Sometimes our days are so crammed with things to do that ten minutes represents the difference between sanity and insanity. These ten timesaving suggestions are surprisingly simple and straightforward and can potentially help make a huge difference in your day.
1. Plan Ahead and Start Early
Ten minutes of dedicated time planning each evening will save you from twenty minutes of ad-hoc preparation each morning. Likewise, starting your morning on purpose twenty minutes early will inject at least thirty additional productive minutes into your day. Think about it.
2. Handle All Two-Minute Tasks Immediately
“The Two-Minute Rule” is single greatest tip I picked up from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. If you roughly estimate that a task is going to take you less than two minutes to accomplish, do it right now. It’s a waste of time and energy to keep small tasks like this on your to-do list.
3. Group Similar Tasks Back-to-Back
Switching gears between different types of tasks can be tough. It takes most people several minutes to get into a productive mental groove geared toward a specific type of task. Therefore, it makes sense to group similar tasks in an effort to minimize the number of rough patches, and thus wasted time, between task orders.
4. Eliminate All Distractions for a Set Time
Distractions are everywhere. They arrive via email, cell phone, coworker inquiry, etc. I’ve found that cutting out all distractions for a set time is one of the most effective ways to get things done in less time. You can’t remain in hiding forever, but you can be nearly four times as productive while you are.
5. Take Notes and Make Lists
Nobody’s memory is perfect. If you don’t take notes and setup to-do lists for yourself you will end up wasting minutes of time trying to remember things that would have taken you seconds to write down.
6. Standardize Common Responsibilities
If you find yourself performing the same set of tasks on a regular basis then it makes sense to establish an efficient, standardized way of accomplishing them. Are certain tasks easier to perform in the morning? Are there additional resources that can be utilized only at a certain time? It’s up to you to find an efficient pattern, standardize it and follow it.
7. Buy in Bulk, Cook in Bulk
Buying stuff and cooking food are two of the most common unplanned consumptions of time. Most people buy replacements in small amounts only when they need them and think about food only when they’re hungry. The problem is these issues will often arise at inopportune times. The most efficient way I’ve found to counteract this is by doing bulk loads of both. I know I’ll always need gas in my vehicle. So instead of putting in $25 here and $25 there, I top off my tank every time I’m at the station regardless of the sticker shock. Likewise, I know I’m going to be hungry at lunch time every day this week. So on Sundays I’ll grill up five extra chicken breasts and make a chicken wrap or sandwich for every day of the week.
8. Use Productive Shortcuts
People who claim that there are no productive shortcuts in life have been brainwashed. There are productive shortcuts for almost everything you do. Finding and using them can save you a few minutes here and there on a daily basis. If you use a computer, learn the keyboard shortcuts for the programs you use most often. If you can permanently delegate one of your regular tasks to someone else, do it. Is there a route to work with less traffic? Where can you hit two birds with one stone?
9. Organize All Your Space
How much time do you think the average person wastefully spends searching for items they’ve misplaced? Keeping both your living and work spaces organized will undoubtedly save you ten minutes (if not twenty or thirty) daily.
10. Productively Use Waiting Time
Waiting time does not have to be wasted time. When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, the post office, or on hold for the next available representative … what simple tasks could you complete while you wait? How about sorting though your snail mail, writing those thank you notes you’ve been putting off, reading the book you keep meaning to read, reviewing, and editing your to-do lists, etc.
Originally published Marc and Angel