“There’s just not enough hours in the day!”
If you’ve ever found yourself exclaiming this while looking down at your overflowing to-do list, you’re not alone! Between work, family responsibilities, socialising, exercise and general life admin, juggling all the demands of modern life can feel impossible at times.
The good news is, there is a way to get more out of your 24 hours — and it doesn’t involve rising at 4 am or just hustling harder. Nope, it’s all about just making a few simple tweaks to steal back the time you’re likely losing to procrastination, multitasking and other distractions.
By incorporating some of these 5 productivity hacks, you can steal back at least an extra hour in your day and show that to-do list who’s boss!
1. Plan it out
Sometimes, it’s tempting to skip planning out your week because you feel like you just ‘don’t have time.’ But, while it’s a bit of an initial time investment, this will actually save you loads of time down the track!
As time management expert Brian Tracy says “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution, which is a 1000 % return on energy” So, even if you only spend 10 to 15 minutes planning out your week on a Sunday or Monday, this could potentially buy you back hours during the week.
Having a clear idea of your commitments and priorities means that you know exactly what needs to get done. This cuts out any umming and ahhing about what task on your to-do list to tackle next.
Having a great planning tool like our weekly desktop planners will help make sure you don’t waste too much time planning and set yourself up for success!
2. Reduce decision fatigue
It’s estimated that the average person makes 35,000 decisions per day. That works out to roughly 2000 decisions per hour, or one decision every two seconds. Crazy, right!?
You don’t have to be a scientist to realise that this is likely flushing a lot of valuable time down the drain. Not only that, but it can also lead to decision fatigue — when you’re so exhausted from making small decisions all day long that you struggle to make decisions on the big things.
Thankfully, you can cut down the amount of decisions you make daily and claim that time back! One way to do this is to have a designated capsule wardrobe for work, or to lay out your clothes the night before. This means that you’ll no longer find yourself yelling “I have nothing to wear!” at your wardrobe full of clothes.
Another major area that is rife for decision fatigue is what to eat and cook. This is especially true if you have a family! Using shopping lists and meal planners is a great way to reduce the amount of food-decisions you make daily — not to mention, save you money!
3. Prioritise like a pro
As great as it is to have a plan for the week, it’s also important to be flexible. Because, as we as know, life can be unpredictable and often changes! This is why it’s a smart idea to also check in with your priorities daily, as well as weekly.
“But isn’t that what my to-do list is for?” you might be thinking. Not exactly! Because, while to-do lists often include a never-ending inventory of tasks, priorities are all about identifying only the most important ones for that day. These are your VIP tasks that if you accomplished, would make the day a total win. Anything else on top of that is just a bonus!
Getting crystal clear on your ‘top 3’ priorities will help you kick off your day with momentum, as you always know exactly what needs to be done. A daily desktop pad with space for priorities like A Girl In Progress’ Daily Progress Pad will prompt you to identify those needle-moving tasks.
4. Do one thing at a time
Multitasking is one of the biggest thieves of time, energy and productivity. And, contrary to popular belief, nobody is good at it — not even women!
Because, as it turns out, when we’re multitasking, what we’re actually doing is rapidly switching between tasks. Not only does this majorly zap our mental energy, but research shows it can take up to 23 minutes to get focused again. You can only imagine how much time that adds up to each day!
To avoid the multitasking time trap, you can do exactly the opposite — monotasking! This is where you tackle just one task and one task only, before you move onto the next. This strategy works particularly well when paired with productivity sprints or the Pomodoro method — setting a timer for 25 minutes, then going full throttle for that time period. The delayed gratification of knowing you’ll soon be able to scroll social media to your heart’s content works wonders!
5. Get in the zone
Tip number four also goes hand in hand with this one. You see, monotasking and productivity sprints of two strategies that can help you achieve a ‘flow state.’ Known as the holy grail of productivity, this is a state of blissful focus where you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing that time flies by. When you’re in this state, you’re far less likely to succumb to distractions, and can get more done in less time!
As well as using the Pomodoro method, some other techniques to help you get in the zone include listening to instrumental music or binaural beats while you work (there are plenty of playlists specifically for this purpose on Spotify) This can help you drown out the world around you, and stay present in the here and now.
Research also shows that tasks that are slightly more difficult than your current skill set are the sweet spot for getting into flow. So, don’t shy away from tasks that challenge you!
By incorporating these simple time management tips, you can squeeze more out of your 24 hours every day. Now, the only thing that’s left to decide is: how are you going to spend your extra hour of the day!?
Bio: Emma Norris is a writer, creative strategist and imperfect action coach from Sydney, Australia. She’s also the founder of A Girl In Progress — A self-development blog for women working on themselves, FOR themselves. A magazine journalist-turned-productivity junkie, her work has appeared in publications like the New York Times’ T Magazine, Marie Claire, QANTAS Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Cancer Wellness and many more. When she’s not writing, coaching or strategising, you’ll find her reading a self-help book, studying psychology or sitting near the closest body of water.
You can follow Emma on Instagram at @emmajanenorris