Productivity Improvement | 10.10.2016

Five Simple Ways to Reclaim One Hour Every Day

“There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

We all have said this to ourselves and to others multiple time. There is never enough time to deal with demands at work and outside of work. Scientifically it is not possible to make 24 hours to transform to 25 hours, but imagine if you had an additional hour each day.

Few techniques can help you squeeze more work out of your day, get more done in the same amount of time, effectively giving you “25 hour days”.

1.  Do one thing at a time: Become mindful, do one thing at a time. Most of us feel we are great at multitasking, but doing too many things at the same time is less productive. A study found that only 2% of people can effectively multitask, the remaining 98% are switching between tasks which make them less productive.

Multitasking creates an emotional satisfaction and illusion of productivity. Do see your to-do list getting longer by the day; one reason could be multitasking. Set aside time to focus on just one task and finish it.

Studies have found multitasking at work reduces the IQ by 10 points. This is equivalent to missing a night of sleep or twice the effect of smoking marijuana.

2.  Say No and Delegate: The simplest way to keep things off your to-do list is not to put it there in the first place. Before taking any project/task/activity ask “what is this going to do my work week and goals.”

Wherever possible delegate the work. Sure you can do everything and probably better than others but try to focus effort on value creation activity, activities that make you productive and not just busy. For non-value creation activity, find help and delegate.

3.  Block distracting applications: While working it is easy to get distracted by the incoming emails, chat pop up or a new notification. While working on the web, it is not uncommon to surf over to social networking sites, news site or shopping sites; you will not realize how a quick glance at the site will become a 30-minute browsing.

There apps available for you to block distracting applications for set a time and be more focused.

4.  Block time for activities: Our energy level does not remain same throughout the day, some people are early morning persons, and some are late night persons. Depending on your energy levels during the day plan your activities, activities that require you to be your best (hardest work) should be done at a time when your energy levels are high, mundane tasks can be done when the energy levels are low.

I found that blocking time for my activities help me plan the day better and have a better control over the work:

  • Time for client calls and prospecting –first half of the day
  • Replying to emails- post lunch
  • Internal meetings- late afternoon

5.  Make a list and just do it: Once you have blocked time for activities just make a list of things that you want to accomplish in those time slots. A best practice is to make the list the day before so you can dive right into things next morning.

Not all activities that we do have to be perfect and we need not sweat over small stuff. Just get them done.

Some might argue that this is easier said than done, although these steps sound simple implementing them is not easy. How to find what is the best time to do focused work, which is the distracting applications and when to schedule what activities.

Fret not, thankfully some apps can help you find answers to these questions. Use these apps first to know how you spend your time (self-assessment), then set realistic goals and continue to use the app to see your progress.

Now the big question, what would you do if you were able to reclaim an hour each day, I have suggested few activities, share your activities in the comments:

  1. Sleep an additional hour.
  2. Get in that physical workout session.
  3. Catch up on all emails.
  4. Volunteer for a charity you like.
  5.  Meditate.
  6.  Pick a hobby.
  7. Read the books that have been waiting.
  8. Do nothing.
  9. Read my other posts 🙂