Manage your day well to squeeze in some peace!

Get some 'you' time

Manage your day well to squeeze in some peace!

By planning efficiently and employing a few simple strategies, you can reclaim for yourself anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours in a day, which can be spent clearing backlog, going for a run, or simply soaking up the sun and relaxing, writes Dorothy Victor

You wake up to the buzz of your alarm. Your smartphone is perpetually reminding you of unattended agendas. You run around in circles trying to catch up with children and chores at home. You slog for more than eight hours a day holding on to a long to-do list.

Despite your best intentions, you are constantly falling short in meeting the demands of work and life. You hanker for some quiet downtime but it eludes you. Or does it? Good news, research suggests that it is possible to retrieve for yourself anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours every day through some simple, yet, surefire strategies.

Here are some smart ideas, from professional organisers, time management experts and meal planners, to reclaim a few delightful minutes in a day that could be redirected towards clearing backlog, going for a run or simply soaking up the sun and relaxing.

Fix a deadline, draw a plan

“If you know you have only an hour to get that report finished, you just get it done,” says Canadian time management consultant Harold Taylor, suggesting that when a deadline is given to us, focus comes automatically. By fixing compelling deadlines upon ourselves, we eliminate distractions and concentrate on finishing the job.

Drawing a plan of action helps in meeting deadlines faster. Taking 10 to 15 minutes at the start of the day to plan the sequence of events, keeping in mind the priorities of the day, can actually help in saving up to six hours a week, believe time managers. According to Harold, 20% of the tasks on a standard schedule yield 80% of the result, so he suggests that we start with them. “You will never get everything done, so you might as well get the right things done,” he recommends.

Forget multi-tasking

It has been estimated that on an average, workers with an Internet connection spend at least an hour each day browsing and engaging in social media. Add to this the constant distractions from the buzzing of our phones, co-workers’ visits and deliveries, which take away anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes from productive work in a day. Turning off the internet, e-mail, WhatsApp and other fact-to-face interactions at work, can help us carve out anywhere from one to three hours each day. Using a do-not-disturb sign at the desk and limiting email checking to twice a day – perhaps at the start of the day’s work or after lunch – can help in saving time every day.

The same conservative view helps in the notion of multi-tasking. Studies verify that doing one thing at a time is far quicker – and more efficient – than doing two or more things at a time in the  name of multi-tasking. In a Psychology Today article titled The True Cost of Multi-Tasking, behavioural psychologist Susan Weinschenk argues that the concept of multi-tasking itself is a myth, because we can’t actually perform more than one high-order cognitive task at a time.

According to her, multi-tasking is nothing more than ‘task-switching’, where we try to constantly move from one open task to another, and back, and back again, that in the end leads to more errors and a whopping 40 % drop in overall productivity. In short, multi-tasking, much against the belief that it saves time, costs us more time.

Organise the kitchen

Canadian meal-planning expert and author of a series of books titled Cooking For The Rushed, Sandi Richard says that 87% of us do not plan our meals well enough to give us sufficient time to organise the kitchen and stock up on our groceries. This unplanned way of going about our meals results in last-minute dashes to the store that can be easily avoided. She also suggests that a list be made and posted on the fridge, encouraging family members to contribute to meal ideas and shopping once a week. Getting groceries delivered home is yet another step in being wise with our time. Using online shopping for groceries saves much time and effort lost in commute to the stores and waiting in long queues for billing.

Setting-up shelves in order is also a significant time saving activity. Whether it is the fridge or our closets, many precious minutes in a day are lost in rummaging through unorganised shelves. According to research, 20 to 30 % of a disorganised person’s day is squandered looking for lost items. Labeling and maintaining order might take a few minutes but saves us many, many more.

Shopping & socialising

There has been a surge in our shopping habits in the new millennium, thanks to the rampant consumerism of the present century and the growing mall culture in our cities. Known as mall-lingerers, most of us today linger in stores and get side-tracked by an over whelming number of options. We are often lured into buying things that we don’t need. Instead, if we can stay focused and stick to the items on our list, much time can be saved and reclaimed from our days.

The right attitude to socialising is yet another time saver in a day. Learning to say ‘no’ is perhaps the key. “There’s great value in getting good at saying no. Say no to the friend who wants to meet over coffee to gossip. Say no to the social obligations that drain time and energy from your life. You can’t be all things to all people,” says Robin Sharma, in his series of essays on leadership. Getting good at saying no, without feeling awkward and guilty, might just help us carve out some valuable time that would otherwise merge and get lost in the many wasted hours of the day.

Children, chores & fulfillment

“Many of us have a gold mine of help in our homes, but we are not mining it,” says Alyson Schafer, a parenting coach. Involving children in household upkeep not only helps us carve out some time for ourselves but also makes them feel valued. This contributes towards whole-rounded grooming. The chore-list of the household can be delegated efficiently with age-appropriate jobs to all the members of the family.

Planning playtime for the children with other friends having children in our circle is a mutually benefiting arrangement, according to the experts. Sending children to a friend’s house  – and offering to host playtime another day – are time-saving conveniences for all members in a social group.

And most of all looking for  – and finding – fulfillment in our days is the best solution to beat time-wasting activities. For boredom, it is said, is at the core of much inefficiency and wasting of time. When we are fulfilled with what we do, we engage ourselves wholeheartedly, sparing no time to waste. Contemporary life is all about time and the best use of our days. Time and tide indeed wait for no man.

 So let us aim for fulfillment, energise our days, reclaim chunks of wasted moments and win back the peace that eludes us every day.

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