The 18 secrets shared above are the principles that are most likely to get you massive gains in productivity.
Below are even more tips and tricks you can use to save time. Always cook more than one meal at a time. There is a lot of inefficient time in cooking. The planning, shopping, prep work, cooking, cleaning. If I cook dinner, which is often, since I enjoy cooking, I’ll make sure I get two or three different meals out of it. I personally don’t mind eating the same healthy dinner three nights in a row—I mainly eat for health during the week, not pleasure.Off-load your memory with your camera phone.
I have a horrible memory, but I’ve learned to off-load short-term memory items to my phone. Some of the things I might take pictures of: my hotel room number, where I parked my car, the label from a good product, a book cover that a friend shows me, a whiteboard filled with great notes. It’s an easy way to relieve stress and save a few minutes of wandering around looking for your room or car.Mute your phone and shut off all notifications.
It is absolutely crazy to let your computer, phone, or other devices “shout” at you with notifications. My phone is on silent at all times, unless my brothers are out at night and I want to make sure I can respond in an emergency. There is no need to be notified every time someone DMs you on Twitter, PMs you on Facebook, or emails you.Drink a healthy protein shake for breakfast. Right now, you are probably skipping breakfast to save time, or you are stopping at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts to grab coffee and a donut. Both are bad ideas. Remember it’s about productivity, not time, and drinking a protein shake gives you energy and alertness all morning, boosting your metabolism so you’ll actually burn more calories than if you skip breakfast. And as fast as your dash into a donut shop is, making a shake is faster than parking, walking in, waiting in line, waiting for your coffee, and walking back out.
Never watch live TV. Why? Because of the commercials. Just DVR every show you want to watch so you can skip through the commercials.
Unless it’s a real-time sporting event, do you really need to watch a TV show the moment it’s broadcast?Don’t watch TV at all! David Meerman Scott is a marketing & sales strategist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of 10 books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR and Newsjacking. In an interview for this book he told me:According to Nielsen, the average American spends 158 hours each month watching television! That’s 1,896 hours per year. Damn. That would be enough time to write an awesome book or start a company. You want a six-pack? Exercise instead of watch TV. Eliminate television and you gain nearly two thousand hours a year.
Imagine what YOU could do!Use your drive time wisely. Think about how many hours a year you spend driving in the car. Commute times, driving to clients, long trips to your parents’ house. Even if you just drive 30 minutes each way to work, that is over 200 hours a year, or almost 10 days of time. We often reflexively just think of this as dead time on our calendar and crank up our favorite music and tune out the world. Instead, think of phone calls you need to make—whether work related or to friends and family members.
Consider listening to podcasts (which can cover the daily news) or “how to” programs or even learning a foreign language. Of course you can use podcast apps to easily find great programs and listen to them at 2x the speed to save even more time!Never call people without setting an appointment ahead of time (unless it’s social, of course).How often do you call unannounced and get someone’s voicemail? “Hey Jane, just wanted to catch up to hear how the sales meeting went; call me back.
” And then Jane calls you, and you’re busy so she gets your voicemail, “Hey, it’s Jane, just returning your call. Call me back.” And on and on, like a voicemail ping pong game. Instead, send a calendar invite or email that just says, “Jane, let’s connect on phone so I can get debriefed on sales meeting. Is tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. ET good? If not, suggest a few openings on your day.
” Notice “a few” so you don’t end up with email ping pong trying to find time on each other’s calendars.Avoid busy times out in the real world if at all possible. This secret will save many minutes a week and many hours in the year.
It’s as simple as shifting when you do things you have to do. Instead of shopping for groceries on busy Saturday morning, do it late Friday night or early Sunday morning instead. Don’t schedule trips to clients close to rush hour drive times. Don’t go into the bank during lunch hours.Use dual monitors. Adding a second monitor to your computer setup is one of the easiest ways to gain massive efficiency for your computer tasks. It completely eliminates that need to toggle between two different windows.
I actually work with one monitor on one computer and two monitors on another computer, so technically I have three monitors going at the same time. But even with just two, you can then easily type in your word processor while reviewing research material on the Internet, preview code in one window while debugging in the other, or if you aren’t on a focus sprint, yes you can monitor email traffic or view your calendar in one window while being constructive in the other.Have a stop doing list. The great business thinker Jim Collins has often said that your “stop doing” list is just as important, if not more important, than your to-do list. In his 2003 article (http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/best-new-years.
html), he talks about how great companies practice this, and he himself uses New Year’s resolution time to work on his stop doing list. Simplicity and minimalism can free the mind, free your schedule, and enable you to do great work.Remind people of the “end time.” There was a time when I reported my supervisor of a local company and had assumed major new responsibilities.
I quickly started drowning. My supervisor offered to follow me around to help. At the end of two weeks, she said, “One thing that you need to do is really commit to the end time.
Don’t let people keep you longer than they were scheduled for.” Great advice. Ever since, I start every meeting, and especially every phone call, with, “Before we get started, I see we are scheduled for 30 minutes, and I do have a hard stop 3:00…” This way everyone knows in advance that it won’t be a casual, leisurely meeting that just runs its own course.
This tip is especially critical if you schedule calls for only 10 or 15 minutes.Hang out with productive people. Seems silly, but so powerful. If your best friends at work are the ones taking 90-minute lunches all the time, you’re likely to do the same. If your social circle routinely does happy hour and discusses what happened on reality TV the night before, you’re likely to continue doing the same. Consider upgrading your work friends and your other friends.
If for some reason you can’t find productive time ninjas around you, hang out with them online. I’ve joined Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, writers, runners, and on and on. It’s a great way to “hang” with people who are motivating each other, sharing their productivity tips, and keeping each other on the path to success.Tell people around you to leave you alone. As the Wall Street Journal reported in their September 11, 2013, edition, the biggest distraction to work isn’t email or instant messenger—it’s face-to-face interruptions.
If you work from home, make it clear to your family that work is work, and they can’t interrupt you. If you’re in the office, consider hanging a “Do Not Disturb” or “Back at time” sign on your door or running yellow caution tape across your cube entrance. And if you’re the boss, consider setting aside a couple hours of day throughout the office for quiet time.Buy birthday cards by the dozen. Do you go out and buy a card every time a friend or family member’s birthday comes up? Or do you rush out to buy a condolence card each time you need one? The next time just go out and buy 10–20 cards—whatever a year’s worth is—and a roll of stamps and keep them in your desk drawer so they’re ready to go. Think of how many 15-minute trips to the store you will save in a given year.Pay bills electronically.
Do you pay bills every week or two the old fashioned way, with checks and stamps? Big time waster. Just sign up for automatic bill pay—using a credit card whenever possible so you can earn points. You do need to leave a little extra money in your checking account to make sure you never run short, but it’s worth the slight cash inefficiency to save all that time.Never answer a call from an unknown number.
If they’re not in your contact list, it’s highly unlikely the call is from a friend, family member, or big client. The odds are high it’s a sales call or a friend of a friend who was given your number. And even if the call is from someone you know, it’s always best to have call time scheduled on your calendar.Get a business coach, mentor, or mastermind group.
This may sound unusual as time management advice, but connecting with someone who has already walked the path you’re on can save you a lot of time (not to mention money and frustration).