Do you ever wish you had more hours in the day?
Good news: you do. You just don’t know it.
We all waste hours every single day without even realizing it. Every time you work on something that isn’t pushing you closer to your goals, you are wasting valuable hours. Every time you check Facebook while waiting for a meeting to start, you are wasting valuable hours.
Each of these things may take just minutes, but minutes add up faster than you think.
Here are strategies that take just minutes to do but create hours of productive time.
Have a plan every week
The best way to stay productive is to have a reason to stay productive. If you finish a task and don’t know what you should be doing next, you’re probably not going to get going on the right things or you’ll waste time between tasks.
Every Sunday night, sit down with your Volt Planner and look at what your goals are for the week. What did you not get done last week? What is the highest priority this week? Why? What other tasks will support that goal? Which ones won’t?
Plan 2-3 themes for your week — the big things that are going to motivate your work all week. Where are you really going to make big progress? It can’t be everywhere; you have to choose to focus somewhere if you want to make real action.
We call this a Ninja Planning Session, and the key to its success is picking a time to do it every single week. Whether it’s Friday afternoon or Sunday night, make this appointment with yourself and guard it fiercely. Taking time to plan will set you up to know how best to manage your time for the coming week.
Keep a “small tasks” to-do list
The secret to time management is knowing what to do when you have a spare 15 minutes.
Ever notice how there are little things that get pushed from day to day to day on your to-do list because you just can’t seem to make time for them? Well, you already have the time for them — you’re just not using it when you have it.
There are so many smaller things we need to do that don’t get done — like returning phone calls, writing up meeting notes, etc — because they aren’t a high priority. However, if they are keys to success — things that will move your project forward or help support your team — then they still need to get done.
Keep a running list of these things every week, and tackle them whenever you have 5-15 minutes throughout the day. Create or update this list every week when you do your Ninja Planning Session, while you’re thinking about all your priorities, big and small.
This can include things like:
- Read one article about a product that you’re researching
- Start an outline for your next big goal
- Call one customer to chat about their experience with your product
- Listen to audio from a meeting you missed
- Google a question you have about an upcoming project
These little things can fall through the cracks if you aren’t prepared when you have time to do them.
If you have a spare 10 minutes and don’t already have a few ideas for how you could use that time, you most likely won’t use it effectively. This is why you need a list ready all the time, so you can just look over and pick a quick task without having to think. This is how you become someone who gets amazing amounts accomplished in a single day!
Tackle your email only once or twice a day
One of the biggest wastes of time in your day is email.
Email puts you on other people’s schedule. When someone sends you a note, it’s usually with a request or idea or question that is important to them and their schedule. The email arrives with this implicit pressure attached — this person wants to hear from you and for them, the clock is ticking from the moment they hit “send”.
But you don’t want to be on someone else’s schedule. That is no way to get YOUR goals done.
Checking your email on a strict schedule during the day takes you off of other people’s schedules. If you know your time to “do email” is already planned, then you don’t need to check throughout the day — because checking throughout the day is a great way to get off track and preoccupied with someone else’s goals.
If you get a lot of email, you can even set an out-of-office autoresponder letting people know that you are only checking your messages 1-2x per day and that you will get back to them at those times.
Schedule and automate your tasks when possible
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably an over-achiever. You work hard. You like to make progress and feel like you’re doing something.
So this one might be hard for you, but you need to think like a lazy person. How can you get as much stuff OFF your plate as possible?
Look for opportunities to unburden yourself from menial tasks that need to get done, but that take time every day. There are so many ways to automate and delegate things that are not good uses of your focused time but that still need to get done.
For example, social media posts don’t need to be done live. If you want to maintain a presence on a site like Twitter, but find yourself aimlessly scrolling through every day when you’re ready to tweet, you should automate this process instead. Sit down once a week with a service like Buffer or Hootsuite, and schedule a week’s worth of tweets. That way it’s done, and you don’t need to spend minutes every day checking in.
Know when you won’t be productive & take a break
All this talk about using every second of the day for productivity might make you feel excited — or it might make you feel exhausted.
These methods are by no means an exact template that you must follow. If you burn yourself out, you’ll get less done — and that is not what you want.
So listen to yourself. If you are someone who absolutely needs a 15 minute walk in the afternoon, don’t deny yourself that. If you need to unwind during lunch and text your friend, do it.
It’s not about being perfect all the time. It’s about finding opportunities that are currently being wasted, and making them useful.
You’re not a robot, but I bet you do have lots of times during the day where you could be being more productive. And if you’re working towards big goals, you need every one of those times that you can get to count!
How will you make this week amazing?
There are very few shortcuts in life, but there are ways to create more paths towards your goals. Look for waste, and then clean it up! Make the most of the time that you have — I guarantee there are opportunities that you are missing right now.
Don’t go so productivity-crazy that you stop enjoying your life; that is not the point. Finding these extra moments to get things done should feel good — it’s like finding hidden treasure! If you’re too overwhelmed and need a break, take a break. Increase your productivity in a way that leaves you feeling charged up, not overwhelmed.
Once you do, you’ll just see more and more ways to be even more amazing.
What are your strategies for being super productive? Share them with us all on Facebook!