Time hacks can help you shave hours off your workweek, so you have more time to pursue hobbies, interests, and family time. As you read through the following five, decide how you can incorporate them into your daily routine, and also be on the lookout for other time-saving possibilities that crop up along the way. Our suggestions:
One: Plan Ahead.
Either the night before or early in the morning while you’re waiting on the coffee to brew, take some time to plan out your entire day. (We recommend the night before.) Planning is essential to doing your work quickly and effectively because it creates the template on which to base your day. Rather than finishing one task and then wondering which should come next, you have an itinerary that will allow you to stay focused, take shorter breaks, and get more done. If you’re the disorganized type who can never seem to keep up with your post-it notes, pen, and paper, we recommend the free app Wunderlist for planning each task; but at least employ a single notebook that you can go to. Something that represents your workload. Don’t be a random note-jotter. Inevitably you’ll forget something.
The smartphone — and to a lesser degree, the tablet — can create massive distractions from your workload. After all, they give you instant access to the Internet, games, books, movies, and TV. Schedule some time each day where you disconnect your devices from Wi-Fi and focus on just the workload. By creating one added layer between you and the convenience of the ‘Net, you can more easily train your brain to go into work mode.
Three: Let Email Sit.
No one sends emails with the expectation that said message will be returned in five minutes or less. Smart people use email for things that need to be addressed, but that don’t require an emergency response. So why do you check it every five minutes? It’s far better to check your email twice each day — at the beginning and at the end. The rest of the time needs to be you and your projects. The world will not come to a halt.
Four: Clean Your Workspace.
I’m a work-from-home guy, which means when my place is clean, I get a lot done; but when it’s not clean, I either have to head to the coffee shop or roll over and go back to sleep. Working in a messy place is out-of-the-question. It’s as if the clutter crowds in and takes over my brain. The act of cleaning your workspace is in many ways therapeutic to your lack of productivity. It sets your mind right, into a state of “taking care of business” that ports easily into your work life.
Five: Do One Task Early.
Here’s why we recommend planning your day the night before. When you get your list built up, choose one task on the list and go ahead and get it done before turning in. This allows you to start the next day a little ahead, which can be a real motivator to hit the ground running when the morning comes.
What time hacks have you found to be the most useful for saving time and making the most of your workday?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]