How to Save Time and Increase Productivity
The world-famous martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee once said, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
That's never been more true than today. Modern workers are constantly staring at a screen and downloading more information than they could ever possibly remember. This time-consuming process can cause severe anxiety, fracture your concentration, and more importantly, steal your time.
Time is one of the most valuable business resources, but we don’t often think about how much time gets wasted every day (probably because we're too busy answering emails, taking phone calls, and attending meetings.)
However, there’s a reason certain people are successful, whether they are captains of industry, technological innovators, or world-class athletes.
It's because those people have constructed rigorous, ritualistic behaviors that help them maintain their focus. These few tips might only save you a few minutes each day, but when you add them up you will realize that small changes in behavior can actually make a huge impact on productivity.
1. Download your to-do list
There are two big catalysts for distraction.
The first is multi-tasking. The practice became fashionable as people loaded up on programs, apps, and devices. This seemingly made it easy to do more than one thing at a time. But, researchers have discovered that multitasking kills performance and might even damage your brain.
The second catalyst for distraction is carrying around too much in your head. If you can offload all of the tasks you need to accomplish, it will help you clear your mind and focus.
With that in mind, take ten minutes at the end of your work day to write up your to-do list for the next day. You can do this via old-fashioned pen and paper, use an app, or any other method that works for you.
2. Remember that email isn’t your boss
In some ways, email was an insidious invention. Your phone or computer chimes in and it inspires some kind of compulsive primal urge to click on it, shift focus to the content of the email, and resolve whatever issue it brought up.
Email eats up huge chunks of time that could be better spent focusing on a single project. Truly heroic people set even stricter limits on their email time, checking their mail only three times a day, at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. That leaves spans of several hours at a time that can be used to produce rather than respond.
3. Give your productivity a spring cleaning
Much like staff retreats or strategy sessions, sometimes you need time away from your day-to-day duties in order to make a plan for success.
This concept can be applied to making a personal productivity plan, too.
Take time a few times a year to clear your schedule for half a day or a day and make your plan. Write down what rituals or behaviors you could potentially work on to make your life easier, whether it's getting up earlier, creating time to exercise, or making that to-do list at the end of the day.
This step also applies to technology — more apps are not the answer. Instead, think about how technology can be used to make your work easier or shave minutes off your schedule and leave all the other toys by the wayside
4. Make it easier to find your things
By some estimates, as much as 30% of wasted time is spent looking for things. So, to save time, create an organizational system that will make it easier to find the things you need to get more work done.
Like having a specific bowl for your keys at home, creating maps of your most essential documents, files, and tools can make it easier to find what you need, when you need it.
5. Get some extra help
Sometimes, the best way to get more done is to outsource and delegate certain tasks.
Administrative support is one of the most common things for small business owners to outsource. You can hire a dedicated employee to provide part- or full-time help, or opt for a virtual assistant where you only pay for the support you need, when you need it. An assistant can help with a variety of tasks, including scheduling, email management, file management, customer support, and more.
So, instead of trying to do it all, consider getting some extra help. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your productivity increases.