What would you do with 5 extra hours in your week?
Would you spend it with family? Take the extra moments to work on a project that you've been thinking about. Maybe learn a new skill? Or perhaps you'd use the opportunity to finally clear out your Netflix queue.
No matter the answer, we've all been guilty of wishing that we had more time to do the things that really matter. But what if I told you it was possible to find an additional five hours in your week?
All it takes is spending a few moments to plan out your day smarter.
So if you're ready to reclaim your time and be more efficient at building your brand, just follow these steps.
Create a Morning Routine
The key to adding more time in your week starts with your morning ritual. The truth is, in between hitting the snooze button and your first cup of Joe, there are lots of opportunities to increase your productivity.
One of the best ways to add more time is by planning your morning routine, activities that you commit to repeating daily without fail. Doing so will not only give you a break from the typical morning chaos of trying to get ready, but it'll also set the tone for the rest of the day.
One person who swears by this concept is Joel Gascoigne, the Co-Founder of Buffer. In a recent LifeHacker article, he described his morning routine as "his most rewarding habit", one that gives him extra energy and a great start to his day. And while his ideal morning routine - which includes meditation and a trip to the gym - may look different to yours, there are a few key items that you can incorporate.
First, consider waking up earlier to take advantage of some major productivity time before you head into the office. This could be something as simple as using the time during breakfast to review and answer emails. Whatever you choose to do, this step will help you feel less rushed later in the day to get everything done.
The second step is actually something that you can do to prior to going to bed - take a few moments to plan your next day. This'll not only enable you to rest easier by alleviating some of the stress around the many tasks of the day ahead, but it'll also set the groundwork for which tasks should take the most priority when you get up.
Finally, be sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours every night, if you can. We all know that we're at our best when we're rested, so make sure that a good night sleep is part of your successful morning plan.
Change the Way You Look at Scheduling Your Time
Once you've mastered your new morning routine, my next suggestion on how to get more time back has to do with how you handle your schedule, especially at the office, where it can be a seemingly endless array of emails to answers, calls to return and decisions to make.
First, take a deep breath and accept the fact that despite your best efforts, it's impossible to be on call twenty-four hours a day.
You should evaluate how you spend your average work day to identify what your greatest "time suckers" are. If you find yourself getting everything done during a typical 8-12 hour shift, that's great, but if you realize that a good portion of your day is spent reviewing viral cat clips or answering email then maybe it's a wakeup call to take control of these bad habits.
For many people, email is a big productivity issue. In fact, I know it was a main concern for me. That's why I've committed to only checking it certain times of the day to allow myself space to do other things. I also find it helpful to use canned responses to avoid typing the same things over and over again.
Because it can be difficult to stay focussed on the task at hand when the internet is full of potential distractions (Facebook, anyone?) I usually try to schedule a small window of time where I can take a moment to catch my breath and relax. Usually these breaks are no longer than ten minutes and are after working a minimum of two hours on a project or activity.
It may not seem like a lot, but ten minutes is all it takes to reset your mind so that you can take on the next big meeting.
And speaking of meetings, we all know that those activities can be a major drain on your work day. That's why I suggest scheduling your meetings in 45 minute intervals instead of the traditional hour-long setting. Not only is this a clever way to sneak in an additional 15 minutes to your day, but it'll also encourage participants to get to the task at hand without the extra chatter that can take up valuable collaboration time.
Learn to Delegate
Ask any supervisor what's one thing that they can improve on and they'll overwhelming tell you that they need help in delegating tasks to others. In fact, a recent poll found that only 30% of managers thought they had mastered this important task.
However, learning how to delegate doesn't just happen, it's the result of hard work as well as trial and error in order to find a method that works best for your team. But it can be done as long as you are able to:
- Communicate the task well and give clear instructions
- Provide details as to why the task is important
- Identify the right person to complete it, giving them complete authority to get it done
- Set standards for the goal and who to go to if he/she has any questions or concerns and
- Offer public and written credit upon the task's successful completion.
Understandably, it can be scary to give others the power to act as your proxy when it comes to your business. However, if done correctly, delegating tasks is not only a reliable time saver, but it can also be a great way to give your employees room to grow.
Work Smarter not Harder: Tools of the Trade
Finally, one of the best ways that you can help add five extra hours to your week is by utilizing some of the great productivity resources that are now available online. And the best thing? Most of these tools are free to use.
Some of my absolute favorites are:
- SaneBox: I know I've written about this service before, but I've found nothing better to help me organize my daily emails. (This link will get you $25 off)
- Evernote: One of my favorite products. Evernote gives you one essential place to organize your thoughts, notes and projects. Best of all, it's available on a variety of devices so you can always access it when inspiration hits.
- 1Password: This app was actually passed on to me by a virtual assistant acquaintance of mine, who relied heavily on this service to help her organize the login information for her many clients.
- Do.com: A great resource for managing meetings, this free service will do everything from help you schedule follow ups to offering suggestions for taking notes.
- HipChat: If you're looking for an all-in-one messenger that allows for everything from file sharing to video chat, HipChat is an excellent choice. A simple but powerful app that's perfect for any size business.
- Buffer: A must for social marketing managers. Buffer offers the tools necessary to share whatever page you're reading among a multitude of platforms.
Key Takeaway to Get Five Extra Hours Back
Despite our busy lives, it is possible to squeeze more time out of our week if we plan well and utilize the many tools available. Creating a morning routine and delegating tasks are both excellent ways to sneak in a few extra hours to our lives, while utilizing tools like SaneBox and Evernote can assist you in scheduling more effectively at work.