- Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Five Steps to Get the Most Out of 24 Hours

sneak peak: strategies for maximising productivity and getting the most out of your time each day

As a chronic do-er, unable to really sit still and just relax and do nothing, I feel like I have a pretty solid tactic for time-efficiency (although the 21 blog posts challenge will prove whether that's actually true...). I would say I get a lot done each day, but I want to improve and it makes sense to share that on here, in case it helps anyone else.


1. Wake up early

This one might seem obvious, and potentially a little frustrating because I realise how marmitey early mornings can be, but it's an easy way to add more time into your day.

Realistically, I probably only need 45 minutes in the morning to shower/breakfast/get ready & go, or maybe an hour if I want to be a smidge more relaxed about it. To leave the house at 8.30am, this would mean waking up at 7.45am, but I actually wake up at 7am so I have loads of time in the mornings to get a head start on things I want to do. I meditate, I read for a bit, I write just like I'm doing right now at 8.06am.


It's only 45 minutes extra and it's still a very reasonable waking up time, but it adds so much into the day. I'm capitalising on my productivity and willingness early in the morning before it drains away during the rest of the day (and it definitely does) - it's very unlikely I would fit an equally productive 45 minutes into my evening if I decided to sleep later instead. Plus, if I've already started a task in the morning, evening me finds it much easier to continue because I've already (for want of a kinder phrase) broken the back of it.


2. Use the spare minutes

Do you have a commute? Do you have an appointment or a meeting where you end up whiling away the minutes just sitting and waiting? Has your computer decided to spontaneously install some updates, rendering it useless for the next few centuries?

These little pockets of time are all opportunities to do something else. Making the most of your time does not have to mean creating something or checking off your entire to-do list or suddenly realising your lifelong dreams in the space of one day - it can be as simple as finishing the day feeling like you achieved more. Often, that comes through getting a lot done, even if the things you did are not typically 'productive'.


You can use these spare minutes on activities/tasks in their own right, or on small tasks that will free up more time later. Some things you can do in these wee gaps:

- read a book
- write your to-do list for the day/week
- write a shopping list
- brainstorm present ideas for any upcoming birthdays/occasions(/CHRISTMAS!!!)
- reply to messages you haven't had time for (guilty)
- get in touch with someone you haven't spoken to for a while
- meditate
- prepare for upcoming meetings/reviews/projects
- listen to a podcast

All useful in their own ways, and all better than spending the time doing nothing very much, unless you want to make it into a nice kind of nothing very much and meditate or practice mindfulness, in which case that doesn't even count as nothing very much anyway. Win win win.


3. Put your phone away

Have you ever noticed quite how productive you are when you don't have your phone? I leave my phone plugged in and on moon mode ('do not disturb', to use its less exciting name) until I'm just leaving the house, so with the exception of switching off my alarm, I completely ignore it. I. Get. So. Much. Done.

There have actually been studies on productivity and mobile phone use, and the results found that simply by having a phone near you or within your vision, even when you're not getting any notifications or it's turned over, your productivity decreases, your concentration goes and you are much more easily distracted. It's a glorified walkie talkie and it's affecting our BRAINS, guys.


Try it - put your phone away, maybe download an app to help you (I love the Forest app because #environment) and see how your productivity (theoretically) soars.


4. Book meetings with yourself

You wouldn't bail on a meeting/appointment/catchup you had booked in and agreed to with someone else, so why should you be allowed to bail on one with yourself? Schedule time in using whatever method works best for you - the calendar on your phone, a diary/planner, reminders on a noticeboard, scribbles on your hand, anything.

This has always been my routine with the gym - because there's more getting ready involved, and because you have to brave the weather to get there (I've been living in Wales, remember - the land of eternal rain), it generally required a bit more motivation on a grey Saturday morning than, say, sitting at my desk and doing some life admin. Or equally, staying snuggled up nice and warm in bed and reading my book.


I keep a diary/planner/journal thing to organise and document my life, so every day or few days I fill in what my commitments are for the next few, including things like 'gym 4pm' and 'mini food shop' and 'Bodyguard 9pm BBC1'. All the important stuff in life. The act of writing it down and committing yourself to something makes it much easier to stick to.


5. Have a plan

Half the time, we sit down to do something and we spend way too long figuring out what it is we're going to do. "What will I do with this new abundance of time? Shall I read a book? Maybe I'll go for a run. Where shall I run? What's the weather like? Bit drizzly for a run actually, maybe I'll write a blog post. What shall I write a blog post about? I could improve the SEO of my site. Actually maybe I'll read up on SEO. Which of these billion articles should I read? Maybe I won't blog, there's a bit much I want to do for that and I don't have time for it all right now."

If, however, there's already a plan that we have created for ourselves, we don't have to waste any of our precious time laying the foundations for getting started. For example, I had my 21 blog posts brainwave (ha) whilst on the treadmill yesterday (yes, I have finally branched out of the weights section into... cardio) so used the rest of my run to think of post ideas. I could have thought of nothing (could I? an accidentally meta question) but I ended up using the spare time to formulate a plan, saving me time today. And here I am, being productive and efficient and grateful for former me.


Having a plan not only guides you on where to go, and how to go there, but it saves time when you actually come to doing whatever it is you want to do. In school, when it was drilled into us that embarking on an English essay without writing a plan was the worst crime imaginable, the same logic was at play (and Mr Dawson, the older I get the more I realise how right you were). "Failing to plan is planning to fail" and so on.



What are your time-efficiency strategies? I am a productivity enthusiast, so I would genuinely like to know.


- post #2 of 21 in the 21-day blog challenge -



Five Steps to Get the Most Out of 24 Hours, imogen molly blog, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. Loved this post! The booking meetings with yourself is a great idea. I'd recommend leaving your phone off and in a place you can't see/use it (perhaps in your car) for the morning. When there's no temptation to look at it, your productivity rockets!

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