We only have a limited number of hours each day – and many of us find that it is not enough. However, I do know a couple of people who are phenomenal time handlers. I feel as if they can stretch the day into 48 hours.
I was mystified how they could do so much in so little time. But since I’m a curious guy and have no shame, I asked them directly – do they sleep at all? With everything that they are accomplishing – how could they manage?
Here are some of the things I learned from them – plus some of the techniques that I practice myself.
1. Find Your Optimal Working Schedule
People have waking times. There is no one-size-fits-all schedule where everybody is productive. You have to find the time where you have the most energy and can accomplish a lot. Don’t force yourself to be a morning person if you’re not.
Humans have varying circadian rhythms – meaning some people are genetically designed to be night-owls, while some are born to be morning people. And let’s not forget the people who take naps in between – there is also a biological basis in their sleeping habits. Whatever the case may be, don’t fight against your nature. Work with it so that you can get the most out of your waking hours.
2. Budget Your Time
The wise allocate their finite resources accordingly. That is why it is an excellent habit to budget your money. Time is also a limited resource – one that all of us have equally. For that reason, it is much more imperative to have your time budgeted.
When you allocate a specific length of time per day to your tasks, you can ensure that everything that needs to be done gets done. One of the things that I do before working is to list down what I need to do and allocate a specific number of hours for each. I have to be wise about it and allot time correctly to not feel rushed or have too much time on hand.
At the end of the day, I will review all of the tasks and analyze if I allocated the correct amount of time. That way, I can adjust my time budget the following day or the next time that I need to do the same work. If anything is left undone, I will write it down on my planner for execution on the next day.
3. Avoid Distractions
This point is already a cliché – if you ask anyone about time management, they would definitely say this point. However, it still rings true! Since most of us work online, we should have extreme discipline in front of our computers and devices.
I fail at this myself sometimes, with the six screens I have on my workstation. Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube, online games, and a whole lot more are at our fingertips. This makes it very easy and tempting to just dive into an app and lose track of time.
While I know that it is not realistic to have a pinpoint focus on the task at hand, we should also be responsible for handling our time. The Pomodoro Technique has been developed to help us accomplish our work. It’s a simple way of managing our time to keep us focused and avoid distractions while keeping us sane from too much work.
Here are the steps to the technique:
- Enumerate your tasks on an app or a piece of paper.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, and focus on the most challenging task in your list.
- Once the time is up, tick-off the items that you’ve done, and then enjoy a 5-minute break.
- Once break time is over, resume your work.
- After 2 hours of work-break cycles, take a 30-minute breather, and recharge yourself.
The details that I have shared above have been scientifically proven to work – just make sure that you don’t abuse your breaks!
4. Timing Each Task
Another way of getting more time out of the day is to monitor how long you do each task. That way, you can see how long you’ve been engaged in a specific project. This is essential, especially if you’re juggling multiple clients. You wouldn’t want to spend too much time on one client at the expense of others.
I personally use a timing app when I work. I’d recommend Clockify.me because it’s free and easy to use. It’s satisfying for me to check the amount of work that I’ve done in a week. That way, I can compare the time I’ve spent on a task versus what I’ve accomplished. If I had done little work in a long time, that means I was distracted.
This is also important if you’re budgeting your time – you need to keep track of your work to check if you’re within budget! The Pomodoro Technique uses timers for each task, too. But sometimes, it won’t work for jobs which require a continuous train of thought – like writing and graphic design. So a timer is the next best thing.
5. Leveraging & Outsourcing
These two things are one of the biggest reasons why people can get more out of 24 hours. Time leveraging, according to Lucemi Consulting, is achieving the greatest result for the least amount of effort.
What does this mean? You use tools to make your work faster and easier. One excellent example of this is automation – if one task is repeating and involves data, there is a way to use a program, like Microsoft Excel, to get it done faster.
I once had to find a list of manufacturers from a data bank of more than a thousand items. Instead of going through each item and comparing them against other information, I used an Excel formula and completed the whole task in 5 seconds. The job is done!
One more thing that I learned is outsourcing – if there’s a job that is repetitive but can’t be automated, then you can hire a VA to do it for you. If you can train your VA well, they will be an investment on your side, and you’ve also allowed them the opportunity for an online freelancing career.
Of course, you have to weigh the value of your time. If you can save 20 hours a week if you pass the task to a VA at $3 per hour, then make sure that you use that time saved for more valuable things – like another client, learnings, yourself, or your family.
There are many more ways that you can have more time in 24 hours. As long as you are mindful of the things that you do and how long you do them, I guarantee that you’ll be able to accomplish so much more.
Don’t forget to allocate time for everything – work, rest, play, family. That way, you won’t feel short-changed in any aspect of your life.