Imagine what you could do with an extra 365 hours a year. Would you finally have the time to plan out your business, book, blog or other creative project? Maybe you’d use the time to relax after a long day of work so you can power through your project on the weekend. You could spend it with your kids, spouse or friends. Regardless of how you’d use it, you’d figure out the most productive thing possible for you and your fulfillment. The following 12 tips will help you to save five minutes each. If you add up all 12, that will give you an entire hour every day to use as you please.
1. Skip the snooze button and train yourself to get up right away in the morning. If you’re like most people, you hit the snooze button two or three times before you wake up in the morning. You may feel like you need that extra five to 20 minutes to fully get your bearings at the break of dawn. In reality, it’s a habit that can be broken. Once you get used to getting up the first time your alarm goes off, you’ll be able to spring out of bed and straight into your super productive day. The first step in skipping the snooze is to place your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to actually get out of bed to reach it. Secondly, you want to practice being conscious when you turn off the alarm. To accomplish this, before you go to bed, look at the alarm clock and think about how good it will feel to have that extra time to work on your new project. If your business, book or blog is important to you, this will be incentive enough to wake up. Lastly, you should practice several times so that you get the habit into your body. Set the alarm for two minutes from now and lay down in your bed. Practice getting up and staying up. It may take you a few weeks to get used to this, but once you do, you’ll already be well ahead of the morning curve.
2. Prepare everything you need for the morning ahead of time. The evening tends to be a time of relaxation. After work, you might catch a few hours of TV before you brush your teeth and roll into bed. Instead of getting your nighttime z’s as quickly as possible, replace a few minutes of TV with approximately five minutes of typical morning activities. During this time, you can set aside your clothes for the following morning, do any ironing you need to do, make lunches for your kids, write your to-do list or any other standard morning activities. The morning is an effective and creative time to get work completed. If you can skip a few minutes of morning tasks and complete them when you weren’t doing much in the first place, you’ll
find even more time to brainstorm and create. Besides, a little less evening TV never hurt anybody.
3. Save yourself the double-check by focusing the first time. We lead a distracted life. It’s becoming more and more difficult to pay attention. This is one of the reasons we often have to go back and double check to make sure we have all our work materials, locked the back door or turned off the stove. You are more likely to remember to do something if you focus while you’re doing it. For example, if you’re locking the back door to your house you should stop all conversations, avoid looking at any devices and focus on the task at hand. You may even want to say something out loud, such as, “I am locking the door on Monday, June 10th,” so that you remember it later when you’re leaving the house. Another memory trick is to attach some wild and exciting memory to the task you finished. If you picture yourself locking the back door to keep out a hairy blue monster like the one John Goodman played in Monsters Inc., it’ll make more of an impact. The brain is a funny thing.
4. Eat a quick, cold and healthy breakfast. Breakfast can be a very delicious meal and many people like to eat eggs, pancakes and other home-cooked meals. You can save approximately five minutes per day if you opt for a cold and healthy breakfast with items such as fruit, cereal and protein bars. My typical breakfast is an apple, a untoasted piece of bread with some Omega-3 margarine and a high-fiber protein bar. The meal takes me less than a minute to make and gives me a few extra minutes to concentrate on my work in the morning. The meal is also nutritious and keeps me from being weighed down during the rest of my morning. My meal might not be right for you, but if you spend a little less time re-creating a delicious, brunch-worthy spread, you’ll have five more minutes to work on your business, book or blog.
5. Find wasted time in your morning, afternoon and evening hygiene activities. I like a long shower and a good stare in the mirror as much as anybody, but on my busiest weeks those activities serve as a waste of time. When I need to hustle up in the morning or the evening, I will count down from 120 seconds in my head to make sure I don’t take too long in the bathroom. While I don’t always finish by the time the clock hits zero, I find that I can save several minutes in both the morning and evening. Experiment with taking less time to wash your face, apply makeup, care for your hair and perform any other hygienic activities. You may even be able to find more than five minutes while continuing to keep yourself clean.
6. Keep your phone, tablet and laptop off as long as possible throughout your day. I’ve probably had days where my electronics distracted me for an entire hour, so it’s possible that you might be able to get much more than five minutes out of this tip. If you can keep the phone off or in your pocket when you’re walking instead of scrolling through who knows what, you’re likely to walk faster and keep your mind clearer. Keeping your tablet and laptop off, or at least turning the Wi-Fi off while you’re getting ready for work in the morning or going to bed, can likewise keep you focused on the task at hand. I don’t want you to feel disconnected, but there’s no reason to be so connected that your mind defaults to Google when a question pops up.
7. Wear shoes that were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. There is nothing wrong with carrying around two pairs of shoes. If you are a stylish person or you work at a place that requires you to wear slow, uncomfortable footwear, you can save at least five minutes by wearing sneakers or tennis shoes for as much of the day as possible. Comfortable shoes and a quickened pace can get you where you want to go much more quickly. There’s no shame in changing into your “designer” shoes a few blocks away from the office. If you’re able to move faster, you’ll be able to do more. It’s as simple as that.
8. Delegate a chore for a favor, allowance or love. I’ll talk about getting your loved ones on your side for your project a little bit later, but asking a loved one to take over a chore for you can save you a boatload of time. It’s important that you provide a good reason or a good incentive. Trading emptying and running the dishwasher for a foot rub during your favorite TV show will save you time and put you in your partner’s good graces. If you have children, you may want to start giving them an allowance to take over a few minutes of your chores here and there. Absent of children, you can hire a part-time maid, personal assistant or outsourced virtual assistant to help you save time. Even if you have nothing to offer to your partner or family than love, that may be enough to take some work off your hands.
9. Answer your email only in the morning or evening. We like to feel important and loved, which is why many of us check our personal email more than 10 times a day. Most of the time, however, the emails we receive are either spam or unimportant. Try checking your personal email for a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the evening with not even a glance in between. On my busiest days, I’ll impose this restriction on myself and find that I rarely missed anything important. If you get a lot of work e-mail, I don’t recommend you do this with your work account, but this can work like gangbusters for your personal account.
10. Go to bed five minutes earlier every day. The funny thing about trying to go to bed five minutes earlier each day is that this trick often saves a half hour or more. When you set a strict “lights out” time, you’ll find you’re much less prone to stay up for that last late-night monologue joke or check your e-mail for the millionth time just to make sure. Over the course of the week, shooting for five minutes more of extra sleep may end up saving you more than an hour. Try to get your significant other on board and the two of you may even be able to enjoy some more alone time.
11. Get delivery for one meal a week. Later in the book, I’ll talk about tackling financial problems. If you find your monthly food expenses are too high, getting food delivered once a week may not be the best idea. That being said, getting delivery can save you upwards of half an hour of cooking or going out time. Having a meal sent straight to your door once a week may save you at least five minutes per day for the whole week. Plus, you get to treat yourself for all the hard work you’ve done. Most people get delivery out of laziness, but you’re doing it for the sake of productivity.
12. Be an emotional rock. Many people spend too much time getting into petty arguments with their loved ones. If such bickering was excised from their lives, they might be able to save 20 minutes or more each day. Being an emotional rock does not mean having no emotions at all: it means that you don’t let things get to you as much and that you use logic instead of the first emotion that pokes into your brain. This is the hardest of the 12 time savers, because it takes a lot of getting used to. Train yourself to choose how you want to react when you feel a fight brewing. Learn to respond with acquiescence and love as opposed to fanning the fire. Personally, this saved me more than an hour a week when I was able to implement it. Try it for yourself.