Making yourself more efficient will free up time to spend on more meaningful activities.
We are half way through February already and the year seems to be running away with itself. If there’s one thing we have absolutely no control over it is time, but we do have control over how we spend it, or at least to a certain extent. Certainly, the more we can achieve in the hours we have, the more we are able to spend that ‘saved’ time on something we find more meaningful.
Here are a few ways to take control of that most precious of resources so you can reallocate it to something more fulfilling.
1. Evaluate your workflow – including activities outside of work
Being more observant of how you spend your time can begin with keeping note of the tasks which take up the largest amount of it, the recurring tasks over which you have no control, or the habits you’ve developed which are eating into your day but which could be curtailed. Developing an awareness of where your daily routine could be tweaked helps you to start work on areas that need addressing and where new time-saving habits could be formed.
2. Use a time-management tool
With the best will in the world, if we rely only on our memories to help us manage our time better then we may be on to a loser before we’ve even begun. A tool which can help track our activities and commitments can be of enormous benefit when trying to manage our time more effectively.
3. Create a day template
Productivity impeding habits can be redirected using a digital calendar in which you create day templates, scheduling repeating patterns of appointments which can guide you to better plan meetings, focus work and other tasks at the most suitable times for you.
In a situation where others are able to schedule meetings in your calendar, its a good idea to block out certain times even if you don’t have anything specific scheduled so others can only set up meetings at times that suit you, not just when you don’t have other appointments.
Productivity experts also suggest bookending your days with routines which help ease you in and out, therefore allowing you to be more deliberate in between. For example, purposeful routines mean we are much less likely to find 30 minutes all of a sudden vanished as a result of mindlessly browsing social media without meaning to or even realising we are doing it.
4. Embrace habit-stacking
Habit-stacking is all about adopting new behaviours around old habits. Typically we might make ourselves a coffee when we get into the office and then sit down to deal with any emails which have come in since we last checked them. This has the potential to send us down an unexpected rabbit hole, when we had set ourselves an intention for the morning which should have taken priority. Modifying our existing habits slightly can create meaningful change in our behaviour. Sure, we should check our emails to make sure there is no immediate fire-fighting to be done but a cursory glance through them should allow you to assess the urgency and with modified behaviour, permit you to leave the replies until later when your original planned task is complete.
5. Utilise automation
Automation is our friend when it comes to freeing up our time. Recurring tasks can be scheduled in one hit with automated reminders to keep you on track. Rules can also be created to help sort incoming emails, or at the very least its easy to set up folders for ‘urgent’, ‘save for later’, and other categories based on their level of priority, to be addressed at the appropriate time. Low priority tasks can be the easiest to automate and if there is any way of automating the tasks you least like to do then that’s an immediate win.
Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have and something we can never get back once its spent, so spending what we have in the most efficient and productive way possible can only lead to positive outcomes.
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