Do you know how to save time? Over the last year, how much has poor time management and disorganization cost you — hundreds or thousands of dollars? Keep in mind that if you continue to do the same thing you have always done, you will get the same results. Do you know why elementary school seemed so simple? It was because of routine. Your teacher was the CEO of project management in the classroom. They organized exact study plans and assigned a workspace for each student, and a workflow plan was in place. You knew that when that bell rang, whatever you were doing was complete for that day, and you were on to the next subject or task. As adults choosing our own day-to-day schedules, we may not always realize that we still need that structure. Our productivity can be doubled or tripled by organizing our personal life the same way we do our workday.
Good time managers are rare, but that does not mean you cannot be good at managing your time. Here are a few time management techniques that assist in motivating yourself and teaching you how to save time by managing your time more effectively.
1. Use your transition time.
Think of all the activities you can accomplish in five to 10 minutes. Use this list during the day to make use of the small pockets of waiting or transition time. Also, list all the things you can do while traveling in a car or on an airplane. One great hack for productivity is listening to an audiobook rather than music while you commute or popping in some air buds while you’re vacuuming. Stop seeing time in the form of hours. Start to utilize time blocking rather than minutes slipping away. By focusing on smaller increments of time, you can focus on smaller tasks that usually slip through the cracks or build up into more significant tasks. How much easier is it to take five minutes to do your filing every day than to let it pile up until you begin losing essential documents? Wake up just thirty minutes earlier than you typically would and use those precious moments to look over your calendar on your cell phone. Organize your mind and visualize exactly how you plan on tackling the list. Seek out small moments to allow yourself to breathe and to feel accomplished. You do so much in one day. If you don’t pat yourself on the back for that effort, who will?
2. Keep it clean and neat.
Don’t waste time rummaging through the fallout of a cluttered life simply to find a stapler. What is your impression of a person with a messy desk and work area? Does it create or diminish their personal credibility? Set aside a few minutes daily to organize your desk and work area. You’ll find it easier to get things done with fewer peripheral distractions. If you really want to know how to save time, Marie Kondo has some great YouTube videos that can assist in tossing things that don’t bring you joy. Clearing the clutter in your life is a significant gift to yourself and those around you. When you don’t have enough time, it increases your stress levels. If you struggle with clutter, try implementing the Pomodoro technique. Pomodoro knew how to save time and motivate people to clean up their clutter. The idea is that you will pick one task that you want to focus on that. Let’s say cleaning out your office. Each day you will set a timer for twenty-five minutes. When the timer sounds, you then take a two-to-three-minute break. You will then repeat this step until the task is complete and your office is clean. You will prioritize productivity and will know precisely how to save time cleaning in the long run.
3. Have your phone be a service — not an intrusion.
Your cellphone can be an incredible time saver or a terrible time waster (sometimes both on the same day). How many hours do you spend scrolling social media? If you really want to analyze your phone usage, download a time-tracking app. It is okay to allow free time each day for your social accounts; just set a time limit. One great time-saving tip is to automate a reminder in your phone to check how many hours you have spent on each app on your phone. You might be shocked to find that the LinkedIn app was zero minutes, yet TikTok, podcasts, and Instagram have hours upon hours of burned time. To enable your phone to serve you best, set up a system of rules relating to your priorities. Set reminder notifications for the repeating and most important tasks of your daily life. Read up on how to optimize the virtual assistant features on your cellphone. Your virtual assistant can set reminders in your calendar while you are on the go. Use your calendar to remind you earlier than the exact moment you have to leave. It is beneficial to see your to-do list visually. You may be surprised that procrastination and time management isn’t your issue and that you have packed your daily schedule so tight every day that there is simply no free time left at the end of the day. When this happens, it’s time to reevaluate your essential daily tasks. What can you delegate to another friend, co-worker, or family member? What can you do without? Can anything be done the next day for you to be efficient today? Is your voicemail backlogged, and there is no time to return calls? Add a scheduled time every day to answer and return phone calls. Following the system you set up will help you avoid burnout. These practices work for the office as well as the home. If dinner is the primary time you and your family use to communicate, do not accept interruptions via the phone. The ringer has an off switch for a reason.
“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”
4. Systemize routine tasks.
One of the biggest time wasters is stepping over the same territory time after time after time. Track your steps throughout the day and see how many tasks cause you to spend time traveling to and from a destination, then look for ways to improve the efficiency of such travels. Remind yourself to group similar tasks. It sounds simple, but while you are cooking dinner, clean as you go along rather than waiting until everything is finished and the kitchen is a disaster. By grouping like-tasks, you will learn exactly how to save time by not wasting time repeating effort for no reward. Imagine what you could be doing with that extra time! How often do you get up to fax items or as big as picking up the kids from school and dropping them off at practice? The amount of time and energy wasted by not organizing tasks compounds. Creating a morning routine is a great option. So many of us waste a lot of time thinking we are productive, but when our effort is analyzed, we may have walked through the house forty times trying to do laundry, check on the kids’ progress, and get the coffee pot brewing. Multitasking is excellent when it is efficient. You will dramatically change your effectiveness and spend less time stressed by simply creating a system for routine tasks.
An ancient Chinese proverb says that the person who moved mountains was the one who began carrying away small stones. Avoid attempting to put all of these time tools into practice at once. Set small goals, and remember to pause and appreciate your accomplishments.
Choose one. Turn it into a habit. Watch your life begin to change for the better.
Now you know how to save time!
Best of success to you!