My Hogwart’s acceptance letter must have gotten lost in the mail because I’m sadly incapable of casting spells to make dreams come true.
But my clients still expect me to whip out my magic wand and give them the things they want most: more money and more time.
And despite my lack of wizardy powers, I still have some tricks up my sleeve.
Getting more money is the easy part. Money is a renewable resource because you can always make more money. In fact—the Treasury prints more money every day!
But time is a non-renewable resource. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make more time.
And no white-haired scientist is going to drive up in his Delorean and take you on an adventure into the past.
It’s up to us to maximize the limited time we have. It’s about working smarter, not harder.
Here are 5 speedy strategies to maximize your time.
Batch Your Schedule
I stole this idea from The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Batching involves grouping like tasks together to save time. That means answering all your emails at once instead of throughout your work day, making all your phone calls one after another, or having your meetings in quick succession.
You’ll save time by not switching your concentration and mental focus between various tasks.
As for me, I batch all my social media interactions at one time because I’ll never get anything done if I’m checking Facebook and Pinterest all day long. Some of my clients batch their household chores together or prepare all their meals for the week on Sundays.
Which similar tasks can you batch together in your schedule?
Use Your Commute
I had a client who was having an awful time getting out the door in the morning to start her 50-minute drive to work. But seriously, would YOU be excited to start a drive like that every morning?
She hated losing those precious morning minutes when she could be doing something more productive. You know, like maybe some self-care. We had to figure out a way to (1) get her to work and (2) give her extra time to do what she wanted to do.
Most people look down on public transportation, but that was the best solution for my client.
She hopped on the bus in the morning, which happened to take the same amount of time as her drive. Since she no longer had to concentrate on the road, she was able to read, look over her to-do list, do a silent meditation with a phone app, or even zone out with some mental dress rehearsing.
How can you rearrange your commute to better use your time? What would you rather be doing in the morning before you start your work day?
Restructure Your Meetings
Ah, meetings. The bane of your existence, right? Most people dread going to meetings because they’re tedious, long, and pointless—how many meetings have you been to where nothing is decided on at the end?
It’s time to give meaning to your meetings.
Here are the essential components of a good meeting:
- Participants who truly belong there. Only invite those people who are intimately involved with the project. Is there a way you can skip a meeting and get the summary later?
- A short and sweet agenda. Use bullet points to organize the items and avoid lengthy descriptions or unnecessary filler.
- A leader. Every good meeting needs someone to reign in the side conversations and keep the meeting moving forward.
- A note-taker. Have someone take notes for the folks who couldn’t make it and so you don’t lose track of any next steps. Speaking of which…
- Next steps. Don’t schedule another follow-up meeting to assign tasks! Stop the meeting 5 minutes early and give clear action steps to the attendees.
What can you do before your next meeting to make sure it won’t waste your time?
Tame Your Emails
You’re probably thinking I’m going to tell you not to check your emails in the morning and instead dive right into your most important work. That’s what a responsible life editor would do, right?
Nuh uh! You MUST check your email in the morning.
Starting your work only to find out later in an email that you didn’t have to do that work is a horrible feeling. I know, it’s happened to me many times. That’s why you have to check emails in the morning…but do it the right way.
First, set a timer for 5 minutes and open your email inbox. When you check your email, you’re doing just that—checking them. You’re not responding to them, organizing them, or acting on them.
Scan your emails for messages that could be important (be honest with yourself). If there’s something that needs an immediate response, such as your boss needing an answer within the next 30 minutes, then respond quickly and be done with it.
Be brutal when assessing an email’s importance.
Many of the emails we think need immediate attention can actually wait a couple hours until you start your work day. If you see an important email, mark it or flag it so you can find it quickly later.
When your 5 minutes are up, close your email and get moving on your next project.
How many minutes will you save every morning by checking your email the right way?
Start Your Morning Tonight
Much of your stress in the morning can easily be avoided by doing some prep work the night before. I know the couch is calling your name, and all you want to do is relax! But spending a few minutes getting organized at night will save you tons of time when you’re rushing out the door.
Try a nightly cleanup, pack your bag at night, prep your breakfast and lunch if you can, and map out your to-do list. Remember to choose your 3 main priorities for the next day so you’re not ruminating about what needs to get done while you’re trying to sleep.
What can you do tonight to save time tomorrow?
It should come as no surprise that my most downloaded free worksheet is a time log. I’m all about helping you find your lost minutes. They’re hiding right in front of you, and a little sleuthing can help you use them to your advantage.
Find your lost minutes with my Where Does My Time Go? worksheet.
PART OF THE EDITOR'S TOOLKIT.
First, record your activities in half-hour increments for an entire day. Later, determine whether each activity is urgent + important, not urgent + important, urgent + not important, or not urgent + not important.
Once you’ve categorized all your activities, take an honest look at where you spend your time and make plans to spend more of your time tomorrow on activities that are truly important to you.
This worksheet is one of dozens of free resources in the Editor’s Toolkit. Click here to get instant access.
Your homework: Choose the speedy strategy that will help you maximize your time the most and implement it this week.
How do you maximize your time?
This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.