With only so many minutes in each day, it can be hard to accomplish everything on your to-do list. From work obligations to your personal life, finding solutions to daily time sucks can make your day less chaotic.
You might even find yourself gaining minutes back with a few simple hacks that smooth out your day. To be more efficient in your everyday life, you don’t need to make big changes. No deleting game apps or taking a social media hiatus. Instead, all you need to do is focus on streamlining your daily activities.
Use these tips to save time at work and at home throughout your day.
1. Prepare for Meetings
It’s no secret that meetings can be major time thieves. While some of them are necessary, not everyone is great at getting to the meat of a meeting quickly. Occasionally, meetings even feel like a waste of time. How recently did you sit through a meeting that had nothing to do with you?
When your eight-hour workday has five hours of meetings, it’s hard to complete your actual work. If you find yourself leading meetings that accomplish little, reassess the need to meet. It’s possible that an email may convey important information without cluttering your calendar. Take a look at your standing meetings, too. If action items aren’t ready yet, consider canceling that week’s meeting.
If you’re a meeting attendee, there are also things you can do to save time. Prepare by going over the meeting agenda ahead of time. You don’t want to be the only one in the room who doesn’t know what’s going on. Make sure you have clear discussion points to contribute to the meeting. Also, stay on topic so that the group can accomplish more in less time.
If you don’t get an agenda ahead of time, consider reaching out to the organizer and requesting one. It’ll benefit you and your colleagues. Objectives can get muddled if they aren’t clearly written out. And clear objectives pave the way for higher-quality work.
2. Arrive Early
You may find this obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people show up late for daily activities. Frequently, people think there aren’t repercussions to being just a few minutes late. However, not only does this slow down your day, it slows down other people.
If you’re late for a doctor’s appointment, for example, you’re wasting precious minutes in multiple people’s day. The doctor, for one, loses time. Another patient whose appointment is right after yours will also be impacted by your lateness.
It may not seem like a lot of time overall. However, if you look back, you can probably think of a time when someone’s lateness caused problems in your life.
There are also the issues that being late causes you. Running behind can increase your stress. Imagine you’re stuck in traffic on the way to work — is your heart rate climbing yet? Ultimately, arriving at work in a state of stress will not benefit your efficiency or productivity.
Arriving with plenty of time before work starts will help you feel at ease. You can center yourself and finish preparations for any work items you need to complete. It may feel like you’re losing more time by arriving early, but that time is incredibly useful. Whether you catch up on emails or get your morning coffee, you’ll feel more prepared for your day. Plus, you’ll seem reliable and respectful to your co-workers.
3. Establish a Routine
Routines can help you develop that pattern of arriving early. They can also help you stay focused, and avoid hiccups, throughout the day. Getting up at the same time each morning means that you know how much time you have before hitting the road.
You’ll know how long you have to eat breakfast, ready the kids for school, or do whatever else needs doing. Surprises may arise that shake up your morning, but a routine cuts down on them. The predictability can also lessen your stress. There’s minimal rushing if you have your morning all planned out.
Part of your morning routine might even start ahead of time. If you’re a terrible morning person, it might be helpful to pack your work bag the night before. If you have kids, you can have them pack their backpacks and lunches, too. In the early evening, make sure you have breakfast essentials on hand and choose your clothes for the next day. Then you won’t have to worry that you’ve forgotten an errand or have laundry you needed to get done.
Routines can also save you time in the evening. If you have a child, keep them on a schedule. Depending on their age, this may include play time or homework. Either way, your child will become accustomed to the order of activities and wind down accordingly.
Maintaining a routine at night can also help you wind down. Your body will learn to expect sleep, and you’ll begin to relax a bit more. The calm of a routine can really help you save time.
4. Plan Your Meals
Knowing when and what you have to eat can make your day much easier. Just like other aspects of your routine, consistent meal prep will save you time and energy.
Running out of time for breakfast in the morning can go a long way towards ruining your day. Skipping meals will slow you down, impact your mood, and pose other health implications.
If you know that mornings are tough, get your breakfast ready the night before. After you lay out your outfit, set the timer on your coffeemaker. Make some overnight oats and stick them in the fridge. Your morning will be easy as pie (or breakfast quiche).
Packing a lunch beforehand will also save you time. If you don’t bring a meal to work, you may find yourself waiting in an agonizingly long drive-through line. Plus, it’s likely that line isn’t leading to any place healthy. Add in the drive to and from a fast food joint, and you’ve wasted your entire lunch hour.
Take the guesswork out of dinner, too. You can schedule your meals for the week and cook each night. Or you can prep your food in bulk the weekend before. Even making a few sauces or chopping some veggies can shorten your daily time in the kitchen.
Once you’ve got bulk meals down, consider freezing a few meals for those future nights when you’re exhausted or overwhelmed. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal when you’re in need of comfort food. Keep a bag of salad in the fridge, and you’ll make sure you’re getting vegetables with your frozen lasagna.
Don’t forget to have snacks on hand. A bag of almonds in your bag can stave off hunger while you’re on the run. An apple at your desk can boost your energy during a midafternoon low. Food is a key part of making your day more efficient.
These simple tips can add time to your busy schedule and lower your stress. Even just a few extra minutes gained can help you get more accomplished in life both personally and professionally.
It all comes down to preparation and consistency. Give them a try, you might be surprised at how well they smooth out your day.