Find your hidden free time!
Feel as if you never have enough time? You’re not alone! A recent poll shows half of us say we’re so busy we can’t do the things we really want to do—like read a book, relax with the family or pursue a hobby. Not anymore! Here’s how to avoid common time-wasters and regain an hour (or more!) a day to do anything you want!
1 Zip through your to-do list! ✔ Divide and conquer!
Have time-consuming items like “organize the closet” or “clean the kitchen” on your to-do list? “Your brain doesn’t know what to do with big, vague tasks like these until you turn them into smaller, very specific steps,” says Maura Thomas, author of Personal Productivity Secrets. “So under each of your goals, list the smaller tasks you’ll need to do to complete them.” If your goal is cleaning the kitchen, for example, you might list: “Wash the dishes. Scrub the oven. Wash fingerprints off the fridge door.” “That way, even if you only have five minutes, you can still tackle a task that will help you accomplish your goal!”
✔ “Typecast” tasks!
In other words, group them by type! For example, list all the phone calls you want to make, then when you have time, you can make all the calls in a row,” explains time management specialist Jamie Novak. “It takes far less time and mental energy than jumping from one type of task to another!”
✔ Feature something fun!
“Include a reward—anything from a manicure to time curled up with your favorite magazine — on your to-do list,” Novak urges. “Having something to look forward to gives you the extra motivation to get more done in less time!”
2 Terrifically easy timesavers! ✔ Put your a.m. on automatic!
Supercharge your morning and clock some energizing extra snooze time by preparing for tomorrow tonight! Load up your coffeemaker and, if it has a timer, set it to start brewing five minutes before you’re planning to wake up. Lay out your outfit, pre-bag your lunch and put your shoes, car keys, gloves, coat, etc. near the door!
✔ Return calls before lunch!
“This is when you’re more likely to catch the person in their office,” Novak explains, “so you’re more likely to complete whatever task you
need them for!”
✔ Block social media!
It takes 23 minutes to really re-focus your attention after signing off of Facebook and other social media,” says Christina Hidek, a professional organizer in Cleveland. To the rescue: Free apps like Stayfocused, Cold Turkey and Selfcontrol, which allow you to block specific websites, such as Facebook or Twitter, for a set amount of time, so you can’t even be tempted to log on!
✔ Use a timer!
“If a project seems overwhelming, dedicate just 10 minutes to the task and set a timer to make sure you stick to the time limit,” suggests professional organizer Michelle Hale. “Being on a timer will make you work faster— it’s almost like a game!—so you’ll get more done. You can get motivated to do any task, no matter how odious, if you know you only have to devote 10 minutes to it!”