We all have the same 168 hours every week, but some of us manage to get much more done than others. How do the super-achievers manage to do it all and still have time to relax? They use these 10 sneaky time-savers. Apply one, two or all of these tips to your life to gain your hours back and spend more time getting things done and doing what you love.
1. Don’t unsubscribe; filter instead
You’re supposed to unsubscribe to any email list you don’t like, right? Not anymore. The unubscribe feature of most email lists is long and cumbersome, often requiring you to log in to a long-forgotten account and complete an unsubscribe survey.
Instead, use a Gmail filter to sort out emails from services you don’t want. Gmail sends these emails straight to archive, meaning they never clutter up your inbox – which saves you time twice over!
2. Practice Inbox Zero
While we’re on the subject of email: if you don’t practice Inbox Zero, you’re wasting hours reading and re-reading your email. This is how Inbox Zero works:
- Get a new email
- Decide what to do with that email (answer right away, answer later, hold for reference, convert to an action item on your to-do list)
- Delete, archive or file appropriately
Using Inbox Zero means that your email inbox is empty 99% of the time. It also means that you have a few key folders set up for your mail: “To Answer,” “Waiting For” and “Reference” work well. Otherwise, everything else gets archived and tucked out of site.
3. Know your most important tasks
The best way to get your work done every day is to know what your work is. This means identifying the most important tasks (complete your presentation, pay your vendors) and avoiding the unimportant tasks (Instagram your lunch). This also means you’ll spend less time in active “Procrastination by Indecision” mode; by spending a few minutes at the beginning of each day sorting your workload into important to-dos and unimportant to-don’ts, you’ll be able to get everything done on time.
4. Make a to-don’t list
Having a to-don’t list is just as important as a to-do list. Your to-don’t list might include anything from “don’t check email before breakfast,” thus making sure you get out the door on time, to “don’t get involved in online forum arguments,” thus making sure you actually spend your workday doing your work. You know what your big to-don’ts are, so make a list and stop doing them!
5. Batch everything
Don’t check one email, compose one tweet and write one paragraph. Instead, batch everything. Check your email at the beginning of the workday, clear your inbox to zero, and then work on your most important tasks in batches. After lunch, check and respond to social media, clear your inbox to zero again, and get back to your most important tasks. Focusing on one thing at a time ensures you actually focus and helps you complete more things in fewer hours.
6. Batch housework, too
If your house is cluttered or otherwise in disarray, set up some 10-minute batch cleans. Pick a time every day – after work, after dinner or before bed are great options – and set your timer for 10 minutes. During that time, pick up every dirty sock, used mug and bit of trash that’s lying around. It takes about 10 minutes to de-clutter a small apartment; for larger homes, do one or two rooms every day. You can even scrub down an entire bathroom in 10 minutes; just grab some surface cleaning wipes and run them over all your bathroom surfaces to clear off dust and grit and leave your bathroom shining.
7. Make sure your appliances are efficient
How long does it take your computer to boot up? How long does it take your dishwasher to run a load of dishes? If your appliances are slow, it means you’re slow too. Invest in fast, efficient appliances and services; using Duke Energy for natural gas, for example, means your natural gas dryer can give you toasty clothes in 20 minutes instead of 40. That’s an extra 20 minutes you can spend watching Netflix – but make sure you do it on an internet connection with fast downloads!
8. Cook for yourself
How does cooking save time? Well, it saves you driving to a restaurant, finding a place to park, waiting for a table, waiting for food… you get the idea. In addition, cooking means leftovers. That means for every meal you make yourself, you get two or three bonus meals you don’t have to cook at all!
9. Eat better food
While you’re starting your new cooking project, make sure you’re feeding yourself the right foods. Greasy, heavy meals tire you out, giving you less energy to get things done or have fun. Caffeine wakes you up, but too much coffee makes it impossible to focus. Learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food and you’ll be surprised at how it adds productive hours to your day.
10. Know what you want to do
The sneakiest way to save time is to know exactly what you want to do with it. If you know you have to get X, Y and Z done at work so you can make it home in time for a family dinner or a hot date, you’ll get it done. If you know you want to spend your weekend rock-climbing instead of puttering around the house and wasting time online, you’ll make sure you get out of bed and aim yourself towards the rock wall. Knowing what you want to do means that you are able to structure your life in a way that makes it happen – and that kind of life makes you feel like you have all the time in the world.