Follow these tips for time management1. Batch your calls, emails, and texts.
Interruptions are sneaky time-stealers. By responding to each text, call, or email the moment it's received, you distract yourself from your current activity and lose precious time. Just because someone else has a moment to connect with you does not necessarily mean it's a good time for you to respond. Estimate how often you check your communications and divide that number in half. For instance, if you check your texts and emails 20 times a day, dial it back to 10. Checking in isn't the actual time waster - it's the interruption that disrupts your previous frame of mind.
2. Make a quick decision.
While researching my book, Time Efficiency Makeover, I found that people spend anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours a day rehashing their choices. While some major decisions require ample research and multiple opinions, we often put too much time and energy into everyday choices, such as "Do I really want to go Sarah's party Saturday afternoon?" One of the top reasons for disorganization and poor time management is indecision or procrastination of a decision, according to the Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management. Eliminate repetitive decision-making conversations and try to come to a conclusion more quickly.
Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house whether you're going to work or running errands. The extra three or four minutes you spend getting organized might save you 10 to 40 minutes later in the day. Before you put the car in reverse, unearth any outgoing bills or birthday cards; gather re-useable grocery bags; grab store coupons; make sure your Bluetooth is easily accessible; stick your water in the cup holder; place the doctor's address at arm's length or program it into your GPS. Then review your to do list. Ask yourself if you forgot anything, such as your lunch, change of shoes, dry cleaning, or prescription. This final action could save you a U-turn at the end of the block to retrieve missing sports gear or brownies for the bake sale.
Related: 7 Habits of Happy, Healthy Women
4. Silence is golden.
Turn off the flat screen during dinner. Research shows that we lose minutes and gain calories when we mindlessly eat while watching TV. If you want to carve out an extra hour for yourself, focus on your food. Then you'll have more time to do something you enjoy, like read, exercise, cook a healthy meal, or take a fun class like art or dance.
5. Keep a well-ordered kitchen.
Leave the dishwasher open with racks pulled out during mealtimes. Ask family members to rinse and slip their plates and cups into the dishwasher rather than pile dirty dishes into the sink. This small change can save you five to 10 minutes of kitchen clean-up time.
6. Plan your wardrobe.
Each weekend, select your outfits for the week. Check to see if clothes are clean and ironed before Monday morning rolls around. Try on garments to make sure they match and fit! Ask your children to do the same. Knowing what you're going to wear before you wake up will reduce stress during the morning hours leading up to school or work and possibly save you 15 each day. Plus, you'll eliminate the old domino effect of trying on ugly outfits, skipping breakfast, running out the door, hitting traffic, and arriving at the office late.
Related: 15 Easy Ways to De-Stress
7. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but many people lose time throughout the day because fatigue makes them unfocused or forgetful. To be as productive as possible, hit the hay 30 minutes earlier. With more shut-eye, you will get more accomplished each day - perhaps even an extra hour's worth!
If you have an unhealthy relationship with your snooze button, it might be damaging your productivity. Repeatedly hitting the snooze button for an hour means you're depriving your body of restful sleep. However, you can add up to an hour's worth of time back into your day by setting your alarm to a true wake-up time. To support this effort, move your alarm so that you're required to get out of bed to shut it off. Better yet, turn on the light before you turn off the alarm. Linking the two actions will tell your brain something new is going on, and it's time to rise and shine.
9. Set a timer in the bathroom.
It's easy to say you're going to take a quick shower, but for some of us, getting clean becomes a lingering, love affair with hot water. Think about how long you spend in the shower. If you tend to daydream or sing, a timer can act as the shut-off valve for your shower extravaganza.
10. Use hooks for easy access.
Hang hooks around the house to hold many of the items you use on daily basis and save yourself up to 12 minutes a day. A blow dryer hanging on a hook in the bathroom can shave minutes off your morning routine because you won't have to continuously unravel the cord. Placing a key hook near the front door prevents you from having to search for keys in your purse, kitchen, or closet. Hanging earphones and mobile chargers near your desk can save you time (and sanity) from untangling a nest of cords from the drawer.
What's your secret to carving out free time? Let me know in the comments!
--by Dorothy Breininger