How to get more time back
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How to get more time in your day until time travel is invented

11 May 2017

We could all probably do with a Harry Potter time-turner to get more done. But until they become a reality, here are some alternative ways to gain a few extra minutes.

Hands up who feels like there are never enough hours in the day?

Particularly in work, you can end up with a to-do list the size of your arm, a million emails to get through and several looming deadlines vying for your attention.

Time travel would be great for situations like these, but, until a Harry Potter time-turner or a Back to the Future DeLorean enters the real world, it looks like we’ll have to come up with our own strategies for pulling a little extra time out of thin air.

Luckily, we’ve done the hard part for you. Getting into these seven habits going forward will buy you more hours throughout the day, allowing you to get more work done.

Cut off social media in the morning

This is a tough habit to break for many people, but it will save you time in the morning. If you’re a morning scroller who spends at least 10 minutes going through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before you get out of bed, this tip is a must.

You should also resist the temptation of opening any social media apps on your phone or desktop when you get to the office. Even when you’re not looking at them, social media will distract your brain, meaning a slower start to your day.

Limit your ‘mulling time’

Whether you’re finding the right phrasing, spending time researching something or just having a brainstorming session, limit how long you plan to do it before you start.

Brainstorming is always a good idea, and while time pressure can hinder a certain level of creativity, you mustn’t let your brain flit away your valuable minutes.

Decide how long you’re going to spend thinking something over and stop once you hit that deadline. Even if you think you can go off and do other things, you can’t. Your brain will be stretched between two different tasks, ultimately slowing you down on both.

Write everything down

Similarly, if you have to keep track of a mental to-do list, you’re not going to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to the task at hand.

If a job comes to mind when you’re in the middle of something else, write it down to get rid of it from your brain. Focusing on one thing at a time will help you get things done faster and give you more time in the long run.

You should also avoid letting your to-do list get too much for you. A long list of obligations can lead to you feeling guilty and overwhelmed, which will also impede your work.

Maximise your work breaks

You may think you don’t have time to take any breaks, but they are paramount to your goal.

Figure out what balance between working and taking a break works for you. If you work non-stop for three hours without taking a break, you are more likely to slow down, become distracted and even get sloppy.

Use regular, short breaks to keep your mind sharp when you’re working hard. To gain even more minutes, use your breaks effectively to get other things done.

Turn off distractions

We’ve already dealt with social media, but sometimes work itself might distract you from getting things done. Emails are one example of a huge time-suck for everyone.

Reading them, answering them and clearing them constantly throughout the day will pull your brain from the task at hand.

Similarly, conversations that go on around you can command your attention and snatch precious time. Tune out the distractions where possible.

Deal with things once

This may be easier said than done but the truth is, if you start making an active effort to deal with things once, you will gain more time in your day.

We have a tendency to look at things, consider them and then place them on the back burner with intentions of chiselling away at them over time.

However, if you make a conscious effort to analyse, work on and file away each task as you come to it, you will save more time in the long run. Coming back to tasks time and time again will force you to get reacquainted with them and this type of action will slow your productivity.

Learn to delegate

This one is arguably one of the hardest to do, but it’s the easiest way to buy more time for yourself.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing to do is to take a few things off your plate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share the load occasionally. After all, wouldn’t you do the same for someone else?

If you’re managing a team, learning to delegate is a particularly important skill and the only way you’re going to be able to free up more time for yourself is to lighten the load.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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