A study from a business coaching firm found that owners and executives waste an average of 21.8 hours per week on low and no value tasks. This is a huge loss of productivity and prevents you from focusing on the high impact projects that create meaning in your work and personal life.
Here are 18 time saving tips that will allow you to focus on the activities that matter most.
1) Be Super Clear About Your Priorities
Anything you do is a waste of time unless it directly contributes to your goals or another meaningful part of your life. Being super clear on your priorities helps you spend your time on valuable activities instead of whatever tasks seem the most urgent in the moment.
2) Tackle Your Most Important Projects in the Morning
This ensures that no matter what fires and other distractions arise later in the day, you’ve gotten your most impactful tasks done first. To do this consistently, don’t accept non-urgent meeting requests for mornings and turn off notifications so you can fully immerse yourself in your key projects.
3) Stop Attending Useless Meetings
The average US employee attends sixty-two meetings per month. This is a huge time-waster. Opting out of any meetings that you don’t play a critical role in and shortening the meetings that you lead can save you dozens of hours a month.
4) Adopt an Inbox Management System
According to McKinsey, the average professional spends 28% of their day reading and responding to emails. To save time on email, adopt an inbox management system. There are multiple options based on the role email plays in your job and they all enable you to spend less time in your inbox.
Don’t know where to start? Download our inbox management guide:
5) Block Out Interruptions
It takes an average of 23 minutes to fully refocus after an interruption. Allowing yourself to be distracted throughout the day prevents you focusing deeply on tasks and producing your best work. To be more productive, use noise-cancelling earbuds, turn off notifications, and take other actions to prevent people from interrupting you.
6) Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks
If you made a list of every task you do on a weekly basis, you’ll probably find several things that add little to no value. Once you’ve identified those tasks, stop doing them. Even if they’re small, they could save you a couple of hours a week.
7) Stop Multitasking to Get Into the Flow
Multitasking kills time by causing you to make more mistakes and preventing you from entering flow states. Flow states are when your mind is wholly focused on a single task and it makes you 5x more productive. To leverage them, block off time to complete individual tasks from start to finish.
8) Batch Tasks
To the greatest extent possible, work on similar tasks one after another. Doing so has several time-saving benefits including making it easier to get into and stay in flow states, reducing distractions, and limiting the time required to focus on new tasks.
9) Schedule Catch Up Time
No matter how good you are at estimating project times and managing your schedule, unexpected issues and tasks are bound to arise. Instead of letting them derail your day, block a couple of times on your calendar each week to catch up on miscellaneous tasks.
10) Hire a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants can tackle a wide range of tedious, but necessary, tasks to free up your time for higher-value activities. If you hire through a managed service, you’ll save even more time since the company takes full responsibility for hiring, training, and managing your assistant.
To learn more, download our guide How to Gain Leverage with a Prialto Virtual Assistant.
11) Say No to Requests You Don’t Have Time For
If you’re already struggling to keep up with the tasks on your to-do list, say no to new requests that don’t significantly benefit you. Though you may feel bad for letting people down, it’s worth the time and stress you save.
12) Get a Consistent Amount of Sleep Each Night
Research shows that inconsistent sleep affects the body similarly to jet lag and that sleep-deprived individuals work slower and make significantly more errors than those who consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Though getting those hours consumes more time in your day, you have mental capacity to work far more productively.
13) Follow a Morning Routine
Having chaotic mornings where you’re rushing to get ready and make it to the office on time causes you to start your day tired and stressed out. Following a morning routine will save you time and mental energy since you’re able to quickly go through the motions of getting ready while keeping your mind relaxed as you think about the day ahead.
14) Build Breaks into Your Schedule
To maximize your time at work, you need to leave time for breaks in your schedule. According to MIT researchers, taking short breaks every 75-90 minutes boosts your productivity by refreshing your brain and enabling you to be more efficient when you resume work.
15) Make Calls and Stay Up-To-Date on Your Commute
If you’re spending a half hour or more commuting everyday, use that time productively by making calls and listening to podcasts and audiobooks. This allows you to catch up with people and industry trends during a time that would otherwise be wasted.
16) Create Email Templates
If you find yourself constantly responding to the same kinds of emails, create templates. This saves time since all you have to do is copy/paste and slightly personalize the template instead of rewriting similar emails over and over again.
17) Communicate Without Ambiguity
Miscommunication is one of the most preventable time-wasters in the workplace. To avoid having to spend time clarifying and fixing mistakes, send messages that are direct and create no ambiguity about what you want the other person to know/do. Likewise, if you don’t understand what someone else wants, clarify before taking actions.
18) Return Calls in Batches
Unplanned calls can easily derail your productivity. To save time, keep your phone on silent and return calls in batches during a couple of planned times throughout the day.
Keep in mind that these time saving tips are just the beginning. Improving your productivity requires on-going adjustments to your schedule and lifestyle based on what strategies work best for you.
About the author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.