Time Saving Tips

3 Sep 2014 12:02 PM -

Time Saving Tips

Each New Year I examine what I have been doing and how I want to improve. To help in my performance (getting things done) I found this blog from Eve Ash (Startupsmart 03/01/12) that I think has some good points.

10 time saving tips
When there are only 24 hours in the day, time seems to be an enemy more than a friend, so wherever possible we need to increase our productivity and effectiveness. Here are my top 10 time saving tips.

1. Time mindset
The first step to getting on top of time pressures is to address your mindset. If you are forever telling yourself that you don’t have enough time, or that there’s too much to do, then your behavior and emotions will follow that lead. It is so important for your sake and for those around you (particularly if you are in a leadership position) to shift towards a positive problem-solving attitude towards time pressures. So use positive scripts like “I will do it now” and get out of the “Negative Land of W” – wishing, worrying, whining and wasting time. Know yourself and assess your stress levels. Use an app like Rate-Me to monitor “am I stressed?”

1.2. Flying start
A lot of people start the day with a coffee or two to get going in the morning. This raises your heart rate, addresses the cravings, makes you feel more alive – but does it really get you moving? It needs to translate into behavior, so the time-saving equivalent of a cup of coffee is the flying start method.

This method is as simple as doing five mini-tasks within 15 minutes to start the day. These are very minor tasks – a quick phone call, making an appointment, a tidy up of your desk, paying a bill or two – but once you get rolling with these you will discover some headspace, motivation and enthusiasm to the more challenging tasks ahead.

1.3. Create smart space
A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind, and a cluttered mind makes poor use of time. Make an effort to de-clutter your workspace, tidy up your filing system (including your computer files) and you will find your workplace more inviting. You will also save a lot of time, as you will be able to quickly find things you are looking for. Use one lined book for all notes, meetings, etc. Try an app like EVERNOTE to manage your various notes and ideas so they are always there to access. If you want to get organised and stop the clutter follow Peter Walsh.

1.4. Streamline meetings
Meetings have the potential to rob us of time and energy. Meetings need to be group communication sessions towards a goal. Whether that goal is to make some decisions, brainstorm new ideas or deliver some information to your team.

Your organisation should explore the possibility of alternatives to meetings. Instant messaging software (Yammer, AOL, MSN, etc) can reduce the number of required meetings, and speed up communication, particularly for geographically disperse teams and co-workers.

1.5. Find shortcuts
Shortcuts are everywhere. It is amazing how much unnecessary effort we expel doing things the long way! A short course or a bit of self-teaching on the software that you regularly use (MS Office, Adobe software, etc) can save you literally hours of the working week. There are many mobile applications that can be time savers – although it does come down to personal taste as an app may seem like a time waster for one person, and a time saver for another.

1.6. Break procrastination
The first step in breaking procrastination is to become aware of it. Until this happens you are at the mercy of the procrastination drive. Once you are aware of it you need to reset your goals and the list of tasks ahead of you. A common form of procrastination is to do a lot of small unimportant tasks instead of addressing the ominous task that is more important (and more demanding).

This is a subconscious drive towards de-cluttering your workload, and is an important reason why the flying start is such a great way to start the day. It also shows that the larger, ominous task needs to be broken down into more manageable parts – in which you can direct shorter bursts of effort towards. Audit your negative scripts and rewrite them to help you! Visualise completion.

1.7. Plan and prioritise
Too often we are unrealistic, underprepared and underestimate how long things will take. Stress builds up quickly when we have lots of work thrown at us. Becoming stressed and agitated is a sign that we need to stop, collect our thoughts and revise our priorities. When we are putting most of our effort towards the things that are most important we are infinitely happier and more satisfied with our work. It may require telling some people that you won’t be able to help them. It may require regular conversations with your boss.

Make sure you refocus yourself by asking these questions and hear your own voice:

Q: What is important to me?
Q: What do I want/need/goals?
Q: How much time do I have?
Q: How do I create balance?

It’s not that we don’t know how to plan or prioritise we just FORGET or IGNORE IT!

1.8. Best time and best energy

The notion of a morning person is simply someone who is more upbeat and active in the morning than others. Being aware of your peak times of energy is a great way to maximise your effectiveness across the day. Do a time audit for a few days.

Many people experience an energy slump straight after lunch (which may, in part be due to diet), so this may be a good time to do another flying start, or make some calls which is more of a social/interactive task. If you work on your most difficult and demanding tasks when you are at the peak of your powers you will find that you get through much more work.

1.9. Don’t get caught out
Frantically scrambling to get everything together the night before you travel, or before a presentation, is a stressful approach that leaves us prone to forgetting things, or taking up precious time when time is running out. A great strategy is to have a folder on your desktop called “NEXT” or “COMING SOON” where you quickly drop in everything that relates to an upcoming event. This can include documents, airline tickets, anything at all that is relevant.

You should also be aware of the common ways people are caught out. Carry a spare laptop power cord and a spare battery for your phone. Even a spare tie or shirt can be helpful in case of a food or drink incident!

