Productivity: how spending 40 minutes a day can give you back 21.5 days a year

We all have the same number of hours in the day and yet sometimes it can feel as if everyone else is getting so much more done. Small changes and smarter choices can make a huge difference to what we can pack in to our days AND leave us feeling more in control and happier.

In fact, by choosing to use just 40 minutes more productively each working day it would give us back a whopping 21.5 days per year (or over 3 hours per week). You can start reclaiming those precious hours right now:

GET AHEAD

As mundane as it might sound, simply taking 30 minutes to plan the week ahead can save both stress and time in the long run. Understanding what you have on your plate this week allows you to see the bigger picture and be prepped. Plan the weekly meals (speeds up shopping too), think about what you want to wear and check it’s clean and see where there is downtime that you could use for yourself e.g popping a book in your bag for the commute.

JUST DO IT

Procrastination happens to us all, there are always tasks that make us favour someday over today. My favourite trick for this is the good old two minute rule. It is simple. Just commit to two minutes. No more.

Not feeling the 5k run? Pull on those trainers and get out of the door. You only have to run for two minutes. Dont want to sort out those invoices? Make a start for two minutes and the rest can wait. Rather stick pins in your eyes than sort your wardrobe? Just two minutes sorting the clothes on the floor. Starting is almost always the hardest part and when you get cracking youll want to see the job done.

THE DAILY VIP LIST

Mornings are your secret weapon. This is the best time to focus on the Most Important Things. Try making a daily action list with just three crucial things that you want to make happen. Start the day with these, and only these (use the 2 minute rule if they feel overwhelming). Leave your inbox until after you have given your M.I.T your full attention. Once the crucial things have been tended to then the rest of the day is yours to use as you please. The derailing of a day tends to happen later on so if you get the things that matter most done first then you’ll have a productive day whatever happens.

GROUNDHOG DAY

Sometimes investing a little more time right now will save you a heap of time in the future. Instead of always spending ages searching for your HMRC reference number create a file with all crucial information in it so you have it at your fingertips when you need it. Often we just get used to doing things the painful way rather than just getting it sorted and making life easy for ourselves. So whatever your pain points are – change that ink, sort those files, tidy that desk, update that address book – just get it done today. I promise you it will feel great.

BEWARE THE TIME ZAPPERS

We all have time zappers. Social media is a common one. A quick peek and you find yourself still scrolling 40 minutes later and wondering where the time went. It has its place but try limiting the time you spend each day and you’ll instantly feel time rich. And if this is something you struggle with try using www.minutesplease.com– it will act as your very own time-management police!

The same applies to TV. Mindful watching of a programme you love is great but if you are in the rut of just crashing on the sofa watching anything half-heartedly try switching off and reading a book, rediscovering music or even planning your goals for the next 3 months.

You are the architect of your time. You can choose what is important to fill those hours with. But as Iain Thomas reminds us it’s a decision you need to make and reinforce daily;

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.

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