Have you ever felt like you were losing time or there just wasn’t enough time in the day to finish everything? We feel it too!
One of the biggest complaints you’ve probably experienced or heard is there there’s just not enough time to accomplish everything, leaving you feel frazzled and tired. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of day-to-day life with commitments, activities, and scheduled. Once you’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole, before you know it another day or week has gone by and you’re left wondering where the time went.
The good news is, there’s a way to make time last just a little bit longer! Here are ten simple hacks to add to your routine to make the most of your available time and finish that last task on your to-do list.
1. Get ready the night before
A lot of morning time is spent doing mundane tasks, like picking your clothes, cooking breakfast and/or lunch, or finding the laptop charger. These tasks can make the morning stressful and leave you feeling rushed or frazzled. Try prepping a lot of the materials you need in the morning, the next before. Pick out your outfit, iron it, and lay it out on the chair for you to easily get dressed in the morning. Try meal prepping breakfast and lunch foods, so all you need to do is grab the container and get moving. Get your bag ready at night with all your essentials, documents, laptop and laptop charger. By doing these simple tasks the night before you can prepare the body for a more restful sleep and an easier morning.
2. Get enough sleep
Possibly the most important thing for an impactful day, yet the most overlooked. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be tired the entire day. If you’re tired the entire day, it’s likely you’re not able to make effective use of your time. So, make it a habit of getting enough sleep each night.
3. Set a strict start time
Similar to how lack of sleep can negatively affect your day, so can a break in routine. You should have a set time you wake up every day, which should be the same even on weekends. It’s understandable that you want to sleep in on weekends, but if you get enough sleep every day, you won’t need those extra two hours on the weekend! Having a strict start time every day can be a game changer and help days flow with minimal stress and unpredictability.
4. Create a schedule and set deadlines
Spend some time in the morning to create a daily schedule by using a physical planner or planning app. Go through your emails, tasks from yesterday, project list and anything else you need to accomplish and start a priority list for the day or week. Also make a list of things that you’re waiting on, so nothing slips through the cracks. Once you’ve scheduled your day or week, set deadlines for all your tasks. Giving yourself deadlines provides accountability and is one of the best ways to stay organized and save time.
5. Work in time blocks & take breaks
When setting up your schedule, plan it in time blocks. Assign yourself 50-60 minutes to work on specific work tasks, then schedule a 10-minute break. As much as finishing a checklist is important, it is also essential for your brain to take a little break to feel refreshed. This helps balance work and rest, so you don’t feel burnout.
6. Focus on one task at a time
Have you ever started working, then saw an email notification pop up and focused on replying to that email? This is a quick way of losing track of time and becoming unfocused. If an email or text is going to take more than 2 minutes of your time to complete, leave it alone and come back to it when you’ve finished a task off your to-do list. Once you’ve set your priorities for the day, focus on completing those before turning to other tasks. Turn off email, text, and other notifications. Instead allocate times in your schedule when you check your emails and texts around the time you’ve scheduled your break.
7. Delegate tasks
Not everyone is great at delegating tasks. Many people believe that no one can do it better than they can, but sometimes taking on too much is why you’re losing time. Delegating can be done at work or at home. Focus on the skills of your team or family and help delegate tasks that someone else can do, so you can focus on the things you need done.
8. Limit social media, TV, and gaming
It’s easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole while scrolling through social media, watching TV or playing games. Once you’ve started your mindless scrolling on Instagram, next thing you know, three hours have gone by and you still have a pile of work left to do. Limit your interactions to a few minutes, every few hours for social media. Set specific time blocks throughout the day for when you will watch TV or play video games and stick to that schedule. Doing mindless tasks like these is a really easy way to lose track of time.
9. Plan downtime
Proactively schedule your vacations, downtimes, and workout sessions in your calendar. By adding it to your calendar, your colleagues will not be able to book meetings during your downtime. Adding it to your calendar also helps make sure you are taking that downtime. Taking some time throughout the day for yourself, to focus on your health, will help you feel more relaxed and energized.
10. Learn to say no
It’s not always easy saying no. When you’re just starting your career, you get into a habit of saying yes to everything. This is a habit that can be really hard to break and has you saying yes to too many things. If you have too much on your plate already or know your schedule won’t be free for the next few weeks, learn to say no to new things coming your way. By explaining why you’re saying no to new things will help you prove that you’re not being lazy but are genuinely too busy for something.
While you can't increase the amount of time in a day, there are many habits you can add to your routine that can bring efficiency to your day. With increased efficiency, there is an illusion that you now have more time. Not because there's physically more time, but because you now have a way to create a more impactful day.