10. Completion and commitment
There is no point completing work unless you congratulate yourself and enjoy the fact that it is complete. These small doses of satisfaction are ultimately motivating, and from a productivity point of view this a great thing. Commit to managing time effectively.
Everyone is always complaining about running out of time. How much time is wasted complaining?

I then linked into another blog of Eve – “How to avoid time wasting”

We aspire to being 100% productive when we work, but the fact is that nobody is perfect. Time wasting is a bugbear of any busy person.

It can be a matter of using time poorly, or falling victim to things beyond our control. What are the most common and most influential time wasters of the working week? What are the common negative thought loops that can keep you stuck in a mind frame that perpetuates the problem?

1. Email
So many of us dread looking at our email inbox after a day or two away – that dreaded mountain that we’ve tried to chip away at from our mobile devices in our free time – now has our full attention. The problem here is that the focus is on the communication method – not the communication content. It’s not a mountain of email we are facing; it is a mountain of questions and correspondence.

With email being such an easy way to ask a question or send some information, there is no easy way to reduce the amount of email you will receive – but by focusing on providing solutions and/or electing not to spend too much time on these problems that other people send through you can start to reclaim your day. So reframe and rewrite those negative thoughts that hold you back!

“There are so many emails; I’ll never get through this” → “If I prioritise and focus I can get through the important ones”.

“I wish everyone would leave me alone” → “People need my input and I’m here to help”.

2. Meetings
Meetings are one of the most complained about activities of the working week. Common criticisms are that nothing ever gets achieved; they take too long, that they always meander off course and most importantly, they are a waste of time!

Again, meetings are just a form of communication, and to communicate effectively you need everyone on the same page seeking a similar goal. Too often people use a meeting to raise only mildly relevant grievances, or fail to keep on topic and address the problems being raised. Meetings without a pre-arranged agenda are almost destined to turn into a fruitless chitchat session.

“This is a waste of my time; nothing ever gets done” → “I’ll help to keep the meeting on track”.

“I could be getting work done instead of talking about it” → “I’ll make sure I’m progressing along the right track”.
Reframe (be brave) and give feedback to those managing the meetings. And if it is you – then get feedback from those who attend your meetings as to how to make them more effective.

3. People
Are there people in your workplace that seem to make a habit of wasting your time? They tend to be very friendly folk that enjoy discussing a lot of non-work related activity. Perhaps they frequently come to you to talk about workplace politics, or even worse, to complain about their workload.

Strangely enough there are a lot of people that consider their boss a source of time wasting. An attentive boss is a great thing, and it’s usually a good idea to spend your time on what your boss considers to be important – but the people that complain about a boss wasting their time are usually referring to the interruption to the work they are trying to complete.

“I wish he/she would just go away!” → “I will end unproductive conversations politely and firmly”.
“Stop interrupting me!” → “I will let calls go to voicemail while I focus on this task”.

4. Travelling/commuting
A lot of time can be spent travelling to and from work, and unless you have the luxury of shifting your workplace closer to home, or in some cases work from home, then travelling time is an inescapable part of the day.

The trick is to try and use this time productively. Many people now use the time to read through emails or listen to music or make some calls. These are all good ways of using the time. Consider listening to meditation recordings, or podcasts about a topic of interest to you. Or take those unread articles you put aside for later. If you have to spend time travelling, you may as well enjoy it!

“I’m so sick of the daily grind” → “The commute gives me time to think”.
“I dread the ride home from work” → “Getting home will be great”.

5. Procrastination
This is the time waster that is the most difficult to admit to and often we don’t even realise that we are procrastinating. It can take the form of doing non-urgent activities ahead of urgent ones, or it can be in the form of just not doing anything instead of the work that needs to be done. Procrastination is a mental battle in which your innate resistance to difficult tasks wins against your urge to get things done.

Procrastination is usually preceded by a feeling and a justification that the workload or a particular task is overwhelming. If you can address the negative thoughts that create this undesired behavior.

“There is just too much work; I’ll never get it done” → “I’ll get as much done as possible in the time that I’ve got”.

“That’s one tricky problem – I can’t see a way around it” →” The more I chip away at this problem, the closer I get to a solution”.
Reframe your mindset to be positive and productive.

Time remains a constant but how we react to the pressure of time determines our success. Once you make time a fun concept, managing it becomes easy and you gain special moments.

Eve Ash has developed a wide range of strategies and resources to improve performance and develop a winning mindset (Rewrite Your Life!). Her company Seven Dimensions provides DVDs, online assessment tools and streaming videos to improve individuals, teams and businesses. http://eveash.com/

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Top tips for managing your day

From The Energy Project:

1.    Whenever possible, do one thing at a time. Multitasking increases the time it takes to finish any given task by 25%.

2.    Take a break every 90 minutes to stay most focused and productive. You can get real renewal with just a minute or two of deep breathing.

3.    Define clear stopping points at the end of the day, so when you’re with your family and friends, you’re really with them.





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