We’re all busy. We say it and hear it every day: “I’ve been so busy; work is busy; the family is keeping me busy.” While it might be worn as a badge of honour, being busy can keep us from actually being productive and making decisions that matter.
The good news is that saving time is not only possible; it can be easy. But simple tricks to save time might not be obvious. So, we went straight to time management expert and best-selling author Kate Christie from Time Stylers to compile these ten time-saving hacks for business and life. Read on to find out where you can save a few minutes throughout your day, both at work and at home.
1. Make simple decisions once and make them fast.
Kate says: “Don’t waste time on small decisions. Have designated work clothes, so you don’t have to decide what to wear every day; meal plan once a week, so you know what you're eating every night; and choose a hook for your keys then you’ll know where to store and find them.”
2. Use your commute wisely.
Kate says: “Make the most of your commute time, regardless of your transport. On the train draft emails, map out strategies or do business planning. In the car, listen to podcasts, learn a language or make hands-free calls. When you’re flying, switch everything off for uninterrupted work. Be productive and arrive with less on your plate.”
3. Do your critical tasks before everyone else’s.
Kate says: “Don’t open your emails until you’ve got your key strategic tasks done for the day. Your emails are everyone else’s to-do list, so don’t fall down that rabbit hole until you’ve dedicated time to your most important tasks. And when you do check emails, do it in two or three batches during the day rather than as they come in.”
4. Turn off your notifications.
Kate says: “Notifications are massively disruptive. Every time you hear a mobile buzzing, a social media notification pops up, or you look between multiple screens, your brain is multitasking, which reduces your productivity by 40%. So, at best, you're only ever working at 60% capacity."
5. Set an agenda for your meetings.
Kate says: "A meeting without an agenda is an endless discussion. Every meeting should have an agenda; insist on one and don't turn up if there isn't one. Short meetings are better, so have a couple of agenda items and only the key decision-makers present."
6. Embrace and leverage technology.
Kate says: “Go digital where you can. There is an app or program for everything these days, so use them to your advantage. But it’s a double-edged sword; don’t waste hours researching the best productivity app. Check a forum, ask people you know for their recommendation, get them to teach you how they use it, and then stick with it.”
7. Learn how to say no.
Kate says: “It can seem easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’, but every time you say ‘yes’ to someone else you are saying ‘no’ to yourself. Every decision comes down to whether it is something you are happy to make time for or decline it. Knowing how you want to spend your time can help you say ‘no’.”
8. Outsource where it makes sense to.
Kate says: “List everything you currently do that an expert could do for you faster, better and cheaper, like setting up a new laptop, booking your travel or doing your cleaning and ironing. If the cost of paying someone else is less than what you earn in the same amount of time, then outsourcing makes sense.”
9. Schedule breaks into your day.
Kate says: “Your day is a series of short sprints, not a marathon. You need to stop and refuel your body and brain with food and fresh air to improve your productivity. You’re more likely to take a break if you set aside some me-time in your calendar.”
10. Know what you’re doing with your time, even on the road.
Kate says: “Without being a spontaneity-killer, the key to making the most of travel is to pre-plan. Know what you're doing with your time and have a Plan B ready in case of delays or downtime, such as a report to write, a podcast to listen to or a call to make."