In today’s hectic world, you're always running from one thing to another. And at the end of the day, there’s still a lot of work left unfinished. Fortunately, there are a number of effective tools and platforms designed to cut your work time in half and open up your schedule. And if you aren't using at least a few of them, you could be spending more time than you need to on simple tasks.
Check out these seven different ways you can free up time and make your life a bit less stressful.
TV, internet and video games are always a click away. But by cutting out these distractions, you’ll be better able to focus on your desired tasks. There are a number of things you can do to eliminate distractions. From turning off notifications on your phone to avoiding texts until you actually have a break, you'll be able to get loads done without your most significant time-waster. You can even just close your office door if you find people are distracting you more than your phone.
You can also cut out distractions at home. Turn off the TV after work to have some time to unwind. The better option would be to stream your favorite TV shows on the internet, so that you can watch them at your own pace and on your own terms. You'll even be able to squeeze in a few extra minutes of free time without commercials.
Cutting out every distraction is impossible, so you need to learn how to manage the necessary tools that sometimes get in the way: your email, conversations with coworkers, and even the world outside your office window. Set yourself some distraction time and stick to it. If social media is your problem, there are tools you can download that will temporarily block those sites for the specified length of time. No matter what’s distracting you, there are tools out there to help you deal with it.
People are always asking for favors. And while you might be able to fix their problem, it is not always yours to fix. If you find that you can help them out and it doesn’t take away any of your free time, then say yes. But if what they’re asking is going to throw off your schedule, it’s okay to say no.
It's impossible to take care of other people when you can't take care of yourself. You have to make sure you have time to rest or you’ll find that your body forces you to rest by collapsing at the office or getting sick.
You may also want to think about the Pomodoro Technique. This method of working on tasks has been proven to keep you focused and mentally sharp. Working on one task for several hours in a row without a break can leave you mentally exhausted and less focused. With the Pomodoro Technique, you’ll divide your time into 30 minute blocks.
Just set your timer for 25 minutes and remain as focused as you can during that time. When it goes off, allow yourself five minutes to walk away from your desk. Now, when you come back and repeat the process, you'll remain focused throughout. At the end of a two-hour block, you’ll have made a good amount of progress and will have earned a 10 to 15-minute break. If you still have work to do, just start over and do it again.
Have too much on your plate? If you’ve taken on too much at the office or at home, remember that you’re not alone. In many cases, there’s someone else who can do the job faster, more efficiently, and even better than you can. So why not let them?
Even if that’s not true, you may have to prioritize your tasks and let someone else handle the ones that don’t require your personal touch. Delegate the smaller tasks at the office, and let your spouse or older children pick up some of the slack at home. No one will think less of you if you reach out and ask for help, especially your family. Don’t be afraid to delegate!
While you may be able to cut your schedule down once a month, it's easy to loose track of the goal. If you end up with a packed docket within a week, the time-saving goals have failed. Take the time to regularly assess what your schedule looks like and make sure you have time to do things like laundry, dinner, and relaxing. If you find that you’re not getting as much down time, don’t be afraid to cut out some things again.
Deciding what you want for lunch can take up more time than you might think, so why not set your lunch schedule so you don’t have to worry about making that decision every day? You may be surprised how nice it is to know exactly where you’re going to eat or what you're going to have for lunch every day. You should also look at foods that can help improve your concentration or give you extra energy to combat that post-lunch tiredness that often hits in the afternoon. Some foods that can give you energy or extra brain power include eggs, blueberries, salmon, bananas, spinach, beets and even dark chocolate.
Photo: Flickr / James Box