Once a year we gain an hour as the clocks go back to GMT. Hang around for another 200 million years and we will have a 25 hour day.
Can’t wait that long? Here a few ways – 25 in fact, to help you regain a lost hour … or more.
You could easily be wasting an hour a day as a result of poor planning, getting distracted, time sucks, cherry-picking your tasks, disappearing down rabbit holes. On average we waste 2 hours a day.
Get organised at home
We’re often most time pressed at home. There’re any number of things to do while juggling a family, running a household and work.
- Start your day the night before. Put out what you need for the following morning. Clothes you’re going to wear, paperwork, briefcase, school bags etc. Exercise clothes if you plan to go to the gym or go out for a walk or run – good way to start the day AND find time for exercise, less likely to put it off. (5-10 mins)
- Get organised – have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Saves time wasted searching around for your keys, wallet, mobile phone. Put things away and you’ll save several minutes searching around just as you’re trying to leave the house. (5-10 mins)
- Make a menu plan for the week – you’ll know what you need to buy and what you plan to eat each day. Waste less time wondering what to cook each evening and searching around for ingredients. (5-10 mins)
- Shop online for things you use all the time – saves time travelling to/from the supermarket. Use trips to the supermarket for top-ups. (30-60 mins travel time)
- Shop with a list – avoid impulse buying and make it quicker in the shops or supermarket when you know what you need and can go right to it (10-15 mins)
- Prepare meals in advance – especially doing a batch cook for the freezer when you have more time at the weekend so you’ll have meals for the week. Use leftovers for lunches – you’ll eat more healthily and be less reliant on ready meals. (20-30 mins)
- Avoid doing everything – share out tasks at home, cleaning, washing, tidying up. (10-15 mins). Pay someone else to do the gardening, cleaning or DIY tasks and free up even more of your time. (1-2 hours)
- Declutter your wardrobe – chuck out or donate anything you no longer wear, doesn’t fit or that you don’t love. Organise your drawers and wardrobes into work, leisure, exercise etc. and make it easier to find things when you need them.
- Declutter your home and office – less clutter means less time spent cleaning or searching for things. Keep on top of it by clearing clutter ‘hot-spots’ regularly
- Declutter and automate bill paying – stop paying for things you no longer use or need. Get your regular bills on direct debit so they get paid every month and you don’t have to worry about them.
Be more productive at work
- Plan your day! A few minutes spent planning your day and prioritising your tasks – either in the morning or the day before. This will easily save you time when you’re not constantly reacting, focusing on the wrong task, forgetting what you had to do or not sure where to start. (10-20 mins)
- Group similar tasks together – email, phone calls. It’s quicker and more effective to do similar tasks together rather than doing them as you think of them throughout the day. Block out time in your diary for these tasks. (5-15 mins)
- Use your diary for reminders and blocking out time for tasks – you’ll waste less time forgetting and avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time or rushing for meetings and deadlines.
- Set time limits – you might intend to just spend a few minutes on a task but if you don’t set a time limit you could spend more time than intended. Set mini-deadlines. Work in 15-25 minute chunks of time. You’ll waste less time, be more focused and get more done.
- Keep meetings to time. If your meetings have a tendency to overrun – set an agenda and keep to the discussion items so you can start and finish on time.
- Delegate tasks – stop taking on things that aren’t your area of responsibility. Outsource or automate your admin, follow-ups, accounts.
- Play the percentages. Work on the 20% of your list that will get you 80% of your results. Don’t go for 100% when 80 or 90% will do. If you’re a perfectionist – your 100% is probably 120% for anyone else and is ‘good enough’.
- Make use of your travel, commuting time. This is often very productive on a longer journey if you’re not crammed in like sardines. Can be more difficult if you’re on a busy, shorter commute where you might be limited to what you can do – plan your day ahead, listen to an audio or podcast, read a book, think through a problem, do something creative or just enjoy the moment.
Bonus: Save time here and you’ll get home earlier and spend less time in the office.
Avoid time sucks and rabbit holes
Television, video games and social media might be a great way to relax at the end of a busy day but they can also be a huge time suck. Games to play, channels to watch, box sets and films to download, cat videos to watch.
- Limit your TV time. How much time do you spend watching television? While it’s a good way to relax and unwind, is it time you could be exercising, reading or catching up around the house.
- Multi-task – do more than one thing at a time. Do this with caution by combining low activity tasks where you don’t need to focus or concentrate e.g. doing the ironing, folding clothes or exercising while you’re watching TV or listening to the radio.
- Record or watch your favourite series on catch-up – skip the adverts. (15 minutes in every hour)
- Time limits are useful here too – especially for email, social media or browsing the internet.
Maximise your time
- No time for the gym? You can easily spend 2 hours in the gym by the time you’ve – travelled, changed, exercised, showered, changed and got back to the office or home. Short focused bursts of activity may be better for you and certainly save time. HIIT routines are quick, intense and effective. You can do them at home with minimal equipment, saves time in the gym.
- Combine tasks together that you can do on the same trip – post a letter, pay a bill on your way to the bank, shops, during your lunch hour or on the school run. Make a list and see how many things you can do at the same time. (5-10 mins)
- Work from home – not only will you save your usual travel time to and from work but you’ll also avoid the noise and distractions of the office. With time to focus you’re more likely to be productive.
Bonus: Listen to an audio book or podcast while you exercise, walk to work, the shops or school.
Little and often. Spend 10-15 minutes every day will stop a larger task building up into something you need 1-2 hours to clear – tidying up, admin.
Be aware of where you’re spending your time and focus on doing more of the right things and less of the lower value tasks.