Time is a challenging thing. There's nothing worse than running out of it or thinking you have more of it than you actually do. It's frustrating when your to-do list is a mile long but there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish them all. It's hard knowing you can't hit snooze when you really need to (trust me, I would snooze all morning if I could). It's true when they say that time is money, and we lose a whole lot of it without even realizing it! Get a lot more accomplished and a few extra Zzz's with these super effective time-saving hacks!
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10 Time-Saving Hacks For A More Productive Day
1. Prep Your Meals In Advance.
Mornings can be crazy hectic, especially if you are a parent or if you didn't get a good night's sleep. Rather than rushing to throw together a breakfast or lunch made up of whatever you can find in the cabinets, prepare your meals the night before. Pick one or two days each week to prepare your food in bulk and portion out each meal in separate containers so they're ready to grab when you're on the fly. This will save you so much time and stress! Not only does meal prep save time but it's good for your health! When you prep your meals, you are less likely to buy lunch or reach for unhealthy snacks throughout the day. I really appreciate not having to cook or prepare anything when I am feeling tired, rushed and stressed.
Egg muffins and overnight oats make great grab-and-go breakfasts. Or, you can wash, prep and freeze fruits for smoothies in single-serving bags. For lunch, consider purchasing a Bento lunch box to pack your foods separated by compartment, which will keep your meal nice and fresh rather than soggy!
2. Avoid checking your email or social media first thing in the morning.
This may be easier said than done, but hear me out.
Our smartphones are black holes and we are all guilty to succumbing to them. We reach for them as soon as we wake up in the morning to check our messages, browse Facebook and Instagram, catch up on the news, etc. We tell ourselves we are just going to answer one email or catch up on a few scrolls worth of social media posts and then suddenly, we are opening email after email or are deep into the recesses of someone's profile and running late for work. Trust me, the emails can wait and the Instagram photos that your friends posted while you were sleeping will still be there later on.
3. Set alerts to avoid spending too much time on one thing.
This tactic can be used for just about any aspect of life, both professional and personal. It's easy to get absorbed in a task, even something as trivial as taking a longer shower than you really had time for (that's for those of you who like to soak until they're wrinkled – you know who you are). If you are constantly on the go, with so much to do and so little time, create alerts on your phone to let you know when it's time to move onto the next thing on your to-do list. This goes hand-in-hand with creating a routine, it just helps you stick to it so you don't always need to keep your eye on the clock.
Better yet, track your time using a timing tool. One of my favorite ways to stay on top of my side hustle to-dos and my client work is using The Millennial Bull's Advanced Excel Time Tracking Tool because it itemizes all of my time by project. All I have to do is start and stop the timer, label what I am working on and then at the end of the day or month I can review where I spent my time the most or the least. Great way to keep yourself organized, especially if you work-from-home, have a side hustle, are an entrepreneur or even a stay-at-home mom with a huge list of tasks!
4. Subscribe and save.
Food subscription services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh not only save you money but they save so much time as well! Coming up with recipes and grocery shopping can be really time consuming, especially if you tend to work late. So, why not let a subscription service do it for you (especially if you aren't super comfortable in the kitchen)? These programs deliver pre-measured ingredients and recipes for an easy step-by-step meal. All you have to do is select the dishes that you are interested in and you'll get them delivered fresh and ready to cook!
Get $20 off your first and second Hello Fresh box by using this link.
5. Use your downtime wisely.
You might be thinking, “why would I want to be productive during my downtime. It's downtime for a reason,” and you'd be right. BUT, here's a little secret. If you are productive during your downtime, you will get even MORE downtime! How? Well, think about it. If you spend, say, your 30-minute commute on the train reviewing that report that you didn't finish at work rather than playing Candy Crush on your cellphone, you won't have to finish it after dinner. Instead, you'll have that time to do whatever you want to do, whether it's catching up on your favorite TV show that you never have time to watch, or going to bed a half hour earlier. You see, we tend to spend a lot of time doing mindless things that we literally get nothing out of, other than tired eyes and a hyped up brain from staring at our screens for hours. Instead of using your downtime to do things that are meaningless, try being productive. You will be gaining time.
6. Choose tomorrow's outfit today.
Why does getting dressed have to be so stressful? Especially for us women? Men have it easy, I tell ya! All they have to do is throw on a collared shirt and some slacks and they're good to go. They could wear the same thing every day and no one would know the difference! God forbid a woman repeat her outfit and the whole world knows! Make your mornings easier by laying out what you're going to wear to work the night before. It'll save you from having to try on numerous outfits while the clock ticks, making your exit that much more seamless.
7. Scale down your closet.
Speaking of getting dressed in the morning, consider taking the minimalist approach and cleaning out your closet. A wardrobe consisting of a handful neutral, timeless pieces that go well together can save you time and money.
8. Create a routine and stick to it.
There's no denying that a solid schedule makes your day easier. For example, if you know that you need to be at the gym by 6:30AM, showered and dressed by 8:30AM and at the office by 9AM, you're more likely to do everything in your power to make your morning run smoothly. We all know what it feels like to roll out of bed a few minutes too late, only to rush getting ready, forgetting small things like your fitness watch or a pair of flip flops for the gym shower. Knowing how much it sucks to be forgetful due to lack of preparedness only makes us want to be even more prepared for next time. Make your routine well-rounded. Along with choosing your work outfit the night before, pack your briefcase and/or gym bag so you aren't scrambling around looking for everything with sleepy eyes. Once it becomes a habit, you'll naturally make the motions you need to get through your day, ultimately saving time and increasing your productivity.
9. Schedule designated message catch-up time.
Rather than checking your phone every single time your inbox buzzes, set designated email and text message time two or three times a day. It's way too easy to get carried away with messages and lose track of time, particularly if you're someone who is in high demand. Set a morning, afternoon and evening (if you must) block of time to check your messages and you will save a lot of time and get more done. This is especially meant for personal emails, as business is understandably hard to avoid. But you should still try to apply this where you can to maximize your time.
10. Get up and move.
No, seriously. Talking a break every hour or so to walk around and stretch your legs will actually save you time, despite it being a “break.” Here's why: if we are constantly strapped to our desks and staring at a computer screen, we will inevitably get tired. The more sedentary we are, the more energy we will lose, which will translate to a huge drop in productivity, aka lost time. Taking a break to walk around will wake you up and re-energize you, thus making you more productive.
Implementing these time-saving hacks will easily add many, many minutes to your day.