What’s the most valuable resource you have in your hands today?
If you answered “time”, I’m with you.
Think about it. If you need more money, you can always find ways to generate it. If you’re feeling tired (i.e. you need more energy), you can always take a nap to recharge.
But time is the scarcest resource of all. Everyone has the same amount to work with. And once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
Here are some easy steps to get more time for yourself every day.
1. Stop attending meetings
You already know in your gut that most business meetings are a waste of time. But here’s some factual backup: Why Business Meetings Kill Productivity.
The strange thing is that no one ever claims to like meetings, yet people still attend them all the time.
I also have this nagging suspicion that some people go to meetings – to get out of doing actual work, while trying to impress the boss by talking.
So, unless you depend on meeting refreshments for your daily lunch – here’s my suggestion. Stop attending all non-essential meetings. Or collaborate with your teammates to just send one person at a time.
And what if you’re a boss who needs to get a weekly update from everyone? Try meeting in small groups of 2 or 3 instead. So you can really engage with the correct people. Everyone else can learn about what you have to say via an email later.
2. Minimize the commute
Most people I know who work in the city take at least 1 hour to get to work and 1 hour to get back.
That’s crazy. 2 hours a day, 5 days a week = 10 hours a week of time lost to commuting. 40 hours a month. Think of all the Korean Dramas you’re missing!
Numerous studies have shown that time spent on commuting is horrible. We learn the following from Annie Lowrey at Slate.com:
- A University in Sweden found couples in which one partner commutes for more than 45 minutes, are 40 percent likelier to divorce.
- A Gallup survey found “Among employees who commute more than 90 minutes, 40% experienced worry for much of the previous day. Much higher than the 28% among those with commutes of 10 minutes or less”.
- Two economists at the University of Zurich proposed that “for every extra hour of commuting you should be compensated by a 40 percent increase in salary to make it worthwhile”.
Move closer to work if possible.
Or do what you can to minimize the effects of commuting:
- Negotiate working hours to avoid rush-hour traffic.
- Get approval to work from home more.
- Take public transport so you can at least do something you enjoy (read?) on the train.
3. Don’t fool yourself. You can’t multitask
Research has shown that not only is multitasking ineffective, it makes people stupid.
Yet, a lot of us try to get work done with Outlook, Microsoft Lync, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Instagram all turned on at the same time. Throw in the mother of all distractions a.k.a. the World Cup, and you can see why we’re such a productive nation.
For a productivity boost, focus on completing one task at a time. Work on distractions like calls, emails and social media in batches (i.e. set specific times to deal with them so that they don’t distract you).
If you really need to get something done, isolate yourself away in a place where you can’t be disturbed.
Less distractions = getting things done more efficiently = more time for yourself.
4. Listen to your body
Ever been in that frustrating situation where you really want to finish your work, but your brain just isn’t as sharp anymore? You start getting distracted, make mistakes and end up frustrated.
Don’t force the issue. Take a break instead.
Eric Barker writes a lot about this here.
“Know when you’re at your best and plan accordingly. To be a productivity ninja, focus less on time management, and more on managing your energy”
Listen to your body. Get enough rest and do important work when you’re most productive. And when your body’s had enough of work and needs to play, just ditch work for a while.
You’ll come back stronger and better, and can finish it faster another time.
5. Delegate and outsource
I have a confession. I don’t do housework. And I don’t cook.
And so mr-stingy does what every money saving expert will tell you not to do: he eats out all the time.
Look, I know what everyone says: Eating out is unhealthy. It’s expensive. Cooking is economical, fun, nutritious, and makes you a hit with the ladies.
But I don’t enjoy cooking or cleaning up. And I don’t have the time or energy to do it either. I’d rather be
writing reading entertaining Internet articles about how to be a hit with the ladies.
At least when I’m sitting waiting for my food (at economical places, mind you) – I can let my mind daydream / catch up with people on the phone / meet my friends in person.
So here’s my final suggestion: Be ruthless with your time. Whatever you enjoy doing – do more of it. Whatever you don’t – get someone else to do it for you. Don’t let anyone or some arbitrary social norm tell you how you should spend your time.
We’ve all just got 24 hours in a day.
How are you gonna spend yours?