming you sleep around seven hours a night, that means you’re checking your phone every 13 minutes.
If you want to get more done in your day, hide your phone.
Put it in a drawer. Give it to your spouse or a coworker. And don’t let them give it back to you for an hour. Whatever you have to do to make the distractions stop.
7. Automation is Everything
Finally, there are so many ways to automate tasks—including some you’ve probably never thought of.
Our service, for example, allows you to connect different cloud platforms together, opening up all kinds of automation possibilities.
Automatically backup all your cloud services to Dropbox, for example. Or you can create a permanent backup of all your Office 365 email (both sent and received). Or you can even get all of your Evernote notebooks into your Google Drive.
There are thousands of other possibilities. It just depends on which services you use and how you’d like them to work together.
If you spend any amount of time digging through files or sending email attachments back and forth to co-workers or contractors, this type of automation can be a major time-saver.
We love talking about efficiency and automation. The real payoff for these kinds of changes is more time to do… whatever you want. And to experience less stress in the process.
Maybe you’re just trying to keep up with the avalanche of things on your to-do list. Or maybe you want to free up some time so you can skip out early on Fridays every week. Afterall, we understand that time is the new money.
Whatever your reason, we’re here to help.